We have $160,514 to go in our Fall Campaign. Every penny is used to strengthen the Church. See details!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

all these ridiculous distinctions

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Dec 31, 2009

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., recently addressed a gathering of Dublin priests and shared some husky confidences on how the scandal of the clergy sex abuse crisis affected Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. Truth to tell, it nearly spoiled his entire weekend:

Former Master General of the Dominican Order and author, Fr Timothy Radcliffe, told a two-day gathering of Dublin priests that “I’m convinced this whole sexual abuse crisis is deeply linked with power and the way power operates in the Church at all levels, from the Vatican to the parish sacristan. Often, it is not the power of Jesus who is gentle and humble of heart.”


Calling the current crisis “'terrible”, he said it was “much more than a crisis about sexual abuse; it is a crisis of a clerical culture, [a culture] which lifts us [the clergy] up in our high towers, a whole understanding of priesthood so often in terms of power.”

But that’s at best only half an answer. Power, even autocratic power, can also be used to solve problems and uproot corruption. Besides, what needs to be accounted for is not a culture of power but the staggering moral cowardice of those in authority, their failure to take quite ordinary unheroic action in the face of wickedness.

Fr Radcliffe said: “Most priests are holy, humble, unpretentious people but this is often in the face of a clerical culture, fighting against a clerical culture which values high titles and positions -- your Eminence, all these ridiculous distinctions, right reverend, very reverend ... this crisis may be the beginning of a profound renewal of the Church.”

But he warned: “It is potentially a time of enormous renewal for the Church. It challenges our perception of power, often with remoteness from the people, morality in terms of control. Painfully, the Lord is demolishing our high towers, our lofty walls, our pretensions to glory and grandeur.”

Methinks Father Timothy doth exaggerate the force of “morality in terms of control.” As a clergyman who claims to find a Christ-figure in Billy Elliot, however, the controls in question may chafe more than is common.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($160,514 to go):
$200,000.00 $39,485.72
80% 20%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Jan. 12, 2010 1:22 PM ET USA

    He was the Master General of the Dominicans? The order that gave us Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, etc? Oh I forgot, they also gave us Schillebeecx.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Jan. 01, 2010 10:09 AM ET USA

    "Always affirm, often negate, never distinguish." Spoken like a man who yearns for the spiritual and affective maturity of Fr Ronald Rolheiser, OMI and his "Good Books That Found Me This Year." I await Fr Radcliffe's erstwhile review of The Shack, helpful hints for aesthetic garnish on spinach salad for the holidays, and analysis of the offensive line formations and special teams during the Rose Bowl game.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Dec. 31, 2009 11:02 PM ET USA

    Fr Tim is overdue to have his own "pretensions to glory" demolished. He's a wee bit too fond of his own hyperbole. And then there's the small problem that he seems to want a Church with no hierarchy, forgetting that Christ himself established that hierarchy. And I don't recall Scripture including Him saying that it was temporary, awaiting the arrival of the likes of Fr Tim to point out that it is no longer needed.

Fall Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Links: Think like a poet, academia's black sheep, Marion Cotillard on feminism 17 hours ago
Adapting Christianity? 17 hours ago
The Synod's choice: change the marketing campaign or change the product? 20 hours ago
The Synod Continues October 9
Why Pope Francis cannot win on sexual abuse October 9

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
In Cuba, Pope emphasizes service to the vulnerable, praises thaw in US-Cuban relations CWN - September 21
Pope challenges America in speech to US Congress CWN - September 24
As Synod opens, Pope calls on Church to defend ‘unity and indissolubility’ of marriage bond CWN - October 5