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Prefect of Congregation for Clergy speaks on dangers of 'clericalism'

Catholic World News - February 12, 2014

In an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa, the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy spoke at some length about clericalism, “a word that has been on the Pope’s lips a great deal in recent months.”

“Clericalism is bad for priests because it distorts their mission and is harmful for the laity because it hinders their development as adult Christians,” said Archbishop Beniamino Stella. He said:

. I think I am right in saying that what the Holy Father means when he refers to the term “clerical,” is that it describes the kind of priest who wants to give orders, who always thinks he knows best and becomes closed, hindering the mission of the Church. A clerical priest is a priest who withdraws into his own shell, into his own mindset and does not consult or listen to others, especially the laity, as he doesn’t recognize the role of lay people in the Church’s mission.

The archbishop emphasized that priests should dedicate themselves to service, rather than pursuing their own interests. Otherwise, he said, they risk falling into mere activism, or becoming “faith officials and administrators rather than pastors.”

In the same interview Archbishop Stella discloses his reaction upon hearing that he will receive a cardinal’s red hat from Pope Francis later this month, and reflects on the Pope’s message to the cardinal-designates.

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