Before I take on clericalism, I will say: I love being a priest

National Catholic Reporter

June 25, 2019

by Fr. Peter Daly

James Carroll argues in a recent issue of The Atlantic that the priesthood needs to be abolished before the church can be reformed. Garry Wills, in his 2013 book Why Priests?, says that priests are a self-perpetuating clique and a medieval power grab, contrary to the equality of all believers.

These writers join a chorus of voices, stretching back to the Reformation, arguing that we should do away with priests.

I wouldn’t go that far. But after nearly four decades as first a seminarian and then a priest, I do think the priesthood needs reform — fundamental reform. We don’t need window dressing. We don’t need just some changes in policy and procedure. We need to change the whole culture of the priesthood and episcopacy. If we don’t, we will continue to decline and ultimately collapse in our own irrelevance and scandal.

I don’t think that our bishops get it. They think that a few changes in procedure and policy are enough. Then it’s back to business as usual. Their recently concluded meeting in Baltimore showed their lack of urgency. Basically, they did nothing. There will be no real external accountability and no answering to laypeople. They will supervise themselves and be accountable only to each other, which ultimately means not accountable at all.

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