Want to make systemic change? Pope Francis has some ideas.

Religion News Service

June 16, 2020

By Claire Giangravé
When Pope Francis was elected pope, the Vatican was in trouble.

The Roman Catholic Church’s mishandling of sexual abuse and a series of financial scandals had challenged the credibility of the institution and emptied its pews.

For Francis, the root of the church’s problems was clericalism: the belief that religious people belong to a superior caste, insulated by favoritisms, which has helped promote an air of moral superiority among clergy.

“Clericalism is our ugliest pervasion,” the pope told seminarians last year. “The Lord wants you to be shepherds; shepherds of the people, not clerics of the state.”

The mentality behind clericalism, according to Francis, has helped spread corruption within the Catholic Church. Victims of sexual abuse were not taken seriously, and predator priests were moved instead of removed in order to save face. The belief that only those who are ordained have authority has helped marginalize laypeople in the Catholic Church, especially women.

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