The Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco addressing a group of Salesians gathered at Siliguri in North Bengal said, “the greatest problem the Church faces today is not the scandal of sexual abuse of minors by its clergy, but the scourge of clericalism and power seeking by clerics.”
Rector Major, visitor from Rome, on his second visit to Kolkata province addressed the gathering in Italian. while Kolkata Provincial Father Nirmol Gomes translated into English.
The Salesian gathering consisted of Salesian Novices and professed confreres who numbered some 100 people.
“Clericalism is a disordered attitude of the clergy (priests and religious included),” the Rector Major explained saying, “it is an attitude of an excessive assumption of their moral superiority.”
When “Clerics feel they are superior, [and when] they are far from the people, clericalism shows up,” he warned.
Clericalism can be “fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons” — lay-people can fall into clericalism, by thinking that their contributions to the life of the Church are only second-rate, or that in all things, surely “Father knows best,” or that priestly virtue exhausts Christian virtue.”
Salesians of Don Bosco congregation consists of both priests (over 90 plus per cent) and lay brothers.
Rector Major explained further stating how clericalism is played out, “I am priest, have all the power, authority, the parish/institution is mine, lay people and women religious must obey me.”
“Sometimes some priests also take advantage of their position,” the superior general lamented.