Out with Clericalism in the Year of Mercy
From Fr Ephraim Odhiambo, Kroonstad – It seems to me that the Year of Mercy has created some complications in matters of faith.
There are those who think or feel that in the Year of Mercy some Church teachings should be ignored or rather relaxed. Not that, as priests, we should be rigid as opposed to the merciful Christ. To the contrary, we should help people understand what the Year of Mercy is about.
I would say this Holy Year is a time to be closer to God than ever and closer to the Church and her teachings.
Take, for example, the sacrament of reconciliation. I encourage the youths to frequent this sacrament, and the response I get is that priests ask for too many details in confession, making it like an inquisition, which they find difficult to entertain.
Were we not taught during our formation period not to dig deep into the penitent’s confession? Where is the external and the internal forum? In such a case, who is distorting the meaning of the Year of Mercy?
The Year of Mercy for me, as a priest, is a call to put aside rigidity and clericalism while at the same time following the Church’s teachings as faithfully and as humanly as possible, and to help parishioners understand the salvation message they contain.
When asked about clericalism what comes to my mind is a pilgrimage I had. At the grotto, a nun asked a certain gentleman to stop taking photos as this was not allowed during this particular period. He responded to the nun: “I am a priest”. The intimidated nun responded: “Sorry, Father”. This was an instance of clericalism and abuse of power!
The Church is always merciful and will remain merciful even after this jubilee Year of Mercy. As for us priests, we should learn to be humble and overcome any form of rigidity that goes with clericalism which we may be harbouring.