Searching for answers in the midst of the sexual abuse crisis in the church, many blamed the clerical culture. But what exactly is this clerical culture? We may know it when we see it, but how can we—whether clergy or laypeople—go about dismantling it and putting in place a new, healthy culture? George Wilson has spent decades working with organizations to help them discover, and often recover, their foundational calling. He is also a Jesuit priest engaged in the lives of congregations. In Clericalism: The Death of Priesthood he brings together both capacities and gives his sense of the challenges facing the church.
As members of the church, Wilson maintains, we are all responsible for creating a clerical culture. And we are also responsible for that culture’s transformation. Clericalism aids this transformation by helping us examine some underlying attitudes that create and preserve destructive relationships between ordained and laity. After looking at the crisis and establishing where we are now, this book challenges us with concrete suggestions for changing behaviors. We are lay and ordained, but all baptized into the royal priesthood of 1 Peter 2:9, all called to spread the Gospel and do the work of God’s love in the world. Ultimately, this is a hopeful book, looking for the restoration of a genuine priesthood, free of clericalism, in which we become truly united in Christ.
George B. Wilson, SJ, is an ecclesiologist and organizational facilitator.