By CHRISTOPHER MANION
Pope Francis has condemned clericalism repeatedly, insisting that it goes hand in hand with corruption. Russell Shaw, an expert on the subject, writes that the “illness” of clericalism has been with us for so long “that most of us take it for granted. In fact, we’re clericalists ourselves.”
Just what is this thing called “clericalism,” anyway? In one sense, it’s reminiscent of Justice Potter Stewart’s observation about hard-core pornography: “Perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly [defining it],” he wrote, “but I know it when I see it” (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964).
In that spirit, Pope Francis has seen “clericalism” in the corruption endemic to his native Latin America, as well as in the “rigorism” of his critics who are (to say the least) uncomfortable with his theological ambivalence. … Continue Reading