Beware of clericalism and laicism PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 12 February 2018 11:52



SINCE 2018 is declared by our bishops to be the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons with the thrust on clerics and religious to be renewed servant-leaders for the New Evangelization, we should encourage everyone, especially the laity, to contribute whatever he or she can to make this campaign successful.

Yes, the lay people can do a lot in helping us, the clergy and consecrated persons. Rather than staying on the background since the focus is on the clerics, the laity should be emboldened to help their bishops, priests and other consecrated persons, so that we, the clerics and religious, will remain consistent to our calling and ministry and not stray to other areas where they are not meant to be.

We need to remember that there is supposed to be an “organic cooperation” between clergy and the laity in the Church, since both have the same calling for holiness, though this is pursued in different ways. The laity should never be regarded, and worse, should never regard themselves as secondary citizens in the Church.

There is a fundamental equality between clergy and laity. No one is superior or inferior to the other. This is the reality about the clergy and the laity. Therefore, we should avoid two extremes that does damage to this reality. These are clericalism and laicism.

Clericalism is, in a nutshell, when the clerics think or are regarded as superior to the laity. This anomaly can lend itself in many manifestations. Laicism is the opposite. It’s when the laity thinks the clerics are completely irrelevant in their lives. Again, this error can be expressed in many ways and in different degrees.

For years, decades and centuries, many and big parts of the world´s population have been under the wrong notion that the Church is mainly if not exclusively the responsibility of the priests and bishops. The lay people only play a supporting cameo role if not just an extra.

Priests and laity, by their baptism, enjoy a fundamental equality in that being conformed to Christ all of us are called to aim at genuine holiness and to participate in carrying out the mission of the Church, each one in the way proper to his condition.

It’s true that there’s distinction of how priests and laity carry out their mission, a distinction that’s meant to nourish their mutual cooperation. But it’s this fundamental equality that needs to be aired out more fully to erase some wrong ideas about the laity’s role in the Church.

These erroneous ideas can be called the clerical mentality that has been afflicting us here in the Philippines, in spite of our long Christian tradition. It gives undue importance to the role of priests and bishops at the expense of the laity.

Its usual manifestations are the tendency to make the lay people as some kind of assistants, servants and longa manus of the clergy or the attitude of regarding the priests as the sole agents of the Church mission.

The laity can be active in the life of the Church, first of all, by fulfilling their primary duty of sanctifying the world where they live and work. They also can help the clergy in carrying out certain Church work.

But they should not hesitate to make suggestions and even corrections to priests who need to carry out their ministry as faithfully as possible according to the mind of Christ and the laws of the Church.

In this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, let all of us, clerics, lay and religious, examine ourselves more deeply and root out whatever traces of clericalism or laicism there may be in our understanding of things and in our lifestyle.