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Thu Jun 2, 2016, 07:34 AM


Clericalism puts the focus on careerism, not ministry

by Phyllis Zagano | Jun. 1, 2016
Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. She will speak Sept. 24, 2016, at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. and in October 2016 at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Conn. Her books include Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future, Women Deacons? Essays with Answers and In the Image of Christ: Essays on Being Catholic and Female.

The first time I saw the new pastor of a nearby parish, he was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and standing in a garbage dumpster.

It was early November 2012, just after Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York and New Jersey barrier beaches. The parish church was a mess. The new pastor called some of his old high school buddies to come over from the mainland to help rip out the damaged church. The priest was tromping the debris down.

I had heard of him, this new priest at the beach. He was more National Catholic Register than National Catholic Reporter, they said. He had an in-law in the chancery. He was well, there was more, none of it complimentary.

I supposed he belonged to the clerical "boy's club" -- the closed crowd of cassock-wearing, cigar-chomping aficionados of steak and Scotch. But, there he was, up to his knees in what was pulled from church walls and floors. He did not seem terribly clerical that post-Sandy day.


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