Priestly Formation and Clericalism Working Group Report

The working group on Priestly Formation finalized a document on recommendations for changes in Program of Priestly Formation, 6th edition (PPF6). These recommendations were sent to the USCCB committee working on the revision of the PPF. We sent a copy to Cardinal Tobin who was in charge of the committee; we tried unsuccessfully to have a meeting with him. The PPF was revised and a PPF6 was approved by the USCCB at their annual meeting November 12, 2019. This document still needs approval from the Vatican and we have seen no acknowledgement of that as of May, 2020. Since we have not seen the revised edition we do not know what effect if any our proposals had on the revision. We do know that our recommendations received public notice in both America magazine and the National Catholic Reporter. Louis Arceneaux had an article on the topic published and highlighted in Today’s American Catholic magazine. We also know that a group of theologians at Boston College and elsewhere worked on their own recommendations and had access to our document. Much that they included in their document reflected our own concerns. The action that we recommend is that members of AUSCP continue to advocate for ongoing improvements in the formation of clergy, particularly in terms of studies being carried out in setting of lay students, women and men, that greater involvement of women on faculties and in formation programs and that candidates be formed to serve collaboratively with other Church members and not to be seen as separate from and above other members of the Church. The document can still be found on our website.

The Clericalism working group served as a followup to the publication of the document on Clericalism that members of AUSCP published. Our task was to promote the dissemination of that document and urge that it be studied and applied in parishes, seminaries and wherever the Church is present. Copies of the document, Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism, were sent to every bishop in the United States and to seminary rectors and others involved in priestly formation. We also published a concise one page presentation of the core of the document and made it available to AUSCP and anyone interested in using it. Anecdotally, Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans conducted listening sessions with representatives of parishes on the topic of clericalism; there was also a session for the seminarians on the topic. The Archbishop of New Orleans and the Rector of the Seminary received copies of the document. The rector was urged to make use of the document in the listening sessions. Lay participants offered many suggestions regarding clericalism during these sessions. Members of our committee distributed this document to clergy and laity they judged would be interested. A group from AUSCP and two lay Friends were invited to lead the clergy of Lexington, KY in a convocation program. Due to the coronavirus, this convocation has been postponed until next year. However, work continues on that project.

Action we recommend is that members of AUSCP make use of the document in doing what you can to rid our Church of clericalism. The document can be found on our website or will be found shortly.

Louis Arceneaux, C.M.