A Journal for The Contemporary Church

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Moving Beyond a Clerical Culture


When a ship is sinking the captain instructs the passengers and crew to abandon ship and head for the lifeboats. In the Irish Catholic Church there is a growing consensus among priests and pastoral
workers that this is the time to abandon the clerical culture and head for the lifeboats. The clerical culture has been described as a culture of “Do and Tell.” It has been a culture of lone practitioners
where the objective is to get things done quickly and efficiently and instructing or telling others what to do. The emphasis is on instructing people what to do rather than developing a relationship
with them. We all have been brought up in a culture which takes for granted that telling is more valuable than asking. To ask might be perceived as revealing ignorance and weakness. The fact that Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water shocked  his disciples (Jn 4: 7). To take an example from the world of management.

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