Within the Catholic Church exists a tendency to be persuaded by the ways of power and control, to operate in isolation, in silos, instead of in service, collaboration and solidarity.
This was the view of Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB in his address to the Synod of Bishops gathered in Rome, October 6–27, to discuss the issue of the work of the Catholic Church in the Amazon regions.
In the course of the gathering, all the 185 Synod Fathers were invited to make a brief address to the assembly. In his contribution, the Bishop of Georgetown said that the covenant and harmony between God, mankind and every form of life has been “severely damaged” as is evidenced in the corruption, violence, exploitation, extraction practices and “more”.
He acknowledged one area in the Church in which this “twisting” of the covenant is also seen as clericalism—a policy of maintaining or increasing the power and moral superiority of the ordained clergy.
In his address, which was published in Catholic Standard, Bishop Alleyne said that he sees this relation of clericalism to the gospel passage in Luke 22:24–27 where the disciples, at the Last Supper, right after the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup, are arguing among themselves about who is the greatest.
Sad to say, Bishop Alleyne added, there is “evidence that points in the first place to us as clergy and at times also to laity in leadership”.
Commenting on the Synod, the Bishop highlighted that it is covenantal— profound and right relations among God, ourselves and every form of life. The Amazon, he said, is a sign in its beauty, harmony, diversity, symbiosis, and grandeur.
All these characteristics which are already displayed lavishly in the natural order of God’s creation would also be lavishly displayed in the human ecology. This, Bishop Alleyne said, is what stands out most for him in Instrumentum Laboris.
The Instrumentum Laboris of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region refers to many ways in which the covenant has been lost: corruption, violence, exploitation, extraction practices, clericalism, to mention a few.
Drawing reference to this, Bishop Alleyne noted that 119c of the working document states: “Surmount all clericalism; live fraternity and service as gospel values that animate the relationship between authority and the members of the community”.
The Bishop also mentioned Paragraph 127 which urges the faithful to take a cue from the traditions of the indigenous peoples who have a ‘rich social organisation where authority is rotational and has a deep sense of service’.