Narcissistic Clericalism

Clericalism shouldn’t have anything to do with Christianity

The recent release of the findings of the District Attorney of Pennsylvania, have resurrected the memory of the failure of the hierarchs of the Roman Catholic Church to properly address the problem of the continuing sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

As a priest, I am deeply shocked, almost beyond words, and troubled by the abuse perpetrated upon innocent children, by clergy who have demonstrated a total lack of commitment to the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and who, in turn, used their sacred positions as clergy, to take advantage of children.

That bishops and clergy would violate their duty in such a way can only be describe it as diabolical. Although there are cultural and psychological ramifications, the problem remains primarily spiritual. This whole sordid behavior is a clear sign that Christianity is under Satanic attack, both from the media who take this as the ultimate chance to criticize, and discredit, Christianity, and in a society at large that has chosen to turn away from her Judeo-Christian roots.

For those who know me, they are not surprised to hear that I am anti-clerical. I am sickened when I witness clergy who expect special treatment, or who gush before their bishops, like court officials in some kingdom of bygone days. I was thus delighted to read that Pope Francis vowed to change the mindset of the Roman Catholic church, declaring that the institution “must return to being a community of the people of God” and rethink the relationship between its leaders and the laity.

The Pope went on to say, “Leaders of the Church have often been Narcissus, flattered and sickeningly excited by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy. Sometimes when I meet a cleric, I suddenly become anti-clerical,” the pontiff said. “Clericalism shouldn’t have anything to do with Christianity.”

I, like this pope, pray we Orthodox clergy, be we lowly monks like myself, or patriarchs, archbishops, archimandrites, or mitered archpriests, pay attention to the prophetic witness of this man of God. I pray we will not simply dismiss the Roman pope’s words, and his humble example, as those of the leader of a church in schism from Orthodoxy, but hear his words as coming from a man who loves Christ, and who wishes to reverse the terrible turning away from God by mass numbers of people around the world.

This world cannot well afford the remnant of Christianity to continue living the bad example of privilege, power and wealth, while witnessing the slaughter of innocent Christians in the Middle East, the mass turning away from Christ in the West, and the masses of people lost in poverty and hopelessness.

It would do us well, as priests and bishops, to remember that the kissing of our hand by the laity is not about us. It is given as a way of honoring Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the priest is a servant of Christ and steward of the Mysteries. When someone kisses his right hand, it is about Christ, and Christ only.

“And for their sake I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:19). To sanctify means to consecrate. Christ consecrated Himself for the ministry and our redemption. All the ranks of the priesthood are consecrated for ministry, according to the example of Christ, the High Priest, and if we truly follow the example of Christ, we will serve His people as simple servants.

As Orthodox clergy, we dare not dismiss the actions of child rapists, and those who would cover the sins and crimes in their house, as simply a Roman Catholic problem. We Orthodox clergy need to remember that very time the media publishes such horrid news, more people walk away from all forms of Christianity. Like the first century, people need to see in us the Co-Suffering Saviour Who would lift us out of the mire and filth of this fallen world. They need to see, in us, humble, loving servants of the Lord God, clergy who, like Saint Paul, see ourselves as the worst of sinners, who point the way to the salvific role of the Church, and the Lord of Mercy, Who is the salvation of our souls.

Finally I ask, who hates children? The one who has never forgiven us for producing a God-Child! Unless we save all the children, we are allies of the one who hates every one of our spiritual brothers and sisters. They have nothing to do with my church, and when they go to hell, as most of them surely will, Mother Church will not follow them there. Because there are some places that mothers should not have to go.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday August 17, 2018 / August 4, 2018
12th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.
Dormition (Theotokos) Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Holy Seven Youths (the “Seven Sleepers”) of Ephesus: Maximilian, Jamblicus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Exacustodian (Constantine) and Antoninus (250 & 5th c.).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas (Prozgrov) (1930).
New Hieromartyr Michael, Martyrs Simeon and Demetrius (1937).
Uncovering of the relics of St. Alexis, priest of Bortsumany, Nizhni-Novgorod (2000).
Martyr Eudocia of Persia (362).
Martyr Eleutherius of Constantinople (4th c.).
“Kazan-Penza” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
New Hieromartyr Cosmas of Aitolia, Equal to the Apostles (1779) (Greek).
Martyr Ia and 9,000 with her in Persia (Greek).
Martyr Thathuil (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

2 Corinthians 7:10-16

10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, whatindignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.

The Joy of Titus

13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.

Mark 2:18-22

Jesus Is Questioned About Fasting

18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. Until the Catholic (and all churches) have a zero tolerance for clergy abuse and enforce it, their words sound hollow. In this day and age, the churches must be as pure as humanly possible and stand as models of holiness in cultures around the world. Satan is indeed busy these days.

  2. I grew up RC in PA. I had no idea of the magnitude. As a defacto Byz Cath on his way to Orthodoxy, I think the lack of ascetic praxis in the Catholic Church plays a part. Fasting is non existent and never discussed. The concept of purifying the passions is unknown. The exception is sometimes found in “Latin Mass” parishes. My opinion is the RC church has lost touch with the Tradition. Thus, the seminaries and universities don’t prepare anyone for anything. They have nothing to hand on, just an empty shell. So you get careerists and bureaucrats.

    1. This is very true that nothing is mentioned about prayer, fasting and penance; as I am on this road alone. There are a few others living this life, but at a distance from one another and being taught more by the Lives of the Saints than by the clergy in the Church, sad to say. The scandal has come about by the Church conforming to the laid-back members, instead of the laid-back members conforming to the Church. We must pray for our world and Church and learn to cherish and respect Tradition; not throw it away to sell our souls – Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

  3. AMEN!!,
    Thank you for your words on anti-clerical. I have observed the same things and have called it the “priest culture.” If we would only realize that we are not men of privilege, but humble servants of Jesus, serving by grace (unmerited favor), considering others as better than ourselves.

  4. Thank you for these words dear Abbot Tryphon. I left atheism, met Christ and the Trinity, and joined the Roman Church over 25 years ago. I was 33. I have loved the Church so dearly. I have had some suffering in this life. I have buried two children. My oldest boy was mercilessly bullied for years in school. Tragically, he stabbed another kid when he was in the 8th grade and spent the next 7 years in detention. Through these times, the Church was there. The concept of co-suffering with Christ was evident. We make up in our bodies what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. We must carry our crosses daily. Oh, and some days, this is so very difficult. In recent years I see how the Orthodox Church has been a better defender of the ancient and true faith than Rome has. My mind says Orthodoxy is true. Yet my heart still years for Rome. It has been my home through difficult times. So, now, you might understand my horror and my sorrow at these latest revelations to come out this past two months or so. I am so sad. Even as I make plans to join the Orthodox Church, the nearest of which is some 80 miles away, I wonder if I will “fall in love?” My mind says yes, but my heart, yes my heart I think is just broken. Peace and blessings be upon you dear Abbot.

    1. My heart broke when I read your post, but I’m so thankful you found Christ. This hopefully will be a purgative time for the Catholic Church to really look into this issue seriously and not just conclude with more talk about sexual abuse without appropriate action. We should all take time to pray for our Catholic brothers and sisters, for those out there searching for truth but turn from Christ because of these scandals, and for unity among all baptized Christians. Sunlight is the best disinfectant for this abuse of power but only true repentance and institutional change can prevent this from reoccurring.

      Wishing you well as you explore the Orthodox faith; I’m doing the same! God bless-

      1. Thank you so much. Yes this journey, I believe, is by the hand of the Lord. I am so much a stubborn mule! But the Lord is patient. And the Lord is love. And so too the Orthodox people.

  5. Your well spoken words on Clerical privilege remind me of something Pa said to his son Hoss on The TV show BONANZA. He said, ” if you let another man do the things for you, that you can do for yourself, you become a lesser man. Even more to the point I am reminded of KING LOOIE KATZ by Dr. Seuss Cat. It is about King Looie’s beautiful tail that he has someone else carry for him because he doesn’t want it to drag on the ground. Soon all the cats in Katzen are finding someone else to carry their beautiful tails, until little Zooie, the last cat in Katzen, who can find no one to carry his tail says “I quit said and slams the tail he is holding to the ground, then all the cats, with no one to carry their tails, do the same thing. The last line reads ” and since that day in Katzen all the cats have been more grown up and more demo-cratic because each cat hold his own ( tail) up.

  6. As an RC, we are taught that the Holy Eucharistic is “the source and summit of life.” I agree with the Abbot that an evil narcissism has taken hold of some in the Church. They have forgotten that they are in persona of Christ who uses their hands to bring us Christ in the Eucharistic, our LIFE….not them. In addition, I have seen too many RC’s put priests on a pedestal and attend Mass “only because they ike the priest and his homilies!” Ugh! It is all about Christ! “Have no other Gods before me”. I believe Jesus has had enough along with His Mother. Within our RC faith, we have had many approved apparitions of the Mother of God appearing and over an over telling us to “pray, pray very much for your shepherds.” She knew. Lord, have mercy.

    1. We are attending Church for the “message” not the “messenger!” One needs to prepare properly before arriving to hear the Word of God and then leave putting it into their life – not just pop in and out – grab communion and take off. The rules are for our benefit to bring us closer to God and be of the right mind – the rules are not just a set of words showing authority and discipline – there is meaning behind this that begins and ends in the divine…..put our hearts and minds in the right disposition to receive the Lord!

  7. Another way to describe the ones who abuse children is broken, hurting, in need of a savior. Christ also died for these men. They have not yet realized it, Christ is also for them and His mercy is also extended to them. They too can receive forgiveness, mercy and true salvation if they only will reach out, repent and receive. What they did was horrendous. What Christ did is more powerful. Lord have mercy and may they find the One True God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *