Book review – Clericalism: Stories from the Pews

By Maureen Ryan, 16 February 2021
Mass attendees at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Mary Brazell/Diocese of Parramatta.


Book Review: Gideon Goosen, Clericalism: Stories from the Pews, Coventry Press, ISBN 9780648725190

Pope Francis recognises clericalism as an “exclusivist vision of vocation,” which can lead to a “group that has all the answers and no longer needs to listen or learn anything” (address to the Opening of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, October 2018)

In Clericalism: Stories from the Pews, Gideon Goosen also recognises the dangers and effects of clericalism and echoes Pope Francis’ exhortation to eschew Clericalism.

Goosen grounds the book by providing examples of easily, recognisable experiences of the faithful who are trying to live out their baptismal priesthood of service and mission in collaboration with an hierarchical church. A collaboration which numerous times has been discounted by the clergy and often results in frustration and hurt for many of the faithful.

However, the real power of Clericalism lies in the book’s purpose as a workshop guide. It includes insightful questions designed to promote reflection and discussion. Through the resources provided by this workbook, the faithful can be empowered to effectively challenge clericalism both within the hierarchy and amongst the faithful community.

Clericalism by Gideon Goosen is easy to read and gives hope for a more collaborative Church.

‘Clericalism: Stories from the Pews’ by Gideon Goosen. Image: Coventry Press/Supplied

Clericalism: Stories from the Pews is $25.95 and is available at 

Maureen Ryan is a member of Our Lady of the Nativity Parish, Lawson, and the Blue Mountains Deanery Pastoral Council.


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