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The Roman Catholic Church has received a remarkable amount of press attention regarding clerical perpetrated sexual abuse with child victims as well as other clerical behavioral scandals in recent years. Much has been reported in both the popular and professional press about the various aspects and elements of priestly formation and ministry that might contribute to behavioral problems among clerics. Additionally, much has also been written and discussed about the challenging religious, spiritual, and behavioral struggles among clerics when clerical misbehavior significantly contradicts expected behavior in terms of sexual, behavioral, and relational ethics. Since Catholic priests are dedicated to chastity, obedience, and, among religious order clerics, poverty, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike expect and demand highly virtuous behavior from these men that they believe should be beyond reproach. Clericalism contributes to the gap between expected and actual behavior and creates an environment and culture where problem behavior and struggles are too often ignored. This article seeks to unpack some of the challenging dynamics of clericalism and demonstrate how it negatively contributes to religious, spiritual, moral, and behavioral struggles among Catholic clerics.


© 2020 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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