Three-thousand, four-hundred years ago, three men charged Moses and Aaron with "clericalism" and led a rebellion against them. The Book of Numbers, chapter 16, says that Korah, Dathan and Abiram
took two hundred and fifty Israelites who were leaders in the community, members of the council and men of note, and confronted Moses. Holding an assembly against Moses and Aaron, they said, "You go too far! The whole community, all of them, are holy; the LORD is in their midst. Why then should you set yourselves over the LORD's assembly?"
One month ago, an assembly of the heresy-minded Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP) initiated an identical rebellion against Holy Mother Church. Echoing the sentiments of Korah, Dathan and Abiram that Moses and Aaron "set [themselves] over the Lord's assembly," the AUSCP levels a charge of "clericalism" against the Catholic Church's hierarchical structure.
Repeating the three rebels in the claim that "the whole community, all of them, are holy; the Lord is in their midst," the AUSCP posits that "clericalism" imposes a sort of caste system, driving a wedge between priests and laymen.
For the past few weeks, The Lepanto Institute has produced several reports on the actions and positions taken by the AUSCP, and links to some of these reports are as follows:
Before we examine AUSCP's newest initiative, it is imperative to keep the following dogmatic teachings of the Church in mind.
The Church was founded by Jesus Christ. As Pope St. Pius X stated in the anti-modernist oath, "The Church was founded immediately and personally by the true and historical Christ during the time of His earthly life."
Christ gave His Church a hierarchical constitution. The Council of Trent declared, "If any one saith, that, in the Catholic Church there is not a hierarchy by divine ordination instituted, consisting of bishops, priests, and ministers; let him be anathema."
Pius X condemned the following statement (54) in Lamentabili Sane: "Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality, are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence which have increased and perfected the little germ latent in the Gospel by an external series of additions."
Holy Orders is a true and proper sacrament which was instituted by Christ. From the Council of Trent:
If any one saith, that order, or sacred ordination, is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord; or, that it is a kind of human figment devised by men unskilled in ecclesiastical matters; or, that it is only a kind of rite for choosing ministers of the word of God and of the sacraments; let him be anathema.
The sacrament of Orders imprints a character on the recipient. This character is distinct from and transcends the character imprinted by baptism and confirmation. From the Council of Trent:
If any one saith, that, by sacred ordination, the Holy Ghost is not given; and that vainly therefore do the bishops say, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; or, that a character is not imprinted by that ordination; or, that he who has once been a priest, can again become a layman; let him be anathema.
The sacrament of Orders confers a permanent spiritual power on the recipient. From the Council of Trent:
If any one saith, that there is not in the New Testament a visible and external priesthood; or that there is not any power of consecrating and offering the true body and blood of the Lord, and of forgiving and retaining sins; but only an office and bare ministry of preaching the Gospel, or, that those who do not preach are not priests at all; let him be anathema.
These are dogmatic teachings of the Church. To deny or cast doubt on these teachings is objectively heretical.