Mind the Gap

The Return of the Lay-Clerical Divide

Recent studies point to a growing gap between the way American Catholic laypeople and priests understand their roles in the church. What is the nature of this divergence, and why has it developed?

In the years before Vatican II, most laypeople understood their role as a rather passive one and tended to hold a “cultic” view of the clergy-that is, they viewed priests as a leadership group set apart both spiritually and in terms of...

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About the Author

The late Dean R. Hoge was professor of sociology at the Catholic University of America.