Sep 23, 2013
Well up on the list of things Pope Francis abhors is religious careerism. "Careerism is leprosy. Leprosy! Please, no careerism," he exclaimed in a talk last June to young priests in training for the Vatican diplomatic service. It's a theme he sounds often and with deep conviction.
As well he might. But the problem is more complex than at first might appear. Indeed, there's another side to this particular coin, one I'll get to in a minute. But first, careerism.
Anthony Trollope understood it extremely well. Trollope, who lived from 1815 to 1882, was one of that gifted group of British Victorian novelists whose ranks included such as Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot.
Among the works of this prodigiously prolific writer is a series of four novels known collectively as the Barsetshire Chronicles. They depict clerical life in rural England during the middle years of the 19th century, painting a portrait that's often funny, sometimes sad, and always deeply human, with clerical careerism never far from the surface.