cler·​i·​cal·​ism | \ ˈkler-i-kə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce clericalism (audio) , ˈkle-ri- \

Definition of clericalism

: a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy

Examples of clericalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And it’s not just what is known as clericalism that is the problem. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "Don’t Hate Everything, Love More," 16 Nov. 2020 Failing to properly investigate rumors about McCarrick was a sign of both incompetence and clericalism. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Commentary: Worse than bungling, McCarrick report shows Vatican failed to take abuse seriously," 11 Nov. 2020 This is a sign that clericalism was at work as much as incompetence. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Commentary: Worse than bungling, McCarrick report shows Vatican failed to take abuse seriously," 11 Nov. 2020 Pope Francis, who ordered the report in 2018, has frequently attributed the crisis to clericalism, a systemic abuse of power and the unhealthy pursuit of authority within the church’s hierarchy. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Vatican Report Places Blame for McCarrick’s Ascent on John Paul II," 10 Nov. 2020 Fortuyn carried the torch of the Dutch tradition of anti-clericalism., "The new Dutch disease is white nationalism," 20 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clericalism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of clericalism

1864, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about clericalism

Time Traveler for clericalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of clericalism was in 1864

See more words from the same year

Statistics for clericalism

Cite this Entry

“Clericalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

More from Merriam-Webster on clericalism Encyclopedia article about clericalism

Comments on clericalism

What made you want to look up clericalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!