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Old Jun 26, '12, 3:50 pm
Scheherazade Scheherazade is offline
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Join Date: December 9, 2004
Posts: 14
Religion: Catholic
Default What do you do when another Catholic undermines your child's faith?

Like this CAF member, something similar happened to me recently. A fellow parishioner encouraged my daughter to become a priest someday. Getting into a debate seemed inappropriate, but I wasn't certain how to respond constructively. Do you have any recommendations?
Old Jun 26, '12, 4:04 pm
Michelle Arnold's Avatar
Michelle Arnold Michelle Arnold is offline
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Join Date: May 3, 2004
Posts: 4,951
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What do you do when another Catholic undermines your child's faith?

Since your question did not give me a lot to go on, I'll address the situation of the other Catholic parent and hope that it will answer your concerns as well.

Originally Posted by kattyc
Last week when we were volunteering at our church, I was having a conversation about children/birth etc. with a fellow parishioner whom I like very much. When my 8 year old daughter came and stood next to me, she heard the last bit of our conversation. The lady I was speaking to made a comment about her future and babies. I added in, "or she may be called to religious life" and then the lady added in "and maybe when you're older you will be able to be a priest!". My daughter looked at her all funny and replied "Uh, no." And I added in, "No, women aren't called to the priesthood." and left it at that. After I pulled my daughter aside and reminded her of the Church's teaching. Thankfully it was already something we had discussed and she readily agreed.

So my question does not involve my daughter, but this woman. Women not being eligible for the priesthood is Church doctrine and therefore we as Catholics should believe it and uphold the teaching. It is not my place to judge this woman but do I say something to her at least in regard to "please don't try to tell my children to not follow the Church's teaching?" Or do I let it go, be aware in future conversations (and say something if it happens again), and continue to teach my children the faith?
In a situation like this, it might be helpful to keep in mind that it is not a parent's job to educate the world in how to treat his or her child. The parent's job is to teach the child how to interact appropriately with others, especially those who are in positions of authority or honor, like a priest, teacher, or an elder member of one's Catholic community. Flatly contradicting such a person in front of the child, even when that person is clearly in error, undermines the honor and respect for that person a parent should be inculcating in his child. To lecture another adult in the child's presence would be even worse.

In this case, in the child's presence all that is required is a smile and a pleasant conversation-closing remark. In a situation like this, that might be something along the lines of "Yes, [child's name] can pursue any vocation the Church affirms that she has. Won't you excuse us, please? It's been lovely talking with you." Then move along. If the child immediately questions the response, give the child That Special Look and say "We'll discuss it later." Later, you can explain that Ms. Parishioner means well and is a nice lady, but she was confused about the Church's teaching on priests. "But, we don't want to hurt her feelings or treat her impolitely, so please do not correct her on this next time you talk to her. Let's just pray for her that God will send her someone who can help her understand the Church's teaching."

Not only will you have confirmed for your child the Church's teaching on the male-only ministerial priesthood, but you will have given her a valuable example in how to be charitable and respectful to her elders.

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