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Old Nov 7, '07, 9:22 am
Eschato Eschato is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: September 23, 2006
Posts: 289
Default Can you help me with my confusion re: a priest leaving the priesthood?

It has been mentioned on this site that a fairly popular priest is rethinking his vocation. He supposedly stated that he had fallen in love with a widow and her family. No wrongdoing was mentioned as far as I can tell. Meaning no sin was mentioned. He is just rethinking his life. I don't think that there is anything wrong with that either, I do it everyday.

I question you whether it is a sin to leave the priesthood or not? Because I read messages from people acting like he killed somebody, or like he is a bad person, or like a message from one of your moderators mentions the event as a tragedy.

If it isn't a sin to leave the priesthood then he didn't do anything wrong, and won't be doing anything wrong by deciding to leave. He just fell in love, and love is a good thing. It isn't even anything that he really has a choice over anyway. Granted he could not get involved with people, but he is a priest and it is his job to get involved.

Priestly celibacy is fine by me and I've thought of becoming a priest before, but I put myself in this guys shoes and you can't stand the guys you live with, everybody at the Parrish is telling this or that, your lonely, bored, tired, but there is this woman that comes to church. She pours her heart out to you every time you see her... You get a little too attached. Then you decide to take a leave of absence and people all over the country chastise you. I've got feelings for girls that I've only met twice... I really for the this guy.

I guess that I'm just confused about the whole thing. I mean, priestly celibacy is fine. If the Church wants it, then they can have it free of any argument from me.I obviously don't think that a priest should be allowed to come and go as they see fit, but you should leave some room for human error as well. I guess what I'm asking is if this is really a bad thing? I'm sure that it is undesirable for the priest to be confronted with this problem, but for lay people to sit back in comfort of their own families and say that this man fell in love and he was wrong in doing so sounds very arrogant to me.

I would appreciate Fr. Serpa's words on this for obvious reasons.
Old Nov 7, '07, 4:04 pm
Fr. Vincent Serpa Fr. Vincent Serpa is offline
Catholic Answers Apologist
Join Date: May 4, 2004
Posts: 4,937
Default Re: Priest leaving the priesthood


You are correct; you are confused. Commitments are important. Vows are commitments we make to God. They matter. To make a commitment to God and then voluntarily break it, is to sin.

The initial mating experience we call “falling in love” is a very strong emotional experience. It can eventually lead to a deep self-giving love which we find in marriage. This is what the emotional experience is for. But the experience itself initially directs our attention more toward satisfying ourselves than satisfying another. It can occur at inappropriate times and in inappropriate situations. For example, a married man can “fall in love” with a work associate. This does not mean that he must follow through with such feelings. He has to say no to them and not pursue the relationship since he is already married. This will be difficult, but very possible. Such can happen to a priest as well. But he too is spoken for. He does not re-think his vocation. He recognizes the inappropriate emotions he has allowed himself to feel and he says no to them—period!

For a priest to simply walk out and attempt to marry without seeking the permission of the Church is a very serious sin. If he seeks permission and the Church, considering the nature of the particular circumstances of his situation decides to give it to him, then it is not a sin.

We do not know enough about the particular situation that you mention, to draw any conclusions.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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