Can a Priest show physical affection to comfort a parishioner?


During confession I was very upset and crying and the Priest then held my hands to comfort me and continue to hold onto my hands until I left the confessional. Is this appropriate? I am a young female and he is a man in his mid 30s.
I really respect this Priest, he is a good man, and I genuinely believe he was only trying to be like Christ. However it did make me a little uncomfortable as he is a Priest.
Should I be concerned?
God bless


Do you believe the priest touched you inappropriately?


I feel sorry for priests in this day and age.


There is nothing “wrong” with it, however, in today’s climate, it’s probably not a good idea. In an open area, in public, it would be fine.


Him being a priest does not mean he can’t touch another human. You say that you believe his motives to be pure, but are a little uncomfortable because he is a priest… to me it sounds like you may need to work on understanding that priests are just people like you and me.


I wouldn’t call it “physical affection”. He was comforting you as you were upset.

As 1ke said, I feel sorry for priests nowadays.


I would not have made it through some of the things in my life without the comforting hugs from people in my life, including priests and bishops.

If you do not want someone holding your hand, pull your hand back. A hand clasp is a sign of friendship and of charity and mercy.


It sounds like humility to me love


Sometimes it is hard to know where to draw the line when one is trying to comfort another. I would guess that your priest meant you no harm.


I agree that it’s impossible for a priest to do the right thing these days. If he doesn’t offer comfort he’s considered cold and unapproachable. If he does offer comfort he’s being inappropriate.

I just had an uncomfortable medical test done. At the end the doctor said “we’re finished…you made it” and put his hand on my shoulder for a moment. To me it was a sign of his concern for me, but like the priest in the OP, someone would probably call it inappropriate.


Yes, priests are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. I suspect that most priests, out of self-preservation, opt for being considered cold and unapproachable.


From how you described it, it sounds appropriate. As others have said, priests tend to be stuck between a rock and a hard place; if they show no affection or comfort, they come off as cold. If they do, it can be mistaken for being inappropriate or scandalous. Priests are human too. Holding the hand of a person who is upset, comforting someone by putting a hand on their shoulder, or even a hug can all be appropriate, depending on the circumstances. It’s up to the priest to use prudential judgement.


In the context you put this I honestly think he saw you were distraught and he was trying in the best way he could to comfort you. I would not think he did anything out of line.

“I really respect this Priest, he is a good man, and I genuinely believe he was only trying to be like Christ.”
I’d leave it at that. Pray for him as you are only one of MANY he must hear Confessions of, counsel, provide spiritual leadership for on a daily basis. Priests are human beings not blocks of concrete. They need human contact as well as any of us.


Sometimes we need to use our heads to judge a situation. A priest holding one’s hands after a difficult confession cannot possibly be read as attempting something inappropriate. With all due respect to the OP, I fail to understand her discomfort.
However, it is a cause of discomfort for me that people have started to immediately assume the worst of our priests…


As from my perspective, just the thought of it being inappropriate is worrisome…
But I get it you have this thing of the personal space and non touching.
Been there… and had to withdraw my hand as fast as I could… little gestures of compassion, empathy, understanding, concern, tenderness…
It is an exercise to remember that one cannot touch nor invade personal space in your culture. Until finally we get it.With effort…


I hate to mention this but I’ve had a couple of beers, cigars and some good ole fashion teasing with a couple of priests…


I agree, if my doctor did that to me I would feel uncomfortable from that sign of comfort, I would still feel uncomfortable because he’s my doctor.

I love this Priest and believe his intentions are pure, it’s just hard when you’re in a situation but you feel uncomfortable. I’m not trying to shame him, I just wanted to check for his own vocational security.


There is nothing wrong with a priest holding your hand when you cry and become upset.

However, if you yourself feel uncomfortable with a priest holding your hand, I would recommend that you go to confession behind the screen from now on.


Yeah I think it’s hard when they’re someone you love and respect, you don’t want to reject their comfort but I’ve been in situation in my past where people have abused their right to give me physical affection. So I guess I get uncomfortable easier than others.


Read my comment below and you’ll see why I got uncomfortable. I’ve been taken advantage of, so physical touch is hard for me.

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