Can an ex-sex offender become religious or Priest?


#1

Hi,

I am wondering if the Catholic Church would allow an ex-sex offender to become religious or Priest? Please let me know where to find such information.

Thank you,
Brian


#2

Probably not something with a public ministry. I am a lay catechist and I have to submit a police record proving I have no history of being a sex offender to be able to teach. Priests will probably have an even tougher requirement. Though I can imagine if the person is joining a monastery or something, and he/she does not have a public ministry, perhaps. But that would be up to the Superior or whoever the decision maker is.


#3

I expect it would depend on the offence? Sex offenses cover everything from indecent exposure to molestation.


#4

Anyone can become religious and attend church. The Church has changed the rules on who can become a priest since the child abuse scandals. So it isn’t possible for a sex offender to become a priest. If you mean religious orders they all screen for sex offenders and do background checks.


#5

Thank you for all of the posts...

So it seems that it mostly has to do with public ministry. So perhaps something like the Franciscans or Benedictine religious orders would still be a possibility depending on public interaction. It is probably a case by case situation depending on the nature of the offense and transformation of the individual that feels called to such an order. I guess for such people, God would make the way!

If you or anyone else finds anymore direct information on this topic, please pass it along.

God Bless You,

Brian


#6

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:2, topic:304033"]
Probably not something with a public ministry. I am a lay catechist and I have to submit a police record proving I have no history of being a sex offender to be able to teach. Priests will probably have an even tougher requirement. Though I can imagine if the person is joining a monastery or something, and he/she does not have a public ministry, perhaps. But that would be up to the Superior or whoever the decision maker is.

[/quote]

What is Papist Orthodox? Is it part of the Eastern Catholic Rite or Orthodox?


#7

You would be hard-pressed to see that they would put such a public sinner back into public. They possibly could be priest, but they would have to prove it with years of purity and discernment. I would say such a man would have to wait 7 years before the Church would consider such a person for a public role, such as priest.

They probably could be a religious, though I think that they would say the issue of impurity would be a stumbling block. Orders would demand that the applicant show years of purity.

In short, yes it is possible, however you must be most pure, regain your tarnished reputation with effort, and stop from all such impurity.

I would recommend that this person see a priest for spiritual direction, and consistently and constantly, such as 2 times a month. The priest must know how to impart wisdom on how to gain and retain purity. Ask around.

Tell this man: Prove that you have been pure, and are pure, for a sufficient length of time. That is how you shall serve God best right now.


#8

[quote="GodHeals, post:1, topic:304033"]
I am wondering if the Catholic Church would allow an ex-sex offender to become religious or Priest?

[/quote]

How do you define an ex-sex offender? Someone who has not been caught lately?

I don't know the specific current policy of the USCCB, but I do know that a person who is a registered sex offender (in US jurisprudence) cannot be enrolled in a position of leadership in the Boy Scouts or in most (if not all) public or private schools.

If you can't be a teacher or Scoutmaster, I doubt you can be a Parish priest.


#9

In our diocese, no.

With all that the Church has been through and is still going through with the priest scandals, I personally would be horrified if any diocese or order accepted a man into the seminary with a history of a sex offense.


#10

I certainly hope not. I would like to think that anyone with a history of certain behaviors would be automatically ineligible.

Thinking back to my days as a Criminal Justice undergrad., I seem to recall a statistic that states that 80% of all fellons are repeat offenders. If I were a betting man, I wouldn't take those odds. Especially with so much that could be lost. We need priests and religious, but I don't think we need them that badly.


#11

[quote="YoungCatholic21, post:7, topic:304033"]
You would be hard-pressed to see that they would put such a public sinner back into public. They possibly could be priest, but they would have to prove it with years of purity and discernment. I would say such a man would have to wait 7 years before the Church would consider such a person for a public role, such as priest.

They probably could be a religious, though I think that they would say the issue of impurity would be a stumbling block. Orders would demand that the applicant show years of purity.

In short, yes it is possible, however you must be most pure, regain your tarnished reputation with effort, and stop from all such impurity.

I would recommend that this person see a priest for spiritual direction, and consistently and constantly, such as 2 times a month. The priest must know how to impart wisdom on how to gain and retain purity. Ask around.

Tell this man: Prove that you have been pure, and are pure, for a sufficient length of time. That is how you shall serve God best right now.

[/quote]

I used to work with sex offenders.

There is A LOT more to sex offenders than simply having issues with purity. There is no such thing as an "ex-sex offender". At best, they can be at a "low risk to re-offend" and I highly doubt one would be able to find a psychiatrist who specializes in working with sex offenders who will sign off saying they're cured. The other problem is the methods they use to treat sex offenders. One of the most common ways of doing this for men who have inappropriate attractions, let us say, is to "re-train" the person via pornography and masturbation. Obviously there are some severe moral complications there that would prohibit such a treatment.


#12

[quote="YoungCatholic21, post:7, topic:304033"]
You would be hard-pressed to see that they would put such a public sinner back into public. They possibly could be priest, but they would have to prove it with years of purity and discernment. I would say such a man would have to wait 7 years before the Church would consider such a person for a public role, such as priest.

They probably could be a religious, though I think that they would say the issue of impurity would be a stumbling block. Orders would demand that the applicant show years of purity.

In short, yes it is possible, however you must be most pure, regain your tarnished reputation with effort, and stop from all such impurity.

I would recommend that this person see a priest for spiritual direction, and consistently and constantly, such as 2 times a month. The priest must know how to impart wisdom on how to gain and retain purity. Ask around.

Tell this man: Prove that you have been pure, and are pure, for a sufficient length of time. That is how you shall serve God best right now.

[/quote]

Are you talking about a young man who is on the sex offender registry because he had consensual sex when he was 19 with a young woman who said she was 18 and turned out to be 15? Or a young man who was caught relieving his bladder outside? Those might have a slim chance of being able to become a Priest or join a religious order, but if you are speaking of a rapist, a molester, or some other vile conviction as an offender, NO WAY!!! Especially in light of the abuse scandals!


#13

[quote="LightBound, post:12, topic:304033"]
Are you talking about a young man who is on the sex offender registry because he had consensual sex when he was 19 with a young woman who said she was 18 and turned out to be 15? Or a young man who was caught relieving his bladder outside? Those might have a slim chance of being able to become a Priest or join a religious order, but if you are speaking of a rapist, a molester, or some other vile conviction as an offender, NO WAY!!! Especially in light of the abuse scandals!

[/quote]

If God can convert great sinners, why not these men? Who is to say if they have proven their loyalty after years of practicing virtuous purity that they cannot be priests or religious?
Be charitable of will, but prudent!

God Bless You!


#14

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:11, topic:304033"]
I used to work with sex offenders.

There is A LOT more to sex offenders than simply having issues with purity. There is no such thing as an "ex-sex offender". At best, they can be at a "low risk to re-offend" and I highly doubt one would be able to find a psychiatrist who specializes in working with sex offenders who will sign off saying they're cured. The other problem is the methods they use to treat sex offenders. One of the most common ways of doing this for men who have inappropriate attractions, let us say, is to "re-train" the person via pornography and masturbation. Obviously there are some severe moral complications there that would prohibit such a treatment.

[/quote]

Yet with loss of purity, is loss of soul, friend. No man who is impure can be priest religious or truly layman even (for we as laymen are to remain in a state of grace). By lust are more men than by any other sin cast into hell. If God can affect the conversion of great sinners, why can He not convert these men? Why can they not after proving their loyalty by years of virtue and purity be priests or religious?

God Bless You!


#15

[quote="YoungCatholic21, post:13, topic:304033"]
If God can convert great sinners, why not these men? Who is to say if they have proven their loyalty after years of practicing virtuous purity that they cannot be priests or religious?

[/quote]

Certainly they can convert and be good examples within the community of God's forgiveness and the effect of God's grace in people's lives.

The question, though, isn't whether they're good people; it's whether they should be in positions of authority. One might make the argument that, given past history, there are other ways to live one's life laudably, and that it would be inappropriate to put them in a position in which (1) there might be scandal on the part of the community or worse (2) he might be in a position in which he's tempted greatly to return to his former sins...


#16

[quote="YoungCatholic21, post:13, topic:304033"]
If God can convert great sinners, why not these men? Who is to say if they have proven their loyalty after years of practicing virtuous purity that they cannot be priests or religious?
Be charitable of will, but prudent!

God Bless You!

[/quote]

God can do anything, including convert a great sinner. But ask yourself this: Would you want a former child rapist around your young child? Whether they've been healed or not (and only God knows their heart and intentions). But more important to everyone's safety, I want to know why someone who committed such a heinous crime is out of prison and in a capacity to join a religious order or become a priest in the first place.


#17

"Sex offender" covers a lot of territory. A 17-year-old male possessing a suggestive picture of his 16-year-old girlfriend could land him on a sex-offender registry in some states.

That said, in general, it's going to be very difficult for a person with a sex-related record to become a priest or religious. I'd speculate that their may be some leeway given to youth stupidity in the distant past versus any type of aggressive sexual action


#18

My guess is no. Even to be a Big Brother of America, I had to undergo an FBI background check, fingerprints and all. I would expect that with all the unfortunate stuff which has happened in the past decade or two, that the standards for background checks and who can hold such positions have been made more rigorous. The recidivism rate is just too high with sex offenders to risk it.

Look at it from the other side of the coin. If you had a child who was entrusted to the care of a person in any vocation, would it bother you if that person had a criminal record of child molestation?

There are other sex offenses. How they are charged and prosecuted depends a lot on the arresting officers involved, and who the prosecuting attorney is, and the circumstances of the situation. For example, a woman can be topless legally just about anywhere in the state of new york. Anyone can be completely naked legally on any street in san francisco, and until recently, portland oregon. That same circumstance in mobile alabama might be prosecuted as a registered sex offense. One officer might cite a drunk bar patron in the parking lot for public urination, while another might recommend charges of indecent exposure. The former is a citation or misdemeanor. The latter is a felony and registered sex offense for life.

I don’t know if scandal plays a role. In the US, registered sex offenders may often have their records viewed by neighborhood on a public web site, complete with residential address, information about the offense, and a photograph. What impact would that have on a church word got out that a parish priest was a sex offender, from people just checking their neighborhood? I lived across the street from an Augustinian boy’s high school at one time. I can just imagine the impact, if a brother was a registered sex offender. People are not charitable, even if the offense was years prior.

So, this too would present a problem. I think in most jurisdictions, a sex offender cannot live within a certain distance of a park, school, youth center, etc… So, the person might not be able to live in a rectory, monastery, etc… due to proximity of a place which services children. I think this rule applies to all registered sex offenses, and not just ones involving kids.

My guess is that not much latitude would be given, because of recent events.


#19

[quote="YoungCatholic21, post:14, topic:304033"]
Yet with loss of purity, is loss of soul, friend. No man who is impure can be priest religious or truly layman even (for we as laymen are to remain in a state of grace). By lust are more men than by any other sin cast into hell. If God can affect the conversion of great sinners, why can He not convert these men? Why can they not after proving their loyalty by years of virtue and purity be priests or religious?

God Bless You!

[/quote]

This comes down to mental illness as well. This would require a miracle that can't even be confirmed and validated. How would you know with 100% certainty the person will not re-offend? Would you be willing to sign your name to a letter stating the person is cured of his sexual deviant behavior and mental illness and is of no risk to anyone?

This is also a huge liability factor too.


#20

Just because someone has had a conversion and is repentent doesn't mean they get to have a position of authority. No one has a "right" to be ordained or to be allowed to take vows or promises in a religious community.

Even after years of practicing virtue, God may be calling that man simply to a humble life of retirement until death. And that doesn't necessarily mean in a monastery or other religious community.


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