Do priests break ties with family?

Hi, my second post here. I’m a lapsed Catholic. My cousin is a priest in a nearby parish and has refused to talk or visit since I stopped going to church 10 years ago. He has ignored my phone calls about my son’s upcoming civil wedding but the rift goes back before that. Is this Normal behavior for a priest? His mom, my aunt, is cordial but not warm. She says he considers his parish to be his family now.
My question is, do priests usually break off with family? I feel his behavior is unChristian.

No, this is not normal.

We have two priests at our parish and they regularly talk about their families, celebrate holidays with them (if they are local), etc.

Keep in mind that priests are sinners like the rest of us. They are prone to the same character flaws the rest of us have.

It is NOT wrong for your cousin to not approve of your decisions, but I do question his method of dealing with it. I also wonder at your expectation that he change now, though, 10 years after this behavior began.

I guess I was an optimist. But obviously it’s his way or the highway.

I have to bring this up, please think about it **honestly. **

There is a chance that your cousin the priest’s decision to cut ties with you had absolutely nothing to do with your faith and everything to do with your behavior (perhaps?) and the kind of relationship that the two of you had.

All you have to do is go through these forums and you will see dozens of posts from individuals here. People from every walk of life and every kind of family have struggled with toxic family relationships. After so many years of living with toxic relationships people finally decide to cut ties with others in order that they may maintain some sense of peace. This is not sinful, this is permissible.

Look back at your relationship with your cousin. I would bet that even before he became a priest and even before you became an agnostic there may have been problems? Sometimes it is best for both parties to part ways, just to maintain peace and serenity. Being a Christian does not obligate you to maintain an ongoing relationship. Sometimes you have to use common sense and recognize when things are dysfunctional and let it go.

I say this because as a priest your cousin encounters fallen away Catholics all the time. He encounters sinful people, people questioning their faith, people who doubt Church teaching and people who sneer at what the church teaches on a regular basis. This is why I question that your faith is the only reason that he chose to remain distant from you. I will pray for you and your family, I know this hurts. God bless you.

Thank you Monica. He actually had some things going on with his father, my uncle, now deceased. But he and I never fought and he was very happy that I came to his ordination.
If that’s the case he should talk to someone in the church because he is also snubbing my brother, who is Protesrant. ( I converted). I’m not sure how he can justify his behavior to himself. Thanks for your thoughts.

Are you calling him about the wedding to ask him for help to stop them or to get him to attend? If the latter, why?

As opposed to what? Your way or the highway perhaps?

Remember we believe that the Catholic Church was instituted by God and anything that is deeply offensive to the Catholic faith is so because it is offensive to Him. And if it comes to denying or watering down that faith so as to please family - well, God and His truth is rightly more important.

Do you really think a bunch of people on an internet forum who don’t know you or your brother have any real idea what’s going? Just because we are Catholic doesn’t make us mind readers.

Hmmmm. When did his father pass? This makes me wonder if he has a wound of some sort which is not resolved/healed. If so, then it is possible that being around family actually “opens his wounds” and he’s isn’t able to cope.

It’s beginning to sound possible that its not really you or your Faith, but that family members remind him of his father. It’s very possible that he’s hurting and been suppressing his feelings these past 10+ years.

This is not uncommon with people who serve and help others. When they need help, they down play it and focus on others. They do it to avoid the pain and never really deal with their own issues.

Is it possible that this might apply to your cousin?

I will pray for you and him.

God Bless.

No, priests do not normally break ties with family. But if he perceives something about the relationship is harmful to his spiritual life and ministry as a priest, then I would expect him to break off the relationship.

no priests are still very much in contact with family

the only religious order who breaks with families are cloistered brothers and sisters, but they still get visits from their families just through a screen.

Sounds like there are other family dynamics going on.

How close were you two before you left the Church? How often did you try to get in touch with him before your son decided to marry?

I don’t know about other places, but where I live, the priests are incredibly busy. There is really a shortage. My priest has the parish, the prison, two hospitals, to take care of, and other priests in this area also have to travel a lot because they have chapels in which they celebrate Mass for those who are far away.

All this used to be taken care of by 2 or 3 priests, in some parishes even more.

Additionally, priests are sometimes sent out of the diocese for a year or more to do missionary work in other countries, or to study. Since you are getting auto-replies, I suspect that he is not ignoring you but that he is unable to reply. I’ve only gotten auto-replies from people when they were out of town and unable to reply.

It is impious to rampantly speculate on the actions of a priest this way when we pretty much have no real information on the situation.

Thank you Monica. I think this is the case. Sadly, it seems there are 2 seperate issues here that I can’t control. Thanks everyone for your ideas.

Trh1292 I disagree, and it seems the problem is not one of religion but of psychology.


One thing that I didn’t notice being asked was whether your son or his fiancee are baptized Catholic(s). If so, then it wouldn’t be proper for a priest to attend a civil wedding (since Catholics are required to follow the form of Catholic marriage, and his presence might give the impression that the Church gives its blessing to such a wedding).

What I can’t speak to (as others have alluded to), is his relationship with you and his aversion to conflict. It’s entirely possible that his actions aren’t out of spite, but rather, out of a desire not to come into conflict with you over your break from the Church.



Well, i just responded to your earlier post and say this one. It seems that either this a serious issue on your heart, or you are trying to find a way to smear his priesthood, or the priesthood in general, or just smear your cousin or both. In any case, it would appear you have strong feelings, and are upset about it.

If you are hurt by him separating himself from part of your family , then think how he feels by your agnosticism and conversion. You already separated yourself in a very painful kind of way. I realize its not quite the same because despite our differences family and friends should always communicate. But you kind of separation is even more harmful to yourself and I am sure he is very concerned about it. And perhaps your lack of faith conversion in the family is damaging to his faith and needs to remove himself from this thinking. Perhaps he is going through a crisis of faith and your communication with him is too difficult right now.

In general , it sounds as though your family had a very varied experience of the faith, so it makes for some interesting family dynamics , I am sure. If your cousins behavior is troubling to you, your falling from the faith is upsetting to him as well. But your posts on this comment board are interesting to me too. You sound rather upset and maybe even little desperate as well as you posted two separate time. I dont mean to be cruel, but perhaps that is something your cousin is responding to also.

If you converted to Protestantism and are now agnostic, I would further suggest you do have an issue with faith. Even as laity, dealing with someone whose faith life is a challenge is difficult. You would think such challenges are what priests are supposed to deal with. However , when it involves your own family it becomes very difficult. In certain professional fields , such as psychology or medicine, you are NOT even supposed to practice on your family members. Lastly, not to sound rude, but as I said before, posting twice here seems a little weird.

My last comment is that your cousins behavior does not sound ideal. It seems understandable. Your family as a whole seems to have some issues with faith, good and bad, as many families do these days. Given these dynamics, I would suggest you start to address this issue by examining your own issues as to why his behavior has caused you to post 2x on a Catholic website when you dont even have faith in the Church anymore. Perhaps “Thou dost protest too much”? Open your heart to the Holy Spirit! See what happens. God bless, best wishes for you and your family!

I posted twice because I see there are 2 issues. To be clear, I converted to Catholicism. I see now that it’s hard to get answers on a general board, thanks everyone for yoyr help.

While this was an off the cuff remark, it is quite telling that you seem to feel a need to ‘control’ these issues - after all, they are never entirely within your control in any case.

Perhaps your cousin has picked up on this attitude and, being an independent adult, would prefer that you not try to control him or his life, but simply to love and understand him instead?

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