Fallen Priests and Sacraments

I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking. Are you asking where victims of abuse can turn, or whether it’s the case that they can only turn to their abusers? Or, are you claiming a sort of indirect abuse – that priests who are sinners are “hurting” the faithful in a way that prevents the faithful from approaching valid sacraments from them?


Yes… thank you… that’s what I’m asking, because they would be receiveing it from the person abusing them.

A person who has been abused by a priest is not bound to approach that priest for the sacraments. In fact, it’s completely reasonable (and is recommended) that he does not. He should go to another priest, and not the one who has abused him.

Is that all that you’re asking?

That’s exactly what I’m asking.

If there isnt another priest you can go to is there another way you can receive the sacraments?

Are you asking this in the context of a situation like that in the Amazon region, in which a priest only comes around once or twice a year, and if you don’t receive sacraments from him, then you receive no sacraments?

Or, are you asking this in the context of – let’s say – the United States, in which there are many priests available in the region (even if one must drive a bit to get to a different parish)?

For what ever reason, if there wasn’t another priest available, would there be another way for someone to recieve the sacraments?

If there were only one priest available anywhere, and he had personally physically abused a person, and there were no other priests in the area to whom that person could make recourse for the sacraments…?

Is this meant to be a hypothetical question?

Baptism can be given by various people, in danger of death.
Communion can only be received by those in a state of grace, with perfect contrition or individual confession (or general absolution with approval of the bishop). If perfect contrition there must be a grave reason to receive, like the danger of death.
Matrimony can be received sometimes without a minister, when there are two witnesses and no priest for a month.
Confession and Anointing of the Sick is restricted to priests.
Holy Orders is only through a bishop.

I think the logic with that question is usually that the priest who is not in the state of grace shouldn’t be receiving either.

OK, but Anna isn’t saying that a priest isn’t available (which is what your examples about baptism, communion, and matrimony presuppose). If a priest is available, he can baptize, consecrate and distribute the Eucharist, and witness matrimony. The cases you enumerate (especially matrimony, and generally speaking, baptism) only hold up when a priest is not available. That’s not the case in Anna’s thought experiment.

Yes, I combined physically and morally impossible together as unavailable, but since the question was about many sacraments, I included more than confession.

No its not a hypothetical question

@Vico, then I wouldn’t be able to receive any of the sacraments, because there is only the one priest?

Rest assured: the Church teaches that the sacraments are unaffected by the priest’s sin.

The priest himself, of course, is affected by his sin (and we should pray for all priests, especially those most struggling – or worse, not struggling – against sin). But you and I are not affected, in the sense of the valid transubstantiation of the Eucharist, or the sacrament of Reconciliation.

No, not if trying to avoid the priest that is there, except of course, baptism. Baptism can be done by a Catholic deacon. The Catholic Church accepts baptism and chrismation and first eucharist from the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East and baptism from many Christian ecclesial communities as valid. Also for one not yet Catholic matrimony may be accepted likewise.

So… you live somewhere in which there is only one priest available altogether?

Is that necessary information to help me?

Yes, because if there is a priest available – other than the one who directly harmed the person in question – then that person should go to that other priest for the sacraments!

There isn’t another priest available… he is the only one there. Its okay if you don’t have an answer, but its not a hypothetical question.

No other parish? Not down the road? Not in the neighboring town? Nowhere?

And he directly harmed you personally?

Then I’d offer this advice:

  • please let the diocese know the way in which he harmed you, so that they might be in the position to begin the process of investigation, with the goal of removing him from active ministry if appropriate
  • please seek pastoral counseling, so that you yourself might begin the process of healing

I’ll pray for you and for your healing…!

So until that happens I’d either deny myself God Grace because I cant get pass knowing what I know about the person giving it… or accept God’s Grace, knowing the person giving it is unimportant.

I understand. Psalms 23

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