How do I defend my priest's reputation?


I will make this as brief as I can, but I really need someone to answer this complicated issue for me (preferably a priest).

My catholic college has had quite a bit of drama over the past few weeks. It started with an innocent enough party with students from my catholic college and two friends from outside of it. From questioning my friends who went, some students, including a couple catholic ones, got rather drunk, enough so that their friends were worried about them and their behaviour. Nothing immoral or dangerous happened however, and everyone went back to school the next day.

An unknown student, feeling rather scandalized about the drunkeness, told the priest who is chaplain at the Catholic college about it. I am unsure whether this student asked the priest to deal with it, but later, the priest brought up the issue in the homily of our daily mass, at which I was present. He was not angry, but disappointed, and reminded all of us that drunkeness can be a mortal sin, depending on whether you were intentional towards becoming so. He also said that sins committed in groups, like abortion, are worse than individual sins. At the end, he reminded us that he loved all of us and hoped we would make the right decisions in the future. So far as I can tell, nothing he said went against church teaching or theology in any way.

However, some students were very offended (all of which were present at the party) and felt that it was not our chaplain’s place to bring up a private party in the homily. They were also offended that he “directly compared” it to abortion and felt that he was being over-emotional, and hurt the feelings of their fellow students. What’s worse is that since then, instead of talking to the priest about their feelings, they have been complaining to their friends and even to some of the staff at the college, people who were not present at the homily, about how inappropriate the priest was, in a way ruining his reputation.

My question is, was the priest right to bring up a private party in the homily? I totally disagree with the spreading of rumours instead of talking with Father directly, but am not sure what to do to defend our chaplain from students who, out of pride or other emotions, are not willing to reconcile with him.



Just spontaneously I would say, be open and loving and honest when speaking to your fellow students. Tell them, for example, that you feel he meant well. Remind them of the Christian spirit of love and charity.

It is above me to judge whetehr or not the priest did the right thing; but I am sure he could decide that for himself. I don’t imagine he mentioned any names, (and if so, still it is not up to me to decide whether or not he was right to do so). It sounds like he meant well, that he did that out of LOVE - how else could he reach all the students involved? Like a teacher telling the children about morals.

Just my humble opinion. Spontaneous answer.
We should see everything through the eyes of love.


Of course, he didn’t do anything wrong. He is correct that group sins are a public scandal. Drunkenness is still sinful at a “private” party and nothing is really private in a group setting.

The best way to “defend” this priest is to say nothing at all. I don’t think he did anything wrong.

This is something that will go away in time.

I’d encourage your friends to take it up with the priest. Challenge them to talk with him about it if that’s what they think.

It sounds like they’re more upset that he “called them out” so to speak via a sermon. Perhaps if they approached him individually and just expressed why they feel hurt it could help mend things over.

I had a friend once who was upset at what a priest did and left the church for a whole year. Eventually someone else talked to the priest and he called her up and apologized to her immediately. That brought her back!

This may be a case where if the wound is left to fester, it could get infected.

Just by two cents! God Bless!

Who is a priest to us? Is a priest just a speaker or entertainer to us? No.

When a priest speaks, he is our shepherd. A priest is a man who has been ordained - received an actual sacrament to teach and guide the Church. Those students who got offended and upset - they need to be humble. We live in a society that is so politically correct that we don’t want to offend anyone’s feelings. But in all actuality - being drunk has actually RUINED people’s lives and can lead to death, rape, and other heinous crimes.

Everything the priest said was true.

We have to pray for the gift of humility - so we can learn to listen to authority. Yes, I said authority - if priest cannot criticize their congregation - then WHO CAN?? If a priest does not have authority in the Church - then we as the sheep will go astray.

There has to be a clear hierarchy in the Catholic church - because this is the way that Christ designed his kingdom.

We have to listen to our priest - BECAUSE WE ARE CATHOLIC. They have sacrificed their entire lives to serve the Church. Doesn’t that warrant some type of obedience and RESPECT?

There is so much gossiping EVERYWHERE - everywhere you go - there is always constant gossiping - this NEEDS to stop.

This took place at a CATHOLIC COLLEGE. Their purpose is to EDUCATE their students not just in secular studies, but in the Faith. The priest was doing this.

Pray for everyone involved and express you opinion when asked, but avoid keeping the"pot stirred up",

Your priest did a very kind and charitable thing in taking his student’s behaviour ‘home’ to them in this way. His message was meant to teach and, from what I read here, delivered in a spirit of teaching and concern. May God send us many such priests!

The students anger comes from a place of shame and guilt and I feel bad for them but they don’t feel so because of the priest’s guilt but their own. This is a good thing! If they were hardened to sin they wouldn’t care a fig for what the priest said; at Mass or not!

I would defend this priest by reminding his detractors that he spoke in love and in the spirit of teaching. Who knows but that the heat of those words has killed the seed of drunkeness or a drink driving accident in it’s infancy?

Be kind to the boys concerned; it’s hard to accept a public dressing-down -even an anonymous one. That said; the priest was absolutely right in using his words to guard his students from future error. Bless his wise and gentle heart!


The question I have, is how he brought it up. Was it “John Smith was at Tara Jones’ party last weekend, and got completely wasted”, or “there was a party last weekend at which the behavior seems to have been sinful”, or “partying to excess is sinful, and we all know that those parties go on around here”, or just “partying and drinking to excess is sinful”…?

I think I’d say that the first one seems to be an ineffective way of handling it; the second or third – while he never ‘outed’ anyone by name – would be ok (after all, those in the know would understand the context and those who aren’t in the know aren’t given cause for scandal), and the fourth would be completely harmless. In any of these four cases, he’s doing what priests are supposed to do – admonish sinners! The fact that your friends are unhappy that someone pointed out their bad behavior and are angry about it? Waah… :rolleyes:

However, some students were very offended (all of which were present at the party) and felt that it was not our chaplain’s place to bring up a private party in the homily.

Private party or not, it was still public behavior. :wink:

They were also offended that he… hurt the feelings of their fellow students.

He’s a doctor of souls! Sometimes, medicine doesn’t taste good…

What’s worse is that since then, instead of talking to the priest about their feelings, they have been complaining to their friends and even to some of the staff at the college, people who were not present at the homily, about how inappropriate the priest was, in a way ruining his reputation.

Wow… so, it’s ok to talk behind Father’s back to others, but it’s not ok for Father to talk to them in the context of Mass? Your friends have a weird sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’… :sad_yes:

People generally squawk pretty loud when they have a guilty conscience. It’s a way of deflecting their guilt.
Young people live in a world where tolerance is the word. They believe that to point out a wrong is to be uncharitable.
It’s his job to correct in love. Sounds like that’s what he did.
I would not rush to defend him, he needs no defense. However, if you find yourself in the presence of persons speaking uncharitably about him, student or professor, point out that none of this would have occurred had the students not exhibited a tremendous lack of maturity and judgment.
That should shut them up.
Thanks for your prayerful support of him.

In answer to your question, the priest did not mention any names (he seemed very careful to avoid pointing fingers, and evidently didn’t want to stir anything up). He simply stated that a student had come to him about this party and that they felt a little scandalized that this happened, and then proceeded onto the moral part of it.

Thanks so much everyone for your advice! I support my priest in this matter, and I’m disappointed that some of my friends would let their pride get in the way here. After having taken classes with them for a year, I know that they are overall good people (come to mass regularly, go to confession, etc.) but I suspect that, like the earlier post said, they feel shame from getting called out and are lashing out without realizing the consequences.

There is in particular one guy who is kind of the “ringleader” with the gossiping, who I know pretty well, and I told him to bring it to Father, and he simply laughed and said “I’m not going to bother”. He seemed pretty uncomfortable about talking about it with me. I know that he is also a good person (and we’ve had conversations before about our faith and he has a good formation from what I can tell… which is why I’m surprised he reacted this way), but I know he can be rather prone to pride which I believe may be increasing the hurt and shame he feels and thus the frequency with which he is voicing his dissatisfaction. Please pray for this guy that he can reconcile with our priest!

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