Im so sorry if this is the wrong place to post this question but i wasnt sure where else to go. Basically i agreed to help one of my priests (i attend a cathedral where there are a few priests) organise a presentation for an RCIA meeting. i was very honnoured and pleased to be asked to do this as i enjoy RCIA meetings and I like the priest very much. But after a while my feelings changed and im not sure if my feelings are right or not. The priest in question is semi retired and lives in an apartment near the cathedral, not in the cathedral house where the full time priests live together, and when i called him to discuss organising the meeting i was somewhat railroaded into meeting him at his appartment this week. Also i have twin babies and he suggested that maybe it would be best if i didnt bring them. this would mean we’d be in the apartment alone. Im sure he’s just a lonely man who would like some company but i told him i cant get a baby sitter so the babies would have to come. However, i asked a girlfriend of mine and fellow attendee of the cathedral if she would accompany us and we’ll just say she’s here to help me take care of the babies while we organise the meeting and she agreed which made me feel somewhat better about the situation as i believe it would be very wrong for a young lady and a priest to be alone in an apartment, how ever innocent the situation may be. I believe priests should avoid ambiguity at all costs, especially in this day and age. I thought we’d be organising things over the phone or in the cafe when i agreed to help but never in my born days did i think he was counting on us meeting in his apartment, preferably alone. Also he’s been tactile with me and others in the past. I my self am a very loving person and am not afraid to give hugs and show my feelings and i have assumed it was the same with this priest. He will hug and kiss people and i’ve always seen this as nothing but an affectionate and friendly thing. However my feeligns have changed somewhat as a good ten minutes after i agreed to help him with the meeting, i walked by him with a chair as i was arranging some seating in the church, he took my hand. I assumed he was going to say something to me about the meeting so i stopped what i was doing and looked at him. But instead of speaking, he kissed me on the cheek for no reason. This may mean nothing, as like i said before he’s always been a tactile person, but that was always when saying hello and goodbye, and never for just no apparent reason. And that evening was when we arranged to meet. Perhaps i should have said no, but i felt very much put on the spot and also if he is just a harmless man who only wants some company I would be letting God down if i didnt answer his call to give him some companionship. But all things considered i do feel very uncomfortable with the who situation and i dont think its right for priests to be inviting girls over to their apartments and i felt the kiss was inapropriate. Am I worrying over nothing? Or do you think i should be concerned and do something about this? Or should i go to the appartment, but take along my babies and my friend, so that im fullfilling my promise but im not alone? I would like to point out that i do love all my priests at the cathedral and that the youngest one (he’s only a few years older than me) is very wise and makes a point of never being alone with a lady unless its in confession or if she comes to him in the office. Thank you for any help you can give.
All I will say is that if it makes you uncomfortable, and it does seem to be causing you some anxiety, then don’t do it.
Look, you have two babies to take care of. The truth of the matter is, you don’t have the time to spend being disturbed by this. Just tell the priest that you realize now after thinking about it longer that you really don’t have the time to put into this and that you are sorry for any inconvenience this will cause.
It does seem a bit odd, his behavior. So if you see it as such then don’t get involved.
You are correct to be concerned.
I think you should trust your judgement, Rachel.
Think about this,
would you be very suspicious if any other man acted as he is doing (gratuitously kissing you and touching you) and put the conditions on you that he is doing (inviting you to be alone in an apartment with you, even banishing your children)? I couldn’t trust a man who acted like this when he has no right to.
Being a good shepherd is his responsibility.
A priest’s companionship is not your problem.
“Letting God down” would only be if you were to allow someone to get away with acting in a manner he has no right to towards you and not standing up to it.
The more people allow anyone with a position of authority to act inappropriately, the more that person is confirmed in such behavior and the more others later can be at risk of the same behavior.
I had a priest act like that. He gratuitously kissed my cheek too, and my hand. It was a very uncomfortable thing and ended up by making me feel very uncomfortable about being in my parish, about even being at Mass. I stopped doing ministries just to avoid him, and then he used to get angry at me for no good reason. I was glad when he left the parish.
God give you strength and wisdom about this.
God grant the priest to think and to do what is right.
Always set limits and enforce them. Just say no to going to a man’s apartment alone.
He may very well just be lonely and want some attention but you should always remind him of his vows and your vows and never create an occasion of sin for anyone.
I would cancel the meeting, and I would think seriously about reporting this to someone.
[FONT=“Comic Sans MS”]**This is IMHO - you need to have a face to face with this priest…WITH one other person who you trust. Why this? One main reason.
If he is truly a person of demonstrative expression and not a person of harm - it will give him an opportunity to be truthful and understand how his actions can be seen as more.
This may not achieve the resolution that is needed however it is giving the priest the benefit of the doubt.
The Catholic Church has zero tolerance. I always say it is better to error on the side of caution - so I actually understand this attitude…however I have seen priests taken out of active ministry for years when only one accusation has been made and never substantiated.
I pray that you will have strength to pursue this tender situation.**[/FONT]
I am assuming you are married but for all sorts of reasons this may not be the case. I can only tell you what I would do if I was in such a position. I would trust my instincts and if I was uncertain I would suggest meeting out, over coffee or at my place at a time my husband was in, getting Him to open the door to the priest and then allowing the meeting to take place in private. I would also think it wise to mention to the priest concerns about feeling awkward about the idea of meeting in his apartment and then either myself or my husband telling one of the other priests about your feelings of discomfort, so they can keep an eye open. You are not a minor but imagine if this behaviour were repeated with a meeting with a minor, whether through intent or ignorance, this could have implications for child protection.you need to raise your concerns with appropriate leaders within your parish because even if all this is is an elderly priest lacking awareness, the parish needs to protect itself from potential misunderstanding and scandal. It may be that all that is needed is a quiet word from a fellow priest about being aware but there could be a huge amount at stake here. Here in the UK all parishes have safeguarding officers who are the people to approach, who will contact the diocesan safeguarding officer.
I’m going to encourage you, as well, to have a face to face meeting with him along with a trusted friend or one of the other priests. Do this either at the Cathedral house or at a meeting room at the Cathedral. The priest in question is not here to defend himself. He should be given that opportunity.
The simplest answers may be that he can’t see to drive at night anymore…hence meeting at the apartment. Not wanting the babies there may be to avoid distraction and to get as much done in the least amount of time.
I would also suggest that you are never alone with him. This is to protect both of your reputations.
If I were you, I would back out of the commitment and tell whoever is in charge at the Cathedral what happened. It may be totally innocent, but you said this priest is retired, and it may be the beginning of Alzheimer’s or similar. Those at the Cathedral should be informed of what is happening, so that at a minimum they can explain to the priest that his actions are inappropriate.
And pray for this priest!
Thank you all so much for your kind replies, every one of you It seems from your reactions its not as small a deal as i may have thought, whcih is why its always good to talk these things out. About reputations, I really dont want to ruin this man’s reputation as i do believe he is really good at heart and is just a flawed man who is making some silly decisions and judgements. The majority of people seem to be saying to trust my instincts and dont go to the meeting and i think this is what i shall do. As Francie3 said, I do feel uncomfortable to the point where I want to avoid Mass and am even thinking about no longer attending RCIA in order to avoid further complications. I totally understand what people are saying about a face to face meeting in order to sort things out but Im afraid of adding fuel to the fire. Howerver taking into consideration what everyone has said, I do think its wise to tell some one else in a position of authority. But I dont think i should mention names because like jmjconder said, he really may just be naturally demonstrative as I’ve always thought him to be. I dont want him to get into trouble as ive started to feel maybe this is my fault by not putting my foot down sooner and simply saying, sorry but i cant do that.
Once again thank you all for taking the time to read my post and for giving your excelent advice. You’re all absolute stars.
You know, thats exactly the sort of thing im concerned about. His lack of judgement etc could be a sign of something like Alzheimer’s. I pray to God its not as serious as that, but it may be the case. He’s always been such a dear guy and I honnestly dont want to make any trouble for him, but im starting to see that informing someone, preferably one of the other priests, is the best thing to do. The other priests are brilliant guys and Im sure they’ll be very careful and gentle. Im worried though. Oh yes, I shall pray for him
Am I worrying over nothing?
Absolutely not.There is something very wrong.
This is totally incredibly inappropriate behavior by the priest and anybody thinking otherwise need to get there head out of the sand.
Cut off all apartment meetings and private meetings if not all meetings. He frankly is taking advantage of your kindness and belief all priest are not sinful.
Talking with another priest about this would be wise and maybe show him this thread or your post for printed words are better than spoken. we don’t need to leave this priest to try and take advantage of other people.Neither do we want him undermining the church God or our righteousness.
Alzheimer’s does not have strategy!!!
I don’t think so but Its just a nice way to put it.
I thought the same thing. So a bunch of us are on the same track. Forgetting the previous social boundaries is very Alzheimer behavior. I will add him to my prayers. Maybe some evaluation is in order.
People with dementia can, and do, form strategies.
Thank you Prayers are always good.
Its like you know me, in that respect. Thats my problem, I am kind of one of these people who put priests on pedestals and tend to forget they are flawed human beings just like the rest of us. Sure most of them I know, especialy the guys at the cathedral, are the salt of the earth. But the priest in my dilema has definately, Ive come to realise, made a few mistakes as of late. He has always been a sweet guy before this and the last thing I want to do is get him into trouble.
Because thats my next worry. Ive decided that I must not meet with him in his appartment, thats a given. But now I ought to do something in order to stop him from hurting himself by getting into ambiguos situations and then getting himself into serious trouble as a consiquence. And I think the best way to do that is by having a word with one of the cathedral priests and see if they can do something to help him before he oversteps the mark again.
Father please send Your Holy Spirit into this situation with wisdom and guidance.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil. Amen