Is my priest being inappropriate?

I am a new member, Hi!

I used to go to this one great Catholic Chruch. I always felt so good when I went there. Then one day this new priest joined the clergy owing to the unfortunate death of our Canon.

This (young) priest, same age as me, immdiately established a close network between us. He would email me daily to inform me of which mass he would be holding the next day, so to ensure that was the one I attended and not the mass given my one of the other three priests. Note, normally I attend church only on Sundays and I found it invasive the way this priest was trying to control my time.

Then when I would attend and after service I would go to pray, I would hear him hissing at me from the confession box, for me to come over. “Pssst…Psst.” When I go over, he’s all asking how I am and stuff, but it feels more like he is chatting me up (in a way). Then he asked me to accomany him for lunch in his home, when the other (head) priest was on a formal engagement abroad. I went with my friend. We spent the afternoon in an intimate setting and sharing lots of intimate detail. Then he continued to email me to thank me and to continue inviting me to services, making sure that it was his that I was attending.

I felt overcroweded by him and his imposition on me to stay behind with him aswell. My lovely church no longer felt free but it was a place that I started to avoid and I left. I spent a whole year at a new church.

Recently, I was involved in a major family dilemma and I needed to seek council as I was so confused about which way to go. Given that my new church is currently unstaffed, I went back to him for a conversation. Immediately, he hugged me tightly and said “You look so beautiful.” Then we sat down for the serious conversation, and he kept on trying to hold my hands. Then, instead of focusing on my dilemma, he started asking me if I had a boyfriend and what was the reason that he could not have my phone number. I didnt want to get into why I didnt have a boyfriend, even though the whole reason I was there was to discuss my being victim of abuse, so I just gave him my number. Then he asked me why I did not have a boyfriend. I said “there are no good men,” at which point he said “I am a good man” and laughed.

Later, when I was attempting to talk again about the reason I was there, he whispered in my ear saying “so when are you going to invite me to your house for dinner?”

There are some more bits but you get the gist. What bugs me even more about him is that he is so personal and intimate (in the way I described, only) face to face and when we exchange emails, he turns all formal and fraternal. It makes me feel like an object of his manipulation.

So, those of you who know more than me and are otherwise objective to this situation, could you tell me please whether I am blowing this out of proportion by thinking that I should report him and he is being inappropriate. Or is he being appropriate and cool?

Many thanks in anticipation of your answers.

Tell him that he is too close for comfort, that he is not to touch your person whatsoever. You might also tell him to keep his distance, not to approach you. If he violates these requests, I would report him. I don’t know the protocol for this, but maybe there is a department in your diocese that handle abuse claims. Maybe some other posters can shed light on that.

Please talk to your pastor about this.

This may be as simple as a new priest who still has a lot to learn about interpersonal relationships. If so, he needs to be corrected by a more senior priest so that, in the future, he may better perform his duties as a priest.

Or it may be something more malevolent.

Either way, you should discuss your concerns with your pastor and let him handle it from there. I would also avoid this young priest who is making you uncomfortable.

Good luck.

Hey Jared, thank you for replying. I really appreciate your advice (truly). However, for future postings, I just want to know your opinion in regards to whether or not he his being inappropriate. As to how I will deal with it (to tell him or to report him) is not my question. Thank you so much for contributing! :slight_smile:

Thank you. That sounds good. I felt guilty to talk to a senior about this. But as you say it may be a problem for him in the future if he does not know the correct conduct. Thank you.

Emails can be traced and read by others, such as his superiors. Emails, text messages and such can get people in big trouble, as we know from numerous examples in the media. Personal, non-recorded communications are not as damaging and can be explained as a misunderstanding, or the other person’s word against his. This tells me right away that he is manipulating you and your relationship.

So, those of you who know more than me and are otherwise objective to this situation, could you tell me please whether I am blowing this out of proportion by thinking that I should report him and he is being inappropriate. Or is he being appropriate and cool?

Many thanks in anticipation of your answers.

You are not blowing it out of proportion. There is no acceptable reason for him to be doing and saying what he does. You are best served by avoiding him and going to another parish. You should also tell him that you do not want any further contact from him; put it in writing. Then, if he violates that condition, or refuses to comply in any way, contact the diocese immediately. In fact, you may want to do this in any case. This guy will bring trouble to himself and anyone (or at the least any young female) who allows him to get “personal”. Don’t feel guilty about “tattling” but consider that you will likely be helping others and him to avoid all kinds of problems and scandal.

First, welcome.

Second, if his behavior makes you feel uncomfortable, then it is subjectively inappropriate (that is as far as hugs & personal references, obviously…if he makes you feel uncomfortable in that he is helping you identify faults and the like, then that’s a different story, but not the situation you’re talking about).

As far as whether it is objectively inappropriate, I have always found that with a situation involving n people, there are, at a minimum, n+1 perspectives to deal with before we can actually determine that we have “ground truth” – therefore, I will withhold pronouncement on that one way or the other. And, sadly, I do not have available to me any etiquette guides for priest conduct short of canon law (and if he didn’t violate the 6th Commandment or attempt to do so, then canon law is not going to be helpful here).

As far as objective rules of conduct that priests are supposed to follow: if I was you, I would detail your circumstance in a private message to one or more of the three priests who do apologetics duties here: Fr Serpa, Fr Grondin, or Fr Filmer. I am relatively certain that they would be happy to provide you with some more authoritative information and expert advice on what is objectively acceptable and what is not than anybody here would be able to do.

As far as your comment,

However, for future postings, I just want to know your opinion in regards to whether or not he his being inappropriate. As to how I will deal with it (to tell him or to report him) is not my question. Thank you so much for contributing!

Frankly, you posted this to the Moral Theology forum, which has, as its stated purpose, Sin, temptation, life/death issues, moral & ethical dilemmas. It is a public forum, meaning that the people responding to threads are just ordinary schmucks like the two of us. None of us are paid to be here and, with the exception of a couple of Theology graduates, none of us attest to be professionals in the field…

Therefore, I think it would be more appropriate for you to filter through the responses to get the information you need rather than asking people to just answer your question without opining on the subject at large.

Just speaking for myself, when I answer questions, I always try to be complete…provide a reference if I have one and clearly state whether something is objectively the case or just my opinion (since everybody can have an opinion on the Interwebz, that is particularly important)…and so on. The reason being that there are lurkers who just might need to know the little bits of extra info I provide.

I hope you’re able to find the answer you need.

Not to sound weird, but this sounds like it came out of my own head. I agree totally with what you have written: about the red tape manipualtion and about helping others. To that end, actually, I have so far resolved to write to him all of what has gone on between us, as if it is just between me and him, and simply to say how I didnt like it. If he responds to say “sorry, didnt mean to make you uncomfortable” rather than deny it, then effectively the evidence is in writing. I can then forward this to his superior. I have not sent it off yet, however.

I do feel it is proper to report him because I feel he is abusing his position. I said in the email that not even my doctor holds my hand! Given that he jumped all this on me the first time we met, and now the first time he has seen me in a year, makes me think that I must not be the first or last. I really dont think it takes a lot or that he is suited to celibacy. Certainly of the three other priests I have known, he is the only one that stands out with this behaviour.

Thank you.

If I had a religious person acting that way towards me I would tell her that she makes me uncomfortable and that we shouldn’t being seeing each other.

Lunch with him in is home is INAPPROPRIATE.

Thank you for recommending the personnel who may be able to provide me with some tailored assistance. And thank you, of course, for your answer.

As to my message stipulating the question, it was not to discriminate in any way and I am not here to moderate. It was said simply to inform people of the particularities of my specific question. I have no issue with reading fuller responses or to learn of new ways of dealing with problems. I did thank the poster for their contribution, twice.

And I thank you for yours. :slight_smile:

Thank you posts #9 and #10 for your good answers. :slight_smile:

Objectively inappropriate actions.
Subjective alarm bells and red flags.

Yes, what you describe is extremely inappropriate. So much so that, were I in your shoes, I would (a) block him on email; (b) not answer any phone calls from him; and © not attend Mass at that church, whether he was scheduled to celebrate the Mass or not.

Sorry for answering the wrong question. This is a personal flaw of mine. I try to help solve people’s problems sometimes when that’s not what they are asking. You are not the first to give me this criticism. Family tend to say “I just want your thoughts on this. Don’t try to solve my problems!” Thanks for the reminder. =)

Report this to your archdiocese to the appropriate department, in writing, and save the copies.
Then leave that particular parish church and don’t go there again (as long as that particular priest is there).
Pray for him and leave it to God.

There is absolutely no need to apologise. You are sweet. :slight_smile: It is a sign of caring, I know.

I felt so bad to mess up someone’s career that I wanted to get a second opinion about my perceptions. And you are right. That second opinion may come from his senior. Indeed that seems to be the solution to my problem. Merci.

Brilliant answers #2, #13, #14 and #16. Thank you for helping me in this unusual predicament.

Yes, he is definitely being inappropriate.

Just my opinion, but it sounds like he has bad intentions in mind. I just can’t think of any other reason he would act that way. Sounds controlling too, so it may be a sign of worse things than inappropriate behavior.

If it was me, I would send him a letter as its much easier to put things down on paper as we might get a bit tongue tied when talking to him first before doing anything, tell him that you find his actions not on for a priest, and if he persists that you will be forced to find another Church plus go the Parish Priest regards it.

Lets give Fr a chance in all charity as nothing has happened nor do you want anything to happen, he has joined the priesthood and this is not the way to behave.

If after the letter you don’t see a distance put between him and you, well you know what to do, but in all Charity we all deserve a chance do the letter and take it from there.

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