Is OCD an impediment to the priesthood?

I am discerning a call to the priesthood; however, I struggle heavily with the scruples, a form of OCD. Would this disqualify me from the priesthood?

The Church requires good mental health for either holy orders or religious vows. I guess it would depend on how crippling the condition is. Only a trained mental health professional and a vocation director can determine this and offer you guidance in this respect.


JR :slight_smile:

OCD, ADHD, SAD, etc. I believe are called “behavioral health problems” rather then mental health issues which are for example bipolar disorder or paranoia. You still need to find counseling, but you only need to find a good psychologist familiar with treating these behavioral health issues… not a psychiatrist for mental health treatment.

And, if you don’t already have a Spiritual Director, get yourself one. They are trained to help individuals with the relationship with the Lord, as well as assist those in discernment. They also know about helping with scruples (which you are correct in saying falls under OCD).

My dad has a classic case of OCD and I have been under treatment for ADHD. I too had scruples years back, and with the help of both a psychologist and spiritual director, the scruples are history. Is the ADHD… no way, that’s a gift I thank God for every day.

Keep praying, but get out there and seek out treatment. Fear Not!


I am not so sure about this. The advice of getting a spiritual director and seeking out professional mental health is right on but to say that these are “behavioral health problems” may not be accurate.

I know that ADHD and SAD can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that can be helped with medication, I do not know about OCD but something makes me think this could also be due to chemical imbalances as it can occur with other issues.

Best thing to do is seen professional help and do what they tell you. Find a good priest and/or spiritual director and see if they can refer you to someone.

This is incorrect. OCD, ADHD and SAD are all in the DSM IV and they are all mental health issues. They may all be caused by organic neurological problems or chemical imbalances. There isn’t a difference between mental health and behavioral health problems, medically, there is just a difference among the disorders themselves. OCD, ADHD, SAD, paranoia and bipolar disorder can all be treated with medication and therapy. A psychiatrist can provide both, but a psychologist cannot prescribe medication.

Now then, as to the priesthood: Not knowing the extent of your illness, I wouldn’t be able to say, but OCD is treatable and many people who have it are able to function normally. It will be a challenge, but it shouldn’t necessarily be an impediment. Talk to your vocations director about it and talk to your mental health professional about your desire to become a priest and how your OCD interferes with your life. Both will help you get on the right track.

God bless,

When I first read the title of this thread, I wondered why OCD would be an impediment - but that’s only because I have been focused on the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD) for so long, that I didn’t recognize the abbreviation right away as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder! :shrug:

All I can say is not to put road blocks in your way at the beginning (I assume this is the beginning of your discernment?). There are many factors involved here, including - how long have you been scrupulous - is this a new thing or a long term concern? Who diagnosed the OCD - a doctor or priest? You see, there are just too many factors to be able to answer a question like this online.

That’s why the advice given to you about seeking a spiritual director is so important. Sometimes we think we are being scrupulous when we are not. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are, when we are! Sometimes I wish my relatives were more scrupulous and not so “laid back” about the practice of their faith. It is about situation and perspective. But on the other hand, OCD is something that needs to be addressed, if that is what you have.

So seek good counsel from experts in both fields.

God bless you.

wow, i have ocd myself. i tried thinking why i had ocd. if it was my fault. i never really told many ppl about my disorder. ahh i hid it! anyways, i don’t think it should take control over your priesthood. i never went to a psychologist before. i only take vitamins to help control
my thoughts

I’m sorry if this isn’t addressed to the original poster (who I pray for), but I pray that you (hienieboo) will start going to a psychologist, regular confessor or spiritual director.

Hi, I too have OCD (ncluding some problems with scrupulosity).

I am neither a theologian nor a mental health expert, but unless your OCD is very severe (to the point that it strongly interferes with your daily functioning) I can’t really see why it would prevent you from becoming a priest. After all it is God who sends us our vocations–I find it hard to believe that He would send you a vocation He knew you could not fulfill! :slight_smile:

Also this started me wondering–I bet there are a lot of priests (including some very good ones!) who also struggle with the challenge of OCD. Anyone who has struggled with OCD, depression, etc often finds it a blessing in disguise–it’s a humbling experience, and also a very good way to learn to feel patience and compassion for others who are suffering. I would feel very, very comfortable with a priest who “shares” my OCD and who can understand just how difficult it is. You could well be a great inspiration to many people!!

We know that a great many saints (and many great saints lol!) who went thru a “dark night of the soul”. This caused them great suffering but it did nothing to detract from their spiritual greatness–if anything I suspect it taught them even greater compassion for the suffering of others. Probably a lot of people nowadays would say these saints were suffering from depression, or OCD, or who knows what–and maybe they were!–but so what?! They are still among the greatest of the saints!

And I’ll bet some of our great saints suffered from what we now call OCD!

And don’t forget–as others have said, there are very definitely helpful treatments for OCD! It is by no means a “hopeless” condition!!

Never forget to follow your heart. If God wants you to become a priest, that is just what will happen–with God, all things are possible!! :thumbsup:

God bless you, and please let us know how things are going with you! :blessyou:

actually i talked to my best friend about this and i do have a teacher that was going to be a psychologist. she actually helps me with my problems. yes, it can be a very big struggle for me and i have taken many vitamins to get rid of some unwanted thoughts. i try to keep busying too.

I deal with the same thing. I deal with scruples and am discerning a call to the priesthood. If you feel the way I do, it feels scary approaching people about your problem, but no amount of embarrassment has the value of finding your vocation. Get a spiritual director and if your spiritual director tells you to contact your vocation director. I will keep you in my prayers and please keep mine in yours as well.

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