Moral dilemma about a parish priest


This is an issue that worries me much that I finally thought I will post it hear to get some help.

I have been attending mass daily at the current parish close to 4 years now. The parish priest follows almost all the liturgical rules and the mass is for the most part very reverent.

However, in all these 4 years, he has never once mentioned sin or repentance. He does not mention hell either but I can at least understand that he might feel there is no need to mention it if he can keep everyone from it. I however do not understand his silence on sin and repentance. Only time he speaks of the sacrament of confession is during the service he has before confession during that single day in lent but even then there is not much mention of repentance.

Only thing he emphasizes in his homilies or other times is temporal works of charity to help the poor. He even tells us that we are doing more than enough anyway and what he says is almost redundant.

To somewhat add to the problem, I have also noticed that he avoids ever mentioning asking saints for their intercession. Even with the Blessed Virgin Mary on a feast day, only thing that is mentioned is to imitate her (again with temporal works of charity). In this month of November I was once again reminded how he avoids saying that we pray for souls in purgatory. It is stated as more of a remembrance of those who died.

Now lately I feel like I am doing wrong in being silent and never speaking to him about it. It is so much so that it eats away at me. But at the same time, I feel like I might be concerning myself with things that are above me. He is a priest and I am really just a no body in his parish with no credentials or ministry in the Church.

Is it wrong if I speak to him? Are there any saints who have written on what a lay person should do in such a case? Is the only option to just continue to pray for him? I just feel that just praying is not enough because it feels like he is not helping many as effectively as he could if he would speak the entire Catholic faith. But I do accept if this is just my own weakness and will work on it instead but I just want to be sure that it is what I must do.

This is not a “moral dilemma” it is a priest who does things differently than you would. But he is your Father. You should respect him.

How is this an issue of morality? You haven’t heard the priest say anything that contradicts Church teaching have you? He just isn’t emphasizing what you would like to hear about. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in it.

“And all men are ready to pass judgement on the priest as if he was not a being clothed with flesh, or one who inherited a human nature.” - John Chrysostom

Pray for his awakening. Priests can be as vulnerable to culture as the next human being. He is a priest. He is also an American. He’s probably just one among countless other victims that filters out the aspects of truth that are not well liked. He’s not acting immoral in an easily identifiable sort of way, although a person that completely avoids sin, repentance, and hell, is doing an objectively poor job; it is not a question of personal preference and there is no possible excuse for that. Not for him nor for the one who defends him.

Write a respectful and robust letter if you feel so inclined. It might be a seed that ends up reviving his fervor. More than likely it will do nothing. Attend another parish if it upsets you enough. If you’ve been there 4 years then you’ve tolerated it far longer than I would have. I would have fled a long time ago.

I understand what you’re saying. It used to be that confessions were heard every Sat morning so the faithful were prepared to celebrate the sacred mysteries worthily on Sunday. There were retreats and homilies on the four last things, Death, Judgement, Hell and Heaven. It would do all of us well to ponder them and strengthen us to live a life of virtue and to resist sin. I would say that in general, there is a loss of the sense of sin, and confession is not ‘popular’.

If you feel in your heart that God wishes you to speak to him, pray much first. Ask for the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, who is a tender mother to all priests. Certainly pray for our priests in general throughout your country, they greatly need our prayers.

God bless and strengthen you today.

I agree with you that there seems to be a lack of going to Confession by the laity. We have Confession before Mass on both Saturday Evenings and on Sunday. I rarely observe no more than two or three people going to Confession, yet more than half of the congregation receives Holy Communion. It leads one to think that we have a lot of Saints amongst us!
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that any priest who would preach for wider use of the Confessional would be equated with preaching “Fire and Brimstone” which would alienage the congregation, to the detriment of the parish.
I don’t know where you live, but I have never witnessed the public reading of the Gospel or having a Sermon other than at Sunday Mass or Mass on Holy Days.
Since this seems to be the rule in most of the US, how could the priest preach about Confession and Repentance?

I too have been in a parish where the priest simply never hit upon the topics I thought he should have.

Was it his problem or mine?

Doesn’t really matter. Prayer is the answer.

Not a problem. For some reason he feels that it is not a good idea to speak directly on these subjects. It is not your job to give him adivce on his approach. Pray for him to persevere in his vocation. Try to be a help around the parish and don’t discuss these feelings of yours with other parishoners, that would be wrong.


Well, its not that he does not want to directly speak about them but often times he seems to deliberately speak of something else. Once there was a priest who came to visit for a few months. During a Q&A session on a parish meeting a person wanted to know of judgement and our priest just laughed and joked. The visiting priest then proceeded to answer the question and he explained it quiet well. All I saw was my parish priest getting upset and he remained so afterward.

Very next morning, our parish priest announced that the visiting priest will be going back (my priest and our bishop are very good friends).

Surely, to only mention every day that “we should just walk in faith and do good to others” and by repeating this good to be only works of charity seems criminal in that there is so much more to be said.

That is what upsets me.

sounds like every priest ive ever encountered most priests are reluctant to do a latin blessing or do the traditional investure for the scapular and the ones Ive met are very vague and reluctant to talk about sin and gave me a very lenient penance for a very serious sin to the point where I had to seek out a traditional pre vatican 2 priest before I felt absolved and forget about a good old fire and brimstone sermon like the ones my preacher uncle used to preach I think that is one thing that priests should take from protestant ministers that firey love of God to the pulpit a genuine concern for immortal souls to talk about sin and the gravity and wages of sins and the reality of hell. And he should be emphasizing the importance of praying for souls in purgatory since it is very important part of our faith. I would leave the parish and seek out a more traditional one to be honest but thats up to you youve been there for 4 yrs you may have community ties and dont want to leave in that case voice your concerns to him its very important since he is the spiritual director of many souls that need the truth about the faith.

Thanks all for your replies. I will definitely pray about it and hopefully if God wants me to speak to him, he will present an opportunity.

This is not necessarily true. There is a certain Jesuit in Orange County who does campus ministry. I’ve heard him twice at least urge people to frequent the Confessional from the very pulpit. The students in the pews don’t seem to hate him for it. And I think it shows - there have been several vocations attributable in some way to that ministry.

Then there was that Norbertine who preached about the necessity of going to confession. Little criticism there.

Brother your priest is not only doing nothing wrong he is, in large part, doing everything right.

First question: do you attend daily mass? During popularly or Sunday (liturgically) homilies priests know to sow a little seed that will grow. They are delivering milk not meat yet.

Second question: Do you believe in evangelizing the culture? Do you believe that God’s grace is first and foremost for building a healthy and happy society? If so, then what your priest is preaching is right on target: we need to touch our neighbours with the love of Christ. It bewilders and works wonders. The saints in heaven will pray for us without our asking if we reach out like Christ with our hands and touch the sick (spiritually or materially) and tell them, “Son, your sins are forgiven you; now go, and tell the priests.”

True enough the temporal “axis” or praxis of the Church in the here and now seems alarming from a certain perspective. I personally am trying to remind Catholics from Scripture of the beauty of the doctrine of Purgatory; however, while we must always remember the dead and pray for them, our first duty is to souls in need now. Remember that in the Gospels is what the souls of the most miserable seeming sinners that Christ touched and, who, after encountering our blessed Lord, could not keep themselves from proclaiming the good news.

Our society, brother, is deeply hurting in so many ways. Truly the best thing we can do in day-to-day affairs is reach out and touch someone with the love of Christ.

Certainly that is the job of the laity, to be salt and light to the world.

A priest though, has the job of feeding the sheep, and calling them to repentance is what our Lord encouraged, and how John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord to come. To understand how sin hurts us, our relationship with God, and our ability to love when we go out to the world, is a significant message that should not be neglected in the course of a year of homilies. It’s like marriage and family life. We are called to love each other, but saying “I’m sorry” as often as we need to helps to heal wounds. It teaches us humility and compassion. That’s what going to confession entails, understanding sin, and how it wounds us. It certainly wouldn’t be a ‘detriment to the parish’.

Our priests certainly need our prayers, and our hurts and struggles through the day may be offered in union with Christ for their ministry. They have big shoes to fill.

I think i must be lucky. I have heard some brilliant sermons lately. They have the right balance of instruction & encouragement. Maybe just write a kind letter suggestingyour ideasto the priest & see what response you get. The priest might be glad someone is interested enough to comment. You nevet know, he may have been beaten up one day for mentioning sin… If you feel you are getting no luck, maybe suggest to your Bishop to include more instruction on sin in the diocese in general. And, dont be afraid to.go ‘priest shopping’ - go to different parishes if you can & see if you find a priest who ‘floats your boat’. You can always return occasionally to your home parish to ‘pay a visit’. Good luck!:wink:

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