New Catholic-Obligation to stay with parish?



I’m a brand new Catholic who’s very happy to be here. My question is regarding my parish- the one through which I came into the Church, through RCIA. The people are wonderful and well-meaning, and I owe a great deal of gratitude to them for welcoming me… but I have a very hard time with the teachings and focus. The Pastor is a New Age universalist type, who expects nothing more of us than “an open mind”. The Pastor and the congregation display an open hostility to the Pope, and to many, if not most of the Church’s historic teachings. It makes me more and more uncomfortable, as I continue to study the Catechism and Church history.

Do I owe my parish an obligation to stick with it, as a new Catholic? Am I being reactionary? Should I “wait and see”, or be concerned about stunting my own growth?


Especially for a New Catholic, it sounds to me like you’ve got a bit of a trial ahead.

You’d have to start with questioning the Pator on some of his teachings, if that doesn’t work escalate it to the Bishop.

The problem I think you have as a new Catholic is deciding if you are equiped to take on this challenge?

I’d say most Catholics, new or old, are not.

So I’d think about looking for some support in the “fight”, if you can’t find it within the Parish, I’d look to another parish.



Unfortunately this Pastor’s antics are a poorly kept secret, and have been for some time. He hasn’t changed since the 70s, and the Bishop, though a good man, doesn’t seem inclined to do much about it.

I wish I had known about this sooner, but it took time to absorb all of it. I get the feeling that joining the “fight” would be bad form, as I am new here. Leaving for a better parish with a clearer purpose would seem an alternative… but would it be “bad form” for someone who was JUST welcomed into the Church? At the same time, I don’t like feeling stuck, without options.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback.


Have you talked it over with your pastor? you might take him to Starbuck’s or something…

Of course if it gets ridiculous there are other parishes. It never hurts to look around.

Meanwhile, The Catholic Home Study Service has some outstanding stuff you can study for free.

Stay in touch. :thumbsup:

It’s not bad form. Follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.


You are certainly free to join another parish. Under circumstances similar to yours, I checked with a priest I trusted and asked him about changing parishes. He recommended changing if it reached the point where the priest spoke contrary to Church teaching. We ended up changing parishes and were never sorry.

I’d suggest attending another parish for awhile (to see what it is like) before going ahead and registering there.



Sound’s like a good time to check out another parish.

And pray for the bishop and your former pastor.



What a horrible dilemma!

I would first seek to understand what the teaching of the Catholic Church really is (reading the Catechism if you haven’t already is a good start). I’d then see if what your priest is teaching conflicts with what the Church teaches, or if the matter is one of style or interpretation. Then I’d pray.

Do you have a deacon you could talk to? Our deacon is very knowledgeable and approachable, so if I were in your situation I would go to him and get his perspective. He works closely with the priests, has spent a long time understanding the Church, and can provide valuable insight.

If this did not satisfactorily resolve the issue, I’d set up an appointment and speak with the priest directly, in a loving and fact-based way. Give him a chance to address your concerns, and do so in a way that shows your devotion to the Church.

Sometimes we simply don’t understand the implications of our actions or our words, and a minor tossed-off comment becomes a major problem. Perhaps your priest has let his apparent disappointment with the elevation of Pope Benedict XVI show.

I would do these things before leaving your parish, because you have an obligation to your more timid brothers and sisters as well as to yourself. If you’re feeling alienated from the Church as a result of your priest’s actions, others probably are as well. It would be a kindness to let him know so he can fix things as best as he can.


Nita, may I ask what was the final straw? Just vaguely, not in detail is fine… And how were you received in your new parish?

I do pray for the Bishop, and I pray for and respect the Pastor. I know he deserves honor; I just can’t go along with what he says when I know it to be false.


This is the procedure which the Church recommends for reporting controversies within the Church:

Effective Lay Witness Protocol


Welcome and sorry your parish is placing you in this position! Yes, I think leaving for a more conservative parish might be the most prudent choice for you. You need a church home that will help you grow as a deep-thinking Catholic, and it doesn’t sound like the current parish can offer this.


It’s been 15, or more, years ago. The things that caused me to seek the other priest’s advice bothered me almost more than when he actually made a statement contrary to church teaching in a parish discussion group. In response to a question about current teaching/thinking about angels, he said that angels are the “thoughts” of God. I challenged him and asked if it wasn’t official Church teaching that angels are created spiritual “beings”. I got a long steady glare, but he did answer truthfully and finally said “Yes”. The saddest thing was, he was a young traditional priest when he first came to our parish. Think he was influenced by others; the biggest change came after a retreat (or sabbatical, can’t remember which) in Berkeley, CA. I still continue to pray for him.

We lived in St. Paul, MN, at the time and there are many Catholic parishes there. We had no problem being accepted in the new parish. I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem in switching parishes.



Save yourself from and ulcer and shake the dust of that place off your feet and move on. You are not required to stay and fight what will probably be a losing battle.


Do you have some examples to say that he is a New Age type? or opening hostility to the Pope and others?

You can move any where you want, but pray about it.


I need to be VERY careful here, to not get specific in any way… my intention is to stay as far away as possible from specifics/naming names.

Short answer, yes and yes. Jesus as a “Cosmic energy”, us becoming a part of the “Universal oneness” after death, the Pope as a relic whose words will not ALWAYS be binding on us, as long as we keep disagreeing and dissenting.

Amen. I wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.


Hi PalaceFlophaus,
I hope you’ll write a letter to your bishop about the errors of faith your pastor is perpetrating, and encourage your fellow parishioners to do so too. Keep hoping that these efforts will produce fruits – if so, it will be for the good of the parish and for the Church in general. If your bishop has any sense of responsibility in this, hopefully it will be for the good of your pastor.

 You said: *"I get the feeling that joining the 'fight' would be bad form, as I am new here. Leaving for a better parish with a clearer purpose would seem an alternative... but would it be 'bad form' for someone who was JUST welcomed into the Church?" *You are as equal a Catholic as any other Catholic.  Our membership as Jesus' disciples isn't broken down by "status" or "class."   Sometimes we've got to step out of our comfort zones and jump into the fight.  : ) 

 You, your pastor, your bishop, and your parish are in my prayers.


Hi PalaceFlophaus,

That is worse than anything I had to contend with - and definitely justifies seeking another parish.



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