Pastor Directs Care of a Priest?

Does anyone know if the pastor is able to order a priest to get better health care? I know one who has MS, and it is causing a lot of problems. It seism as though he could use someone telling him he must get better care.

MS is a progressive, neurological disease without a cure. Some patients have "on and off" symptoms in the early stages. Others in later stages experience worsening of symptoms that don't improve with treatment of any kind.

If the priest is under the care of a neurologist, there simply may not be much to be done, or various treatments ARE being tried, but symptoms persist or worsen anyway.

I worked in a Neuro office for 15 years, but in clerical, not medical capacity. It was very sad to see the MS patients debilitate over time.

What kind of problems is this causing? If you mean that he needs better medical management (meaning, care from the doctors), as Phaedra777 says, MS is a progressive, incurable disease and sometimes the symptoms are worse than others. If this priest is under the care of a neurologist, it is likely that things are as good as they are going to get. If you're talking about him having emotional difficulties, this very often goes hand-in-hand with the disease process.

On the other hand, if Father is no longer able to manage his activities of daily living -- bathing, toileting, mobility, nutrition, etc., -- perhaps a chat with the Pastor is in order. But sometimes people are very hesitant to admit that they can't function so well anymore, and a mentally-competent adult cannot be forced to accept assistance; they have the right to refuse until their condition deteriorates so much that they become a safety hazard to themselves or to others. It's a tough situation for all involved. :(

God bless,
CarrieH (retired RN)

What I am talking about is the emotional reactions he has to people, apparently caused by the disease, or at least that is as best as we can figure. He over-reacts severely, and I mean very severely, to circumstances with great anger in a way the is disturbing to people because it is so extraordinary. When something bothers him, he attacks, not physically, but knocks to soul out of you suddenly, even over trivial matters. Then he does seem to have a conscience or realize he did it. It has happened during an appointment made at the parish with the priest, and the person was extremely upset at the way he over-reacted, but then was counseled by her mother that it was probably his illness that caused it. There's been lots of instances like that, but those types of reaction and behaviors, I have read, are manageable with proper treatment. We are not sure he is getting it, though, because he naturally has no "care-giver" or person to tell him he's getting worse. Our pastor knows about the many instances, but he says the priest's care is under his own control, but I question whether he can be "ordered" to get better treatment.

Oh, that's a tough situation, and sad for all involved. It is indeed probably the disease causing this, but as long as he remains mentally competent, he can't be forced to take medication. He can be strongly encouraged to address the issue of symptom-management, however, and the pastor would be the most logical person to approach him about this. But since the pastor is already aware of the problem, I guess it's up to him to decide if/when to approach this priest. It wouldn't hurt to have a chat with the pastor about your concerns.

God bless.

[quote="E_Glynn, post:1, topic:256635"]
Does anyone know if the pastor is able to order a priest to get better health care? I know one who has MS, and it is causing a lot of problems. It seism as though he could use someone telling him he must get better care.

[/quote]

it depends on what position the ill priest holds in the parish, but his bishop or religious superior should be able to step in if necessary. In any case it is probably beyond the ability of any thirds parties to intervene.

He is a diocesan priest, and the parochial vicar.

The bishop would NOT be considered a third party, right? Our pastor has told people he has no influence over the priest's care, and we did not know if this is something he is choosing, or if he really does not have any influence, other than maybe suggest to the bishop that there should be intervention.

[quote="E_Glynn, post:7, topic:256635"]
He is a diocesan priest, and the parochial vicar.

The bishop would NOT be considered a third party, right? Our pastor has told people he has no influence over the priest's care, and we did not know if this is something he is choosing, or if he really does not have any influence, other than maybe suggest to the bishop that there should be intervention.

[/quote]

As a secular priest this man's promise of obedience to the bishop only covers things within the Church, they do not cover, in any way, his personal life as long as he is living that life in a manner that does not affect the Church.

A pastor does not have any personal control over any other priests who work in his parish except for things to do with the parish and Liturgy (and then only in limited ways).

As for "getting better health care", that is a very vague phrase. What do you mean? This priest could be limited in his health care due to the insurance he has which he will now not be able to change due to an existing condition. Unless the laws have already changed on that, but even if he could change he may not be able to afford any changes or any "better health care".

Have you spoken to this priest? What makes you think he needs to be compelled to do something?

Yes, “getting better health care” is vague.

He emotionally over-reacts, yells at people, has moments of confusion that a wide variety of people notice, and by his own admission has migraines for 6 weeks or so straight without let-up, has memory issues, and other things. The severity of his reactions, if someone is unsuspecting, can be extremely upsetting to the person who receives the blow. When it happens people either chose to stay away from him, or the pastor or office personnel just tell people to stay away to avoid future problems. This has happened at appointments at the parish, with office employees, and at the rectory. If he gets upset about something, he explodes, rather than just saying to the person what the problem is. He has not exploded in the middle of Mass or anything. He tried to get out of a moving vehicle once because he got annoyed by a normal bit of conversation going on in the car. Most people would not do this…. I am talking about things that are beyond the way most people would behave. When he is not this way, he is quite friendly.

Yes, I have spoken to him about a few things to try to be more careful about. The pastor has spoken to him about his some aspects of his behavior, particularly his temper, but none of us has control. The MS he has is apparently quite devastating.

There’s a little worry there that he may explode toward someone unsuspecting who would be afraid to say anything, but I guess unless it is not life-threatening or physical it’s just something to keep an eye on? There is an elderly priest at the rectory that he screamed at and chased up the stairs because he got upset about something…and we checked on the older priest to be sure he did not feel afraid to come out of his room or that he did not feel his dignity was being compromised, but so far their interaction has been limited.

I guess we just continue to deal with it as best we can, huh? I hear things like his behavior can be managed with medicines, and other things, but I am not a doctor. When does it become serious? That’s the question.

By the way, thank you, everyone!

I suggest you write to the bishop. If his behavior (intentional or not) is affecting his interactions with others, the diocese might want to look into taking him out of ministry. Dioceses do this from time to time. It isn't unusual for someone's mental stability to weaken as they age or progress in a condition such as MS. This happened with a priest in my diocese several years ago. He was always kind to others, but he would ramble so much (about nothing) during his homilies. One time I went to one of his Masses, and it was two hours long. I think the diocese pushed him into retirement soon after that incident, because I didn't see him again after that.

His actions are definitely upsetting the parish community, most are sympathetic and some just plain old stay far away from him because they have experienced the over-reactions, which can be demeaning and cause you to get into sudden arguments with him. I would not call him mentally incompetent, but he definatety has emotional problems. He gets testy in confession, but I would too if I had migraines, and all that. He also has the money to be getting the best care possible, the question is whether he is getting it. Our pastor is no longer sympathetic to him, and he has already said that this priest's behavior is his own problem. So perhaps the bishop could at least be made aware and perhaps, if he decides, he could talk to the family about the issues and maybe between all of them they could be sure that his neurological care, and yes, whatever other therapy he needs,even psychological, is being received.

If, however, he gets physical with anyone because of the pain, or someone goes into a depression that is lasting because of the severe way he has treated them, or the elderly priest at the rectory is afraid to come out of his room or his dignity is being compromised due to intimidation from the younger ill priest, (there was already one incident) I am thinking as are others, that this would become more serious.

I just asked to get general sense that we are not over-reacting ourselves to the situation.
Thank you!

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