Priest not washing clothes to be in solidarity with the poor



A priest in my diocese has decided not to wash his cloths, in order to be in solidarity with the homeless. Some seminarians in my diocese said that his body odor was terrible when they had dinner with him. They suspect he is doing this to draw attention to himself. This is not the first radical thing this priest has done. He is very young.

Is this practice morally acceptable for a priest? What’s your opinion?

I’m not going to show the answer to anyone in my diocese, including the priest. I am just curious whether it makes sense or not.

  • JMartyr73340


Just out of curiosity, why is there a red dot by my name?


This in interesting – a moral theology thread that does not involve whether the poster is in a state of mortal sin or not for some minor or harmless act. Alert the press!

Seriously, speaking only for myself, I respectfully disapprove of what the priest is doing. It seems rather attention seeking. There are lots of things we can do to assist the poor and/or draw attention to them; deliberately refusing to bathe or wash seems not really among them.

I have other issues with it as well:

  1. Might it cause the priesthood in general to be looked on in disrepute, i.e., “here comes that crazy priest again, let’s avoid him?”
  2. It could cause some to legitimately avoid the sacraments, i.e., “I’ll pass on confession today, since that crazy Father X is hearing them and he reeks.”
  3. I question if it’s disrespectful to others. Priests have many legitimate ministries, including, for example, visiting the sick and attending wakes for the deceased. Is it respectful to a deceased and those visiting to attend a wake that way? I won’t even go into the issues of visiting a hospital – filled with those whose immune systems are weakened or compromised - in that unhygienic state. Phrased differently, those who have a legitimate need for a priest have such need as a result of their spiritual needs, and they should not be subjected to what amounts to being the victim of “raising others’ awareness of the poor,” or whatever is (mis)guiding this priest.

My 2 cents.




Hello PolarGuy:

Great post.

I personally think that fasting (privately) would be a more effective way of being in solidarity with the poor. You would not be drawing any attention to yourself and it would be a far greater sacrifice.

Plus, it would avoid all the pitfalls you mentioned…


Thank you to each of you. I actually think the moral theology forum is a great way to hash out items like this, and the question really made me think. Unfortunately, I admit I get a bit weary of all the posts on this board by people who seem to have obsessive-compulsive issues, as I think it gives Catholics a bad name – which is part of my concern over what this priest may unintentionally be doing.


There is no excuse for not keeping clean, even for the homeless. Those homeless who are not clean are so because they have spent all their money on booz or drugs. We are past the age and time when there may have been an excuse for such things in desert areas where the desert Fathers lived.

I think the red dot means you are on line.



Seems as if I heard some pertinent quotation from either a Saint or maybe Bishop Sheen - can’t remember who it was at the moment. But the gist of it was that you shouldn’t make your penance be a penance toward others. I hadn’t even thought about the hygiene issue while visiting the sick; that’s a very valid concern. As for myself, I am very revolted by B.O., and if Father was extremely stinky, I’d be wanting to keep a good distance away and upwind of him! :eek: Which doesn’t seem to be conducive to good ministry. He might do better to start a laundry ministry for the homeless if that’s feasible, rather than what he’s doing that doesn’t really help them and makes interacting with him a trial for others. :twocents:


Granted, he wasn’t a priest, but after Francis of Assisi stripped down naked before the bishop and townspeople, many may have said the same thing about him.


Is this first hand info or second hand which borders on gossip? But in answer to your question, there are many way to be in “solidarity” with the very poor but to not practice basic hygene is not the way to do so. All that is going to do is make the person doing so smell bad and become offensive. If this sort of thing is true, the better answer is to have his spiritual director talk to him. One isn’t going to promote or show solitarity if they become personally offensive to others and that will include the poor he is trying to help.


:eek:Wow, pretty wild idea. He’s unfortunately giving the poor a bad rap. I think he may mean well but he may be going about it the wrong way. I don’t the exact circumstances but if he really wants to help the poor he can just go outside of the parish grounds and look for them on the streets. He can also see for their needs and convers with them as well. ;). really easy solution


This is totally false, outlandish and ridiculous. :(:frowning:


[quote=3DOCTORS;125302…Which doesn’t seem to be conducive to good ministry. He might do better to start a laundry ministry for the homeless if that’s feasible, rather than what he’s doing that doesn’t really help them and makes interacting with him a trial for others. :twocents:



Agree. Plus, I’ll add:
Youth sometimes makes people believe that these notions are a good idea.
I knew someone like that once. One bizarre notion after another. They eventually fade away.


His Bishop should be made aware of his behavior, and I would leave it at that.


Yikes! If he was my pastor I’d likely be temporarily found at another nearby parish Sundays.


Well, it is second-hand information, in that I did not personally smell the priest. This is precisely why I did not mention the name of the priest. I trust the individual who told me, and I know the priest involved.

I hope this was not gossip/slander. I don’t think it is unless I mention the person specifically.


This is what I used to do when I was younger, I didn’t realise I had done it for a noble cause. :D;)

I think he should wash his clothes otherwise the parishioners will be giving him soap for Christmas.


I’m sure he already has heard about it from the boys…:coffeeread:


Well, it would be against the forums rules to specifically mention his name anyway. My concern is that this is second hand info and not direct first hand which can be always suspect even if it is among seminarians. I think your purpose was asking question about what is or isn’t extreme in showing solidarity or support for a group of people or a cause. One poster mention that St. Francis of Assisi stripped himself of his clothes. He did that when he was renouncing his family’s wealthy but he didn’t walk around afterwards without clothes. I think it would be better for you to tell those that told you about this priest that if this is true, they need to go to his spiritual director at the seminar and not talk about it with 2nd and 3rd party which is spreading gossip and doesn’t help this guy with his off base ideas. Sometimes when something sounds a little cocked, it is and you are not sure if this is true, if this was done for a day or two or a week etc and the better things to do is take the matter to his higher ups and not spread rumors about it on the internet.

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