Priests and Smoking

We just got a new priest at our parish. I think he is doing a wonderful job so far. He is challengeing the church in many ways and encouraging stronger prayer and community and outreach. However he smokes and some are so bothered by this they want to switch parishes. I feel that it is no worse for him to have a weakness that is easily seen by public than one that is not. We all have weaknesses. Others say Protestant churches will look down on us more because he is the lead example for our community and that he needs to set a better example for us to lead us into a deeper holiness. I am unsure how to react. Any advice would be great.

Since you asked:

Support him in love. Volunteer your time, talent and treasure.

Why should you care about what Protestant churches think? The man has given up his entire life for Christ as an example of holiness - how many in the Protestant church will claim that?

You’re kidding, right? If the depth of their conviction to the Lord and their parish can be shaken by your pastor doing something open and legal, do nothing and don’t let the door of the narthex hit them in the donkey on the way out.

Disclaimer: I don’t smoke. I have never smoked. I came from a family of chain smokers. I think it is a disgusting habit (but then again most of us have some bad habits). I support your right to engage in your habit as long as we agree on a way to do it so I don’t have to breathe it.

Think of it this way: God wants us to take care of ourselves, right? We were created in His image and likeness, after all. When people smoke they are hurting their body a little bit at a time. Smoking, I would consider, a weakness since many people become addicted and have a hard time of quiting.
The good news is: God helps us overcome our weaknesses and focus more on our strengths. Your priest sounds like he has many strengths to make up for his smoking problem (weakness). My priest used to smoke and one day quit cold turkey; he coughs a lot at Mass to show for the years he was addicted.
But like I said, since everyone is facing their own battle, we should focus on the strengths and not the weaknesses.

Hope I helped in some way!

I don’t see the problem; why should a priest who smokes be a reason to switch parishes? I admit smoking is a bad habit and not at all a healthy one. I am not a smoker but I know priest who have smoked in the past but I never felt like switching parishes because of it. What else is going on that parishioners want to leave?:confused:

He sounds like a priest we had in the mid 1960s. He was the first priest I really felt a connection with and he could really relate to us teenage lads. We noted that he smoked but no-one condemned him for it. Yes, we all have our little weaknesses.

Just make the most of him because he sounds like a great priest. He’ll give up when the time comes.

Cheers, Rove

Maybe smoking helps him deal with celibacy. I know a fair number of priests who turned to the bottle over that issue, so next to that smoking, as harmful as it can be, doesn’t seem so bad. What’s next for those parishoners: tsk-tsking over a priest having a car that seems too “sporty” and “un-priest-like?” I’ve known folks like that too.

I agree with the other posts, who cares if he smokes, he is HUMAN! It doesn’t change what kind of priest he is. As for the other parishiners leaving, get a grip,maybe it is people like you who have driven him to smoke!! :smiley: Your new priest might smoke also, but might do it in private going to leave that parish also?. Would you leave if he drinks? (and I don’t mean in the fashion of alcohol abuse, but socially). I don’t smoke, but I am not going to be apart of some movement to chastise those who do smoke. Some people, even though they know what goes with it, simply like to smoke.

As for what the protestants think, really, why do we care. It is because of our fear of what the protestants think that we have the church we do. They were a big part of Vatican II. :mad:

Did you ever think maybe its his way of cooling off as in he might be upset? Smoking is bad, but hey no one is perfect and our Priest aren’t perfect either. I agree with what alot here are saying, Don’t judge him for smoking, but pray for him to do it else where , maybe somewhere where no one can see him?. And IF you have parishioners leaving I don’t feel its because of him smoking. Maybe he changed a few things like times of masses, Did he have a previous parish if so Is he worried about anything going on at his old parish to?
be kind and help him to know and be able to serve all in your parish. And remember hes human to.

He’s knew to your parish give him a chance. Hes probally a wonderful Priest and teacher, you may want to get to know him ( if he let you ) before people make harash decisions on leaving the church. Talk to the other parishioners and see if there is some way they will come back, See why they left, to prevent further ones from leaving, ( I just don’t think it’s because of him smoking )
and remember every priest has there own way of doing things, respect them for that and pray hard for them.

My opinion

Peace Halos

I dont think anyone has actually left yet but I understand expecting more out of leaders than the average joe. Smoking is legel that doesnt mean anything, so is abortion. I view smoking as hinderance to holyness. If it is sinful for me to kill myself I assume it is a sin to do it slowly either by cigarettes, excessive drinking, or anything else. I also feel however it is a weakness and he is human like me and whats worse smoking or the closet drunk that beats his wife and kids. we all are called to be holy and that should a top priority in our lives. I do disagree with leaving our parish over it but I understand the dissapointment. people should be dissapointed over every sinful act, mortal or venial. I do think however there is an appropiate amount of concern we should have for how others view the church. Most converts say before they came into the church they never met a catholic who new church teaching and/or lived a holy life. So if our sinfulness hinders others from entering the church there is a problem. I am luck to live in a community where there is a lot of effort to make the different churches at least a community that accpets eachother. Many places are not like that. I do think he is a great priest and that we are blessed to have him here for the gifts and talents he brings.

Smoking is morally neutral.

You seem to imply that smoking is a sin. If smoking is a sin, so is being overweight, out of shape, eating cheeseburgers or ice cream. Let’s get up in arms about the priest who has bacon and eggs for breakfast every day.

I’d suggest you apologize to your priest for how you have felt and support him and pray for him.

Sheesh, they’d have to leave our diocese – our Episcopal Vicar smokes. It makes me want to throw up but I’m not about to leave the Church over it. That’s as silly as leaving the family if your parents smoke.

I wouldn’t worry about the Protestants. Most of them probably really don’t care. And this is how I found out about this:

When my BIL and SIL left the Church to join a certain denomination, he was not allowed to join because he smoked. My SIL was allowed; however they freely accepted his substantial tithe (he was the one earning the money). When I heard this, I was dumbfounded that he could not join the church because of his smoking, yet was giving them all this money.

One Sunday my DH and I attended a service at their church. We got out of the car, and the parking lot was littered with cigarette butts. I burst out laughing. Many of the members of that church were smokers, but hiding it from the Pastor and others because they could not be members if they smoked. But they left their evidence. My BIL just gave a sheepish grin when we pointed it out to him. That’s why I wouldn’t worry about what the Protestants think. They smoke too.:smiley:

A priest I know with a rare gift of discernment smoked a pipe.

Several times he tried to quit, and it would seem to him after prayer that God said, “George, you picked up that pipe without My permission, and you won’t put it down until I tell you to.”

Then one day, it was, “OK, George. Put it down now.”

And that was that.

I really dont think I have anything to apolagize for. I should be sorry for feeling that its a sin. okay then lets do away with sin. Is it a sin to eat a cheeseburger, smoke a cigarette, have a beer? NO! Is it a sin to be an alcoholic, a glutton, or smoke to the point it is damaging our bodies? YES! The catechism makes that clear. I in no way turned my back on him. I said I dont see the difference between having a weakness that is visible and one that no one knows about. I didnt leave the church. I never thought of leaving, Nor did I think any less of him for it. I just wanted to know How others felt and if my opinon was out there or the people at my parish who were bothered by it. Sin is Sin no matter how you look at it, But the sinner is of no less value and is still a child of God.


I thought we had gotten past the point where we considered being an alcoholic per se a sin. Abusing alcohol an certainly be sinful, but alcoholism as a disease / weakness / proclivity is surely another matter. My pastor is a self-admitted alcoholic who has been sober for a number of years but still attends AA. You’re saying he’s perpetually in sin because of this?

You were fine with everything you said until you said that you view smoking as a hindrance to holiness. The only hindrance to holiness is sin.

Something is either a sin or its not, there is no matter of opinion about that. To believe that there is, is to be a moral relativist.

Smoking is moral neutral.

I also take offense as a religious that people out there judge priests in the manner that you do when you say this.

I think people need to look a bit closer at their own lives before looking into others. I even believe there is a scripture verse on this.

Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

No, I dont believe he is sinning if he does not give in to the temptation. When I said alcoholic I ment someone who is still abusing it. So my bad ill clarify it is a sin to be a drunk and give into temptation. and only a sin when you give in. I will also stand by my statement that smoking is sinful. I dont believe it is a “moral neutral” if it is then so is the “drunk” who gives into the bottle. Again ill say “sin is sin no matter how you look at it” Either its wrong or not. I agree with the catechism when it says these are things that are fine in moderation. To intentionaly do something that does damage to our bodies(a holy temple) is sinful. I am not perfect. I used to have addiction problems myself before my conversion. I am not trying to point the finger at anyone else. I have my own weaknesses just like anyone else. But that doesnt make my weakness a “moral neutral”. weaknesses are still sinful habits, and I don’t sugarcoat them. Nowdays christians as a whole (not all but most) tend to shy away from the word “sin” like it is a dirty word. It’s time for us christians to stand up and take responsibility and not make any excuses, because I am sure God won’t listen to excuses on judgement day. Again I have nothing against smokers, priest or not. I am just as guilty with my own sins, but I wont say, like my own faults, thatit’s not wrong.

I believe a habitual smoking habit is sinful, and is therefore a hinderence to holyness. My own sinful habits, like my short temper, are a hinderance to holyness in my life. Why be offended? I dont mean to offend. I never rejected the man. I am becoming quite close with him. I just wanted to know how others felt. I just came into the church this past easter so this is a new scenario for me. I disagree with leaving the parish. I dont think it is that big of a deal that he smokes. I think he is a great priest and very needed in this community. I do think it is wrong and not a “moral neutral” though. I disagree with those who have a problem with him having a sinful habit because we are called to love the sinner. If we turn away from them we are failing to live the gospel.


Since people are worried about:eek: “what will the Protestants think”,:rolleyes: may your Friendly Neighborhood Methodist say that this particular Protestant thinks that anyone who objects to an otherwise apparently wonderful pastor over smoking, of all the foolish things, needs a good smacking & a night in bed without their supper!!
How** dare** anybody judge the man like that!!! God bless him, he has devoted his whole life to Our Lord, and people are judging him over a few :banghead:expletive :banghead:thought but deleted:o] cigarettes??
Pardon me, I need to go take an extra blood pressure pill before I !!!

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