Should I say something about my weird priest encounter?


So I have a story about a priest. I was in college living at a Newman Center on campus (in the US). I feel like I should say something but not sure if it’s worth it.

I grew up in a small midwestern town. During college (while I was living at the Newman center) my buddies and I would occasionally sneak out to a hotel along the interstate (which was a few miles outside of town) and hang out in the hot tub. One particular night, we snuck in to the hotel hot tub and to our surprise, we saw our priest…sitting in the hot tub with another guy (young, about our age). It was awkward (we were living with the guy) and he quickly got up and left.

I never had much thought on the encounter until recently. Right now he is a priest assigned to a local catholic school which is 8-12 grade. Looking back I think it’s quite clear what was going on. Should I say something? If so, to who? Seems to me I have very little to go on and not sure I should even say anything. But given the news recently, I should probably let someone know, right?


Yes definitely…not sure to who…probably the bishop. The laity has to speak up!
God bless you.


What are you going to report: x years ago I saw this priest sitting in a hotel hot tub with a classmate?


That’s my question. Should I say something?


It says you are an ex catholic. Are you still in touch with this friend . So a bunch of guys seem to all sneak out and go into hotel hot tubs. Does this implicate you guys too?

How would your young friend feel


Does it matter if I’m ex-Catholic or not?


Well it might to whomever you report. Also are you still in touch with this guy, the young friend


Was your classmate an adult at the time?


I didn’t know the young guy who the priest was in the hot tub with. But as I said, it was pretty obvious, especially by how he got up immediately and left. The guy is now a priest at a local high school. Feeling like I should say something…


I’d say trust your gut. I wasn’t there and do not know how long ago it was (not that it matters greatly). If the recently publicized events give you cause for concern, then yes, without regard to what action can or will be taken.


But you said

How could you not know the guy

Do you mean you were living with the Priest?


Sorry for the confusing post. Yes, I was living in the Newman center, which was right next door to the priest. He came over often and would consider us as almost roommates. The “guy” who got up quickly to leave was the priest.


If it bothers you, inform the bishop. Why ask us? We weren’t there and don’t know the situation like you do.


If you report the simple facts to the Bishop then presumably he’ll make a note of it or make a mental note of it, if other people report other things about this priest it may lead to alarm bells ringing in the bishops mind and could help safeguard someone in the future. If you don’t tell the Bishop and others don’t tell either no safeguarding will occur.
If the priest is innocent of any wrongdoing then no body of ‘evidence’ will form and everything will be fine as far as this priest is concerned.

Regardless of religion this may be simply the duty of a concerned citizen and you will appease your conscience.


I think you’re confusing two issues here. You say the priest was in a hot tub with a young man of college age, i.e. an adult. You are now worried because he is working at a high school.

Whatever you may have read, having a sexual attraction to adult men does not make somebody more likely to want to abuse children. Maybe the priest is gay. Maybe he likes younger men. There’s no evidence from what you’ve told us that that relationship was anything other than consensual. So there is no reason to think that he is going to be interested in pursuing nonconsensual relationships with children.

What you are talking about is a possible breach of ethics and canon law. There is no criminality involved and no risk to children or vulnerable adults. Given that this incident happened some time ago and only involved you indirectly, I don’t really see that it’s your responsibility to do anything about it. You have an obligation to prevent criminality, but you are not required to police the morals of the clergy, especially on flimsy evidence. Indeed, the encounter may have been quite innocent. Priests are allowed to use hot tubs. When I was at university myself we used to sometimes socialise with priests, including on a one-to-one basis, sometimes with drinking involved. In fact, I remember once going swimming with a priest.


This reply confuses me. Is there some magic about turning 18 that I’m unaware of? How could a relationship like this with a 17-year-old NOT be consensual if a relationship like this with an 18-year-old is consensual? It just makes no sense. When a person turns 18, do they magically acquire the power to consent? (And does this differ in states where the age of consent is 16?)

Look. It’s simple enough. A priest who is seducing a much younger person – male or female, consensually or nonconsensually – is breaking his vows and corrupting the young. He could destroy this person’s faith in the Church forever. This is 100% clear, theologically.

The ONLY question here is whether there is some innocent explanation. I think an innocent explanation is possible in this circumstance. (Much of this depends on details I don’t have access to). The OP has no duty to report it, in my mind, but I don’t think it would be calumny to do so.


Why post such a reply? Does my question bother you?


Honestly this is how I’ve mostly viewed the situation in the past. But recent events have me thinking about my past relationships with priests. Maybe benefit of the doubt isn’t a good idea anymore.


Since when did sitting in a hot tub become a crime?



No, but we are all going to answer from our own perspective. One person for example said it wasn’t a big deal for a priest to be in a hot tub with an adult man. I could say the same. Yet, you felt uncomfortable.

Should you be influenced to NOT report by people who weren’t there and say “forget it. It’s nothing.”

If the guy later turned out to be McCarrick II you’d say, “I thought about reporting, but other people on CAF said Forget it.”

I think this is your decision to make. Those of us who aren’t you and weren’t there shouldn’t be telling you what to do.

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