What about former priests?


My daughter has become friendly with a man who was once a Priest. He left the priesthood after 4 years, his reason for this was that he wanted to help the poor and disabled of Ireland and he felt he could not do so as a Priest. That was 9 years ago. He is a very good, clean-living man and he does indeed devote his life to helping the disadvantaged. It was through his work with Charities that my daughter met him, they have much in common and seem to adore eachother, I suspect that they will soon become romantically involved. I am worried that she will want to marry this man. I know that former Priests are free to do as they please, but in the eyes of the Catholic church, is this man not already ‘maried’ to the church? Or is he free to marry? My daughter is 26 and he is 37.
Sorry for my rambling, very worried mother.


Dear MA,

Nothing is so unfortunate as for a priest to not realize the gift he has in the priesthood. As a priest he had riches to give the poor that they can receive from no one else—except from another priest.

If this man received permission from the Church to laicize (live as a layman) and was dispensed from his promise of celibacy, then and only then is he free to marry. If he simply walked out without permission, then he is a renegade priest and your daughter should stay away at the peril of loosing her soul.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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