What do I say to a friend to reassure him?

In our parish we have a man who has discerned Holy Ministry. He is a convert to very traditional Catholicism.

Our priest is a lovely holy man but who does not respect this individual. He is privately [in the Sacristy] critical of most things under the ‘traditional’ label including Opus Dei and organisations close to the Vatican.

My friend has drawn from our PP the worst kind of bullying, that most folk simply would refuse to believe. It was only by chance that I witnessed one of these encounters.

The PP blames this man for everything that goes wrong in the parish even when it is blatantly not his fault. Anything gets broken or moved and it is ‘his’ fault. The PP has even accused him of theft, which has infuriated him, grieved him and has made him question if Catholicism really is for him.

There is so far as I am aware, no substance to the theft allegation but something that I think was conspired between the PP and his Sacristan to damage his reputation. He is currently taking legal advice for ‘defamation of character’!

The PP has told him not to do anymore voluntary work for the parish including jobs given him by the former PP. I have witnessed this ‘holy’ PP shaking with anger in his criticism of this persons intentions and blaming him.

He has warned me that it is not in my interests to be seen talking to him in the Church grounds. I thought this was a bit paranoid until I observed our PP to be evesdropping on our conversation. I am no threat to the PP or anyone else, so see no reason for this bizare behaviour.

This man is about to ‘walk away and shake the dust of the parish from his shoes’ so to speak. I think his leaving will be a great loss as he is a very kind caring generous sensitive loving person. But I am at a complete loss to know how I can help him and bring about a reconciliation between him and the PP.

I did try to mention to the PP that actually he probably means no harm but the PP stormed off in disgust and would not even let me finish my sentence.

What would you do to prevent the loss of a good convert?

What do you think is the underlying cause of the problem?

It does seem a bit drastic that a PP and Sacristan would collude to set up a parishioner to discredit them. What do you think?

This just makes me so sad. I do not think that I would be able to remain in a parish if I were treated with such hostility by the pastor. I would suggest: 1) Pray for this man and for the priest 2) Try to encourage the man that if he must leave your parish that he stay Catholic (find another Catholic parish, not leave the Church completely).

There might be something to it that you haven’t picked up on. For instance the traditional parishioner might have made a bid to run the parish in his own way. Or it might just be prejudice. Or there might be a rather more serious problem that you are unaware of.

True, but to see a priest “shaking with anger”? Shaking with anger, I ask you! When I become a priest, I pray that I am not angry for one minute. Seeing a priest shaking with anger seems almost diabolical.

For your friend to move from a parish where the priest shakes in anger at the mention of his name to a new Catholic parish where his kind caring generous sensitive loving traits can be put to good use without this sort of bizarre hostility would certainly be understandable … One parish’s loss would be another’s gain. Which parish does God want him in, is the question. Prayerful discernment in front of the Blessed Sacrament would undoubtedly help all involved.

~~ the phoenix

first, I don’t know what you mean by “holy ministry” but I assume from the context you mean various lay roles in service of liturgy such as EMHC or lector and since a tradionalist would be against the very idea of EMHC I don’t know what other ministry you mean.

Second, anyone who feels called to some kind of ministry or apostolate within the parish must have the permission and blessing of the pastor. period. no discussion. If he is not commissioned and sanctioned by the pastor, he is not called to any ministry at this time, although that could change in the future.

Third, we are not party to all the details of the relationship and conflict between these two people, so we cannot comment, and we are bound in Christian charity to give benefit of the doubt and ascribe good motives to both of them, however their conduct may seem to outsiders.

Fourth, no purpose can be served to the benefit of the priest, the man, or the parish by someone else interfering at this point. If this man is your friend, offer to pray with him about the situation, do not spread gossip, do not detract the priest to others, and gently warn the man not to do so, with examples from saints who dealt with uncharity from their religious superiors.

just for his own protection, if accusations have been made against him, it would be prudent for your friend to leave off trying to do any ministry that brings him in contact with any situation where he could be accused of anything, at least for the time being, and find ways to be active outside the parish in other apostolates. Encourange and support his faith during this time of trial, which if he responds to God’s grace, can lead to exponential growth in the virtue of humility, mother of all virtues.

human beings, even basically good ones, can do amazing incredible things to each other. I have seen a parish almost destroyed in a conflict that began over one parish organization “borrowing” a box of trash bags that belonged to another group.

Although held to a higher standard, the PP human. (As a side note, and a little off-topic: when you become a priest, I hope that you are shaking with anger at the things like desecration of the Eucharist, disrespect to church property, and killing the unborn – not that that is why the PP would be so angry at your friend, however.)

Back to topic:

…I am at a complete loss to know how I can help him and bring about a reconciliation between him and the PP.

I recommend making a gift of Those Mysterious Priests and A Priest Is Not His Own by Fulton J. Sheen to your pastor.

These two, your friend and the PP, need mediation. My initial thought was, ‘if your friend isn’t comfortable in contacting the Archbiship’s office to seek mediation, he should move to another parish.’

However, my strongest recommendation is that your friend should find a private spiritual director / advisor / counselor, who is a priest.

  • A spiritual director can help your friend to grow in many ways, the least of which is: understanding this trial and its benefits, developing and implementing coping skills, and receiving more support.
  • His spiritual advisor can help determine if this is a phase/trial that your friend can deal with through prayer and modification of behavior, or
  • the spiritual director may counsel your friend to remove himself from an abusive situation.
  • The spiritual director may, with permission, address this issue from ‘the inside,’ i.e. talking to the priest or referring this matter to a higher authority.
  • Speaking with a spiritual director who is a priest can ameliorate the negative effects of the poor relationship your friend is having with your PP.

If you’re concerned that your friend may leave the faith over this, it sounds like he’s very impressionable and he needs to know that not every priest is an arbitrary grouch.

On a lighter note, your friend is making leaps and bounds in the virtue of humility! :wink:

dbacks5439
Quote:Originally Posted by Malcolm McLean

True, but to see a priest “shaking with anger”? Shaking with anger, I ask you! When I become a priest, I pray that I am not angry for one minute. Seeing a priest shaking with anger seems almost diabolical.

To be fair the PP is a very holy man. He works 24/7. Never has a day off, is a real grafter. But he is prone to being wound up. I think that his Sacristan has been winding him up. One of the jobs this convert does, is to get rid of parish rubbish. He recycles it. I can vouch for a fact it is disposed of in a proper manner.

Recently I saw his estate car laden with rubbish. He gave me a lift home and I helped him unload the rubbish. It was garbage 100%. At that time some wood the parish had bought, was stolen. I was with him when the PP rang him [as soon as he got home] and was shouting and screaming at him down the phone accusing him of stealing the wood. It transpired the Sacristan had told the PP he had the wood in the back of his car. He was mistaken. I tried to explain this to the PP but he just would not listen. Told me I was ‘making excuses for him’. So sad.

I explained to the Sacristan who was very sorry, He was also sorry for the reaction from the PP which the Sacristan says astonished him. But the Sacristan has not been able to tell the PP he was mistaken or make any effort to undo the damage he has done. So, I do not think it is all the Priest.

The convert is a very intelligent man but he does have a mild disability which annoys the Sacristan. I think it is a ‘loose tongue’ which has contributed to the situation. It is sad in view of the fact that less than a year ago, the PP held the Convert in very high esteem. Was always thanking him for all he does for the Parish. Obviously something has gone wrong. :o

puzzleannie

anyone who feels called to some kind of ministry or apostolate within the parish must have the permission and blessing of the pastor. period. no discussion. If he is not commissioned and sanctioned by the pastor, he is not called to any ministry at this time, although that could change in the future.

Thank you I did not know that. I am aware he is seriously contemplating joining a Benedictine Monastry. But I did not know he needed the PP’s consent. I shall warn him. Thanks :thumbsup:

You can join a monastery without your parish priest’s agreement, even in defiance of his wishes. It is for the community to decide whether they accept you or not.

However you can’t have an office in the parish, even it is only bin man, unless it is with the agreement of the parish priest.

Malcolm Mac Clean said:

However you can’t have an office in the parish, even it is only bin man, unless it is with the agreement of the parish priest.

Malcolm, there I think lies the key.

But it does amaze me that everything he does is condemned by the PP who criticises him for ‘not asking before he did it’!

I am aware 'the flower arrangers do not ask the PP before they do their weekly flower arranging. So too the cleaners or the gardeners. It seems strange then that he has now to ask before he does the most mundane tasks which were given him by the PP’s precedessor.

I know the answer, if he asks he will be told 'no, I [the PP] will make alternate arrangements. I am aware the PP has paid to get outside contractors to do work so that it does not get done free by the convert. It is so sad.

Perhaps God is speaking through the PP. Perhaps God does not want the convert in this particular parish. That is for the convert of course to discern. Perhaps too, God is saying the convert is not worthy of the parish. Perhaps there is something in his life we are not aware of. Perhaps the PP is aware of this and does not want the convert to scandalise the parish. The convert has told me the PP has refused to hear his confession so that does rather add credence to the fact he must have done something pretty serious in the eyes of the PP.

I therefore ask another question: what could someone do which is so serious that a priest refuses to hear confession and refuses to grant absolution?

Someone can have a scrupulous attitude to sin, and refuse to take advice when offered in the confessional. The most sensible thing for a priest to do in this situation is to get him to go to another confessor who, being a different person, might “click” with him.
Confessions are of course confidential, so we will never know the truth.

It sounds like a personality conflict. Maybe God is testing your friend and making him go through trials. He did this many times with the saints. It would be very difficult to remain humble in that situation, but if your friend can do it, he’s well on his way to sanctity.

Paramedigirl said:

It would be very difficult to remain humble in that situation

My friend is in terrible depression over it. I have suggested he actually withdraws from Catholicism and give himself a bit of space then pray to God for guidance where God wants him to be. If it is still with the CC then he ought go to another parish [which he does not want to do as he cannot drive] or perhaps another denomination more worthy of him.

It may sound like harsh advice from someone committed to Catholcism but I think he is beginning to doubt his conversion. If Catholicism is making him ill, then maybe Catholicism is not for him.

I dearly love the Church but seeing all the aggro that goes down in being a mere member of the laity, I will be one of the first to admit you have got to be pretty tough with skin like a rhinoserousto be a practising Catholic nowadays. What the worst of the sects throw at us is nothing compared to what we receive from fellow Catholics. I guess your parish is exactly the same. I guess it was always like that. Just that 15-20 years ago, it was unheard of, parishioners being made ill through participating in Catholic life.

You do make a point here that reminds me of something. Once I took a friend with me to a healing service run by a nun whom I tremendously respect, admire, and feel affection for. Before the pre-Mass prayers began (a visiting priest always said Mass, and Sister always reminded us that within the Mass lay the greatest Healing of Jesus Truly Present in the Eucharist), my friend asked the nun where the bathroom was.

From up front in my seat, I could hear the nun respond in an abrupt, blunt, and almost loud manner that surprised me, since I’d observed how gentle she could be with the gravely ill people she prayed over, and since she made a point of how important it was to maintain quiet while in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. “Well why didn’t you use the bathroom before you came? Oh well, here’s the key.”

Turns out my friend had an eating disorder, extreme anorexia and bulimia. Since she had just eaten dinner with me a short while before, it was quite possible she wanted to use the bathroom to “purge” her meal.

Perhaps the good nun sensed this and did not want to be a party to sin.

So it could be that the priest knows something we don’t.

~~ the phoenix

No it doesn’t. The root of it seems to be a disagreement over what sort of Church we should have.

Then because of the personalities of the people involved they cannot resolve the dispute in a mature and mutually respectful manner. Which is a pity. However if your friend ceased to be a Traditionalist I think the dispute with the priest would go away. It is not being driven by personal likes and dislikes.

I’d guess, anyway. Obviously anyone who has actually met the two could contradict me.

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