What is appropriate response to a priest who gave dissident advice?


I recently met with a local parish priest who ended up giving me dissident advice in a matter of faith and morals. The only reason I met with this priest is because he offered to discuss some ongoing issues I have been coping with and he answered ‘yes’ when I specifically questioned him if he is “orthodox and faithful to the magisterium”. I feel that I was given the bait and switch, and that his real agenda was to soften up my “far right” (his label) stance with authoritative Church teaching. I rather resent yet another encounter with a “gray cap” (his reference) over 50 years old priest who made a behind closed door attempt to undermine my orthodox stance and to sow seeds of doubt over the tenants of my Catholic faith (my third such encounter – the first time at my initiative, the second time via a third party initiative, this time at this priest’s initiative).

The meeting ended with this priest insisting that I borrow his book by Bishop Kenneth Untener “Practical Prophet” with the encouragement that I need to be open to broadening my understanding of the proper extent and application of Church authority. He did have a very congenial and self-assured pastoral style and did listen to my counterpoint presentation of the faith.

Do I ignore and let it drop and simply chalk it up to another wayward and poorly formed priest? Do I offer him a well thought out and documented critique of his faulty position and assertions? Do I admonish his behind closed doors heterodox dissent from clear Church teaching? Do I commit myself to praying for his conversion and the salvation of his soul for spreading and leading others into error? Do I write his boss and cc the priest (I did this with dissident priest #2 and the only response I got back was by the offending priest who was “puzzled” by my ‘reconstruction” of the conversation)? I have prayed over this and get no distinct direction. Any suggestions?


I have had to deal with something like this before :frowning: A close friend and I approached the priest with documentation :tsktsk: The priest still did not budge. We took him to dinner to discuss it further. He did not budge. So we contacted the Department of Worship at the Bishops office. An investigation started. The priest went through some “retraining.”


since I have no idea what your question was or how this particular priest responded I won’t comment on this specific case. However if a priest teaches or preaches something that denies Church law or doctrine (not your personal preferences or beliefs) first ask him why, then ask if he intends what the Church intends when he confects the Eucharist and confers the other sacraments, because you are assuming if he doubts one doctrine he doubts them all. Depending on this answer, then go to the bishop. In writing, with details, times, dates specifically what was said or done. sign it, mail it return receipt requested. follow up with a letter or phone call in weeks if you have not had a response. If this is something minor like standing after communion, or choice of lame hymns, give it a rest. Save it for the real abuses.


Posts like the OP’s make me glad I didn’t go on to be ordained a priest.


Please explain.


edit off topic rambling

I would be a horrible priest/bishop. If I were ordained to either of these ministries, I would have a psuedo-holy card printed up that I would distribute to people who complained about a) other priests, b) other bishops, c) the Pope, d) other parishioners, e) politicians, f) who was receiving communion, g) who was distributing communion.

This holy card would be a novena to “Our Lady of Mind Your Own Damn Business”.

Back on topic

The OP details a situation where he had previous meetings with a priest, persisted in meeting with this priest, and when given advise that he did not agree with, labeled the advise “dissident”. And then goes to people he has never met in real life and solicits our opinion.

Crazy, huh?

Can you imagine what this sounds like to that priest? He gave the best pastoral advice he could, offered a rebutal and a book by a bishop that supported his position, and this persons goes to a conservative website to get ammo to attack back.

That’s a bit crazy.


I’m glad you didn’t become an ordained priest, too.




Yiiiiiikes! :eek: :eek: You really need to chill out and go back and re-read (or may read) the OP’s last paragraph. Man, if someone can’t pose a question or have have a discussion without you having a fit, maybe this ain’t the place for you!


Or maybe people on this board need a reality check.



Or do you consider the possibility that you were wrong?

I’m not saying you are–I’ve heard some pretty weird things from Catholic priests (that’s one of the things that derailed my attempt to convert to Catholicism). But after all, the guy is a priest and you are not. Presumably he’s thought about the Church’s teachings as carefully as you have and doesn’t think he’s contradicting them. So isn’t it just possible that you are mistaken here?



Meet with the priest again—to get clarification of what was discussed the first time. Take documentation to back you up. If the priest continues to uphold his dissident advice----then write to the bishop.


Rant warning

I knew somebody would come along and give the answer you wanted - go run to daddy and make that bad priest behave. That’ll teach 'em.

You know, I don’t really have a problem with traditionalist or conservative ideology/theology. I have a problem when people think that “my way is the right way”. And I’m going to find the biggest stick available (i.e., outdated Vatican documents, the Bishop, the Pope’s latest book) to beat/scare/force people into “right thinking”.

Try reading “1984”.

Our how about this - you disagree with the priest. You acknowledge that he has legitimate reason for his particular understanding of the Church. And then that’s it. You go your way, and he goes his way. It sounds like you have a well informed opinion about what’s right and wrong anyway. Leave this priest be, and go do your own thing anyway.

Rant over


Amen to that!


My–my–my—such a “rant”. What offended you—that the bishops need to be aware of dissident priests—and that people now have the information to help them know—when they encounter one.

Of course—let them be—so that they will influence others in a belief which may be contrary to the Church. That seems to be your cup of tea.


What is religion to you? What is Catholicism?

Is Catholicism about theological orthodoxy?

Is religion about goosestepping theologians who have to get approval from the central government (the curia) before writing a paper?

Is it about the mythic greatness of the American Catholic Parish circa 1955?

Is Catholicism about obeying the great daddy in Rome?

Is Catholicism a group of people who have been touched by God and are expressing there common understanding of Divinity?

Is Catholicism a group of people who have a similar paradigm in dealing with the metaphysical?

My biggest frustration on these boards is that people are looking for certainty. Theological certainty (a mythic and unattainable thing refered to as orthodoxy). Scriptural certainty (doesn’t exist - scripture can be misused to support anything from killing heretics to rape).

So what are you left with? Only yourself. Once you accept that religion is basically absurd (reference pastafarianism and the flying spaghetti monster for an illustration of that), then things like “I don’t agree with this priest so I’m going to tell the bishop” become aggravating.

Catholicism provides a wonderful and generally consist framework for dealing with God. But within it, there is room for many different opinions. Right now, however, the prevailing opinion is this - if you don’t agree with me, then you are evil.


To me Catholicism is following the teachings of the Church—and not in following different opinions which would be contrary to Her teachings. If we continue to make room for many different opinions—we will end up like the protestants—which apparently—would be to your taste.


So you have no probem with those who try to follow the teachings of the Church. Well I am sure that is a great relief to all of us.


Shouldn’t this be a simple issue. If the issue is specifically defined by the church, then the priest is wrong. If the issue is not specifically addressed, then it can be chalked up to an “educated” interpretation. There are explicit teachings (those which are strictly discussed and answered) and implicit teachings (those which are not directly addressed but touched on by other means–early church father’s documents, authoritative interpretations, etc…).
If the issue you are dealing with is not specifically addressed by the church, then I say defer to the priest. If it is addressed by the church, and you have discussed this with him by yourself, then with someone else with you, and he still does not defer, then leave it to the church to deal with. (By the way, that last part is in the bible).
One final note, if it is not directly addressed, then let it go. Nobody ever said the church was a democracy.


I’m sure the Apostles had disagreements. But they did not have anyone to go to but Jesus (talk about Glory). Why don’t you sit before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and ask for an answer. The truth and the way will show itself. You could be wrong, and before you go making a fool of yourself, ask the one who is really in charge.

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