What to do about priest?

I’ve found CA very helpful and especially enjoy listening to the live show on the radio with Patrick Coffin. I’ve been wrestling with whether or not to post this as it’s a terrible situation to be in.

My family has been attending this parish for a while and the pastor was just wonderful.

He was transferred to another parish and like you would expect we were devastated, very typical of what I’ve heard. I don’t want you to think as soon as our new pastor came in we gave him a hard time and packed up and left, we accepted and welcomed him as our new pastor for a while now. He’s not new at this gig and is very well educated so I don’t think any of these problems are done out of ignorance.

Unfortunately some irregularities have come up. Though, I find myself thinking that perhaps these problems are bigger than just us and we need to do what we can to bring this to the bishop’s attention.

Our old priest was wonderful, but socially he’s a bit standoffish. The new priest is very touchy feely, that’s fine, that’s great. But myself being a man and the priest giving me long endearing hugs, telling me he loved us almost instantly and on many occasions, and rubbing my back was bit hard to accept. Maybe that’s just his way, I tried not to make him out to be something he isn’t. Unfortunately he was accused before so I was doing my best not to make a big deal out of this behavior because I saw him as a victim. I know the vast majority of priests accused are falsely accused.

Almost immediately we were at dinner, movies with him…we were very happy to welcome and spend time with him, but looking back it seemed awfully friendly awfully quickly.

Easter Vigil comes and during the readings of Abraham and Isaac it was ‘acted’ out, during the darkness comes a spotlight on a parishioner dressed as Abraham and walking with a boy dressed as Isaac. He lays the boy on the atlar of the sanctuary and lifts his sword…ok, I get it, the sacrifice of the altar, but I couldn’t help but be uncomfortable with all of this. I understand his style is different, but this seemed so inappropriate, it was like a play. Shouting loudly Christ has risen, it felt like I was in a Baptist church for a moment.

Then comes the baptisms, they decided to project them on giant screens as they’re being filmed (all new stuff for this parish). The first kid being baptized is scared so he covers his eyes, this makes the priest laugh, so the whole parish starts laughing as he’s doused with water. But then it starts becoming a thing, the priest can’t stop laughing and giggling throughout the baptisms, almost every baptism that follows is uncomfortably comical…it turned into a joke, I was very upset but it took me a while to realize it. I’m by no means a traditionalist, but even I said to myself this is not right.

During the Eucharistic Prayer when the bread is lifted to its highest, the priest sings a beautiful line from one of hymns sung during mass. The first time I thought it was beautiful…then he started doing this at every mass. I don’t know if this is liturgical abuse or not, but it’s become a distraction to me at least.

During first communions at one mass he explained to the kids the Eucharist is like a hug from the inside from Jesus. For some reason that description didn’t sit well with me.

A good friend was volunteering and wandering into his office to ask him a question, he scolded them and told them this was the reason some priests drank alcohol, not jokingly.

We friended him on social book, and he posted some pictures of himself shirtless from the upper chest upwards with what I could only describe as a seductive look on his face (I can’t prove that). Maybe it’s not against the rules for him to do that, but it seemed so inappropriate. Then the comments from parishioners and former parishioners about the pic “love you father”, “so handsome father”, “looking relaxed father”, “miss you tons father”…they made us feel so uncomfortable

We started hearing of many parishioners (especially good friends) leaving, of the priest making people cry, at first I said we have to give this man a chance and let him do his job. But I found myself telling my spouse each week that we need to forgive the latest problem until it got to the point that I realized this isn’t right. I’ve even heard he’s broken the seal of confession (just hearsay). But it seems like everywhere I turn I keep hearing worse stuff…either everybody is lying and being mean to our new priest and just making things up or perhaps something is off with him.

Once I approached him for communion and maybe I was slouching, so he slouched and straightened his shoulders back as if to imitate me. I wasn’t sure what that was either.

We had him over for dinner and we told him we honeymooned in a sinful city, so he made a joke we were scandalous. That was cute the first time, but then he started repeating it when we would see him at church. He told other parishioners he was scandalized by us, in a joking way. I can’t believe he didn’t realize he was taking that too far.

At the same time he has told he loves us and we are wonderful people.

At the same time he’s turned the church upside down, rearranged just about every aspect of the church, property, staff, liturgy, music, events, decorations, etc. so it’s not even recognizable to me anymore. That’s his prerogative of course, but why change things that weren’t broken (I appreciate the improvements of course).

I know I’m not supposed to go to church for the priest, though some of this behavior has really caused me to wonder if perhaps this has gone too far?

:confused:

Well, it sounds like he is very different ( :shrug: ). As you say, he is " touchy-feely, " really not a good quality in a priest. A priest should not be buddies with the parishoners, he is their spiritual leader. It is never a good idea for people, let alone a priest to continually " touch " people. It is best for people to keep their hands to themselves. Perhaps you should go see the bishop and lay your concerns before him. And you can always start going to a different parish, at least part of the time.

Linus2nd

Your post seems to indicate legitimate concerns. I would contact the Bishop with this sooner than later. Something is off.

The antics on the altar are totally out of line. The joking around and actually making a point to speak of what seemed like a private sharing between you and the priest is a sign of someone who does not value confidentiality. The issues around possible violation confessional confidentiality are serious, and though you understand it is possible hearsay I would mention this.

One thing on it’s own, no big deal; but a combination as described here…there is a problem and it is not your imagination.

I think that you should send a letter to the Bishop stating everything you described here. Something is not quite right with his actions.

When pastors change, obviously there will be discomfort, and personalities and competing visions for the parish’s life will clash. This is normal. It sounds like you really need to set an appointment with this priest and be frank and honest with him about your concerns.

I’ve had to cut some of your post in order to make my comments as there are too many characters.

I’m not so sure its the priest who is the problem but you.
If you have concerns then you should have the courtesy and humility to sit with the priest and talk to him and not run to a public forum publicly declaring negatives things about your priest (at least in your mind).
Your first stop is NOT the Bishop. It is to talk to your priest.

Make two lists, one regarding the liturgy and one regarding his…quirkiness.

For a good evaluation, step back a moment and separate the man from the office.

It doesn’t sound to me like he is doing anything against the rubrics.

I don’t think a visit/conversation with this priest would accomplish anything but to put up barriers between you and him.

It’s his personality–he’s flamboyant, out-going, and yes, touchy-feely. There is nothing wrong with any of these things–it’s just his personality. You can’t make a man change his personality.

I fear that he will learn the hard way to keep his hands to himself. I have a dear friend who made the mistake of greeting a student with a physical touch (not indecent), and the student pressed charges, and now my friend is a registered sex offender, unable to find work, and rejected by many people in the community. It’s so sad. It might be a merciful thing for you to do to have a confidential chat with your priest and share your concern that someday, someone will take offense and go to the police. That’s the world we live in.

My suggestion is to keep a distance from the priest, since you and he do not mesh well. Stop thinking about the priest who is no longer at your parish. Certainly remember him fondly, but don’t dwell on it. Over the course of your lives, you will meet and experience many different priests. Your current priest will probably be re-assigned in a few years. In the meantime, ask God to teach you to love and respect him, and try to learn as much as you can from his ministry in your parish.

Good answers

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