I know people say it’s wrong for a Priest to befriend a single female parishioner just in case it’s a temptation for him but I think that is a bit unfair.
If the friendship is helpful, spiritual and God-centered then I don’t think it’s wrong.
I benefit a lot from my friendship with my Priest and I thank God for having him as a priest and friend.
Depends on definitions. Are we using a Facebook definition of friend here, or a relationship that is deep, personal and mutually supportive?
That latter is dangerous ground, IMO. As a married man, I intentionally don’t allow that level of friendship with any woman but my wife. I’d see it the same way had I perceived a call to priesthood (church as bride).
This is all just my opinion, of course. I don’t claim to speak for the church!
I fully agree with this opinion. A friendship between a man and woman is managable when all is well in both lives, but when something goes very wrong the need for the dropping of barriers that go with unbridled comforting (which works so beautifully in same sex friendships)… is the tripping point. That’s not conjecture… it’s empirical.
There are other considerations besides sexual temptation.
– Priests, and especially religious priests, have to take care to show love equally to everyone. This is part of their vocation as an alter Christus, and as celibate for the kingdom of God.
– To govern effectively, a priest must be impartial. If there’s a dispute and a priest appears to take sides because of friendship or fondness, his decisions may appear, or be, unjust.
– There is also a certain appropriate emotional distance which should exist between a priest and the laity, in virtue of the dignity of his office. This doesn’t mean he has to be cold and out of touch with the people. But it means he’s not just another “dude.” He is another Christ and should be treated as such. I grant that this more traditional view of the clergy is not currently in style, but it is still part of the patrimony of our faith.
There have been priests who have left the priesthood to marry someone in their parish. They cannot get married in the Church, (justice of the peace marriage) and I know some that have gotten divorced over time. They have lost it all.
We are all tempted to go off course, break promises, make mistakes. Priests, as they work for the kingdom of God, are in the front lines of the battle for souls. The enemy would love to pull them off course and work hard to accomplish that, by what ever means is available.
Actually, one of the priests I heard about in the next parish over left with a nun and got married. Love and attraction are a powerful thing, and it’s prudent to understand that we can be very weak, and if not ourselves, to be on guard that the other person may be falling in love.
I agree 100% with this. When I was single, I often would become very close friends with women and everytime I fell in love with them. The first time, I tried to do something about it (I failed). Every other time (fearing rejection or loss of the friendship), I closed myself off to those feelings and then the friendships would fizzle away.
Now that I’m married, I once started developing a friendship with a woman at work. I noticed that my mind started to wonder about romantic thoughts, so I started to distance myself.
Early in college, a friend of mine once told me that it’s almost impossible for men to have deep, plutonic friendships with women. Today, I believe him.
As for official Church teachings, I don’t know. But it’s humanly national for a man to fail in love with his female best friend (which is supposed to be his wife).
I once enjoyed a good “friendship” with an older priest. He had a great mind, and could distill the most difficult concepts down to simple explanations. We didn’t meet often, but I loved the way his mind worked. I had soooo many questions. i think he enjoyed answering them, and would get excited that I could grasp all the twists & turns of discovering the faith as an adult. we always were careful to be appropriate, and often tooks walks in the open during our discussions.
Like everyone else has pretty much said-- it is similar to the boundaries you would apply to a married man. Socialize in groups or in public, etc. If you are going to have alone time- it should be under the professional boundaries of his priestly duties such as confession or a meeting about spiritual matters. Obviously dinner or a movie would be too far, but again that would be too far than with a married man as well.
I think as long as the friendship is honestly platonic and spiritual that it’s a good thing. Single people need confessors too–and priests have befriended and been confessors to nuns forever–and technically they are single women, right? The answer to your own question is within your own heart—and only you and the priest know the truth. If you ever feel an attraction–or think the priest does–that tickles your conscience even a little, then stop right there and leave the friendship.
To answer your question: many will say it is bad because unfortunately every parish has someone that likes to gossip and cause trouble. Gossip can easily spread and the truth gets distorted within it.
I think too it is also important for others to understand the friendship. There are certain things which I would say is permissible and others not. For example if they decided to go out to dinner in what many would perceive as a romantic restaurant, then it is wrong. If they attended as part of a group of friends then it is ok. Everything has it’s place.
What the woman wears can also be important because if she is dressed classy and modestly, people are less apt to jump to conclusion. If she doesn’t then a problem could arise. Body language can also speak more than words. Sometimes guys and girls are just good friends other times it could be more.
We can’t generalize because each friendship is unique.
As a woman I think most women know when a simple friendship begins to feel like a little more. I think that if this woman is acting appropriately, and the priest is as well, that there friendship is a good thing. I’d hate to think I couldn’t be friends with a priest just because I’m a woman and he’s a man. HOWEVER, there’s certainly a potential problem if both aren’t careful—even looking past current priests and nuns who ended up leaving their vocation over affairs of the heart, church history is full of stories of high ranking–and I mean HIGH ranking church officials who had illigitimate children. Things like that don’t happen in the confessional–at least I hope not! But the woman knows her own heart–and if her friendship with the priest is only that and no more, especially since according to her she plans to become a nun–perhaps this priest was sent into her life for spiritual guidance. At any rate, if the only problem is a bunch of gossipy old crones, she should just look past that kind of thing. If in her heart she knows she’s playing with fire–she better run like the dickens.
I don’t know about this, many women (especially single women with little dating experience) can be especially naive. I know I was with both the man I eventually married and with many college friends (even though I was already dating my future husband). And I know a lot of other people who were the same.
I think it is fine to be friends with a priest, but we must define our terms. It is fine to be the type of friends who can make a joke, share a book, go out to eat with a group of friends. More intimate types of friendship are probably not appropriate. (With some variation and allowances). Priests really need the friendship of men and specifically other priests.