Tag Archive: falling in love with a priest


An invisible Priest

We’ve had a record number of responses from our readers to our latest article. We’ve been waiting for a long time to read the message of a priest who is deciding whether to leave the parish and join his woman, or abandon her, and continue with the work in the parish. We wish to say a big thank you to all our readers.

Well some of the readers did not agree with the latest posting. I did leave their message online in order to have a blog which is nearer the truth rather than have one which is all positive and everything is fine. Well the priest who leaves the parish in order to marry, makes a bold statement whether he is conscious of it or not. Now some parishioners are not prepared to handle the truth.

We remember ourselves passing through some of the streets of our town (we live on a very small island!!). Some people just looked the other way. I was shocked at first but with some counselling I realised that they couldn’t handle our new situation. Some of them were embarrassed because they had come to confession and they had ‘emptied their sack’ (as an old saying goes), full of shocking secrets. It happened to our Lord Jesus Christ when he was resurrected. He was the same person, yet nobody was prepared to handle his new situation. In fact, at first, they didn’t recognize Him!

Some of our regular readers were shocked at first by the response of a few of them. Well not all people are going to be happy that Patrick and Michelle are going to get married. Indirectly they are saying: if a priest leaves, I feel at a loss because I’m used to certainties, dogma, truths. Now everything is upside down and I can’t control the situation anymore! So I panick and protest and put all my anger on to such a lovely couple!!

On the other hand, many more people will be happy for both of them. There will be many people who will come forward and understand their challenges and help them. It’s a test time to see who the real friends are…..!!!! Patrick and Michelle, you’re going to be surprised for sure!

One of the most incredible surprises was my late mum who was a priest lover (in the right sense). When I told her some of the true stories about what happens on the inside of the human church she surprised me with a unique response: If I knew about what you were experiencing, I would have come for you, prepared your bags, and took you home! A devout or traditional mum obeys the church…..yet she has a heart which understands what other human beings do not understand!

Other couples were happy because they knew that as a married couple, we were in a better position to understand and minister to them. And this was another surprise for us. We never thought of working again in the church (I would scare people away, one parish priest told me!!), yet the new community was forming in a lovely and surprising manner. One is this huge following on the internet. The other are the true friends who ask me for the sacraments plus spiritual help because they truly believe that once a priest always a priest. At the beginning I was at the point of refusing. But one of them, who knows well the laws of the church, quoted one law which says that a priest cannot refuse a person who is asking for spiritual help (sacramental or not)!

To cut a long story short, I thought that once I leave the parish, I would pack my priestly things and I would have never used them again….yet God has some surprises along the way. Obviously we are not forcing anyone to follow this path. Most married priests refuse to do any work connected with the church. We do respect their decision. We are not here to judge anybody. We do pray for them and for their well being so they’ll live happily ever after.

Incredibly now we are meeting with the real people (most of the church goers, because of various reasons, do not represent the rest of the population). They speak to us honestly. We do not speak from high above (the pulpit [raised stand for preachers in a church]). We speak from our honest experience too. Now we realise that the church is alienated from the real world. We see that we need to help more people. In this phase we can help more because they see us as a normal couple who is facing normal challenges. Surprisingly, they find that the married priest is more available then the so called unmarried priest!!!

May God bless you all!

Finally…..we have a priest admitting of falling in love. So many female readers have asked for a priest to tell his point of view of falling in love. How does a priest feel, falling in love with a woman? Well today you should be so happy as one priest is prepared to spill all the beans about his love story with this wonderful woman. Enjoy your reading!

It is so heartbreaking reading all these messages from broken hearted women in these difficult circumstances. I am Patrick, a 43 yr old catholic priest.. I was ordained at 24 years of age so I am 19 years in the priesthood.

Naturally being human I have felt attracted to different women in my life. That is normal enough even for a celibate. But my difficulty arose 3 years ago when I met Michelle, a 32 yr old single woman at a parish meeting. She had difficulties in her life and we talked privately for a long time. After the meeting ended, I felt so at ease and at peace in her company and for both of us I think we realized that there was some bond or chemistry between us that night.

Anyway we kept in touch mainly by phone for a while and than we agreed to meet mainly to discuss her difficulties which have now been overcome. We enjoyed each others company so much that we kept in touch by phone and meetings even when there was nothing to discuss at a professional level. At this stage we had developed a good friendship which I had no difficulty with as it was within the boundaries of my celibacy commitment.

Unknown to myself this friendship was growing over time and I was blind to it or maybe subconsciously I knew it but needed her companionship and friendship. For her too, Michelle is her name the relationship meant a lot and in her own words transformed her life. She was a broken person when I met her first but now felt whole and complete in herself. This all began 3 years ago, but my difficulty is that in the last year or so the friendship grew into a fully intimate and sexual relationship.

The first time that happened I was taken unaware, one thing followed another and almost unknown to myself I was making love to her for the first time. I experienced the normal fulfilment and excitement that goes with that experience but also I was gripped with awful guilt with the realization that I had broken my celibacy vows. This is still a struggle for me.

During the last year the relationship has continued in full and has grown and developed in every aspect. I feel I have no control over my feelings or where this is leading me.

Obviously I am now at the stage where I have a dilemma on my hands. The relationship cannot continue as it is indefinitely with me in my current life. Do I walk away from Michelle once and for all or do I leave the priesthood and marry her make a new life with her?

Currently we have decided on a 3 month break to help me decide. Michelle has declared her love for me and asked me to leave on a few occasions. I finally promised her I would decide during this break of 3 months, two months of which have already passed. We still email and phone each other but will not meet until the time is up, around Christmas.

I miss her company so much and long to be with her. A sense of loneliness has grown in my life over the course of the relationship as I know now the sacrifice involved in celibacy. I have changed as a person as a result of my relationship, falling in love does change you in a good way. I certainly do not want Michelle to be hurt like many of the women on this blog. If I thought that would happen I would definitely leave the ministry, if you love someone you cannot allow them to be hurt.

Yes in all honesty I am drawn to leave, to life and family with Michelle. I have done 9 sessions of counselling with a lady psychologist and that process is also leading me towards a decision to leave. I admitted this to my therapist in my last session and it was such a relief. She is helping me to process that thought in the coming sessions to a stage where I can own and implement my decision.

What is preventing me? Well I am torn in conflict between the part of me that says I need to move on. I have outgrown celibate priesthood. I need a human relationship with a woman who is Michelle in my case. I love her and want to be with her and she feels the same. Than the other voice says you made commitments for life: you took vows, you owe it to God, the church, your parishioners and your family. This is my dilemma.

I feel I have known the answer for a long time, almost from when I met Michelle, my counselling is leading me to the same answer, but this other voice and guilt feelings still get on top of me at times. I need help to have the courage to do the right thing for me and Michelle over the next 1 month or so.

Readers….it’s your turn. Let’s help our priest is making the right decision. Now you can ask as many questions as you want to!

Hello my name is Jackie. I met my priest (Maximilian) last 2009. I was a freshmen student back then. We had a project in our Religious Education subject, a church involvement where we had to render some hours in serving/ helping in a church. He was the parish priest of the church that time. I was with a group of five, all girls. That’s the first time we met. After that day, I never got the chance to see him even if he was a professor in that same university I am studying with. 

It was in 2010 when my classmates, who were my group mates on the project , had planned to visit him and thank him in allowing us to do our project in his parish. That was when our communication started. Days before our scheduled visit to him, I had my facebook status of the lyrics of a song just changing the word “girl” to “boy”. This is my exact status: Don’t love me for fun boy, Let me be the one boy, Love me for a reason, Let the reason be love… I had no other intentions but to tell boys to love all the girls they’re in relationship with. However he liked my status and left a comment that he likes the way I changed “girl” to “boy”. He also said that it was one of his favorite songs before. So I teased him that he might remember someone which made him relate with the song and I asked him to tell the story. He said that it was so many years ago already. He also said that before, whenever he hears the song he would remember that someone. But now, whenever he hears the song, it’s me he’s going to remember. So I asked him to sing the song during our visit to him and he accepted and started practicing there and then. I felt happy but honestly I never felt anything special because I never thought of anything more because for me it was just a friendly conversation. 

On the day of our visit, we shared many stories. My group mates and his companions in the convent sang many songs. I am not a good singer and I am a very shy person so I never had plans of singing and I never sang at all. But he kept his promise. He sang the song for me, not only once but many times. I felt somehow special but still no malice at all. 
After that day, we communicated more often. Another party was held and some of the professors in our school including one of our professor before were present. We had fun the whole night. He even accompanied me and my classmates home (whenever he invites us, it’s not only me but our group who happened to be my classmates and friends). When I arrived home, I texted him thanking him for inviting us and for accompanying me and my friends home. He did not reply so I got worried because he was drunk when he drove us home. He answered my call and said that he was driving when I texted so he wasn’t able to answer. I asked him why it took him so long to reach his house and he said that he already arrived at their house few minutes ago however he and his companion had some misunderstanding so he decided to leave and go to his brother’s house who happened to live very far from his place. But because I called, he said that he learned that he left his driver’s license so he’s not going to push through with his plans of going to his brother and just talk to me over the phone instead. He thanked me and said that I was his angel because if I didn’t call him he might be driving without noticing that his license was not there. We talked for a while until he decided to go home. When he arrived home, he called again and we talked until the wee hours. He calls me by my name and I really don’t like people who call my name. I always ask them to call me by my nickname and I told him that. But with my surprise he called me by my nickname with “my”. Like for example my nickname is Pretty. He called me “nkyPretty”. He even asked me if I got a crush on him and I answered him no. Because honestly that was the truth at that time. 

That was a turning point because we started to chat, to text and to talk over the phone very much often than before. One time, my professor who happened to be his friend asked him to go out and have some drinks. To his surprise, that professor asked him to go out because he wanted to ask my priest to help him with me. They talked many things and after their session, he called me and told me about it. However he did not tell me everything over the call. Instead he sent me a message in facebook. He said that when the time the professor confessed to him about his feelings for me, he also thought of how he feels for me. That’s the time I got aware that there was something more between us. He said that I am special to him and that he is happy because of me. So that was when I started to think about everything that happened and that was happening. That’s the time that we both said that we treat each other special. That started that whenever he invited us on a party he I would always be the last that he would drive home because we would go to other place first have some coffees and talk some more (usually parties were held because of Birthdays of his companions in the convent). We can only do that whenever there is a party. However there came a time that even if there is no party, we agreed to go out. That’s the first the he held my hands. I felt kilig. That started our hang outs together. But we never kissed. We never hugged. Just holding hands. 

Since then, we texted more often because that was our way of conversation. Less calls but more texts. However, by the end of 2013 to early 2014 I felt that our communication became infrequent. We didn’t see each other that often, I had lesser calls from him. He would only call whenever I would ask him to. I would always understand him because those were the times that he was sent to other parish without good reasons and that he felt it was unfair for him many factors made him different. He was not the joyful person I met. He got angry easily, he got irritated just for simple reasons and he became less sweet than before. I felt that something has really changed but I never told him about how I felt.

One day, my friends and I met in one of my friends house. We drank and had conversations until one of them asked me if I had something to tell/ share to them. I had no idea of what they were talking about until one them told me that they know that there is something going on between me and my priest. I had no excuse so I told them everything. They asked me what was my plan. So I told them that I really don’t know, maybe stop the relationship that we have. My struggle that time was that I didn’t know what kind of relationship we really had. So after that, when I arrived home I texted him about what happened. He decided to meet me and talk about the real thing between us. But that night, he said that we would have a a platonic relationship. Not just an ordinary one, but something deeper and more special.

We met in a restaurant. We talked with both of us having our own printed research about platonic relationship. He discussed more and I just listened a lot. He told me that the platonic relationship that we have is not like the ordinary meaning of that of Plato. Something that is deeper and more spiritual. He said that we were not committed. That if ever we go beyond that romantic relationship we might be like his priest friends who made wrong decisions because instead of making their relationship better, it became worse. Because of people’s acceptance and many more factors. He also said that whenever I choose to get into a relationship I can do it anytime. That he doesn’t have the right to get angry, jealous etc.. I felt sad and I was hurt because I felt like it was very easy for him to say all that. We finished our conversation right away because he had prior important commitments which gave us limited time to talk. However we agreed that we have talked what our agenda was and that everything was clear. Honestly, I had so many questions that I wasn’t able to ask. And until now, I didn’t give a try to ask. 

I believe that what I am feeling for him is true love. I already told him about someone I had  relationship with when I was in high school but don’t consider it as first love. Puppy love maybe because I was very young that time. I was only able to learn/feel what true love is, that was how I feel for him. I love him dearly. He is the only person who opened my heart into extreme emotions. An emotion of extreme happiness and sadness. 

The problem now is that since the day I felt our relationship dropped. Less communication, less stories, less conversation. Just good morning and good night. I want to tell him how I feel. Almost five years of relationship and until now, I still can’t tell him I love him. I want to tell him that. This might give me a big relief but I am not certain of what will happen next. I am already exploding inside. He may not have any idea of what I am feeling and this might be a surprise for him. I really tried my best to keep this but I failed. I can not fake what my heart feels. What should I do?

By the way, he’s already assigned in his hometown just last year. And to be able to go to his hometown, I have to ride a plane. But because of my job I can go to his place anytime because of my benefit of free tickets. I already asked him twice if I could visit him but he had many reasons to refuse. I never asked him again because I only get hurt. I am afraid that if I ask him again, I might get the same response. However, just last week, I was really surprise to see his pictures in facebook with his friends, they were some of the choirs from his assigned parish before he transferred to his hometown. I already met some of them during those parties where he invited us before. I was really upset that he can entertain them and give them time while he would always reject my visit. I am anxious about us and every negative feeling it gives me.. 

Hello readers! How are we going to answer for yet another love story involving an adult woman and a priest? Please let’s put ourselves in her shoes. There is no place for judgement nor orders about what to do. How about sharing our experience ? May God bless you all.

Today we wish to thank some of our readers with the promotion of their books. They believe in our cause that celibacy should be optional. They have thought about it, and they have written about it in more detail. We wish to say a special thank you! Their books are not going away. They would transmit the message forever. What one says, maybe easily forgotten. Yet what one writes, remains forever!

We wish to use this special occasion in order to encourage others to follow the same path. Most of the writers never thought themselves as writers. Writing starts when one jots down some notes. The notes start increasing day by day. Until finally there are so many of them that one can group them into chapters and finally into a book!

Most of our readers have been struck by lightning (their love story with a priest). This is a good reason to write about it. Now some of you have already written their story on this blog so why bother to write a book? Well there’s a big difference between an article on a blog and writing a whole book. The advantage of a book is that one can go much deeper with the story especially, one involving a love story with a priest. One needs to start remembering some details by making a time line (like a diary but going back in time). Then one just lets his emotions do the rest. The rest of the readers have been given a good tutorial of becoming a good writer by providing the necessary fuel (asking all types of questions!!)

Free Priest, The movement for Ministerial Reform in the American Catholic Church, by William F. Powers. This book is a sociological examination of what has been happening in the world of married priests in the framework of a social movement. It is based on the records kept by organizations of ‘free priests’ as well as interviews with dozens of leaders of those organizations. It is the inspiring story of men who remain deeply committed to their calling despite having made the painful decision to leave the priesthood and the barriers put up within the Roman Catholic church.

Bingo, Mandatory Celibacy and Clergy Sexual Abuse, by Louise Haggett. The Bingo Report is the result of her ten-year social research project, a timely and provocative study of celibacy and clerical sexual abuse. Ms, Haggett has been featured on international television and radio programs, such as 60 minutes and the BBC and in newspapers and magazines such as New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and Time.com. In her role as president and founder of CITI Ministries/Rentapriest.com, she has recruited hundreds of priests who have married and assisted them in renewing their ministry to the spiritually unfed in the church.

Exodus from the Priesthood, by David Rice. I know no study of the current state of the Catholic priesthood that compares with this. The priesthood is in a state of crisis, probably the worst in the Church’s history. Yet no one has researched the subject as well as David Rice. No one has listened to resigned priests with such wisdom and sympathy. Often their stories are more startling than any that come out of Hollywood. The result is not merely depressing for Shattered Vows points the way to a ministry that is less clerical and more genuinely Christ-like.

The Pearl, by Pauline Nikolov. How many men are truly interested to learn about the woman next to them as an equal? How do different religious men, different cultures and denominations present their relationship to women? Who is misogynic? (hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls) Who is truly loving and tolerant to women as Jesus? Hope is a young woman who is about to find answers and discovers her purpose in life. Through series of life experiences and adventures – from the legend about the living soul of a pearl named Vif, to the noble aim to bring together people from different faiths and denomination in the name of peace – she tirelessly communicates the importance of exchanging spiritual gifts and the role of women a mediators for peace. From Egypt to Los Angeles, from Chicago to Paris, characters and historical facts are mixed to entertain and spread messages to readers with an appetite to know more.

Isabel, Secret Diary of a Discreet Secretary, by Isabel Szlavik. After a short stint as a fashion model and crooner for a jazz band, Isabel Szlavik decided to pursue what was at the time, the largest, most prestigious, and elegant job category for women around the world. The skills list for a secretary was short: a minimum typing speed of fifty words a minute, a general knowledge of shorthand, and enough patience to handle messy carbons and an electric typewriter. From her first job supporting a missionary who devoted his life to helping the needs to her last role assisting two talented businessmen, Isabel chronicles the often humorous side of the secretary-boss relationship, how she dealt with a rapidly changing technological world, and handled the many different personalities and cultural backgrounds of the American, Brazilian, German, Italian, Chinese and French nationals she worked with on a daily basis.

We might mention other books in the future as obviously there are many more books dealing with the subject of forced celibacy. We can give just the result of a search engine….
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=books+about+celibacy&t=lm&atb=v24&ia=products

We welcome suggestions from our readers about other books which they have found inspiring. Please write!

Somebody once said, that listening to the news, makes one fall into a deep depression. Well it might be so for the unbelievers but not for the strong ones! The news that in the coming meeting in Rome they are not going to discuss celibacy, might sound as a death sentence to the celibacy debate! Yet, the meeting with the Pope is not the only solution to bring change in the Catholic Church. Surprisingly some changes in the church took place with the help of the so called ‘enemies of the church’…..a striking example is that of Martin Luther, who was called by Saint Pope John Paul II, a man of great spirituality!!

Let’s start with our blog. There are still many stories involving priests and women that we can publish once every fortnight for a very long time. There are still people who are afraid to come forward and publish their story. We always protect our readers by changing names, places etc…..We need to show them how many priests are involved in clandestine relationships! Otherwise they might think that the celibate discussion is just for a few hot heads who insist on marrying priests!

Secondly, besides our blog, there are more ways too. How about parishioners talking with the rest of the parish/diocese/church etc…?? We should not be afraid of putting our agenda on the discussion table. The sexual abuse of children has already given us a great push forward. Most baptized people are not aware of the celibacy problem, or maybe they are not interested!

Some of us could participate in a discussion on the radio/television/internet/newspaper… Let’s show them that the apostles were married. We are not asking for an impossible change! We are going back to the basics after all. How can we discard the proof of the bible if we wish to remain faithful to the teaching of the church?

We need to practice persuasion skills…..showing them the advantages of having married priesthood, could be one of them. In a few words, we have to come out from our protective shell and tell the others. Changes in society won’t come automatically, we have to push in order that others might see the change in our lives.

This is exactly what happens when a married priest tries to bury the fact that he is still a priest. The priest, knowingly or unknowingly, might still help people. People see that he has special talents when hearing others. There would be some people (one person is enough at the beginning) who insists in receiving some counselling from the priest. Others might ask for sacraments…once he starts working as a priest (in diaspora), a change in his heart takes place.

God works in mysterious ways….yes it’s true! We are witnesses to this as we have already passed through this path! Let’s not be afraid. This is a wake up call, we have to work hard to bring about the necessary changes in the church. Let’s not wait for a magical/talented person who is going to work for our belief in married priesthood, unless we do the donkey work!

Let’s hear from our readers about new ways how we can reach out to other parishioners in order to push for changes in the Catholic Church.

We have appreciated our readers as they have struggled to come to terms with their experience of priests. They were successful in putting into writing their own particular experience. This is what makes our blog wonderful. People from all over the world come together to discuss one experience: falling in love with a Catholic Priest.

Some of our readers have gone beyond that. They have chosen their field of study, the area where priests behave sexually inappropriately. Thanks to Stephen (at the end of the article there is some personal information about his studies and interests), we are going deeper in our reflection. I wish to welcome you to read his findings.

Clerical Sexual Misconduct Involving Adults: Now a little less ‘unknown’

Everything is on his terms. I only see him when he wants to. If he doesn’t want to see me he avoids me for months and then when he wants to see me he comes back as he pleases. He doesn’t care if I’m crying or asking him to stop, then afterwards he says he loves me then I get so very confused because I love him and I don’t want to lose him. I hope and wish that he will marry me…… I feel special to be loved by such a holy man. But I also feel very guilty and dirty for having sex with a priest. I cry and tell him that I don’t want to do it but he doesn’t care that I’m crying. So I stop crying and let him do it in order to please him because I’m afraid that if I don’t please him I will lose him (Winnie, a divorced mother of one, seeking spiritual and psychological help from this cleric).

Although the relationship was consensual, in hind sight I feel that I was very vulnerable and taken advantage of. There was a huge power imbalance and I was left feeling very broken (Cathy, a student, and a parish housekeeper seeking support at the time).

Three years ago, I wrote an article titled Knowing the Unknowns of Clerical Sexual Misconduct (see http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=38542#.V79UwcUh5zU ). Clerical sexual misconduct involving adults (CSMIA) is one of those phenomena in the Church that everyone seems to ‘know’ about and yet few really actually have real ‘knowledge’ about. Thanks to the 23 women and 6 men who responded, I have been able to establish some important themes expressed throughout the stories of those 29 respondents. Similar themes were also found in the five other major studies reviewed along with many writers on the topic of CSMIA and topics closely related to it. Those themes poignantly summed up in Winnie’s and Cathy’s statement above, were language; power and vulnerability; and harm. These were discovered to be vital elements in understanding how their CSMIA was able to occur, how it was interpreted, how it was dealt with, and how it affected their lives. They are also three elements that need to be included in any discourse on CSMIA.

Language

I was extremely confused. The priest was telling me this was “love” and said I was “beautiful”. I felt wonderful while he was there, because his definition of what was happening was dominant. But afterwards I felt awful, sinful, depressed, seriously bad and often suicidal (Tanya, a young woman who had suffered both childhood sexual abuse and a rape one year before seeking this religious order priest’s help; emphasis hers).

I was finally able to have my case listened to a few months ago by a police constable who works for [withheld for privacy] who told me what happened to me was criminal abuse not misconduct…. It was the first time that I was actually given some confirmation that what happened was criminal abuse (Edith, a 29 year old married woman at the time, seeking spiritual guidance from a highly respected religious order priest).

Language and definitions surrounding CSMIA are of major importance in coming to a balanced understanding of the realities of victims/survivors of that CSMIA. If CSMIA continues to be defined as simply a mutually consensual affair, the most likely outcomes for the adult victims/survivors, past, present and future are a blaming of the victim and victim self-blaming, and a continuation of the harms that such outcomes produce. Evidence for this was found in most of the participants of this study. Women like ‘Winnie’ and ‘Cathy’ above, caught up in what can only be described as abusive ‘relationships’, both perceived their ‘relationships’ to be ‘affairs’ and even ‘consenting’ but few could agree with even their own perceptions. However, what the literature and the respondents to this survey also revealed is that once language changes, once the definitions of CSMIA and ‘affairs’ and a deeper and more accurate understanding of ‘consent’, change to ones which include abuse of power, abdication of fiduciary duty, and/or, the crossing of ethical and professional boundaries, more resolutionary outcomes result for the victim/survivor. As Margaret Kennedy, founder of MASCAS, explains:

Clergy may not force, and the woman may desire him, but he has constructed this context, in which he makes her responsible, whilst relinquishing his responsibility for the boundary-keeping he knows he, as the professional, should maintain.

Power and Vulnerability

I was depressed and frequently suicidal. In retrospect NONE OF IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED except that HE INITIATED a sexual relationship. I can say for absolute certain that, if it was up to me at all, I would have followed my sense that he was celibate and out of bounds. I fell for his bull-shit because I was convinced he was truly holy (Tanya).

I had to agree to providing a body massage in order to receive forgiveness for my sins (Andy – a single 20 year old man seeking help when the CSMIA began).

I had to prove my physical sexuality to him so I could be a Religious Brother with them. It was very confusing…He was a Brother of high standing and respect. I just trusted him but felt uncomfortable too (James, an 18-year-old novice in a religious order when the CSMIA began).

Why do you think you have the right to muscle in using your position of status to win over a vulnerable young girl with a disability (Ann, 19 years old when the CSMIA began).

He didn’t tell me God wanted us to have sex. He made out that it was between God and me and that I was to detach from him and just look at God [during the sex]. He spiritualized the whole thing….He said nobody would understand because it was so spiritual and that if I said anything it would completely destroy it and we would never be able to continue the relationship and that it would be my fault (Edit, 29 years old when the CSMIA began).

The evidence for clerical/positional/spiritual power as a tool for the abuse of the vulnerable and indeed any adults in the church, became patently obvious while undertaking this research. Almost all the respondents in this study described deep personal vulnerabilities at the time of CSMIA – half had already experienced sexual abuse as children. However, 24 of the 29 participants would not have come under the definition of ‘vulnerable adult’ found in recent diocesan and religious order Prevention and Protection Policies. It is only when positional vulnerability – related to age, gender and religious status; and personal vulnerability – the existence of a full range of significant issues in the lives of people, is juxtaposed with the positional and personal power of clerics and their institutions, that the power differential inherent in CSMIA can be clearly observed in action. Accordingly, positional and personal vulnerability, need to become part of the church’s and everyone’s understanding of how and why CSMIA is as common as it is. Until this occurs, the dominant perception of CSMIA as a relatively harmless ‘affair’ will continue to rule.

Harm

I had a nervous breakdown but continued to work. Whilst she [the mother superior/perpetrator] dyed her hair, I was pulling mine out….as a form of self-harm (Maria, a religious sister at the time; in parenthesis, hers).

What happened to me stole my adulthood and developing positive relationships with people in general, and men in particular. I feel so icky to have actually married and had children (Wendy, an 18 year old theology student at the time).

At 65 years old I am still trying to accept myself as a good and worthwhile person (Scott, sexually assaulted by his novice master as an 18-year-old in a religious order).

I felt I had to leave a work position that I truly loved because working where I did with this person in a power position became untenable (Sue, a woman working in a Catholic office).

If nowhere else, the evidence for CSMIA being abusive is revealed in the harms that CSMIA produces. While levels and lengths may have varied, the fact that some form and level of CSMIA-related harms existed in the lives of all the respondents in this study, was more than evident. The harms revealed in this study included deep and life-long psycho-spiritual disorientation, physical illnesses and sequelae of practical consequences which only compounded the difficulties they were already facing.

When the elements of language, power and vulnerability, and harm are included in discourses on CSMIA, many hitherto unaddressed dynamics are revealed such as grooming, consent obfuscation, and disclosure reluctance leading to continued suffering. Without their inclusion, CSMIA can never be fully revealed for what it is and a resulting lack of drive for justice and compassion-driven change follows. Justice and compassion are not needed if CSMIA is believed to be an ‘affair between mutually consenting adults’. According to such a definition, the event is an ‘affair’, not abuse, it involves a ‘consenting adult’, not a vulnerable person, and it is ‘mutual’ and, therefore, not exploitative.

In regards to the stories and responses in my study, the events they experienced cannot be defined as ‘affairs’. Nor have these stories been ones of decisive, compassionate, just and psychologically mature responses from the RCC, if their experiences were reported. A few found understanding, justice and compassion, as well as financial assistance to try to get their lives back into some form of equilibrium, but most did not, neither at the time, nor since. Their stories include the repercussions of secondary and very serious neglect, trauma and pain caused this time, by the institutional church’s responses.

For the 29 women and men who participated in my study, their experiences were and are real. Their pain and harm was and is real. Their desire for acknowledgment and healing, has also been, and is also still, very real. It is my belief that there are great numbers more of disempowered and offended against women and men, who, along with those in this study, long for their stories to be heard, and believed, and dealt with, in order to save their faith and/or restore their lives to some semblance of happiness. It is for this reason that the microphone was given to such people in this study. However, more people are needed to step up to the microphone and tell their stories. These participants, and those who are currently under the spotlight or in the news simply because they are seeking justice and compassion, (see Box, Dan. 2014. “Disabled woman sues top priest.” The Australian, August 08, 2014), are, for the most, still in a very lonely place.

The complete study can be found at https://eprints.qut.edu.au/96038/ .

Stephen de Weger has just completed his Master of Justice (Research) in the School of Justice – Faculty of Law at QUT. He is about to commence his PhD to further investigate CSMIA particularly how it has been dealt with by both secular and religious institutions. He will soon be seeking further men and women who are willing to share their stories about their experiences of sexual misconduct, and how both religious and criminal justice institutions have responded to them when, if they reported the misconduct. He is particularly interested in men’s experiences of clerical sexual misconduct as well as those who were themselves clerics or in religious life at the time of the misconduct as there is virtually no research in this area. He can be contacted at stephen.deweger@qut.edu.au.

Woman spellbound to priest

I’m Abigail. I feel sick as I read all the comments on the blog. How did I get into this mess? Never did I imagine this would happen to me. My story began six years ago with this priest – let’s call him Fr. X. Myself and this Catholic Father instantly connected over common interests. Serving on various committees solidified our bond. I’m 15 years older, married and have several kids. My marriage is on the brink of divorce due to my husband’s alcoholism and abusiveness. Our marriage was going downhill before I met Fr. X.

Things seriously deteriorated after the deaths of several family members and friends. At first, I deluded myself into thinking he was my dear brother in Christ. He’s very endearing, socially awkward, crazy, intelligent and very human, all qualities I found appealing. My husband detected more of an attachment on my part and gave me constant grief about it. I became close to Fr. X’s family and helped them with a family crisis, further strengthening our relationship. Nothing romantic or sexual occurred, just lots of affirmation and attentiveness. He mentioned that I was his best friend and others in his circle have confirmed that.

Our relationship went to another level after he was transferred and became pastor. The hot/cold behavior I’ve read about here seemed to be more apparent. I attributed that to his wanting to make a good impression and having more responsibilities. He’s super busy as am I, so I strove not to appear needy. Then, something happened this spring that had me reach out to him more. He didn’t respond as I had hoped, so I detached. Thus started a huge game of cat and mouse this summer. He practically ran after me one time when I walked by during an event we attended. I told him I didn’t want to take him away from his adoring fans to which he responded: “But you’re my biggest fan.”

That comment right there should’ve told me that something else was happening, but I chose selfishly to bask in the compliment instead of backing far away. Then, an incident recently rocked my world. I should’ve known something big was brewing. About a month ago, Fr. X texted me asking me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday, something he’s never done. We’ve always eaten breakfast or lunch; if we ate dinner together, it was with a group related to ministry work or with his family and my family. Never alone for dinner. Stupidly, I chose to ignore the warning bells going off in my head and agreed to meet him. Then, when he arrived, he gave me a warm hug and a birthday card. He’s never given me a card either; he usually texts me a greeting or calls. The card wasn’t anything mushy. After dessert, he mentioned how noisy the place was getting and wondered if we could go somewhere to talk. I suggested the library; he mentioned a bookstore and then asked suddenly if I’d mind going to his place.

Again, the alarm bells sounded but I ignored them and went to his place. I was there for several hours as a witness to a train wreck of a conversation. He was very jumpy, fidgeting and leaving to go to the bathroom several times. I asked if he was ok and he said he was. At one point, he hinted about me going upstairs because he was using the bathroom up there so much, which I didn’t take seriously as I thought he was joking. He sat in a separate recliner and then next to me on the couch.

At one point, he playfully tapped my foot with a pillow. He commented on how dark I was (I recently went to the beach). He picked up my shoe and commented on how small my feet were. He asked if I was ticklish and when I said yes and asked if he was too, he said: “Yes, but you don’t want to know where I’m ticklish.” We got on the subject of celibacy and he outright asked me if I had sexual urges! I was shocked and said that I didn’t, that sex actually is a big turn-off because of what’s happened to me. Then he said that he has strong urges and the instinct to procreate is strong, adding that it would be helpful if women dressed more conservatively.

Just when I thought this couldn’t get any weirder, he mentioned again about going upstairs to see his books. He is a voracious reader as am I. Again, alarm bells. But, I did go upstairs and saw that he had a beautiful book collection. However, the books were in his private suite and his bedroom door was wide open. He cracked open a joke book and started to read aloud from it while I looked at his shelves. He made some comment about his mattress being hard and asking me to test it to see if it was. I ignored that. Then, the kicker. It was getting late and I knew I had to go home. He said immediately that I could stay in the guest room! I was shocked – I think my mouth was wide open. I quickly said that wouldn’t be a good idea and left.

The next morning he texted me. I didn’t reply at first because I was so upset and flabbergasted. Since that time, he has texted me a few more times and he has greeted me warmly at church. When I asked him again about his behavior that night, he said he was in a weird mood and I shouldn’t dwell on it. After more attention, the cold behavior began like talking really formally to me on the phone after he called me first and left a message. When I finally called him back, he made it crystal clear he didn’t want to talk to me because his parents were there and he had to call another priest.

Then why did he call me if it wasn’t convenient? Anyway, I apologize that this is so long but I felt the need to explain everything. I’ve told bits and pieces to my sister who thinks he has definite feelings for me but is struggling. She actually said that his hot/cold behavior was a big clue to her. I guess I need confirmation that this really happened to me. I just can’t believe that after all this time, he would do something so risky. And I just feel so incredibly stupid and naive. I’ve never been with anyone else except my husband, so when it comes to flirting, etc. I am clueless. I know I need to pull back, which will be tricky as we’re involved in so many things together. I know I need to leave him alone, and believe me, I’ve tried.

He keeps contacting me when I detach. I’ve prayed and gone to confession about it and it just seems like this, along with my other issues, is my cross. I love him, but I don’t want to take him away from his vocation. I’ve gotten a lot of insight from this blog. I pray I can take the comments to heart and do what I need to do for my own sake and his.

So readers this is where you play a vital role: just give in your feedback. Please remember not to judge but our experience may help Abigail to see the hidden side of this story.

If we were to examine the numbers regarding the population of the baptised people in the Catholic Church, the percentage of the married people is overwhelming! It comes close practically to 100%. Yet who are the people who decide what’s good and bad in the church? Just a small percentage of unmarried people!

One question comes up to our mind: why did the married people accept this situation for so long? There were various reasons for the past status quo but now not anymore. During the Vatican Council II (meeting for all Catholic Bishops which took place at the Vatican, 1963-1965), the term ‘adults in faith’ was given a lot of importance. Adults have to decide for themselves after consulting the teaching of the church. They are the ones who are living the situation, consequently they know what’s best for their lives.

Being responsible for this blog, we have a wonderful opportunity of meeting various people coming from different continents. It’s an enriching experience! We thank all our readers for making our experience unforgettable!

Those who are church going most of the time they belong to that section of people in the church who wait for orders in order to move on. On the other hand, the majority of those who are not attending church anymore, have a certain degree of independence in their thought and daily living.

By going for married priesthood we are trying to bridge the gap between the unmarried and married people in the church. It’s a two way traffic lane. The unmarried appreciate the daily trials, challenges of the married people. The married people come closer to the church and understand what constitutes the church.

Answering various questions about priests, parish, church etc…..shows that there is a great thirst for information. Yet on the other hand, there are very few people in the church who are ready and available to answer people’s comments. Most probably because the old monasteries, who were once the seed for knowledge and innovation have become fortifications of protection to those inside! Priests, monks, nuns have unknowingly created a safety zone which cuts communication with the common people.

Calling for married people to become priests is easier said then done. People need a lot of time to be trained properly. That’s why we always insisted that the time has come to start early. We need to start today to have a sufficient number of people to take care of our parishes (just to mention one urgent need). We can’t call married people and tell them to manage our parishes overnight. Otherwise it would be a total disaster.

How many married priests are ready to be in charge of a parish if invited by the present Pope? That would be an interesting answer to see the reactions of our readers this week. Readers, you are most welcome to take charge of our blog by writing your opinion.

Women deacons = married priests?

When we were at school, we used a particular expression called the missing link (referring to apes in view of human beings). We are all the time pushing for a married priesthood. Yet maybe we are missing a good link. How can the Catholic Church allow its priests to get married when there is a low appreciation of women? The fact that some women marry a priest and are still regarded as those who tempted the priest to abandon the altar (table where mass is celebrated), may speak volumes! Why are all important decisions taken by men in the church?

The recent decision by the Pope to allow studies to investigate (it’s still a study, please don’t jump into conclusions), the case of women deacons, may finally help our cause. What’s a deacon? Well the deacon is one who celebrates all the sacraments (except mass and the sacrament of reconciliation), and could deliver a homily (explanation of the readings) during mass. But if you want a more detailed and a biblical explanation, go for this link. In any case, together with the married apostles, there is the hidden figures of their wives. What did they do? Surely as married couples, they were aware of Jesus’ call.

Let’s not forget about the Holy mother of God, Mary. She carried baby Jesus in her womb for nine whole months. Now by general criteria of priesthood, she would classify as a priestess: she gave Jesus to the world; She had great intimacy with her son; She suffered and practically took part in the sacrifice on the cross. In many saintly books, she is portrayed as the one who leads to Jesus (priests’ work). How can such a glaring example go unnoticed?

Mary Magdalene was the first person who saw the risen Christ, before the apostles according to the gospel. Does not this give a special message to women’s active participation in the church?

In today’s world, it’s still the woman in many cases who nurtures and keeps a close contact with children. She is the one to pass or not to pass on faith. She is the one who attends most frequently church activities (in some areas, statistics prove this). Lay women and lay men are the ones who share the priest’s vision for their parish. In most priestless parishes, they are the ones who are guarding our treasures. Whether we like it or not, this is going to be the future. Priests are much less and in the Western world they are going to be in such a small number, that they would be completely outnumbered by lay people. Shall we live in denial and still press for celibate priests?

On another level, one main argument which is being unfortunately discarded is that of the signs of the times. God is not enclosed in a book. God can speak to anybody in any time. If all the corporations, companies, schools and the general public, there is rising awareness of the importance of females, how can the church put its head in the sand by ignoring women? How can God speak to the general public in one way and then speak differently to the church?

In David Rice’s book, (Shattered Vows, Exodus from the priesthood), there is ample proof that the priests’ wives have increased the spirituality and enthusiasm of the priest to work for others whether in a sacramental form or another. Instead of writing negative comments about the church, maybe we need to be more positive and write about the miracles which take place in today’s church, through the active participation of women. Let’s hear from our readers, how they sanctify priests!

One of our readers has asked a few ‘outside the box’ questions. I believe that if our blog has to continue and increase readers, one of the key elements has to be honesty. Well I’m trying to be as honest as possible by answering her questions. It has to be one of the imperative motivations when working with adults in the church: no question could be discarded; nobody should feel embarrassed to ask any kind of question.

We are being told that the reason why women are not priests is because Jesus was a man, celibate, and his disciples were men, therefore to follow in his footsteps, a priest must be a man. Married priests, well, it has to do with money, and would cost the Church way too much to support not only the families, but in a case of divorce, it would be too costly for child support, etc. Everything has to do with money, and having more time to ”devote” to his church, therefore priests should remain celibate.

That’s another myth which says that married priests will cost more. Actually some of my priest-friends who are not Catholic are telling me that a single, unmarried priest in the Western world, costs much more when taking into account the whole picture. But let’s base our arguments on the bible. Yes it’s true that most of the apostles were married. Nobody can deny that. It’s true as well that celibacy has a biblical value. Again nobody can deny that. In our opinion the conflict is that they have tied celibacy with the priesthood. We are in favour of a well chosen celibacy and not a forced one as it is now, where every priest has to promise celibacy. Regarding the married priest not being available is a lie as most of them are more available more than non-married ones. Try to phone a non-married and see if you’ll get an answering machine. Phone the married one and you’ll be answered to, together with the sound of a happy family, children running, shouting etc….

Apparently, Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene? Apparently, proof of that, is that back in the day, a man was not allowed to ”preach” if he was single. Otherwise he would have been put to death. So, Jesus was married? She was referred to as the Holy Grail. Mary M followed him everywhere and was also in the painting of the Last Supper, right beside him. Apparently they also have a daughter.

Another point: Apparently in the past, there was one woman Pope, but the reason she had succeeded in becoming Pope was because she pretended to be a man. Evidence proved otherwise when she became pregnant.

Apparently the Church is hiding all this from us because it would cause a whole revolution in the catholic Church, starting with women justifying becoming priests, pope, etc. ??

I have now watched “Da Vinci Code”, and now, I admit, I am more confused than ever. Can you shed some light please…. and why if it is not true, are there so many documents and videos that talk about such stuff? (I have not watched the videos to confuse me even more, but saw that there are tons out there!)

Well thanks to the internet we are being exposed to more ideas in a shorter time! On the other hand we have to be very careful when it comes to believe who is saying the truth. We have seen it before in books and newspapers (not all that was published was true), and we are seeing it again on the internet. It’s ok to put your ears to the ground and hear what other people are saying. But in this camp we need people who have studied theology in order to digest everything with theological glasses. That’s why we need more laity (ie not priests, nuns or friars but baptised people), to go for theological studies, as in the future most parishes (maybe already!) are going to be run by laity whether Rome likes it or not.

Now regarding the special woman called Mary of Magdalene. We only share news and secrets with the most trusted friends or significant others. It’s a fact that when Jesus was resurrected he appeared first and foremost to her (Mary of Magdalene!!). The resurrection is central to our faith. Now that theologically means a lot. There surely was a very sound relationship spiritually. Why did he appear to her BEFORE the apostles??!!

Secondly, it wasn’t normal for a man in the Jewish mentality to let a woman touch him in public. She did when she washed his feet……now we can’t jump into conclusions. Other hearsay doesn’t mean it’s true, but neither can we discard that there was a truly good relationship between the two. Now we can never be sure of a marriage or of a daughter (to be truthful). This is like in court, we cannot condemn some body because we think he’s a criminal. Only one concrete proof condemns him to prison. In theology we need some kind of proof before we can accept it as true. Now we understand that it’s not easy to study about somebody who lived around 2000 years ago!

On the other hand, some cultural changes, makes us read the bible with new eyes. Women are not to be excluded from important decisions. Hence, whether we have proof or not from the bible, we can testify that today’s cultural vision (regarding women occupying important roles in society), is another way of God talking to us. We never believed that the bible is the ONLY vehicle through which God speaks to us! God cannot be closed in one single book! He goes beyond the bible. Besides, most of the theologians believe that there is not single sound theological reason why women can be excluded from priesthood!

Another important note is that all theologians teaching at a university need a permission from their local bishop. Hence if a theologian is studying (not simply hearsay or just reading a newspaper) and comes to a different conclusion, most probably he would have his licence to teach, withdrawn! This effects their studies, lectures etc…..We only hope of having one single university in the world, where theologians would be totally free to come forward with odd ideas!

We encourage all our readers to continue the debate…..