Tag Archive: Malta and Italy


The Red Line for priests

Noticing the lack of comments by priests on our blog, I feel it’s my job to try to fill it in. Obviously I can’t speak for all priests. Yet I’m trying to keep in mind the hundreds of stories I have read, listened to and witnessed personally. The invitation is still valid for priests involved in romantic stories to write their own opinion. Please do write your opinion! Obviously we promise to keep their names, place etc….in secrecy.

The red line means when the priest should stop and reflect and take a decision: either to continue to delve into the relationship or else stop the relationship for good. We are never going to take that decision for anybody. It’s the couple which has to decide which way to go forward, preferrably by mutual consent.

First: The first and most dangerous assumptions by priests is that once sex didn’t take place, then everything is ok and one can continue walking in the same direction!

This is due first and foremost for lack of formation during the priests’ training period. Relationships start once people get to know each other. From the priests’ way of life, relationships start earlier because the priest, being a public person, is exposing his thoughts, beliefs etc…in the public during the homilies delivered each and every Sunday. Most people feel that the priest is not simply filling up the time during the ceremony but exposing who he really is. In fact most people approach the priest to talk about personal challenges after listening to his homilies.

Second: most of the priests live all alone nowadays. Whether they are aware of it or not, most of them are craving for a little bit of attention from a person who does not visit the parish simply to be served. Once a person gives them some attention, they are hooked to that person because most people in the parish visit the pastor simply because there is a need to be filled (like signing papers etc..). Most people assume that priests do not feel lonely because they are all the time accompanied by crowds. Obviously crowds might make somebody feel more lonely!

Third: priests are trained to work all the time. Most of them have to visit families because of various reasons or meet people in the office. When a priest starts to speak more about himself than about God, most probably he is already beyond the red line! This is the time when connections turn into a deep relationship.

Fourth: the fact that most people talk about personal issues, they never meet in a public place but rather in a closed office or room which might give rise to inappropriate relationship. Priests having a personal issue with lack of sex, touch or affection might feel it’s the appropriate moment (because of secrecy) to take advantage of the opposite sex!

Fifth: priests who are struggling with pornography, alcohol abuse, excessive travelling abroad etc… should seek professional help and not keep everything inside. It might come out in an explosive manner. Just to make it easier to understand one can try to keep a ball under the water for some time. One can release it. It comes up with a massive force! That’s what happens when a person keeps some issues well hidden. One day they might come out in unexpected manner. The damage is immense.

Sixth: the priest although he preaches to the others, might be passing through a period of lack of faith. He has to talk to somebody who can guide him through the delicate phase. It happens to everybody. There is nothing to be ashamed of. No one can grow up in faith without challenges! The fact that he might not feel ok with the church or with faith, could be a trigger to go away and leave active priesthood! This another unknown path where many priests pass through.

Seventh: problems with his own faith community or with his superiors might again trigger his temptation to leave everything behind and start a new life. Not everybody finds himself comfortably guiding a local faith community. Some of the priests I spoke to, where placed in parishes which were a complete mix-match with the formation and character of the priest. A clear example is transferring a young priest to a parish where the average age of the parishioners was over 60! But this does not concern just the age bracket, because one could be in a so called ‘young’ parish, yet the parishioners seem to be living in another era!

Eight: this one, is again misunderstood. There is nothing wrong with the priest nor with the woman. They simply fall in love. Some love relationships start when nobody is looking for love. Chemistry has it’s own unique way of attracting people together! Besides, love is not a switch to press on and off at will! There are various examples of people who went to another part of the world in order to forget a loved person….yet in the end they realised that it was simply useless. One cannot stop real love from growing and flowing nicely around! Some readers did point out that God is love after all, so why do we resist such manifestation of his presence?

Ninth: most priests took their vow or promise of celibacy when they were so young. Now they do realise the meaning and the consequence of such a special way of life. Can they be held responsible for something which took place without their full awareness or maturity? Not all people can be classified as adults although having 18 years of age or more. People mature on various levels and at different time levels. Emotional level is a very tricky one! To determine one’s emotional true age might be very challenging!!

Readers, you are invited to comment and add to our observations! May God Bless you all!

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Many people will ask every now and then….why don’t you priests, who have left the parish, convert to another religion?

Well everybody is free to answer that question according to his concience. There are no right or wrong answers. But surely one of the reasons which keeps us in the Catholic Church is the number of ecclesial documents which make us proud of our church! We studied, prayed and experienced the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Now we have this document by Pope Francis about the unique and rich area of the pan-amazonia.

It’s truly the true church which this pope is trying to make stronger. It is not simply a visit to this region. He wants to learn how they are successful in making the church a strong social element where others have failed (especially in Europe where churches are becoming similar to museums).

It is lead by the common people (women included which lead some to think that he is in favour of women priests). They do discuss many issues (mostly ecological but including justice). They decide which path to take. Finally they go for it! They are enlarging or putting under the religious discussion subjects which at first glance have nothing to do with religion. On the other hand it’s listening to what the people feel the need to discuss, which in the end is illuminated by the bible. It is the people’s church.

Unfortunately most journalists already missed the point by selecting one or two issues. It will be interesting to see how politicians are going to react to this document.

Surprisingly in many countries, nothing is heard of this document. We are referring to Catholic news agencies. As one commentator has commented, it seems that part of the church is boycotting Pope Francis!!

Let’s come to our part where it has given hope to many people that future priests maybe married. Well, it’s not simply that married priests are going to be part of the future and that’s it! The church has to become owned by the common people. The people have to show their fears, hopes, dreams etc… The communities have to become vibrant. Obviously, the communities are lead by couples. In this context, the couple which is animating the community, could be ordained a priest (referring to the man).

Introducing married priests in a church where the community is practically dead won’t bring about the necessary changes! Secondly, simply putting a married couple in a church where they don’t know the community and the community doesn’t know them, would be risking a lot.

We know that many people haven’t been to Amazonia or Latin America. One of the fundamental differences with Western Europe is that the spirit of community is so high! This is not only for the church but rather on every social level. It’s like the old life in our villages where everybody greeted each other and took care of each other.

The second reflection is that the church should be concerned with the environment. One because the environment is truly important (St. Francis had a long vision in this area notwithstanding living in the middle ages). This shows that the church is concerned with what the people experience. It’s not a study about religion with no reference to today! As one had said, one hand on the bible and one hand on the newspaper (referring to today’s concerns).

An interesting part is that of questions. I think it’s unheard of that the Vatican publishes questions in order to help all those discussing the theme! It’s another first for Pope Francis.

Readers have every right to access the document published by the vatican here.