Tag Archive: malta


The difficult art of dialogue.

Many people have different ideas about a relationship. They might read books, ask other people, attend seminars etc…but the real test starts when one enters a true and deep relationship with another person. At the beginning of a relationship everything is smooth sailing, until the first storm takes place. Then the true colours of some people come out, vigorously!

The same happened with our married priest argument. At the beginning many people were all united until different opinions have emerged. The situation, like in any other subject, has shown the need for people to become true dialogue practitioners!

Let me say clearly: this is not the end of it! It’s a common crisis where with the help of the Holy Spirit we will come out of it, more mature and more filled with faith! Obviously, everybody has to do his/her part.

First of all we have to admit that not all our readers like to express themselves in writing! So unfortunately, we are never going to read the opinion of all followers. Many others are still afraid to write, as if we’re going to tell their parish who is writing. To tell the truth I don’t know if one is writing from USA, South Africa, Chile, Canada, Europe or the Philippines! Let alone give away their secrets!! We’ll deal with them on a one-to-one basis. It takes a long time and it does not lead to success automatically!

A very small section are comfortable with writing. These are the ones who ‘make a lot of noise’ as we say in jargon. Yet this section does not reflect the opinion of all of our readers!

If we need to convince the rest of the population about married priesthood, we have to start practising dialogue skills between ourselves!

One enters a dialogue with the right mentality: ie I don’t have all the ideas or answers. I’m here to learn and maybe change my opinion. I do use a kind of prayer which helps me see the others not as an adversary but rather as the one who might make me see the hidden side of the argument. It’s not a question of who is right or wrong but rather seeing both sides of the same coin! It’s a question of seeing it from all sides, angles and possible consequences.

I do remember at the University where a lecturer used to listen to our opinion and used to put us in the opposite group (one which was totally opposite to our honest and personal choices!!). In this way we saw our ‘adversaries’ in a completely new light and she made sure that we would truly listen and understand their opinion!! In common English we would use the expression to walk in somebody’s shoes.

In the course of life’s experiences, one meets people who use the dialogue tactics simply to feel the power to manipulate people. Either by one’s nice way, or by other more brutal ones!! One common assumption used by the Catholic Church throughout the centuries was that of fear: either you accept or you’ll be condemned! We cannot use these tactics in the 21st century! Even if the others don’t accept our ideas, it doesn’t mean that they are going to be condemned! It doesn’t mean that we are better than others! In this light, we unfortunately admit that a church document published around 1965 is still largely unknown by many Christians (Gaudium et Spes – The Church in the world today).

In faith, we express differences in a slightly different way. It’s like starting a journey. One starts today, others have already started their journey and others are still at home, not thinking about starting a journey at all! The stage of the journey [beginning, halfway, end], puts us all in different positions but it doesn’t translate into who is better or worse!

Before deciding to embark on a dialogue on some hot potatoes, I would rather enquire about one’s journey of faith, because it makes all the difference before we start our dialogue! One is not expected to forgive one’s enemies if one has never experienced the love-without-conditions of God! This what we mean by a ‘journey in faith’!

We have to over emphasize once again: married priesthood is not going to solve all the problems in the church! It’s not suitable for all priests! It doesn’t mean that we throw away Celibacy.

We are simply indicating another way that it could be another important asset in the church today, taking into consideration what many people think and wish for!

One final condition: many church goers and other sections of society have only listened to one boring and repetitive answer to married priesthood: NO. They still need to hear our fresh and daring opinion: the married priest will find a practical and direct God in his relationship with his wife and children. As the document in the Church in the world today [mentioned earlier], it makes the church more near the people of today who live in the trenches of one’s life!

It seems that most of us are on a holiday mood as fewer readers are writing these last days. Well, enjoy your holidays! In the meantime let’s continue praying for our most important wish: to have married priests. We know that it’s going to be a true ‘battle’ for the Catholic Church to allow such an important move, but prayers move mountains. Let’s be men or women of faith. Yes, we can change the church through Jesus Christ. Let’s not be without faith. Let’s not talk like they do in talk shows, newspapers or the internet. We do profess our faith in Jesus Christ: the one who resurrected Himself.

In the meantime I wish to make a public call so that more women come forward and let me publish their story. Although we never force anyone to publish their story, yet we are short of stories. People need current relationships with priests in order to prove our point that you’re not alone in this world. Many others are leading a hidden relationship. If we all raise our hands, then all the world will hear us. In that case, the change will be easier. One story might inspire other women to come forward and spill the beans!

May God Bless you all!

Finally we have another true and interesting story between priests and a woman. Please read carefully. We have to remember that we are not gods. There is no room for judging. Hopefully it will enlighten other women to come forward with their story. Our blog’s main aim is to tell more people that what happened in secrecy to your private and personal life, is not just you. There are so many others who out of shame, they don’t trust to share their story. We are changing names in order to protect one’s identity. Please remember that our duty is to support our writer in various ways such as writing our response or to pray for her in our daily prayers.

I am Chloe. I want to present my story.

One New Year’s Eve, I prayed to God to bring the right man into my life. On, January 3, while in church, on the Feast of the Epiphany, I experienced a spiritual anomaly. As the priest shook my hand a white stream of light pierced my soul, and the priest had a white light around his eyes. Bewildered, I complained to God, explaining to him, that we have rules down here, and surely he was wrong. This non-relationship lasted for over a two year period and was exclusively a spiritual connection. I had planned to relocate and I did. When I went back to visit, I was aware that parishioners treated me differently. Eventually, he quit the priesthood and I waited, and waited. Eventually, I protected myself from the spiritual connect. The next thing I knew he was parked on the street outside my house. Days and days, until neighbors noticed. I was uncomfortable with this behavior. Why didn’t he knock on my door? If he had courage, I would probably be with him today. However, it is a perfect example of the immaturity of a priest. He left and went back home. I expected that he would get married, but he never did. That was priest #1.

Priest #2. I was in church, and when our eyes met, I knew that he had a crush on me. A spiritual revelation. Within a week, he took a vacation and was transferred in a month. But not before telling “who knows who” because I started getting “the look”. There was no spiritual connection and that is the end of the story.

Before I get to priest #3, let me say that I have been living my life, going to work, going to church and no one is interested in dating me. Not one non-clerical man has asked me on a date. Nor, was there a man that I saw, priest or not, that “turned my head.” I have not pursued any dating sites, nor have I been unhappy about it. I felt that love was in my past.

Priest #3: New priest to the parish. I ran into him in a store, I introduced myself, and we exchanged pleasantries, and went our individual ways. A couple of aisles later, my impulse was to go back to him. I shook my head, amazed at my desire. It was in the spirit. I dismissed it. Years went by, and we would chat, and from time to time he would act odd. He would often appear in my path. A quick exchange. One Christmas we hugged, a bear hug, and I could feel his spirit jumping and mine as well. He held me a couple of beats too long, but it was nice. Perplexing.

Years later, I had a reading of hearts and I knew that he had love for me. I ran. But this man grabbed my soul and has not let go. This exchange has been all-encompassing. The feelings of love are mutual. He too told and I got “the look”. He confronted Priest #2 and only I saw his fury.

I want to share this and I am hoping that someone else has had an experience similar to mine. I have so many questions. Why #1, #2, and #3? I hold things in my heart, private things, similar to how Mary held things in her heart. I don’t have an agenda, only to walk in God’s will. I get frightened. I am uncomfortable in church. I worry that I am being deceived. Am I sane? But, then faith comes back and I know that Jesus loves me. Never the less, the back and forth between doubt and faith is exhausting. Plus, it is just bazaar and secretive. No one with whom I can share. Many, many negatives. Only the love is the constant, but it can’t be dismissed either.

A very common expression used in these last years is that we have the whole world at our fingertips. It refers to the internet where one can use various electronic gadgets to keep updated about friends, news, articles and lots of other items.

Is it truly the whole world? Does somebody who stays inside all the time, enjoy life to the full? We know that the young of today are truly addicted to the internet. As they are connected 24/7, they wish to comment and read all the time. It’s not the first time in a restaurant to see a whole family busy texting on their mobile phone whilst not talking to each other!

Those working with the young people of today, know really well, that the virtual world, although it certainly has many advantages, it can never substitute 100% face to face relationships!

Why are we focusing on the digital world? There are some common points with our main issue: married priesthood. Like in the digital world, priests cannot discard relationships! The priest has been seen as a person who provides a service to the others. OK. But how about his need for an interactive relationship with another adult, who is not their ‘client’ to ask for his services but to be a companion in his journey of faith?

We have always insisted that when a woman falls in love with a priest, there is no carbon copy of how the story starts and unveils. Yet some common lines are found in all stories. Practically, if there is something missing in the formation of future priests is the attention given to the priest for his basic human need. Everybody needs : attention; love; personal interest; someone with whom they can interact.

God created us in this way. It’s not something to be ashamed of! We need others to be healthy from a human point of view. In other words, we are NOT islands!

Now obviously some people might explain the important use of celibacy in priesthood. Without neglecting its importance, one can theologically define that priesthood cannot be tied to celibacy. This has been written in the teaching of the church. In practical words, not every single priest has the necessary charisma to live it in his daily life! Now because celibacy has been practically imposed on all priests we tend to witness abuses of all types and sorts! This has been proved scientifically too! It’s no use to write that abuses happen in marriages too. Yes they do happen in marriages too but some priests have abused because they have never been prepared for celibacy. We can’t deny this. They have been stripped of a basic human need without their full knowledge.

Why do we insist on relationship building? Because it’s the concrete structure which builds the local parish. What makes a parish different from a large organisation if relationships disappear? If the priest lives a real relationship in a family, it is a big advantage to all the parishioners. This not only regards understanding human problems in everyday running, but as well the need to live a life to the full. A spiritually and humanly ‘charged’ priest will be in a better position to manage a parish.

A relationship is not a bed of roses! But this side of the married experience too will help the priest to face all challenges in the parish. It will help him understand a lot of aspects in a relationship where they would be otherwise left undiscovered!

We make an appeal so that new readers would publish their stories about falling in love with a priest. We promise to change name details and other aspect in order to hide one’s true identity.

The Pope surprises everybody

The Pope has surprised everybody by announcing new measures to combat sexual child abuse. We are very happy because finally the church has started to project itself differently. The pope has proved that he does listen to his critics. He did something tangible to create a new image of the church which is fundamental after the tragedy of sexual child abuse. The effects will surely put the church in a good light in the long run.

Is it enough? Well, some people are still not 100% happy because any law which does not state what kind of punishment could be given, is still not a good law. We don’t know who is going to supervise all the dioceses of the church to see if it’s being put into practice or not. It is quite demanding to have an eagle eye on such a gigantic organisation!

Our point is still: why force celibacy unto priests? It is not enough to cure people after an accident. How about avoiding it in the first place? We are not against celibacy. We are only stating the obvious: make it optional. The enormous number of priests would immediately suggest that not all of them will observe celibacy whether it’s with a young child, woman, man or whatever!

The priests are practically NOT trained to live a celibate life. They are not trained how to accept and direct their emotions. They live with other boys or men especially in the initial years. They don’t have a family to take care of; they don’t have to face violent, critical or drugged teens in their house. They just go out and preach! All this will have an effect on their work in a parish.

In many seminaries (training grounds for priests), priests are simply used to the liturgy and how to observe in a meticulous manner, the laws which command public worship. Yet outside the mass hours, are they trained to do a truly pastoral work? Do they know how to plan work in a parish? Do they know how to deal with adults? Are they trained for Adults’ Catechesis? Are they ready to leave the ‘home’ advantage of working in the temple/church and visit people in other environments? What about working alongside the so called ‘laity’?

Although there are many answers to the questions we have just raised, yet the married priesthood could be another asset for the church today. Although there are many baptised people who a see a value [rightly so] in celibacy, there is a large number of people who are actually put away with this undemocratic enforcement of celibacy. Are we going to send the latter away? Are we going to insist that we are right and they are wrong? Where is the spirit of the Church in the modern world where it listens and looks for the hidden writing of the Holy Spirit?

We firmly believe that if we want our priests to be involved in our daily lives, then a married priest would already be with both feet ‘in’. It could be a catapult to help him work better and offer a better service to the parish!

Why is Pope Francis hesitating?

Most commentators speak or write about the Catholic Church as outsiders or as people who don’t know what’s going on. It’s like when you hear that a couple has just separated! For all those who do not form part of their inner circle, it’s a big shock! Surprisingly, the couple itself may have been thinking of separation for many weeks or perhaps years!

Why is Pope Francis so hesitant? Well after so many centuries of biased teaching against women how can he reconcile the idea of priests living 24/7 with a woman? We have witnessed for many years that intelligent women were classified as if having a special connection with the devil! There couldn’t be an intelligent woman, if yes, then there was witchcraft somewhere, somehow!

Priests on their own will be more easy to control. Having a woman alongside might present problems as she might speak truthfully and directly contrary to many priests who still value obedience above justice or retribution! And what about divorce? What if the relationship gets sour? What will happen? Will the priest divorce? Will he live with another woman? That will be too much to accept!

Priests, although they speak about marriage, makes them the most vulnerable people in marriage because they have no experience of a true, deep relationship. Nowadays they used to being transferred after some years. From our point of view, married priests, if helped to meet the right partner and grow up in emotional maturity, might bring a new reflection to divorce and all that pertains to marriage!!

Priests

[like politicians]

occupy a central position in society. They are surrounded by people who practically adore them. They find most of the work done by others. They simply have to come in and finish it themselves whilst taking all the glory! Having a family will destroy his free time and his free roaming around at will. How can a priest submit himself to another human being [woman]? Or how can he take care of child 24/7? That will be too much!

Another reason which tops it all is that of priests who are married. They are still seen as lepers! They have left because they were not capable of living the priestly life. How can he let them back again? If they are allowed to come back, other priests might protest that they have remained ‘faithful’ to their call whilst they have to work with others who have simply betrayed their calling!

We know that these priests who have left have not betrayed anyone because they have been faithful to their conscience because they couldn’t hide their spiritual and emotional growth. They didn’t want to live a double life. On the contrary, other priests might have stayed because they were too afraid to make the big decision or because they found the normal life too threatening!

In the meantime, if the Pope doesn’t make this bold step forward, he might be condemning the church to just a few followers as many have chosen to vote with their feet. We had already many issues in the church (most popular at the time of the council was the ‘no’ against contraceptives), which made most of the flock to leave! Shall we have the situation where priest celebrates mass on his own or with very few people?

The Catholic Church is in no position to dictate what other people have to do especially after the Pell trial in Australia! Married priesthood would be the first step in the right direction to start building people’s faith in the church once again. Married priests will surely bring about other significant changes. At the same time we have to realise that a change never comes from those who are leading a happy life! It’s the people who are suffering who push for a change. Those areas without a priest should seek married ones. No priest can deny spiritual help to baptised people (that’s a law of the church!). Let’s start the change by knowing where married priests are and ask for their services! Just have a look at these websites: USA; Europe.

The sun behind the clouds

Students have exams in order to test their abilities. We, as grown ups, we have our own situations where we feel we are being tested. In the human life, there are situations where although the people are adults and mature, they feel at a loss what to do or how to react. It could be that the present situation was not the desired one or a one which changes our life completely.

We feel at crossroads. What shall we do? This is the time where the true church has to show its true colours. We are all pilgrims walking towards our Risen Lord. We are people of faith. Even if we don’t see, yet we believe. It’s a cloudy season yet we firmly believe that behind the dark clouds, there is the sun.

Most of the old Testament prophets spoke about the future which they had never experienced! Yet they still preached the message requested by their faith. We too need faith to accept the latest developments. We need a lot of faith so that what we believe in, will be the norm in the Catholic Church.

Lately, according to the latest news, Pope Francis seems to have changed his mind. He is simply letting married people to help with the distribution of the sacraments in remote areas. Actually we don’t know if they would truly be called priests! But it’s a big no to priests who might consider marrying! Consequently, we don’t think he would be letting other priests who left to come back!

It seems that marriage is still being viewed as something which hinders priestly duties! What makes one laugh is that I don’t know of many priests who have truly a packed timetable! So why all the fuss that the priest can’t follow his timetable?! What do priests do during the week, especially morning time? Family visits are still largely unknown in many parishes of the world. How are the priests reaching out to people? Mass attendance has gone down drastically especially in the Western World! They don’t have long queues for confession neither.

How can we help? We can write, talk, discuss with other media/people to show the benefits of marriage in Catholic priesthood. One which helps the priest understand life today especially when having one’s own kids! The priest would be doing a practical exercise in relationships when living with his wife 24/7. Like in all other organisations, we have to convince other people of our arguments. It’s NOT the end of our ‘war’! We might lose the battle in the coming months but not the war!

In this case I would like to comment that at times we are finding difficulty in practising dialogue between ourselves. We still have to grow in maturity ie the way we write our opinion and they way we react when somebody does not agree with our opinion. If we react in the same way with people who do not agree with married priesthood, we would be hijacking our own purpose!

Let’s remember that some people have been brainwashed with the learn by heart answers given by the Catholic Church for many years or better centuries. But when one thinks about it deeply, one might change his mind. Please do remember that most people are backing our way of thinking. The only problem is that the Pope together with other priests and bishops are failing to see the writing on the wall. If the church is in dire straits, it should be practical and think about its own future. If not, it might risk of becoming a very small minority! Let’s use and believe in the force of prayer to make great changes in the church.

Your soul mate : a priest

I’m Rosalie and my priest’s name is Jeremy. We met 10 years ago, although I already knew him as a child. He is an orthodox priest monk of very high level. I was extremely suffering from traumas and a hard life. Everybody had abandoned me. It was absolutely emergency situation! So I asked him to be with me as long as I do not have anybody else. He immediately agreed. I needed a person really involved with me, not just counselling!!!

It took only a few weeks when we fell deeply in love. I was so traumatized I was never sure if he really loves me but he said it all the time and was writing nice things on whatsapp and seemed to be in love with me. I struggled much because of my traumatic condition.

Well during this relationship development I also was on a journey towards God and Jesus (again). God himself “told” me this is my man. I completely began to understand the meeting of us both was inevitable! Of course I struggled him not being able to marry me, also because leaving church at his age is impossible. He is more than 30 years older than me.

I was convinced through God’s messages that this really is my man. God left no doubt. Absolutely no doubt. And we keep on maintaining this relationship for 10 years now. Sometimes he visits me, most of the time I visit him. He never agreed he would not love me no matter how much I argued with him. Also it is impossible to abandon him. God leads me always back to him. We are only hugging and kissing, does not mean we never wanted to get more close to each other. I do not want him to struggle with God so I am careful about getting closer with him than just kissing and hugging, although we kiss like a man and a woman for real.

Concerning priests and marriage: I think we should always seek solution to problems without leaving out God’s existence. God is logic. So I would start with logical thinking about that matter.

Only God knows our destiny. Many Christians believe there is always a soul for a woman or men to meet in this life. Although some might argue not everybody meets his or her soul to connect with, It does not change the fact that when deep love occurs between two souls and this love was given to these souls by God, nobody has the right to prevent this connection to stay alive in a holy and healthy way, for both of them. It is not healthy to be separated form the holy sacraments, when you live a love you can’t abandon!

A priest can be lead into service and out of service by God. If he falls in love with a woman and this love is true love it would be a sin to prevent them to live this love. Logically thinking a woman is not worse than a dog or pet. She has also a holy living soul with whom one can connect to without any sin. How can you just abandon and throw away a living holy soul even if the soul belongs to a woman? This is complete insane mindset!

Promise celibacy for the rest of your life is blind and not a failure of such men who do promise this. You can never know whether you meet a soul you want to connect with in a deep way or not. So the decision is made by God.

Sometimes the love by soul is followed the connection by flesh. Strong love can develop like this. There is nothing sinful about this. On the other side sin is committed by those who prevent such couples to live the full life in church with dignity. Many couples have to wait for years until the pope allows them to marry and to take part in the sacraments of the church. This is not a situation that should occur. 

We can look at the example of Christian orthodox churches where priests are allowed to marry. They prove that they are responsible family fathers and afterwards they can become a priest. But here we see also the ignorance of God’s will to occur in our life. The wonder of love can also fall upon priest monks, who until the point of becoming priest monks have not met their woman to love yet.

Such situations force the secret couples to live in secret and is followed by very much struggle. No, it is not possible to think that you should and can always abandon such a relationship. To try with every part of your soul to forget your beloved is insane. Why should you abandon true love?

Often you can’t live without this person. It seems to be like this, you are absolutely connected by God and strong love. Strong love is a phenomenon that makes you ill if you can’t live it. You do not always have to be aware of your partner being sent to you by God. You just know you can never let go.

So in my opinion the church should generally accept that destiny of people is in God’s hands and the church can not reign over lives of people instead of God. If a catholic priest or an orthodox priest monk meet a woman they want to marry there should be a regular possibility to do so, without the struggles to occur that you maybe loose church and by the way God. These are severe wrong beliefs, such people are brainwashed by an ideology which is far from logic and God. 

Readers! You’re kindly requested to continue the discussion with your useful and intelligent comments. May God Bless you All!

I struggled even writing this, never mind trying to summarise almost 16 years of my on and off friendship with this person. I wanted to share my story to let others know that they’re not alone (because for a while, I felt very alone and as if no one could understand). If I’m being honest, I’m looking for advice and a resolution too. My name is MA and my priest is J.

I met J through a family friend; they were both attending seminary at the time. I was attending a mass for vocations and after, I went down to the church hall for refreshments. It was then that J caught my eye across the room and right away, I wanted to know: “who is HE?” I cannot tell you how silly I felt when my friend introduced him as a fellow seminarian (he was not dressed in his collar). We talked for a while and I was struck by his smile, his dimples, and his pure excitement about becoming a priest, as well as his commitment to our faith and God. Frankly, I was blown away by the sheer chemistry and energy radiating off him and between us. For the record, it was the first (and last) time someone had ever caught my eye in that way. Regardless, I didn’t think we’d ever see each other again.

The following summer, he was placed at my Mom’s church as an intern. Right away, we clicked. We often joined other parishioners for coffee, attended masses for vocations around my state, and he even met a few of my closest friends and family. At this point, I wasn’t thinking of J as anything other than a mentor of sorts, someone who I could talk about my faith with. He also seemed proud of my work in the healthcare field and we discussed helping others a lot. He shared he had been engaged prior to entering the priesthood and had needed to take a break from seminary in order to discern whether he was on the right path. J admitted he struggled with celibacy and the thought of not being a father.

By the end of that summer, we were even closer & I felt sad that I was losing my friend as he headed back to the seminary. I was also a little shocked and confused as to why he hadn’t yet asked me for my email (no cells back then!). He waited literally until minutes before leaving and heading back to ask me for my contact info. I wish I had seen the confusion I felt then for what it was— a foreshadowing of feelings that would characterize and haunt our relationship.

We continued to email at least weekly during his school year and then he started calling me at work. It happened so often, that I actually got in trouble. Not to mention, every time he called, he would say it was “Father J,” making the poor receptionist have a heart attack, thinking that something bad had happened to someone in my family. I was there for his transitional deaconate ceremony and celebrated with him after. He introduced me to his family and I became friends with some of his family members, often emailing them on a regular basis.

His last year of seminary, J. treated me much like the previous year, except our contact greatly increased. A few months before his ordination, he confided that he “wasn’t so sure he wanted to do this and that his biggest fear was getting to his mid-40’s and realizing that he wanted to be a husband and a father.” At this point, I was starting to become physically attracted to J. and finding him working his way into my thoughts more and more. I struggled between the desires of my heart, being a good Catholic and friend, and giving him unbiased advice. I tried to give the best advice I could, encouraging him to take a good, hard look at his motivations. J. basically summed it up as: “My parents want me to be a priest. Besides, what else would I do? I didn’t go to college.” At the time, he neglected to tell me he was a trained healthcare professional himself.

In the end, he followed through with being ordained and it was one of the proudest, yet hardest, days of my life (it still is). I knew how he had struggled with the academic work, his emotions, but persevered because of his strong faith. As he lied prostrate, it felt like a knife to my heart. I love my faith and God, so I felt guilty and ashamed for feeling this way. It was that very day, probably the proudest day of his life, that I realized I was in love with him. The irony was not lost on me.

J ended up in his first placement as a parochial vicar not far from where I live. He invited me to his first mass and told me that my being there helped to decrease his nerves. He also asked me to continue to attend mass there and I found no problem with this, as I was dating a man from the area and often spent my weekends there. J was aware of this and made it obvious he didn’t approve. Despite the tension that my having a significant other created, our friendship continued to strengthen and we started to create special moments together. One snowy Xmas Eve J. begged me not to leave, as he was “lonely” and estranged from some of his family at that time. I helped to advocate for a family member of his when insurance would no longer cover her chemotherapy and filled out numerous amounts of paperwork to get her additional resources. Meanwhile, my faith was growing stronger than ever, but so were my feelings for J. Looking back on it now, I find it odd how I never dreamed that he could possibly reciprocate those feelings; I was brainwashed and saw him as a priest, not a human being. A person not only who is capable of love, but might even be desiring it. It was only until J started acting funny that I questioned his intentions, but immediately dismissed them. He insisted I have a confession with him when I thought it was a conflict of interest and fought with me about not attending a pilgrimage to Italy with his church (I couldn’t afford it at the time, he offered to pay for me). After mass on a beautiful spring day, he offered to walk me to my car after we spent hours chatting and laughing after mass. A red flag went up; I found it strange because we were in a suburban, safe neighborhood, with my car tucked safely in the church parking lot, in broad daylight. However, I was used to his being courteous, and he always walked me to my car but it was always in the presence of fellow priests. I started to feel funny as I loaded my things into my car, only to turn and find him leaning against my door, in close proximity to me. I started to feel that awkwardness when a first date is ending and you don’t know if the guy is going to kiss you or not. I didn’t know if he was going to do or say something, but I knew whatever was coming would change things for both of us forever, so I literally pushed him away, said goodbye, and drove off. I remember, still to this day, seeing his face in my rearview and cried the whole way home. It was the last time I would see him for a decade. There are no words to describe how I felt that day, other than I loved him so much, I wanted to protect him. I also didn’t want to hurt God. I thought of J over the years and wondered if my gut intuition was right regarding his feelings for me and what he was going to do that day or if I totally misread the whole thing.

To make an already long story longer (kudos if you read this far), I ended up lapsing and not going to church for 6 years. I would be lying if I said my love for J wasn’t part of it. However, my faith and spirituality never faltered. It is my main coping mechanism despite chronic health issues and frankly, it’s what keeps me going. About a year ago, I started to get serious about returning to church and yearned for a place where I wouldn’t be judged, feel comfortable, and not be forced by the pastor to get involved behind the scenes in various roles (this has been an issue for me in almost every church I’ve attended). I looked up J to see where he was and found he was assigned to a parish in the same city I work. I attempted to contact him via parish email to break the ice and make it less awkward for us both if I decided to show up. Naively, I figured that so many years had passed; there would be no harm in seeing him again. I assumed he’s now an experienced pastor, that I have grown leaps and bounds and am pretty good at detecting red flags (that’s what happens folks when you’ve been dating since 15!), and that my feelings for him had leveled out because of lack of contact. I even prayed continuously and agonized over my decision. I prepared myself for seeing someone who might have changed in ways I would not appreciate, expected him to be different, even prepared myself that he might have a significant other (yes, we all know the reality). Nothing could’ve prepared me for what I’ve dealt with since my return.

He claims he never got my email message and within minutes of sitting down at my first mass there, I realized my instincts and gut feelings so many years ago were spot on. He turned pale, then beet red, stumbling over his words, hands shaking when he gave me communion, fidgeting when sitting on the altar. I have seen him drop the Eucharist once or twice and it was always the person before me in line. I cannot tell you how awful I felt, as if I was causing him to feel uncomfortable on his own turf and screw up his at his job.

I have never had a more awkward conversation, as I attempted to explain my presence to him. He couldn’t even look me in the eye and reprimanded me for disappearing all those years ago and not telling him why. I think he sees my leaving years ago as rejection, not the protection I intended. However, he never contacted me to see if everything was ok either. I was struck how emotionally immature he seemed, able to interact with parishioners quite easily, but not with me. For some reason with me it seems different; it’s hurtful and painful. J insists he “likes having me there and it’s not awkward for him,” but I don’t feel he’s being honest. There are days he’s friendly and like old J I knew, we laugh and talk with no issues. Then there are others where he ignores me and I don’t know how to act myself. I have always felt comfortable talking to a wide range of people, especially males; I am a tomboy and have mostly male friends. I talk and listen to people for a living, so to be struggling like this is a foreign concept for me. People always tell me that I am easy to talk to, that they feel like they’ve known me for years, and can trust me with anything. It says something that I don’t know how to act when I’m around J.

Over the summer, I started taking J’s unwillingness to open up personally. I also noticed his friendliness and closeness to another female parishioner our age, who is married and whose husband holds a highly respected job. She is actively involved in the parish in a variety of roles and donates a substantial amount of money to the church. I have seen him engage in a way that I think is inappropriate for a pastor to engage with a parishioner but then I think: “am I just biased? Is it purely the fact that she gives money?” I am aware the church is a business. I don’t find that a comfort though—it makes me think less of him and get angry. If money is what he bases his friendships on, I find it sad and hypocritical. I can’t afford to give thousands to my church, but it doesn’t mean I love God any less. I also don’t want to think of the alternative, that she’s special to him in a way she shouldn’t be.

I struggle to understand why he has no issue interacting with this woman but gets nervous and discombobulated around me. I feel jealous and frustrated, as if I’m on an emotional roller coaster. I’m beginning to think we weren’t as close as I thought.

As soon as I pull away emotionally and get to a good place, it seems as if J can almost sense it, and he’ll do something to pull me back in. One day, it was telling how he was struggling. I didn’t want to talk personal issues in front of other parishioners, so I told him to text or call, whatever he felt comfortable with if he needed someone to talk to. It’s something I would do for any friend in need. He’s never once texted, emailed, or called. It’s disconcerting when we used to talk every single week, almost daily. I began thinking if it weren’t for Mary and the Eucharist, I’d consider becoming Protestant. I struggled over the summer to see how my faith could continue to grow in this church, but I didn’t feel like leaving either. I like the people, feel comfortable for the most part, and was doing fine when I got to a peaceful place about J. Finally, I got to a good place emotionally and it lasted for a few months. I was proud of myself.

That all changed. After recently experiencing a serious trauma, suddenly nothing mattered—not J, not this other woman—nothing was as important and crucial to my well-being as God and my faith. I am so thankful and grateful not only to be alive, but to have come to see it as a learning experience that readjusted my priorities. J was involved in my healing process and was honest; he admitted it scared him to see me that way. He told me that “out of all people, you don’t deserve this.”

Since then, I have noticed J. attempting to connect with me, but his immaturity and arrested development often get in the way and act as an obstacle in growing our friendship. He does small things, often within homilies or during prayers that I know are geared towards me. At first, I found myself thinking: “am I narcissistic? Egocentric? I think that was meant for me!” But then a smile or direct eye contact will reassure me, yes, I’m not crazy. I still find my mind drifting off to him, like a school girl with a crush. I feel sad, confused, angry, worried, and alone; it’s not exactly as if I can talk to just anyone about this. There are times, though, when I’m talking to him or praying with him, that I feel such joy and love, love for not only J, but an overwhelming love and closeness to God. One of J’s smiles can send me floating for days.

That being said for me, knowledge is power. I have actually sought out support groups online and in the process, read research and many books about this issue. Yes, women love priests. Some because it’s a challenge, some because they “lack self-esteem,” others because they love the priest not for his role, but because of the amazing man beneath the collar. I fall in this last category; I love J. for who he is, not WHAT he is. Yes, I’ve said it; I’m in love with a priest. It feels freeing to finally say those words. And I am no longer naïve to the fact that priests often love a woman back. I have rationalized my awareness that this man may indeed love me back for way too long. The key is he’ll never love me back in the way I deserve or need. I’ve come to understand that there is no happy ending in this situation. Will I ever tell J how I feel? Probably not, although if he directly calls me out on it, I wouldn’t lie. I don’t plan on leaving his church any time soon either, but don’t have plans to pursue more than a friendship. Believe me, if J ever tells me he’s leaving the priesthood, I’d be the first one (in a long line of women I’m sure) ready and eager to pursue a relationship, one that we both deserve and would be on equal footing.

Meanwhile, I plan on devoting some of my energy to advocating for the married priest movement. Why shouldn’t priests be able to marry? I find it ironic, as they speak about love and counsel married couples. Should a man who has chosen to spread the word of God be “punished” by an inability to experience God’s greatest gift—love? There is no way that anything that involves love can be a sin because it is of God. Period.

In ending, thank you for reading my story. It is because of the courage of the many folks who contribute to this blog that I was finally able to tell my story. I know many of you will relate to me and support me, but I’m also aware that others may think my feelings are wrong and am prepared for possible criticism. If you’re in the latter group, I only ask you to think of how it felt when you first experienced love: the excitement, the joy, and the confusion at times. Be kind to one another and may God continue to bless us all on our individual journeys.

Merry Christmas to All! Readers, let’s be charitable by finding the right phrase or writing, to help this lady.

Let’s make it crystal clear at the very beginning: we never force any adult to take any decision. It’s up to the person to walk in the direction he wishes to discover. On the other hand, we are never going to promote clandestine relationships between priests and women. We firmly believe that the amount of stress, risks and guilt feelings are too much for both the woman and the priest in order to lead a hidden life. It is not ethical that while the priest preaches to others what to do, he himself lives a lie.

On the hand, let’s discuss openly and give some common directions to priests who are walking in this unique and particular journey. Falling in love is not a sin. Can we put it into the priest’s soul? We know that the priest has been brainwashed for many years with the mentality that love and priesthood are not compatible. Talking with other priests seem to be worse as most of them will force the priest to abandon the golden relationship with this special friend. It seems that they don’t have any doubts or second thoughts. It’s another alarm which sounds quite aloud as some persons seem to have all the answers in the world…for others! Yet some simple questions will paint the situation rather accurate: did they ever experience love? Did they ever communicate with another person on a special level? Most of them find refuge behind a wall of denial and copied truths which were handed down without ever being questioned.

What is this sudden love urge for one single person? Why is this person so special? Why did it enter into his locked up heart? How was the priest living his relationship with God? Was he successful in building mature relationships with other adults? What is God trying to say to the priest? It’s a wake up call. Obviously these questions have to be answered individually and personally. We cannot photocopy answers as each priest has to give his own particular answer!

The crisis in the spiritual life is not a negative experience. It’s the call for growth. God does not leave us in the same situation for long. Life itself changes many times. We have to face some new challenges. Sometimes the challenges will help us get out of a stagnant life.

The priest can decide that the challenge is too much. He might feel at odds with such challenge. In that case, one should at least be open and sincere with the woman concerned and not leave her hanging on for ever! It’s cruelty if one leaves the other partner in a permanent limbo! On the other hand, the fire that started to burn in his heart, should be listened to in order to start a fire in all his pastoral work. His out of the blues love relationship was not superficial. He has to translate the same enthusiasm and sparkle in his work.

In the case that the priest is doubtful about his work in the church or is at odds with the teaching of the church, he has to resolve the case. Either he believes in his work within the church, or else steps aside in order to find power, energy and spiritual growth in his life.

Stepping aside might lead to new, convincing answers ie. a mature growth in his faith. He might continue as a priest with a new energy. If not, he has to decide that he can’t live a lie and to walk in a different path.

What’s new in all our opinions, is that going for a married life does not mean that one has lost his faith and neither that he has acted like Judas who kissed Jesus for hidden motives! It means that one has to live his faith with a new pair of eyes: that of a married priest. It will help one to revise all the teaching one has received since childhood! We know that this is actually a revolution in one’s life. But this is what is needed in the church of today. If the experience of a married priest becomes worldwide, all the theological writings will have to be edited! Like a snake who has shed his old skin, all things will come alive in the new church.

It’s an old/new way to present priesthood. It’s old, because most of the apostles were married and so were some of the popes! New, because around 1000 years ago, Roman Catholic Priests stopped getting married!

Without being hurtful to the church, we do notice that most of the young people will never step inside a church unless they see the face of the humanity in it! Seeing the priests getting married and facing most common everyday challenges will help them realise that they are not far away from the kingdom of God! Let’s face it, in most European countries [with some exceptions), churches have become empty spaces! Are we happy to see the church die?

One final note. Christmas reminds us that a woman (Virgin Mary) brought the human and frail child to this world. Do we need women to revive our religion today? Married priests is another step which brings recognition to the hidden work done by many women who are the backbone of our religion, but who are not at the centre of publicity! Like Mary, they bring forth a new child to the world!