The media and the common people are very creative when they invent stories especially involving a priest who has just left. Most probably they give a reason to something that they find extremely hard to digest! The usual answer is that one left to get married!

Although in some cases it might ring true, yet in most cases, we encounter a different picture. The priest is not so happy with his surroundings, happenings or way of life. In the quoted article, one finds an ex seminarian (one who is studying for priesthood), who is not happy with the way of life the friars are living in the monastery. He feels very uncomfortable that whilst his mother has to make both ends meet, in his monastery there is a superfluous luxury notwithstanding the fact that they took the vow of poverty! The most important thing of all is that it has effected his spirituality. Although for others it may seem to be trivial, it cost him his place in the monastery. He couldn’t accommodate this divorce between what he believes and what he sees daily in the monastery.

One of the most terrible lies is that priests don’t get married because they need to be 24/7 for the people of God. Many years ago people used to call them to come and accompany people at their hour of death. Now that job is practically gone except maybe in hospitals. The problem with most priests is that they view their work according to the number of masses or sacraments they need to administer. In most parts of the Western world church attendance has gone down so practically they have much less work to do especially during weekdays. On the other hand circumstances have changed and most people are not be found during the traditional eight to five working shift.

Mass and sacraments have lost their magic touch for the common people. People need to be evangelised. People need a human contact with the church. They need to be taught many things about religion as they are ‘ignorant’ in most religious issues. Most probably they would get the wrong impression of the church because in many cases it’s mostly silent in the digital world! When people are passing through a difficult/loving phase in their lives, the church is mostly absent. Even attending mass, in most cases it is something very anonymous! This is a fact which seems not to preoccupy bishops when amalgamating parishes!

Most probably the biggest issue (which goes unnoticed by many), is that most priests, outside the sacramental world, they don’t know how to deal with it! The still don’t know the importance of building a real community in their parish. They were never trained how to do pastoral work properly (it is not simply the distribution of the sacraments). Pastoral work should culminate in the person finding Christ and building a personal relationship. Now before embarking on such an adventure, one needs to know the flock. There are various ways and means how to get to know the flock but the best one seems that of family visiting. It is physically demanding and time consuming, yet it yields the best results. It builds a good bond between the priest and the parishioners.

As priests are transferred from one parish to another, the parish council seems to be the most appropriate one in order to work hand in hand with the pastor. How are relations with the pastor? We can find various examples yet very few parishes provide professional teaching and caring for it. The parish council is another largely unknown ‘thing’ in the parish. Most people are never introduced to it. They never vote for it so how could it be an effective instrument in the hand of the parish?

Then there is the church in general. The priest comes into contact with many relationships, hidden or otherwise. Yet he is representing the church. In many cases there is an internal conflict between what the church believes and what the faithful are living. Some people prefer to ignore such conflicts. Others simply leave the church, others try to find a leeway. Many pastors know that such conflict is bound to get bigger all the time if the hierarchy (people at the very top of the church), do not live in the same conditions. Recently I had a discussion with some religion teachers. They were surprised that the church hasn’t changed her mind when it comes to contraceptives. The fact is that these religion teachers have taken a different answer to such challenge in their married life which is beyond that of the church. Now what about priests and their internal conflicts? How would they solve them?

We hope of providing some food for thought to our readers. As usual, we didn’t cover all that needs to be written down. But that’s a big plus for our readers to start writing immediately in order to provide more shades about the mentioned topic!