Tag Archive: Pope Francis and Clelia Luro


The signs of the times are calling for married priests in the Roman Catholic church. It’s not far fetched but we do feel that the wind is blowing in that direction. On the other hand, we are standing on the ground and not flying too high. It’s not going to be an easy change. This is because for various reasons. One of them is, that many people want progress but nobody wants to change.

If the church really wants married priests, how are they going to call for vocations with the present circumstances? The church calls itself the expert in humanity. Yet, do workers in the church have the best conditions of work? Is the church ready to preach by example? How many married men are going to join the church with the present conditions? What type of hindrance keeps married men from joining priesthood? Can we alter something in order to attract the best possible candidates? The financial package is not to be forgotten, plus spiritual, humanistic and intellectual formation.

On the part of the laity, are they prepared to study theology and other studies to give a professional service to their parish? Studying means many years of studies. On the other hand one can’t have a course similar to the one provided for non-married priests where they can afford 6 to 7 years without gaining money. How can they receive married ones while maintaining the responsibility of the family?

What about the general reflection about the family? Are the married ones expected just to obey? Are we prepared to re-write the whole ‘relationship’ chapter in the theological studies from the point of view of married priests? Are these married priests to be given their right to give a unique feedback to the general church?

One of interesting debates is when married priests have teens themselves. Even when they preach to the congregation their own teens will be there! That means somebody who is trying to live the gospel. This week I met some families who are complaining that there teens are abandoning the Sunday Mass!! That would already be a tough challenge for married ones. Yet, the challenge itself could prove to be a witness to many other families!

Speaking about the teens, what about the women. Is the wife of the pastor going to be a silent spectator? Or is she going to get a significant role in the running of the parish? After all, like many other women she is the silent supporter of her husband’s work! She is the one to help him going on. She could be the voice of many other women who are still living in the periphery of the parish!

With all this in mind, it makes sense to call back all those priests who have left. Why? Because they have something which new candidates don’t have: experience! Once they were at the centre of activity in the parish. In these last years, they have lived their most difficult time of their lives. They know how one feels when one is discarded in society. That makes them better candidates to look at those in society who feel not welcomed anymore. Those discarded have always been an important part of the church. It’s the new generation which will form up the new church. It’s not a surprise that most married priests welcome all kinds of people who are in different phases of faith!

Priests today have a dark cloud above their heads owing to the sexual abuse crisis. Yet married priests could prove vital to thwart that conception of priesthood. This is another hidden asset of married priesthood which could link the church with the outside world once again.

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The word argument might have a negative connotation for some people in some particular cultures. Well, many years ago it was the basic form of education in the old times (referring to Greek and Roman times). People used to bring the hearsay to ‘old’ people in order to hear their views about it.

The so called ‘old’ teachers had the knack of building up an argument in order to expose their teaching. So the argument was an excuse to spread their way of thinking. There weren’t classes as such but the so called arguments took place in the square where all the people used to mingle (whether for business, curiosity, to hang out or simply to gossip!)

We too can start from what the people say and think and take it up to the next level. We should show our way of presenting the argument.

One of the most famous (or infamous!) hearsay is that of sexual abuse which might happen if priests are not allowed to get married. We have to be extra careful how we present it as our adversaries might tell us that married people too abuse young children. But it doesn’t mean we have to drop this side of the argument. Let’s get deep down.

Both single and married people abuse children. That’s a fact. Nobody can deny it. But is it for the same reason? Now this is the side of the argument that most of them forget. Let’s give an example: stealing. A poor person might steal because it needs to. Does it mean that rich people don’t steal? No sir. They steal TOO. But they do it for a different reason.

The same with sexual abuse coming from unmarried priests. Yes the lack of sexual expression might lead to different forms of sicknesses. One of them is to reach out for young, inexperienced and virgin young boys and girls. This has been proved in many scientific studies. Just to mention a comparison it’s like somebody who is dying of hunger and sees the trash bin of somebody. Without thinking twice he would open it and eat the first food item found, forgetting about getting sick from such food! Yes some unmarried priests sometimes are craving for just a handshake! Most of them would like to have a sexual encounter in their deepest and hidden wishes. They are practically being crucified everyday! They simply go nuts when the perfume of a woman enters their office. This is the environment when sexual abuse of children takes place. No one can deny it! They can’t contain their sexual appetite and consequently they express it on the most vulnerable section of society – children!

Married people too abuse young and inexperienced young children. Again we emphasize, but it’s for a different reason.

We are not simply going to give permission to an abuser to get married in order to solve the problem! That would be complete nonsense!

But why are we asking for married priesthood then?

The first primary reason is the bible. How could we encourage people to read the bible and then go against the bible? Most of the apostles were married. How can we justify that our priests today go against the bible? If we start making excuses for not following the bible then all teaching will fall away!

Secondly, we firmly believe that a priest with a woman at his side would change his outlook on life, spirituality and philosophy of work completely. We can’t simply insist on the mentality that men alone are better qualified for the job. As time passes by, we notice that teens who are still coming to church, in most cases have a very active mum (in the religious sense)!! Mums, in many cases are doing a priest’s job by speaking about God to children and bringing Him alive to them. In many parishes, the contribution of women is often hidden. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not important!

Married priesthood is going to be the starting point of a new revolution where all the teaching of the church has to be: reflected on, shared, discussed and action taken upon! All this enveloped in an environment of prayer. Let’s not be afraid of the Holy Spirit who speaks in different times and in different ways though various and unexpected people!

The power of a good community

Does anybody remember the story of Noah’s ark? If you have forgotten it then go to Genesis chapter 6 and read it!

Why do we start with this story? Well, some of our readers have been following this blog for quite a long time. I wish to say a big thank you. I’m really happy about it. It’s never an easy job to start a new community let alone an online one. Online-community has more challenges. We only meet through writing! It’s obvious that writing does not tell the whole story yet it is very crucial to communicate with each other. The fact that some people stayed here through writing is another hidden miracle!

A community is compared to Noah’s ark because we have several types of characters which is easily represented by the different types of species mentioned in the Bible. Some of them could be: there is the bee (busy person); elephant (somebody who thinks that he/she is the most powerful); the eagle (the one who sees far away); the horse (one who runs fast); the snail (the one who walks very slowly); the cow (a very generous person); skunk (a person who stinks – literally); chameleon (one who changes opinion in front of others!); monkey (one who takes advantage of others by climbing on their ‘backs’); the mouse (the one who works in the dark when others are not suspecting anything at all); the donkey (one who works a lot but most probably never gets a simple thank you) and many other animals.

Familiarity breeds contempt. It means that if one knows someone or something very well, one can easily become bored with them and stop treating them with respect. In other words, instead of respecting another person, knowing his/her week points, makes one treat others with disrespect! This is our phase at the moment where some readers are playing the part of God by judging others and using words to judge others. One can refuse to accept homosexuals but one cannot call them names or treat them with disrespect (just to mention one example).

I can mention an infinite number of private emails where some readers actually wanted to impose their opinion or values on our blog. They have called me names, judged me, tried to persuade me to delete some of the articles written. A few others tried to threaten me! Well I can write a whole book about adults behaving worse than children. Well, as I have experience with education, I know from first hand experience, that not all people would like to be taught notwithstanding all the buzz about the importance of education!!

One has to value one’s experience. It is one’s practical bible. God is telling something to somebody through his/her own experience. Therefore one has to value his/her own experience. Yet, it doesn’t mean that everybody has to come to the same conclusion! We cannot conclude that all priests are simply pulling women’s legs (although a large number do exactly that). There could be a unique story where love takes the right path and they get married! Why do we paint reality with a black colour? Or is it because we are still bitter about our own experience and we don’t like the idea that others could be more successful? In other words, are we jealous?

Others, surprisingly, think that whatever is being written on the blog, it’s done simply to tease them or to make them angry!! They are truly suspicious! A word of advice is never to mention names of other readers so there won’t be a direct reference – at least! If they are too sensitive, they should never write on a public forum!

I know as well that some people are still suffering from a past love experience with a priest. One can easily become bitter and tries to ‘bite’ other people! Maybe it’s time for such people to admit of having a problem and calling a professional counsellor who helps them to externalise what’s troubling them in a safe and positive way!

In the meantime, the ‘old’ readers can nurture or take care of new followers. The new ones will follow if what they read is ‘spiritually fit’ and helps them see God’s call in their private own lives. Please remember that the written word unlike the word which is spoken, remains there forever…even after your death! So please think before your write. If you’re angry, don’t write. Wait for sometime or a day or two.

In this case, as an editor of the blog, I would like to give the example of a captain on a ship. A captain should listen to what the sailors are saying, but finally it’s only him who has to decide. In a community too, somebody should serve the community by taking tough decisions. Now taking decisions means (sometimes) that some people are lost. This could be for various reasons but one of the most common one is that not everybody is trained to come to one conclusion whether one likes it or not. I do remember when I was in the friary, that trying to give voice to the people at first created more problems. Parishioners were invited to select the best time for mass. Well everybody gave a different time. There was no agreement. So we had to decide. Obviously those disagreeing with our decision said all sorts of words, but a community needs a decisive line of management after all. It’s like parents versus teens. Somebody has to decide whether you like it or not.

In any case, in Noah’s ark, all sorts of animals lived together! I’m not asking anybody to change his/her character, but to see everything from a different perspective – that of Noah’s ark. I will never ask somebody to leave (unless something really bad happens), but I would ask everybody to put on God’s glasses. Together we can make it. Yes all animals can live together if they have a strong community awareness. Let’s show and be that kind of community.

A priest-in-love writes to us!

Finally we have a priest who is speaking about his heart adventures!! Well, I’m not promising anyone that he is going to answer all questions or any questions at all. At least we can have a glimpse about how he seas this new person in his life. Maybe some day in the future he will continue to reveal more about his life in the parish. Obviously we are hiding his identity for practical purposes.

I’m Gabriel, a Catholic priest in my late 50s. 

I was ordained when I was in my mid-20s.

I’m 5 foot 10 inches (1.8 metres) tall. I’m fit and lean: a testament to the control I use when choosing only clean living and what goes into my body.

I’m a busy Pastor where I spend 8-12 hours a week driving between my rural parishes and diocese offices. On my “day off” I enjoy swimming and video chatting with friends and family. 

I’m a happy priest and I feel loved and admired by my parishioners: especially the seniors many of whom I have formed a close bond with.  In fact, they love me so much that they petitioned the diocese to keep me in their parishes instead of moving the Pastor every 2 years as is the norm in my diocese.  I’ve been there for nearly 7 years now.  

I thrive on the predictability of my daily life as a Pastor. I like to be in control of my world and refers to myself as “somewhat of a control freak”, though I’m very careful to never try to exert control over others.

I would like to share with you about something which happened today that shook my inner self.

Today I saw a woman. She is new, but somehow seems familiar.  There is something about her.  Something that draws me in and is enticingly frightening,  Like I’m playing with fire and want to get burned.

Something.  I can’t put my finger on it.

She has this sadness in her eyes.  Those eyes, big, beautiful and brooding. Sad, but sparkling – How does that work??  She looks healthy enough but yet seems frail and fragile.
 She is wearing makeup.  Why? to cover something up?  Not some physical imperfection, but something else that she doesn’t want the world to see?   I imagine her with no makeup.  Freshly showered, clean, hair wet.  Oh no, don’t go there!.  I’m immediately trying to guess her age.  Young, too young.  I guess about 15 years younger than me.  My brain starts arguing with itself – Too young for what exactly?  Stop it you fool!

I introduce myself.  I don’t even know what I said, in all probability something absurd, because for some reason, I’m not thinking clearly.  I wonder if she thinks I’m examining her a little too closely so I avert my gaze towards the other parishioners, only to look back to find that she is still looking at me.  Now I’m embarrassed.  Do I look okay?  Is my hair messed up?  Can she see into my soul?  Okay, gain your composure.  Act professional.  You’re not a teenager!  What is wrong with me?  I’m sure she thought I’m an idiot.  Oh no, I feel like I’m staring.  What in the world is happening here?  I shake her hand and somehow my other hand comes up and I have her hand in both of mine now.  I think probably that’s a little too friendly too soon but I’m committed now and  I blurt out “I hope to see you again – WE hope to see you again”.  She thanks me and leaves and I have to consciously remind myself not to watch her walk all the way through the welcoming area and out the door.
You’re acting like a fool Father.  Don’t feel much like a “Father” right now.

I go back to the elder I was speaking to before who immediately says “She’s lovely isn’t she?”  Oh my Lord.  What an imbecile I am.  Now I’ve embarrassed myself twice already in a span of about 2 minutes.  I don’t answer and try to resume the conversation we were having before my brain and my heart decided to go their separate ways.  But I can’t focus and feel the need to find quiet and solitude. Nevertheless, I carry on with all the necessaries and all the niceties I’m on cruise control, robotic.  All the while I want to bolt to the parking lot in case I can catch another glimpse of her.

I should have asked the elder who she is.  She seemed to know her.  No, that would be a huge mistake.  Oh well, it’s too late now. 
Why am I so out of control?  Why do I not feel like a priest right now?  I’m feeling guilty already.  Why?  Have I done something wrong?  Maybe I should talk to someone.  No, I don’t want to do that either.  I’m probably reading way too much into this.

I find myself praying that she comes back again but I feel thrown off.  Maybe I don’t want her to come back.  God help me.  What is happening?  I feel unsettled. 
A missed opportunity, or perhaps I dodged a bullet. 

I spend the rest of the day trying to get her out of my mind and trying to determine whether I am happy that I met her or not.  And to regain my confidence which is inexplicably shaken.

One of our readers, E.C., wanted to share some thoughts with us.

I’m a woman. When I started my journey back into Christianity about 7 years ago, I started with the Eastern Orthodox Church, where married priests with their wives and children were the norm, and an unmarried priest was seen as odd, but of course, quite welcome.

It seems funny then that I settled on Roman Catholicism, where the priests make a promise of celibacy to their Bishops, never to have a spouse or children.

I respect the priest who honestly wants and welcomes celibacy into his life and who knows how to handle that, but many men feel that they have no choice but to live this celibate life in order to have their priesthood.

So many men force themselves to live a celibate life when they are not meant to do so, hoping for the best possible outcome, only to realize when it’s too late that what they desire is a family as well as the priesthood.
A few scenarios are then possible:

-The priest continues on with his pastoral duties but lives a very lonely and frustrated life.
-The priest, in his frustration, uses his power to his advantage, using people to fulfill his unmet needs in an inappropriate way, either with adults or with minors.
-The priest forms a meaningful, loving, consensual relationship with an adult partner, but must keep it secret for fear of being exposed and losing his pastoral position, and thus his livelihood.
-The priest leaves the priesthood in order to pursue the building of his family, usually regretting that choice because he knows he was meant to be a priest, but he also loves the family that he’s made/wanting to make. He will be torn for the rest of his life.

Forcing a man to choose one vocation or the other when he desires both will only leave him broken in the end. If he chooses one, he will always yearn for the other.
Although some are quite happy never to think of the priesthood again, they would be the minority.
Once a priest, always a priest.
“Tu Es Sacerdos In Aeternum”

Now, on to our beloved Pope Francis:

“Pope Francis has appointed members of a pre-synodal council who will collaborate with the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in preparation for the Pan-Amazonian synod next year”
-National Catholic Register

To be discussed, among other things, optional celibacy for priests in that region.
In doing so, he is opening the door for wider discussion on the need for optional celibacy throughout the entire church.

“Although some exceptions already exist to allow married priests in the Catholic Church (the Eastern rites and the Ordinariate for former Anglicans for example), the Amazonian case could be used to allow for married clergy wherever priest shortages might exist, and therefore permit a far wider provision.
Whether any change to the discipline will actually happen remains speculative, but past statements along with today’s appointments makes it clear that a push for some change to the discipline is already going ahead.”
-National Catholic Register

Let us pray that this synod will open the eyes and the hearts of those who claim to be against optional celibacy for our beloved Roman Catholic priests.

Let them see the benefits that it will bring, including, but not limited to:
-A reduction in abuse cases.
-An increase in priestly vocations.
-An improved quality of life for priests.
-An increase in the number of people who attend the Holy Mass.
-An increase of understanding and trust between priest and parishioner.

And finally, on to one of the reasons that I take this topic so personally:

I have been in a relationship with a Roman Catholic priest for the last 6 months, but it has been very difficult on us both. My siblings and a few of my closest friends know of our relationship, but that is it.
He is a very confused man, he does not believe that opening the door for optional celibacy is the solution for many of the crises in our church, but he gladly keeps the secret relationship with me.

I cannot understand how someone in his situation can think that way.
Most likely, our romantic relationship will end, it has gone back and forth for a while now, so it’s just a matter of time. Although, him and I both agreed that when it ends, we will remain friends, as we do get along very well.
I am not the first relationship that he has had while he’s been a priest, I am at least the third -that is what he’s told me.

I don’t like the hypocrisy that he is putting forward, leading this double life.
I wish there was something I could do to open his eyes to what I’m trying to show him. I try to drop hints all the time about how I feel about forced celibacy, but he quickly changes the subject.
There is an age gap between us(15+ years, and I am in my 30’s) so I wonder if that contributes at all to his mindset?
For now, I have stopped pushing him, and just try to enjoy our time together.

Optional celibacy will not fix all the problems in all of our priests and in our church, but it is a step in the right direction.

Pictured above: My partner and I.

“Oh, to love and to be loved. It is to us sustenance, just as food, water, air, God!
We need it in our lives, and to deny that is to deny a large part of what makes us human.
We are made in the image and likeness of God, so then to love is not only good, it is Holy.”
-E.C.

The priest as a manager

I’m writing this article whilst looking at a young boy who is working in his dad’s shop. The way he talks to other colleagues is to say the least, disgusting. The way he walks, talks and behaves in the shop, is, as if he built the shop from scratch with his own sacrifices and sweat! Obviously he found everything ready made so he does not appreciate the meaning of hard work, of mistakes and of trying again and again. This is the typical mistake some parents do when they simply introduce them at work as their ‘son’. They don’t realise that other employees would never accept him as their boss, if not because of being forced on by their father!

Something similar takes place in a parish. The priest finds himself in a new parish. He never worked for the parish yet he is already in an important seat as a pastor! So what does one expect from him? What does he know about the parish? How many people does he know? Most probably he would rely on the people around him (which might be heavily biased about other people in the parish!).

In the early years of the church, the one responsible for the community would be chosen amongst the same community. Obviously this is another reason why we should go for married priests! The priest chosen should have already given an example of how to lead a larger community by leading his own family! On the other hand he already knows the community in which he has to work as their pastor! From the point of view of the parishioners, they already know what he is capable of!

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any problems. When we present the married priesthood as a model, we don’t imply that there would be heaven on earth. Heaven is heaven. No place on earth is heaven, yet we firmly believe that on a weighing scale the advantages outweigh the disadvantages!

Earning the respect of the parishioners means a lot! Knowing the parish beforehand is an immense gift. Having a family would be a shinning example for the whole parish! The married priest although with one foot he is ‘in’ the world, yet with his other foot he is with God. He has to prove that he is a man of prayer. Only the prayerful priest is the one who continues to work against all odds! A prayerful priest knows that good work and good intentions alone won’t change a single thing in the parish. It’s God who works wonders and changes people’s heart!

Another challenge within the Catholic church is that of comparing today with yesterday. Recently I had a conversation with a friar (they live in a community but this friar owing to lack of vocations lives on his own). He was full of long forgotten dreams about the past where hundreds of people used to line up for confession (today it’s called the sacrament of reconciliation); Young people with Vocations for priesthood used to fill up the friary! Now they don’t have one single vocation!

We firmly believe that numbers won’t tell the whole story because God knows how to write in crooked lines too! We can’t be without faith (like other writers on the internet). It’s not the end of the Church! Yet God is changing it into something more beautiful. We are too tied to past traditions or criteria. God is changing the criteria too! One of them is to let married priests be a fundamental part of the Catholic Church.

It’s up to our mature readers to continue the discussion…

Emotional maturity

Our schools rarely cater for such need for students in order to be educated in emotions. We all think about academic achievements, yet the students in front of the teacher come to school with a luggage of emotions!

In school they are realising that a student is influenced by not less than 70% outside the school perimeter (family, peers, internet etc..). Just the remaining 30% is in the hands of the school (when delivered correctly!!)

Now what about priests? They rarely receive any education whatsoever when it comes to emotions. Why are we surprised that they run away when they fall in love or because they give the cold and hot attitude to a person who cares so much for them?

There are various websites which could help our readers to get some basic knowledge when dealing with emotional intelligence. One can just use a search engine to get some interesting reading.

In the meantime let’s continue debating…..priests should be helped to make them aware of emotions especially when they are attracted to somebody. First of all they need to find the assurance that nobody is going to report them to the bishop because of such feelings! Secondly they come to terms with the fact that finding attractive people is part and parcel of life. We meet people all the time, some are too busy, some are arrogant, some live on the moon but some are so attractive. There is always a reason why meet such people.

Once they acknowledge their true feelings, they can start working on them. Now, how can we go on with these feelings? We are not implying or forcing anybody to go and fall in love. But such experience could reveal a lot about the priest. One of them is the lack of friends. We mean friends who don’t look for the priest simply to find the perfect man but who can be himself and speak about his heart calmly and without fear. The priest works a lot for the others. But who takes care of him?

Another aspect which hinders the priest’s progress in emotional maturity is his position in the parish. The fact that he is the boss, he doesn’t need to convince anybody to press on with his arguments. He doesn’t need to listen to his parishioners! Nowadays most priests are simply buried with the parish work that they don’t have time to do family visiting. They don’t have time to meet some forgotten areas or difficult areas in the parish! In most of the time he is not challenged by the young teens because they stopped attending church!

Conflict is a good indicator of one’s emotional maturity! How does the priest react when facing opposition?

In other words, the priest, living on his own is simply detached from our ‘normal’ life where we are challenged in our work by our superiors or by clients or by new companies. Or where we get hurt by other people’s comments or behaviour! Just the other day I was at the seaside and an angry woman just threw a chair out of its way…..it’s a classical example of how people need to be educated in emotions. Whatever reason she had, we simply don’t throw chairs just because somebody doesn’t agree with us or maybe he or she behaved badly! If we start throwing chairs then it will be a war not a civilisation anymore!

The emotional test will be very challenging with the people we love most. One is because we live together or we see each other most of the time ie the more we see each other the better chances of hurting each other. Secondly because we expect much more from our loved ones. Our expectations are so high with people we admire and love. Consequently we are in a better position to be disappointed!

It’s up to the readers to continue our discussion…..

Children of priests

Relationships between women and priests have always been clandestine. It’s never an easy subject to discuss. Most people prefer secrecy. But another aspect which we have never discussed is the issue of the effect of making love – children.

Priests are more likely to have children as they are not experienced in birth control methods. Besides their love making is hidden and done quickly.

Maybe hiding a love relationship between adults is one thing, but hiding from children is totally devastating! How can a father not see, caress, accompany, play and spend time with his child?
That is why we’ve been against secrecy from day one. Once everything is covered in great secrecy, one can expect that lateral secrets will be kept under great scrutiny from the Catholic Church.

Speaking about the truth will make everybody free. Yet in some quarters in the Catholic Church they still prefer to keep a lid on all secrets. It has taken some victims great courage to come forward and tell their hidden stories.

Obviously some of them were looked upon like sinners. They were given all sorts of names. But those seeking the truth listened to their incredible stories.

The best part of it is that children are a living proof of the love between the woman and the priest. On the other hand, when they’ll discover who their true father is, they realise that they have been robbed of a normal life. They can’t tell who their true father was. Most probably they have been taught to lie. Like in real life all lies come to an end one day or another. Yet this time the child is practically left without a trail. He/she would like to know her father, yet secrecy and contradictory reports prevent all this.

Besides the story of the hidden father, the church fails its people as it goes against its fundamental moral teaching. He who is a paternal father should be held responsible and make sure of helping the mother. This not only on financial matters but rather in giving support to the mother and by being present in the child’s life. One cannot simply tell the mother to go and hide herself!

In some cases, the priest tried in a private manner to convince the woman to have an abortion in order to hide his adventure. In some cases, the woman died as they were conducting abortion in clinics which were not up-to-standard, by they promised anonymity.

It all shows that some members of the church go to great heights in order to cover these secrets. Yet somebody has to speak out in order to denounce the ugly face of celibacy when it is forced on priests!

Now people who are not afraid to speak out would be helping the church in keeping her secrets hidden from the common people. In fact when they force people to shut up, it means that they are afraid! We are the ones who should feel proud because we are helping the church to come out and be transparent. It will be more Christ like but less of an institution.

We are proud on this blog that together with readers we’re uncovering some of the secrets held by priests who try to gag women. Others become very violent or life threatening to the woman they made love with!

Please help us by publishing your story to prove that the effects of forced celibacy are not light and they are not ‘just a few of them’.

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!

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.