Tag Archive: Will Pope Francis allow priests to marry?


The ‘Amazon’ Synod

We are so enthusiastic about the synod being conducted in Rome. We saw several women together with indigenous people from the enchanting and unique area of the amazon. It is another attempt to re-live the second experience of the Second Vatican Council which was celebrated some years ago [1963-1965].

We all know that the Council of around fifty five years ago has been relegated to just a past document. Surprisingly even Popes passed legislations which went against the spirit of the council!! But this is the church after all. One can imagine how difficult it is today when discussing something in the family especially with teenagers! Now it consists of just a few people who all live under the same roof. Now imagine discussing hot issues with millions of people coming from all parts of the world. We saw it on this blog too that when some people do not agree. It’s not a bed of roses!

All in all we are more optimistic today because contrary to the times of the council where the majority of the people were still brainwashed, now the majority had the guts to think differently from the people in authority in the church! The Catholic Church has lost so many people. It cannot afford to let go more people!

The fact that the church is going to let married priests [hopefully] celebrate mass, will bring about the much needed oxygen in the church. Married priests, should start their participation by reflecting on their daily experience. Especially in the amazon area where it will bring a shift in the mind of the church. We shall discuss environment issues as they concern not only the local people but all the people of the world where the amazon is defined as the lungs of the world!

Environment issues should become central teaching of the church. It should investigate the modern ways workers [modern slaves] are treated especially when multinational companies enter into so called poor countries and dominate the lifestyle and the economical well being of so many people!

It’s an open secret that we need married priests in the Western World too. How about the difficulties being faced by young people today? Mental illnesses, relationships, finding the right job or no jobs at all, difficulties of buying a house/flat etc…As already stated in the council, one starts with the normal and daily experience of the people in order to create the necessary trust which might lead to God. A married priest can give a first hand account of such difficulties and hopefully will be reflected in more up-to-date documents issued by the Vatican!

Contrary to the Council of some years ago, the married priests will remain a living testimony to the present synod and there is no danger that it will be put under the carpet in order not to create ‘waves’ in the church!

We are hopeful too that those contrary to married priests, by time will realise the great step forward which will benefit the whole church. Any change in the church should be done not to become a modernised church but to put people nearer to God. Now living amongst the majority of the people, will be a special occasion to show them the way to the Lord!

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!

We either grow or die!

Children are easily noticed when they get taller. All of us do notice the rate of growth of the young ones. We, as adults, we are growing up very day! It seems so obvious that most of us don’t notice at all! What’s natural and happening everyday seems to get sandwiched between our 1001 jobs we have to do daily.

How do we grow up? Obviously not getting taller! But we are making experiences and reflections in our daily journey. As spiritual beings we tend to look beyond the experience. We are humans who ask many questions.

It has become obvious that as a spiritual community all of us have different ideas, characters, upbringing etc…But lately the going is getting a little bit more challenging. There are some who are not open to change [like in many other sections of the population]. Others who would like to take a commanding role [either you do as I’m telling you or I’m quitting]. Some others go on a rampage by labelling others [including myself]. A few have chosen their role: to be judges!

Can we move forward in this way? Well, in the moments when I feel it’s getting dark, I would grasp the bible in my hands and look for inspiration. Yes, Jesus Christ could have started and set everything ready made in His church. Yet He didn’t do it! He wished to have 12 frail men to command it. Where they the best people on earth at that time? Definitely not. It’s not me who is leading his church. It’s the Holy Spirit who is continually cleaning and sanctifying His church. Do we truly believe this?

This is the biggest change in teaching. We are bombarded by negative news. It’s so easy to fall in the prey of today’s so called journalists. It seems that there is negativity all around! How can I believe in the ‘nuclear’ news of the gospel? From this aspect, we are seeing what we DO NOT AGREE IN. In this way we are undermining our community. We have to believe that as a community we are obliged to take care of each other.

This is like friends. When we are young we tend to think that our best friends seem to be our photocopies. As we grow older, we notice many areas were we disagree completely! We are best friends not because we agree on all subjects, but rather for other reasons! The same goes for our community. We are trying to give a message to the world: married priesthood will be a blessing to our wider Catholic community. Now if we remain separated or everybody in the comfort of his house but disregarding the calls of his brothers/sisters, then we fall down. All of us. The entire community.

I did my doctoral thesis on the role of the community. I lived in a community 24/7. For some time, I lived in an international community of nearly 200 people. I know what it takes to live in a community. I know all the pros and cons. I do distinguish though, the online community from other communities. In fact some people play the bully role simply for the fact that they are behind a screen and they think nobody can get their true identity!

I never told anybody to leave. I hope I will never do that. But some people seem to abandon the community because the community is growing. Growing means taking a different path in our journey. Now I know that most human beings are so diffident with change. Yet, looking out of the window and seeing the wind blowing, I realise that it’s not the most ‘strong’ tree that will resist the wind but the most flexible one. The flexible ones seem to be so frail as they are going in all directions when the wind blows heavily. Surprisingly those who seem to be so strong are the most likely ones to be uprooted! Technically because they try to stop the wind, which of course is unstoppable, like change!

One final note: I have been there many times when there was discord amongst a community. I do feel that God is telling us to move forward, with or without these members. It’s up to them to either get on the bus again or risk of being left behind!

Pluralism of thought

Walking along a main street in any city today, gives one the impression of today’s civilisation: everybody seems to be walking all alone as most people are not looking sideways, forward or backwards but are busy reading their tiny screen held in their hands!

Are we becoming islands? Generally speaking, in most writings on our blog, it seems that some people think that they are living on an uninhabited island! This is because like horses, they only see one view. Obviously the one that counts is their view!! Like the person looking onto their mobile phone who is blind to other happenings, one cannot see other views because one is cut off from reality.

When it comes to emotions, it’s already so difficult for a person to understand what’s going on, let alone somebody else from a different country with a different background, upbringing etc…

In a way, as Christians, we remember that only God sees in the darkest areas of our lives or other unspoken realities of which we may be totally blind! He is the true Judge who sees what others cannot see or imagine!

Falling in love is the most complicated form of action taking place in our bodies. We are first speaking from a chemical point of view. Same wise for emotions and human growth. What happens in our lives is not that easy to explain. We might put it into words, but words alone are not enough to experience what other people are experiencing. Our blog is becoming more popular because we are discussing something which is not allowed in most other Christian blogs!

But allowing people to air their views, emotions, experiences etc… does not automatically make mature readers! It’s easy to fall into temptation in condemning or labelling one’s opinion! In this area, we do feel that we need to grow. We can only present our experience and let the person decide, even if it’s against what everybody thinks or wish for. When we hear people, in some cases we are directing them to a particular conclusion. In other words we would be telling what to do. This is a very old idea of counselling which however surfaces every now and then.

We insist again, letting priests becoming biological fathers will help them too in this area. It’s not easy to tell your own sons/daughter what to do. In today’s world they need a real dialogue. Dialogue does not mean converting your own son to your own ideas, but to explore more ideas together. Finally, our sons and/or daughters are becoming adults with the right to go for a different choice then the one we discussed about!

On the other hand, those who are brave enough to share their loving experience with a priest, should not be blind and deaf to what others have written about. Experience is something which one cannot achieve in a short time. Time has to pass by in order to gain some experience. There is no fast forward button! In this sense, a dialogue has to be practised on both sides. They too need to truly listen to others although they have the right for a different solution.

Another important principle: if I have a particular experience about women-priests relationship, it doesn’t mean that all experiences are going to pass through the same path! Every person is different. Every priest is different. Every country is different. Time is changing too. What was taboo for some parts of the world, now it now longer holds water. They are in fact opening up to new ideas. This is our greatest asset that most Catholics do understand that a married priest is in a good position today to evangelise other people. It’s a missing link which might add to a multicoloured church with various experiences, traditions and people!

Easter Sunday

The gospels are interesting to read from several points of view. One of them is for contrasts. The people next to Jesus who have witnessed the most astonishing miracles, walked side by side with Him for some years. They are so proud of their master. On Good Friday they are nowhere to be seen. They are terrified of anyone associating them with Jesus. Peter made a solemn oath of not knowing Jesus!

The leader is gone. All the followers run for their lives. They are nowhere to be seen. But they have witnessed the most extraordinary events in their lives??!! This is because fear took over. One of the biggest threats to faith is fear. Fear of what the others might say. Fear of being judged. Fear of being different. Fear of showing your true faith to others. Fear of loosing friends. Fear of being fired. Fear of the future. Fear of others. Fear of the immigrants. Fear of…….The list goes on and on.

Are we afraid? Afraid of what? The fact that I don’t have more stories (for the time being), means that people are afraid of sharing their intimate story with a priest, even though we promised not to reveal real names nor geographical position!

If we wish to see change in the church and yet we are not ready to jump, then maybe we are procrastinating change in the Catholic Church. Maybe like the apostles we are still experiencing Good Friday but not Easter Sunday!

Jesus has won death itself – our greatest enemy. What are we afraid of, exactly? Why is this fear keeping us from transmitting our message? When discussing with others, it’s the others who might be afraid of change, not us!

We have to start the ball rolling as we don’t expect others, especially the priests to speak in our name! On the other hand, it might be interpretated as Pharisaic because whilst we demand the priest to leave everything for the name of love, we are so afraid to touch the hot potato subject of married priests. Myself, I have lost the ‘comfortable’ job of working at the university. Other priests had to emigrate. Others receive a very low pay. Others are still shunned by most of the people, family members included! A few of them have committed suicide. I wish I could reveal the many emails/communication that I receive. Unfortunately, everybody seems to be a victim of fear as they don’t give me permission to publish!

One of the tactics used by most bishops, is that these are very few cases! This is not true. But how can I explain that I have so many cases on my hands if I cannot disclose any information about many stories?

I truly believe that everybody can do something small but with great love and determination. One can send messages through many parts of the world in different ways. I can’t give a general formula for everybody! It’s up to each person to study it’s own personal life and act accordingly.

May the Risen Christ give you enough courage to be bold enough and strengthen the church by suggesting married priesthood.

The secret hand of God

Children would like to win when playing games. Adults want to come out as intelligent and mature persons when conducting a project at work. The Jewish people too wanted a superman in order to get rid of the then so powerful Roman Empire! In any case, everybody wants/wanted to come out with flying colours!

How come then we’re celebrating the death of a man nailed to a cross? Is this the promised victory? What kind of victory is that? It seems that the so called bad people had won!

Although we’ve been brainwashed [at times] in the Catholic church, there are moments when one is all alone. One can’t do what others did. It’s a personal situation where each individual has to give a personalised answer!

The married priesthood is another subject which cannot be judged on a yes or no campaign. We don’t say it’s possible or not. We firmly believe that it’s in God’s hands for the future. Now God, the way He handles these projects is in a different manner. If we just look at one of His extraordinary projects [the church], he didn’t select the very best [according to our frame of mind]! Yet no one can deny that it was another wonder of the world! Companies get dissolved after a few years or in other words, no company has withstood 2 centuries though!

As married priesthood is aimed for the future, it links with another group of people: the prophets. Prophets in the old Testament [Bible], used to talk in a strange language. They used to see things that others didn’t. No prophet knew how far away was the actualisation of his words. Though they firmly believed that one day it would have been put into practise.

The signs that make us believe that it will happen is that the number of candidates for priesthood is getting the lowest record. We’re speaking in a general manner because in very few countries they are still having an incredible high number.

The church can’t survive in such an environment. I do mix with people and many times when discussing religion, I realise how little do they know about true religion! How can they learn if there is no one to teach them? What about their daily lives? Do they turn to God? Well, we can safely say that the old prayers are gone forever. Even though people can surely meet God in other areas and circumstances, we firmly believe from daily experience that if we don’t have a timetable, most probably we turn to God [maybe] when we encounter a negative experience!

As usual, when discussing any subject in the church, there should be a dose of prayer. It’s not just the sharing of ideas. We are walking together on a journey to discover God in the futuristic church where married priests will be present.

Just to make our ideas more clear let’s make an example: discussing forgiveness. One can discuss at length about the subject but finally one has to pray a lot in order to practise it in one’s life. This is because one needs God’s help to be able to live it!

Let’s not see married priesthood on its own. It’s just one project alongside others which finally will enhance the church to be able to be again an important player in society in this century.

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.

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!

Happy New Year!

We are very pleased that some of our readers have reached a very high level of maturity when it comes to discussing married priests. It is a clear sign that the Holy Spirit can steer the minds and souls of common people if the need arises! The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit can give flesh and blood to a whole cemetery! God is not a God because He performs normal procedures or work. He is God because He does best what others classify as ‘impossible’. In other words, nothing is impossible for God. If we are true believers, we should believe it 100%.

Let’s be more clear. Some of our readers are truly understanding how many stumbling blocks the priest has to face before or if, he decides to leave the parish or the monastery! In some cases, he is aware of hurting the woman, yet for some reasons he won’t succeed in jumping over the fence! Again, let’s not play the blaming game. It’s not a question of who is right or wrong but of creating awareness first. Secondly we need to help create the right structure so that it becomes easier for priests to make a mature choice.

This blog was created for this simple reason: let’s discuss the issue of celibacy in priesthood. Let’s not put it under the carpet. I still remember that initially some of the people that I knew in the parish accused me of creating confusion! Maybe they thought that if we don’t discuss the issue it will simply go away! Maybe they were hinting that they don’t like a different opinion on this matter as it will eliminate their unfair position in this debate (ie dominance). In any case, we feel very proud of our blog as it has gained quite a lot of popularity without using any publicity!

Let’s not feel defeated. On the other hand let’s remain with our feet on the ground. The blog on its own is still not enough. We still need to go out and meet other people and share our opinion. We can still write letters to newspapers, radios, televisions etc…We can write letters to the priests, bishops and the Pope himself. We need to be heard. Other people are behind us. They do support our issue. I know of many people, inside and outside the church who are truly believers in our cause.

We need to make some ‘noise’ in the public eye! No revolution started from the top people! It has always started from the base – the common people! Let’s be one solid group in order to make our voice heard from all parts of the world! In the meantime we urge new readers to come forward with their story. We promise to hide their identity, if they feel safer that way. Yet each and every story proves that celibacy is not the issue of a small group of priests!!! It reaches a much bigger and wider audience!

A Happy New Year 2019 to all our readers!

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.