Monday, December 8, 2008

Women Who Love Priests

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I fell in love with my parish priest and kept my feelings hidden for a long time (close to 2 years), prayed to God to please take them from me as I knew it was pointless and fruitless, but the heart won out over the head time and time again. I told myself my feelings could not be sinful, yet I still suffered great pain. My heart ached and longed for his presence. He was to me the perfect man, possessing all the qualities I had ever wanted, problem was he wore a Roman Collar. His kindness, friendliness, charm and wit overwhelmed my very soul. I knew I was in trouble. We had similar working class and ethic backgrounds, same sense of humor. We worked in several ministries together and he counseled me a few times, but nothing inappropriate ever happened. At times I caught him gazing at me, and I could not get over feeling that perhaps he had also felt attracted. I felt he truly appreciated my kindness and love of the Catholic faith. After one of our last meetings, I told him how much I admired him and how much I appreciated his kindness, help and compassion and also how sad I and several others would be should he be transferred. I gave him a small token that said “You are Loved“ a very simple and general (not personal), acknowledgement of how ALL of us at the parish felt for him as a priest and shepherd of our church. But of course, I am sure he sensed I had very personal feelings. He acted very awkward almost like a school kid. I gave him a really big hug and held on for a long time---he did not push me away though.

Not two weeks later he made the announcement at mass that he was being transferred, and very, very far away too. Coincidence? I remember my knees buckling under me and I felt like I was going to faint. I was absolutely devastated, went home and wrote him a very long letter revealing my feelings, which I personally handed to him the next day. This later proved to be a big mistake for my emotional and spiritual well-being. At the time though I wanted the burden off my heart, but instead I just put it on him. I knew I should have run away from such intense feelings. He never once led me on or did anything inappropriate, but after having been extremely friendly to me prior to this, he suddenly backed off, which did indeed hurt me very much. That marvelous smile of his never came my way again.

He never acknowledged that letter, any future emails, birthday or holiday wishes. He simply dropped all communication. For almost 2 months I looked in the mail for a thank you note, as I gifted him with money and homemade prayer cards when he left. I was devastated. When other family and work problems came into my life later on, I asked for his prayers but he never answered me. This killed me.

I will never ever know if he ever felt any tender feelings for me…and yes I did want just a tiny piece of his heart. I suppose I will always hold feelings for him. It is the most painful thing I have ever gone through and I feel like he died.

I chose my words very carefully in that letter, as I did not want to offend in any way. Henry, I sent you a copy of it a previous email to you. I was wondering how, as a former priest, you thought my letter may have been received by him and what he might have thought of me.


Lucy,
I do not see anything inappropriate in your letter. You shared your honest feelings in a respectful way. But, I expect Fr. Jim could no longer play the game. For a priest, the game goes something like this: Flirting is ok and even welcomed but it must not be too overt. He welcomes a certain amount of affection being stirred in his heart. But, when he perceives that you are getting too close or he is falling in love, the game is up. Now he must make difficult choices and his was to leave. My guess is that he fled from his love for you if he moved unexpectedly. The game is really up for the priest when a woman expresses her love for him. Now, it is all on the table rather then in innuendo under the table.



When women love priests who are not willing to reciprocate, they are in for a lot of pain.

Henry


Henry,
You want me to ask myself why I fell for him. I have asked myself many times what the draw was. One questions was " would you feel the same attraction if he were not a priest and a free man?" Yes I know all about the "safeness and unavailability" reasons. I honestly haven't a clue as to any subconscious reason for such an intense and prolonged attachment. What made you fall in love with your wife and she for you?

What I wanted was your initial gut reaction to the contents of that letter - had you received such a letter, what would you have thought? I thought it was absolutely beautiful, very sad and heartfelt and I wanted it to touch him in some small way. I put my heart and soul into it and spent a long time carefully choosing my words. If I couldn't touch the heart of a priest, how can I touch the heart of a lesser man?

When you wake up in the morning thinking of that person, go to bed at night thinking of them, want them to be happy, worry if they are safe, long to be near them, feel your heart flutter and such tremendous joy in their presence, that true kindred spirit - are you suggesting that this can't be real love unless the object of your affection feels the exact same thing?? That is how I felt when he was there. I wanted to be his sweetheart; I wanted him to think of me as his "beloved” and feel his heart beat next to mine. Instead I am a pathetic fool.

It has been a year and a half since he left--of course I no longer feel that way, but I still think of him almost daily. I’ve stopped “feeding” the feelings and dwelling on them. What point is there in doing that? Thoughts of him are fleeting ones----not so much pining and longing, only trying to understand all of it so I can heal and truly move on and put it all behind me. Time does heal, but this one is a slow healer. I pray unceasingly to be completely free. But the only way I can totally forget him is to have a lobotomy. This is one pain I will carry with me to my grave

I feel like the biggest fool in the world for opening up my heart to this man - I do not feel I will ever be able to do this with anyone, ever again. I am humiliated and embarrassed by my very humanness. My feelings did not matter and had no significance whatsoever. What a shame that I am afraid to ever open up to someone again - this because of a priest? Sometimes the pain was so bad, it hurt to even take another breath.

Is there a course in Seminary for how to react to women who profess their love? Is it aptly called, "Rejection by Silence 101?"

What I want to say to all priests: Your calling is a worthy one for the sake of God’s Kingdom. If you are able to maintain this celibate lifestyle and push human love out of your hearts, I applaud you. But live out your priestly persona and always present yourself as truly an “Alter Christus”. In other words, to be very frank and somewhat crass, if you are a priest and therefore dead from the neck down then please act like one! Please stop the winking, wearing after shave, putting your hand on a woman's shoulder, flashing a move star smile, gazing at her, holding her hand longer than you should and being witty. I suppose God calls even handsome and charming men to the priesthood, but it is so very unfair to us lonely Catholic women who have yet to find that Godly man she so desires.

Lucy

Henry,
I wish to respond first in more detail to a previous question of yours, that of why I think I may have fallen in love with him. Now that I have given it more thought:

Ø No, I have never been attracted to other priests or to those who are public speakers. No, in no way am I enticed by “forbidden” love.

Ø Yes, of course I am attracted to someone who is kind and compassionate to me. He was. No other man in my life was, instead they turned out to be users who were cruel and ultimately insulting. He would not use women and instead respected them. He treated elderly women so sweetly as well; this impressed me. Yes, his faith and love for God was also a big draw, no other man in my life had the spiritual dimension I so sought in a mate.

Ø He had a magnetic personality and a wonderful sense of humor.

Ø He was sensitive. I saw him cry when someone sang “Ave Maria” – it truly touched me. He was able to show his broken side to us; he acknowledged he was also a sinner who struggled. He always put himself on the same playing field as the rest of us.

Ø He had a smile that also lit up a room; a smile that would melt hearts. He was also very handsome. He made sure to make people feel valued and important; he often told me I was “gifted”.

Ø His eyes were deep set and very special – once during reconciliation his whole face seemed to glow. I was blown away. He was intelligent without being intimidating. He would not talk “over your head” or be too philosophical.

Ø In short, I simply could not help but fall in love with the very person he was. He was an amazing and beautiful soul!

Would I have felt guilty for him leaving the priesthood for me? Or would I have been willing to have a secret affair on the side given my Catholic faith?

No and Yes! I would have given anything to be with him! Even if it were only one time I would not have passed up the chance to have experienced what I believe would have been a beautiful union. I too have some issues with Catholic teaching; I feel that celibacy is a very noble thing IF a man is truly called to it. However, I feel the church should give them a choice. Marriage is not a lesser or inferior type of love from celibate love; it is just a different way to express it. I believe that God reveals himself to us in many ways, and one of the ways is with human love and the marital bond!

I am well into middle age and have never felt this way about anyone, not even for my husband on my wedding day. No comparison, not even close. I am now divorced and people may think I just did this psychological “transference” thing they talk about. Perhaps there are elements of that, I do not doubt it. But no, he did not just counsel me (only 3 brief meetings over 2 years). No instead it was seeing him regularly as I was very active in my parish. I loved assisting him in various ministries; I truly cherished that and miss it very much. (For months I found it hard to walk into that church and I even dropped out of many ministries for a while. )

We would have been fornicating if sexually involved and he remained a priest. Then he would have had two sins on his soul: breaking his vows and fornicating. This is the guilt the Catholic Church puts on people who love each other. We would both have lost our souls for acting in such a selfish manner. This is what I have been taught and told to believe. But despite knowing this, I do not doubt I would have been with him either way. I took a very brave and very great risk by putting myself out there and telling him how I felt. I lost though--as he rejected me and rejection and unrequited love is one of the most painful human experiences there is. You thanked your wife for her courage to share her feelings and view it as a gift from God; I got no such response (sad). I am now an emotional mess who needs healing. I’m definitely not an emotionally healthy woman! Oh how I wish HE could somehow read this!

According to the Church hierarchy, I am a heretic for not believing every single teaching and therefore deemed unworthy to receive our dear Lord in Eucharist with this mortal and sacrilegious sin on my soul. But God still sits on his mighty throne and ultimately He alone is the only one who truly knows my heart, my intentions and my struggles—He alone will be the judge of my love for this priest.

Lucy

To comment on this post click on "comments" below.
If you would like to share your experience of loving a priest, please email it to henry@leavingthepriesthood.com.
This blog is part of the renewal efforts of http://www.leavingthepriesthood.com/.


256 comments:

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Conrad said...

Lucy,

I just want to comment on your letter to Father Jim, without having more than scanned the rest of your exchange with Henry.

I see two very beautiful people hurting and hurting bad. I think I can feel part of your pain because I, too, struggled for four years with a broken heart after I introduced my lover to another man and could never know her sexual embrace ever again. But I had it easy compared to you, because Beverly and I remained friends and kept on communicating with each other occasionally.

I’d be willing to bet that Fr. Jim is hurting just as bad. His priestly ministry must mean a lot to him, considering that felt that he had to take such drastic measures to preserve it. He might well be fighting two battles in the depth of his being — one, dealing with losing your company and the other, fighting the temptation to admit that celibacy is perhaps not worth the price he has to pay to preserve it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he couldn’t make Tom T. Hall’s words his own: “Nobody every knew it but I went into the woods and I cried” (from his song, “I remember the Year that Clayton Delaney Died”). Maybe, in time, he will be able to break his silence with you, but it would seem that now he is handling it in the only way he knows.

I know that’s not much consolation for you right now. I do believe that he loved you very, very much.

I have noticed, time and time again, that it seems to take about seven years to heal from deep emotional traumas. In the history of man 7 has come to symbolize a perfect number of sorts, even leading to establishing the convention of the seven-day week (our only measure of time that has no exact counterpart in nature!) Recently I heard that every cell in our bodies is replaced every seven years! And I wonder. Is there a connection between that and coming to be a thoroughly renewed human being? Maybe so, maybe no, I don’t know. But if it’s true, a lot of healing can already have taken place in the several years since the trauma was suffered.

Lucy, I cannot but think that you and Father Jim are two of the holiest people I’ve ever known. I stand in deepest, awe-ful admiration of you both. And had I ever gotten a letter from a parishioner like the one you wrote to Fr. Jim, I’d have been busting my buttons and fighting the demon of pride! I think your letter was beautifully written, a tribute not only to Father Jim but also to yourself.

Hang in there!

Conrad

Anonymous said...

I was involved with a priest and it all went very sour - he left, but did not leave the priestly habits behind. Celibacy allows priests to flirt with many women and to have a number of intense relationships going at the same time. I did not realize this. I was very , very naive I know this now. He said that he loved me, he left the priesthood and said he wanted a future with me but I soon discovered that he was still seeing a number of women for lunch, talking to them for hours on the phone etc. and minimizing his relationship with me to them. All this was behind my back and I only stumbled on some of the stuff by accident. I still do not know the full story. I know now that four women, two of them married, were in close contact with him and were meeting him for dinner etc. all without my knowledge at the time. And likely, without any knowledge of each other's existence in his life either!

It all became very bizarre and when I confronted him with this behavior - I heard a few phone messages on his phone one day and discovered a "love" letter in a book, similar to the one posted above by Lucy - he turned on me and told me I was trying to control him in the same way that the church had done. My relationship with him ended.

Lucy, you may not have been the only woman he was flirting with or having an intense relationship with. This is the reality of celibacy I believe. And I think that many of them flirt as a way of surviving it. The fact that it is devastating for a woman who tries to put the cards on the table - as Henry expressed it - is meaningless to many of them.

I was married to a wonderful man who died young so I knew what my standard was. Frankly, I wonder how any Catholic priests can make good husbands.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous
I am sorry that you had to go through such an experience; perhaps the priest in your life was more of a rascal than the one I loved. Maybe I got off easier in the long run and my priest friend did the "right thing" and preserved his priesthood, only at great cost to me. Either way, we both got hurt. I will pray for you that you will find healing and peace as well.

Lucy

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

I would like to tell you that you did a brave thing by writing your letter to Fr. Jim. You get one chance in life and you took the risk. KUDOS! However, it is possible that Fr. Jim did not feel the same. This is a scenario as old as time. Men and women in all areas of life (at the office, in the gym, at the grocer) develop relationships. Sometimes they are flirtatious. However, for whatever reason, it can not or will not go any further.

I, too, fell in love or, maybe, in like, with my priest. He was 15 years older than me. Chubby. Intelligent. Somewhat, charming. More reserved than outgoing. Kind. Understanding. Physically, my husband is younger, taller, fit. But the pastor was kind. Kind at a time when I was overrun with problems. A husband has many distractions...bills, children, extended family, job. Sometimes, they forget to be kind, understanding. It is a priest's job to be those things to his parisheners.

Honestly, I don't think a priest could be married and serve his parish. I think there would be more incidents of infidelity than there are priests breaking their vows. Marriage or a relationship is not just sex. Its having someone to talk to, listen to, cry with, etc. Many priests and ministers do this better than a husband of 10 or 15 years. Its easy to fall in love with someone who is always happy to see you. Just like the young, attractive secretary at your husband's job. She's not angry at him because he left his socks around the house, or because he plays with the kids instead of encouraging them to do their homework.

Remember we're all human and make mistakes. Fr. Jim didn't make a clean break or ask to be transfered because the church is cruel and imposed celibacy. It was purely his decision. Or, it was God's will. Since you let your feelings known, if things change he'll be calling. However, I would try to meet another, available man. You have a lot to offer a someone who can return your feelings.

Anonymous,
I could understand why your priest friend had so many female friends. They kept him from being lonely. He wanted a break from the all male living conditions. I get tired of meeting my girlfriends for lunch, movies, etc. Its so refreshing to talk to someone new, intelligent, different. My priest was that person. What I really think I wanted from him was a friendship. A new friendship!
It never happened. A few months after I started having feelings for him he was transfered. Which was weird because he was with our parish for 10 years. God's
plan I'm sure.

Henry, I sense you are very angry at the church. Don't be! You found the love of your life. Praise God and Rejoice!

I fear that married people with infidelity in their hearts will read your postings and think why do I have to keep my vows. Sometimes in a marriage people fall in love or become infactuated with some outside of the marriage. Please, as a married man and a former priest, stress that marriage vows are important. The church cannot be wrong about everything!??

Life is full of trials and tribulations for all. We shouldn't expect our priests to be infallible. Pray for them!

I just have one other question....Are there any nuns who resent their celibacy vows? It seems as if they've been silent. Or, men are less likely to pursue a nun.

I just want to encourage you all to keep praying for all who have touched your lives. What if you never experienced the friendship, love, or even hurt from a relationship?? Its all a part of your growth as a Christian and person.

God Bless you all.

Henry said...

You mentioned I appear to be “very angry” at the church but I don’t think that is the case. I would say that I’m critical of Church teaching that I consider erroneous and harmful.

It is important to remember that religion casts a long and dark shadow and has the capacity to cause both good and evil. I think mandatory celibacy has cause a great amount of harm to many people including: Priests who are in love and required to force this love out of their lives and women whose hearts are broken; congregations forced by the bishop to close their doors because of the priest shortage; children who have been sexually abused by clergy who have found refuge in the Catholic celibate clerical system; women whom God has called to ordained ministry but were forbidden; and married people who God has called to ministry and were forbidden to share their gifts. Doesn’t any of this make you angry?

Lucy, Father Jim only did what the Church required of him. Why can’t you direct your anger toward the Church? I fail to understand how you can be angry at Father Jim and not angry at the institution that required him to act as he did.

Anonymous said...

Henry,
First of all this is from "Lucy", not another anonymous (I can't seem to figure out again how to post with my name!)

Henry I am not angry with Fr. Jim, rather very hurt. It would not have killed him to at least write me a brief note or say a few words or to even hit the "reply" key in emails. Would not have ruined his precious priestly soul in the least bit. Like his bishop was really gonna know he did this, have they no privacy at all? Does the bishop have access to their personal belongings and emails? Are their phones bugged?

I feel he asked to be transferred long before this ever happened because he at one time was a pastor and was only in a transitory assignment as PV anyway at my parish. He wanted his own church again, and it was the time of the year for transfers in our diocese. The timing of the transfer just happened to coincide with my confession. So I guess to him it was perfect and he could run away and not have the guts to at least address this with me.

As anonymous also pointed out, the feelings were probably not reciprocal either. Oh well. No man has ever loved me, so how could I be so stupid to tell a priest yet and invite more rejection. Again, I was a fool and have to live with this.

So it all worked out for him - I just feel because I wrote such a lengthy and emotionally charged letter he should have acknowleged it. I think he was an absolute COWARD for not doing so, the hell with the church rules. He would not in any way risk the security of his position as a priest. I suppose they have to think about maintaining the security of their priestly lifestyle, a roof over their heads, a bed to sleep in, utilities paid, monthly allowance, retirement and health insurance, etc. No way would he want to jeopardize any of that. Yet he had to know how very much this hurt me, how could he live with himself?

What I have issue with in the church is that I am viewed as a horrible succubus. Ridiculous. It's not like I enjoyed any of this. Oh yes, pray for the priests and their temptations from evil Eve, who ruined everything from Day 1 for all of mankind.

Conrad said...

Lucy AND Henry:
Re Lucy's difficulties signing her comments. I find that I have to go through the process twice. The first time, after typing in the distorted letters designed to obviate spammers, I get a message saying that my posting could not be accomplished and "please try again." Then, when I go throught he process again, the post is accepted and the message appears, "Your message will be visible upon approval."

Henry said...

Lucy,
It seems to me that you are being rather hard on yourself. Maybe Father Jim transferred in response to your letter and maybe not. In any case, you expressed love which is admirable. Yes, he could have responded with a phone call or email, but he didn’t. Feeling rejected is painful but it is also the price paid when stepping out in faith. Take heart in your courage.

Anonymous said...

Conrad,
With regards to posting here, it asks you to "select a profile" - all of the selections require you to have an account log in with what is chosen from the drop down menu - the only thing left to pick from is "anonymous" If you don't you are asked to create one. Too much trouble for me. Guess I will always be anonynmous and have to add my name in the actual post.
Henry/Conrad,have you not noticed that others have not used a personal name either? You will be getting a lot of anonymous posters. What "profile" do you use?

Lucy

Lucy said...

wait I think I finally got it!! woo hoooo

You click on "name/url" but I thought you had to include an actual URL address as well, so that is why I did not use it before.

Just fill in the name....see it's the little things in life that make us happy huh, if only for a few moments...

Lucy said...

Yes Henry, feeling rejected is indeed painful. Can you imagine how you would have felt if your now wife just "dismissed" you and acted like you never existed.?

Henry said...

I would have cried like a baby for a long long time. My future would have been full of darkness and in time, hopefully, I would have found someone else or she would have found me.

Henry said...

From the above comment, one could think I was miserable as a priest, but that would not have been evident from all outward appearances. I was pastor of a large church that was growing with an associate pastor and staff. I was also on Diocesan staff with other responsibilities.

Ministry was going well, but I was an owned person. The Church owned my testicles and it was dehumanizing.

This may sound harsh, but it’s true.

A very deep part of who I am as a human being was controlled by an institution. External success can only go so far. I needed freedom and I thank God every day that my wife helped me find it.

My life is far more than sexuality. It’s about companionship and having the freedom to live it how I feel God is calling me. I am no longer owned and it makes all the difference in the world.

Lucy said...

Anonymous,
I am responding to your post from the "vocation" topic on the blog, as it is more appropriate in this topic.

I figured out how to post using a name. Select the profile "Name/URL" but do not fill out a URL address. It will still allow you to post that way. Hit "post" and it will ask you to enter the letters shown to avoid spammers.

Regarding your comments about me and Fr. Jim being holy, I thanked Conrad personally for his lovely comments and opinion, but I too disagree with him. I do not think I am holy nor is Fr. Jim's cowardly rejection and dismissal of my existence holy either.

Such lasting silence from Fr. Jim caused me to go into a very deep depression for many months and I dropped out of church altogether. I have since returned, but am not and never will be the same. I carry the pain inside me.

God himself has a strange sense of humor. I prayed for years for him to send me a holy, godly man. Although very much alone I was still okay with my life, then this priest came along. What a horrible cross was put on me from that moment on.

This cannot be what God wants!

I am bitter and envious of those in long-lasting marriages and those who have found their true love (particularly of those women who won the heart of a priest) and yes even Henry and Conrad and the woman they love. I have much work to do on myself.

The Church's answer is to get to confession, receive Eucharist, go before Blessed Sacrament, say the Rosary, pray unceasingly, join a faith sharing group, read Scripture regularly, light a candle, forget myself in the service of others...etc. However, I have done all of this and more for almost two years and the pain persists. It may be tucked away, but it doesn't take much to come forth. No I am not healed yet.

I know many reading my story might say "Just accept it and get over it already!" Of course this is the logical thing to do and I am really trying, really. I hope by putting my story out there and writing about it I can finally move on.

TO ALL WOMEN: If you are reading this and harbor any feelings or attraction for a priest, no matter how small the seed, do not permit it to grow any further. RUN LIKE HELL. Leave your parish if you must and distance yourself from him. A priest is just a man, no better than you. Such relationships will cause great emotional and spiritual pain, cause you to question yourself, your faith and your entire belief system, and possibly separate you from a loving God.

Anonymous said...

The word Love can be so misconstrued. One must know the difference of love and being in love. And of course there is lust. I am a devout Catholic and I admit that I love my pastor. The love I feel for him is not in the same manner in which I feel for my husband whom I am still in love since I met him 26 years ago and married for almost 20 years. Right now, I am going through a family crises and he counsel me. I apprieciated the fact that he allowed me to work out what was vexing me, in which my I could not do with my husband. Afterwards, my pastor hugged me and when he did, I felt it was more of a spiritual healing embrace because I felt nothing sexual about it. I admit that I do think about him often, but I cannot see nor image myself having sex with him. My pastor is a handsome, gentle kind man who has a no nonsense attitude when it comes to the teachings of the church and how we should act towards each other-with mutual respect. And yes, he sincerely cares for the community and for the one true church. I love my pastor as a friend-nothing more and nothing less. Lucy, I’m sorry that you had to go through the pain that you did, but please do not give up hope. When you stop looking, true unconditional love will find you and believe it or not-that same love that you seek is within yourself. Just hang on Lucy and I’ll pray for you, my sister in Christ.

Sign me FaithfulGemi

Henry said...

FaithfulGemi,
It sounds like you have a wonderful pastor who has been very helpful to you.

You mention he "cares for community and the one true church". I hope you are not saying other churches are inferior or that only Catholics are saved.

Anonymous said...

Hi Henry,

The one true church I speak of is Heaven. We are all brother and sisters in Christ, and it doesn't matter whether your a Baptist, Protestant, Luthern, Methodist, Pentacostal, Catholic, etc. In the eyes of the Heavenly Father, we are his children of the light and not of darkness. And we All can be saved if we choose to turn to Him unconditionally and with Faith. We are all in this together so we should pray for one another. This world is full of cold hearted and cruel people; I've seen first hand the evil that men do. However, it has not shattered, but strenghtened my relationship with God.

I hope that my response has help you understand what I meant.

By the way, I had thought long and hard to tell my pastor how I feel about him and it would not be a good idea. I wouldn't want him to get the wrong idea. So I keep it between me and the Heavenly Father.

Peace of Christ be with you!

FaithfulGemi

Anonymous said...

Lucy, I wanted to add another thing regarding Father Jim being a "coward." He's human which means he's not perfect. The only one perfect man that walked this Earth died for our sins. He's only a coward if he would have persued a relationhip with you and drop it without warning.

Lucy, have you ever considered that Father Jim may have felt the same way for you and his vows he made to God caused some conflict from within himself? Maybe he felt guilty because he couldn't return what you felt for him and this was the best way he could deal with it.

Has it occured to you may that you have not have been the first woman who expressed her feelings towards him and this is the only way he knows how to handle it.

Do not be troubled by it any more. Let go and let God take that burden from you. There is a rhyme and reason to His will which we must all follow because God knows what's best for His children, whether we like it or not.

Be happy Lucy, enjoy life to the fullest and know that you are loved by God, my sister in Christ. May you never be separated from the love of God.

Peace . . .

FaithfulGemi

Lucy said...

FaithfulGemi,
Thank you for your kindness and compassion to me. I truly appreciate it

I am sure I am not the first woman to tell him such feelings and because of his charisma and wonderful personality I probably won't be the the last either. But priests must learn how to deal with such awkward situations with grace and sensitivity. I know they need to protect their priesthood, but they should at least acknowlege the woman even if only with a few words: "I am flattered, but I am a priest first and foremost and wish to stay faithful to my calling. You are a lovely person, but for obvious reasons I cannot return your affection-I wish you all the best."

Now that would have sufficed!

He gave subtle signs that he had feelings, but was quick to cover them up and when he got to "chummy" he suddenly backed off.

Oh well..it is all ancient history now. I am trying my best with God's help and his grace to be at peace with this.

Do not tell your pastor; please learn from my mistake and keep it to yourself and God alone.

God bless

Lucy

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

Amen to that . . .

FaithfulGemi

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

Amen to that . . .

FaithfulGemi

Sara said...

Lucy I am going through exactly your pain. I too have always prayed God to send me a holy man. Result: God sent me a priest who manipulated with me then dumped me. I too question my beliefs.
I got tearful reading your story. You sure haven't healed yet. I also envy those women who were able to win their priests and I also envy Henry for becoming honest with himself when he freed himself from the Vatican's orders.
Lucy, I will pray for you everyday to bring that priest back to you.

Lucy said...

Sara,

I appreciate your thoughts, but I really feel it is God's will that I am not with this priest. I could have gotten hurt even more so, like you.

Only God knows the "big picture" and what is ultimately best for our souls. We can only join our suffering to His.

How very tragic and sad to hear your experience. I will keep you in my prayers as well. I am sure you have much healing of your own to do. How long ago did this occur?

I try to remember the one man who loves us all perfectly, our Lord Jesus. In His time our hearts will feel joy and peace again.

Please feel free to share more as I believe this blog can be a healing process for all women hurt by the Church and priests.

Annie said...

Thank you for this comment string! It’s good to witness your honesty and your concern for each other, and nice to see you affirm each other while giving differing points of view.

Lucy, I also prayed for a godly man, and he literally showed up on my doorstep! I fell in love with a man who happens to be a priest, and he fell in love with me. In the end, though, he could not bring himself to leave a life he had known for 30 years.

I felt all the things you're feeling, Lucy. It’s been almost 8 years since, and Conrad, you are right on the mark about the 7 year cycle. Time heals. There were times when I thought I’d never be able to go on; times when I couldn't imagine my life without him. But I have gone on, and I’m a stronger (and sometimes sadder, I'll admit) person for it. The thought of him doesn't sting anymore; he's not my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. I'm even at the point where, if he suddenly had a change of heart and came to me; I'm not sure I'd take someone back who could be so cavalier about my feelings.

I’m still active in my church (he was not my pastor) and consider myself as having a deep faith. So, why did God bring this man into my life if he wasn’t to be for me? Who knows? Some days, I do blame the institutional church for its rules on celibacy…but I also allow that maybe…just maybe…they are right, as FaithfulGemi says. I honestly can’t say for sure.

As for my broken heart, I have put the whole thing in my ‘unresolved’ file…it’s a mental/emotional file of questions or situations which I keep for resolution/explanation when I get to Heaven. Of course, it won’t matter then, will it? :)

I have just one last note for FaithfulGemi. It’s a small thing, but as a single person I feel I want to point this out. A romantic partner will not necessarily come to someone just because they’re not looking. It’s a sweet piece of advice, but for someone that, for whatever reason, God does not allow to marry, it’s just one more reason to feel inferior. Something along the lines of, “If I’m not expecting it, and it’s still not coming, then I must be a total loser!” I may not have expressed myself exactly right, but I hope you’ll get the idea of what I’m trying to say. My point is, not everyone gets to marry, and that’s ok, too.

Thanks for letting me write about this; it’s not something I’ve had the opportunity to talk about much at all. Another sad byproduct of the whole ordeal; you can’t even grieve properly because you can’t publicly acknowledge what you’re grieving! Again, thanks for listening.

Anonymous said...

I used to wonder if I'd go to hell for loving my priest the way we loved each other.

I now realize that loving him is punishment enough.

Lucy said...

I am amazed at how many priests succumb to the love of a woman.

I don't know whether I am indeed one of the lucky ones that Fr. Jim dismissed and ignored my love. Perhaps I just wasn't attractive enough or loving enough to win his heart; or he just wanted to be truthful to his calling. Either way it seems whether or not a priest reciprocates or rejects, the woman is the one who ultimately gets hurt.

As Henry states, it is only due to the church's refusal to bend on married priests and celibacy that this whole mess even exists. So many broken hearts and wasted love.

Annie said...

To Anonymous on 12/31...Amen and Amen.

Lisa said...

I was searching on the internet for help on falling in love with a priest and came across this web site. THANK GOD!!
I have developed a very close friendship with a priest and am not sure what to do about it. He was a friend while I was married and helped me with my divorce and annulment. After the marriage ended, our friendship continued and we would go to dinner and other outings such as movies and excursions. I professed feelings for him a couple years and he replied that he was"flattered but committed to being a priest" Part of me wanted to hear him tell me he had feelings back while the "catholic" in me was trying to do the right thing and give him the knowledge so he could remove himself from the situation if that was the best thing.
We went a few months without doing anything one on one and then fell back in the habit of going out together a few times a month.
I guess I am at a loss over what to do. He knows how I feel. He asked a couple weeks ago if I still had feelings for him. We continue in the friendship. Nothing physical has happened but there is definitely a "secrecy" involved over the amount of time we spend alone together. I want to ask him how he feels but fear of what the other posters have said about the priest running away. More then anything I don't want to lose him in my life now. It would devastate me.

Lisa said...

I was asked to share my experience also in hopes that maybe it might help someone else. I too fell in love in love with a priest. Like Lucy I prayed for the feelings to go away but they have only gotten stronger.

I met him when I was going thru a divorce. He helped me thru it from beginning to end. My ex husband and I had done things socially with him prior to the divorce. Post divorce, he and I continued to socialize, just the two of us... Movies, dinner, outdoor activities, dancing etc...

Like I stated before after a few months, I realized that I had major feelings for him and came clean. He told me he was flattered but was committed to being a priest. After a few awkward months of only seeing each other at church, we resumed our outings a few times a month.

This has been going on for a couple years now. He has asked me if i continue to have feelings for him and I have told him I do. At first he got upset and said that he was worried that he may be holding me back from seeing other men because we spend too much time together. I told him that it wasn't the case, and that I was willing to date men but it hadn't happened yet. However, he will always hold a special place in my heart and I don't know if I will ever not have feelings for him. Now that I have dated other men, when I try to tell him about it, he just smiles and quickly changes the subject.

There are times when i feel like he also reciprocates feelings and others have mentioned that they see it as well, his actions are quite confusing.

I wish he would just come clean and tell me how he feels. I worry that he is comfortable in this relationship and that i am fulfilling the role of a girlfriend without really being one.

Annie said...

Lisa, I think you’ve already got your answer in your last line. You are fulfilling the role of a girlfriend without really being one. Lucy wrote a few entries back that she was surprised at how many priests succumb to the love of a woman. None of us should be surprised. God Himself said it is not good for the man to be alone. You and he are responding just the way God created us to respond to one another. The problem is that the Church leaves no room for that. Maybe that makes it convenient for him to act immaturely…or maybe he really does love his priesthood and cannot imagine life without it…and that’s legitimate. The question you’ve got to ask yourself is…is this relationship--as it is--worth it to you? In my own experience…the relationship was all well and good, until it was going to cost him something. I finally reached my pain threshold, and said, “No.” Was it awful? Oh heeeeeeeeeeell yes! Do I regret leaving it? No. After a long period of healing, I’m back to myself. I hope that you’ll make the best decision for you-- and no one else. Don’t expect him to do the work on this one.

Lisa said...

Annie,
Thank you for the advice. you are right and i am in the role of "girlfriend" which is what i want only in a greater capacity lol. But it is not healthy in the context that it is now and I fear it is going to come to a breaking point soon because our friendship is starting to cause some tongues a wagging. If it comes to the point where he has to choose between his calling and our friendship, I believe he would choose the church and that saddens me. It makes me feel disposable and that is a pretty crappy thing to do to someone.

Lucy said...

Lisa
Henry was so right when he wrote that a woman who is in love with a priest who is not wiling reciprocate is in for a lot of pain.

It is wrong for this priest to "date" you to his liking, he wants it both ways. With the church's current stand on celibacy and married priesthood,your situation will remain the same as long as you permit it to go on. He wants to remain a priest and you know where that leaves you...out in the cold, begging for a few crumbs. This is very selfish of him and very unfair to you. Now your relationship is soon to be found out and you will have that mess on your hands as well.

The more I read these stories, the more I realize I am better off not having gotten involved with my priest friend. I can now see that he did the right thing nipping it in the bud (even if it caused me great pain and confusion as to his silence)

I don't know what to tell you other than you have to love yourself enough to make the break on your own if he is not willing to fully reciprocate. Good luck and God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I read Lucy and Penny's stories and these ladies seem somewhat bitter. Do they consider themselves to be victims of these Priests,and if so, victims of what? Unrequited love? How many men and women are victims of this everyday?

I do not feel these ladies are taking equal responsibility for the situations they placed themselves in. They both clearly should have known the circumstances for which they were getting involved. Was the fact these men were Priests withheld from them? It is evident in their stories it was not. Penny says, "Priests should not be flirty" one could argue to Penny,to take it from where it is coming and question the depth. One could also conclude these women equally did not show any respect for these men by ignoring the vow of celibacy. These women decided to take a chance and it did not work out the way they expected. As in a parallel with adulterous affairs. Therefore, it was not meant to be. Please take any lessons you have been learned and get on with your life in a positive fashion. While doing so leave a special place in your heart for these men you once loved and pray for them..they may be lost themselves.

Henry, I am sure your wife knew she was taking a chance when she approached you. The two of you must have had this conversation. I am sure she would have handled rejection more gracefully. It is certainly a very delicate area.

Lucy, to carry this to your grave seems like a lot of wasted energy to me. Healing is a choice. Also, to look at this in a different light... the way Lucy described her attempt to reach this man seemed rather weak. I did not see any attempt to rebut the rejection...is it possible he wanted you to be stronger in your approach? Is it possible this Priest did not feel the inner strength and support from Lucy that would be necessary to bring this relationship to fruition?

I believe if they feel true love for these Men, (Priests or not) they would not be bitter. They would show understanding of the present situation and what is to lie ahead in order for these men to break the vows and begin a whole new life. They would provide all the patience, love and understanding necessary in order to make this a reality. Is it possible these ladies let their own fears and insecurities stand in the way? It's no different from any other relationship where one is previously committed. When you play with fire you may get burned.

Love excepts one for who they are and does not wish them any harm or expect them to change for their own personal benefit. Love is kind and love is good, love is not jealous and love is patient.

Catherine

Henry said...

My wife may have received the rejection (if I would have rejected her) but it would have been very painful to both of us. The love I felt, I could not deny unless I was willing to deny something I knew was holy and part of the very heart of God. It would have been a contradition for me to deny the experience of authentic love and try and function as a priest. I would have let something of God slip through my hands. When I was discerning about what to do, I saw sadness and darkness in my life if I would have continued on in the celibate priesthood where I would have to deny something I found to be very holy - romantic love.

Catherine said...

Henry you sound like a very healthy man who is in touch with his inner self. Bravo to you for being true to yourself. Do you think some men become Priests to be "taken care of"? Being a Husband and Father and a Family Man can be a great and seemingly daunting tasks in today's society.

Henry said...

I would like to think I'm healthy, but I would have argued I was healthy as a priest too. To know if I am really emotionally healthy, you would have to ask my wife. Which raises the question, who do you ask to find if a celibate priest is emotionally healthy? Who looks behind the curtain of their personal life?

Yes, some become priests to be taken care of and because they would not be successful in another occupation. Frankly, I think marriage and family life demand far more altruism than the priesthood, which can be a very self-absorbed lifestile where one's ego is massaged with all the accolades. I see this particularly with many of the younger priests who can't see beyond their collars . Having said this, there are many healthy priests trying to make a go of it in today's Church.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

My last comment was posted twice so I delete one.

Henry said...

Kathleen Norris writes, "When I think of the demons I need to exorcise, I have to look inward, to my heart and soul. Anger is my best demon, useful whenever I have to go into a Woman Warrior mode, harmful when I use it to gratify myself, either in self-justification, or to deny my fears. My husband, who has a much sweeter nature than I, once told me that my mean streak grieved him, not just because of the pain it cause him but because it was doing me harm. His remark, as wise as that of any desert Abba, felt like an exorcism. Not that my temptation to anger was magically gone, but I was called to pay closer attention to something that badly needed attention, and that was hurting our marriage. It confirmed my understanding of marriage as a holy act: one can no more hide one's true faults from a spouse than from God, and in exorcising the demon of anger, that which could kill is converted, transformed into that which can heal."

Who speaks words of truth to the celibate to help him with his demons?

Catherine said...

Henry I like your point on speaking the truth to help with demons. For one to partake in this on their own would require real soul searching courage and energy. It could prove to be a painful experience for most, but a growing and healing process. "That which does not kill us only makes us stronger."
As you stated with all of the accolades one experiences in the celibate life, as a Priest(I can also think of other Professions where this occurs) what would provoke one to do such a thing? A person who truly loves the individual and has the courage to be forthright with the shortcomings they see such as a spouse or your children. What a humbling experience being a spouse and Parent is, eh?

Catherine said...

Henry I want to thank you for creating this blog and this site in particular. I have learned much from it. The most recent lesson I learned was based on a question you asked Lucy relating to a possible reason why she thought she may be attracted to an unavailable man. This prompted me to look at myself and to identify any possible patterns. I did some research on self help books and I found a book by Alice Miller; The Drama of The Gifted Child. It is a book about The search for the True Self. I recommend everyone read this book.

Lucy said...

Catherine
I was asked to share my story and that is exactly what I did.

But people like you-- who read and see only what they want-- really upset me more!

Who are YOU to tell me what love is? You go so far as to quote scripture-is that supposed to make me hide my face in shame because I dared to love the wrong person and worst yet, wanted to feel his love in return? How very "Catholic" of you to lay more guilt at my feet than I have already done to myself.

Did I know he was a priest?? What a silly thing to even write! Just because someone wears the collar on his neck doesn't automatically decimate romantic attraction!! I can't turn off my feelings like a water faucet. I hope you never have to live through such a painful and confusing experience.

Yes I am bitter, and yes unrequited love hurts deeply - I have previously wrote that myself so you aren't gracing me with any new found wisdom Catherine.

Despite what you may think, I have come a long way. But I think only time, self-instrospection and just basically resigning myself to the reality has brought me to where I am now.

Please do not make light of my comments that I will take this to my grave, that angers and upsets me. That is how I feel, how dare you - you weren't in my shoes dear. I don't wake up every day with him the first thing on my mind or go to bed with him the last thing on my mind either. Life goes on whether we want it to or not.

And don't tell me it's a "choice" I know that - but healing comes about in different ways for different people and at a different pace for everyone.

May I ask what brought YOU to this website? There must be something in your life or someone you know that is struggling as well. Hmmm

It just hits a very big nerve with me when someone who does not know my entire situation tries to invalidate or negate the genuineness of my feelings for this man

I do NOT wish him harm and pray for him daily that he be happy and content.

Catherine said...

Hi Lucy,

I am not at all suggesting you hide your face in shame. Please forgive me for sending this message. I believe you are very courageous for doing what you did and your story has prompted others to come forward. Positive things will come from your story. You have helped women just from what you wrote in this short period of time. Is it possible this is where the relationship was to lead for you? This is the path you were meant to be on for some reason or another? Helping others and being a pioneer on the subject?

My message was intended to support what Henry stated and take a closer look at your responsibility in this situation with an unavailable person. Not for him but to help yourself. You allowed yourself to continue to be in a vulnerable situation consciously or unconsciously. I think you should feel good about Lucy and to protect her.
I do not believe we can help who we fall in love with. So I do not blame you for this and I applaud your courage for sharing this with him. I do not think loving a person because they do not love us back in the way we expect is loving the wrong person. You need not feel shameful of your feelings at all. I think you should feel proud you have love for him. Sing it from the rooftop if you need to.

You ask me what brought me to this site. I too am in love with a Priest. I am not involved with him in any inappropriate manner...do I think about wanting more? Yes, I do. Is it possible? I don't know. It is out of my hands at the moment and I have to be okay with this. He is married to the church and I am a married woman. Do I believe the feeling is mutual, yes I do. The signs are there just like with your situation. I have shared my feelings but we drew the line. Who knows maybe some time in the future. I was wondering have you tried to contact your friend since he moved? Send him a card? I know this may sound contradictory to what I said above, but have you thought about contacting him and being direct with him? I think what may help you here is some closure. It seems as if things were left open and this may help you to heal. What do you think?

I am sorry I upset you and yes I learned tough Catholic love from my Dad. Sorry for that. I have to work on a more gentle approach. Being introspective as you said is a good thing. We can learn many lessons from all of this, wouldn't you say?
Peace in Christ.

Lucy said...

Catherine

I apologize for getting so angry; I truly thought you were someone trying to put me in my place and scold me. I will not stand for anyone implying I am a sinner for loving a priest.

Yes I admit to being bitter for not having won his love and angry because others have managed to touch the heart of a priest and had their love reciprocated. But it was never meant to be for me.

But true love does mean wanting what is best for that person and not always thinking of ourselves. Sometimes that means letting them go, hard as that is.

Your situation is even more volatile than mine because you are a married woman. You are playing with fire, as you said yourself. I am sorry you are going through this.

I assume you spoke directly to your priest rather than take the route of sending a letter...how did he respond? What do you mean by "we drew the line." Is he careful in his dealings with you? What signals did he give off that led you to believe the feeling was mutual?

If he wishes to stay a priest, and truthful to his vows then you have to respect that as I had to respect Fr. Jim's as well, although he never had the courage to tell me that. It was in my case his obvious "unspoken response". It would be in your best interest and emotional health to learn from my pain and either put this relationship in its proper place, that of priest to flock (as I had to) or take a much braver and sacrificial step-- leave your parish in order to distance yourself. Seeing him regularly only reinforces this attachment. I know that sounds like am unfathomable impossibility to you right now, never seeing him again. But, you have hit a wall.

I know that you more than likely harbor feelings that you can someday seduce him and he will profess his undying love. I know this because it is the way God made us--loving someone calls out for unity with that person. I have been there Catherine. For now, you are in a real conundrum and riding a very painful emotional rollercoaster, wishing for something that may never be. I feel for you--it's a really tough spot to be in. To make matters even more complicated, you have your husband to think about.

You asked if I tried to contact my priest friend. I have. The passage of time has allowed me to heal and think of him as a priest and friend, nothing more. He has finally responded to emails when I had some real problems and needed guidance and I have visited him in his new parish. He probably no longer views me as a threat. He was very kind and gracious to me. I was with other friends as well, so it was not awkward. We went to mass and dinner afterwards as a group (the safety net was there!) I know I can never NOT have him in my life somehow; it is good to know he is there as a true priest when I need him. But he knows I will always hold a special place in my heart for him (yes even to my grave)

I hope you can eventually come to this level of understanding with your priest friend as well.

Lucy

Catherine said...

Hi Lucy,

I am glad we came to an understanding. So much is lost in e-mail communications.
I am so very happy to hear you are able to have a friendship with Fr Jim I think this is wonderful. You are able to see him and it sounds as if you are working on coming to a place of peace for yourself in this friendship.
You asked about my situation and it is complicated and I am in a conundrum as you say. But only if I choose to allow it to be.

I was not looking to fall for this Man or anyone else for that matter. I am in a marriage with a Man who has problems and is volatile at times. When I met this Priest I was seperated from my Husband. This was the last thing I wanted..as a matter of fact I was wishing to never be involved with another man in my life. This was just fine with me. Part of me still is,I guess that is why I am just fine with everything as it is for now.
I know realistically I am not in any situation to begin a new relationship with anyone, let alone a Priest. I have to figure out what I am going to do ultimately with the Marriage. We are getting therapy at the moment. If it works out great if not then I will deal with that when it comes. The cards are on the table. I am putting my whole heart into it. Just as you have to work to get into a realtionship there is work and healing to be done to either stay in it or get out. You have to be sure you did everything possible to resolve your issues, if not they will follow you into a new relationship.
Like you I think about this Man often and pray he is doing well. (He also left the Parish so I don't see him anymore)I do have a lot of love in my heart for him and I am so happy to know he exists. It may sound strange but this makes me very happy and puts a smile on my face.
I do not feel any pain at all...just happy he is alive and I got to know him. The conversation we had was not a direct one it was insinuated. We both agreed we liked seeing each other and he called me personally when he was transferred and told me and I cried. I feel the love and that is good enough for me right now. I do not believe one has to have a sexual relationship to be in love. It certainly may enhance the relationship, but it is not necessary. But who am I to say I never felt this love for a Man ever before in my life. There is such a peace with it.

Lucy said...

Catherine

I know exactly what you mean by saying you are happy to know he is alive and that puts a smile on your face. As I believe I wrote before, I am thankful to God for allowing me to walk through this world at the same time as Fr. Jim and ultimately blessed to have crossed paths with him. (despite all the suffering, confusion and guilt).

It does sound like you have a lot on your plate and it is wise of you to just let things play out without pushing the issue too much, especially regarding your marriage isues.

Do you think you will ever visit this priest? Do you still have any email or phone contact?

God be with you and may you find peace and contentment. If you would like to email me personally, please ask Henry to provide my email address.

Lisa said...

I can't help thinking while reading all of these stories is why are they so afraid to at least admit to having SOME sort of feelings?? It would eliminate the wonderings and doubts. If the woman knows they have feelings but do not want to succumb to then at least we could conduct ourselves better and not put them in situations where something might happen.

Catherine, I have you in my prayers that you find a resolution in your marriage. I have been there, done that and it is very difficult.

Catherine said...

Lisa and Lucy I want to thank you very much for sharing and your prayers. I will keep you in my prayers as well.
Lisa I am wondering what became of your relationship with your Husband, did it work out? Were you also in love with a Priest?

Lisa said...

Catherine,
My husband and I ended up divorced. I am also in love with a priest. My story is in the above comments if you want to read the entire thing but long story short, we are good friends and spend a lot of time together. He knows how I feel about him but isn't open about his feelings. I just feel we would be better equipped if we knew both sides of the story not just what is in our own hearts.
My email is also open if you need someone to listen to. same goes for anyone here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucy,

His priesthood is his marriage to God. God is his spouse, whom he has devoted his life to. Falling in love with a priest is the same a falling in love with a married man.

As he is human, he could've developed feelings for you. The fact that he left was a very good thing, in that it was a sacrifice he had made for the sake of God. God is his true love. If anything, he is suffering very much. I hope you understand that. There was no point in acknowledging your letter, or even keeping in contact with you, as it would only prolong your hopes and desires. What he did was not unmanly of him, and had chosen it for your own good.

Anyways, the last thing I want you to know that, no one in this world loves you more than God. We can never love ourselves or anyone else completely, until we love God.

If you love him, you should let him go as he was never yours to have. If you care for him, you should try not to burden his soul anymore than it already is burdened.


I wish you the best.

In Christ,

Anon


PS: I have also fallen in love men who aren't mine to fallen in love with, esp those who belong to God.

Henry said...

Anon,
The idea that priests are married to God has been propagated by the hierarchy to empower themselves, keep the laity submissive, and put priests on a pedestal making confrontation of problematic behavior difficult, which has been the sad situation with clergy sexual abuse and one reason why dioceses have been held responsible for it and required to pay astronomical sums of money.

Your thinking is similar to a classmate of mine who sent me a letter when he heard of my transition. It stated:

"You have been deceived by the persuasions of others who have likewise failed, or by your passions or both but ultimately by the father of lies and prince of darkness. I pray that he will not have ultimate victory over you. In the name of Jesus our high priest, I exhort you to repent. Know that because of God’s gift of celibacy to you no woman was made for you and you for no woman. You will have no true honest joy until you are received fully back into the arms of Holy Mother Church."

My happy marriage and those of thousands of other transitioned priests proves my classmate wrong. This is the sort of nonsense that must be excreted from any priest who wishes to leave the priesthood. It depicts a cultic like control over the priest and attempts to keep them living in fear. Priests who believe they are married to God are living in a world of illusion with questionable mental stability.

The love in mandated celibacy is supposedly between the priest and Christ or the priest and the Church, but this love does not require celibacy. A person may wish to be celibate as a symbol of their commitment, but it is not “marriage”.

In marriage, the spouse is in a position to look behind the curtain of their loved one's life, speak truth to them and challenge hurtful and insensitive behavior. Who looks behind the curtain of the celibate’s life and speaks truth to them? Who challenges them to charity and sensitivity, when their behavior is hurtful? Without this accountability, what kind of “marriage” is that? From my experience in the priesthood, few if anyone challenge “Father”, unless it’s serious enough for the Bishop to get involved.

Here we see why celibacy was born and nurtured within a monastic community where the celibate was in an intense relationship with others. The analogy of marriage in this setting may be more credible.

For several years, I lived my celibate priesthood in a rural congregation and alone in a rectory where I had to drive thirty miles to visit another priest. I found living as a young celibate in that situation to be lonely and painful. Having a marital companion would have been far more rational and humane and, I would have had someone to look behind the curtain of my personal life and speak truth to me and challenge non-loving behavior.

If marriage is an analogy, then so is divorce. A spouse in an abusive relationship finds divorce to bring freedom and peace. Similarly, priests required to live in an abusive relationship with an irrational and authoritative Church also find freedom and peace when they leave. Both "divorces" are understandable and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Anonymous said...

Mandatory celibacy is unhealthy. Celibacy is a gift, as Richard Sipe and others have pointed out. To say to a man "you must be celibate if you want to be a priest in the Church" is just cruel.

My parish priest is a gorgeous man. And I think that many women probably have fallen in love with him. Even I have entertained strong feelings for him. But I have determined to keep them in the realm of my own heart to protect myself, and him. After reading these stories of women having relationships with priests, I realize that this is the only prudent course of action.

Thank you all for these stories. I have learned alot. Esp. about the need these lonely men have for female companionship. I just think it is wrong to deny them this basic comfort of love and life. And yes, it puts their female "companions" in emotional danger as well. So it is just a lose/lose situation.

Lucy said...

To Anon from Feb 21

Yes I knew he wasn't mine to have, but I too tire of this "married to the church" analogy that Henry speaks of. An institution cannot hold a priest in it's arms or comfort him, whisper sweet nothings into his ear, listen to his hopes, dreams and desires as well as his fears. Nor can it offer him the warmth, comfort and love meant for him alone at the end of a long hard day. It doesn't go through the ups and downs of everyday life with him. True, a special devotion and relationship with our Lord is already there for all of us who desire it, married or single, but having a special mate to grow old with, the beauty of human love and union, is a gift from God himself.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Henry said...

The person with the theology from the Council of Trent can stop attempting to post their archconservative garbage because its not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting site and your stories touch the heart. I have never been involved with a priest but was engaged in research for a book I wrote about a priest who did leave and it forced me to think hard about certain issues. For me, the more difficult question was not why a priest would want to "get out"--but why he entered the seminary in the first place. Sorry to say, many of the reasons that came to mind may not have been the best motivations for making such a decision with all its implications--and complications.

If you think this fails to address the difficulties women have encountered in their relationships with priests, platonic or otherwise, perhaps I can enlighten:
First of all, a young man who elects to join the priesthood will most likely be the product of a very orthodox Catholic family, whose standards and [rigid] ideas he has probably adopted. Moreover, he knows that his vocation will be very pleasing in their eyes and, initially, he will find his status there very gratifying--so much so, perhaps, that he doesn't even ponder sufficiently if he can even manage all the mandatory "rules" in the long run.

Also, even if he has a heterosexual orientation, many a priest has been known to be very close to his mother. There was a motion picture in which one elderly cleric admitted to a younger, struggling colleague that he had wanted to leave the priesthood years before but the thought of severely disappointing his very religious mum was too much for him. Then he said that, by the time she died, it seemed to him too late to start over again. This then becomes the factor which goes "the more time invested, the more reason to remain"--and this encompasses several sub-facets such as "how will I earn a living and who will hire an ex-priest?"

Most human beings have the capacity to love but successful relationships require maturity. Unfortunately, the priesthood is not the best setting to mature an individual. A priest may counsel lay persons, even though he probably has far less life experience than they do. He has his own problems--but they are not the same as those of the laity. The life of a parish priest is far from easy but it is still a sheltered environment. Some of the priests needs are obviously not met, but there are other things he need not worry about.

Ladies, getting involved with a priest is tantamount to getting involved with a married man. Neither is free and often freedom is a state of mind. Never underestimate the power of guilt. Plus, there are limits to which even a basically honest man can be honest with himself. A lonely priest may think he can solve his problem of lack of female companionship, even affection, by engaging in a platonic relationship, but deep down he ought to know he is playing with fire. There is the very real potential of someone getting hurt.
I wonder how many priests realize that nothing appears sweeter than "forbidden fruit", especially if it is in an attractive package, is intelligent and nice. I am not saying it is impossible for a priest to conduct a platonic relationship with a women--but the tales of woe here serve amply to illustrate what can come of the best intentions. The priest is very lonely and to the woman he seems pretty "ideal" for several reasons beyond "forbidden fruit". Because he behaves like a gentleman, the lady can feel safe enough with the priest to contemplate his admirable qualities at her leisure. Suddenly, though, one or the other find they can't do without the "friend", that the feelings have gone beyond mere friendship. It may not even be reciprocal and that can make the non-reciprocating party feel very uncomfortable, want to create a distance. Unhappily, when we fall in love with someone, we are very much tempted to seek signs they may feel the same way. So it goes.

Regardless, even if there is reciprocity, there is guilt and the difficulty of making a choice. The greatest pressure, of course, is on the priest, not so sure that he really doesn't want to stay one. It may seem cynical, but one of the greatest perks to being a priest is that a lot of people tend to revere one. God's representative on earth. Where does a man find such a position of "authority" and even adulation unless he becomes a rock or movie star? It's heady and compensates for plenty of deprivation. But not to all--far from it. For many priests, that gets old fast and, in spite of all the "reverence", they feel pretty alone. Some can become narcissists, the by-product of essentially being involved only with oneself, having to keep a certain distance from everyone, especially women. One would think priests would confide in one another, but I think few do--or dare to do for fear of being judged by their peers. I know I have written a lot, but it's only the tip of the iceberg of the whole problem with the lifestyle.

Henry said...

I find the above comment very insightful and whoever wrote it understands the priesthood well and seems to have gotten a peek behind the external facade into their hearts.

I think there are a variety of reasons why priests enter the seminary and it is probably a very mixed bag for most. Perhaps other priests would be willing to share what motivated them.

I entered via the Catholic charismatic movement which was going very strong back in 70's. I definately had a spiritual sense about my call and felt driven to enter. But, from the beginning the issue of mandated celibacy did not sit well with me. I spoke about it with spiritual directors and slowly saw it as part of the package and even found some meaning in it during my 15 years in ministry. But, I also knew that a very important part of my life was being sacraficed and I begin to understand that the sacrifice was not so much for Christ as it was for an ecclesiastical institution whose reasons for manditory celibacy became more contrived in my mind. I began to see it more and more to be about maintaining power and the spiritual aura around it deminished.

Your comment about the empowerment the priesthood gives the priest's ego is very true. Perhaps this is the hardest to leave - having your ego massaged regularly. But, that too wears thin as the priest looks into his love and intimacy deprived soul. Wholeness beckons and we transitioned priests found this wholeness could no longer be found within the priesthood. We are finding it in the intimate sharing of our souls with another. But, most miss the priesthood and are saddened by church laws that make love a disqualification to the priesthood. The choice is often between heartless law and intimate love. This is a choice that should not have to be made.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Henry

Thanks for your affirmation and I also want to say that I have read your own story, so eloquently told.

I do believe that the majority of the young men entering the priesthood have sincere motives. But sincere does not necessarily equate "wise". One of the saddest [for me] reasons for entering the church is using it for a refuge or even an escape from ones basic nature. I don't think it comes as a surprise to anyone that many priests have a gay orientation. The RC does not maintain that this, in itself, is a sin [recognizing that no one can choose his orientation] but that to act upon it is. So here are some of these Catholic youths with strong religious beliefs saying to themselves, "If I can't be myself, at least I can be a priest!" Well...it really isn't funny. Repression of any basic human need always results in a backlash sooner or later. The way that happens is one hurts oneself or somebody else. I have watched EWTN a few times and was amazed to see the number of young priests who appeared grossly overweight. It doesn't take a Dr. Freud to understand why they are eating so much. There's a void that needs to be filled somehow. Or one can pour alcohol into it. A priest can hardly turn around in a broom closet without commiting a sin--but he's allowed to have a drink and there's no clear rule that I know of regarding how many per day are too many.

At any rate, I wonder how many women attracted to priests realize that an ever-growing number [so say some] do not have heterosexual orientations. And, really, there is no reason why they should appear overtly gay. Therefore, he truly may just want to be FRIENDS with you and that is the only attraction. Contrary to some ignorant opinion, gay men really do like women. It is much easier to be friends with them than the straight ones. I tend to believe that few of the latter, including priests, want to be close to women to whom they are not attracted. I don't mean just sexually--but attracted in a general sense. If they believe otherwise, they are probably just fooling themselves. Straight men, although they can have a cameraderie with their female co-workers, for example, and treat the ladies in a generally friendly way--do not go out of their way to look for a mere buddy in a woman. I would believe that, most times, when a man has a platonic female friend it is someone with whom he had already had a failed romance or marriage--a la Seinfeld and Elaine. It is the friendship of familiarity and lack of rancor.

Recently, I came across a blog where a priest actually maintained that he and his colleagues were justified in treating women to which they were attracted badly-- actually being mean to them. This is one of the most immature things I have ever come across. What justification can there ever be for being "mean" to someone just because one finds them attractive??? What kind of advertisement for the priesthood in general is that? You know, this is a real mess. Catholicism seems to be sending the message that it is wrong to be human, have human needs and still be "holy". Few people on earth ever achieve this kind of saintly state. Most of us have to be content with "human". Even though a homosexual is as God created him, God must make mistakes because he cannot act on his needs without sinning. Everybody is stuck with his youthful decisions [read "vows"] even though years down the road he may not even be the same person any longer. And then, all around the Catholic universe, there is clergy of other faiths doing OK even though they have wives and children. There congregants do not feel cheated [out of what?] by their lack of celibacy and they perform their duties. Certainly, sometimes these clergymen get divorced, have affairs--but priests are having affairs ,too [and worse] and their mandatory celibacy hasn't done one bit of good there, hasn't prevented a thing. Just ask the bishops whose diocese are going bankrupt from civil suits filed by victims of abuse. Los Angeles--at least $600,000,000 in reparations. It's just staggering.

Anonymous said...

The fact is-some priests may be arseholes and some are just trying to keep themselves away from temptation...I have been on the receiving end of a detaching priest and it is hurtful.. but i understand.It's not about me ,it's about remaining true to his calling.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I found some of the postings quite insightful. I have been in love with a priest since I was 15 years old. He was transferred. Then, 20 years later, I found hiim again, and felt the exact same way. I met with him as much as I could without raising eyebrows. We never engaged in any inapproproate behavior, though, I must admit, it was his strentgh, not mine. For if he were to make an advance, I am not sure I would have the willpower to resist. Since, we have become good friends. I never have told him how I truly felt about him. Now, he has been transferred once again, but since I am in my mid thirties, and not fifteen, it has been possible to maintain communcation with him, though, not as often as I would like. I think about him almost everyday, but have come to realize that it is just something that he cann't do given his commitment to God, despite his probable attraction to me, too. (I hope taht doesn't come across too comceitedly)

How can I make these feelings go away? Evidently, distance and time just aren't enough? Should I tell him how I feel when I see him? I'm not sure I have the nerve to jeopardize our friendship. Please, advise.

Lucy said...

Anonymous,
How long was he in your parish the second time around?

You can't make the feelings go away by sheer force of will. It is just a cross for you to bear. If you tell him, he most likely will withdraw from you and cut off any further communication. I wouldnt do it; learn from my mistake. As much as you are bursting inside to let it all out; the ones who want to remain a priest will do so for fear of many things: simply tryng to be true to his calling and promise to God ranks at the top, followed by disobedience to the bishop and fear of losing his security in the priestly lifestyle. Guaranteed salary, room and board. Also fear of being thought a "Judas" and being treated like a pariah for deserting the church

I am sure there are so many priests who feel love but don't dare express it or reciprocate it when a woman comes forth, so they "tough it out" and act like you simply don't exist to avoid any further temptation. They look at it as a supreme sacrifice made for God and the Catholic Church.

The fact you found him once again after all these years must have had you thinking "this is meant to be" - but I would look at it as just another test from the Big Man upstairs. You will quite possibly lose the friendship you have with him now if you tell him romantic feelings. Also, be prepared for him not to be in touch too much if he is transferred, even as a friend. If they get caught communicating regularly with a woman someone might tell the bishop on them. Who knows if their emails or phone calls are monitored or not?

Good luck and God Bless

Lucy

Anonymous said...

You ask, "How can I make these feelings go away?" Try staying away--permanently. That way you'll have a chance to get over your feelings. If you were satisfied with a platonic relationship with the priest, that would be fine, but it's obvious that you're not and so you're just torturing your heart by hanging on. Believe this--a priest is just a man. If he had reciprocal feelings for you, wanted you, he would have made that plain long ago. Priests don't have a superhuman ability to combat true love if it is really there. They want to give in to it, too, but if they don't...then they don't and there is not much point in a woman humoring the decision by hanging on. Cut your losses, cut loose, and give yourself a chance to fall in love with someone who is available to you.

Susan said...

"He's a priest", "no he is a human being who is a priest..." women are taught at a young age to evaluate a man by his profession...the doctor, the lawyer those are good catches...but when it is the priest you hear, "thornbird...loving someone who is unobtainable"...oh my God I have heard so many varieties on the topic...and alot of people seem to think they are the authority on the subject...bottom line we are talking about human beings, we can even take this beyond a man and a woman, but won't to keep it simple...so what's the diff..it's not a profession it's a calling and part of the job description is something called "celibacy" ...which seems to also be defined in a variety of ways. For whatever reason the human spirit tends to require love, affection and attention...in the priest and the women scenario, we have the forbidden love, the secret longing love, the friendship that grew love and so on...it is as complex as any man/woman relationship is. I believe it is the duality that bothers people about this type of love so much...so see it as duplicity, which it is in some situations a mistake, ill advised, a cruel trick from God and some even see it as a calling. I am going to label it a "reflection". Many relationships between men and women are reflections...is it good? is it bad? it is what it is ...and what you make of it...many of us who have not taken vows have chosen celibacy on our own accord, fundamentally it simplifies life, it really does...still the human spirit's desire for connection comes out in one way or another. So why do I love the Priest? actually I love the man who happens to be the priest...funny thing about that though...I did not see him as a man first, I saw him as someone safe, non sexual, non demanding...actually I thought of him as a neuter...I am very serious here, what precipitated the change? the crossover...growth, personal growth..ok I will leave it this for now...please let no one else tell you what your feelings are, or what you should do with them...if you are looking here for answers..realize you are simply viewing reflections, and there are many...

susan said...

Our perspectives change with time..Fr James Lex wrote a book about his life as a priest ..."50 years in a jealous marriage" it was recommended to me
amazing read...he really examined himself and put it out there for others I belive he did it purposfully to help other men such as himself what I also found so facinating was that even though he was writing of a priest's life
I could apply alot of his insights to my own life , my own journey thru decades, and how perstective changes, regarding sexuality, initmacy,love, and marriage. He explores what celibacy meant to him, it changed over the years. It seemed he longed, hopped for intimacy up to the very end of his long life...but he could not let go of the power being a priest afforded him,and felt great guilt and responsibility towards those who looked up to him.. it was sad, very sad I read his book but really appreciated the fact that he wrote it...with such candor, i think is a great gift to us all that he bared his reflections with such honesty and candor.

Anonymous said...

I had a relationship with a priest for 12 years....we were involved even before ordination. He wanted me as a girlfriend, knew how to draw the line, kept involved with other women - going to lunch, dinner, wherever he could grab some intimacy - yet he wanted exclusivity from me. When I wanted marriage, that was the end.
I spent years in tremendous pain, always going back and forth. I am now on my way to healing and thank God I had the strength to leave the relationship.

Henry said...

Anonymous,
Glad you had the courage to call him to responsibility. It appears he wanted to continue to use you for his emotional purposes. It is sad that so many priests who want intimate companionship try to do so within the oppression of mandated celibacy. They expect the people they love to also live in the same shaming celibate shadows as they do. It is a very strange world indeed and your call for marriage called him to honesty but he preferred to stay in the shadows where honesty and integrety are not allowed.

Anonymous said...

Anon,
Completely understand what you went through. Similar situation for me - minus a few years, but are still in "relationship" and have had "no call to honesty" as of yet. We seem close and have some kind of intimate "thing" going on, nothing sexual (we know the limits) but he goes out for meals, etc with other women (and men) and basically seems to "want it all" but in the end, he talks on occasion how he's lonely and you can just tell how he's actually depressed and not truly happy. It's all very sad, but, as Henry has mentioned - the institution of the Church has a tight grip on these guys and they, I'm sure, also fear the unknown of "the world" and what on earth they would do without the priesthood..... It is a "shadowy" world...... and all very sad in so many ways. Especially when the man loves being a priest and yet longs for intimacy and family...... It is downright cruel in many respects..... The suffering of the priest is no doubt on par with that of the woman - it's just different pain. Optional celibacy seems the only "humane" thing to do! I can see the pain it has caused the priest I have a "friendship" with..... health-wise and emotional/spiritual....... Indeed a mess.

Thank you for this website, Henry and all that work with you!

Anonymous said...

Henry,
Thank you for your response especially when you said my priest wanted to keep me in the "shaming celibate shadows". How true!!
I always felt shame and know he did and still does.
Thank you for helping me to label it!

Anonymous said...

Henry,
You mentioned in your last post about the priest "using you for his emotional purposes." This seems to be the "recurring theme" with many of these relationships - is that a fair statement from your experience? Are there many priests who "use" women to feed those intimacy needs they have while yet having no intention of leaving the priesthood for her? It also seems many priests have "many women friends" - almost like a "rotation" of sorts - perhaps to keep them "at bay" so then it just "looks like Father is helping many folks" and no ONE woman could be "under suspicion" to threaten his reputation? I'm not trying to get at priests, just wondering if this is a common pattern that some priests live. I am the same Anonymous that just posted last, so it's a personal question, too. Just wondering if this is part of the celibate "culture" in some way? Or, perhaps it's just a personality thing of individual priests..... Just needing a little understanding.

Henry said...

Anonymous,
I do not think most priests set out to use women for their emotional purposes. But, once in a relationship, whether emotional or more, many priests find themselves frustrated that they cannot enter more deeply into the relationship because of the requirements of mandated celibacy. Some find the internal strength to leave the priesthood and pursue the relationship in an open and honest way. Those who do not, may appear to use women for their purposes, but they are probably attempting to love within the parameters imposed upon them by the Church. Women may interpret this as using them, but that is not always the case. They are going as far into the relationship as celibacy will allow. However, over time some priests may enjoy this emotional game and women end up used very hurt. No doubt, these guys are assholes.

Unfortunately, there are priests who set out from the beginning to intentionally abuse women emotionally and sexually, but I would like to think they are a small percentage of priests. These priests are far more than assholes, they are emotionally sick and using the priesthood to prey on others, which is an evil beyond comprehension.

However, there are other very sad cases (as if the above are not sad enough) where a priest does love a woman (or man if gay) and would prefer to marry but they cannot find the interior strength to leave. They may continue in a long term relationship with their beloved, if the beloved allows it to continue. These priests more than others, understand they are owned men, slaves of the institution, who have been emotionally and sexually neutered (even if they are sexually active). This is a very dehumanizing place for a priest to live and it is sad that he has drug his beloved into the same sick celibate shadows he himself chooses to live.

Hopefully, women who are in this situation will somehow find the emotional strength to leave and find someone with whom they can love in the light of day and out of the shaming shadows of mandated celibacy. Under the "Theology" link on www.leavingthepriesthood.com you will find the article "Son Finds Out His Father is a Priest", which is quite a story. Imagine attending mass and seeing your father at the altar!

All this could be changed if Church officials made mandated celibacy optional. Not doing so is where the real evil is.

Anonymous said...

Henry,
Thank you for your very insightful reply to my questions - it has helped to gain some insight into what the priest experiences. I suppose the difficult question is knowing what YOUR situation actually is - sometimes it's not always plain to see or know. I am in "a relationship" with a priest, but cannot be sure exactly "what we are to one another" beyond friendship and enjoying one another's company/spending occasional time together. Common interests allow a "bond" of sorts and attraction on many levels - physical, faith, interests, etc.... My sense of this relationship is one of him "going only as far as celibacy will allow" as you said and the 6th commandment, as was discussed on this blog earlier, I believe - only within marriage would sexual intimacy be allowed. But I also think we border on your paragraph about priests who ideally would prefer to marry but either cannot find the inner strength to leave, probably feel sexually neutered and owned and so remain because they feel "trapped" in that regard, while knowing how much the priesthood does make them happy in all other ways. This is where optional celibacy seems the right thing to have. It would eliminate much pain and suffering of having to choose. And some priests are probably so "brainwashed" by the institution that they believe that celibacy is a necessary requirement for priestly service. To me it seems rather "anti-God" when God Himself is RELATIONAL - Father, Son & Holy Spirit - Word made flesh, Son incarnate, etc!!!! Then to expect some kind of "anti-relational relationship" of the priest just seems so illogical. I'm really at a loss about it all. In my situation, I can see the "struggle" of my priest friend and he seems to really want to be able to love but is so "caught up" in the institution and the "way of life" that I think he fears the "outside" to some extent - it's what he knows and that makes it safe and him feel safe, I suspect. So, "keeping women friends" I'm sure helps to "dispel the loneliness". It sure does seem to be a sad way of life to some extent and very lonely, too. That always strikes me when being in the rectory - it seems so "lacking in life" in some way. You know, like he lives there, but it's not HIS house, the office is in "his house", the main room is always used for "appointments" and just a sense of "nothing much that's personal" despite personal things being around. They truly are "owned" and almost everything they have is "owned", too. What kind of life is that to live? I'm sure some enjoy the fact of not having the "responsibility" of "ownership" but I would also think that smacks at a basic sense of "arriving" as an adult - earning your own, so to speak.

Perhaps I will be able to have an open talk about all this with my priest friend at some point - I think it would benefit us both as it will allow things to be brought out in the light and express what we're feeling about things. Maybe he'd find the strength to leave, maybe he's "too far in" as a priest now, maybe he's not "in love" enough to leave, maybe he loves being a priest more, maybe so many things..... Maybe I'm not "in love" enough for him TO leave..... Maybe sometime the best thing is to "let go" and allow something else to come into your life....

Thanks for the link, too!

M said...

I found this site through searching, trying to understand and forgive, myself and the priest I was “involved” with.
10 Years ago I joined the parish. 45 Years ago I made my first Holy Communion.
I have this sadness in my heart. Our Parish observed the day of fasting for priests and vocations today.
Took me almost 10 years to feel I belonged there, and two seconds to feel unwelcome.
I wish I were there today, with the people, in the church, feeling at home.
I cannot understand how after all these years, in an intimate “friendship” with my priest things could turn so uncomfortable.
He gave me a gift this priest, he comforted me, we comforted each other…and then….being ignored, and finally being told to my face that I was not as important in his life as he was in mine.
I cannot tell exactly when these intense feelings started, but they are there and I am fighting to get over them.
I wish for nothing else but being in peace with him. I can understand that people change, feelings change, but cannot understand why he chose to demean me.
I am struggling spiritually, although I am in constant prayer, I feel disconnected, as if God is punishing me by taking leave of my heart.
10 years, we used to laugh, cuddle, I felt such love in his touch. I feel like such a fool, for giving so much of me, physically, emotionally and mentally to somebody who just used me to strike his ego and manhood. How naïve of me to think what we had was special. How stupid of me to accept unacceptable behaviour on account of his position.
How about me? All these years of keeping our secret! And when I finally had the courage to speak up, to tell my story – confiding in another priest he turned things around. Its not about me…..He felt betrayed that I spoke to somebody else.
How I wish I could be like him, just pretend that I don’t exist. This priest is very good at his job. I would never compromise it. To think of the extent of my commitment to this priest is mind boggling, How could I? An intelligent, attractive and good woman have treated myself so badly, caused such injury to my self-esteem. I pray for reconciliation and peace between us. I am willing, but seems he is not.
How much in common I find with the other women in this site.

Anonymous said...

I have been in a realationship for almost 7 years with a man and priest whom I love deeply. I have an ongoing war in my heart because I want a commitment from him, i want him to leave the priesthood to be with me. I have requested this and he can not leave the shadows of celebacy for me. I try to honor his commitment, afterall I did know he was a priest. I am constantly disappointed by what I can't have, and jealous by the time he spends with other people and families for his ministry and work. I do not regret falling in love with him or our time together. I only wish I could have a public relationship and a LIFE with him, I know I never will. I hope I am able to someday find the emotional strength to move on with my life with out him, because he will not move on with me. After reading these posts I realize that he doesn't have the strength to leave, and sadly, I can not bear to leave him because I know it will be just as painful for him as it is for me now, and I do not want to hurt him. What advice could you offer to me? my pain is great and my heart is broken.

D.

Henry said...

Interesting article from http://www.innerexplorations.com/jctext/priests.htm

What is the anima? It is a feminine dimension of a man’s psyche intimately connected with his ability to relate to women and to express his feelings in regard to them. In every relationship a man has with a woman he is also relating to his own anima. But the question of the anima takes on a special character in the lives of celibate priests. Most priests, in virtue of their ministry, are in constant contact with women, and no matter what his ministry, can never escape from his own anima. She is always influencing his feelings whether he is conscious of it or not. ...


The Anima and Celibacy

These anima problems afflict the celibate priest in a particular way. Candidates for the priesthood in the past often entered the seminary before they had a chance to reach some level of psycho-sexual maturity. Their formation neglected for the most part this aspect of their lives.They could not openly relate to women, especially as potential girlfriends or wives, and they often could not relate to the anima within because nothing in their training informed them of such a possibility.

Therefore a great deal of powerful psycho-sexual energy had no normal outlet. In certain cases the seminarians may even have had difficulties in these areas, and chosen the priesthood as a safe haven from them. The result was a dangerous situation in which these energies could grow more powerful over time, generate fantasies and impulses, and in some cases, inappropriate actions. Is it impossible to imagine a situation in which these energies, denied their normal outlets, could seek inappropriate goals in terms of the age and/or sex of the person they were directed to? Can we immediately dismiss the possibility that pedophilia, an attraction to preadolescent boys and homosexuality among the Catholic clergy may not just be the result of inclinations that existed prior to their entrance into the seminary, but in certain cases the result of a lack of any way in which to develop psycho-sexual maturity.

Poor formation is one issue. The relative isolation of priests is another. Men in the diocesan priesthood are often much on their own, living without family around them, and without an outlet to express their feelings. The absence of normal feeling outlets can lead to repression of those feelings which can be followed by their explosive release in outbursts of temper, or in some form of destructive behavior like alcoholism. Priestly culture, itself, provides little guidance on how to deal with the question of the feminine. Those in charge have suffered from the same deficient formation and are not equipped to deal effectively with psycho-sexual problems. Therefore, they take refuge in denial or repression. The whole problem is compounded by the long-standing history of celibacy enshrined in Church doctrine and practice. Largely unconscious and deficient relationships to the anima, instead of being dealt with precisely as deficiencies, become protected from examination by being considered as spiritual virtues. There is a genuine charism of celibacy following the councils of Jesus about dedicating oneself to God and the service of others, but to impose this from above as an essential requirement for the Latin rite Catholic priesthood is to imagine that God is constrained by our arrangements, and will make good our deficiencies in dealing with the feminine. What takes place, instead, could be called a sacralization of the fear of women and the anima in which a male celibate institution tries to hold them at arm’s length. They must somehow be kept away from the priesthood, and this unconscious feeling mixes itself in any attempts to have a rational discussion about married priests or the ordination of women. Then Rome’s insistence on these issues becomes more suspect precisely because of its unwillingness to look at the issues we have been discussing.

Annie said...

Dear M and D:

How I see myself in your posts. My heart breaks for you. Here's all I can offer...walk away...physically and emotionally. It's the hardest thing you'll ever do, and it's the best thing for your overall emotional health. You are worth someone's full attention, not just the crumbs that are left over. Better to be alone with your dignity. You'll find the abbreviated version of my story above. It took a long time, but I finally reached my pain threshhold and said, "Enough." Now it's 7 years later, and I'm ready to move on. It sounds trite, but you need to give time, time. I wish you well.

-Annie

Melanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Iunderstand Henry's point about repressed feelings followed by destructive behavior. But I have to beleive that priests have the typical issues of grief that touch everyones life, like a loss of a friend, sibling, parent. How do they deal with these issues? Do they turn to their parush community? Do they cry, suffer in silence, turn only to the Lord? I've seen a pastor cry when talking about being re-assigned. The parish still misses him. He was very unhappy in his new church. Was there anything we could have done for him? He suffered to the point that his health was effected. The faithful's hands are tied in these situations. It seems we cannot address the peron in charge and ask that the priest who for years was apart of our lives could stay on. It was cruel. How do you think he was coping? How could anyone outside of the church help him?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how Lucy is doing? She had a compelling story but has she moved on?

Lucy said...

Hello

This is Lucy. I have not visited this blog for some time. It is nice to know that someone was touched by my story.

I have moved on - through painful necessity -- not personal choice. Eventually I had to accept he wanted to remain faithful to his vows and would never address the issue with me...at least not yet.

Interstingly enough, however, I have seen him 2 or 3 times since (never alone however, always with a group of mutual friends) upon visiting him at his new parish and having dinner afterwards. He treated me like everyone else, that is, kind and friendly, but there was no mention of anything personal despite the two of us having a block of time alone... he simply pretended it never happened. as did I.

I took a chance, perhaps a foolish one, and don't know that I can ever have the courage to open up to someone like that again...but I am getting older now so what does it matter. I am comfortable with being alone I don't think I would even know how to act in a relationship.

Despite my pain, he will always have a place in my heart and in my prayers.

Life goes on.
God bless and thank you.

Lucy

Melanie said...

Hello Lucy, I have a story very similar to yours and was poster #77 above. I deleted it after becoming afraid that he would recognize my story! though I don't think he is on this site...I don't know. Basically it is the same story of knowing a priest who then blows me off. He recently flew 4000+ miles to come here and avoided me like the plague even tho he said he would see me. I am trying to forget him but it is hard. I have loved him more deeply with every passing year. I would love to communicate with you. Ask Henry for my e-mail address. Melanie

Anonymous said...

After so many years of marriage, to wake up one day and realize you have fallen in love with another man is so intensely hard.
My husband is a good, but flawed man. Are not we all? How is it that I could be in love with this other man. Such a good, holy gentle man. He is flawed as well. Yet,I am in love with him.
I will be in prayer for you all. Please pray for me. I will NEVER tell him, threaten his vocation, nor break my marriage vows. This is just a combination of awful and wonderful and wrong.
Let us keep one another in prayer.

Louise said...

Dear Lucy,
I feel for you so much,I can relate to you, as I have too a similar story, very much a like indeed, except that I am suffering the situation for 12 years now since his superiors put him under very strict restrictions of some kind they didn't tell me anything I just got brushed a side in a conspiracy of silence. No explanations nor consideration for me or how I was coping. They have been reading all my letters I sent him over the years, they intimidated me in their office, they broke my reputation amongst the parishioners, I had to endure persecution. I had to move away. I got married too, trying to put everything behind me and start a new life, it didn't work, I am now separated.I still feel the same excruciating pain day after day.I loved him for 15 years and in another 15 years I will still love him. I wrote another letter recently hoping this time to get an answer. Meanwhile I started to write an autobiography about my experience with this priest and the church, I find it to be a very good therapy! I believe that you should do the same, your story is so beautiful! I think that would reach and sensitize the public and maybe the church!
Hang in there and don't loose hope! We never know, maybe the next pope will allow the priests to be married.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucy,
I feel for you so much,I can relate to you, as I have too a similar story, very much a like indeed, except that I am suffering the situation for 12 years now since his superiors put him under very strict restrictions of some kind they didn't tell me anything I just got brushed a side in a conspiracy of silence. No explanations nor consideration for me or how I was coping. They have been reading all my letters I sent him over the years, they intimidated me in their office, they broke my reputation amongst the parishioners, I had to endure persecution. I had to move away. I got married too, trying to put everything behind me and start a new life, it didn't work, I am now separated.I still feel the same excruciating pain day after day.I loved him for 15 years and in another 15 years I will still love him. I wrote another letter recently hoping this time to get an answer. Meanwhile I started to write an autobiography about my experience with this priest and the church, I find it to be a very good therapy! I believe that you should do the same, your story is so beautiful! I think that would reach and sensitize the public and maybe the church!
Hang in there and don't loose hope! We never know, maybe the next pope will allow the priests to be married.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe there are so many women with such similar stories. For awhile, I thought it was just me in this relationship with a priest. Mine has been over 20 years. His characteristics are so much like the priests you all described. Just unbelievable!
These guys just don't have the courage to make a commitment. It's so sad. I'm not about to give up just yet.
God bless you all.

louise said...

God bless you too Anonymous! I find you very courageous! I'm not about to give up ether! I believe that us, women, should have a right to speak up and defend our love instead of letting ourselves to be brushed aside, and believe me it is not by the priest who we are in love with that comes this rejection and conspiracy of silence but by the church the superiors and their spiritual advisers. I didn't have a slight chance to argue my point with the priest I'm in love with, they (the superiors and his spiritual adviser), didn't wait a second to push me away without explanation and of course that gave them more power to convince and brainwash my lover that our love was wrong and that I was a threat, a tool from the devil to seduce him and take him away from his vocation. That God sent him a test to see if he would remain faithful. The priest who are in love are struggling even more than we do I believe, because they have no other way to see the situation then the one that the church make them to see. For them it is hopeless to desire to have both; their vocation and the woman. A lot of us women don't even want to think about trying to do something about it alone or all together because we know that the church is to big to fight against. Or most of us are scared of the consequences that would occur against us, and of course we don't want to harm in anyway the one we love. So nothing will ever be done? Are we doomed to suffer in silence for the rest of our lives? Well I'm not the type of person to let anyone down this earth have control over me than God Himself. So my way of fighting is that I will put my story public by writing my autobiography. If I can't be heard by the Church I will be by the public,and hopefully this will sensitize the reader and make them realize how many of us are suffering in secret. I've got nothing to loose! I think that it is not fair to just be contempt with therapy and support groups, we deserve better. You will ear from my book hopefully in a year from here! I do it for myself and all of us women and priest that are reduced to silence.. Priests were married before, and I don't see why they couldn't today. I think that the church should give them the freedom of choice. As we know women have been pushed aside from the priests lives because the church didn't want to have to take care of the widows of those priest and of course they can keep their assets. That is the reason why priest couldn't be married anymore after the middle age. ( see this link http://www.libchrist.com/bible/catholiccelibacy.html) Now the reason they give us today is that they want to take the example of Jesus? Really???

Anonymous said...

dear anonymous-please consider adding your story to the list of those under women who love priests on this site.

Anonymous said...

Last month I sent him a letter asking him to take responsibility, I don't know why but he refuses to face me. I know that he is under very severe restrictions but, I don't understand why he leaves me hanging for so long. I know that he read my letter but I'm not so sure that he will reply. Please pray for him. I can't say his name but God knows who he is. Thank you.

Joan said...

Thanks to all for sharing your stories. I am one year out from challenging/inviting my priest-friend to be honest about our nearly ten-year relationship. I came to understand that he has many close relationships with many women, that I was one of many. Notes and comments which seemed to indicate some level of intimacy were, in fact, contrived, and part of his well-developed method of emotional seduction. The longer I keep my distance, the more clearly I see the patterns. I won't say it has been easy. I miss certain aspects of our relationship a great deal. But after reading the stories on this blog and many books (especially memoirs) on the topic, I see and understand the pathology of this behavior. If you're starting to question what's going on, you're on the right track, Keep going.

Anonymous said...

Joan -thanks for your comments. I've been in a relationship for 4 years now. I've felt taken advantage of, used, loved, pushed aside, drawn in, and deceived -all by the same man. I'm just starting to question what's going on. I guess it took me too long, but I will "keep going". PS: I'm glad I found this website..I don't feel so alone

Joan said...

Hi, Anonymous--Joan again.

So sorry for your pain and confusion. Glad you're feeling less alone in a difficult situation.

The following is adapted from an on-line advice column. Although it doesn't specifically address ending a relationship with a priest, it has helped keep me from sending a note to him or picking up the phone to call him and resume things, Even after a year, I still think about it, but this helps me remember why I made the decision to end it in the first place.

Advice for Breaking Up:
Turn off your cell phone, stay off the Internet, don't show up. Don't communicate. The word of the moment is distance. Embrace it.
No matter what you want from the other person, stay away from him until he can give you what you want, whether that's distance or intimacy.
And remember that it's likely this will never happen.
I repeat;
this will never happen.

I don't know your situation, whether "distance" means finding a new parish, a new spiritual director, a new whatever, but regardless, hang in there. And yes, that last line--'this will never happen'-- is a painful one.

You're right. You're not alone in this experience. Keep going.

--Joan

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these posts. My priest "boyfriend" of 10 years went on vacation with me to practice how to be an ordinary guy when he left the priesthood. When he got home, he had a change of heart after calling his old seminary spiritual director.
A month later after no communcation, I contacted him. He proceeded to have lunch with me in a public place. It wasn't the man I loved for the past 10 years. In his place was Robot Priest who clearly had been coached by the powers that be. He proceeded to give me a VERY SCRIPTED dialog about his commitment to the priesthood, did I think he was leaving to be with me, how he needs to be special, blah, blah, blah. I have not talked to him since. Finally, I ended it after trying for years to do so even though he had the audacity to call me the next day. Do I still love him? Yes, I always will because love is eternal. BUT, I lost respect for him that he allowed himself to become something less of a human being by the hateful way he treated me after leading me on that we would be together soon.
And I further lost respect that he allows himself to be so controlled by his superiors. God have mercy on them...

Joan said...

Mercy, indeed.

And mercy on the woman that Fr. F has been having a relationship with since seminary--30+ years. He didn't reveal to me that this out-of-town friend he drove to visit many week-ends after mass was a woman, until a number of years into our relationship. Once he flew to meet her while she was at a convention out-of-state, and he sent e-mail to me from her computer. Initially I was hurt, How could he be so blatant about being with her? Then I felt such pity for her--how would that feel, to be with him, but know he was sending e-mail to another woman? And from my computer?

Worse, much worse.

Mercy.

--Joan

P.S. And mercy on all those other women who have received the same (in an e-mail) poem as I did, asking "Why do I like you? Why do I love you?"

Rosanne Dingli said...

I am not amazed or surprised at having found this site. Having been brought up Catholic on a Catholic island, I had the impression that a lot of this kind of thing went on... it had to, because priests are after all men first.
I looked for information on Laicization when I was writing my book: research of this kind was important, but I did not find this site, which would have been of help.
Similarly to the number of personalities and habits among men in general, one finds a number of different habits and characteristics among priests. They are not all the same, just as all journalists are not the same and not all doctors are the same.
I wrote a book where the female protagonist fell in love with a priest, which turned her life upside down in a way.
It is not only about that romantic aspect, but includes other dilemmas propagated by the church. It will be published late in 2010 under the title According to Luke. Perhaps some of the readers and writers here will find it an enjoyable (and lighter) side that they can relate to, seeing how their experiences have coloured their lives.

Anonymous said...

You kissed me on the cheek.

You smiled warmly when you saw me approach.

You listened attentively when I spoke.

You asked the right questions.

You seemd to understand my pain and shared my joy!


Why then, I ask, are we apart?

Your calling, my obligations.

You are so far now. Away some place far away. Thoughts of me never enter your mind. Or do they?

Do you carry in your pocket or hide in your desk that special note I sent you?

Where is that gift, chosen especially for you by me?

Hidden? Disgarded? Left begind at your last rectory?

Simply, I must say I love you.

Anonymous said...

I am so tortured and shocked by how my life has taken this turn. I was engaged to the love of my life for 4 years and yes, the engagement was long but I was waiting for the relationship to be stronger with faith. I tried to get my fiancee and myself to increase our faith. Well, end of 4th year, he says, marry me or i will enter the seminary to be a priest. I thought he was joking. He wasn't. He will be ordained a priest in 1.5 year and I am blindsided with everything. He was my fiancee and left to go to the seminary where he has become someone I do not know anymore. Initially, we talked and then he informed me that he had a daily spiritual director who he reports to...and i am so sure i was on the daily agenda because my ex-fiance cut off all communication with me and i have had no contact in 2 years.

He is NOT even a priest yet and he is being brainwashed with exactly everything being said here on this site. I feel hopeless and helpless and the man I loved (before the seminary) now is being controlled by a bunch of men who as he said are 'obedient to God and protect each other'.
I can honestly say that my pain is so agonizing that I feel I am fighting up against a wall. My heart breaks to the core because I know I love him and he loves me. But this life at the seminary has completely cut him out of my life.
He says he wants to be holy and serve God. Where does it say that if you love someone that is not from God. He is not a priest. I was in his life before the seminary. Now, they have him and control him but he has no clue.

I am anguished by all of this and don't know what to do. It's like a vicious cycle. How do you get someone you know/love and wanted to marry (he left) see life for what it is. I do not know who he is anymore and I find everything about him as simply 'bizarre'. How do you ignore loving someone who was suppose to be your wife, I never had closure, he just left...and how do u go from one extremity to another....from wanting to get married to wanting to become a priest....yes, there is also a 'calling' story.

I am so hurt and depressed that I don't understand why any of this has happened to me. I love God. I am a strong devout Catholic. I would NOT fall in love with a priest, he was my fiancee (ex or not) and now he doesn't even know who I am anymore. I have been stripped of all my hope. My heart is shattered and God knows everything. I pray somehow, i don't know how, that God MOVES his heart to come back to me/us. I love him and always will. I just can't believe how much ' brainwashing' there is esp. when they know he was 'in love' with someone.
Please help ANYONE with insight, advice, thoughts, etc. I feel lost and like I am hitting my head against a wall. I don't see him ever getting out of this 'control' mode, he is ONLY a Robot to me now and I was suppose to be his wife.

Sad part: I know he truly still loves me but he said he can't talk about it and it goes against his 'goal'.
God is my only refuge. WHY??

Henry said...

Anonymous,
His "goal" is to be God's anointed and chosen intermediary between the almighty and lowly lay people in the pew. You can’t compete with this demigod status. This is the nature of the Catholic faith and one of the reasons why it is attractive to so many people – it insures access to God, albeit via a human person, yet access to God nonetheless. Of course, this is an illusion but it brings a great sense of security and is why it is so appealing. I expect that in the priesthood he will continually grasp for more of this power and his ultimate dream will to become a bishop. Even though you did not fall in love with a priest, you fell in love with someone who is infatuated with a priest’s spiritual authority. Sorry to hear of your painful loss. Know that you are not alone. Many women experience similar pain. The real villains are church officials who have made God’s gift of love to be a force of evil.

Anonymous said...

Henry,
Thank you for your insight. It is painful to hear but I am sure so true. I just feel that he was taken away from me. And all of this talk about becoming HOLY and SERVING God...is not wrong, we all strive for that but he is being 'forced' to live out this role. I know the supposed 'spiritual power' is attractive but it is purely an illusion like you said.


In a million years, I could not predict this happening. We have known each other almost 20 years and now I am the ex-fiance, otherwise known as a nobody...and enemy #1 to his vocation director.
I'm angry and mad and NOT at God. My ex-fiance uses every defense argument to justify WHY he is where he is. He believes that he and I were engaged so he can counsel other couples as a future 'priest'.

For so many of the early years in his seminary life, I felt like a selfish sinner wanting him back to me and not at the seminary. So I changed my thinking to "wow, he is going to be a priest, a gift from God, to serve others, etc."...that was to pacify my pain and now as the time draws closer to his ordination day, I am just plain mad that the very thing that defines who I am, my Catholic faith, is the very thing that is taking any hope I have to live with the man I will always love.

I don't know if I should meet with him one last time to express my feelings. MY concern is he is so deep in the 'comebacks' that our meeting might be futile and I will torture myself once again and digging deeper into my shattered heart. I just wish my ex can see things from where i sit. It hurts. It really really hurts and I know this is NOT from God.

Please share any ideas anyone has for me. I am so grateful that I ran across this website. It gives me some peace and perspective in reading everyone's thoughts.

final question: Do you think that my ex-fiance will be a priest or do you think there is any chance he will 'wake up'. Please be brutally honest with me. I feel that i am beating myself over something that 'seems' inevitable. The last 5 years in the seminary flew by and ordination day seems real. Sad.
Endless tears. Broken dreams. Soon a priest :(

Henry said...

Anonymous,
The closer he gets to ordination, the more intoxicated he will become with his soon to be exalted spiritual status. He will probably go through with it. He has classmates and others surrounding him with support and encouragement. Yet, I remember a few seminarians in my class choosing not to get ordained a year or two before their ordination was to occur. Several left after ordination. Has he shown signs of doubt about being a priest to you only to be brainwashed again after meeting with his vocational director? I don’t know about talking to him as you will probably end up hurt again. Perhaps others on this blog would have thoughts about this.

Anonymous said...

Henry,
Before two years ago when we talked, yes, he showed doubts but he became very 'cold, polished and withdrawn' after every conversation. The first day of his seminary, we had lunch, I cried, gave him a gift/card and we held hands. It was surreal. He called me later and thanked me for the visit and said he would call me later with his number and I could visit him and we could help each other. Since that first visit, we talked several times and I saw him several times at his father's illness/funeral days.

What I could tell, each time, he became more distant and withdrawn and even told me to 'think that he was dead'. I really thought that was HUrtful and WRONG. He desperately wanted me to rid my memory/life of him/us.
As the years progressed in the seminary, especially last two years, he is mum and we have not talked once or seen each other. I sent him a nice note wishing him well and that I support him in his quest to serve God and also told him that I will always love him because I can't control my heart.

NO response...and I also felt strange about sending anything to the seminary because I thought either his mail was screened or he would have to share every detail with his superiors. He is so deep into this, I don't know how u come out of something like this without 'believing' that you are betraying God/your community/family and your soul.

He told me we will meet in Heaven. So much of what I read about these posts on here is in his behavior. I don't know anything anymore. I just wonder what God's plan is in all of this.

I talked with a preist about this two years ago and he said, 'God did not take him away from you, it was his choice. He will not come back 1000 percent." That was numbing...because I do understand we have free will. But religion/faith is such a powerful thing and when you are living it 24/7 in a seminary, their primary goal 'appears' to be to 'form' you...and it's all about a belief.

I don't believe Jesus came to earth to spread Christianity this way. Shouldn't they understand that people have backgrounds/lives which they came from...and yes, even dreams?

I dont want to embarass him in any way by talking with his best friend or brother about this because he is working so hard academically to finish his seminary studies...besides, i believe his friends/family will only think i am a 'desperate or scorned' ex-fiance. After all these years since our engagement, 5years...that is so far from the truth...because the only thing keeping me going every single day is MY DEEP PURE LOVE for him...that is all. He knows that and so doe God.

He's not even a priest yet and I feel like my situation is completely hopeless. I can't compete against 'God'....that is really the 'powers' at the seminary.

The big question I got from him was "i didn't cheat on you' or leave you for another woman, I left to serve God.

I was raised very strict Catholic. One life. One man. One love.

My love is in the seminary and I will forever be lonely, I know that...but I will not be alone because I have God.

Blessed Mother Teresa once said, "grace is courage under pressure"...I pray for abundant grace everyday of my life.

Thank you for listening to my story. You are very kind and faithful. I'm sure God is in control of the BIGGER picture. I just have to believe that.

Signed,
Anonymous with a 'broken' heart :(

Conrad said...

Anonymous with the broken heart:

I’ve read your story with deep interest, and my heart bleeds for you and the pain you must feel over your fiance’s rejection of you and of marriage. For what it’s worth, I’d like to offer a few thoughts. (Sometimes things can better be put into perspective from a distance.)

My first and strongest impression is that there was little or no true communication between the two of you — a sign of his gross immaturity. He must have always had a “line in the sand” that he would not cross in that he would not share his true feelings and convictions with you. Was he afraid of making it with you in a hostile world? Afraid that if he told you what he really thought and felt, you would pull away from the relationship? Is he a closet gay who doesn’t want to reveal his true orientation? Who knows? But that’s what it sounds like to me—that he is running scared of life in the world with you and finding refuge in an institution that offers him the total support he craves, and which is being offered by “Mother” Church to a (pardon the possibly unwarranted expression) mama’s boy. I am led to believe that he would never have made a good husband.

Second, he has demonstrated that he is nearly totally devoid of empathy. He may never have even realized what the sudden turnaround in his life did to you, and if he does have any inkling of it now, he can pass it off easily by “sublimating” it to this “higher call.” And of course the church is partly to blame here too, due to its insistence on compulsory celibacy for priests.

Third, I would refer you to the wisdom of Willie Nelson (or the “Our Father,” if you prefer) when he penned the lines, “For I believe forgiving is the only way that I’ll find peace of mind. And forgiving you was easy, but forgetting seems to take the longest time.” It’s time you bring yourself to doing that, for your own peace of mind. That’s not about him; it’s about YOU. The memory of the hurt will always be there, but you’ll begin to experience it as forgiven, empowering you to love him still while not permitting his treatment of you to destroy you, and to move on with your life.

Finally, I would hope never to have this man, or anyone like him, as my pastor because he seems to lack the sensitivity, empathy and warmth that I want and deserve to see in a man of the cloth (or in a husband, for that matter). In the final analysis, I dare say that it’s probably a good thing that you did not get him for a husband.

Conrad

Anonymous said...

Conrad,
Thank you sincerely for your comments and insight. Yes, being engrossed in any given situation makes it overwhelming sometimes.

I don't want to paint a 'crazy, mad-man picture'of my ex...he is quite the opposite. He left because I did not want to marry until 'things' were better in our engagement. Anyways, he is a truly good person. What caught me off guard is his sudden 360 degree switch in such a short time.

In the beginning, I thought I was being unfaithful, selfish and not very Catholic to want him to come back to me. Now, so close to ordination day, I don't feel that because he is so 'robotic' and 'unempathetic' mostly towards me. So, it bothers me that 'priests' within the church formation group have taken him and 'molded' him into someone he is not. Mind you, I know he is 'not selling drugs' or 'he ran into another woman's arms' but I still feel cheated. And I honestly don't mean that in the selfish way. The person that I know and love is gone, but where??

I believe that God brought him and I together for a reason and i know he loves me but the rest is history. On the surface, he truly lacks compassion and empathy towards me and any hint of us/getting back together makes him so 'scripted' in responses. I feel it is that 'wall' that perhaps will NEVER EVER come down. How do I compete with this 'fraternity' mentality that has been feeding him and nuturting him with 'all things good' for years now.

In the final analysis, I don't believe there ever should be a decision of 'should I marry her' or 'serve God'...These two choices are so not related, both are sacraments and one can also serve God while being married. And there is no comparison. Yes, he is a robot now especially towards me. If he could see 25 percent of my pain over this, I believe he would be torn into pieces. That probably will never happen and I only pray for inner peace and yes, to forgive him and to walk away becoming a better person and Christian. I want to serve God too with all of my mind, strength and soul.

Thank you for your kindness and thoughts. May God bless you always.
-Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Post-script:

I must say that writing these thoughts and sharing them makes me feel somewhat 'Uncatholic'. I hope I can get over that at some point. I know the Bible says, "the flesh is weak but the spirit strong"....I truly do believe that but since I am human, it 'feels' and 'appears' that the flesh is talking.


I feel 'stuck' in a rut. It's so hard to defend yourself in something like this. I feel like I am 'trying' to take him away from God...which truly is NOT my intent and he feels that he must be 'obedient' to God by ignoring me. Such is life. A vicious circle.

The futility of all of this makes me sad. A very small part of me...maybe now 1% thinks that one day he will come to his senses and realize, "Wow, she truly always loved me and that is from God."...however, 1% is perhaps too much at this point. Oh how I wish things were different. I am a much better person today since our engagement and going thru this break-up and separation was key...some call it suffering.

I hope all of you who are reading this post, please tell me honestly your thoughts. Do you think there is any hope in this for me or is it a loss cause?? I would appreciate ur comments. I don't know what I can say or do to shake him out of this 'state of mind'...and I am NOT referring to taking him away from God. Ultimately, that's how it is interpreted.

I pray to God everyday, 'if you want him, take him. If not, please bring him back to me."

OMG...Love really really hurts. Alot :(

Henry said...

Anonymous,
Don't know if you have this website or not. It is http://www.goodtidingsministry.org/ I think you will find resources and contacts that may be helpful. It looks like your eyes are being opened to the reality of Catholic fundamentalism. Perhaps this is the blessing to come out of your painful situation. Your beloved is mesmerized by what he can attain through ordination but my guess is he will often regret leaving you and the love he found in your presence. Maybe someday he will wake up and find he has become a slave to an ecclesiastical system that has made romantic love into a force of evil. This not only saddens you and many others, I believe it is an abomination to God. He would probably rather be with you and also in ordained ministry, but his locus of control is within the institution and not himself. As painful as it is, I hope in time you are able to move on with your life and find someone worthy of your love. Waiting for him will only mean sacrificing more of your life, which would be unfortunate. Within you are great gifts God has given that others will be fortunate someday to share in. Remember that you are worthy of more than he could ever give you.

caren said...

I plan on posting tomorrow after I let the shock of this blog settle. I am not catholic but baptist christian and I also have a story to share. I just do not get how a man takes this celibacy pledge when God is clear he wants men and women to marry and become one. My head is spinning reading these because I too am in love with a priest and am very saddened. My story, when I get it all together in my head will be written tomorrow.

Lucy said...

Anonymous with broken heart

It has been a long time since I have visited this site and blog and was overwhelmed with the stories of other women - I was the the first to open this topic up.

My heart breaks for you, your situation is one totally different than the others on here. I can only imagine your pain.

I agree with Henry's eye-opening comment that waiting for him will only be sacrificing more of your life. You have already given him most of it up till now. Where has it gotten you but even more pain and confusion? Yet I fully empathize with how difficult it is to let go. It is a loss of a future that you had once planned together.. you are actually feeling grief.

I also understand how painful it is to reconcile this situation with your strong Catholic faith. Is God playing a joke on us? Is this a test of our faith? It makes no sense.

You have much love inside you to give to someone who wants to reciprocate that love. Don't waste it on this man any further.

I and many other women know how hard this is. I will keep you in prayer. Please don't give up on God though, now matter how tough it gets!

God bless
Lucy

Conrad said...

Anonymous with the Broken Heart:

I would highly recommend the "Beginning Experience Weekend" if it is available in your area. It is a Fri-Sun program for helping one "let go" of a situation, person, or whatever. It can be a big help to persons who have lost someone near to them in death, or through divorce or estrangement, in short, anything in one's life that is standing in the way of moving on.

I myself made this weekend way back in 1985, when I finally had to let go of "Beverly" (my story is posted on "Leaving the Priesthood"). I found the program most helpful, not to mention comforting!

Check with your parish priest or diocesan office to see if and where the weekend might be offered in your area.

Godbless!

Conrad

caren said...

I. too have an experience. Excuse my typos ahead of time as I am on my cell writing this. Let me say I am not of the catholic faith. I am christan (baptist but not baptist) as my pastor says. I don't understand the catholic religion and what they put priests through. I see the senior pastor of our church and all the associate pastors happily married while performing their jobs exceedlingly well. They perform better with a supportive wife by their side. I just do not understand the whole celibacy thing.

Anyway. A little over ten years ago I met a wonderful man online. He lived in connecticut and I was in colorado. We emailed back and forth quite a while then that turned to phone conversations. All that time I knew he was planning on becoming a franciscan friar, I still have no idea what that os other than priest. We enjoyed long conversations that sometimes got too friendly. We had such a great connection for such a long time. We had feelings for each other. I know he did because he would say so. Then one day I just never heard from him again. I guess I was too much of a temptation for his heart. Forward to ten years later. Last week. Doing an online search I found him and contacted him. He acknowledged me then told me because of his vocation he can not reconnect with the past. I was and am crushed. We recently had a friend who lost her little girl and that changed so much for me. I realized life is too short to not tell someone how you feel so I did just that. Told him. Of course he never responded. I am married and my dear hubby is aware of all this and has been very understanding. He knew how I felt about this man before we even married. Still, to this day if this man would want to get involved with me I would. I guess some feelings don't go away and I have to assume he feels for me too or he wouldn't have blown me off. I could be wrong and its just an assumption.

So there's my in love with a priest story

Anonymous said...

I truly am grateful for finding this sight because it confirms my 'sanity' and NO none of this was anticipated or planned. My life has continued since our break up, I just never had closure. He thinks I did. But then again, he an answer for everything.

I think the one thing that saddens me the most is that I AM CATHOLIC first and foremost and I love God unconditionally. This situation makes me feel 'sinful' yet to no fault of my own. I will always love him and one day thought that my tombstone would read, "she died of a broken heart."

Yes, my story is so different because I loved the man BEFORE the seminary. That is so hurtful to me that now he belongs to the seminary. I know I need to move on and in many ways I have...but I simply can not control my heart.

Sincerely with God's love,
Anonymous

p.s. in the back of my mind, I just feel that God has a plan and the human part of me wants to believe it's God bringing him back to me. Of course, that is 'human wishful thinking'...nothing more.

I want to talk with him one last time but I truly feel he is beyond me/us/marriage and any human feeling of 'love'. That is so sad.
This is the man who loved me more than life itself. My nickname for him was 'crazy glue'.

Anonymous said...

Caren,
Truly I'm not clear on your story. You knew this guy was going to be a friar and chatted and liked each other, 10 years went by, you got married. He became a priest. I'm not sure why you are STILL emotionally connected to him? You are married to an 'understanding?' husband.

My simple advice. The past is way over. Having feelings for someone is only one aspect and you married someone else. That and in itself is a vow. He requested to stay away from you because he made a vow to his vocation...just like you did to your husband.

We can't force the hand of God.
In my own personal situation, I was 'engaged' to be married...dress, invitation, hall and apartment...and RING. It is heart wrenching for sure. However, one needs to discern how ur life has unfolded in 10 years.

Your love should be directed towards your husband. Simply put.
All you are doing is creating a pandora's box from the past??? WHY?
YOur married. cherish and respect that. That's all.

Anonymous

caren said...

Anonymous,

My heart goes out to you. But, you can not know if there was something between me snd him. It was more then we just chatted. There was something real there and we both knew it. Just because I married doesn't mean those feelings ever went away. I still thought about him often and really can't control who I have feelings for. I miss our friendship and closeness. Just because we didn't date or just because I didn't have a ring from him doesn't mean I didn't love him or that he didn't care about me. Our conversations tell a whole different story.

I am sorry you went through and are going through this, I will keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Caren,
My comments were not meant to be the judge/jury of your feelings. I was trying to give you practical advice on where your life is today. That's all. We all have crosses to bear and I believe suffering in life is what 'melts' us into Jesus Christ.

I don't know your life story but to base it on strictly 'feelings' maybe a bit fleeting esp. since you are married, he is a priest and 10 years have gone by. We all have free will and life goes on.

Please know that I will pray for God to bless you with inner peace and abundant grace.
Sincerely,
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Dear Henry,
I know an idle mind is the devil's workshop and my mind races so much these days. I try praying more and more, talk with priests, spoke with a friend who can barely understand or relate to my situation and I don't blame her. It's all sounds so removed.

What I hope to attain is inner peace but it feels far away. I can't control my heart and my anguish and pain is constant, even after all these years. I know I am human and need time to heal and let go, let God. I need help because I truly believe that my ex-fiance is gone...and thus the constant thoughts of agony.

My faith is the center point of my life and I feel that I am somewhat betraying that. I was raised very strict Catholic, no dating and so as you can imagine meeting the love of my life was a high point. Now, I don't really feel like getting emotionally close to anyone because it is hard for me to trust. I feel abandoned and isolated from my ex and now have a hard time trusting. How I wish I could talk with him. My birthday is next week.

I loved him before any seminary and now he belongs to the seminary.
I know God is love. It's not that I don't like the idea of him becoming a priest, I just can't believe all of this is happening and oridnation day is not far off.

My birthday wish is to let it all go away so the pain stops.
Please pray for me. Truly loving someone who was suppose to be my husband really really hurts. Now he is going to marry the church.

How do I ever reconcile and have closure with any of this?? Time just keeps flying by and he is literally gone. For 2 years now. And there is NO CONTACT. How does one go from the sacrament of marriage to the sacrament of holy orders? It's so extreme to me.

Fervent prayers, please.
May God bless you for all of your work and kindness. My true thanks.
Signed,
An eternal broken heart:(

Henry said...

Anonymous,
Two years has been quite awhile since you two were together. Send me an email if you wish. Know of my support and others who have been though similar situations.

Belinda said...

Okay, anonymous, I knew my priest well before the seminary...we dated, he left me, went to seminary, left seminary, dated again, we were in love, he had to go back and be a priest because of the calling. His calling was his family pushing him to be a priest.
He's now been a priest 10 years. The night before his ordination, he told me he was in love with me but he had to go through with ordination. Day after ordination, he showed up at my house. I was stupid enough to go to the ordination. DO NOT GO TO THIS GUY'S ORDINATION WHATEVER YOU DO!!
You are NOT A MARTYR!! Get help and get over it. That sounds harsh, but please listen to me. I ended
up in a relationship with him after he became a priest for 8 years. Then I ultimately had to end it. That is worse. Seek help, forgive him and move on. PLEASE LISTEN...
also read Fr. Alberto Cutie's new book, "Dilemma". It really helps you see the truth of the priesthood.

Rose said...

To all the women here:
I, too, have been in a relationship with a priest for several years now - something you might call "priest-friend with no benefits". Not to be flippant about it, but that's kind of how it feels because it's always so hot and cold, mixed messages, times of no contact from him and then he'll call up and want to go out for a day date away from our locales, etc, etc, etc..... It's all the "classic priest behavior" that goes on - and who knows how many "other women" there are and if there is a "rotation" or what.... Your guess is as good as mine, I fear. There is emotional intimacy within this strange "distance of heart" from him, too. It's like he WANTS to speak his feelings and tell me what he REALLY feels, but if he does, it's always in "riddles" or "in passing" or "innuendo". It always leaves one guessing - but I suppose that's the point - don't confide the feelings and somehow that makes it "not real" or he may become a "target" or he's suddenly "exposed and has incriminating evidence against him". Thing is, actions speak louder than any words - he wouldn't still want me in his life if he didn't REALLY have feelings of some sort or other. Is it love or am I being used to get his needs met? Probably both - it usually is with everyone to some extent......whether we want to admit it or not. Is it immature of him to carry on this way? YES! Is he a "teenager in a man's body" scared to death? YES! He is so many things a man of his age simply never had the chance to become - because of "the system." He's "dependent on the Church for his livelihood, his house, his paycheck, his "friends", his "purpose".... That's PRETTY POWERFUL - he's hardly his own man in so many ways.....

Do I love him? YES! Do I think that makes me a "sinner" or a "bad Catholic"? NO! To FEEL is not sinful. Am I "leading him astray?" NO - he's a "big boy" and has free will, too. Do we share a friendship that is good and has wonderful aspects to it? YES! Do we have chemistry? YES! Does all this make us "sinners?" NO! And perhaps some of this thinking for me comes from my Protestant beginnings - celibacy should be optional - period. It breeds too many ills and gross immaturities. We ALL serve God as priests by virtue of our baptism - we ALL have priestly ministry - one's "Holy Orders" does not "elevate" him to another "level" in God's eyes - why should it in ours?????? Al of our callings are sacred before God.

This is about LOVE. Love should NEVER shut one out of God's good graces nor of Heaven - it should be the very opposite!!! To love someone is not a sin - remember this!! To act on it sexually in the wrong circumstances is, but to simply love another human being is not cause for "expulsion".

I agree with Belinda - READ FR. CUTIE'S BOOK "DILEMMA" because it is RICH with information to help women in our situation understand the "world of the celibate" and all that goes with it. It will give you strength and knowledge to understand EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE INVOLVED WITH by being in relationship with a priest (and the Church). It is empowering in no uncertain terms!! PLEASE READ THIS BOOK - it has helped me immensely in these regards.

Prayers for all.....

Rose said...

Henry,
I just want to say THANK YOU for your recent new postings on "The Experience of Romantic Love in the Heart of a Priest" & by Marie "Priests and Romantic Love - A Woman's Perspective" on the main homepage of your website! They have been MOST HELPFUL in gaining a better insight and perspective from the priest's mind and heart - it adds to the Cutie book "Dilemma" that was likewise very insightful to better understand the world of the celibate.

All that you write about with respect to these feelings for the priest being something he doesn't even want to admit to himself, let alone his beloved, wanting to keep it "under the table" is VERY insightful - for it explains a GREAT DEAL of why so many of us simply don't know what we're actually in - a relationship or just friendship when it's of a celibate nature. There's SOOOOOOOOO much guessing and wondering and never REALLY knowing WHAT YOU ARE IN with this priest - you can't very well ask, for risk of all sorts of things, so all you have to go on is his innuendos and other
"info drops" in conversations and just look at the "big picture" and see the overall "structure" of your relationship. When the priest is not forthcoming directly or in an obvious way, there ends up being A LOT of confusion and guessing that goes on in the woman's head - and heart - for there is never certainty in it all. Now, I suppose SOME DO know what they are in and there is much more openness in the relationship, but it sounds like that is the exception rather than the norm from what you wrote. There is such a "fine line" that must be walked in these relationships - the "shadows of celibacy" is an understatement, in all reality. It's more of a "treading on eggshells" to a large extent because there is this "we know, but we don't know" thing going on - like what might be obvious to an outsider is NOT obvious to the people in the relationship simply BECAUSE it's always "under the table" - you spend time together, but you can't be too together, ya know?! It's a "secret" within the "secret relationship"!! So, you're living a "double double" life in a way. I"m sure MANY women are in these very situations and THIS is what drives them to demand a "call to honesty" which then results in either a commitment of some sort or a break-up. That "third way" IS very difficult - and living in the "land of limbo" is, too.....

THANK YOU for your posts and I encourage all to read them if you haven't seen them yet - they are on the main homepage of www.leavingthepriesthood.com website.

Marie said...

Wow--thank you, Rose, you made my day to compliment my article "Priests and Romantic Love - A Woman's Perspective". Perhaps it's the only good thing to come out of the nightmare I have experience in my own dealings with falling for a priest. But, at least it is something.

I also started a website, www.formercatholic.com, where I would like to invite all of you to share your stories--don't worry, all will be anonymous, pick any name!--and where we can support and encourage one another regardless of the spiritual path we choose.

The site complements Henry's in many ways, just as the 2 articles you reference, Rose, are complementary because one is from the perspective of a priest who has left and the other of a woman who has loved a priest and both experienced the positive and negative aspects of Catholicism. I'm grateful to Henry for counseling me, via email, during one of the hardest times of my life.

So much of your story is similar to mine, everything about the cycles of hot and cold, the riddles and guessing games. After nearly 4 years of it, I finally spoke to Fr. X about it (that's how I refer to him now to protect his identity but also the X has meaning as well)! And that is when I left the Church, in a heartbeat, after 30+ years as a cradle practicing Catholic. Because Fr. X turned into someone I did not know--someone cold and mean, and he did so to protect his priesthood and out of fear. But then after the dust settled he continued to contact me to get things back to where they were before.

This was 2 years ago, and I started to read this site while discerning whether to talk to Fr. X. But this is my first post because, well, it's been extremely painful. I can only hope Conrad is correct that 7 years will heal me. But a hurt like this could last forever. I intend to post my story here in the Women Who Love Priests section, it's just a hard thing to do.

It took a lot of courage to finally end the riddles and "relationship" by confronting Fr. X. Henry encouraged me along the way. When it didn't go well, I wrote to Henry and said, "I've lost my faith" and he responded, "No, you are only now gaining it." What I find myself gaining is spirituality in place of dogma, knowledge in place of ignorance (I blindly followed the rules of the RCC without knowing much about the religion, despite years of Catholic school.)

To Lucy and any woman contemplating confronting your priest, I say go ahead and do it. At least now I know that it is because of him that we are not together, that the choice was his. I couldn't have lived with myself if I thought my cowardice was the reason he didn't leave the priesthood. With that decision brought pain, an angry "lover's quarrel" with him, and finally, I severed entirely his following attempts to worm his way back into my life. Which has been excrutiating because I feel he is the only man who has ever truly loved me.

I hope in some way that some good can/has come out of my terrible experience. Maybe my website will help someone, maybe I will be helped and encouraged by some of you. I don't know. There are so many stories out there like mine and I guess knowing that has brought some comfort--that it is not our fault for feeling God's greatest gift of love.

Rose said...

To Marie,
Thanks for writing into the blog! I really hope that you DO share your story at some point - I think it will help a lot of us - for the simple fact of seeing the "patterns of behavior" in these relationships. That doesn't mean they are ALL the same or the priests are taking some "celibacy dating course" but it DOES provide valuable info to understand the dynamics of priest relationships that are unique to any other type of "relationship".

It is interesting to me that "Fr. X" became mean and cold once you "called him to honesty" about what was going on between you both. A sign of immaturity - "running", if you will and putting up the shields of protection. My priest-friend has been a priest for nearly 40 years - he's not going anywhere - and he's "innuendoed" this fact, so I don't even need to "ask", ya know?! I'm sure it's part of his OWN need to get that out on the table "in case" I was even thinking it, but that being said, I'm not wanting him to leave anyways. As hard as it is, I love him being a priest and respect HIS LOVE for it. This is what the Church seems to have "lost" by mandating celibacy - that love cannot be limited nor contained. Love is what enables one to grow and mature, sacrifice and give. How is a man supposed to do that within mandated celibacy? No wonder so many of them are immature and "inexperienced in life" for they never TRULY have the opportunity to simply LOVE AS A HUMAN BEING. Often when one marries and/or has children, one only THEN begins to realize the depth of love and sacrifice and maturing - it's just part of being human. This doesn't mean that single people are not "capable" of deep love, but there is something to be said for marriage and/or parenthood. And I think that many priests simply lack the maturity to "allow this depth" to permeate their hearts - to become vulnerable to another..... This is why they are afraid and often "run" - they don't know how to handle the emotions or feelings because they've never been allowed to "grow up". It's simply a very scary place to "go to" with another person - and add to that all that they've been taught about celibacy and the priesthood and their "status" and you have quite the "cocktail". It's overwhelming to most of them when true and deep love comes into their lives - for real - as Henry said, it puts them in crisis, quite literally.

In knowing all this, I don't "blame" my priest-friend - I see him for what he ACTUALLY is inside and what he has lived and experienced most of his life (he entered seminary as a teenager). He knows no other "way". All I can do is to be there for him, not pushing or wanting, but to just "be" and hope that HE allows HIMSELF to feel and grow and love as a full-grown man of his years - to come to that knowledge and ability. I am CLEARLY in the "third way" as you described. And sure, it hurts something awful too often, but love is never smooth or easy and I cannot see myself without my friend in my life and it seems the same for him, too, despite ME having to initiate most "dates" and such - but he never refuses me and even "tries" to ask me on occasion, too...

But that "third way" IS possible, despite the hardship(s) of it...

Joan said...

Will someone please describe this "third way"?

If it's something like 'living the secret in the secret', then I ask you to consider that it's not really a third way.

It's the same old way.

He gets to be have an intimate relationship with a woman, AND he gets to continue to be a priest.

And you get...?

Hot and cold? Less than a full and open relationship?
His leftover time and energy (if there is any)?

It's not a way of possibility, as perhaps you're hoping; it's a way of necessity.

His.

Conrad said...

Joan, I’m grateful for your insightful and well phrased comments. Along with other women who have shared their experiences and insights on this website, you have shown me that I may have been woefully lacking in empathy during the thirty years that I spent in the “Third Way.”

Perhaps I’ll never know. Was it really as painful and frustrating for my lovers as you describe? None of them ever gave me any reason to think so, and I naturally presumed that our relationships were as satisfying, enriching and yes, even as sacramental for them as they were for me, albeit my mandatory celibacy prevented them from being everything that they could otherwise have been.

Might it be that the women who loved me didn’t have their hopes and expectations set as high as you have yours?

I visited my long-time lover Beverly for the last time four months before she passed away and fourteen years after I had introduced her to her new husband. Realizing that this would probably be our last visit, I wanted to thank her again for the great blessing she had been for me over the years. Her response was, to paraphrase with an old cliché, “You took the words right out of my mouth!” No sign of hurt or frustration there!

So, Joan, I really don’t believe that your caustic description fits all cases.

The response to your question about the “Third Way” has to be qualified because the word celibacy is ambiguous. It can mean either “being unmarried” or “abstaining from sexual intercourse.” That having been said, we can speak of three ways in which a priest can live:
1) in celibacy (in both senses of the word);
2) in marriage (in which he is celibate in neither sense of the word) or
3) in the “Third Way” in which he is unmarried, and therefore still celibate in the first sense of the word, but is not celibate in its second sense. This is what I have understood as a “Third Way.”

I suppose one could add a fourth “way,” in which a priest is involved in a romantic relationship while maintaining his celibacy in both senses of the word. If a woman involved in such a relationship expects a sexual encounter, she could wind up very frustrated and hurt, indeed.

Conrad (see my post)

Marie said...

To Joan and Rose:

Joan, I agree that this Third Way is unhealthy for women. But the priest is only partially to blame; the church is also to blame.

Rose, while the Third Way is possible, it's certainly very far from ideal and can have very lasting and damaging effects on both parties over the long term—I certainly can identify with your statement, "it hurts something awful too often, but love is never smooth or easy and I cannot see myself without my friend in my life…." I too expected to just carry on this way, despite that I did not love that he was a priest as you do with your priest friend. I wanted him to be my husband AND a priest if he wanted, or a minister of another faith or a janitor—his job mattered not at all to me, I simply loved him. (I still do, in absentia.)

And, I too always hoped that he would allow himself to feel and love as a full-grown man of his years. Unfortunately, I doubt that either Fr. X or your priest friend ever will, as long as they allow the Catholic church to own their balls. Mandated celibacy is not compatible with the development of true intimacy that is required to love as a full grown man. That said, whether or not it is "better" for each and every situation to stay in the Third Way, is not mine to answer for anyone but myself. I was euphoric in that limbo-land for awhile—but over time I could not deal with the inauthenticity of the relationship and it brought me to some emotionally low depths. Like you say, Rose, it hurt awful too often.

True, love is never smooth or easy, but here is the difference: love in the Third Way is NEVER allowed to fully flourish in the light of day, and so it carries a badge of shame and secrecy that is very unhealthy.

Marie said...

To Conrad and the rest of the world,

The phrase as used on this site, “The Third Way,” arose from my article on this site called “Priests and Romantic Love - A Woman's Perspective.” Henry gets the credit for the phrase, which I originally coined the Padre Pio Way in an email to him. But in my article I wrote:

“The Third Way means that a priest can interact with a woman in a celibate but otherwise intimate way, or even carry on a clandestine sexual relationship while maintaining his role as a priest.”

It is not “the same old way” because a priest has 3 options: total celibacy, leaving the priesthood for marriage, or my definition above. I went on to write that eventually the Third Way usually turns into either the first option or the second one.

Conrad, to say that your lovers didn’t indicate to you that it was painful and frustrating for them, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t. Once a woman has been rejected for marriage, she rarely goes sobbing to the priest about her pain and frustration. If your relationships were satisfying and enriching for them, it probably made them feel even MORE pain that they could not live it out in the light of day with the man they truly loved. They still sat alone at family functions without their lover beside them. To want that, or even to want marriage to a man that we love, I don’t think is setting our expectations too high. Even “expectations” is the wrong word as no woman PLANS to fall for a priest—rather the word is “want.” She wants to have a full and committed marriage to her lover, which is natural.

In saying this, I’m not chastising you personally, Conrad, as much as the institution to which you were bound. In fact the Third Way hurts the priest possibly as much as it does the woman, as you wrote in your very first comment of this blog that you “struggled for four years with a broken heart,” after realizing you would never be able to embrace Beverly again.

But where we part on this issue of the Third Way is where you try to add a Fourth Way, and the definition of “celibacy.” There is “chastity” which the church proscribes for the unmarried lay people or even for married people who are tempted to commit adultery. Chastity is therefore a temporary state. Celibacy is only mandated for those in religious life vocations, and is considered a permanent state.

Sexual intercourse is but a small fraction of the overall problem with celibacy. INTIMACY and LOVE, the lack of that, is the biggest reason that celibacy is so flawed. Sex is merely one of many manifestations of intimacy and love. Prior to it comes the deep feelings, intimacies and longings one feels for the other person.

To suggest that a woman would be very frustrated and hurt without sex, as opposed to a woman who is getting it regularly with her priest is just not accurate. Mainly for 2 reasons: 1) intimacy means FAR more than intercourse, and 2) by that “fourth way” thinking, if intercourse is indeed part of the relationship, wouldn’t a woman be even more frustrated and hurt to have the relationship not be permanent and lived in the light of day?

That’s why to me the Third Way encompasses the fourth way or any way in which intimacy and love is in the relationship, but the priest has not discerned yet which path to take OR worse, he has chosen to stay a priest but wants the woman to devote herself to the Third Way nonetheless
founde

Conrad said...

Marie, unfortunately your most recent offering to this blog was truncated, ending in not only an incomplete sentence, but an incomplete word.

I believe that much of the discrepancy in our understanding of this issue of “three vs. four ways” stems from semantics and the ambiguity of the English language. I agree with all the points that you make, and I think I know what you essentially are saying, especially in the matter of intimacy being far more than intercourse.

But the word “celibacy” does, indeed have a double meaning according to Webster. It can mean either “the state of not being married” or “abstentation from sexual intercourse,” not to mention “abstentation by vow from marriage.” “Chastity,” too, means something different to the married than to the unmarried.

When I mention the possibility of a “fourth way” I have in mind, precisely, a celibate (i.e. unmarried AND chaste) priest living in a loving, intimate (i.e. loving, AND chaste) relationship with a woman. In yesteryears, such relationships were the norm — parish priests living with female housekeepers, presumably chaste and also celibate (i.e. unmarried). I believe it could also describe relationships like the one that Lucy, the originator of this particular blog, had with her parish priest.

Belinda said...

My experience with "The Third Way" was painful, awful, degrading, and demeaning not because of no sex. We had enough emotional intimacy that the no sex rule wasn't the issue. The issue was how it made me feel to live in secret. Never be a part of his world and his never being a part of my world with others. If we were "with others" we had to pretend not to be. On several occasions the worlds would collide. The one that finally threw me over the top was when he was visiting friends who lived practically next to me, I knew he was there, but I couldn't be involved in that visit. And he couldn't even stop at my house afterward for fear they would know something was going on. It simply was living a lie. My self-esteem could not take it any longer or I would have been totally destroyed. Now that it is almost a year since the separation, even though I still love him and miss him terribly, I have gained myself back.
Conrad, perhaps "your women" kept it secret. We do that as women to protect the men we love. But I am sure inside they were dying. All kinds of things happen when you don't face your emotions as a woman and keep them suppressed - major health issues being one of them.
I am free of "The Third Way" and am grateful. NO WAY could I go back as it literally would kill me. Thanks, too, Marie for your wise writings on this website. You will never know how much your words have helped heal me.

Rose said...

To Marie and Conrad:
Well, I believe I DO indeed fit that "3rd & 4th Way" with my priest-friend - there is intimacy, there is celibacy & there is chastity: we are not sexual. Would I want more if I could? Of course, but is that what is best and does that somehow make what we have together any less "real"? No. Sure, there are "constraints" and the like and that makes full flourishing all the more difficult and complicated, but I don't believe it makes the relationship "shameful" or "unhealthy" even. Sometimes it's only in points of difficulty does one "grow" because it "forces" one outside of one's "box" by the mere "constraints" of the relationship. I see this in my priest-friend AND myself. I see the growth of both of us FROM one another's love, support, help and care, even though it can't be "lived in the light of day". What "light" there is may not be able to be shouted from the rooftops or even expressed fully to one another, but nonetheless, it's there and it's real and it's expressed in very deep and loving ways, alongside the frustrations and trials that come with these types of situations.

I agree with you, Conrad, regarding the "old way" or "back in the day" when priests had live-in house-keepers and they were essentially "married" but were perhaps abstinent. There is something to be said regarding these relationships and the value that they have for a couple. Of course sex is important and adds a very intimate bond and expression between two people, but it can also "complicate" a relationship, too. Sometimes, for some couples, a loving, intimate and abstinent relationship is what works best and what will enable the two people to grow in the ways that THEY BOTH NEED TO alongside one another. I'd say that's mutually beneficial and both win. If the two want two different things, then naturally things won't work or be mutually beneficial. I think it all comes down to each couple and each couple's needs.

Sure, the relationship I have IS HARD - there is NO denying this, but I am also VERY grateful for it - the difficulties that come - because it DOES and IS providing growth for both of us and is opening up possibilities that would not be there were it not for this "3rd & 4th Way"......

The "shadows" are only as dark as yo make them or think they are or see them being. And this is not a subjective statement - one's "light" may be another's "shadow" but what's important in the end is the growth and maturity that can come.

Rose said...

To Marie:
Just to address a few more of your thoughts -

I love the fact that my priest-friend is a priest because I truly love the priesthood, in the objective and vocational sense of this calling. And the fact that HE loves BEING a priest only adds to the love. Growing up Protestant, for me it is "normal" for a clergyman to be married and have a family. I have not changed my mind in this regard. To have a relationship as a priest that is intimate, but abstinent may not be "fully formed" but nonetheless, it has merit and benefits and love - all gifts and graces from God. I don't see anything "shaming" about this, as many women feel that are in relationship with a priest.

I, in no way, feel "shame" or "sinfulness" regarding my friendship with my priest-friend. We are friends that share some of life together and that share love for one another in many different ways - love comes in many expressions, ya know what I mean? Seeing life and love "outside of the box" I think is really important. Expanding one's "idea" of love and intimacy can provide a maturity and growth that many I don't think quite "get" or understand. Sure, it's hard and it can be full of ruts and bumps along the way but that in no way makes it necessarily "unhealthy" or "wrong" - it just makes it "different" and "unique".

Marriage isn't FOR everyone and love doesn't come in a pre-packaged form. "Real Love" simply is a gift to another that is willing to help support the other's soul and growth and ultimately, one's eternal destiny....

Rose said...

To Belinda and Group:
Indeed the "3rd Way" is very painful and your situation sounds very painful indeed. I can fully appreciate your experiences and that you wanted to be able to live your relationship in the light of day.

It's interesting to me how often priests and their women friends DO live more in the open or at least "carry on" in a more relationship mode in public. Sometimes that public is not THEIR public and sometimes it is - sometimes it's just simply common knowledge among the community that Fr. So-and-So and "Her" are together......

My experience is such that I don't make a point to hide anything, but I don't "act like a couple", either. He is similar in HIS manner, too, but we live in different cities now, so that makes things only now and then rather than "every day". But I must admit, the secretaries seem to always "have a clue', don't they?! And maybe "Father" is better for having a woman in his life they may even think, too! Who knows.....but I think when the two people really DO want different things out of the relationship, then it is "doomed" to break at some point. If both are content in what they have, then it can probably go on forever, in effect, painful and joyful along the way.....

I really think it just matters what the couple both wants, in the end - or needs.

Prayers - I hope you are doing much better now that you have had a chance to move forward and being to heal!

Marie said...

Rose,
I’m glad you are in a relationship that is working for you. I think every priest/woman relationship is unique and we all experience dealing with celibacy differently. There are just so many factors involved, it’s not a black and white issue. In fact, I understand very much what you are saying in that there are benefits and love—in fact I am not even certain that I completely regret my relationship with Fr. X. Though it caused me much pain, I will always know that someone loved me on such an incredibly deep level and that I may not ever know that kind of deep intimacy with anyone ever again but there is the memory that someone once did and a piece of me will always cherish that—ours too was “intimate but celibate.” I will add that ANY woman who enters into any sort of love relationship with a priest IS thinking “outside the box.” Because the woman has seen through the veil of merely a priest as a Role, who is like a robot with no feelings and is above human feelings that the rest of us have. We women have looked beyond this unfortunate but common perception and seen the priest for a human being with feelings, needs, and all the emotions that God bestowed on humanity. That alone qualifies us for thinking outside the box.

You mentioned that both you and the priest are older, and I’m wondering if that makes some difference. Your situation reminds me a little of my great aunt who, after her husband died, met a widowed man and they had a celibate but close relationship in those last years. They didn’t want to marry and both felt it would be inappropriate to be sexually intimate if they weren’t married, and age factored into the desire for that to boot. So I can see more this type of situation being less damaging when both parties are in agreement to what the limitations are, in addition to the age factor.

But when someone is in their early 30s, as I was at the time I began to be close to Fr. X, there is typically the desire for a child together perhaps, and intimacy on every level, including sexually and being able to live out the love publically; for even a simple walk in the park holding hands is impossible, and for me that was unbearable and unacceptable. There is also the consideration that fellow parishioners will begin to gossip about the situation, and this does damage to the woman; toward the end, this was happening to me. It’s viewed as the woman’s fault for seducing a priest, so the woman suffers most when this evil gossip machine is going on. Parishioners tend to be less “suspicious” of an older woman.

P.S. It sounds like we all agree on the main point: that celibacy should be optional and not mandatory. As you say, each couple should have the right to form their own relationship without the dictates of society or “inside the box.”

Marie said...

Henry,
Would you edit my last comment and put a period after the word “nonetheless”. Then erase the following partial word? I’m not sure what happened there but the end of the post is with the next to last word. Thanks in advance.

Belinda,
Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you were able to extricate yourself from that situation and that you are on the path to healing! It sounds like you are doing great. I know how hard it is to break it off, it is the hardest thing perhaps that I have ever done.

Conrad,
Sorry for that typo. The post should’ve ended with the next to last word. I agree that it’s splitting hairs and is probably semantics. It’s also a matter of perspective, which is usually based upon personal experience. Mine and about 90% of the situations I’ve heard about between priests and the women they love, did not involve actual intercourse. In my case, if it had, it would not have been more powerful emotionally between us—but merely the manifestation of the closeness that was already in place. So what you describe as The Fourth Way is what I wrote in the article and personally consider as being The Third Way. Recently I wrote a long and thought out article on my site about this subject in general and one thing I said is that the priest will justify his actions regardless how far the relationship goes sexually. If it’s oral sex, he’ll rationalize that he’s still celibate, for example. This is definitely a Bill Clinton way of denial.

http://www.formercatholic.com/2011/03/advice-for-women-in-love-with-priest.html

Here is what I think the difference may be between your situation(s) and some others is that—and this is only a guess of course—you did not “run” from the subject like Lucy’s priest did, nor did you act nasty and cold and mean like some of the priests that we have dealt with. It seems as if, once love is brought out on the table clearly and NOT just innuendo anymore, the priest who is living in fear has one of these two reactions.

In fact I wrote in the article I just referenced: “My grievance lies NOT in the fact that he didn’t or wouldn’t leave the priesthood to be with me. It lies solely with the way he treated me in my most vulnerable hour, when I shared with him my feelings about wanting to either go one way or the other with him and stop living in limbo.” At worst, I imagined he might say something like, “I care for you a great deal also, but I am committed to my priestly vocation and so we can never have together what is possible for other men to have.” And in a mature, NICE way. I did not expect him to suggest that I did not love Jesus “first and best” by merely bringing up the subject of our obvious feelings after years of closeness that broke the rules of the church, and which he months later admitted to me that he did purposefully break in order to be with me.

See the difference? I’m not sure how you ended it with your situations, Conrad, but you’re very enlightened now and so I assume the seeds of enlightenment were there before in your relationship with Beverly and I respect very much the hard decision you had to make, and your courage to make it. It really does make all the difference in the world in the way the priest treats the woman once she speaks the truth to him—if my priest had been kind (and he later was, and has been trying to lure me back to the Third Way ever since two months past that terrible time), I may not have even left the church, I would have cried to hear his final decision, but it would not have been the enormity of pain that it was.

Perhaps that is what makes some of the women here sound "caustic" and I can understand why you would disagree with this is if you yourself did not act this way toward women and treated them with respect. I highly suspect that is the case here.

Marie

Marie said...

INVITATION TO MY WEBSITE & Shameless Begging :)

My website will never be what Henry’s is, as nothing can match it. But, I created it in hopes of having some sort of virtual community for women who have been in a relationship with a priest, as well as people who have left the Catholic church, and also of course a huge bonus would be guest posts from priests who have been in crisis due to falling in love during the priesthood. I’m still developing it and plan to do book/reading/media reviews, such as Fr. Cutie’s (and would welcome recommendations from any of you). Additional ideas/topics are VERY welcome.

I truly wish I had something like it when I went through the ending of The Third Way with my priest. I’d also love for former priests to chime in as well, including Conrad and Henry. Had it not been for Henry’s site, I would not have made it through those darkest of hours when I first was rejected by the priest I loved. I consider formercatholic.com to be sort of an extension of some topics Henry may have here (especially the relationship of women and priests) from a woman’s point of view. The double points of view (from men and women) really add a third dimension to some of the content. In fact, it was Conrad who helped me revise the article I wrote here on Henry’s site and he made some changes that really enriched the article, due to his different life experiences from mine. Thank you, Conrad!

So if you would please come on over and comment or offer to do a guest post or make a suggestion for content, I’d be deeply appreciative. Thank you for the emails I have received; I would love it if some of these could be posted, as they are beautiful testaments to the power of community and hope in times of despair. However, absolute anonymity is guaranteed and please consider these points if you would like to contribute:

1. Formercatholic.com is partially a misnomer and I ask that you do not allow it to scare you off if you are a practicing Catholic. I am still a registered member of my own parish although I no longer practice. I left the church at an older age (mid-30s) so it was hard and I absolutely respect anyone’s decision to have stayed in the church. I promise you’ll not receive disrespectful feedback for remaining Catholic.

2. I have a strict privacy policy, and you can read this on the About Me tab. You can comment and there are 4 selections to identify yourself—either by Google Account, Open ID, Name, or Anonymous. If you select “Name” you can enter a pseudonym—I only ask that you use the same one for all posts to avoid confusion. You can also click Anonymous if you wish.

3. If you want to Follow the site, your icon will NOT appear on the widget, because I have removed the Followers page element from the website to protect my readers. So no one will know that you are Following the site.

4. If you do make a comment or post, you will not have to worry about receiving any mean spirited feedback. All comments are moderated by me, and I will not allow any disrespectful ones to be posted from anyone who would condemn or be negative. Different points of view can be conferred civilly and friendly as they are done here on this site. So, if a nasty comment comes in that would be hurtful, know that I will take the hit :) and simply delete it.

5. If you have any concerns, feel free to email me.

6. I’m always amazed at what Henry’s readers have to offer. It took me 2 years to post here so I understand the courage it takes. But, posts on the relationship between housekeepers and priests—something I couldn’t write because this was practiced prior to my time—or a Third Way relationship working out (Rose), or details of the breaking point on why you ended a Third Way relationship and how your priest reacted (Belinda). All of these would be fascinating topics. I would love to give a voice to anyone willing to contribute.

Thanks for reading this,
Marie

www.formercatholic.com

Henry said...

Marie,
The blog does not allow me to make edits on posts.

Rose said...

To Marie:
Yes, it is VERY true that women who are in relationship with a priest ARE already thinking well beyond "the box" in some ways, most definitely. And yes, age DOES have a major influence, too. I am middle-aged and my priest-friend is nearing retirement, so there is an age difference AND he has health issues, so there are many other factors that go into our friendship - faith and theology being important, too. All things being equal, I'm pretty certain they WOULD BE, ya know?! He's given me enough indication of this fact, all in "innuendo" of course.....

But all that being said, it's never easy between us. There are many difficult times together and much simply can't be shared. I get that and I get why. I get why sometimes he's "frustrated" and can be harsh and then can be "soft" and "caring" again. Or why he's distant for a time and then "wants more". It's all the "classic patterns" that they often live out with women. And the fact that sex isn't part of the relationship means there is a lot of "tension" between both people and a lot of "frustration" going on - that needs to get "released" somehow, ya know?! But I dare say, the "celibate" relationships, the ones that are not sexual MAY (and I use that word carefully) be ones that have a really deep, deep love going on because the struggle is SOOOOOOOO painful BECUASE of it being so real and deep. NOT giving into the sexual aspect of a relationship sure does "change things up" for lack of better phrase. Sometimes it's just not an option, for moral or physical reasons, but that doesn't make it any easier - and THAT comes out in the way both will treat each other, to some extent. My situation is this way - all the hot and cold emotions, the back and forth, the "guilt" of should we even be seeing one another even in this friendship way.

But even in MY most vulnerable hours in my relationship with him, he may not open up very much (that's an understatement!) but he's still here, he's still around and believe me, I've given him a few "outs" along the way that he could've taken if he WANTED OUT - I've given him the opportunities to leave (because of whatever was going on at the time) but he is STILL AROUND and has not left. I have to interpret this as he wants to stay, has feelings, cares, is "intoxicated" by the relationship and my attraction to him and wants to continue it, despite the difficulties and that it won't "change" per say. Frankly, it's the only type of relationship he CAN have with a woman and I GET that and understand it. All he's known is being a priest - that is his "identity" in much of his very soul, even though he's a human being, which he enjoys, too! LOL! But I think that I'm the first person that's come into his life that sees him for the WHOLE person and loves him for being HIM, rather than "Father" and seeing past that veil and into his very soul as a person with feelings and wishes and desires and longings. To everyone else, from the way he talks, just wants him for what he can give to them or be to them as a priest - even those that he considers close friends - they just "take what they need and leave again...." as he's said before.

When their identity IS as a priest, it makes it very hard to "be" outside of that, despite loving a woman and enjoying life "outside the priest box". All they want is that closeness and love from someone who "gets that" I think. At least the ones that are honest and not out to abuse.... They yearn to be a "normal" man but just don't know how to rectify that with their priesthood. But it doesn't mean that they don't crave to just be a man, a normal man who loves a woman and wants a "normal" life.

Anonymous said...

Lucy, I am truly sorry for your experience. I will share something with you about one particular priest. I do not wish to brush all priests with the same brush.
You are right in your impression that your feelings were probably something of which he was well aware. The priest with whom I am quite famliar enjoys this power he has over people. In short, he works at seducing everyone. It does not matter if those who develop emotional attachments are old, young, men, women, attractive or not. There are numerous benefits that he enjoys from the manner in which he affects everyone, from a full church, to gifts, to invitations to dinner or international trips. He makes sure never to quite cross the line or to do something that cannot be categorized under the heading of warm or affectionate spiritual leader. He has the ability to make each person feel like the relationship is special and unique.
He manages to work his way into families and making each feel like it is that specific family that he feels is his adopted one.
Please consider, Lucy, that some people who are in a position of power but choose not to limit themselves to being adored and revered by a single woman, get quite a charge out of affecting people so deeply. If you were to substitude the manager at krogers for your secret love and you were to declare your sentiments with the same results, you might decide he is a jerk.
There may be a reason why some of the type of priest we are discussing push the envelope to the point of "confession" from some of their parishoners:they may be called to answer to the behavior in which they have engaged and the manner in which they refrained from discouraging these sentiments in others.
You would be amazed by the expert manner, the calculated way in which some of these priests go about seducing vulnerable people. You would also be stunned and disgusted to see and hear how limited their portfolio of moves is. Most of those who find themselves falling in love have experienced the same lines and behaviors.
Having said this I want to stress that people do fall in love with priests who do not engage in such behaviors and who do not work actively toward seducing their parishioners but those are nor the priests under discussion.
I hope you manage to see this person for what he may have been, namely a man who used your sentiments and attention for the period of time it was convenient.

Lucy said...

This is Lucy the original blogger. It has been a long time since I visited this site and blog. I am amazed at how much has been added and how many have been through so many similar painful experiences that change a person forever.

Anonymous of 4-27: I agree with you that he was a charismatic and charming person who much enjoyed the company of many admirers. I believe you are correct, I was just one of many types of people who were drawn to him, not all in the same way. He was put on a pedestal. Wow what a trip that must have been.

It has been 4 years now and I am finally free of the pain..but I have to say I would never do it all over again..never show my feelings. I would run like hell from him or any other unavailable man I felt so deeply for. It is nothing but a recipe for hurt, I am ashamed and embarassed by my feelings. I made a complete fool of myself. Sadly the experience has put up a wall for a long time, I honestly have no desire to get close to anyone. I just dont want to feel rejected again by anyone. I also seldom attend mass anymore and have stopped praying as nothing makes sense.
I suppose one can say I am just in a chronic depression, I function, but truly have no joy or interest in anything. Oh well. Live and learn?? I dunno....

Anonymous said...

Hello Lucy,
Thank you for your honesty and aptness in sharing your feelings in words that I could relate to as yes I'm another one who has fallen.
Reading your letter was like a tick-list as I thought and felt the same.
You're no fool just a courageous person who wore her heart openly on her sleeve and yes I think Father Jim ran, ran as fast as his legs could carry him because he felt the same and could not cope - I believe it was the advice of the church because he had considered/was considering a life with you but he was in that 'struggle' you so eloquiently saw.
Having read your open honesty and the first comments especially the one about seven years to heal I felt a change for me.
I told my priest how I felt in a few lines as it errupted inside me one day like a volcano and typically I felt sooooo stupid afterwards, embarashed and ashamed the next day during mass.
But tonight I can see that Priest, well they can't live any other life if been in for years and they are like this with other women - being flirty. And I very much agree with you they should not do that as it really sends out the wrong message. If a woman was too flirty and rebuffed advances she would be branded as a sex-tease and all sorts....but that's another story!
I mainly wanted to say thank you for being so you, so real and to all the comments that have followed because you have enabled me to get real!
There is the right man for me out there just trust in the Lord and He will answer!
God bless you always.
xxx

Rose said...

Yes, it IS "ironic" how so many priests think it's "ok" for them to flirt with women but once it starts to "get real" they all of a sudden become immature little teenagers, running for their lives, both physically and emotionally, because they think they will "go to hell" of they engage any form of human sexual feelings, thoughts or actions (i.e. just being NICE to a woman!). So many priests are afraid of females - they've never HAD much intimate interaction with them and they really have no clue HOW TO BE AND ACT with women! It's astonishing how a grown man can still act as though he's only 15!

I say, just be yourself, be comfortable with that and don't let some priest "dictate" your relationship with God or His Church or the rest of the world. Be confident in your baptism and trust the Lord - praying is merely relationship with God - how you communicate your love for and with Him..... By merely existing, you are in relationship with God.... You are His child.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a shame that priests are not allowed to be in intimate relationships with people.. male or female. I am so sorry for the Catholic Church. It is beautiful in so many ways, but the celibacy issue is just wrong. My uncle left the priesthood to marry my aunt. The Catholic church lost a great priest.

Anonymous said...

I too, fell in love with my priest. I was going thru a divorce and he was there for me. He consoled me and made me feel beautiful in many ways. We were never intimate, but the gazes, the touching of the shoulders, the compliments etc. I wanted something that perhaps was not there, but in many ways in my heart I believe it was/is. It is hard to let go, but I have tried too, but it is still always there. I think about him every single day.

Diane said...

To Rose:
Thank you for your comments. Your situation fits mine to a tee. My relationship with a priest started about 8 years ago when I began to write him letters of a spiritual nature. As I wrote more letters, I became more and more attached. Our friendship has grown deeper and I have expressed my affection towards him in my writing. We too live in different cities, but when we are in the same city, we share meals together and enjoy each other's company. He does go through these weird periods of non-responsiveness. It drives me crazy and I've come sooooo close to telling him off. He too speaks in innuendos, saying things like, "You should know by now. (how I feel)" Well, that could mean many things, couldn't it?? Oh, the whole thing is one puzzling situation. But I love him and he fills a need that I have. I wish that he would own up to his feelings and stop playing these games.
Thank you for sharing your insights. I thought I was going crazy, but it's so nice to see that this is typical behavior!!

Rose said...

Diane,
Glad to offer my experiences to help others.

Here's the deal - what I think (IMHO): once the priest's feeling/thoughts are "on the table" it's no longer is "fantasy" or ""fun" - it's become REAL and he's vulnerable because of it - on so many levels: his own heart and his livelihood. He's got too much to lose, in effect, if he's rejected or if it doesn't last. He's going to choose what's "lasting or safe" - period.

Unless something "catastrophic" happens and he can't go on any longer as a priest, then he will always choose the priesthood - it gives him status, "worship", adulation, ego-boosts, monetary security and a pension in older age. He will always try to "live both" in some way or other - and keep each "separate" as much as he can, in his mind, at least. The minute anything gets "too close for comfort", he will back off again or get "angry" and mean towards you out of his own frustrations for what he feels and wants. He's got two wants, in reality - the Church (his priesthood) and the love of another person and the intimacy/family that comes with that. He knows he can't have both, so he tries to make it work "somehow" and on some level while trying to "rest easy" in his conscience. If he can succeed in doing that, then he's "succeeded" to have both - on SOME level.

He's simply torn in his heart - and in his theology - and this all puts him in a sort of "crisis", so he doesn't always know how to deal with it - and it doesn't help if he's gone into the seminary at a young age, either - he then has a level of immaturity when it comes to intimacy and girls (guys) and how to "handle" these sorts of relationships. He's at a loss, in all reality.

And this is what we women are often experiencing from them - that inner struggle, immaturity and crisis - and why we can't always makes sense of it, because it's not "mature", really.....

It really is all very sad on so many levels.....

Henry said...

This day in 1999 was the best day of my life. I married my beloved and through her my life and ministry have been deeply enriched. I thank God every day that I am no longer in the prison of mandated celibacy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVESzTCqc50

See updated section of my website: http://www.leavingthepriesthood.com/#anchor_110

Rose said...

I think it's also important to mention, in addition to my thoughts just above, that the guys that go into the seminary at a younger age are much more apt to have the majority of their priesthood "fused" with their own personality - because it happened at a younger age, the formative years will yield a "greater return" so to speak and their personal identity will be much more priest, if that makes sense to folks here. Those that went into the seminary later in life or at least having some time "out in the world as adults" will have a much different "merger" of priest and personal.

Think of it like this: we all come from a family, which has it's own set of values, beliefs, philosophy, expectations..... We are "formed" in those as children - for good or bad. It's the same with a guy who enters the seminary in his teens - he's still in his formative years and this will have a greater impact on forming his character, his values, beliefs, expectations.... He will be much more likely to feel that Priest is his "identity" to a greater degree and it will also be a "comfort" to him because of his early experiences - the Church accepted him, "loved him" and supported and provided for him - he will have a very deep, emotional attachment to the Church and Her "system" and "structure". It is his "home" in effect - for good or bad and whatever may or may not have happened to him while in his formation/formative years there. He will have taken on "their identity" to a large extent and this will be his "filter", if you will, in how he sees the world and the people around him and in the greater community/world. It will be his starting point and foundation for how he interacts with life - and himself.

All this comes with an eternal price tag, too, don't forget. For HIM, there is a BIG BIG BIG RISK in doing anything but... on so many levels - emotional, spiritual, eternal, sexual, monetary security....

And the fact that he's most likely never REALLY had the opportunity to develop fully sexually if he entered young means that he's still that "scared teenager" not knowing how it all works, what to do, how to behave with a girl.... He's had little if any experience to develop proper emotional intimacy with another person - he really doesn't know how to PROPERLY express this part of himself - it is simply under developed. He may WANT to explore this intimacy, but he's terrified - and that causes problems on a practical level - because, as we know, sexuality is WAY MORE THAN SEX - it is the core identity of a human being - all that makes up who that person is and how he/she relates to the world and those around him/her. If this basic aspect of the human person is "stunted" or "arrested" in some manner in those crucial years, this will be a "limitation" for the rest of the priest's life, in all reality.

THIS is only the tip of the iceberg - but these are the types of issues and troubles that we, as women in relationship of some sort or other, experience from the priest we are with.

The question is: if we know the deal, are we willing to be on board with it or....... This is what each one of us has to decide. Abusive relationships aside here, all things being equal - this IS the situation - the deal. Are you "in" or are you wanting "out".......???

It's hard - it's painful, it tears at the heart, but we each have our choice to make...

Diane said...

To Rose,

Hi again . . . I have so many questions for you and could really use your advice. This is a topic that I can't talk about with my friends. Please e-mail Henry and he can give you my e-mail address. Thank you!!

Marie said...

Henry, I just wanted to belatedly say, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, and to congratulate you on 11 years of marriage to your beloved! What a beautiful love story between you and your wife, it's an inspiration. It's what my priest and I could have if he were not trapped in the prison of celibacy. I believe marriage can/does ENRICH ministry, rather than become a stumbling block to it as the CC believes. What an example you must be to your congragation, especially those needing marital advice and counseling. Again, congratulations!

Marie

Marie said...

ROSE,

Would you write to me? My email is aftercatholicism@gmail.com. I am truly at my wit's end, and back to square one after falling off the wagon and allowing my priest to pull the same BS that he did before.

Please write me. Your writing is so eloquent and spot-on. What wonderful advice you give! I even printed out your last few entries to read occasionally at night. I'm going through a hard time right now, because after nearly 2 years of having NO contact with my priest, we got back in touch this spring. I fell off the wagon, and I hate myself for it, I'm mad at myself for trusting him again when he'd proven in spades that he could not be trusted. After all his lovey-dovey words, etc, he AGAIN pulled the rug out from under me after he made his annual re treat; undoubtedly his "brethren" and spiritual director reminded him that women are evil temptresses. We got so close again, and I stupidly allowed it to happen!! Stupid, stupid me! I find myself crying a lot that I allowed this to happen a second time after I was determined to have no contact with him again. I've been terribly depressed for the last 3 months as a result. Like Lucy, I have a wall up, as I have for the past 2.5 years, and no desire for another relationship at the moment. I wish there was a magic formula, a time machine to go back and never have met him. I regret ever knowing him.

Lucy, if you're reading this, please know YOU WERE NOT A FOOL FOR SHARING YOUR FEELINGS WITH FR JIM. You have nothing to be ashamed nor embarrassed about. However HE does. He is the one who decided to be celibate for his entire life and reject the gift of love that is God's greatest gift to us. If he was coming on to several women KNOWING FULL WELL that he was doing so only to fulfill his own power trip and ego, he should feel ashamed for the way he treated you. He deserves to be told off.

Get this, I had it and finally did tell off my priest. I said that he has no right to tell me how beautiful I am, to say to me "I am yours" and many other things, if he had/has no intention whatsoever of leaving the p/h. He called and was all formal with me, saying he meant all of that in a mere Christ-like way, which is BS. I know of no other male friend who would say those things to me to be "Christ like." So he's learned nothing from the situation (I told him this too!) and is a hopeless, selfish case. I can only hope and pray that I have learned something from it though. But right now I just feel like a stupid dolt.

What's that saying, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." So, Lucy, just know that even though you've had no contact w/ Fr. Jim for 4 years, it is better than allowing him to jerk you around as I did. I was just to the point where the situation was "bearable" like the chronic low-level depression I had over the situation, but now I'm having to start again back on that path to get to where I was not crying every day, etc. Today I am telling him goodbye because I feel a need to formalize it. No such thing as closure in these situations but I think it will help to put a period to it and even if I can't "move on" at least I will be able to tell myself that I did all I could to try to heal.

Lucy, if you're reading this, can you write to me too? I have my email in the first sentence of this longwinded diatribe.

Thanks all for listening. Pray for me if you would. I will pray for all of you as well who are or have been in this situation. It's certainly a very hurtful one.

Marie
formercatholic.com

Lucy said...

Marie
I will certainly be in touch with you - thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry you got hurt again....I will pray for you and all women so confused and hurt and feeling the Catholic "guilt" of having feelings and committing the ultimate "sin" of acting on such feelings...it is all so twisted isn't it?

How foolish to label us "evil temptresses" and yet bear no responsibility for any of it themselves. We are more like wounded little children. Nothing makes sense anymore.

Here is a wonderful quote:
Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Henry said...

Thank you Marie. I have yet to find anything in romantic love that defiles my ministry. On the contrary, it enriches it. I am truly blessed.

Anonymous said...

Marie, your priest seems to be a weaseling hypocrite who is abusing the term "Christ-like". What point is there in such a man even being a priest? Everybody would be better if he left. Except you as you would probably take him back. Move on and stop mourning over someone you know in your heart is not a good man. The best way to get over someone who is hurting you is to stay away from that person [and that includes phone calls and letters] no matter how great the temptation. Keeping busy is great for depression. Go places, do things. You have wasted enough of your precious life on this guy already.

Anonymous said...

I only recently got assess to the internet. I wish I had seen this website years ago, it would have save me years of pain of confusion trying to understand the priest I had developed an connection with. I could never reconcile how a man who was so loving and compassionate to so many people would treat me with so much indifference when I had been nothing but kind to him. Sharing my thoughts and feelings for God and trying to help him be the best priest he could be. I had no illusions this could go anywhere, all I truly wanted was his friendship and he wouldn't even give me that. At least I have some understanding why that was, and I wish I had it a long time ago. Because of what I read I finally had the courage to tell him I will no longer be writing to him. It is not what I wanted but I see now it is for the best. Thank for sharing, and allowing me see myself in your stories and giving me the wisdom to know I deserve better. God bless you all

Franny said...

And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

It makes me sad and angry to read of the pain and undermining of the relationship with God, that many 'celibate' priests cause. And I believe God is angry too, one just has to know that all religious scholars believe that 'Babylon' refers to Rome and then read Revelation 17 to see what he thinks. 'It is clothed in scarlet and a gold cup' and 'its sins are piled up to the highest heaven'.

One thing must be understood. Catholic priests are NOT 'Godly men', they are just men. I know from life experience that involvement in a 'cult' is the same experience as involvement in the priesthood. You are acknowledged as having a special calling. It isn't just that you believe in God but that God believes in you - which indeed we ALL already have in God's eyes. However with cults (and Catholic priests) we are all equal, only some are more equal than others. No it's more than that, it's that priests are okay and others (unless they stay completely subservient to the church rules) are not okay. This is ‘religion’ and has nothing at all to do with God.

I was just reading on another site written by a man who purports to be giving advice regarding priests leaving to get married and in a nutshell he is saying that they are 'those who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Church'. This man is BLIND to God.

These priests are not Godly men, they are like all other men only they are under the spell of religion, NOT the influence of God - although they think they are.
Girls! Many women have said that the reason they fell in love with a priest was because they felt ‘safe’. Priests are NOT 'safe'. In fact anything but - the Church is the most dangerous place that a vulnerable, lonely woman can be. They have a licence to flirt with you (perhaps more) and then reject you and they have the backing of a very powerful religious machine to assist them in rejecting you and the whole sick system leaves them looking especially Godly because of it.

God said 'My people perish for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6)'. When church leads to pain, anguish and trauma and the undermining of the people’s belief in themselves and God, this is NOT God’s work.
God loves, loves, loves, loves, loves you and he commands you also to love yourself and not to be undermined by those who are living under a very dangerous illusion. Please read Franny's post in Women Who Love Priests' 'Postings from' section to see how this deathly trap gets set up.

Conrad said...

Franny, you are entitled to your opinion, of course. I admit that I was guilty of leading some women on when I was still in the ranks of the clergy, and I’m not trying to exonerate myself here. But don’t you think that you’re painting with an overly broad brush?

I should think that all human beings are “godly” because “God created man in his image … male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27), and, if you accept the redemptionist theology of Christianity, each person is doubly so in virtue of his baptism with its infusion of sanctifying grace.

Yes, some priests have been a source of distress for women who have fallen in love with them. No more so, however, than the myriads of men (and women) who have, likewise, been guilty of infidelity or other crimes against marriage and individual women (and men)! Otherwise, what accounts for the high divorce rate? I might also add that some women have been in love with a priest without experiencing such extreme distress as you describe.

Priests do NOT have a “license to flirt.” They are just as bound as any layperson to uphold the dignity of persons with whom they associate. And if they did at one time have, as you say, a “religious machine to assist them in rejecting you,” (in view of the recent cover-ups?) they no longer have it now.

The only real truth that I see in your diatribe against the priesthood is that more is expected of the priest than is expected of the layman, and rightly so. All the rest is vicious name-calling that could just as well refer to the males at large, and to females as well.

By the way, the “Babylon” in Revelation 17 is generally accepted by scripture scholars as referring to ancient Rome and not to the Roman Catholic Church, to whom it is apparently attributed only by those who are already bent on discrediting the Church. (See the footnotes in the New American Bible, for example.)

Conrad

Henry said...

C, I have received your comment. Would you please send it again without the day and month of the priest's ordination. The year would be OK. With the full date, people could trace it to him, which could make things difficult for both of you. It is a beautiful comment. I hope you will send it again and I will post it.

Franny said...

I am aware that Henry and others have been hurt and I am also very sympathetic about that however this is not a place to attack women who are expressing grief themselves.

OF COURSE catholic priests still have a religious machine to back up staying in the church. If you don't know that you know nothing about it's operation. Catholic church history does have sins piled up to the highest heaven. The whole system is sick and to say it has hurt people is the understatement of the century. Yes other systems that have men and women in them have hurt people but that's not what this website is about. God loves all of us equally and is interested in our wholeness and healing. It is a very hard thing to separate the Church from God when it is so ingrained; it takes a long time and some people never get to that stage. Priests are just as much victims of this system as the women who get hurt by it - but that 'it' is attached to the priests behaviour. This is a SUPPORT site, this particular bit at least, for the WOMEN who have been hurt.

John said...

I think everyone involved in such situations needs to take a good long hard look in the mirror.

Is the priest wrong for pursuing in a sexual/romantic relationship? Absolutely. Is an individual wrong for pursuing a romantic/sexual relationship with a priest? Absolutely.

Priests are similar to married men. Would you enter a romantic/sexual relationship with a married man? Do you think such a relationship can ever be healthy/good? The same goes for the priest, he's a fool if he thinks such dysfunction can be healthy/good.

There's no need to stereotype. If one priest was a jerk/player/user that doesn't mean another one didn't honestly fall in love and struggle. Just because one woman was a "cassock chaser" doesn't mean another one didn't have sincere feelings.

I just find it amazing that individuals here seem to be more involved in blame than soul searching.

Henry said...

John,
No one needs to justify themselves to you. Love is a powerful force and when found is treasured. Call it what you want, shame people as you may. You have mistakenly used the Church's template to judge, which means you are not in reality but in the world of the ecclesiastical institution that has its own agenda. You judge priests who have stepped out of your template as if the template is reality. You are also judging women who seek to follow love. What are you trying to protect? Why are you angry? Are you frustrated with the world in which you find yourself compelled to live? Have you lived within this artificial template the priest is required to live where love is a sin? Why don’t you look in the mirror, pack a lunch and go to confession.

Henry said...

John,
For some reason your comment could not be publish so I cut and pasted it here:

I am not "angry" I am shocked at the lack of basic psychology and knowledge of healthy relationships that are being posted here. Its not "my template" that affairs with individuals already in commitments are unhealthy its common sense and what any counselor/psychologist worth their salt would point out.

I didn't "shame" anyone. Feelings and emotions are always valid when sincere. However the basic dynamics of relationships don't suddenly disappear because we want them to. Some are healthy, others are not.

You apparently didn't read what I posted. I never asked anyone to justify themself to me nor did I condemn anyone. I explicitly stated that blame gets us nowhere. But we do need to honestly take a look at and understand what happened and why.

Like I said, I think there's a lot of bad advice here. There's plenty of posts here blaming the priest, yet I'm not exactly sure when its ever a good idea to enter into a relationship with someone who is already committed to someone/something else. There's plenty of posts here saying the priest is a victim, no one forced him to enter his profession nor is he kept there by force. There's plenty of posts here blaming the Church which is a vague notion that seems to be used to summarize individuals or ideas the poster thinks are incorrect.

If you thought remaining a priest and having a secret love life was healthy you would have done so. Clearly you agree that such a thing is mentally/emotionally/spiritually unhealthy.

Henry said...

John,
Have you ever been led on by a priest? Have you ever fallen in love?

Most people who post on this blog open their hearts to other people in trust. It takes great courage for them to share their experiences.

You seem to be sitting in judgement from the perspective of one who has never seen the complexities of what it is to be in love. You sound like a priest's spiritual director who encourages him to turn off the feelings of love in his heart and return to being a kind of machine owned and run by the church.

Of course the priest is a victim. What else would you call it? He is not free. He is an owned person. He was compelled by God and responded to a call he considered to be divine. The church attached mandated celibacy to this divine call and in time many priests come to this realize this. After experiencing love, their eyes are opened.

Regardless of the reasons a priest leaves, why does the church have a need to control them? Why is the church so deeply enmeshed with them? To follow God is to change and evolve on their journey where God is calling them. Not being able to change and evolve is spiritual and emotional death. At some point, people need to take responsibility for their own lives and the Catholic priesthood makes this extremely difficult. It rewards passivity and obedience. Obedience to whom? Certainly not God. The obedience is to the Church personnel. How is this unlike the obedience a cult expects of its victims? Yes, the priest knew about mandated celibacy before ordination, but change is an important part of one's obedience to God.

I encourage you to read my website, www.leavingthepriesthood.com. Ecclesiastical institutions have no power except that which we give them. For many priests, spiritual maturity means assuming responsibility for their own lives and leave a institution that makes change to be a sin. If they did not leave, they would not be true to the calling God gave them when entering. For them to stay would be akin to a spouse staying in an abusive marriage.

You do not agree with this but please don't insult those who see things differently. Personally, I have found tremendous happiness outside of the priesthood and in marriage and other ministry. Thousands of other transitioned priests have too.

Many people have divinized the Catholic church and its hierarchy. They have turned it into an idol. It is easy to worship something more concrete and follow human laws but it is a poor substitute for spiritual maturity and facing the fears and blessings of following God rather than ecclesiastical laws.

Ultimately, God is a God of freedom.

Anonymous said...

To Henry:
Agree with you on SOOO MANY levels to what you just wrote above... The mandated celibacy suffocates a priest and doesn't "allow" him to just "be a normal guy"! It's like the idea that if you're a woman, you simply can't have a "normal" friendship, even, with a priest without some "weirdness" always being present!!! HOW "CRAZY" IS THAT?????? Suspicion is always the "norm" if you just want to have an INNOCENT meal out or driving together to the place or talking a walk! I don't get this! It's not like there's some "wrong doing" going on with that - it's just NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIOR and it also means that there is never TRUE TRUST going on, either! Oh, she MUST be "up to something" or "he's a snake" and "serial dater" or whatever.... It's insane!!! I can understand if there have been feelings exchanged or there is true awkwardness and an awareness that the feelings are beyond mere friendship but come on - why can't there even be NORMAL HUMAN FRIENDSHIP between a priest and woman? Priest's aren't "other" in the sense that they're not part of the rest of the human population! Kinda sick of this attitude by people, the Church and the "world" at large. WHERE IS THE TRUST???? WHERE IS THE MATURITY????? Celibacy takes EVERYTHING AWAY FROM A PRIEST - EVEN NORMAL FRIENDSHIPS WITH MALE AND FEMALE SOMETIMES!!!!! Assuming 50% of priests are gay, from what many surveys are telling us these days, then priests should not only avoid children, but women and MEN!!!! WHAT'S LEFT????? LONELINESS?????? THIS IS CRAZY TO EXPECT OF A PERSON!!!! Or only associate with people from BEFORE ORDINATION????? Never to befriend parishioners for "fear of talk"????? Can any of the priests/former priests comment on this??????

John said...

Henry,
I have not insulted anyone. Saying that certain relationships are psychologically/emotionally/spiritually unhealthy is not an insult, its what any counselor would know. Its what every priest who leaves the priesthood has come to understand, otherwise they'd still be there and continuing on with their relationships.
You say the priest is not free yet you also say that thousands have left. Obviously they are free to leave.

I also am not telling anyone to turn their feelings and emotions off. However that doesn't mean we shouldn't seek to deal with them in a healthy manner. If someone came to you and said they were in love with a married person who was miserable in their marriage but couldn't bring themselves to leave their spouse, what would you advise? I wouldn't advise keeping things as they are, especially if I cared about that person. I think most of us would advise leaving the relationship until the other divorced (or began the process) their spouse.

Its absolutely heartbreaking to be caught in such situations. But there's a healthy way to deal with it and there's an unhealthy way.

John said...

No I've never been led on by a priest. And yes, I have been in love.

Conrad said...

John,

You compare romantic dalliance with a priest to pursuing an adulterous relationship. Then, you tag them both as dysfunctional, unhealthy and absolutely wrong. I disagree. Though I don’t defend adultery, I disagree when you apply the concept to relationships with a priest. Such relationships are not always dysfunctional and absolutely wrong. Though there are similarities in the comparison, notably in the notion of commitment, there are essential differences as well.

A married man is committed to a person, but the priest’s commitment is to an institution. A priest’s romantic dalliance does not violate the institution in the same way as adultery injures an innocent spouse. So let’s not compare it to adultery.

Dysfunctional? Let me assure you, my relationship with Beverly (see my blog) was anything but dysfunctional, abnormal or impaired. It was inspirational and, I dare say, sacramental. It accomplished everything that a romantic relationship was designed by the Creator to do. And so does my current relationship with Marie. And I’m still, and always will be, a priest.

If there’s anything “wrong” in such relationships, it is only by the edict of the church, which says, on the one hand that the right to marry is an inalienable human right, but then takes that right away from the priest by a church law. Let me pose a question to illustrate my point. Would it be “absolutely wrong, dysfunctional and unhealthy” for a woman to romantically pursue an unmarried Protestant minister?

Conrad

John said...

Conrad,

I agree that celibacy and marriage are not a 1-to-1 comparison. However for the purposes of exploring the dynamics of relationships they are. The individual is in a commitment in which they are not free to enter into a romantic relationship with another.

Are you currently an "active duty" priest? Or have you left active ministry? My guess is that you've left active ministry because you felt called to pursue a romantic relationship. If there's nothing wrong with secret relationships then why did you leave? Clearly one way was a healthier relationship than another.

As for the protestant minister, obviously its not wrong since the person is free to marry and the relationship exists as all other relationships in the world do. The same as if celibacy did not exist as a rule and Catholic priests were free to marry then there would be nothing dysfunctional about those relationships either.

However, even in such cases romantic relationships with a member of the congregation is touchy due to being in a perceived position of "authority." Almost like the cautions thrown out by HR departments regarding inter-office dating.

What person in love wants to be "the other woman/man"? What person in love wants to keep it secret? In what other circumstances would anyone try to defend such unhealthy dynamics?

Conrad said...

To Anonymous 3/14

It was very refreshing for me, as a priest, to hear your comments on the societal attitudes toward relationships between priests and women. In a nutshell, “Right on!”

I doubt that most priests, whether in the ranks or out, have any realistic idea of the malicious gossip floating around about them on the grapevine. One of my fellow priests once remarked that “you may as well enjoy the company ─ people are going to talk anyway” And the gossipers we will, sadly, always have with us.

I think a lot of it arises from a need to justify their own misconduct of whatever ilk by denigrating the priest so as to make themselves look better in their own eyes. A seminarian roommate of mine once came in, shut the door behind him, and pounded the doorjamb with his fist, crying out, “So help me, if ever, by the grace of God, I am ordained a priest and hear confessions, you know who I’m gonna be hard on? The GOSSIPERS!” Touche! I doubt that those on the malicious grapevine have any idea of the harm they do. And, incidentally, they must feel OK about that, because, as any priest can tell you, it is rarely confessed in the confessional.

Strangely enough, people don’t gossip when priests go out with guys. In that respect, the gay priests have it made. Whether there’s anything sexual going on with them or not, they can be observed with their lovers, go on trips with them, and it’s all OK. But let a priest merely be seen with a lady friend in his car, be she an intimate companion or not, and it’s a “whole ‘nother ballgame!”

I am one of many who agreed to celibacy only because I felt called to be a priest. The Church said that if I didn’t have the charism of celibacy, God would supply it. Believe me, He didn’t! I wish the Church would get off of her high horse and admit that they can’t tell God what to do!

Incidentally, I think it would be preferable for anonymous bloggers to adopt an alias. Especially when there are several “Anonymouses” checking in!

Conrad

Conrad said...

John,

It looks like we’re in substantial agreement about what makes a relationship between a priest and a woman “dysfunctional and unhealthy” ─ that it is simply and only the rule that the church imposes on those who aspire to become priests. The other factors you mention can be important considerations in such relationships and need to be recognized, but they are, nevertheless, incidental; maybe they’re present in a particular instance, and maybe not.

I resigned all my priestly offices some 21 years ago and have not been in active ministry since. As I stated in my post in “Leaving the Priesthood,” rumors and gossip started flying, and were apparently reported to the bishop, who then demanded that I either terminate my relationship with Marie completely or leave the priesthood. This ultimately forced me to choose one or the other, and I chose to live the rest of my life with my lover. This may have been the healthier course, but that’s not why I left. I had gotten along very well in my secret life for over two decades, and I’m pretty sure they were good for my paramours as well. I will, however, readily admit that it’s much better now, out in the open.

Conrad

John said...

There seems to be a confusing of issues in this topic. Whether or not celibacy should be the rule is a completely separate issue than whether a celibacy-committed priest acts in a healthy manner when having an affair.

This isn't the middle ages, no one is left on the doorstep of the seminary as a child. From the 1960's onwards tens of thousands of priests have made the personal decision to leave the priesthood. So obviously no one is forced to be there.

Love causes us to want to shout from the rooftops, to show the world, and blend lives together. Yet priests in affairs can do none of that. Such relationships cause heartache, tears, and self-esteem issues (i.e. why am I not good enough for him to leave?).

Railing against mandatory celibacy for priests is a separate issue. The individual in question is freely there and can leave at any time. The Church's rules may indeed be foolish and impractical, but that is meaningless when it comes to the dynamics of entering into a relationship when someone has an overriding commitment.

What man in love justifies a relationship in which his girlfriend possibly cries herself to sleep every night? Who says to their girlfriend, "I get all I need out of this relationship without ever having to publicly be seen with you or take this any further?"

Why is there such an effort to perform mental gymnastics to justify a relationship that in any other similar circumstances we'd tell people to avoid?

Conrad said...

John,

There may be confusion in this issue, but that’s because the issues of mandatory celibacy and priestly affairs are enmeshed, rather than “completely separate issues” as you yourself imply when you speak about a “celibacy-committed priest act[ing] in a healthy manner when having an affair.”

All I’m saying is that if it weren’t for mandatory celibacy for priests, there wouldn’t have been an “affair,” but rather a publicly celebrated wedding. But that’s something that the church can’t tolerate. An affair was something I could live with at the time, and I maintain that it was a growth factor for me rather than something unhealthy.

If my intimate relationships were unhealthy for any of my girlfriends, I am truly sorry for any havoc that I may have unwittingly wrought in their lives. However, I honestly don’t think that it was the case. It would be for them, or others in similar situations to reveal, and not for us to speculate about.

You make it sound so simple for a priest to just pack up and leave. Believe me, it’s not that simple, or else I wouldn’t have spent a month in hell (see my post) trying to decide whether I should leave or stay.

Conrad

John said...

Conrad,
I still think you're mixing issues. If someone doesn't want to live a celibate life then they are free to leave the priesthood. Even with celibacy there doesn't need to be an affair, simply leave.

An affair might have been a "growth factor" for you but I highly doubt it was as such for the other person. Take a look at all the testimonies on this page and the blogs referenced here and you'll see the other side of the relationship.

As for whether its simple to leave the priesthood, obviously its simple on paper but perhaps not in real life. But then again what in life is ever simple? Life is all about hard decisions and difficult situations. Its not easy for the person with small children but also in a bad marriage. Life is about choices and accepting responsibility for our actions and choices.

For priest and married person the question "do I stay here or leave" is a difficult one, but its one that must be made and the responsibility accepted in order to be a mature adult.

Anonymous said...

I too was in a similar situation with a priest. It is now over a year later & I am still devastated. What I find quite disturbing in these posts have been a number of line such as "Celibacy allows priests to flirt with many women and to have a number of intense relationships going at the same time. and also this "For a priest, the game goes something like this: Flirting is ok and even welcomed but it must not be too overt. He welcomes a certain amount of affection being stirred in his heart. But, when he perceives that you are getting too close or he is falling in love, the game is up. It really does make priests who do this seems like lowlifes and I feel so very used. The fact that the church appears to know and accept this as long as they don't get caught is worse. To me this does not make honourable men but the opposite. I may never have answers but now I feel these priest are dirty and lesser people as if they behaved this way in the real world they would be named and shamed and treated for the arseholes they are. I know I feel very used and cannot understand why my priest went there in the first place and why he initiated all the naughty touching and texts etc. He certainly appeared to be a man in love who wanted to spend all his spare time with me. At least my feelings were honest and I did not use another person for my emotional/sexual gratification.

Henry said...

An invitation for women in love with a priest: http://www.leavingthepriesthood.com/Peter_s_Wives_flyer__1_.pdf

Anonymous said...

Lucy, 15 years ago I met and fell in love with a priest and he with me. It's a long story but I went to visit him in his new parish and he met me by kissing me on the mouth and later opening his arms wide and holding me. I was so in love I breathed him in and out with every breath. The next time I saw him he ripped my heart out and many years later I am still in love with him, still in pain. I have contacted him but he does not respond. I cannot stop loving him, believe me I've tried. He told me that he loved me too but he wasn't going to leave the church. It is a cruel and sick, sick political system and the rule regarding celebacy, and many other RCC rules, have nothing at all to do with God.

Maggie said...

Feeling heavy-hearted for some time, I'm very grateful for this blog and site as I find comfort knowing I'm not the only one. Thank you Lucy and others for sharing your stories and to Henry for this site. I am in the "same boat" as some of the other women here. Having feelings for a priest and yes, I do feel there is "something there" on his side, but of course he'll never admit or overtly show it. I keep telling myself, "this too shall pass" and hope and pray that it does. Maggie

Anonymous said...

The priest I love will go overseas to live soon. No normal man becomes a catholic priest, at least, not for life. They all know that the rule of celebacy is not of God, not from God, not anything to do with God. The don't love, for one reason or another, that they simply can't. And for us? Sometimes love is a curse and there is nothing we can do about it. You can't get away from love and neither can they, no matter where they go. Sometimes the heart just seems to have a mind of its own.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading here for a few years now and the dance to the tune of the antiquated RCC still continues. About 150 comments later, it remains "plus ca change...plus la meme chose". More priests are being outed for having exercised their natural sexuality, including a couple who were TV personalities, the ultimates Father Whatawastes [appearance-wise, at least]. It is becoming increasingly clear that Richard Sipe was right on the money when he said only a miniscule per centage of padres stick to celibacy all of the time. In fact, it seems rather obvious that, even from the outset, priests are far from dead certain they will be able to honor this promise for the rest of their lives. Otherwise, they would be impossibly naive individuals or had no physical urges whatsoever. What the church refuses to acknowledge is that these men are not really offering any guarantees but are saying, like the little engine, "I think I can" or, at very least, "I will try." And, then, one day, find themselves in the position of looking into their shaving mirrors and seeing a hypocrite, engulfed by conflict, not sure of how to rise to the surface again. That is, those who haven't become hardened cynics, who are comfortable with preaching what they, themselves, do not practice at all. Becoming involved with those priests is, as someone on the Web very aptly described as "Trying to nail Jello to the wall".

I would like to believe that an end to mandatory celibacy is the panacea, but I know it's not. It's still a sin to have sex outside of marriage and, if that's the case, any priest who starts dating will still be suspect. The situation of gay priests will still be hopeless. If a priest, after years of no real relationships with women, happens to marry the wrong one--then what happens if he separates? Much more will need repeal than just the celibacy issue for any Catholic, let alone a priest, to live like a free human being, who isn't controlled by an institution .

Jan Jamieson said...

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV

Happy New Year, everyone! I have been reading this Web page for some time, and have so much to say that it would become a novel. This is my first posting on this site.
First of all, my thoughts are with the women devastated by priests who toyed with them emotionally, but never took the plunge. They played the flirtation game (stolen glances, innuendo, direct messages to the woman during his sermon), and struggled desperately with that impractical vow..... but when the rubber hit the road, and they actually had to decide between the woman and the hierarchy, the institution had them.
I believe these priests have been emasculated, repressed sexually, but also emotionally stunted because they never became emotionally mature men. Therefore, they are ill equipped and don't even know how to handle an emotional intimate relationship with ANY woman, much more so for the woman he thinks of all the time.
It's like he has been brainwashed to be believe that his soul is in eternal jeopardy if he gives in to his all-too-human and God-given desires.
No one has to choose between his love for God and his love for a woman. Why does it have to be a choice between the two? Why can't he have both?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc0bF2HMP_E

Henry said...

Jan,
Emasculated is right, especially when the priest awakens to what is happening to him. I think the answer to your question why a priest cannot have both is misogyny. The hierarchy has a problem with women and do not want its priest emotionally anywhere near one because of the power she will have over him.

Jan said...

I wish there was a way to reach out to these priests.
When you go to church and see the priest, you never think too much about it. After mass, you leave, but never think about what the priest does when the congregation goes home and about their lives.
A fellow parishioner of ours went to visit a priest, and was shocked when the priest broke down, admitting he was so lonely and trapped. How many more are out there like him? How do we reach them? They must feel so enslaved. I haver personally seen the loneliness and struggle in one particular priest. No doubt he has also felt guilt for having normal human feelings. Yet, the testosterone flows as strongly as in any other male. What happens to someone who represses such normal human desires? If you look at men in prison, ask yourself what they do. Is being a celibate priest that much different? You are forced to be celibate, live among other men, and repress your innate desires. When you repress for so long, it has to bust out eventually. It just seems so inhumane, so barbaric, so unrealistic.
I found the book "Dilemma" by Fr. Albert Cutie one day and blew through the first 120 pages that night! I just couldn't put it down. The book chronicles the life of a young, naive, idealistic priest who genuinely wants to change the world for the better, yet eventually becomes frustrated and disillusioned by the hypocrisy. I am just starting at the point where he must face celibacy head on.
Imagine how happy and full these men's lives would be with someone special to share it with. They are missing out on so much. If there is a way to reach these men, we should.....

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jan, your post is one of the best ones I've seen here so far. I have a lot of compassion for these lonely parish priests because I don't think they ever really visualized what their lives would one day become when they first signed on. Young men tend not to think about the future and, for quite a long time they are constantly surrounded by others while in formation.

Sometimes I read the Catholic blogs and it is dismaying to see how many young or youngish priests still vigorously defend the status quo, apparently like the church just fine the way it is now. Maybe they're masochists! I don't know what to think about them. They seem to see problems but blame it on everything but the institution, the RCC itself. Anyway, there doesn't seem to be any real solidarity out there among priests for change. Although Father Cutie seems happy enough now when interviewed, I still can't help wishing that his metamorphosis had occurred without his cover being blown by a photog. Actually, reading most Catholic blogs is just plain depressing. Even the commentators seem to be living in some kind of surreal world. A lot of them remind me of the mother in the movie "Carrie".

Anonymous said...

I have not read all the comments, but I am a woman who has been in love with and involved with a priest for 7 years.We met when he was a brother, before ordination and tried everything possible to stay "friends".Through the years we have gone from trying the "friendship" thing, to having a physical relationship.We have broken off contact for a while( a few weeks) but after 7 years we have just accepted, finally, that we just are the way we are.There is not one day that we are not in touch, even though we live in different parts of the country.
It is the most bittersweet relationship because there is no future.We love each other, but we will never have the fulfilling love as man and woman that we both want.Does this cause a lot of stress in our relationship?Yes.Would I ever want to be without him?No.I will take what I can have.
How can love between 2 people be wrong just because one is a priest?

Zandra said...

My story - part 1

I have read this with interest after stumbling across this site. When I was 13 I met a man who was 20. We became friends (no sex or anything) and met up several times a month for lunch. This went on all throughout my teenage years. When I was 15 he said he was going into the seminary. When he left we kept writing to one another and suddenly he told me he was leaving the seminary. He never really gave me an explanation as to why he left.

He eventually got a girlfriend, but I later found out this was a non-sexual relationship and he remained a virgin. I asked him why and he said he could not give her what she wanted. He told her he can never offer her anything and to find someone who can love her and broke things off. I thought that was harsh.

He would also send me letters and even one line notes when he would be out with her. One time he dropped a note in the post when he went out on a bike ride with her. Some of his notes were about how special I was to him. He was thinking about me and so on. I met her, but was struck by how they showed no signs of togetherness. And I felt uncomfortable because when he did spend time with her he was sending letters and calling me.

As I got older he would write these stories that had metaphors in them. One was about me being a beautiful princess who has him chained and him breaking the chain. Another was us deciding on the paths to go in our lives with our paths going in different directions. These would be pages and pages long. I was always getting something in the post from him. He never forgot my birthday or things I told him. And he always called me and took me out.

Eventually, he moved out of state, but that did not stop him calling or writing me letters. He kept returning to his parent's home and eventually gave up where he was living and moved back home.

My mother and everyone else told me he was in love with me. I believe he was, as well. And he was my first love. However, he would never admit it no matter how many times I pushed him. I wanted him to tell me how he really felt, but something always seemed to hold him back.

He was there for me through thick and thin. When the going got tough he stuck around even when I would shout at him and one time slapped him after he angered me. I was a bit of a cow in my teen years!

He took me to my prom and asked me to come and live with him in another state. He told me we would both get jobs there as he used to live there. And he knew where we could rent a studio flat. He had money to get us started and I did not have to worry about cash. I agreed with my mother's blessings as she adored him and knew he cared about me.

I was a bit shocked he wanted to live with me. And I asked him where we would sleep and he said we would share a bed. He said it was only one room with a kitchen and a bathroom. I was thinking maybe it would be twin beds, but he said it was only one bed.

Zandra said...

My story part 2

Shortly before moving I stayed overnight in his home. And that is when he made his move on me. We were intimate and from the following day he acted more like a boyfriend. My friends noticed he was possessive of me, as well. And I noticed the change in him in the way he acted towards me. And his calls intensified and he took me out even more often.

The night before we were due to leave I asked him under what capacity our relationship would be as we had sexual relations and we would be living together. He told me we were friends. I knew instinctively we were going to continue with a sexual relationship. It was clear as we would be in the same bed and living together where it was going. But, I wanted more than just the friend label. I told him if he cannot offer me more than that then he can go without me. We had a massive argument that ended with us shouting at one another. And he did leave without me. The very next morning. And I was devastated. I thought I would never hear from him again.

He did not stay away from me. He wrote to me as soon as he got a place to stay. But, he did not give me his address and said to write to him at his parent's home.

We remained in touch and still met up. I moved to another state and we spoke about him coming to live with me as he was not happy where he was. He came to visit and stayed with me. However, I made it clear he was in the friend barrel and made him sleep on the sofa. After that he said he was going to stay in our home state and not come to live with me. And I moved on.

I went to university, traveled and now live in another country. I have done a lot of things in my life that I would not have done if I went to live with him. I now have a lovely little boy and I am happily married to a man I would never have met if I took a different course in life.

I was worth the whole commitment and something held him back. I knew he was having a dilemma as he had his feelings for me, but felt he had to do something else in his life. I also know his family did not approve of me. They wanted him to be a priest. And his sister; a nun. They disliked the fact I had a single mother and was from a different religion. However, despite their disapproval, he did not care and continued to be friends with me.

I've kept all his letters and read them with adult eyes. And I can now see he did love me, but could not reconcile himself to it. He will always have a special place in my heart, but I also know he was not able to give me what I deserved. And that was a full commitment. I did not deserve to have his attention shared.

We lost contact as I moved so many times and to different countries. And I never told him my new addresses although I always knew I could write to him at his parent's home. Life took over and although every so often I wondered where he was and how he was doing, it never really took over my thoughts. Just fond memories.

Until I had a vivid dream. It was just like the old days when we always went out to dinner, lunch, the movies, museums and so on. And that is when I decided to look him up.

Zandra said...

My story part 3

And I was right to follow my instinct as he is now a Catholic priest. I also read when he said he has always lived a life of chastity and had his plans to go into the priesthood. His life of chastity was news to me! He certainly wasn't chaste with me. I am sure he has never let on what happened with us or how he asked me to live with him.

I wrote him a letter at his church and told him where I was living. I told him about my son and husband and how my mother was doing. I said to myself that if he did not make contact back then I was right that he was in love with me. Otherwise, it would just be an old friend making contact.

I thanked him for being there for me during some of the toughest times in my life and that I will always remember him with fondness. The only thing I said he did not need to be in contact with me, but my mother is very ill and she always wanted to find out where he was. I asked him to make contact with her as I knew it would cheer her up. And he never did.

I have no regrets. And I know I did the right thing. If I went to live with him he would have eventually ended things with me to go into the church.

When he was in the seminary he was keeping in contact with me and I wonder if part of the reason he left was because of how he felt about me. Because after he left that is when things intensified between us. That is when I started getting these stories he would write to me. Every time I opened the post there was something from him. But, all would have ended in heartache.

Ladies, these men who are priests are no different to the men you would meet anywhere else. If they cannot give you the full commitment then all you will be is in the friendship barrel or in some cases, the bit on the side. And all of you deserve so much more. As long as you keep giving them what they desire, whether it is sex or an emotional relationship without the commitment then it will only be on their terms only. And leave you crying into your pillow.

A true relationship does not leave you feeling confused as to where you stand. And a good one does not see you being dropped at any sign of inconvenience. My husband has shown me what real commitment is about. He is a wonderful dad and a great husband. And he is my rock. Sure, I will always carry some love for my first love, but it will never match what I have now. I hope all of you will find someone who will give you everything you deserve.

Zandra

KATIE said...

Hi,

I can see where you're coming from. I figured out that I'm in love with a priest.. but it started in a different way..

He is in US and I'm in Europe.. we have a common friend who became a bridge for us to know each other - he sent a friend request in facebook, asked for my number and the communication started..

He never told me he was a priest. He told me he was once in a seminary but went out because he doesn't really want to be a priest - his family is just pressuring him.. We talk over the phone almost every night, we see each other on skype during weekends..

Until last Xmas, he admitted to me that he is already an ordained priest.. he also admitted that he loves me and will come here to Europe to meet me this year. He promised to ''resign'' or be laicizised in two years time..

I was upset/angry and hurt because he lied to me.. I cut our communication but then he is persistent.. he said he can't concretely act on his love for me because he's still a priest. But he said he will prove his love to me and marry me after two years..

I admit I already have feelings for him - we've known each other for a year now and we will me meeting soon..

when we meet, I don't know whether to tell him to just forget me or wait for 2years as he promised.

But I am certain I feel love for him..

Anonymous said...

Hi katie, here is my story hope this helps you! I often thought my parish priest liked me I would always catch him staring endlessly at me during mass,and would give me more attention that any of his young parishioners. It was an innocent kind of love mostly alot of staring at each other in wonder. We chit chattted often when we saw each but never enough to cross the line, howvever his eyes alwyas told me that he loved me. At first I thought he had thoughts of leaving but I was wrong this went on for a couple of years about 3, i realised in time that he had a gift and chose to put the church before me sacrifise his life and my own for the church I was devastated that I would never get a chance to be together. So much so that he even gave me away to a good man and married me off..he even guided my husband on how to catch me. He has touched my heart, I would like to think that such a sacrifise will be rewarded someday he would made a great bishop or archbishop. I am happily married to a good man now, and he continues to preach the word of God, may God always be with him he is an amazing priest and role model. Such an experience has made God more real in my life, since my marriage he has become even more devoted to peoples needs in the church, and i think my love gave him the strength to keep going on. My advice to you Katie is perhaps you should rethink if you want to keep going down that path as you will be ultimately be also taking him away from God as well many peoples needs. They say if you love someone enough you should let them go. But I know its easier said than done, hope you work it all out lots of prayer will help :)

Anonymous said...

Katie, no woman ever takes a priest away from God or from anything else. Few women have the brawn to pick up a priest, throw him over a shoulder, and into a waiting van. This is exactly how people have been brainwashed--to believe that when it comes to women involved with priests, the ladies are the temptresses and the despoilers of the church and the faithful, in general. I can't believe anybody still buys into this when it is clearly the church, itself, the hierarchy, who is the enemy of the priests, their congregations and even itself. Yes, the RCC is its own worst enemy. How many good priests--and, yes, far better than the sick, damaged, and desperate men who have been uncovered in case after case in recent years--could the church attract to the priesthood were mandatory celibacy abolished? Priests with wives and families, just like the clergy who serve other religious denominations, seem a better alternative to anybody but those who continue to insist that priests are not *just men* and are wedded to an institution--something that's not even possible. The hell they're not *just men*--and many have proved to be great liars, hypocrites, seducers-- and have done things most women would never dream of doing.

So if your priest seems like a good guy who loves you back, don't ever feel guilty about giving him the greatest gift he'll ever receive. If he proves the opposite of a good, honest guy, kick him to the curb just like you should do with anyone else of his sex who isn't worthy of your affections.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but my heart goes out to the girl's story after Katie's response, the priest clearly loves her soo much he wanted a good life for her and himself without corruption and without sin, if he is a good man and a devote Christian he will do this. There is no higher love than this sure it is not easy, but the rewards will be great. Unfortunately we have been brainwashed from media and other sources to think that we can have everything we want, a very worldly approach.. a very selfish approach. Did Christ do the same when he died on the cross for us so we can have eternal life?, this is the same example celibate priests are ordained to follow i.e. the life they have promised to lead.

How can it be right then to take a away a priest? What will he do when he leaves his parish he will feel stripped from the Church a good girl could not do that to someone she loves an if she has complete faith in Christ.

Anonymous said...

So, in your opinion, a life with love in it embodies "corruption and sin"? I can't believe Henry even allowed your BS post on his site! It's not selfish to want to love and to be loved--it's no more than human nature and nothing sinful is associated with it. Why should priests be "crucified", nailed to a cross of loneliness and deprivation? What purpose does that serve? If a married priest can't serve the parish is not the fault of any woman but the RCC, the oppressor of its own priests! You are just another of the arrogant [but benighted] people who think they know exactly what Jesus would want. How do you know even he didn't have a wife? His apostles were married! I have news for you. There is no man who truly loves a woman who would willingly turn her over to another man. Not a chance. What kind of dream world do some of you Catholics live in?1

Anonymous said...

Personally, from what I have seen you can get various outcomes. I dont think its correct for priest to leave but there are instances where the priest is not fit for the job and in that case marriage is a great way out, esp if you have fallen in love. In other instances there are priests that take there job seriously, they are stronger characters. In this case they very well may give up a girl they love for the church,they remain steadfast these characters usually make great leaders oneday. Im sure there are many priests that had to give up a girl they loved not all can leave, they might have received a special calling from God to do there job. Its just all depends what each experience during there life....

Anonymous said...

Hi... im so grateful to find this site.. im not alone, there are so many ladies who feel the same pain with me, deep in love with a priest.. :(

Anonymous said...

Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
There's a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content.
Please let me know. Thanks

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Henry said...

Please do share the blog with anyone who may find it helpful.

Anonymous said...

I am a "new" Catholic, having recently completed RCIA and being received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. While I'm not in love with my priest, I find the guy extremely attractive and have found myself thinking of him in a sexual way. We're sexual beings...all of us...so I'm excusing myself for the notions in my head. I'm an older woman who has not had these feelings stirred in quite a while, so I am enjoying this for however long it lasts. Perhaps my priest eventually will do or say something to make me cringe, something that will turn me off, so to speak. That's usually the way things work. Until then, going to Mass is ever so much more enjoyable with this handsome, charismatic man behind the altar. Again, I am only enjoying the fantasy and would NEVER say or do anything to let anyone know my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Nothing sexier than a man in a uniform ;-) Your thoughts are normal. Just don't confess them to the priest!

Confused79 said...

Hello...

I need some advice and to share my story. Henry or Lucy if you're around can you please share your email with me? I am a bit paranoid about posting publicly because this situation just happened.

Thank you

Henry said...

You can email me: henry@leavingthepriesthood.com

Confused79 said...

Wonderful. Thank you, Henry. And just let me say I relate to Lucy's story very much. I am feeling very abandoned, confused, and rejected right now.


Anonymous said...

Just to make a note. Many priests don't flirt at all. This article made it seem as priest love to flirt. This is not true. I personally see women as my spiritual daughters.

From an anonymous priest who is very happy for the gift of celibacy,

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Many priests are emotionally immature, they function at the level of an adolescent boy. What is it that we women who have been involved with a priest in any sort of (non)relationship, find so attractive about this? Is it an outlet for our natural instincts to "mother" these immature 'boy priests'? Does it take us back to a happier time, a time when we were once young and immature and perhaps "in love" with someone similar (a schoolgirl crush? transference?) ... I have done much soul-searching, reflecting, praying, analyzing and looking at this with adult eyes. The 'boy priest' I fell for in my 40's (he was in his 50's) was magnetic, charming, seductive, flirtatious and liked to play games, then when confronted that he did this, would harshly in anger deny it. This 'boy priest' was too old, too set in his ways, too comfortable with his priestly remuneration and upcoming pension to risk jeopardizing his priesthood for anything. So he played games, like "fishing": he would put out the bait (flirting, seducing, paying a lot of attention to me) to see what his bait would "hook", without there being any real serious intent behind it because that was all he could afford to do. So I rose to the challenge and played the same game. When I gave him the same amount of attention back which mirrored his, he immediately retreated behind his wall of armour, reminding me, "I'm a priest!" I would simply smile at him and say, "yes? and? so?" To which he would reply, "I'm a monk" and I would nod my head in agreement. It was never sexual with us. It was never really anything much other than conversation and his playing games with me like a 50-something year old teenager. He was playing these games, then when I responded, he would remind me of his vocation and ask me pointed questions as to why I responded! It felt like he was trying to pin the blame on me, to make me out to be the temptress who was attempting his moral downfall; and this made me angry so I played the game back and denied and denied.

Having a non-relationship with a 'boy priest' is always a one-way street - and he's the one in the driver's seat. He's the one calling the shots in the friendship, relationship, whatever. He exerts power and control over a woman, in the same way the church exerts power over him. There is almost a flavour of childish "payback" in how he treats the woman he is with. It is a rebellious streak toward the church - like a young boy would rebel against a parent by being bad and doing exactly that which a parent (now the church) does not want him to do. He is frustrated and instead of dealing with that frustration through therapy, he self-"therapizes" by setting out to attract women who will validate his masculinity. These 'boy priests' have a dark side. Perhaps that is what some women are attracted to ... I don't know. I only know, this is dangerous ground for any woman to tread on. If you are in a relationship with a priest, Run Like The Wind. Run, don't walk. Then, hold them accountable for their behaviour.

Henry said...

Very insightful comment anonymous. Much wisdom here for anyone in love with a priest and finding themselves confused and hurt. Thank you for posting.

For the priest, like their masturbatory sexual life, when it comes to romance, fantasy is preferable to reality because it leaves them in control. When they realize much of their religious belief parallels it, as Jung may indicate, it all begins to collapse. Such is the required mythology of the Roman Catholic priesthood.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words, Henry - it took me a long time to get to this point, where I can actually see clearly and objectively. When one is intensely involved in this "relationship game", it isn't possible to see because of the blinders. I had so many mixed emotions at the time this was happening but anger was the one that eventually brought things out into the open. Insights came in leaps and bounds only when I was able to emotionally step back and detach, to really be able to see this 'boy priest' for who he is. For me, that was the key to healing: being able to emotionally step back and then identify exactly how I contributed to his "fishing game". Without this hard honesty with myself, without taking the risk to see him as he really is rather than making feeble excuses to continue to stay in an unhealthy whatever-you-want-to-call-it, I would be an emotionally crippled woman stuck in obsessive, codependent yearning and wanting. So many women who are "in love with" priests say they cannot leave for a myriad of excuses: "but I LOVE him!" or "it's not his fault, it's the church that's the bad guy"! or "it's the celibacy he has to live by!" ... really? Making excuses is exactly and only that: making excuses to enable his behaviour. If it wasn't me, it would be someone else this 'boy priest' would try to get his hook into ... and who knows? perhaps he had an entire entourage of women falling at his feet. No, sober second thoughts have great value. I pray for and encourage the women who are involved with priests or who still have some depth of feelings for them, to have the courage to step back, to step outside of the relationship and to take some time to see it clearly. Focus on the negative aspects of his behaviour, not the positive - not on "how he makes me feel when we're together" but paying attention to the little things that are bothersome about him. Those little things are red flags that we must pay attention to. Those little things won't go away, but will rather become like a thorn in one's side as time goes by. Those little things will increasingly grow and grow to cause resentment and great pain. And who wants to live like that? Relationships are supposed to be life-giving and life-affirming. Rare indeed is the relationship with a 'boy priest' that can sustain. Awareness is of the utmost importance in any relationship, but particularly so when it involves a priest.

I am grateful that I had my experience, as painful and difficult as it was to go through, because it showed me my own shortcomings, and brought me face-to-face with my own issues and weaknesses. Through prayer and reading books on priests and celibacy, I have come to a place of great compassion (not "feeling sorry for" but genuine compassion) for this boy priest, and all priests trying to function in the celibate priesthood. Those priests who are able to be sexually continent deserve to be sainted and women must respect and love them enough to let them be. Those who are struggling with celibacy, are likely struggling with many other issues as well psychosexual developmental issues, for example - some priests have themselves been sexually abused as children and rather than being involved in a romantic relationship (if that would even be possible considering the issues), those priests need serious professional help, not a romance.

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