Dear Amy: Our 24-year-old daughter has declared to us that she is in love with a 50-year-old Catholic priest. She says that he has told her that he loves her, too, though she doesn’t know if he would leave the priesthood for her.
I threatened to call the bishop and tell him what is going on, but my daughter works at the diocesan office, where she met this priest, and she says that I could get her fired.
My husband and I have told her how disturbed we are, but she says that his affection, support and attention are important to her. She ignores our concerns.
Are we right to distrust him?
Should we confront him?
Dear Anonymous: I shared your letter with the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. Father McBrien and I agree that your daughter has a right to mess up her life by falling in love with the wrong person.
McBrien says, "The daughter is an adult and needs to work this out on her own. However, the parents have every right to offer their advice. But they should do nothing beyond that. We may be dealing here with irresponsible behavior but surely not criminal behavior."
McBrien adds, "I am not defending the priest, and I agree that it is probably a dead-end relationship. If the priest is her superior, then this relationship is also unethical. This young woman needs to talk with a professional counselor who could help her to work this thing out in her own mind. The parents, however, lack the necessary objectivity, even if their concerns are valid and they are only looking out for her well-being." [Source]
"probably a dead-end relationship"? So if the priest wasn’t her superior the behavior would be ethical? Fine, fornicate just as long as somebody isn’t in your supervisory chain of command. As always the more you hear from Father McBrien, the less you want to hear from Father McBrien. The idea that a situation involving two people committing objectively grave sin requires little action is un-Christian. What about Matthew 18 of going to the sinner and rebuking them, and if they don’t repent to go higher? What about the scandal of people knowing about this relationship? Father McBrien espouses the exact same response that has lead so many diocese to have to file for bankruptcy, of course after having filed moral bankruptcy.
Not surprisingly Fr. McBrien also writes a glowing review of Father Donald Cozzens new book "Freeing Celibacy" in this weeks Tidings. He managers to mention part of Fr. Cozzens biography without of course his loss of faculties to teach in a Catholic school. The 50 year old priest in the story is freeing celibacy indeed.