Thursday, August 07, 2008

The priest as vampire...

I'm not sure if there's anyone around still reading this - I've been on somewhat of an extended hiatus - but Seraphic's written something that I must link to:
I think the Church is full of priests, seminarians and men-who-want-to-be-priests who are emotional vampires. I think there are dozens (if not hundreds, if not thousands) of men in orders who, having "given up" women subsequently latch onto women for tea and sympathy. And this is fine if those women have busy, happy lives and--dare I say it--more important men in those lives. The women who get into emotional trouble are the Single women who are delighted, absolutely delighted at the male attention. A lot can go wrong.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-clerical. And when I die, I hope I am reciting the Nicene Creed. But I have been dealing, on an adult level, with priests since I was 14 years old and the idiot associate pastor of my parish dissolved my youth group. And, come to think of it, I have been dealing with self-absorbed young Catholic men just as long. On my Confirmation Day, when the Archbishop clapped his heavy hand on my shoulder (a nice subsitute for the traditional reminder-of-martyrdom slap of the old days), he might have been saying, "Tough row to hoe, Seraphic. Get tore in."
Please read the whole thing, as it's hard to do justice to this piece with a brief quotation. It all makes very interesting reading for priests and layfolk alike.


Dcn Scott Dodge said...

I'm reading, checking in. I hope you're well.

Deacon Scott

TheCrankyProfessor said...

I'm reading - and I thought it was a very interesting evaluation of some of the psychic risks of celibacy badly practiced.

Anonymous said...

Recalls Mrs. Anthony Soprano's experience early in the series.

Jane said...

I'm still reading. That is, indeed, an interesting piece. The university that I attended as an undergrad had a minor seminary attached to it, and it was easy to see that some of the seminarians handled friendships with women very differently from others. Some were very careful, being friends with girls but maintaining a certain boundary. Others were constantly in the presence of girls, had single females for best friends...and every single one who had a single female for a best friend eventually left the seminary and ended up dating that friend.

I suppose it was better for those young men to leave the seminary sooner rather than later, but it seemed to me to be indicative of a problem with the emotional training of young men that they do not realize that there are some kinds of friendships appropriate to one's station in life, and other relationships that are not appropriate.

Enbrethiliel said...


Of course I'm still reading, Father!!! =P

Seraphic Single said...

Jane, that's a happy story. It's the seminarians (and priests) that don't leave, but always act like they're on the verge of leaving who cause the real heartache.

Of course, young women have the responsibility to watch themselves with seminarians and priests. It might be helpful to think of seminarians as men who are engaged and of priests as married men.

I have great sympathy for the pain of lonely women who think of seminarians and even priests as potential spouses, but they need to give themselves a shake. They are prey for the few vampires and a pest as far as the good men are concerned.

Anonymous said...

I still read your blog after many years. I think this post by the seraphic single is very true, although my diocese has very few foreign seminarians and priests because of many years of a policy that forbid accepting seminarians from outside the diocese, especially from foreign countries. Moreover, we don't have the big universities and theolgical faculties of the big cities that attract foreign students. For a short time we did ordain foreign priests and they have been a disaster. Foreign seminarians and priests live very far from their original and primary support system. They need to establish themselves and find a way to be grounded. What happens is some of them realize they can get themselves more. For example, a rich family can give them money, cars, and vacations. A young single woman (or man) can give them friendship and emotional support. Often this begins in spiritual direction or counseling. This is not good. When I was in the seminary priests recommended we not do spiritual direction for our first 5 to 10 years. I think 10 years is good unless you are older and have absolutely know hang-ups about the state of life your in.

Where I live the issue isn't an issue. 50% of our priests are homosexual and older. Most of our foreign priests are gone or on the way out and the younger priests are orthodox and meet regularly for support and friendship. Our population is wealthy and older or young and blue collar. Problems have happened in the past but it seems to happen less now. I hope we are a little wiser now.

My advice to young women who are studying advanced degrees in theology or work for the church is don't ever have a relationship with priests or seminaries outside of a formal structure i.e. classroom, workplace, or formal function. Friendships with priests and seminarians should always be transparant and there should never be any exchange of gifts, money, home, cars, etc. They get paid or receive what they need from their community. Be wise.

DataVoyager said...

All this reminds me of a line in the film "The Scarlet and the Black".

Msgr. O’Flaherty to a group of attractive Italian women:
“Ah, Comtessa, in my profession, there is safety in numbers.”