25 January 2011

Leave the Poor Priest Alone

I'm not talking about bugging the priest to do this or that thing that should be part of his job, if you think he's not doing it properly (although there are probably some people who need to stop that, too). I'm talking about stalking him.

On Saturday night, we had a nice dinner with Fr. M and some other friends. Fr. M confided in us, without offering any identifying information, that he has a couple of women who are more-or-less stalking him. They show up in his office without an appointment, seem to follow him everywhere, give him excessive numbers of presents. I think many priests, perhaps especially young and good-looking ones, become the victims of this kind of behavior.

I know as well as anyone that people sometimes develop inappropriate crushes. I don't know if women are more prone to this than men, although I do know that there seems to be more of a phenomenon of women who hang around priests and seminarians than of men who hang around nuns and novices. Maybe the priests and seminarians are just out there, accessible in the world, and the nuns aren't. At any rate, at some point a woman, especially a lonely woman, might develop a crush on a priest or seminarian. If you are that woman, or know someone who is, repeat after me: Leave Him Alone. His life is hard enough without you making it more difficult. If he is a good priest, or a seminarian who is confident in his vocation, you'll just take up time he could be spending doing his job, studying or helping people who really need his help. If he is weak in his vocation, and likely to be tempted to give in to your inappropriate requests, then he's not the sort of man you should be pursuing anyway. If he can't be faithful to his vocation as a priest, then he might not be faithful to you either, if he left the priesthood for you.

So, if you develop an inappropriate crush, don't hang around him. Bring it up in confession with some other priest, or with your psychiatrist or a very trustworthy friend, if you really need to talk about it. Otherwise, keep it to yourself, get a new hobby, and try to stop thinking about it. Leave the priest alone.

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