What Are a Few Struggles Catholic Priests Face When They Leave the Priesthood?


Quick Answer

Catholic priests leaving the priesthood face financial, emotional and spiritual struggles. For most priests, the priesthood is not just a job but an identity; leaving that identity can lead to many transitional struggles.

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What Are a Few Struggles Catholic Priests Face When They Leave the Priesthood?
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Full Answer

Catholic priests have a specialized education unique to the skills and knowledge required for the job. Priests receive training in theology, philosophy, preaching and counseling, and these skills do not always translate into marketable skills in job market outside of the church. Thus in some cases it is difficult for former Catholic priests to find gainful employment in the secular world without further education and training.

The Catholic Church teaches that ordination to the priesthood leaves an indelible mark on the soul of the priest that changes his identity at the very core, so when a priest transitions out of this role, questions of identity often arise. In many cases a priest's social circle consists of colleagues in the priesthood and members of the parish. As a priest transitions out of the priesthood, these relationships change and sometimes end, leaving the former priest in a social and relational vacuum.

A priest who does not leave the Church may have difficulty adjusting to his new status and defining his relationship to the Church. A priest's relationship with God is closely tied to his identity as a priest. When this identity changes, the former priest may have difficulty sorting out his relationship with God.

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