From the comment box, a message on priestly celibacy and the Fr. Francis Mary Case from Fr. Joe:

I think such a priest would be welcomed back but I would have preferred that he made no public statement. People think the worse and might suppose he has committed mortal sin…which we do not know, do we? Nothing sexual might have happened. It could be an internal turmoil only. Not knowing the details of the case, I can say little.

If he attempts marriage then he places himself and a person he says he loves into a seriously sinful state. It angers me that men can reject Church law and teachings when it suits their selfishness. If he maintains a brother-sister relationship until (or if) laicization is offered, at least then he shows some respect to the Church and concern about her soul.

Broken promises are always a scandal. But as of right now, has he literally gone “over the wall”? Maybe the discernment is a spiritual and psychological one that is directed to his return as a good priest to ministry? I have known many men who suffered because of the heart-strings, but desperately fought to preserve their priesthood. Such men sometimes seek time off and counsel in order to cope with the emotional upset. After they are done crying into their pillows, and if they regard their priestly promises as permanent, they come back to ministry. Yes, they will be wounded healers, but most priests are in some way or another.

Real healthy men…heterosexuals in the priesthood are attracted to women. They make a promise of celibate love and by discipline, prayer and grace, they live out this life of loving service. They might fall in love…heck, they might fall in love with a number of nice women in their lifetimes…but they remain steadfast. Older and wiser men recognize the signs and make distance, even becoming gruff or mean to women they particularly like. This is often misinterpreted. But it has to be done. If a priest falls deeply in love with a woman in a romantic way, he must abandon her friendship and any affiliation with her. He must not play games that will lead the both of them into disaster. He must say goodbye. Often he will not and should not tell the woman why they cannot remain associates or “friends”. He must love her enough to let her go. There is something of sacrifice and the cross about this. It is as it must be. We need men who have a single-hearted love for God and devotion to the Church. As new Christs, they take the Church as their spouse. Once the promise is made, they must not think again that they are free like other men. Fantasies must be guarded and brushed aside. No time for envying other men or feeling sorry for oneself can be allowed. They have surrendered their intimacy and their sexuality to God– case closed.

God give us strong priests with conviction and faith!