It was sort of therapeutic to write this. It is my advice to any woman who has a close relationship with a priest who will forever remain theologically bound to the priesthood.
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The woman may hope that the priest is in a discernment period during these cycles—and he may well be. Many priests have left the priesthood to become husbands and (true) fathers, men of faith and family. But, it is typically up to the woman to introduce the subject because the priest has too much to lose if he initiates the conversation and the woman rejects him. He usually will not take that chance.
So, the woman should "ask." Ask what his intentions are. In this day and age, most priests do not have the theology or confidence to leave and will choose the priesthood over marriage. The only healthy thing for both, once it’s clear he’s made his decision, is for the woman to "tell" him goodbye "and go." This of course is hard as hell, and nearly impossible for some. But it's the only choice that can eventually be made, and take it from one who has been there and done that, the woman is better off breaking contact as soon as possible once she has received his unequivocal "no" response.
Due to the extreme difficulty for both to part so suddenly, there is usually some lingering and false hope—for her, that he will see the light and reject celibacy, and for him, that she will continue to be his proxy girlfriend while he remains in his priestly vocation. If a woman feels her vocation is marriage, then this would require him to forsake his vocation so that she can gain hers, or, she would have to give up her vocation for him to keep his. Hence, the added emphasis of "run" and "leave." If you are the woman, I strongly urge you to do just that right away. Otherwise you're in for a world of pain, or rather, additional pain, since you're already emotionally damaged for the short term, and possibly for the long term.
Next, comes acceptance. The woman will want to make excuses for him and will probably always love him. But never forget that "yes he did use you." Emotionally, sexually, to meet his unmet needs—and in doing so, the priest along with his "bride" Catholicism, has also damaged the woman spirituality to some extent.
And, intentionally or not, he did this by manipulating, lying, and robbing a woman of her self-worth, manipulating her into believing there was the possibility of a true relationship, and finally, lying—to her, to himself, and to anyone he talks to—by saying that she never meant a thing to him. In his defense, the priest may not even realize that he is doing this—he is probably living out the fantasy in his mind that the woman he loves is his wife and that he’s making a sacrificial love to her by saving both their souls so they can be together in heaven. Catholicism feeds him this worldview. So he is not only manipulating the woman, lying to her and robbing her of her self worth—he is doing these very same things to himself.
After a woman lays the situation out for what it is, and gives a necessary ultimatum of either growth in the relationship or an end to it, the priest's first reaction is going to be fear. Fear of his reputation, his job, his reliance on the Catholic church for his livelihood. He masks this with anger, lashes out at the woman frantically, proving his weakness under the shadows of celibacy by trying to exert a false power. Again, the woman must accept that this is the case, and go through the grieving process. By “accepting,” I don’t mean “agreeing” with it. I mean, facing the truth, and eventually understanding why this is his initial reaction.
Later, the priest may apologize, and even believe that he is sorry. But what he is sorry for is his harsh reaction, not any of his other actions. He’s still steeped in the Church’s man-made rule of celibacy and holds himself on the pedestal of Jesus and St. Paul.
- If the two of you were very close and he consistently broke rules such as spending time alone with you at your house in secrecy, he’ll tell himself that “it was just a close friendship.”
- If he led you on emotionally, he’ll think, “But she KNEW I am a priest—how dare she think I could be a husband?”
- If the two of you were sexual up to Base 3, he’ll say to himself, “Yes, but we didn’t go ‘all the way’ to Base 4.”
- If it was oral sex, he’ll say, “But at least it wasn’t intercourse.”
- If you went to Base 4 and he pulled out early, he’ll still consider himself “celibate.”
- If it was intercourse, he’ll say, “But I went to confession and am absolved, plus she tempted me.”
- If he gets the woman pregnant, he’ll expect her to either have an abortion to protect his reputation or will simply tell her to go on her merry way and he will have nothing more to do with his lover or his own child.