Priests: Presumed Guilty

Written by   (author of Obvious Conclusions)

Most Priests Have Dedicated Their Lives to Helping Others My uncle just came by for a visit.  My uncle is a priest, a Jesuit priest no less.  If you want to get technical, they’re super-priests.

My uncle has like 5 masters degrees.  Jesuits are uber-educated as they have to study for like 13 years before becoming full-fledged Jesuits.  It’s great-you to get to keep going to school well beyond when you’re suppose to stop going to school and get a job.  Your only trade-off for this?  A lifetime vow of poverty and celibacy.

I hate that priests are getting such a bad rap these days.  My experience has been so completely different.

When I was younger, my uncle and his friends would always come by the house on Sunday night.  I always thought they were the most interesting people to talk to…and the most fun!  They would congregate out on the back porch with their cocktails and cigarettes laughing and talking philosophy all night.  And they had so much insight, which I gather came from the extra 13 years that they were able to study.

I remember always subtly sneaking out to the back porch.  I wanted to be among these fun, intelligent people.  I think the things that they are required to give up forces them towards some other vices; namely, alcohol and cigarettes.  Though they always had cocktails, I never saw them drunk or with slurred speech.  Sometimes, I did not understand them only because they used such big words and I was like 10 years old.

I am not married and many people would say that I am of the age in which I should get married.  To top it off, I live in San Francisco.  Thus, people (except those in San Francisco), make assumptions that I am gay.

“You’re single, 39, and live in San Francisco?”  Oh ok, you see their little brain cells percolating, I get it

The other thing that one or two people have said:  “Maybe you should become a priest.”

I’m not sure these people were aware of my current lifestyle.  It would be fair to say that it’s not priestly in some respects. 

Why do people feel that it’s not a reasonable choice to stay single?  I look at all of my single friends and I have not quite seen a happier lot.  Many of them have expressed guilt to me that they feel they live too enjoyable.  Perhaps that’s why people don’t understand their choice.  Sometimes, it’s much easier to live with extra burdens.  It gives your life complaint material and so you’ll never be bored.

One of my favorite authors, Augusten Burroughs, is gay.  He writes short stories and, in one of them, he brings up priestly indiscretions.  In an odd twist, he enjoyed his “encounters” with priests because he was attracted to older men.

When people grow up Catholic, they often feel guilty and sometimes righteous.  Reading a short story about a priest engaged in oral sex with a young man is outright offensive to them.  It’s probably offensive for two reasons:  (1) You can’t talk bad about a priest and (2) Being gay is wrong in the eyes of most Catholics.  This short story would make most of them wince.

It made me wince at first, but the humor won out rather quickly.  Catholic guilt never took hold on me as tightly as it did on others.

Having grown-up with priests around me, and never having anything but positive experiences with all of them, I don’t like it when people read an article about a priest and then assume all priests are pedophiles or predators.  Most of them have genuinely given their lives to help other people. 

Priests are also human and therefore fallible.  There are certainly priests who have been guilty of the accused crimes.  However, statistics suggest that, percentage wise, priests are far less likely to commit these acts than the average man you would meet on the street.

I am just one person and wanted to share my positive experiences with all the priests with whom I have come in contact.  My memories are of respectful, supremely-intelligent, and fun people who I love to be around.

To accuse them of all being pedophiles is like accusing all single people of being gay… 

Or wanting to become priests!

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Richard Cummings

Richard Cummings is writer, traveler, and web content developer.

Get your copy of his latest book entitled Obvious Conclusions, stories of a Midwestern emigrant influenced and corrupted by many years living in San Francisco and abroad. It just received its first outstanding review "...reminiscent of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs" on Amazon UK.
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Richard CummingsPriests: Presumed Guilty

Comments 2

  1. a. friend

    Well said Ricardo. I concur with almost everything you wrote. I might add that some of us who are married may also get the feeling that those of you who are single have your own hang-ups about us (ie: we took the easy route or did what we were suppossed to do or our lives are less examined than those of a single person). While married folks may have more “complaint material” I would venture to say that those of us with children experience a deeper joy than those without. Either way, don’t believe that our lives are less examined. Anyway, wasn’t it Erasmus who wrote, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” But yet he was more famous for claiming, “ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.” Which is it? I guess it is what you want it to be.

  2. Pingback: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina: A Great Selection for Pope! - Live Your Way

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