support group, church-sanctioned

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    Is there a Church-sanctioned support group for people who have been [i:151y1n3l]emotionally[/i:151y1n3l] abused by priests? I’ve been trying to return to my faith, but have HUGE trust issues with the Church. I think SNAP is a tad on the angry side for me (and perhaps rightfully so) and don’t know much about Faith In Action.

    But if one more priest tells me that whatever happened to me was okay, because he’s a priest and I’m not, and priests are justified in whatever they say and do, I’m walking away and NEVER coming back. :cry:


    Andres Ortiz

    Welcome to About Catholics.

    I am saddened to hear that you have not been treated very well by priests. <img src=” title=”Sad” /> I did some research and almost all of the abuse support groups that deal with Catholic priests are sexual abuse support groups. It doesn’t sound like this is what you are looking for.

    I checked into Faith in Action[/url:1dar8cez] and they seem to be more of a charity group that support group, but there might be more to them than what I saw.

    I found this site that might help:
    It looks like you should be able to use it to find some local support groups dealing with any kind of abuse or qualms with the Church. I hope it is useful for you.

    If none of that works I would suggest trying to meet with your local bishop and see if he knows of any support groups.

    Also, if you would like you can express yourself here. I am not a therapist of any nature (and perhaps you are not looking for one) but we are here to listen.

    I hope and pray that you will find a solution. <img src=” title=”Smile” />



    Thank you, Jon, for your prompt reply! Perhaps I should clarify.

    I went to a few months ago. They were supportive, but they said there isn’t much to be done about my situation but to pray for the priest.

    I live in a VERY conservative Archdiocese. When I called the Monsignor in charge of priests here, I never got past his secretary, who wanted details, names, etc. I have no interest in being a whistleblower…I just want to know how I’m supposed to feel comfortable in a Church that keeps abusing me. The diocesan priests I’ve spoken with say, “Well, whatever he did to you is fine, because he’s a priest, and you’re not.” Oh, and let’s not forget, “Never attack a priest, even if they treat you like dirt.” Gotta love the good ol’ boy system…or, not.

    The first priest I dealt with as an adult made my husband (who is not Catholic) and I jump through all kinds of hoops (baptism classes, private meetings, etc.), would not marry us (because my husband wouldn’t convert, even though he agreed to do EVERYTHING “Father” said), and baptized our oldest son under duress.
    I caught him at a Dunkin’ Donuts the following year with his gay lover, and confronted him. He said nothing, but shortly thereafter, his Bishop “disciplined” him by giving him a 3,000 member-strong parish in another part of the state. Hypocrite. <img src=” title=”Confused” />

    One of the priests inbetween was so burnt out on his vocation that he didn’t regularly show up at the hospital to give Last Rites. (I’m a nurse.) You can imagine how the families of the very ill feel!

    The last priest I dealt with was a fellow I thought I knew well enough to trust. We had worked together casually on volunteer projects for a couple of years when he started pestering me about my faith, and offered to give me spiritual direction. He told me to come back to Holy Mother Church…things had changed, and I could trust him…after all, we had actually gotten to be pretty good friends…or so I thought. It took me 8 months to decide to study with him. I told him I had to be able to trust him.

    One day, he just up and decided he didn’t want me around anymore. He literally started talking to me through gritted teeth, when he had to talk to me at all. He wouldn’t return phone calls, wouldn’t talk about his issues. I was devastated. I found out a few months later that he confessed to a friend that he had fallen in love with me, and he considered it MY fault, because I was too “sexual” in my approach to him. One of the things he considered sexual was sitting next to him in a pew, praying…if we said the Liturgy of the Hours together, he shared his prayer book, and our legs touched occasionally. I also gave him the occasional hug and kiss on the cheek, as I do ALL my friends and family , male AND female. Ooh! I’m SUCH a temptress! :rolleyes:

    Jon, I am built like a water buffalo. I’m about 75 lbs overweight. I don’t wear flowered shirts because they make me look like a [i:10k68gwm]sofa[/i:10k68gwm]! I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancies. I’ve been married almost 21 years. When he learned about the priest’s feelings for me, one of my teenaged sons said, “Mom, celibacy must have struck him blind!”

    Yet, unbelievably, I still feel drawn towards the Church. But now I can’t even bring myself to pray on a regular basis, and the thought of going to Mass terrifies me. <img src=” title=”Sad” /> And my husband doesn’t want me hurt anymore.

    Any ideas?

    God bless.


    Andres Ortiz

    Wow, those are some interesting stories! :shock: It is disheartening when a priest (or anyone for that matter) shows a lack of commitment, especially to their vocation.

    It sounds like these priests have many of their own issues to deal with and need some sort of support group just as you want a support group. Now, I am not going to make any excuses for any of them but they are only human and will make mistakes (even big ones like you or me). It must be tough being a priest, but these men have chosen to give in to their weaknesses. There are much better ways that the one priest could have approached you to say that he can no longer meet with you because of his personal feelings. I think I will add them to my prayer list just as I have added you because with God’s power we can all find healing.

    I am surprised Once Catholic didn’t recommend anything else. There has got to be some other people out there who have been hurt by priests (in non-sexual ways) that need support. Maybe you could initiate a support group. <img src=” title=”Wink” />

    I’m not much of a therapist and I have never been in your situation, but I think it’s important to separate God from the priests. Try not to let your relationship with other people disconnect you from God. God still loves you and wants you to stay connected. Maybe you could just try to say a small prayer for your family at a regular time each day or something. Do you have strong Catholic friends that you can share your experience with or other people in the Church you can trust?

    I will continue to pray for you for healing. <img src=” title=”Smile” />


    Andres Ortiz

    I will also add you to my prayer list. <img src=” title=”Very Happy” /> I second what Jon said about trying to separate God from your experiences with priests. It is good that you still have faith and interest in the Church. My advice (and you probably already know this) would be is to take it slow. It is not likely your fears of continuing to participate in the Church will vanish overnight, but take small steps. I also think that starting with short prayers is a good way to take those small steps.

    I can definitely understand your feelings and fears because of what you have been through in relation to your emotional abuse by priests. I will continue to keep you and the priests in my prayers.

    And remember, YOU are LOVED by God!



    Andres Ortiz

    Hi tee, did you find anything yet?



    Hiya, Jon…

    Well, I’m going to see the priest that subs for my former pastor on Tuesday. Sweet, older Jesuit guy. I told him that my need for counseling could take a while. I asked him how long he had…he said, “As long as it takes”, God love him.

    I tried to call a guy I knew in college who had become a priest, but he never returned my call OR email.

    My new spiritual director (the coolest nun in the universe) just says for me to sit and “be” for 20 minutes a day. I can’t even do that. I [i:96va3kr3]am [/i:96va3kr3]reading a GREAT book, called “Father Joe”, about the friendship between a monk and a man that started when the man was a teenager.

    It just seems like the more people I talk to, the more I hear that the Church is going backwards in terms of its approach to women, and also seems to be returning an aloof, autocratic approach to the faithful by the hierarchy. I have found this more in diocesan priests than in priests that belong to orders, but it’s still depressing.

    I just don’t know who or what to believe anymore.



    And ya know…just a thought…

    If this priest had “inappropriate feelings” for me, why couldn’t he just have TALKED to me about it? I mean, I think it’s just so[i:3as78wn1] juvenile [/i:3as78wn1]to NOT try to work things out with someone about whom you care that much!
    But noooo…I’m told that he was given the advice to dump on me and run by his spiritual advisor!

    I’m just a little bitter. I cared about the guy, (still do, though I’m angry) but like a little brother.

    And when I tried to find a support group for folks like me, I found out there isn’t one. Even SNAP didn’t return my email or call.


    Andres Ortiz

    [quote:1y76umjb]It just seems like the more people I talk to, the more I hear that the Church is going backwards in terms of its approach to women, and also seems to be returning an aloof, autocratic approach to the faithful by the hierarchy. I have found this more in diocesan priests than in priests that belong to orders, but it’s still depressing.[/quote:1y76umjb]

    I’ll agree with you on that one. It seems the diocesan priests (in my area anyway) are becoming more and more conservative. The parish that I currently attend (but will only be doing so for another month because I will be moving and is the one I went to in college) is run by the Paulists and they are not conservative. They are more middle-left. I definitely see differences between them and many of the diocesan priests.

    [quote:1y76umjb]If this priest had “inappropriate feelings” for me, why couldn’t he just have TALKED to me about it? I mean, I think it’s just so juvenile to NOT try to work things out with someone about whom you care that much!
    But noooo…I’m told that he was given the advice to dump on me and run by his spiritual advisor! [/quote:1y76umjb]

    You are right. Apparently he wasn’t mature enough to handle it. <img src=” title=”Sad” />

    It’s great to see you are forging other relationships and trying to talk with people for support. <img src=” title=”Smile” />

    Personal question: since you went to Marquette are you from the Milwaukee area?



    Hello Tee.

    Upfront I want to apologize- I had been following your posts and a while ago I wrote a long response only to have it terminated when my computer went down. I tend to be a bit superstitious about that happening- because I do get very “wordy” sometimes in my attempts to help.

    So I will see what thoughts are still with me regarding your posts. To begin, my husband and I fell away from the church for a while. To put it in a nutshell—I believed very much in God- but the behaviors that we witnessed both at mass and apart from it by catholics just disturbed us. I did not know if I wanted my christian beliefs to be associated with the poor behaviors I witnessed……..time elapses we have a family and I sit in on RCIA sessions when our daughters were young.

    I am kind of equating my feelings about ‘the church’ with your feelings about the organization and pastors of the church. Incidently your experiences also remind me of how some people have all the luck, (bad luck) in particular areas of life. Do you know what I mean? I have one friend who all thru high school , college and her first marriage, had bad experiences with men, other folks I know have all the run ins with legal stuff, or perhaps health. I really feel for you and the negative experiences you have had

    my reaction is to say that this really does color your world a certain hue.

    Back to my time sitting in on RCIA-the deacon who led them(and later became very good friends with our family) said to me…DO NOT LET THE POOR BEHAVIOURS OF OTHER CHRISTIANS WATER DOWN YOUR OWN FAITH. I put that in caps because it has had by far the biggest impact on my faith journey. It was like ‘aha-right- I have faith-it is a God given faith, and why should I let anyone else take that away??!!)

    am I still disturbed by the behaviors that once led me away? You bet I am, but now I see myself as wanting to serve God the way that HE would like me to serve Him, and try to influence others to believe in Jesus.

    As recently as the last two years an aquaintance who I work with in our parish- a person who by the way drives me crazy with his own seemingly contradictive behaviors, said at a meeting

    Jesus came for sinners-they are the ones who need Him (people without sin don’t need Him). Pow! if that wasn’t God directing me thru the words of someone I don’t particularly like and making me see things in a new light!.

    As you can see I am correct in worrying about the wordiness of my replies, so I will see what you think of this before I say more.

    Also I don’t know If I am just on a different wavelength but I just don’t feel the holding back of women in the church-perhaps not because it does not exist but because I personalize my time with Jesus-imagining how He related to women most beautifully in the scriptures. In my own little life when I am serving or trying to serve God I just don’t have time to think about others that would seem to be holding me back. Look to the saints Tee, the female saints, most of them really got a bum rap with hierarchy but God supplied them with everything they needed to accomplish His will.

    My prayers are with you Tee.



    I do not have much to add. I just wanted to say that I attend the Paulist home church (St. Paul the Apostle) in New York City and they are definitely different from the diocesan priests I know in Arizona.


    Andres Ortiz

    [quote:36w368pa]I do not have much to add. I just wanted to say that I attend the Paulist home church (St. Paul the Apostle) in New York City and they are definitely different from the diocesan priests I know in Arizona.[/quote:36w368pa]

    in what ways?



    Hi Everyone..and thanks for the welcome, Jon.

    In reference to tee’s situation, my best advice would be to forgive this priest for his failings and forget it. You will be amazed at the grace you will receive from that simple act.



    Left and Right. Part of it is due to the Paulist mission of evangelizing North America; to most they seem very friendly; to me they seem to compromise at times.


    Andres Ortiz

    Yes, I have noticed the same thing – a bit of compromise. Not sure if I mentioned this, but my parish here is run by the Paulists so I have had much experience working with them. Some are different than others (of course) but I do see the compromise thing.



    Hi, all, and thanks for the encouragement! <img src=” title=”Smile” />

    When I was a kid, my family had tons of clergy as friends. It was no big deal. But now I’m told that the only people that newly minted (diocesan, at least) priests are really ALLOWED to befriend are [i:npcala24]other priests[/i:npcala24]!

    Oh, yeah…and I talked to a priest last week about the whole situation with my ex-pastor. He said, “Young lady, do you realize how DANGEROUS women are to a single, celibate man?” Again, I felt like I was blamed by the Church for my ex-pastor’s issues. :cry:

    Maybe I’d feel better letting the whole issue go, but I’m afraid to even [i:npcala24]trust[/i:npcala24] another priest again. That’s part of the reason why I haven’t been able to pray, or to set foot in a church since all this happened.

    Whaddya think?



    Hello again Tee, and other website friends, it is good to see all the response. But I see that Tee posts at 4am on mycomputer time, and Jon at 2 am, :shock:

    Tee-from my perspective-DON’T be afraid to PRAY. In prayer you talk out your thoughts, problems, and desires to your Heavenly Father who will never forsake you. A little aside; in CCD class we have been borrowing a lesson from somewhere and using it consistantly, that is instructing our students to commit A.C.T.S. of prayer. A=adoration,C=contrition,T=thanksgiving,S=supplication(requests). If you will notice the Lord’s Prayer is a simple short prayer that contains all those elements.

    At the moment I have not much to reply to the rest of your latest post(excuse me I don’t have the techno-know how to highlight parts of others posts), I do empathize with your one comment though regarding the comment of the pastor who told you to realize what a temptation women are to celibate men (or I suppose non-celibate also). I empathasize because many times I ponder why it seems we all seem to pay the price for the entrance of sexual misuse and abuse into the world. It does seem to cloud up the gifts we have of nurturing and demonstrating affection to one another.

    Just a thought.
    And I hope you early birds get some rest. <img src=” title=”Wink” />

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