Monday, 20 July 2015

More on ex-priests and ex-nuns as teachers

A priest writes (starting with a quotation from my blog earlier today, here):

“I am not saying that no ex-priest or ex-nun should ever be employed as a teacher.”

This was indeed the case pre-Vatican II.

It might have seemed rather harsh – but I suspect that the reasons for it were as follows:

  1. To avoid sending mixed messages to children. A priest makes promises for life – like a married couple.
  2. Some (not all) former priests and nuns may disagree with the Magisterium on some matters of faith or morals.
  3. Some (not all) former priests and nuns may have lost their faith.

Nowadays (so I am told by those who are more knowledgeable than me) former priests and nuns may become teachers at a Catholic School – on a case by case basis.

But obviously great prudence and care is needed to avoid scandalising children.

Sadly I suspect great prudence and care are not always taken.




On the side of the angels said...

Actually Pre-vatican II [and technically pre-1983 but the 1917 canon was just so ignored]
Laicised priests were technically not allowed to be anything.
Most certainly not heads or employees of Catholic institutions or administrative/teaching apostolates or even trustees. But they were allowed to be hired as laymen for the missions, mission-apostolates, hospitals etc.
Certainly they were proscribed from any parish involvement whatsoever.
BUT There are two factors:
a] the majority of Catholic Priests being laicised were NOT due to being in a position of not wishing to fulfil their vocation to the Priesthood or wishing to marry - but rather they personally felt they were unable and incapacitated to fulfil their role in the priesthood due to wartime physical injury or shellshock - or even feeling they had a duty of care to relinquish their ministry to raise orphaned children of relatives killed in action or the bombings - or to return home [eg mainly Ireland] to seek employment to support widowed/orphaned/elderly extended family who were unprovided for. It was very much more an altruistic 'sacrifice' for the sake of others than self-indulgent crises of faith or compromised celibacy.
b] There was ironically significantly more duty of care for laicised priests - especially among some of the networked aristocratic families [with the unofficial guidance of a few clerics] who saw it as their moral duty to provide some extended form of support - and not only this many, many charities and apostolates [SVP, Legio Mariae etc] had provisional bursaries for ex clerics or nuns in such circumstances - to reach out to them and ensure they had meaningful means of employment and support [as one presumes it might have been socially awkward and inappropriate for official Catholic bodies to engage in such activities - there was an extended pseudo-apostolate]

..of course as the years progressed post WW2 the amount of priests abandoning the priesthood to marry or for irreconcilable spiritual, faithful or moral crises increased and assistance for 'their lot' becane nuch more localised and discretionary and some were provided with opportunities to succeed in white collar establishments while others had to become utterly anonymous and start outside life from scratch.

I'm sure Ttony will be able to provide many details - but yes - the rules were much more stringent and draconian and restrictive/isolating from any comparative 'Catholic authority' role elsewhere - but it was a different world then - and a much more influential and efficacious 'unofficial' Catholic administrative network existed [with the nod from the hierarchy] - I suppose one might call it real lay-empowerment - as opposed to the phoney empowerment we see today.

FrereRabit said...

It is always interesting when this question comes up. I shall not need to make my answer three times as long as your original post...(Hello Paul!) ...but simply say that my experience teaching in Catholic schools in Kent is that very few children are interested in religion at all. Nor would any of them be interested in the priestly or religious background of a teacher. Few parents would be bothered. The issues around the case in question are much wider and this aspect is being grossly overplayed.