Can I leave the priesthood if I want, and is there any support if I do?
When a man is ordained he makes a commitment for life. No priest, obviously, would undertake this commitment lightly. But sometimes, hopefully in rare cases, an ordained priest finds himself in crisis and unable to cope. It is important that he receive appropriate help to negotiate the crisis and overcome his difficulties. Such help is readily available through diocesan and religious institutes.
However, in some exceptional situations, a priest may ask to leave the priesthood (this is called ‘laicisation’). It is not always easy to attain laicisation; each case is carefully examined locally and in Rome before a decision with regard to laicisation is made.
If a priest is laicised, he will of course receive compassionate support from his diocese or Religious Institute to negotiate the transition to the lay state. Financial support as well as pastoral support will be available in such cases, depending on the resources and means of the diocese or Religious Institute to which the now former priest is affiliated.
Most popular questions
- I feel I have a specific charism to youth outreach. Can I live this charism out as a priest, or must I follow the charism of the order I join?
- If I request information about joining a religious organisation, will I be pressured into joining?
- Can I become a bishop or cardinal and not a priest?
- I read stories of religious communities merging or closing down. Are religious organisations dying out?
- Can a gay man become a priest?
- I do not consider myself to be exceptionally holy, I try to pray every day and follow the commandments. I have always been very interested in the priesthood but I have never felt a burning passion for it. Could I still be called to the priesthood?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?
- If I take a vow of celibacy, will I get very lonely?
- If I become a priest can I decide where I go and what I do?
- The idea of public speaking is very challenging to me and I avoid it if possible. How can I be a priest when I hate public speaking?