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?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?
- Are religious orders different from one another? If so, how are they different?
- I read stories of religious communities merging or closing down. Are religious organisations dying out?
- What can I do as a priest that I cannot do as a layperson working for a charity or NGO?
- What if I change my mind about being a priest during training or things just don’t work out? How do I pick my life back up again?
- As a priest, will I get to see and talk with family and friends regularly?
- What does discernment mean when we’re talking about vocation?
- Do religious communities offer a trial period?
- Why would anybody become a priest nowadays?