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?
- What can I do as a priest that I cannot do as a layperson working for a charity or NGO?
- Why are there so many different religious organisations?
- 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?
- If I become a priest, will I be living with mostly elderly men?
- Would entering a religious community mean that I would have to sever my relationships with family and friends?
- As a priest if I decide that I no longer want to do something, such as work in a specific parish, do I have any say or is it all out of my hands?
- I hear my local priest say in his homily that there’s a shortage of priests in Ireland, is there really a shortage of priests?
- I’m very attracted to women. Will this pass with time and training or will I always be tempted?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?