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“Ask a Priest: Should I Help Out at CCD If I Am Living With My Boyfriend?”
Q: I am 22 years old and I have been very involved in my parish community since second grade. I have been volunteering in the CCD office for the past 10 years. I’ve been having issues at home and so has my boyfriend of two years (he has a very bad living situation). So we recently decided to get a place together. Yesterday at CCD I was approached by a fellow helper on how I have to stop helping, because I won’t be living the faith. Should I continue helping or stop helping? It has me very upset. -E.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It is good to hear that you have so involved in your parish. You are, no doubt, something of a model for the young people are you teaching.
Because of your status, you might enjoy something of a high-profile presence in your community. That is why your decisions can have a big impact on those around you.
Your decision to share a residence with your boyfriend is precisely one of those things that gets noticed and raises eyebrows.
Whether or not you are having intimate relations with your boyfriend, the very fact that you are living together is causing scandal at the parish. People likely assume that you and he are having sex without the benefit of marriage. It’s probably for that reason that you are being asked to reconsider your work at CCD.
Two numbers from the Catechism might be worth quoting here:
2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.
2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. [end quoted material]
You might want to consider alternative living arrangements as soon as possible. Living in the same place with your boyfriend can constitute a near occasion of sin for the both of you, in addition to the scandal it already seems to be provoking.
I realize that you might have entered this living arrangement with the best of intentions. It is understandable that we want to get away from difficult family situations. But prudence and discretion is called for in cases such as this one, so as not to undermine all the work you have done over the years in CCD.
One of the best ways to teach youngsters about the faith is through example – and that means not only doing the right thing, but also avoiding doing things that could be perceived as wrong. This might be just such a case. To continue working at CCD when you are living with your boyfriend would undercut the very message you are trying to get across. Think about it.
I pray that you make a prudent decision quickly, trusting in God’s providence.