“Ask a Priest: Too friendly with the parish priest… What should my friend do?”

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Q: My married friend is in love with her parish priest and the feeling is pretty mutual. Her husband and her are pretty good friends with their priest, and they have been part of this parish for many, many years. I have told my friend that she needs to leave her parish if she wants her priest to remain a holy priest — there have been no indiscretions and I believe her. My friend has tried to keep her distance by not volunteering at church anymore, not attending confession there and trying not to interact. My friend wants to come clean with her husband, but I am afraid that will cause unnecessary hardship for everybody. What is the right thing for her to do? I am afraid the stress of this is going to destroy her. –A.S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: That there have been “no indiscretions” between your friend and the priest is cause for hope that the situation can be resolved. The first move is up to your friend.

You mention that she wants to “come clean” with her husband. She, not you, is the better judge of what is appropriate to tell her husband. By revealing the problem, she might actually create trust in her husband. He might appreciate how much she wants to be accountable for, and protected from, the snares of her secret affection — and how much she is relying on her spouse for help.

Once she does that, the husband might decide to confront the priest. That would not necessarily be a bad thing. It would help set the boundaries of behavior quite clearly, and the priest himself would be looking either to avoid the woman or to ask for a transfer to another parish.

In any case, you shouldn’t get directly involved in any of this. Don’t become a go-between — that can cause tremendous complications. If you feel the urge to intercede, do it with your prayers. And count on mine.

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