“Ask a Priest: What If a Priest Flaunts a Rolex?”

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Q: Recent snowbirds, we found a parish in our small town, but the priest is causing me concern. Different culture, so that may be why. He celebrates with a large platinum chalice, just bought a new luxury vehicle, shows off his Rolex watch and lives in an upscale gated community. He proudly shows his stipend check to members, and recently he based his homily on the “camel through the eye of a needle” Gospel passage in a way that seemed to skirt the Scripture. Our parish back home was pastored by a great down-to-earth man. He saved for many years to buy an older Dodge Charger, a car he had always wanted. I guess the difference bothers me, and I recall the bishop in Germany that the Pope had move from his “palace” and into the rectory. Bottom line: Am I being overly critical? I certainly have my share of sins but find it hard to get past the observed excess. – C.Y.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: What you describe is not the ideal situation by any means.

A diocesan priest, even if he doesn’t strictly take a vow of poverty, is expected to live modestly. This helps keep him from being too attached to material goods. It also helps him to be mindful of the poor and to share his resources with them. It also, of course, helps to avoid scandal.

Maybe the best thing is to simply pray for this priest. With all the other problems the Church faces, it might not help the parish or the diocese to make this high-living lifestyle a public issue right now.

Perhaps as you get to know the priest and win over his confidence, you might drop a suggestion at an opportune time. But this takes patience. In the meantime your prayers would help.

It might also help you to focus on the good: He is still a priest, still celebrating the sacraments, and he might have some real virtues in other areas of his life.

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