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    Posted February 11, 2013 by
    St. Gallen, Switzerland
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Catholics: Your views on new pope

    Former Priests

    I am a former priest, who left because I could not bear the burden of celibacy. In all honest and truth, I approached my Bishop telling him of my decision, a decision which took almost a year to reflect and pray about. My Bishop the moment I just set with him to narrate my story, he went out furious and declared that I needed to go and pray. But I had no time, my decision was to inform him of what I had already decided. Anyhow, since I had made my decision, I just left and went away. The time I left, I had already had our first child and for me I felt impregnating a woman and moreso having a child with her was a an extremely serious responsibility which in my view even though priesthood is a sacred calling, it had to take precedence due to one major reason. I had the privilege of growing up with both my parents and I really felt honoured by my parents that despite all the hardships and challenges in their marriage, they realised the seriousness of taking care of us, united had more weight than living separate lives. I thought how I would feel, greeting the faithful, peace be with you and yet my own child is crying and asking about the whereabouts of her own father. To be honest, I do not know how I could have reconciled those two elements. It was impossible for me to really comprehend. That is the reason I left and looking back at my decision, I feel that was the best decision I have ever made.
    Since the time I left till, now I felt the pain of rejection, misunderstood, neglected by the Church authorities as well as exclusion from becoming a normal Catholic again. It is now 6 years since I left and in this time, I have tried everything possible to try and organise for my laicisation, but the powers that be have always frustrated by efforts every step on the way to such an extend that now I feel hopeless to continue pursuing my issue. What makes it worse is that I am not allowed to receive the sacraments due to the canonical rule which forbids people who are not in good standing with the Church to receive those sacraments. Again, what bothers me as is well is the fact that, deciding to marry is a normal human act which in my view should be understood and even welcome given that it is a calling to even more challenging responsibilities which help the Church and society. Priesthood is a calling you freely respond to but when you later realise that due to human weakness, you cannot continue to carry on and you decide to leave, in my view you pay a heavy price since you will have nothing to do with the Church and the Church has nothing to do with you, you are stripped of everything even to the extend that even what you studied for so long will just not help any more, the case could be different in Europe and other parts of the world, but this reality is faced by priests who leave priesthood in Africa. What this phenomenon does is that it promotes more problems since many priest even if they have children will not dare come into the open for fear of the worst that could befall them. Particularly, in Africa, this has created a situation where you try to hide whatever misdeeds that happens for fear of loosing almost everything, livelihood, prestigious position, influence and relevance. In my personal view, I think this problem will befall Africa very soon if the Church authorities fail to tackle this issue with the necessary wisdom and courage. It is a time bomb ready to explode.
    I do appreciate the Church sanctions, but in my view, the laws of the Church must not be used as a weapon of punishment but as a way to try and remedy the problem and winning back the sinner back into the fold of Christ. Bishops in Africa have tremendous power at their disposal, and if one particular Bishop wants to make the life of a former priest miserable, he can do it. This does not mean that there is no way to make a recourse, but the process is just not an easy one to such an extend that even if one is willing after leaving priesthood to get dispensation, many just disappear and live life outside the union with the Church. There are many in this situation today.
    However, is to become the next Pope, has to try and help the situation. Former priests, especially those from Africa and perhaps I also speak of a problem not peculiar to Africa alone, needs help. All they need is to be in good standing with the Church such that even the families they lead will not feel like the Church has turned its back on them just because of the sins of their fathers. They are suffering a great deal as well and I do not think the Church want to be seen in this light. The whole process of laicisation is so much complicated and complex in the terms of procedures and processes and even open to abuse by the authorities that are.

    I hope and pray that somebody will see and read this story as well as publish it so that former priests can be assisted. I am personally ready to be interviewed so that help may be offered for many former priests and religious who have felt excluded and neglected by the very Church they served and dearly love.
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