Why Celibacy is a Major Contributory Factor to Catholic Clerical Sexual Abuse

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The current popular view on the persistence of Clerical sexual abuse (CSA) in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) puts emphasis on the moral and psychological weaknesses of the individual priests rather than on the structural loopholes of the Church’s social network and control systems as a result of the imposition of celibacy to priestly life. What surfaced in many lawsuits against predator priests is the admission of many bishops think of CSA solely in terms of moral fault and sin (Doyle 2006).

Despite the growing scandals of CSA abuse involving priests and bishops around the world, the Catholic hierarchy still refuses to view the mandatory clerical celibacy as a disorganizing factor in the diocesan priestly life which deprives the secular clergy of social support and direct social control of their behavior which can resist CSA. Church authorities continue to understand clerical sexual abuse as mere moral and psychological aberrations of some problematic priests and bishops that need clinical treatment and spiritual direction.

priest using microphone
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Some prominent writers on CSA do not view the mandatory celibacy as connected to sexual misconduct by priests. Father Stephen Rosetti (2002), Father James Martin (2017), and Andrew Greely (2004), for instance, argued that celibacy is not the cause of the current CSA, especially child clerical sexual abuse (cCSA). Responding to the views that priests are more likely to be child molesters than others because they are celibate and that a celibate priesthood attracts a larger proportion of men with sexual problems, the priest-research professor and consultant to the papal Commission on the Protection of Minors Father Stephen Rosetti did not see mandatory celibacy as the cause of CSA and cCSA. He argued that researchers and clinicians have generally accepted the fact that celibacy does not cause child sexual abuse because the sexual difficulties and inner psychological problems that give rise to cCSA are largely in place long before a person enters into the formation process for a celibate priesthood.

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Father Martin too argued, celibacy is not the cause of CSA since celibacy does not cause pedophilia. To him, blaming celibacy is an enormous simplification that leaves out many important causes. He then enumerated some major causes of the Clerical sexual abuse: First, improper screening of candidates for seminaries led to some psychologically sick men being ordained as priests. When some bishops received reports of sexual abuse, the reports were tragically downplayed, dismissed or ignored. Second, the crimes of sexual abuse often went unreported to civil authorities, out of a misguided concern among church officials for “avoiding scandal,” the fear of litigation, or an unwillingness to confront the abusive priest. Third, grossly misunderstanding the severity of the effects of abuse, overly relying on advice from psychologists regarding rehabilitation, and privileging the concerns of priests over the pastoral care for victims, some bishops moved abusive priests from one parish to another where they repeatedly offended (Martin, 2017).

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Finally, the sociologist-priest Andrew Greely (2004) also dismissed the view that celibacy is to be blamed for the current CSA and cCSA in the RCC. This is his reaction to the argument to what he considered a simplistic view: “4 percent of Catholic priests are abusers. Priests are committed to celibacy. Therefore, the frustrations of celibate life led to abuse. Therefore, celibacy must be abolished.” He argued that most experts in sexual abuse of minors and children attribute CSA to a deep and incurable syndrome acquired early in life. Married priesthood won’t cure it. An abuser who marries is a married abuser (Greely, 2003).

These three clerical authors have rightly argued that clerical celibacy is not the direct cause of CSA in the RCC. Thus, abolishing celibacy for priests won’t stop the current clerical sexual misconduct. The obligatory celibacy is not the immediate cause of the CSA. They are right to say that celibacy does not produce pedophilia. But these authors were just responding to the view that simplifies a complex issue. This post argues that clerical celibacy is not the proximate and immediate cause of CSA but its main contributory factor for the persistence of CSA in the RCC, whether it involves minors or adolescents and adults both male and female. Celibacy provides diocesan clerics absolute privacy and deprives them of direct social control by family members if married priesthood is allowed in the Church which can greatly regulate priestly behavior and minimize opportunities for CSA. Pedophilia and child clerical sexual abuse could not be resolved by married priesthood but by a strict screening of candidates to the priesthood in the seminary and immediate dismissal from the clerical state for those guilty of cCSA.

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The causes mentioned above by Fr. Martin only underscores the lack of lay participation in the internal affairs of the Church. The screening of candidates, downplaying, dismissal, or ignoring of clerical sexual crimes are not done by the laity but bishops who have the sole authority to discipline erring priests in the Church. Furthermore, the avoidance of scandal by covering up CSA cases as well as reliance on psychologists and psychiatrists are common patterns done by bishops and clerics and not by the laity who have no authority to deal with abusive priests.

Celibacy is not the proximate cause of sexual abuse but can be considered as its ultimate cause. But from the point of view law enforcement or behavioral control, celibacy hinders the wider regulation of clerical behavior by the laity which can minimize opportunities for sexual deviance. It ultimately prevents effective clerical behavior as it disables the laity to participate in the internal management of the Church and monitor clerical behavior to prevent sexual misconduct in the Christian community.

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The Catholic Church requires ordination which is inseparable to celibacy to participate in ecclesiastical governance. This celibacy requirement obstructs the genuine lay empowerment in the Church which can greatly minimize CSA. Celibacy is the main stumbling block to the laity’s capability, as Vatican II recognized the realm of “secular world” such as surveillance of behavior, as experts in secular affairs who can effectively supervise priestly behavior and sanction sexual abuse. It also facilitates absolute privacy for clerical life and, thus, prone to clerical deviance with the lack of active regulation of priestly behavior by the laity which constitutes 99.9 percent of the total Catholic population.

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CSA is usually done in absolute privacy with priests who are usually alone with their victims. Compared to the religious priesthood, diocesan priesthood lacks an immediate clerical community which can provide mutual support and direct monitoring of clerical behavior. Child sexual abuse by pedophile priests is only a small percentage of the total cases of clerical sexual abuses in which the most common type is sexual abuse is done heterosexual or homosexual priests against adolescents and adults, such as rapes of nuns by priests which is not the focus of the current clerical sexual abuse investigations and media reports. Thus, a married priesthood is the appropriate response to this type of sexual abuse as family life can provide direct supervision or behavioral control of clerical behavior.

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6 Most Misunderstood Beliefs and Practices in the Catholic Church

confused GIFjesus church GIF

1. Venerating the Saints is Idolatry.

catholic GIF

Venerating the saints is not idolatry. Catholics are not actually praying to the saints but only honoring them as heroes of the Catholic faith and asking them to intercede for them to Christ. Catholics only worship God and not the saints according to official Church teachings. It’s true that worshiping material things is idolatry and a serious sin against God. But the statues inside the Church are mere symbols and representations of their personhood of the saints as true disciples of Christ, worthy of emulation. They help Catholics to recall their heroic deeds for God. A symbol, such as the statue, only points to the reality. The piece of wood or cement of the statue is not being worshiped by Catholics but only served as a visual aid to remind Catholics to imitate their extraordinary faith in Christ..

2. The Sacred Host in the Mass is only a Symbol.

amor GIF

For some Protestant Churches which use the sacred host in their public rituals, the consecrated host is only a symbol but not the reality itself. This is not the Catholic Church’s official teaching. For the Church, the consecrated host during the Mass is not just a symbol but the reality itself. Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the ordinary unleavened bread is transformed into the real Body of Christ after the consecration in the Eucharist.

catholic the exorcist GIF

“Transubstantiation is the process by which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist. The word transubstantiation is made up of two parts: ‘trans’ and ‘substantiation.’ The first part is a prefix that means ‘across’, ‘beyond’, or ‘through’. It suggests that some kind of change has taken place. The second part of the word, ‘substantiation,’ refers to the philosophical term substance. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, substance is a thing’s deepest being, what it is, in and of itself. The substance of a thing is what it really and truly is beyond all appearances” (Troolin). After the consecration of the priest, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3. The Personal and Moral Life of the Priest can Affect the Sacredness of the Mass He is Celebrating!

filipino GIF

It is true that persons who are ordained by Catholic bishops as priests remain human beings and sinners. But the sacrament of ordination has transformed them into ministers of Christ and the Church. What they are administering in the Church, such as the Eucharist and the sacraments, are not affected by their personal and immoral life as sinners. These public rituals are done by priests in the name of the Church of Christ and not in their own name and power. As ministers, they are only instruments, the real dispensers of divine grace in the sacraments is Christ Himself. Of course, it is ideal that the priest who administers the sacraments is also a holy person and a worthy human instrument of grace.

4. Direct Confession to God is Better than Confessing to the Priest.

confess hands up GIF by Andrew and Pete

Direct confession to God is usually done by Protestant and Christian churches. But the Catholic Church only allows direct confession for venial or minor sins. Grave or serious sins must be confessed to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the Gospels, following his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. After breathing upon them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23; see also Mt 18:18). The sacrament of reconciliation encourages us to go and to try to sin no more. This teaching is found also in Ephesians 4:25-32 and 1 John 1:5-10. By virtue of his ordination, the priest is authorized by the Church to forgive sins in the name of Christ.

5. Unbaptized Babies will go to Limbo!

hip hop happy dance GIF

“It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium….” (ITC).

“However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261) (Ibid).”.

6. Praying is Asking God’s Favor!

pray praying hands GIF by LL Cool J

Prayer is God’s gift. It has different forms. It is not always asking God’s favor. Not all prayers are petition or intercessory prayers. The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2259) describes the Church’s teaching on prayer as follows:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Troolin, A. (n.d.). Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/catholic-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-definition-lesson-quiz.html.

International Theological Commission (ITC) (n.d.). “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized”. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html.

Thank you for reading this post. Subscribe or follow this blog for more updates. God bless!

6 Most Misunderstood Beliefs and Practices in the Catholic Church

confused GIFjesus church GIF

1. Venerating the Saints is Idolatry.

catholic GIF

Venerating the saints is not idolatry. Catholics are not actually praying to the saints but only honoring them as heroes of the Catholic faith and asking them to intercede for them to Christ. Catholics only worship God and not the saints according to official Church teachings. It’s true that worshiping material things is idolatry and a serious sin against God. But the statues inside the Church are mere symbols and representations of their personhood of the saints as true disciples of Christ, worthy of emulation. They help Catholics to recall their heroic deeds for God. A symbol, such as the statue, only points to the reality. The piece of wood or cement of the statue is not being worshiped by Catholics but only served as a visual aid to remind Catholics to imitate their extraordinary faith in Christ..

2. The Sacred Host in the Mass is only a Symbol.

amor GIF

For some Protestant Churches which use the sacred host in their public rituals, the consecrated host is only a symbol but not the reality itself. This is not the Catholic Church’s official teaching. For the Church, the consecrated host during the Mass is not just a symbol but the reality itself. Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the ordinary unleavened bread is transformed into the real Body of Christ after the consecration in the Eucharist.

catholic the exorcist GIF

“Transubstantiation is the process by which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist. The word transubstantiation is made up of two parts: ‘trans’ and ‘substantiation.’ The first part is a prefix that means ‘across’, ‘beyond’, or ‘through’. It suggests that some kind of change has taken place. The second part of the word, ‘substantiation,’ refers to the philosophical term substance. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, substance is a thing’s deepest being, what it is, in and of itself. The substance of a thing is what it really and truly is beyond all appearances” (Troolin). After the consecration of the priest, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3. The Personal and Moral Life of the Priest can Affect the Sacredness of the Mass He is Celebrating!

filipino GIF

It is true that persons who are ordained by Catholic bishops as priests remain human beings and sinners. But the sacrament of ordination has transformed them into ministers of Christ and the Church. What they are administering in the Church, such as the Eucharist and the sacraments, are not affected by their personal and immoral life as sinners. These public rituals are done by priests in the name of the Church of Christ and not in their own name and power. As ministers, they are only instruments, the real dispensers of divine grace in the sacraments is Christ Himself. Of course, it is ideal that the priest who administers the sacraments is also a holy person and a worthy human instrument of grace.

4. Direct Confession to God is Better than Confessing to the Priest.

confess hands up GIF by Andrew and Pete

Direct confession to God is usually done by Protestant and Christian churches. But the Catholic Church only allows direct confession for venial or minor sins. Grave or serious sins must be confessed to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the Gospels, following his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. After breathing upon them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23; see also Mt 18:18). The sacrament of reconciliation encourages us to go and to try to sin no more. This teaching is found also in Ephesians 4:25-32 and 1 John 1:5-10. By virtue of his ordination, the priest is authorized by the Church to forgive sins in the name of Christ.

5. Unbaptized Babies will go to Limbo!

hip hop happy dance GIF

“It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium….” (ITC).

“However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261) (Ibid).”.

6. Praying is Asking God’s Favor!

pray praying hands GIF by LL Cool J

Prayer is God’s gift. It has different forms. It is not always asking God’s favor. Not all prayers are petition or intercessory prayers. The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2259) describes the Church’s teaching on prayer as follows:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Troolin, A. (n.d.). Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/catholic-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-definition-lesson-quiz.html.

International Theological Commission (ITC) (n.d.). “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized”. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html.

Thank you for reading this post. Subscribe or follow this blog for more updates. God bless!

6 Most Misunderstood Beliefs and Practices in the Catholic Church

confused GIFjesus church GIF

1. Venerating the Saints is Idolatry.

catholic GIF

Venerating the saints is not idolatry. Catholics are not actually praying to the saints but only honoring them as heroes of the Catholic faith and asking them to intercede for them to Christ. Catholics only worship God and not the saints according to official Church teachings. It’s true that worshiping material things is idolatry and a serious sin against God. But the statues inside the Church are mere symbols and representations of their personhood of the saints as true disciples of Christ, worthy of emulation. They help Catholics to recall their heroic deeds for God. A symbol, such as the statue, only points to the reality. The piece of wood or cement of the statue is not being worshiped by Catholics but only served as a visual aid to remind Catholics to imitate their extraordinary faith in Christ..

2. The Sacred Host in the Mass is only a Symbol.

amor GIF

For some Protestant Churches which use the sacred host in their public rituals, the consecrated host is only a symbol but not the reality itself. This is not the Catholic Church’s official teaching. For the Church, the consecrated host during the Mass is not just a symbol but the reality itself. Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the ordinary unleavened bread is transformed into the real Body of Christ after the consecration in the Eucharist.

catholic the exorcist GIF

“Transubstantiation is the process by which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist. The word transubstantiation is made up of two parts: ‘trans’ and ‘substantiation.’ The first part is a prefix that means ‘across’, ‘beyond’, or ‘through’. It suggests that some kind of change has taken place. The second part of the word, ‘substantiation,’ refers to the philosophical term substance. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, substance is a thing’s deepest being, what it is, in and of itself. The substance of a thing is what it really and truly is beyond all appearances” (Troolin). After the consecration of the priest, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3. The Personal and Moral Life of the Priest can Affect the Sacredness of the Mass He is Celebrating!

filipino GIF

It is true that persons who are ordained by Catholic bishops as priests remain human beings and sinners. But the sacrament of ordination has transformed them into ministers of Christ and the Church. What they are administering in the Church, such as the Eucharist and the sacraments, are not affected by their personal and immoral life as sinners. These public rituals are done by priests in the name of the Church of Christ and not in their own name and power. As ministers, they are only instruments, the real dispensers of divine grace in the sacraments is Christ Himself. Of course, it is ideal that the priest who administers the sacraments is also a holy person and a worthy human instrument of grace.

4. Direct Confession to God is Better than Confessing to the Priest.

confess hands up GIF by Andrew and Pete

Direct confession to God is usually done by Protestant and Christian churches. But the Catholic Church only allows direct confession for venial or minor sins. Grave or serious sins must be confessed to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the Gospels, following his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. After breathing upon them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23; see also Mt 18:18). The sacrament of reconciliation encourages us to go and to try to sin no more. This teaching is found also in Ephesians 4:25-32 and 1 John 1:5-10. By virtue of his ordination, the priest is authorized by the Church to forgive sins in the name of Christ.

5. Unbaptized Babies will go to Limbo!

hip hop happy dance GIF

“It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium….” (ITC).

“However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261) (Ibid).”.

6. Praying is Asking God’s Favor!

pray praying hands GIF by LL Cool J

Prayer is God’s gift. It has different forms. It is not always asking God’s favor. Not all prayers are petition or intercessory prayers. The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2259) describes the Church’s teaching on prayer as follows:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Troolin, A. (n.d.). Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/catholic-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-definition-lesson-quiz.html.

International Theological Commission (ITC) (n.d.). “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized”. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html.

Thank you for reading this post. Subscribe or follow this blog for more updates. God bless!

How Would You Feel If Life Turns Out Opposite from What You Plan?

How would you feel if your life is radically changed by society, opposite to what you want it to be?

change ahead

Most people are sincere to plan their life according to what they see as fit to their life goals and values. But sometimes, society and historical events alter this plan and turn it opposite or substantially different from what the person intends it be.

priest

I remember the late Father Diego whom I personally knew when we were still studying in the same college seminary. He was an intelligent, honest, and God-fearing seminarian. I  predicted that he would be a good and holy priest, judging from his personality and piety. Few years later, I heard that he was ordained priest and was doing well in his ministry.

priest2

But my prediction turned out to be totally different from what actually happened to him, some few years after his ordination. I didn’t expect the tragic ending of his life. He encountered personal and pastoral problems in his ministry as a diocesan priest. He met a woman whom he didn’t know to have secret vices. He left the priesthood and live with her. Soon he discovered that his partner had a secret relationship with another man, addicted to cigarettes and gambling. He also faced poverty after he left the ministry. As an ex-priest, he could not find a stable and high-paying job. He was also lonely and had lost contact with his brother priests and old friends in his parish.

As his personal and economic problems piled up, Father Diego suffered a serious stroke and became totally confined to a wheelchair. The infidelity of his partner intensified when he became totally disabled. Neglected with no money and friends who could help and cheer him up, Father Diego died at an early age of around 40 years old. What appeared to be a life of service and holiness for Father Diego became a life of suffering, frustration, and even excommunication by the Church he loved.

crossroad

The German sociologist Max Weber speaks about the 2 consequences of human action and decision: The intended and the unintended effects. The intended effect is the purpose of a person’s action, while the unintended effect is the unforeseen effect of his or her action. According to Weber, one cannot avoid the unintended effects of human action. What is intended by the actor for his or her life may be good and noble but because of historical events beyond control, the result of the action maybe negative or opposite to what he or she intended. Father Diego is a deeply religious and sincere person who intended to follow Christ and serve people in the Church. But because of problems and life circumstances beyond his control, what he intended for his life did not occur but the unintended consequences such as leaving the priesthood, neglect and infidelity of his girlfriend,  and frustration. Indeed, life can be cruel if one is not prepared for the future.

Photo credit: shutterstock

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