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bitterbetrayal posted 11/3/2013 18:28 PM

I would really like your opinions about this. My WH is a priest in the Church of England. When he was ordained by his bishop many years ago he made vows to God and his bishop. He also made marriage vows to me in church. He did a variety of jobs in the church,including army and school chaplaincy before becoming a vicar/minister of a large church. After one year as the vicar he started an EA in 2006 which lasted nearly three years. He then had an PA with another women for four months in 2009 which ended because I found out just before our 25th wedding anniversary. So for nearly three and a half years he stood in the pulpit reciting the Ten Commandments 'do not commit adultery' preaching, blessing the bread and wine, counselling people and everything else you would expect as vicar. Everyone worshiped the ground he walked on. He was adored and loved. Only two couples ever knew what happened. We left a year after I discovered his affair. He never told his bishop.He is now working as a chaplain in a school which is not a Church of England school. This means he never has to do communion services or any other type of Church of England services.
My feelings are that he can never go back and work as a priest in the C of E. Even if he told his bishop about his affairs and the bishop accepted him back I don't agree that this is right. I am horrified that he thinks it is ok. I have no problem with believing that God has forgiven him and loves him but I cannot get my head around the church accepting such abusive behaviour as adultery. What do you think? Should an adulterer remain a priest?

Clarrissa posted 11/3/2013 18:33 PM

Should an adulterer remain a priest? Only if he does what every wayward should do: own his actions, find out why he thought it was okay to break his vows, both to you and the Church and work to fix himself and help you heal. And since he is a priest, repent. Also, as my H has pointed out to me many times, God *does* forgive but the sinner must be truly repentant. He will not forgive someone who has every intention of committing the same sin.

So yes, IMO, an adulterer can remain a priest but *only* under those comditions.

[This message edited by Clarrissa at 6:38 PM, November 3rd (Sunday)]

SisterMilkshake posted 11/3/2013 18:36 PM

I do believe in forgiveness, mercy and redemption.

My personal opinion is if your WH was willing to stand in the pulpit and admit all of his sins of adultery to all the congregation, that he than can be redeemed in the eyes of the church and serve as a priest again. If he just confesses to his bishop, not so much.

brkn_heartd posted 11/3/2013 18:37 PM

bitterbetrayal,
I am not familiar with the Church of England and all of it's rules. So I will say that first and foremost.

However, I believe that God does indeed forgive. I also remember Jesus saying, those without sin cast the first stone. God knows we are all sinners.

My questions would be has he asked for forgiveness (God and you). Has he been remorseful? I would also think he should also disclose to the bishop if he chose to return.

I am concerned that there have been two episodes in his past. Have you two been to MC? I would think a faith-based counselor would be the best to help you both navigate these questions. While he has been preaching do not commit adultery" he may have really meant it from experience. I guess his level of remorse would be the gauge of that.

I wish I had more answers. But do know you have support. these are not easy questions, and I am not sure those of us on earth really know the answer.

Gemini71 posted 11/3/2013 19:33 PM

What is the C of E's policy on clerical infidelity? It's sad, but most denominations have policies in place about how clergy need to atone for so serious a sin. I believe that he should have to confess to his bishop before serving in the C of E again, if it is allowed.

LeopoldB posted 11/3/2013 19:42 PM

I believe most religious rituals are tripe, but if you subscribe to such things, then any weddings he performed while having carnal knowledge outside of marriage must clearly also be null and void. Those folks are living in sin. He's taking the whole ship down with him. Think of Hieronymus Bosch's paintings of hell. Fire and brimstone.

Patchy posted 11/3/2013 21:14 PM

Well I don't know what the "rules" are in the Catholic Church. But Catholics use the same Bible Protestants do and the Bible says church leaders who have committed this kind of sin are to confess before the church. In my experience, they are removed from ministry for a time, but that is not to say they can never minister in a high capacity again. There is certainly forgiveness for the truly remorseful. I think every situation is different though as to what is appropriate.

Ostrich80 posted 11/4/2013 00:18 AM

Human nature makes me say No but my faith and belief in forgiveness and grace says yes if he came clean, and only if.

bitterbetrayal posted 11/4/2013 03:19 AM

Thank you everyone. I thought that the general response would be that he could go back if he confessed to his bishop.The problem I have is this. If he had done any of the following... murdered someone, molested a child, raped a women,was a pedophile,had stolen from the church,etc would you all think that if he truly repented and confessed to his bishop he should be allowed back?

devasted30 posted 11/4/2013 04:32 AM

BitterBetrayal. Wow, you ask a loaded question there. No, I don't believe if he murdered someone etc and truly repented he should be allowed back into the church. What he did do was wrong - there is no denying that - but, it took two people and both were consenting adults. Does that make it any easier to swallow - absolutely not.
I live in Canada and attended Anglican services so I am familiar with your religion and understand your question but unfortunately, there is no right answer. You haven't stated if your WS feels remorse - has he done everything YOU need to help you heal. It sounds to me like you are still struggling and that you are not in a good place for YOU. I agree with you - it's pretty hypocritical to be preaching "thou shalt not commit adultery" when your own minister has done that. I think your WS probably hasn't really faced up to what he has done if he can so easily think he can go back into the C of E and preach without any consequences. I guess he needs to address the situation with the Bishop and go from there. The church has accepted so much abusive behaviour over the years that I doubt they will do much in that department. But, without a doubt, your husband should not be counselling women as he can't seem to keep his emotions out of it. Personally, no I don't think he should be allowed to remain a priest, but then who am I to make judgement on someone else. He who is without sin shall cast the first stone???? I don't fall into that category.

Matisse posted 11/4/2013 05:24 AM

What do you think? Should an adulterer remain a priest?

Yes. If his private life is separate - he's not hitting on his parishioners and he's good at the job, I can't think of a valid reason why he should be less qualified than anyone else for the position. Perfect people are difficult to find, there would be few priests, ministers, etc. if they had to be perfect.

bitterbetrayal posted 11/4/2013 05:47 AM

None of us are perfect we have all sinned. However there is a much greater responsibility for a priest to aim for as sinless life as possible. After all they are Christ's representatives on earth. Christ said most clearly treat others as you wish to be treated. To willingly choose adultery and inflict the unbelievable horror of that on your wife family and congregation is hardly following in Christ's footsteps.It is one of the most important commandments that a priest reads out every week 'do not commit adultery' almost top of the list. A priest enjoys all the adulation and love of his congregation. His behavior effects everyone.To find out that your priest has been lying and cheating for 4 years is so damaging.

Healinggirl posted 11/4/2013 06:27 AM

My fWH held a position of responsibility in our church (not C of E). He was required to make a full confession to the elders and show true repentance. His responsibilities were given to someone else and he has been put 'on probation' for a time to 'prove' that his repentance is real. Once enough time has passed for his repentance to be seen to be genuine, he will gain back his responsibilities and the incident will be put behind him permanently.

I feel this is just. It recognises there was wrongdoing, but also that repentant people can change, put it behind them and move on.

It would have been hypocritical to allow my WH to continue as if nothing had happened. In Jesus day, adulterers could suffer the death penalty, it was that serious.

My uncle was a vicar in the C of E, and I know they don't take as much of a tough stance on adultery as my own faith does.

But this wasn't only a sin against you, but also a sin against the God he claims to represent because he broke His rules. To my way of thinking, there should be some kind of inquiry or accountability.


X

[This message edited by Healinggirl at 6:28 AM, November 4th (Monday)]

Holly-Isis posted 11/4/2013 06:39 AM

If he had done any of the following... murdered someone, molested a child, raped a women,was a pedophile,had stolen from the church,etc would you all think that if he truly repented and confessed to his bishop he should be allowed back?

You raise a good point. Do we believe in forgiveness and redemption in all things, or just some? Truthfully, I believe adultery causes as much harm as some of what you mentioned above. Although my human heart cringes, I know from my studies that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. So technically, someone who flipped someone the bird in traffic is just as sinful as the others that you mentioned. From my human experience, I would rather have someone who lost their temper for a moment leading me than anyone who made consistently bad choices.

I do think adultery is egregious. Not just because of experiencing it, but because of how often it's mentioned in the Bible as a comparison to worshiping false gods.

I'm sorry BB, there really isn't a one size fits all answer to this, is there?

SisterMilkshake posted 11/4/2013 08:05 AM

If he had done any of the following... murdered someone, molested a child, raped a women,was a pedophile,had stolen from the church,etc would you all think that if he truly repented and confessed to his bishop he should be allowed back?
It would be difficult to do his duties as a Cof E priest from prison wouldn't it? Because if he did any of those things he belongs in prison, where he can be forgiven and redeemed, for the rest of his life.

ionlytalkedtoher posted 11/4/2013 08:23 AM

first off someone said Catholic--Church of England isn't "Catholic"-- its Anglican. Big difference. In the Catholic church if you are accused...just merely accused (even with no proof) of anything of this nature with anyone at any point in your life as a priest you are automatically done and basically kicked out of all priestly responsibilities and removed from the duties and public eye....

but in Anglican that all depends on how they see it. There must be a defined way of dealing with it, right? Is there a protocol??? Since, he can't be the only one that has done this ever. Plus its how they see EA? is it the same as PA? I don't know how its viewed.

My personal op is that yes he should be removed from all duties since he has had 2 EA and shows a difficulty in this area. At the very least he should be forced to go to a therapist in order to regain his duties. Is there a way to anonymously talk to someone higher up about this all??

bitterbetrayal posted 11/4/2013 08:48 AM

He has removed himself from the church for now. He still wears his dog collar in his school occasionally for services. I hope he never goes back into the church. Problem for me also is that I have no respect for the church anymore. Not only did my husband betray me but our best friend also a priest knew he was having an affair and did nothing,another friend I told about it was also a priest and gave me no help as it turned out he was having an affair and has since left his wife and two young children. Also I tried to talk to my brother in law about the abuse and physical bruises my WH had caused me and he did not want to know and yes he was a priest in C of E too !!! The church for me is far too a painful place to ever attend again. A dog collar to me is a symbol of betrayal and deceit.

justjim posted 11/4/2013 09:05 AM

In the Catholic church if you are accused...just merely accused (even with no proof) of anything of this nature with anyone at any point in your life as a priest you are automatically done and basically kicked out of all priestly responsibilities and removed from the duties and public eye....

I think recent report of priests being moved around due to sexual impropriety with minors tends to discount the above.

That being said, I believe that perhaps the WH/priest can return to his clerical duties... if he has truly repented and if he uses his experience to guide others.

Saint Paul, when he was Saul persecuted Christians. The experience of his sin was later used to the extreme good of the Christian community.

Who better to counsel others on the evils of adultery than one who has not only seen first hand, but has had to live with the guilt and the shame of the enormous damage that is done to all who are touched by it? There is a reason why those who are best suited and most successful at helping those who are struggling with substance abuse are former substance abusers themselves.

If my wife and I were to go to a priest right now for counseling, and he started laying out his story of a repentant adulterer...

I promise you that he would have our undivided attention.

I'm just trying to say that your husband can use the experience of his sin to serve God and His people. Adultery is so rampant these days that he might be especially qualified to do something about it.

*But then, I am working on trying to be a "the glass is half-full" kind of guy these days*

[This message edited by justjim at 9:10 AM, November 4th (Monday)]

SisterMilkshake posted 11/4/2013 09:25 AM

In the Catholic church if you are accused...just merely accused (even with no proof) of anything of this nature with anyone at any point in your life as a priest you are automatically done and basically kicked out of all priestly responsibilities and removed from the duties and public eye....
Wow! So not true. Maybe they are finally waking up in the Catholic Church, but for decades and decades all they would do is move the offending priest to another parish.
I think recent report of priests being moved around due to sexual impropriety with minors tends to discount the above.
Amen, justjim.

I am not bashing the Catholic Church, but lets keep it factual, please. I was raised Catholic and most of my family who I love dearly are Catholics. I have no ax to grind. However, I am no longer a practicing Catholic.

SisterMilkshake posted 11/4/2013 09:33 AM

Also I tried to talk to my brother in law about the abuse and physical bruises my WH had caused me and he did not want to know and yes he was a priest in C of E too !!!
Your WH is physically abusive to you? Why are you still with him?

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