50% of Departing Priests Cite Woman or Celibacy

Los Angeles Times [Washington DC]
Downloaded February 22, 2003

WASHINGTON -- About half of all Catholic priests who leave the priesthood do so because they are in love with a woman or can no longer live a celibate life, a Catholic University researcher said.

The study by prominent sociologist Dean Hoge draws from research in his new book, "The First Five Years of the Priesthood."

Hoge found that of those priests who leave, between 20% and 30% do so because they have fallen in love with a woman. Between 5% and 15% leave because they want an "open, long-term relationship" with another man. An additional 20% to 30% leave, he found, because they feel "lonely and unappreciated" and can no longer abide by mandatory celibacy.

Between 30% and 40% of those who leave do so, Hoge said, because they are disillusioned with their fellow priests or the church hierarchy.

Hoge found that between 5% and 10% of departing priests leave for reasons that do not fit into those categories.


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