Personal Faith and the Priesthood

Posted on March 3, 2011

Question

For years I have felt drawn to the priesthood. However, I have one major obstacle to being a priest. I must confess that I am an atheist, or at the very least a very skeptical agnostic. Does this condition absolutely bar me from entering the priesthood?... or are my own spiritual problems no reason to resist the urge to help the souls of others?


Answer

YOU WRITE: For years I have felt drawn to the priesthood. However, I have one major obstacle to being a priest. I must confess that I am an atheist, or at the very least a very skeptical agnostic. Does this condition absolutely bar me from entering the priesthood?

RESPONSE: Absolutely. The “heart and soul” of the priesthood is found in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ as the “Son of the Living God most High.” If you do not believe in God, how can you proclaim Him in all honesty? If you do not believe in God, how as a priest could you reveal His presence in the lives of the people you are charged to guide spiritually, or proclaim that God loves and forgives them, or proclaim that they will spend eternity in His presence? It would be quite impossible for a non-believer to stand in the midst of believers and encourage them to strengthen their belief in a God that he himself denies.

YOU WRITE: ...or are my own spiritual problems no reason to resist the urge to help the souls of others?

RESPONSE: There is an old saying, “You can’t share what you don’t have.” It would be my opinion that, if you are interested in helping people but you have no religious convictions or belief in God, you might consider becoming a secular social worker, where you would not be expected to offer any sort of spiritual advice, nor to proclaim the existence of God.