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Subject Deep Thinking: Atheist Priests
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Original Message 14. Atheist Priest

“My great uncle, who became a Catholic priest at a young age, came out to his parents as an atheist while in seminary. They threatened to disown him if he ever told anyone else, or if he left the seminary (They came from a small town near Boston; I guess it would have been social suicide back then). So he stayed, became an excellent priest, and apparently never told anyone until my dad asked him for advice when he was considering the priesthood as well. He swore my dad to secrecy until he (my great-uncle) was dead, because he was afraid of the impact it would have on his congregation if they found out.

I discovered all this about a year and a half ago, when my dad was extremely drunk and ranting against religion. Completely shook my view of my great-uncle and great-grandparents – they always sounded like the model family, and my uncle was an amazingly peaceful and humble man, didn’t stop working in the community until shortly before his death three years ago. If anything I think it made me respect him more, in the end.”


Assuming we take the author at his or her word and their grandfather was this dedicated priest, do you feel the fact that he was an atheist contributed to this and if so, how?

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how that would work- do you need to believe in religion in order to teach it or do you just have to have the ability to understand the concepts behind it? It must've been gratifying for this priest to bring hope to those who needed to believe in something.

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