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Curious Christopher wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it ever okay (and/or) ethical for a (priest-confessor/spiritual director) to accept from a regular penitent, expensive gifts, in kind, or cash over ($1,000.) one thousand dollars each time on various occasions throughout each year during their spiritual relationship?

Professional ethics code typically cautions therapists from giving or receiving gifts within therapy relationship because giving gifts:

  • can be source of stress for the therapeutic or spiritual relationship, and
  • can hurt the therapeutic progress and can have serious consequences.

  • Does this kind of code apply to a priest-confessors and spiritual directors?


  { Does this kind of professional ethics code apply to priest-confessors and spiritual directors? }

Bob replied:

Dear friend,

Thanks for the question.

While Confession may have a therapeutic effect, a priest is not a therapist and therefore does not operate under the same guidelines.

That being said, prudence would dictate that such gifts could become inappropriate. Religious priests, those belonging to an order, who have taken vows of poverty, would already reject such gifts, but secular priests do not take such vows.

I imagine prudence would direct any gifts to the welfare of the parish or ministry of the priest and not to the individual so, while rules may vary, prudence is always warranted.


Bob Kirby

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