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Priests with Differing Opinions

Question:

If different priests have different opinions on a certain topic, whom do I listen to?

Answer:

It depends on the topic and how it relates to you. If the topic does not have anything to do with doctrine or morals, you are free to accept the opinion that is both well-supported by evidence and makes the most sense to you. You are also free to disregard all priestly opinions and form your own based on your own understanding of the matter.

If the issue regards a sin you committed, then you should listen to the priest who has pastoral authority over you, either as your confessor or as your pastor. Generally speaking, I also recommend that you refrain from “priest shopping” for other priestly opinions on your sins because there is a danger in doing so of aggravating scruples. If your confessor or pastor turns out to be wrong in how they advise you on an issue of personal morality, you are not culpable for sin if you have followed in good faith the spiritual direction given to you by a confessor or pastor.

Of course, if your confessor or pastor is obviously wrong on a matter of morality (e.g., he advises you to do something you know to be a sin), then you may find a new confessor or pastor. I would still recommend though that you limit yourself to finding a new confessor or pastor and not to seeking out opinions from multiple priests on what you should do.

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