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5.13.13 Addiction and the Presbyterate

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in accordance with professional and employment protocols, officially recognizes substance abuse and other medically recognized addictions, such as gambling, alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography, and addictive sexual behavior, as conditions that require enlightened concern and treatment. Addressing these behaviors may require the involvement of law enforcement agencies and the application of canonical disciplinary measures. ​

Certain behavior involves conduct addressed by the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons (page 21) and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These policies require criminal referrals and may result in permanent removal from priestly ministry or, possibly, removal from the clerical state.

If a priest concludes that he is facing a personal addiction, he is expected to contact the vicar for clergy or his regional bishop and is encouraged to seek and undergo appropriate treatment. The vicar for clergy and other resources are available to assist him.

If another priest or other persons in the archdiocese become aware of or suspect addictive behavior in a priest, they are expected to report the matter promptly to the pastor at their parish, the vicar for clergy, or the regional bishop, as they choose or circumstances indicate. All activity connected with the implementation of this policy shall be conducted in a confidential, need-to-know manner.

Early recognition and diagnosis are the key factors in the treatment of addiction. Therefore all are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the signs of addiction and the "enabling" reactions in those around the addict. See What Are Addictive Behaviors? from Indiana University Bloomington and Recognizing an Addiction Problem from Healthline. Should a priest or other person be unsure of his responsibility for a priest, that priest or other person is encouraged to consult the vicar for clergy, the regional bishop, or another senior priest.

Often, constructive intervention is necessary to effect proper treatment and recovery. When necessary, the archdiocese may intervene and recommend or require assessment, evaluation and treatment, or other responses from the affected priest.

If treatment is advised, it will vary from individual to individual and will depend on the particular addictive behavior. The vicar for clergy will make the proper referral based on individual need. Current treatment practices include a required treatment plan and may require a particular aftercare program as well as a leave of absence to facilitate the treatment.

Should time away from a work assignment be needed to facilitate treatment or recovery, appropriate arrangements will be made by the vicar for clergy​. Should it be necessary for the priest to be placed on leave, his expenses and personal needs will generally be paid by the archdiocese. At times, effective treatment and recovery can be achieved without interruption of the priest's assignment or daily duties.

When a priest on leave has satisfactorily completed treatment, he will ordinarily return to his latest assignment unless his term has expired or the archbishop determines otherwise. Unless otherwise determined by the archbishop, he will be given the same consideration as any other priest of the archdiocese in the matter of placement, further studies, and the choice of apostolates in the future. However, when appropriate, the priest may also ask for an alternative assignment or receive an alternative assignment from the archbishop. 


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