Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In

Print this topic

​​5.13.13 Addiction and the Presbyterate

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in accordance with professional 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 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 Charter for the Protection o​f Children and Young People and Essential N​orms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons and the  adopted by the United States 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. 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 a dean.

Often, constructive intervention is necessary to effect proper treatment and recovery. The vicar for clergy will consult with the archbishop as appropriate.  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 fo​r clergy will make the referral based on individual need. Current treatment practices include a required treatment plan and may require a particular aftercare program as well modifying his ministry to facilitate treatment.

Should time away from an 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, the vicar for clergy, in consultation with the archbishop, will determine the appropriate assignment.