Testimonies of Former Catholic Priests
While He was on earth our Lord Jesus Christ spent much of His time showing the
priests and leaders of the 'religious establishment' how far they had strayed from
God. The outward ceremonies of their faith had got in the way of real religious
Our Lord is still speaking today — calling us away from religious deadness. If we
ask Him, He will give us a personal and felt relationship with Himself, as all the
writers in these pages say. Let the following former priests tell their story.
Former Brazilian Priest & Seminary Professor
During my childhood I often heard it said that one of the best ways to escape from
eternal Hell was to enter a monastery. I decided to follow that advice.
Monastic life is meant to cultivate strong will-power and make one capable of
controlling all passions and lusts.
In my monastery various forms of bodily torture were employed to achieve such
will-power. We scourged ourselves several times a week, lashing our naked bodies
with knotted cords.
Despite the great pain we were told that if we could endure such whippings calmly,
we would receive strength to resist every kind of sensual and sexual urge. We
were also told that by scourging ourselves we could atone for sins we had already
committed and so shorten future punishment in Purgatory.
Round our waists, thighs and arms we wore penitence chains on which were spikes
which dug into our flesh. There were also many other kinds of 'bodily
Alongside self-inflicted punishments we had other kinds of humbling exercises
designed to extinguish our pride and vanity. In one of these routines a priest had to
lie on the floor across a doorway so that other priests would tread on him as they
went by. Whenever I did this I felt like a worm upon which people trod, but I
thought that God must be very pleased with me for such a voluntary self-humiliation.
The worst humiliation included licking an area of the floor clean with our tongues.
Doing this made me feel like an animal, — like a pig wallowing in the mire, or like a
dog sniffing around. Sometimes I even felt like an insect creeping in the dust.
But, however I punished and humiliated myself I could not detect any change or
improvement in my character or behaviour. I only discovered that my weak and
sinful nature was very much alive. For example, when I licked the floor clean with
my tongue, it was just then that the strongest feelings of vanity and pride rose up
in me. What a wonderful chap you are!' I would think. 'What will-power you must
have! You are able to do what others cannot do! You inflict such painful
humiliations upon yourself! Wonderful!'
I realised that by these absurd procedures I was only inflating myself with pride.
The monastery is a sublime effort that is doomed to fail. Why? Because the priest
or monk takes his sinful nature along with him into the cell.
After seven years as a priest I was promoted to be Professor in Philosophy in a
Roman Catholic Seminary in Brazil. However, serious doubts had already begun to
develop in me.
At various times I read the Bible and asked myself, 'Is my Church really in accord
with this book?' In the Bible it is clearly stated that the only mediator between God
and man is Jesus Christ, Who took away the punishment of sin on Calvary's Cross.
My Church, however, taught that there were several mediators, especially Mary
the 'mediatress of all grace'.
I also began to doubt that God had given to the Pope, infallible authority and power
to interpret the Bible, and that it was the duty of every Christian to accept the
Pope's view. Could it be right that the Pope had absolute authority to overrule and
restate the plain words of the Bible?
With such doubts in my heart I could obviously not remain a priest of the Roman
For me, the living death of the monastery came to an end. I left the life of
semblances and shadows for a world of fascinating reality in which I was free to
breathe at last.
I surrendered my office as Professor and left the Roman Catholic Church. I laid
aside my priestly cassock, which in tropical Brazil just soaked up the heat, and
walked lightly and freely in my shirt sleeves, but deep within I still carried the burden
of my guilt.
Outwardly, I was free — but inwardly I was not at rest, for I had lost sight of God
I received much help from an 'Evangelical' church in Rio de Janeiro — a local church
where the congregation based their faith only on the teachings of the Bible. The
sympathy of the people there helped me very much for they provided me with
civilian clothing which I had no money to buy. They also gave me food and
shelter and I shall always be grateful to them.
But most of all the preaching of their minister gripped me. It was completely new
to me — to hear such explanations of the Bible. But could I be helped by a non-Catholic preacher?
Certainly, in my seminary training, and as a priest I had heard regularly about the
alleged false teachings of such churches, but I had never understood what they
In Rio de Janeiro I heard the minister explain that a man cannot save himself, or
deserve entrance into Heaven by any of his own efforts because he is utterly lost
With all this I could heartily agree for I had all too clearly experienced my inability to
change myself. In spite of the greatest efforts and every kind of penitence I had
not succeeded in becoming a different kind of person.
The preacher went even further and showed that there is only one way to be set
free from sin, and that is to be given, by God, a completely free pardon and a new
life. He showed how this experience must be obtained directly from Jesus Christ,
who gives it freely and unmistakably to all who hand themselves over to Him in
At first I found this difficult to believe. It was like a fairy story — too good to be
true. I could see the beauty of yielding to Christ. It sounded amazing, wonderful,
and yet at the same time it seemed too easy, too cheap.
As a Catholic I believed that salvation was the hardest matter in life;' a matter of
struggling and deserving God's favour. But now I began to understand the true
teaching of the Bible.
Yes, salvation is indeed the hardest thing in the world and must be deserved by
perfect obedience to all the demands of God's law, in other words — perfect
But the amazing fact is that the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, has fulfilled all these
demands for us and on our behalf, if we trust Him.
At last the wonderful break-through came. My soul opened itself wholly to Christ in
complete trust. I could see that it was not the Jews who had crucified Christ — I
had done it! My sins were taken by Him. A blinding flash of light illuminated the
rubbish heap of my former life.
My soul lay like a bombed-out city before me, and I was filled with anguish at
seeing the sin which had permeated my whole being. But, over the rubbish heap I
realised and knew that Christ had forgiven me and made me a true Christian. I had
become a new person.
Jesus spoke of the relationship between Himself and true Christians in these words,
'I know mine and they know me'. I had begun a new life knowing all the feeling of
close fellowship with God which I had never known all my days as a Catholic priest.
The dead legalism of the Church of Rome was behind, and the future was a living
personal relationship with our wonderful God.
Former Catholic Priest for more than 30 years in France and London
What I am about to relate happened many years ago and can now be safely told. I
was in the train between Paris and Lyon. Opposite me sat an officer of the French
armed forces in Indo-China.
Worry and sorrow was written all over his