Why are Catholic priests allowed to smoke?

I've been investigating the Catholic faith and really love it overall, and I'm also taking RCIA classes (for adults interested in learning about and possibly becoming Catholic), but it really bugs me that the priests are allowed to smoke. I don't think any of them in my parish here do, but I used to live across the street from a priest and I saw him smoking all the time. Aren't they supposed to be some sort of role model for people or something, what kind of example is that? I've been debating whether I like my current church, the Mormon church (which I'm not really active in) or the Catholic church better, and the Mormons say that "the body is a temple" and should be respected basically. The Catholics may not have the exact same quote, but I'm sure they have a similar belief, so wouldn't that contradict with the fact that they let their priests (and nuns) smoke and destroy their bodies? Thanks for your answer.


Please don't say they're just human! I realize that, but I also realize that they represent the world's largest division of Christianity and have various higher (or stricter) standards than the average guy! Vow of poverty, vow of celibacy, and others, why should they be allowed to hurt their body by smoking then?

23 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I have never seen a Catholic priest smoke, but there is no rule specifically against it. What would prevent most priests (and nuns) from smoking would be the vow of poverty, which is typically practiced by abstaining from unnecessary luxuries. Not to mention the obvious health risks that apply to all of us.

    The Catholics also believe that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit"). Smoking is just one way to damage your body- excessive caffeine from coffee is damaging, eating too many trans fats from McDonalds, not exercising, not getting a well balanced diet, not drinking enough milk to get the required calcium... Well, the list goes on and on.

    Yes, priests and nuns should be role models. But, we are all called to be role models for each other as Catholics. Just as you expect the clergy to be role models, you should ask yourself if you are striving to be a role model for others in all that you do. It is a tough standard to uphold.

    If the fact that priest are allowed to smoke is causing you to doubt Catholicism, perhaps you have other deeper concerns that need to be addressed first. The Catholic Church is made up of human beings who are not perfect and inevitably you will find more faults with members of the clergy. What matters is not whether you believe in your priest, but whether you believe in the Faith that binds us all together.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I'm Catholic and often wondered the same. They should be role models, and the ones I know who do smoke usually do it out of sight of their congregations. They shouldn't be allowed to, but at the same time we're having a lot of trouble finding men to fill the role, so I suppose it becomes less of an issue.

    But yes, the body is a temple, as Scripture says (though nitpickers will point out that this is in regards to sexual morality only - it really should apply to all health and fitness), and smoking is not fit for a temple.

  • Daver
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Smoking is considered a sin against the Commandment Thou Shall Not Kill. It is not possible for someone to smoke and not know it's a life threatening activity.

    Having said that, I think it's nip-picky to think bad of the Catholic Church because some clergymen smoke.

    It's quite possible a priest began smoking before he became a priest. He might be well aware of the Church's stance on smoking and continues to struggle with his addiction.

    When we see someone exhibiting a moral weakness, we should not scoff at them - because we wrestle with moral weaknesses of our own.

    A priest who smokes might also be a prolific preacher that inspires his parish to become better Catholics! In spite of a weakness, he ceases his strengths. We all should do that.

  • 1 decade ago

    Why do you strain a knat and swallow a camel? You are more worried over a priest smoking than what the priest has to say about Christ. His smoking won't harm you, but his teachings about Christ will.

  • andy c
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Catholics have that saying too. 1 Corinthians 6:19. Smoking is not a good idea obviously, and like you I was mildly shocked when I first saw a priest smoke, but Jesus did say :

    `What goes into a man`s mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean.`

    Source(s): Matthew 15:11
  • 1 decade ago

    The verse, "the body is the temple of the Lord" is written within the context of sexual immorality. Smoking can lead to addiction which is very bad for your health. But it is not forbidden in the Bible... neither is drinking wine (alcoholic beverages). All things God created is good... it is in their abuse that evil comes. I am not advocation smoking... I wish sometimes that the use of tobacco for smoking was never discovered! It is the sin principle in us - our sinful natures - that drive us to addiction of certain substances. In the final analysis freind, MANY things in our present environment destroy our bodies (car fumes, other pollutants, even too much good food). But even if we were successful in ridding the world of everything that pollutes and pose health hazards, our bodies will still grow old, will weaken, get sick... and we all die!

    Personally I think Catholicism is infinitely better than Mormonism. And I am neither.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Catholics priests can smoke because there is really nothing "wrong" with smoking. If taken to an extreme then it is wrong, but the actual action in and of itself isn't the problem. As for comparing Catholicism with the Church of LDS; I would say that the choice is obvious. Continue with the RCIA process and these small foibles will stop bothering you as much

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