Fr. Mike Schmitz And The ‘Magical Vocation Myth’
Romanticising ditching women for the priesthood is a tasteless, hurtful, and spiritually abusive part of Catholic culture
Imagine your college sweetheart breaks up with you. Imagine the hurt that would inevitably cause.
You move on with your life.
Fifteen years or so later, you realise your ex has become famous. Not only that, but he talks about your relationship and the subsequent break-up frequently and — publicly — and he talks about it as though it were an almost mythical, magical experience, the turning point in his life that freed him to pursue his career.
That’s exactly what Catholic priest, YouTube presenter, and podcast host Fr. Mike Schmitz does and did so again on the Megyn Kelly show last week:
Now, how would you feel if that was your ex talking about you?
Fr. Mike is the first to say that the people whose partners leave them to join Holy Orders are not ‘extras in someone else’s vocation story’. That is, however, exactly how Fr. Mike talks about his ex-girlfriend. This tragi-romantic story is told as though Fr. Mike’s ex-girlfriend is the ‘wife who dies at the beginning of the movie’. You know the trope... The [often] nameless woman whose tragic demise only exists to add depth to the protagonist’s inner emotional world before he carries on along his Hero’s Journey — alone.
Conditioning Women to Accept Poor Treatment
Though I’m sure this wasn’t his intention, Fr. Mike has contributed to a pernicious part of Catholic culture that mostly hurts women and conditions them to accept poor treatment from men.
You can, of course, dump your partner for whatever reason you want. I’ve no doubt that Fr. Mike and his ex did exactly what was right for them. What I object to, however, is how Fr. Mike talks about this story as though his actions were ultimately an act of love…