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June 17, 2004

Comments

Ralph Luker

Yes and, in many of the communities of faith, the kiss of peace is reduced to a handshake or a pat on the back.

Sue

Thank you for writing about this; what a great post!

Stentor

On the other hand, I think the Archdiocese is right that "not all members of the congregation are comfortable with physical touching." The key is for the person to be able to know when he's dealing with someone like Hugo who needs a hug, and when he's dealing with someone like Stentor who would feel better with just a handshake.

Hugo

I am certainly not advocating forceable hugging -- I am just very worried about making hugging unacceptable behavior in pastoral relationships!

Jake

I've been reading your posts on touching, and, personally, I agree with you. I think the youth are blessed to have someone like you as a role model.

I was the adult advisor for a couple of youth groups. I also worked on the adolescent unit of a chemical dependency treatment center. Growing up, I spent some time in a reform school, and lived in a few foster homes. Unfortunately, I think the strict rules are there for good reasons.

But, there is such a thing as following the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Sometimes, you have to break the rules, as long as folks consider the cost; which might be being asked to resign, or even worse.

It is unfortunate such an essential human response is now tainted with fear and aprehension. But, my life experience has shown me that sometimes there are good reasons for such restraint.

BTW, I give hugs anyway. ;)

elizabeth

somewhat related - my sister is a very affectionate person and when she was in high school, she helped lead a summer day camp. She got in trouble with the camp directors because she hugged the kids a lot. I find this disappointing, although it does make sense in our current society. When I taught at a preschool for a summer, I tried not to be too affectionate with the kids because I didn't want to get into trouble. A hug has gone from being a welcome thing to a problem.

Hugo

Thanks, everyone; Jake, I'm absolutely with you:

there is such a thing as following the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Sometimes, you have to break the rules, as long as folks consider the cost; which might be being asked to resign, or even worse...

Glad you're a priest. Your flock is fortunate.

Stentor

I am certainly not advocating forceable hugging

I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. It's all about being able to use the appropriate amount of hugging for the person and situation.

Trish Wilson

Some people are simply uncomfortable with touching and hugging, especially if they come from abusive backgrounds. Culturally, people differ as far as response to touching goes as well. I think that ministers have to gauge each person individually, and from what I've read of you I believe you do that. I feel the same way about therapists who are into hugging and touching people, and I've meet plenty of them. If a minister (or anyone else for that matter) of my acquaintence that I did not know particularly well tried to hug me, I would back away no matter how well-intentioned that person might be. It's a boundary issue that I feel not enough people respect. I think going the way of handshake-only is a going to the far opposite end of the spectrum though. I agree with you that the no-touching policy isn't a good answer. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

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