Compassionate Love among Catholic Priests: its Antecedents and its Influence on Affect toward Pastoral Ministry in Indonesia

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What drives Catholic priests to continue to serve people? That is the main question behind this psychological study. Based on a working model of compassionate love (Underwood 2008), the priestly compassionate love model was tested to determine whether spirituality, social support, priestly commitment, and well-being simultaneously influence compassionate love, which in turn brings out a positive affect in those doing pastoral ministry. The participants were 256 Catholic priests in Indonesia. Using structural equation modeling, the results of the study showed a good fit. Spirituality was the factor that contributed most strongly to compassionate love. Receiving adequate support from multiple sources motivated the priests to love others. Moreover, priestly commitment also influenced the priests to love others compassionately. Although well-being did not significantly influence compassionate love, it still played an important role in the model because it was correlated with all factors. Finally, the results showed that compassionate love powerfully influenced the priests to be enthusiastic and eager in doing pastoral ministry. These findings are discussed theoretically and practically in the context of priestly life and ministry in Indonesia.