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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Knights of Columbus Cookout

Held after our Social Meeting 7-21-14

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No More Lay Preachers in Rochester

The march toward great orthodoxy and unity in the Church continues. After some 40 years of violating Church law, the diocese of Rochester will no longer allow the laity to usurp priests and deacons in preaching homilies at Mass. The thanks goes out to Bishop Salvatore Matano for insisting that canon and liturgical law be followed. He stated, “It is not a policy shift as regards to the universal law of the church. I am trying to help the faithful understand what is the universal law of the Church and how important it is that in the celebration of Mass, we do what the Church asks of us.”

I well remember Bishop Matthew Clark who started the deviation. He was regularly invited to give talks by the progressive or liberal staff at CUA when I was a student many years ago. He even gave us a retreat where he speculated about women priests and about how a priestly calling might be a temporary vocation and that God might later call some men to other things. I was young but shocked by the statement.

In any case, it looks like the compass in Rochester is returning to the proper settings of the universal Church. Now comes the hard work, not just of correcting abuses, but reforming hearts and minds. People will be hurt and disappointed, especially the women who made up the majority of the lay homilists. But where one door closes, others are opened. Hopefully these women will not feel discarded or alienated. Inclusion and empowerment was never dependent upon the clericalization of the laity. I have confidence that the bishop will find a way to involve these women, with their theology degrees and gifts, in the building up of the Church. God forbid that they should walk away from the Church that has always been their home.

The Church’s Stance to the LGBT Community

thBUDHL29UContinuing this discussion as to how we approach homosexuals in the Church, I would agree that we must acknowledge the whole person. We should resist the temptation, even if they encourage it, of defining them by their disorientation. People can hide behind labels. It is also easier to ridicule and cast aside people who are labeled. We see this in racial slurs and in the language for the enemy in wars. The Church would stand against anything that dehumanizes people or compromises upon the uniqueness of personhood. Everyone is loved. Signs or billboards that say God hates this or that people constitute a false propaganda against the kingdom of Christ. Everyone is someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister. They might suffer from a genetic disorientation, or from trauma or from the manipulation of others— but right or wrong or just confused, they possess an immeasurable value in the eyes of God. If they should return our love with venom in language and deeds, we must maintain the heart and mind of God on their behalf. We cannot accept or excuse sin. If we did we might become an accomplice and a collaborator in the sin of others. But we can love them, even as our views are attacked as prejudice and our words as “hate-speech.”

Pope Francis purportedly told the reporter for La Civiltá Cattolica this about gays: “When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.” Many would take this to mean that a blind eye can be turned to the homosexual lifestyle. However, I think not. It is neither meritorious nor neutral. It is objectively disordered. Homosexual acts are morally wrong. I have spoken before about the distinction between evil acts and the conditions for sin. Only God can know our standing before him.

My priest friend has really surprised me with his vocal dissent on behalf of those living a homosexual lifestyle. Is he inviting intervention from diocesan authorities. He says that all are welcome at his parish and that includes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered persons. He announced that they make no distinctions in their activities (for them or for their children).

He is right that we have no window into people’s bedrooms. But we are confessors and we have eyes and ears for what people promote in public. If same-sex partners kiss each other in church, wear the symbolic rainbow colors, sport tee-shirts and hats that promote an agenda… then I would say we know what is going on. It is disingenuous to say otherwise. It is true that we are all sinners. But the Gospel proclamation comes with an admonishment TO REPENT. We need to live our lives in accordance with the moral law. Jesus says that if we love him then we will obey God. The commandments and the moral law are not optional.

He questioned the MARRIAGE MATTERS campaign that was promoted by the Maryland Catholic Conference. I would not go as far, but also suggested that marriage has been in trouble for a long time, given no-fault divorce and rampant cohabitation.  He insists that heterosexual marriage is not threatened by same-sex civil marriages. Would he quietly bless these unions? I do not know. Part of me does not want to know.

There has been a push, first coming from associates of Bai Macfarlane, that the Church should disassociate herself entirely from civil marriages.  They claim it demeans true marriage as a lasting covenant in Christ.  The argument here is that what a secular society understands by marriage is radically different from the Church; thus, we should not confuse them by allowing priests and deacons to officiate or witness marriages as magistrates for the state.  Various countries require two ceremonies, one at the courthouse and another at the church.  Is this the direction in which we want to go?  It is true that same-sex unions and no fault divorce have seriously compromised the matrimonial institution.  I have another priest friend who suggests that we get out of the marrying business entirely.  Since couples marry themselves, he suggests that we let them get to it without involvement or duplication from the Church.  I disagreed.  It seemed to me that something of the understanding of marriage as a sacrament was at stake.

While we have some control over parish facilities, legal challenges have made matters extremely complicated for our Knights of Columbus halls.  Legally, they may be obliged to host receptions for gay marriages.  External symbols associating these buildings with the Knights of Columbus are being removed.  So-called gay marriages cannot be performed in Catholic churches.  We continue to teach in religious education and from the pulpit that marriage is a bond between a man and a woman.

My priest friend blesses homes as I do.  When I do so, I bring a plaque or picture of the Sacred Heart and we consecrate the home to the Lord.  I bless each room, carrying holy water and a crucifix.  I pray that the devil will have no place to hide, either in their lives or in their house.  My associate blesses homes where the residents may be cohabitating or in same-sex relationships.  Here again I have a grievance.  Priests should do nothing to condone sin.  It would do no good to bless such homes because the lifestyles are not conducive to the graces invoked.  This comes very close to blessing the couples themselves.  A house where the matter of mortal sin is regularly practiced stands more under a curse than a blessing.  Every house blessing is a type of minor exorcism.  The home will really be blessed by the faith and good works of the inhabitants.

Some of us wonder if the whole gay marriage movement might be a sham.  I read recently that a number of the first couples who took advantage of law changes in certain states have already filed for divorce.  Homosexuality is renowned for its transitive nature and multiple partners.  Will the Church and bishops change in how we regard it?  I cannot foresee how.

I am not an ogre.  We have homosexuals who struggle with their weaknesses and who display sacrificial love.  They attend Mass and regularly ask for God’s mercy.  I have seen them care for a beloved friend and for their parents in times of sickness and approaching death.  How do we remain resolute to our teachings and not hurt them?  How do we balance orthodoxy with ministerial compassion?  We have our work cut out for us.

The Price of Compromising on Homosexuality

thKID0AXT3A priest friend recently announced that he saw the Church’s way of speaking of those with same-sex attractions as wildly exaggerated, harsh and inaccurate. His assertion deeply bothered me. I am well aware that people have taken offense and even left the Church over the assessment that homosexuals and lesbians are sexually “disordered.” Often the response to this issue or individual revelations, even from pulpits, is a deafening silence. Homosexuality is joining contraception as one of those issues rarely raised from the pulpit. Privately, people increasing accept and love their friends, regardless. Young people not only accept it but see those who do not as bigoted. Older people are generally more judgmental, but often suspend this judgment when the gay person is someone close to them. Silence is no real answer and a fire-and-brimstone sermon will arouse anger and hurt. But the truth is the truth, is it not? My priest friend argues in a way that makes my head hurt. Often I think he is more like the Episcopalians, suggesting compromise on contraception, divorce and remarriage, and now homosexuality. As for myself, I have no desire to cause pain for others; however, I was ordained to speak for Christ and his Church, not for myself. The Bible and the traditions of the Church give a negative verdict to same-sex attraction and activity. While the orientation is problematical, sin only enters the picture with wrongful fantasies and immoral actions.

My priest colleague insists that I am very wrong. There is the unspoken insinuation that he thinks I am slow or a bit dull-witted. He wonders why I cannot see things his way. He argues that we all want to be faithful to Jesus and Jesus was all about bringing the outcast home. He indicts me as doing the opposite, behaving more like a Pharisee. He raises his voice, “Show me even one place in the Gospels where Jesus teaches anything about homosexuality! If it is so important, then why is Jesus absolutely silent about it?” He laments that our Lord spoke forcibly against divorce, but points out that there is nothing on this issue. My mind works differently from his. The Bible is more than the Gospels.  The writings of St. Paul are also part of the New Testament. The whole book is the inspired Word of God. The apostle mentions homosexuality as one of a whole grocery list of sins that would forfeit the kingdom. This is serious language. If this is a sin that can land a person in hell; then how can we truly love them and either permit it or exhibit silence? He spoke as the kids do— “But they love each other! How can love ever be wrong?” Love can be plenty wrong. This was not just love, but physical and sexual behavior. This can be added to love, or express love, but love can be very wrong. You have no right to love another man’s wife. A priest has no right to love and keep a mistress. A man has no right to take another man to bed. The same goes for women with women. They can love as parent and child, as siblings, and as dear platonic friends— but erotic and genital love takes it where has no right to go. My priest friend came right out and said it, throwing aside recent papal teaching and the universal catechism, “As long as the gay couple is living in a loving and committed relationship, there is no sin, nothing is disordered.” This was not a new opinion. I heard it from one of my old professors some thirty years ago, Fr. Charles Curran. This was one of the dissenting views that cost him his license and position at the Catholic University of America.

My position is very different. I would side with my late cousin, Fr. John Harvey, the founder of an organization called COURAGE. These faithful sons and daughters deal with their disorder not by acting out but by embracing a life of celibate love, prayerful meditation and service to the community. We should not pretend that vice is virtue. Rather, we should call our brothers to repentance, conversion and heroic discipleship.

It is true that a person should not be judged by one element of his life. However, the activists themselves are the ones who raise their orientation as the singular marker for their identity. An orientation and lifestyle is redrafted as a basic expression of who they are and as something protected by civil rights laws. When you say “hate the sin” but “love the sinner,” they get mad and take it personally. They make no demarcation between their sexuality and how they are accepted as persons. They are wrong to do this but it has become an effective tool for manipulating people and institutions in our society. When it comes to the Catholic Church, though, they bust their heads against a stone wall. Everyone else is giving in, but the Church still says that “what they do” is wrong. What they hear from the Church is “who you are” is wrong. I suspect my brother priest left his guard down to this sort of control tactic. They seek to turn the guilt back on us so that the Church will give in. While we can show special compassion to individuals, I see no way for Catholicism to backtrack on this.

Women Bishops – The Lights Go Out for Anglicanism

5f0c3e5657ed3b8229685eac8a081987The General Synod of the Church of England voted on Monday to consecrate priestesses as women bishops. Well, there’s the nail to the coffin for the home of Anglicanism. Ecumenism with them will be restricted to soup kitchens, sharing contributions from C.S, Lewis, and appreciation for perfecting the English language. The bridges have been burned to most else. Since women cannot be ordained in truth, this makes arguments about their Masses and the Eucharist mute. Fake priests can only give you a counterfeit Holy Communion. When it came to morality, our ships passed in the night a long time ago. They disregard both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, wrongly approving homosexuality and dismissing the indissolubility of marriage. Abortion is reduced to a personal choice, far from the Catholic stance that sees it as an assault upon the heart of the Gospel of Life. Their last convention in the States could only agree about how terrible landmines were, as if that is a big issue in suburbia. This is what happens when morality collapses and an “everything goes” mentality takes over. Public opinion and modernity is given preference over divine revelation. Instead of obedience to God, the human becomes the measure of all things— and people are fickle and frequently wrong. The Orthodox churches are lamenting that years of work toward a common faith and even levels of recognition have been thrown upon the garbage heap. Anglicanism, except as a small group received by the Holy See, is destined not to be counted as a branch of the apostolic and “catholic” family of churches. The “reapproachment” with them since Vatican II is now a dismal failure because the Anglicanism of even half a century ago no longer exists. It has been replaced by a mutated structure that will continue to devolve and crumble. Australian Anglicans are arguing that priests might be optional and that the laity can offer the Mass. Fragmented, one segment fights with another, and there is no contemporary pretense of a world Anglican order. Certain traditionalists among them refused the offer of Pope Benedict XVI, hoping to rebuild with a union of conservative African bishops. But how long will it be until modernity will invade that new structure? Ironically, some of them attack the Anglicans who accepted the special offer from the Pope in becoming Catholics. They still buy the prejudices against Rome which were initially an element of their split. Catholicism has its dissenters; but they will have no official weight in the practice of our sacraments and doctrines. The accidentals may change, as with language, but the deposit of faith is safe and sound. As for the Anglicans, could they even agree as to what this deposit consists?

The Anglicans feel that immutable doctrine can be changed by ballot. Here is the vote approving women bishops:

  • House of Bishops: 37 to 2 with 1 abstention
  • House of Clergy: 162 to 25 with 4 abstentions
  • House of Laity: 52 to 45 with 5 abstentions

This move goes against the teachings and pattern passed down from Jesus. There was no woman among the twelve apostles. Jesus did not worry about stereotypes. But this one, he did not break. It was God’s will. Anglicans no longer care. I guess they would say that Jesus was wrong. Of course, this change was anticipated. A long time in the mix, the first ingredient was added back in 1994 when they began ordaining women as priestesses (women priests). Error breeds error. The United States made a woman its chief Episcopalian bishop some years ago, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Before her they elected their first gay bishop. Australian, New Zealand, and Canada also have women bishops. The show continues but it no longer matters. They can wear their pointy hats and play-act all they want— these women are neither true priests nor bishops. Both Orthodoxy and Catholicism are in agreement here. There is no third tier to the Church. Without a valid hierarchy, there can be no true priests. If there is no priesthood, then there can be no Eucharist (sacrifice of propitiation and real presence). If there is no Eucharist, the ecclesial community is not really a CHURCH.  End of Story

Archie Takes a Bullet & Dies? What’s Next?

Archie Andrews, star of the long-running Archie Comics universe, will take a bullet on Wednesday in a fearless leap to save his gay friend from an assassination attempt. The 73-year-old character’s impending death was first announced in April when Jon Goldwater, co-CEO of Archie Comics Publications Inc., said in an interview with CNN that Riverdale’s famous ginger will go out a hero in “Life with Archie,” which explores Archie’s life as an adult.

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This is ridiculous! Everyone does know it is fiction, right? Does everything have to be politicized and twisted to what someone feels is a righteous cause? What can we expect next?

“Casper the Friendly Ghost Reveals that He was Abused & Murdered as a Child”

“Donald Duck Arrested for Indecent Exposure”

“Olive Oil Dies from Chronic Anorexia, Popeye Ate All the Spinach!”

“Scooby Doo Put Down from Drug Overdose, Shaggy Arrested”

“Garfield Run Over in Hit-&-Run, Keep Your Pets Leashed!”

“Little Lulu Comes Out as Lesbian, Says Stop the Hate!”

“Little Ol’ Lady Who Lived in a Shoe Demands Obama Care Contraceptives”

“Wilma Flintstone Leaves Fred Over Affair & Too Many Yabba-Dabba-Doo Times!”

Baptizing the Babies of Same-Sex Couples

How should the pastor proceed when a same-sex couple comes forward, wanting their child to be baptized?

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It is already the case that we get many heterosexual couples wanting their children baptized, even though they are married outside the Church or even cohabitating. In these situations, I will not absolutely forbid baptisms, but I will beseech the couples to do what they can to regularize the relationship. Of course, if the couples have broken up or were only casual with which to begin, then it would be madness to insist upon them marrying. The child should be the fruit of a bond that has blossomed, not an element to manipulate in favor of a marriage that would otherwise never occur. These couples sacramentally married or not, still signify bonds that are in accordance with natural law.

Same-sex unions violate both divine positive law and our understanding of what is and is not “according to nature.” There is no way to make it right unless the couple separate. I had a situation of this sort back in the 1990’s. The grandfather came to see me quite upset because his daughter and her female lover had asked to have their child baptized and the priest said no. They did not know where to turn. The grandfather begged that something might be done. I asked that he send his daughter “and her friend” to see me. I had to disguise the revulsion I felt in hearing their story. They wanted a child and so made an appeal to a gay man. He masturbated into a spoon and then the lesbian couple used the semen to amateurishly inseminate the willing partner. As it turned out, she conceived and they had a little boy. Sometime later I heard there was legal wrangling with the homosexual neighbor who wanted his rights as the biological father. It is my understanding that today many lesbian couples do not even know the source of the seed and the insemination is accomplished through fertility clinics.

Both of the ladies who came to see me were raised in the Church and had attended Catholic schools. The grandfather of the mother had told me that he would do all in his power to make sure the child received a Catholic upbringing. I was blunt with the women, but no one was in the dark about how difficult a situation this was. I asked them point blank, “Can you promise me that despite your relationship you will raise this child as a Catholic, teaching him his prayers and taking him to Mass? They were both polite and agreeable. They both promised. It was not a compromise with which I was happy, but the alternative would punish the child for the sins of others. It seemed to me there was sufficient hope that the child would be raised as a practicing Catholic. I ended up baptizing the child. A person’s salvation might be at stake. In retrospect, I cannot recall what was written in the baptismal registry. I think only the name of the mother was inserted. I did tell them that the choice they made would be difficult. Because of their union, they would not be welcome to receive the Eucharist themselves. Nevertheless, they were adamant that they would still go to Mass and make sure their boy would receive all his sacraments. I recommended that they quietly live their lives, respecting the moral teaching of the Church even though they felt unable to realize it in their relationship. Here too they were agreeable. They felt no need to make their baby the poster child for a cause. I instructed them about how baptism makes the child an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, a member of the Church, an adopted son or daughter of the Father, kin to Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. I added that baptism washes away original sin and invokes saving grace.

Despite their dissent and self-imposed alienation from the Church because of their lifestyle, I urged the couple to pray daily, placing their needs and weakness before the Lord for healing. I wanted them to know that while I disagreed about their personal lifestyle choices; God still loved them and that the Church would not turn her back on them. While their living together was a public statement against Church teaching, it did not have to be a deafening announcement. I urged them to do all they could to avoid scandal, both for themselves and the Church. I felt they had been truthful with me. Otherwise, it is doubtful that I would have offered the sacrament. The godparents were Catholics who were living their lives wholly in accordance with the commandments and precepts of the Church. While always important, here it was absolutely crucial.

  • Today the situation is evidently becoming more common. Either through insemination or adoption, lesbians and homosexuals are becoming parents. Despite their battles with the Church, some still feel an attraction to her message of salvation and sacraments. They want to share this with their children. This is no longer a singular aberration. How do we proceed?
  • Do we have Archdiocesan policies to deal with these situations? Should the Chancery be consulted on each and every case that comes forward? I know the local policies in Washington stipulate that there should be two godparents and that they should be representative of each gender.
  • Can a same-sex family structure constitute a true family?
  • Can parents perpetually in a state of mortal sin genuinely witness to the faith and Gospel?
  • Given the canon law problems, should registries list only one partner or can both be acknowledged?
  • It would be easy enough to list the mother alone but in adoption, there is the claim of two mothers. Should one be listed in the side annotation?
  • We were recently informed to stop listing children as legitimate or not legitimate. Should there not be remarks about a same-sex union?
  • As for liturgical adaptation, will we need a special liturgy to get around the language of a mother/wife and father/husband?
  • Priests will routinely omit the blessing over the mother and father when couples are not married in the Church. Is this justified and should the blessing be omitted over same-sex couples? I would think so.
  • While it is probably good to seek out Archdiocesan consultation, would priests need higher permission to perform such baptisms?
  • Do we have programs in place to offer pastoral care to these children and households after baptism?
  • Would these children be welcome in our Catholic schools?

I can well understand that one answer would not fit all. There might sometimes be little or no hopeful sign that the responsibilities that come along with baptism would be fulfilled. Some treat baptism like magic or as an empty cultural rite of passage. Activists might even exploit a request for baptism to ridicule the Church or to make a political statement. This is where it becomes all the more problematical.

Priests are supposed to be good stewards of the sacraments. And yet, many of us are fearful that we cannot even safeguard the Eucharist at Mass because of policies that place a greater weight on public scandal than actual spiritual readiness and ecclesial unity. Here too, there may be times that being a good steward will mean saying no and facing repercussions. Is it a passive capitulation to just throw up our hands and leave it to God to straighten out?  I suspect so.

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