• Our Blogger

    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.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Pern on Ask a Priest
    chinonye on Ask a Priest
    chinonye on Ask a Priest
    Ruth on Ask a Priest
    Ana on Ask a Priest

Fr. Longenecker’s Advice to the Pope

Pope-Francis-012

An article in CRISIS Magazine that everyone should read, especially Pope Francis:

Advice for the Pope in Light of the Synod
by Rev. Dwight Longenecker

Father Longenecker writes:

“I know you mean well Holy Father, and I admire and like you, but this process on which you have led us is not helping.”

I really hate to admit it, but no rationalization can escape the truth from my respected brother priest. He is right. There have been too many rash assertions, vague sentiments and undefined gestures. A lack of specificity leads to confusion and falsehood. We need a courageous witness to the truth without compromise. When the enemies of the Catholic Church and her values say they love this Pope… something has gone seriously awry. I suspect they love the popular façade but not the substance of what this Pope and every Pope must be about as the chief guardian of the deposit of faith.

The question was raised by a parishioner in the pews, “What are the faithful to do?”

Pope

A gay magazine names the Holy Father man of the year?

Pope-Francis-January-2014-BellaNaija

The secular media love him too?

pope-francis-time

Even Time Magazine sings his praises?

My response was that it is going to come to a head. The Synod on the Family may be the start. The Holy Spirit will never fail the Church.

Whoopi Goldberg said during a segment of THE VIEW this month: “We are rooting for Pope Francis to make some changes in the Catholic Church. We love Franny! But he’s still got a couple of things to work on.”

President Obama stated: “He’s somebody who’s first and foremost thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away…How to find what’s good in them as opposed to condemn them, and that spirit…that sense of love and unity seems to manifest itself in not just what he says but also what he does.”

Time Magazine: “Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly … He has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.”

Miscellaneous News Stories (A Recent Sampling)

Pope faces key test with vote on divorcees, gays

Pope Francis lends friendly support to Anglican Church in North America

Dissing Pope Francis—Does Cardinal Burke think he’s Pope Burke?

Pope Francis rents out Sistine Chapel for exclusive, $7,200-per-head Porsche party

Pope Francis Demotes Anti-gay Conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke

Pope Francis’ Catholic Church Teases Us With Promises Of Liberality

Why Pope Francis Is Different From His Predecessors

Counseling for Catholic Marriages

Catholics with marital problems should have readily available avenues within the Church for professional counseling in the hopes of salvaging their marriages.

More can be done to prepare priests for this kind of work but I think there is also a need for full-time professionals with training in psychology and intervention-counseling. These counselors should be well-versed with the Catholic faith. If they are not on the same page with us about human sexuality and the value of marriage, then they can escalate a problem instead of being part of the solution.

  • When red lights appear in the Pre-Cana preparation, referrals can be made before marriages in the Church.
  • When problems develop within marriages, referrals can be made to facilitate healing or reconciliation.
  • When questions arise about sexual identity and remaining in good standing with the Church, referrals might be made to assist people in coping and to counteract bias from non-Catholic sources.

While there are good independent counselors who charge fees, I would also recommend that there be professionals hired directly by the Church. Their salaries might be shared between parishes as within deaneries. They would work closely with pastors, while preserving confidentiality, to either prevent bad marriages or to salvage troubled ones. Such staffing should be viewed as serious as religious education directors, office managers and bookkeepers. In any case, a public list of counselors vetted by the Archdiocese should be readily available to pastors and the people they serve.

Catholic marriage counseling is necessarily different from that which is offered by those who do not share our understanding of marriage or our views about human sexuality. These counselors need to discern how a troubled Catholic marriage might be fixed. The truths of faith are integrated into our appreciation of psychology. The goal is to have couples living a daily vocation where there is both joy and sacrificial love. Marriage is viewed as a covenant and as a permanent union. Too many quickly jump to divorce as the answer. Catholics should see that as an option generally taken off the table.

Instead of urging an immediate divorce, a separation might be promoted so as to further the conversation or to prevent verbal and/or physical abuse. If a marriage has terminal problems and cannot be salvaged, then the counselor might suggest an annulment. That is where the pastor and/or the officials on a Church Tribunal would enter the picture. However, this is inherently always a sad or tragic situation. It means that avenues to save a marriage have failed.

Right now we have noble efforts like Retrouvaille but there is a pressing need for something more clinical.

Love the Knights of Columbus!

CIMG0783

Here am I with the Maryland State Treasurer (Dale Trott) and the State Deputy for the Knights of Columbus (Stephen Adamczyk) at the Bishop McNamara Chapter of Grand Knights.

A Few Thoughts about the Synod Relatio & Debates

My head is spinning about some of the things that are being seriously argued at the Vatican’s Synod on the Family. I am already concerned that a Commission was established to look at streamlining the process for annulments even prior to the start of the Synod. It seems to me that if such were a concern then the bishops would then request the Holy See to do so. Will the documents which will be formulated reflect the majority view and Catholic tradition or will there be attempts to steal the show for the minority progressives?

synod-of-bishops

What is it about this new Synod document that has critics saying it signals a revolutionary shift in favor of same-sex couples? It is acknowledged that this “relatio” urges clergy to make “fraternal space” for homosexuals. But what does it say? We read:

“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a further space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of proving that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”

Are we reading the same document? All I see are questions. Hopefully they are not rhetorical. Do we eject gay brothers and sisters from our churches? No we do not. Can we invite them forward for Holy Communion? Yes, provided that they maintain chaste and celibate lives. Can we affirm or value their sexual orientation? No, we cannot do so. Such would devalue the true meaning of marriage and human sexuality. We cannot move away from the assessment of disorientation or that same-sex carnality is mortal sin.

As a so-called case-in-point of past intolerance, the news contrasted this development with the story of Barb Webb who was fired from a Catholic school when she and her partner announced her pregnancy. Similarly, her partner, Kristen Moore was asked to resign from her post as a music director at a Catholic parish. The secular media glossed entirely over the moral issues that extend beyond same sex unions, like the freezing of embryos, donated semen and IVF technologies. All these elements are reckoned as moral evils and sinful.

This relatio is being interpreted precisely as Cardinal Kasper would suggest. The doctrinal truth is eclipsed, if it remains, for the sake of a pastoral provision or slackening of discipline. The same reasoning he uses for divorced and remarried couples is being applied to active homosexuals. I find this reckoning very disturbing. Discipline can be distinguished from doctrine but discipline is always at the service of doctrine. There are doctrinal elements that cannot be ignored. It is contradictory to say that gay acts are sinful and then to value, in any way, homosexuality. It is contradictory to say that marriage is a lifelong institution and that divorce is a sin, while inviting couples to receive Holy Communion who are living in adultery. The truths of Scripture are clear and we must always be at the service of the truth on every level: doctrinally, canonically and pastorally.

The document recognizes that same-sex couples live lives where they render “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice [which] constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.” Critics are saying that this is a crack in the door that may one day lead to full acceptance. I would say that this is not the case. The statement is one that reflects the immediate horizontal human condition but says nothing about the vertical supernatural dimension. It is a mere statement of fact that these couples support each other in their day-to-day lives. However, this does not mean that they are in right standing before God. Mortal sin is still mortal sin. I suspect that there are many “nice and pleasant” people who make good neighbors and yet will suffer damnation and hellfire. We are not saved by simply being nice but by being faithful and obedient to God. The Church can relax certain disciplines but she cannot change divine positive law. My fear is that tolerant language might enable or encourage more sinners to remain within their sins. The Church must be a place for saving truth and grace. She should never be an enabler for sinful lifestyles or blasphemous acts like receiving the Eucharist while ill-disposed or in mortal sin. This document does NOT acknowledge the “holiness” of such couples as was suggested in the Huffington Post article by Antonia Blumberg (1/13/14). It simply asks if we might tolerate with passivity and silence the situation of people living in sin.

I cannot buy this application of any “law of graduality.” No matter how slow might be the movement to holiness; the Church should never compromise on the fullness of truth. Confessors can exhibit great understanding and compassion for married couples who use artificial contraception, with the hope that they will eventually come around to the Church’s understanding of human dignity and the full value of the marital act. It is here that I can well appreciate “graduality.” However, this is not the same as cohabitating, adulterous and same-sex couples. They have no right to a shared bed.  In their regard, where there is neither contrition nor amendment of life, absolution must be withheld. Similarly, while they should attend weekly Sunday Mass, they should abstain from taking Holy Communion. The priest will not usually embarrass people in public but he fails his sacerdotal charge if he does not challenge such couples in private.

This law or better yet, theory of graduality was very much the rationale for the “open table” of Anglicanism. It was hoped that this welcoming to receive the Eucharist would draw others into greater unity. Contrastingly, the “closed table” of Catholicism sees Holy Communion as an expression of an ecclesial unity that is already realized. This is representative of the ancient tradition wherein heretics and grievous sinners were denied the sacrament or even excommunicated. The Church’s censure of interdict would also illustrate this posture. One had to be properly disposed and graced to receive the sacrament. Anything less was judged as blasphemous and scandalous. One should not pretend there is a union that is not truly there. This resonates with the current debate about divorced and remarried couples as well as with active homosexuals. We cannot allow a false compassion to tolerate normalization for the sake of public acceptance while the pastoral accommodation is deceptive to the doctrinal truth and the spiritual state of souls before God. We can move away from using pejorative biblical terms like “sodomites” and “adulterers,” but the underlying reality will remain the same. Does this really serve the summons to repent and believe?

If we change the discipline for those in serious sin and the intrinsically disordered, would we not logically have to open up Holy Communion to others (particularly Christians) who might be in ignorance of the full ecclesial reality but who live moral lives? It is a real can of worms and I would prefer to leave it closed. But that is my opinion.

Relationship between Discipline & Doctrine

It is unusual to hear a debate between bishops aired in the press and public forum. Continue to pray for all the participants in the Vatican Synod of the Family.

Cardinal+Walter+Kasper-300x229

Cardinal Kasper:

“Nobody denies the indissolubility of marriage. I do not, nor do I know any bishop who denies it. But discipline can be changed. Discipline wants to apply a doctrine to concrete situations, which are contingent and can change.”

archbishop_wuerl_elect

Cardinal Wuerl:

“The reception of Communion is not a doctrinal position. It’s a pastoral application of the doctrine of the Church. We have to repeat the doctrine, but the pastoral practice is what we are talking about. That’s why we are having a synod. Just to repeat the practice of the past without trying to find a new direction today is no longer tenable.”

“That’s going to be the challenge, and I think that’s what the Holy Father is calling us to do. He’s saying, we know this, we believe this, this is what is at the heart of our teaching. But how do you meet people where they are? And bring them as much of that as they can take, and help them get closer?”

235148-cardinal-timothy-dolan

Cardinal Dolan:

“When we talk about some time of renewal and reform of our vocabulary, we don’t mean to soften or to dilute our teaching, but to make it more credible and cogent,” he said. “It’s not a code word for sidestepping tough things; it’s more a methodology.“

Cardinal_Burke

Cardinal Burke:

“There can’t be in the Church a discipline which is not at the service of doctrine.”

“The reformers were saying: ‘Oh, we’re not questioning the indissolubility of marriage at all. We’re just going to make it easy for people to receive a declaration of nullity of marriage so that they can receive the sacraments.’ But that, is a very deceptive line of argument which I’ve been hearing more now in this whole debate.”

cardinal_pell

Cardinal Pell:

“As Christians, we follow Christ. Some may wish Jesus might have been a little softer on divorce, but he wasn’t. And I’m sticking with him.”

“We’ve got to be intellectually coherent and consistent.  Catholics are people of tradition, and we believe in the development of doctrine, but not doctrinal backflips.”

“Communion for the divorced and remarried is for some — very few, certainly not the majority of synod fathers — it’s only the tip of the iceberg, it’s a stalking horse. They want wider changes, recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions. The church cannot go in that direction. It would be a capitulation from the beauties and strengths of the Catholic tradition, where people sacrificed themselves for hundreds, for thousands of years to do this.”

muller_CNS

Cardinal Müller:

“One cannot declare a marriage to be extinct on the pretext that the love between the spouses is ‘dead.’  Indissolubility does not depend on human sentiments, whether permanent or transitory. This property of marriage is intended by God himself. The Lord is involved in marriage between man and woman, which is why the bond exists and has its origin in God. This is the difference.”

Columbus Day Ball 2014

CIMG0764

Last night I went to the Columbus Day Ball 2014 with some dear members of Father Michael C. Kidd Council of the Knights of Columbus. It was held at the BWI Marriott.

10600672_10152553007863645_3536765461968896059_n

Msgr. John Pennington – Rest in Peace

jpennington_0

Death Notice, Msgr. John Pennington 100914

REV. MSGR. JOHN R. PENNINGTON, III

On Tuesday, October 7, 2014, of Silver Spring, MD. Priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. Beloved son of the late Joan Louise and John R. Pennington, Jr.; brother of Mary Fourcade, Mark Pennington (Sherrill), Judy Pennington and Janice Moulden (Ross); uncle of Kimberly, Kristie, Adam, Jason and Xander. Friends may call at St. John the Evangelist Church, 10103 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20902, Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. with Vigil Mass at 7:30 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial at St. John the Evangelist Church on Monday, October 13 at 11 a.m. Interment All Souls Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to St. John the Evangelist Church at the above address.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 224 other followers