Brad or BJ Hulk is very hostile to Catholicism and disrespective to the priesthood and the claims of the Church. Readers should beware that this post deals with anti-Catholicism. While a few others enter the dialogue or debate, it is essentially between me and BJ Hulk. Note, as well, that it is a very long post.
BJ HULK: Celibacy for Catholic priests was the most ridiculous law the Vatican ever made.
FATHER JOE: No, priestly celibacy has until the modern age been regarded as one of the Church’s treasures. All those good priests whose service was fueled by faith and celibacy are wronged by such condemnations.
BJ HULK: Can you imagine all the poor nuns and choir boys that were taken advantage of during the last 1600 years?
FATHER JOE: And do you think that some of those poor children were not assaulted by married men? UK comedians even tell bad jokes about it, and that is in reference to Anglican choirs and servers. Heterosexual celibate priests have no more interest in hurting children than married men. Celibacy is not the problem. Indeed, if men kept their celibacy undefiled, there would be no cases of child molestation among Catholic clergy. In any case, look at the cases of abuse in families and in regard to incest. Evil and sickness can be found anywhere. It is wrong to scapegoat the discipline of celibacy.
BJ HULK: Not only that, but their lust caused them to be sinners, unworthy of inheriting the Kingdom of God.
FATHER JOE: Certainly abuse is mortal sin but we are all sinners. No one can merit a share in eternal life apart from Christ. I know you are angry, but we must not condemn the good along with the bad. Take care!
EARTH KING: Father Joe, great [responses]. As a former religious brother and seminarian, I am now a layman but still appreciate deeply the sacrifice of those who are faithful to their promises or vows of chastity. Our society has grown accustom to creating arguments for terrible behavior, arguments that may even seem rational. The idea that celibacy is wrong or evil is completely irrational. In fact, how would those who oppose it draw the line in the sand where passions must be controlled? It is natural for me to want to have sex with many women I see, so is it okay to go ahead and have sex with all of them, even if it is against their will? It seems like those who try to argue against celibacy have a hard time defining where the line should be drawn and why.
BJ HULK: Do you sin Father Joe? If you do sin, why are you allowed to be a priest? I thought sinners go to a place called hell.
We are all sinners. Catholics make a distinction between venial sin and mortal sin. All sin is serious but the lesser or venial sins do not sever our relationship with God. Mortal sin blackens the soul and makes us spiritually dead. Serious sin makes us unworthy of the sacraments. Until there is repentance and absolution, such a person forfeits both actual and saving graces. The sacrament of penance can restore the disposition for grace and holiness of life. Connected to Christ, our faith fuels a discipleship where works of charity and obedience merit grace. Disconnected by mortal sin and not even an act which seems good would have any real benefit for the soul. A priest in mortal sin can offer the Mass and God’s people can benefit from the sacrament. However, he does not and if he were to die in mortal sin and having committed sacrilege, yes he could rightly expect the terrible price of hell.
I have never violated my promise of celibacy.
I also promised obedience to the archbishop and I do what I am told.
I hope my sins are small ones; but I also go to confession and ask for Christ’s mercy. I try to do better.
BJ HULK: Isn’t it the Jews who were told to obey God and repent of all their sins? Why do you think God would change his mind about sinning today?
FATHER JOE: God hasn’t changed his mind at all. Why are you suggesting that I would think otherwise?
BJ HULK: Did you know Jesus died on the cross to break the power of sin in our lives so we don’t have to be in bondage to them?
FATHER JOE: Did I know? Are you trying to be funny? I have dedicated my life to bringing Jesus and his redemptive power to the lives of others. Our Lord conquers sin and death, but the effects have yet to be undone. We still find ourselves in a sinful world.
BJ HULK: If this is true, why do priests keep on sinning?
FATHER JOE: Why does everyone seem to sin? Sin is forgiven but the damage in terms of concupiscence remains. Christ has won the war but the devil still vainly fights his battles.
BJ HULK: Why are they having sex with young boys and nuns if they’re no longer in bondage to their sins?
FATHER JOE: Why do fathers molest their daughters? Why do ministers run off with their secretaries when there is a wife at home? Why do ministers of the Gospel build mega-churches and preach a prosperity gospel that puts millions into their bank accounts? Why do Catholics betray their Church even though it is the Mystical Body of Christ? The Church does not accept the Protestant notion of once saved, always saved. Faith can sour. It does not matter if you are Jimmy Swaggert or Jim Bakker or Alberto Cutie. Some sinned with women and others abused children. Episcopalians have openly gay priests and bishops. It is all wrong— all sinful. But a saving faith can be repaired by repentance and forgiveness. However, while saving faith can be repaired; sometimes ministries are irreparably ruined. This is the case when scandal continues to dog a minister or priest and when future ministry is too precarious and would endanger the innocent.
BJ HULK: Don’t you realize it’s possible to become sin-free because of what Jesus did for us?
FATHER JOE: Are you saying that you are sin free? Please, I have heard all the tired arguments about Lutheran imputation and the excesses of blessed assurance. Catholics have an easy way to recover holiness, we call it Confession. Christ gave the power to forgive sins to his apostles and in turn to priests.
BJ HULK: How about the same thing God told the Jews what to do about their sins? Obey God and repent of their sins is what he told them to do but they chose not to do that. You Christians that keep sinning choose not to obey God and therefore, you are still in bondage to your sins. But don’t worry; God will release you of those sins during his judgment on all those who wouldn’t listen to Jesus.
FATHER JOE: Repentance is not a one-time act. Jimmy Swaggert used to argue that he was saved. He ridiculed priests and said that the evidence of their being lost were their misdeeds. However, he got caught with Rosary, no not the prayer beads, but a prostitute. He asked for forgiveness, from God and his people. He had a problem, an element of his life in need of healing. He had been a minister for many years before the scandal. He had faith, but his discipleship was not perfected. He was still a weak human being. We all are. We may have different problems, but we all struggle with something. For the Catholic, justification is not a juridical act but one of continual metanoia or conversion.
B J HULK: Celibacy is nothing compared to being disobedient to God.
FATHER JOE: A priest who has promised celibacy and breaks that promise is disobedient to God. A person who has lived as a Catholic and has professed the Creed only to defect is disobedient to God. A married person who commits fornication is disobedient to God. A single person who fornicates (outside of marriage) is disobedient to God. Those who have homosexual or lesbian relationships are disobedient to God. Those who make themselves rich with no regard for those whom they hurt and for the poor are disobedient to God. Those who counsel, or facilitate, or procure, or who offer abortions are disobedient to God. But all of them can know divine mercy, no matter how terrible the sin or sins.
BJ HULK: Oh, and another thing, I’m not angry with you or anyone else except for the rich, including the Vatican, who use people for their own gain.
If only the Vatican were rich. The works of the Holy See incur regular deficits. As for the museums, they belong to the world more than the Church. We preserve a great deal of the remnants of Western civilization. All except die-hard iconoclasts are happy that the Church preserves history and art.
The Catholic Church is the largest Church charity organization in the world. What did you do for the homeless, the hungry and the sick last year? There are millions of people today who rely upon the Catholic Church for their survival. And of course, we are sometimes the only voice for the oppressed and the poor, too.
Fr. Joe, some arguments I have seen to support the case for celibacy include: priests do not have time for a family, a priest already works long hours just doing parish duties, they cannot afford to financially support a family on their salary, and a wife and children would be too distracting in a priest’s effort to provide the spiritual support a parish needs. I can agree with all of the above.
However, that leads me to question why priests are not allowed to marry after they retire? What would the harm be?
FATHER JOE: The word “retirement” for priests is really semantics. We really do not retire. Even the men in nursing homes hear Confessions and offer Mass. In my archdiocese the so-called retirement age is 75 years old. Men are pretty set in their ways by then, if they live that long. I have a friend who just turned 80 and he said three Masses last Sunday and helps the pastor like he was the assigned associate.
BJ HULK: Thanks Father Joe for giving me answers that excuse your sins. You’re right that all of us are sinners from birth but a few of us have become sinless and received the promised Holy Spirit.
Your thanks are obviously hollow. You are being nasty because I contradicted you. You do not strike me as a very nice person. You come to this Blog deriding priestly celibacy, suggest that all priests are either pedophiles or womanizers, you attack the Church herself and now you deride me. Nothing about my answers ever excused my personal sins. But I will not apologize for believing in all that the Catholic Church teaches and in being faithful to my promises as a Christian and as a priest.
You are very much mistaken if you think you are sinless. You deliberately separated yourself from the Church outside of which there is no salvation and now demonstrate a mean-spirited hubris. Do you not see this as wrong? It is one thing to disagree; but you have chosen to make yourself an enemy of the Church instituted and preserved in the truth by Christ. Your sin remains because you say you see.
It should be said that elements of the true Church exist in non-Catholic communities and that the Church prays for Christians who are not in full communion with her. But you would reject any part of Catholicism. Well, so be it then. But know that Jesus sends his Holy Spirit upon the Church and that Spirit manifests itself in various ways depending upon our station in life and vocation. Through faith and baptism we became temples of the Holy Spirit and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven. While the Holy Spirit sanctifies and inspires us; the Spirit of God preserves the Magisterium in the truths passed down in the deposit of faith.
The Holy Spirit is no guarantee that anyone is sinless. Of course, if you believe in the peculiar notion of redemption by disguise, then it is no wonder that you can commit evil acts and still think yourself sinless. Jesus does not stand before you, hiding your shortcomings before the Father. The Catholic Church insists that he must live inside of you. We are called to a real transformation in Christ. Our progress in holiness is not perfect. We sometimes stumble and need to ask for help and forgiveness. God’s mercy is not a onetime deal for those who live in time. However, as long as we trust in Christ and avoid mortal sin, we live in the sure and certain HOPE of salvation. You would destroy the meaning of Christian hope.
BJ HULK: The sins of the heart such as pride, jealousy, envy, gluttony, lust, greed and sloth are some of those sins you must be calling mortal that bring spiritual death. These are the sins God is concerned about and we need to repent of. If you keep sinning these sins, you will not inherit the Kingdom.
FATHER JOE: I am glad that you still remember something of your catechism. We must appreciate degree, human freedom and knowledge of the truth, too.
BJ HULK: There is a way, however, to become sinless and that’s through faith in God and obeying his commands.
FATHER JOE: We can enter upon the road to perfection and we might reach such saintliness in this life. Otherwise, remaining purification would be resolved in Purgatory. There is also the matter of temporal punishment due to sin.
BJ HULK: Once you are forgiven of one of these sins, you will never do that sin again because Jesus destroyed the power of that sin.
FATHER JOE: It does not work that way. Can you know so little about human nature and divine mercy? You must think everyone in the world except you will probably die in their sins and pass into eternal death. It is no wonder you have no Church. You have made yourself a religion of one. Indeed, you have made yourself better than the Pope. He is only infallible regarding faith and morals when explicating the deposit of faith for the universal Church. The charism of protection does not safeguard personal theories or opinions. Further, even the Pope has a Confessor. You have made yourself, on the other hand, both infallible and impeccable. You fail to make a distinction between the redemptive work of Christ and how salvation touches us. You have reduced the whole business to a private or individual affair.
BJ HULK: Jesus because you believe you are a man of the cloth does nothing to protect you from this spiritual death until you are fully repented of all sins, which is impossible for men to do. Only the Lord can work out our faith and get us to repent and forgive us. By you becoming religious has nothing to do with this process.
As I said, even clergy are mortal men and all are sinners. Our Lord works through the instrumentality of his priests in the Church that he instituted. Our fundamental option is made permanent only at the moment of death. As long as we live in time, good men will sometimes do bad things and bad men will sometimes do good things. As Saint Augustine reminds us, we live in a world where there are citizens of two cities. While we can discern something from the fruits of our lives, we will not know for certain where some reside until the reckoning in Christ.
Faith and holiness are gifts from God. He shares himself with us through grace. We must cooperate with this grace. The practice of true religion is very much a part of this process. We encounter the risen Christ through his great sacrament, the Church. You are very much deceived.
BJ HULK: Celibacy is a religious act that God could care less about if you’re still sinning in other ways.
FATHER JOE: No one ever said that celibacy alone was sufficient for holiness and salvation! Celibates can go to hell for other reasons just as faithful married couples might. But celibacy is not a religious act, as such. Perpetual celibacy is a discipline and a lifestyle. It is a way of loving God and others. Understood in Scripture under the “single-hearted”, the celibate priest embraces it so that he might more directly focus upon his love of God. This love is primary and it immediately spills over in a deep love for God’s people. The priest sees the face of Christ in his flock, particularly in the poor and needy. He says to the Lord, “I am totally yours!” It may be that many men fail to focus their celibate love as they should, but this is the ideal. Married people see Christ in the spouse, the beloved. The Catholic Church has married deacons and married priests (particularly in the Eastern rites of Europe); however, there is a marked difference. These married men do a great job, but they still have the duty to keep their personal families at the heart of their lives. The celibate man has no such division. He is not drawn away from his service to God because of the needs of a wife and family.
BJ HULK: What’s the point of not having beautiful sex with a woman you love and go have sex with a young boy or lust after everyone you see while you’re preaching. This act of lust is the problem, not being celibate.
FATHER JOE: Lust can indeed be a problem. Even what you think about in your mind can be a real problem and sin. Lust, even in marriage, is a sin. The late Pope John Paul II emphasized this and the hedonists jumped all over him. Lust depersonalizes the other. It turns a person or subject into an object or thing. Things can be used and thrown away. Persons have too much value for such ill treatment. A married couple should know passion but the marital act is not two animals in heat but a man and woman who love each other so much that they want to be one. There is a movement of donation and reception, mutual giving and receiving. They surrender themselves to one another and to the mysterious providence of God. There is no mutuality in homosexual acts or pederasty. There is no true unity in fornication outside of marriage. As for adultery, you cannot receive that which does not belong to you.
BJ HULK: And the overall problem is not being obedient to God, in which the penalty is eternal separation from Him.
FATHER JOE: Of course, such obedience is in regard to Christ’s command that we love one another as he has loved us. Love unites. A failure to love brings separation.
BJ HULK: Most religious leaders, like the Jewish priests and scribes, were well versed in their scriptures and education but that won’t save them from the fire of God that is coming soon.
FATHER JOE: How can you judge the souls of religious leaders? We can say something about right and wrong— about truth and error— but we must leave the rest to God. As for the final consummation, we should always be ready because we do not know the day or the hour.
BJ HULK: The only thing that will give them life in Christ is to obey the spirit of Jesus Christ, not what they think is written in the scriptures like the Jews did.
FATHER JOE: Have I talked to you before under another name? I seem to recall a previous discussion about a nebulous spirit versus the living Word of God. There is no spirit apart from the letter. God has revealed himself to us. Within the tradition of faith and the Church, we stand below and not above God’s Word. His Scriptures give us salvation truth. The Jews gave us the Hebrew Scriptures and Christ is Messiah and Lord. As Jesus said, salvation comes from the Jews. As a Catholic Christian, I believe that Jesus is alive and present in the Word of God. This Word is proclaimed within the Church and fuels the missionary outreach of the faith into the world around us.
BJ HULK: The scriptures are used by Satan’s deception and deceive everyone who reads them unless they are totally sinless and have the spirit of God living in them.
FATHER JOE: You mean YOU again, right? YOU see yourself as SINLESS and as the ONE who can, without error, share the spirit and truths of God. Satan is indeed a liar and a murderer. I cannot speak for the state of your soul, but Satan would rejoice in such deception as you espouse. You ridicule the shepherds appointed by Christ; renounce the need for a Church; undermine the value of God’s revelation and Scriptures; and substitute yourself over the genuine Magisterium as the spirit-filled interpreter.
BJ HULK: It’s obvious to me that you don’t have his spirit in you since you admit you are a sinner and don’t understand who I am.
Ah, so now you would say that I am damned! Well, thank goodness you are not God!
I am supposed to understand who you are? That is a peculiar way to speak. Do you think you are the Christ? Maybe you think you are the anti-Christ? Maybe you are THE MAN JESUS CHRIST fanatic? No, I know what you are; you are a poor deceived man who would lead others astray. You are NOT sinless. You are an ordinary man in his mid-fifties who thinks he can speak for God. Your damnation of religious leaders shows what you are, a poor sinner who has yet to fall to his knees. I would beg you to put aside the pretense of faith and recover the real thing.
BJ HULK: If you had the spirit, you would have known me almost instantly but since you compare me with a Lutheran than I know who you are and you’re definitely not who you think you are.
FATHER JOE: You picked up a few Lutheran ideas, but I did not say you were Lutheran. Here you jump to false conclusions, again. If I had the spirit you say that I would have known you instantly. I am not anonymous. You are the one hiding behind a false label. I am not afraid to speak the truth and stand up for it. But I know enough about you. I have known all along. I get all kinds on this Blog and from all around the world. I am very disappointed. And I will keep praying for you.
BJ HULK: If you break my comment up into little fragments again, like most atheists do, then I know you’re being guided by the deception of Satan. The reason I know this is because I am a son of God who was created in the Word with all the other saints. You don’t know the Word because you’re still a sinner.
Obviously I am no atheist, but this is my Blog and I will not allow posted comments such as yours without corrective responses. So you regard yourself as the son of God? Well, let me tell you this, through faith and baptism many of us are adopted sons and daughters of the Father, brothers and sisters to Christ, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. We are made temples of the Holy Spirit. Christ gives us the Church so that we might remain in the truth and stay in his good graces. You seem to have abandoned the friendship of God’s people in the Church. You rebuke of the Pope and bishops, as well as their charism of truth, and the efficacy of the sacraments. You commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The last time I looked that sin up in the Scriptures, there was a pretty terrible censure attached.
I will pray for you even more earnestly than before. Maybe I will look you up if I travel with parish kids to the next World Youth Day. May God’s peace rest upon you, your spouse, your three kids and your grandchildren!
BJ HULK: I didn’t think you would listen to God. Most people don’t.
FATHER JOE: I did not know you were God. Our Father, who art in heaven. Brad be thy name… Brad bless you!
COLLEEN Fr. Joe, your post on celibacy and the priesthood was marvelous. I am going to save the link to it and refer people to it when they say nonsensical things about celibacy being a “problem.” I have always considered the celibacy of priests to be a BLESSING to the Church. I would not look at priests the same way at all if they were married, nor would I want to attend Mass at any parish that had a “married priest.” I have a dear friend who is a convert to Catholicism and was raised as the child of a Protestant minister. She has told me that people have no idea how difficult it is for ministers because of family issues. She is of the firm opinion that those who argue that priests should be allowed to marry have no idea what they are talking about. Allowing priests to marry would be disastrous for the Church. I am convinced that those calling for an end to the celibate priesthood are really motivated by a desire to see an end to the Church. May God always bless, strengthen, and guide you and all of his priests.
God has blessed you, Fr. Joe, with a patience I can’t even fathom — that whole bjhulk stuff — sheesh! I get frustrated just trying to kindly send a Jehovah’s Witness away from my door, but you, you patiently stick to your guns and use the whole back and forth as a teachable moment. Maybe you knew all along you were dealing with that type of person, but you at least kept the ball in play for the rest of us to learn something and witness directly your unfailing love of God and the church. Even if this guy is still a lost soul, no one can accuse you of not trying to help him see his errors and oh-so- evident hubris. Keep up the good work, Padre! Pax!
BJ HULK: Hi again Father Joe and to your friends. I have some more questions for you. Why did the Pope say that the Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God, when it isn’t even close to being the Kingdom of God?
FATHER JOE: Christ’s kingdom is breaking into the world through the Church but is not fully realized here. Note that at the time of his betrayal and passion, he could say to Pilate that his kingdom was not here. After Pentecost, the Church is formally established. He had already given Peter, as the one who would visibly head his Church, the keys to the kingdom.
BJ HULK: Do you even know what the Kingdom of God is?
FATHER JOE: It is the reign of Christ. Members of this kingdom walk as pilgrims in this world (the Church), in glory (Heaven) and in purgation. Believers are anointed in baptism as members of the royal family of Christ.
BJ HULK: What did Jesus mean when he told the Jewish Pharisees that the Kingdom of God was near them?
FATHER JOE: It had to do with the two-fold commandment of love. They are not far from the kingdom of God who understand that we must love God with our whole heart, mind and soul; and love our neighbor as ourselves. Such love is at the core of Christ’s sacrifice and witness. He is the Father’s Son who lays down his life for his friends. More important than the old and complicated Jewish law is the law of love from Christ. The sacrifices of old could not save us, just the loving and forgiving oblation of our Lord which they prefigured.
BJ HULK: Do you think the Catholic Church was near them at the time?
FATHER JOE: The seeds for the Catholic Church were very close. They were found in Christ himself. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. He is also the vine, and we in the Church are the branches. The apostles and first priests of the Church were also present. The Church would be filled with Christ’s presence and perpetuate his saving work.
BJ HULK: Did you know that the Kingdom of God was God’s first creation?
FATHER JOE: The kingdom of God belongs to the beginning and to eternity. It is not entirely created because the kingdom is also synonymous with God, himself. Christ is the kingdom. Did you know that?
BJ HULK: Did you know that only a few will make it into the Kingdom out of many who were called?
FATHER JOE: We do not know the actual number. That which is given in Revelation is symbolic and would not include the hosts of angels who are also members. Rather than delighting as a cult would in the few that would be saved, there is no selfish elitism in Catholicism. We pray for everyone. We especially pray for the most hardened sinners and those who have hurt us. The Church proclaims the Gospel both in and out of season. We witness to the love and healing of Christ. We pray that the devil is lonely in his hell.
BJ HULK: Why did the Romans kill all the saints up till the time the Roman Catholic Church began?
FATHER JOE: The martyred saints were themselves Catholic Christians. The Church would eventually be recognized but for the first several centuries, the Catholic Church had to work underground. The pagan Romans mocked the Mass as cannibalism and they killed believers by beheading, crucifixion, burning, and by throwing them to wild beasts. One of these martyred saints was a young boy who was taking the consecrated host to those arrested. He was caught and stoned to death. You defile the memory of these first Catholics by disparaging the faith for which they died.
BJ HULK: And why did the Roman Catholic Church continue to kill all the saints by calling them heretics?
FATHER JOE: Now you are collapsing history. The Church did not kill the saints. Inquisitions were operated by various states. The Church often intervened and argued against the severity of such things, particularly in Spain. Having said this, the saints were not heretics. Heretics were heretics, but which ones did you have in mind? There was a medieval sentiment that mortal sin and heresy were more dangerous than physical murder. The person who killed another could only murder the body. The heretic could murder the soul.
BJ HULK: Would I have been killed in those times for claiming to be a saint and disagree with the false gospel they were using?
FATHER JOE: There was no genuine Gospel in the early days of faith except for the Gospel still preached by the Catholic Church. I suppose you could have been a Gnostic/Manichean (mystery religion and chosen few, rejected matter as evil, claimed Jesus did not die on the Cross, no absolute omnipotent greatest good or God) or Nestorian (weak unity in Christ, two sons) or Arian (Jesus is a creature and not divine) heretic. Then you might have been persecuted, more likely exiled or silenced than killed.
BJ HULK: Do you know what the true gospel of Christ means?
FATHER JOE: Do you know the Gospel? Given that you falsify history and reject the meaning of the Church, I suspect that you really do not know what it is about. The Gospel or Good News of Christ has to do with our Lord’s revelation to men and with his saving works on our behalf. He offers us a new relationship with him, the forgiveness of sins and a share in eternal life. Look at the Prologue of John’s Gospel.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.
BJ HULK: Who are the lost sheep that Jesus talked about?
FATHER JOE: The lost sheep are the hurting, disadvantaged, oppressed, or otherwise marginalized. Our Lord went out to the tax collectors, prostitutes and other sinners. He chastised the Pharisees and scribes for their failure in this regard (and their criticism of him) and for their self-righteousness.
BJ HULK: How did Jesus know who his sheep were?
FATHER JOE: Jesus is God. There is nothing he does not know. The question is how did his sheep recognize him? Jesus says that the sheep recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd. They will not follow a stranger (like you Brad). We are talking here both about spiritual disposition and divine election. Faith is always a gift.
BJ HULK: If the Roman Catholic Church is the true church of Jesus Christ, why aren’t there any saints with the Holy Spirit in them and why aren’t they doing the preaching and teaching in the Catholic Church rather than priests who don’t have the Holy Spirit in them?
FATHER JOE: We have books listing some of the many saints in the last two thousand years who have witnessed for Christ in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has preached the Gospel around the planet and every year missionaries die and are tortured for Jesus. We have priests who sacrifice having wives and families so as to pour out their lives in service to God and his people. We have women religious like the late Mother Teresa who saw the face of Jesus in the poor and sick. She and her sisters cared for those whom the world had shunned. The very existence of the Church, despite adversity and weak men, is because of the constant protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
BJ HULK: The true church of Christ was built on the Rock of the spirit of Jesus Christ and all those who had the Holy Spirit were called saints. Where are they today?
FATHER JOE: The foundation stone of the Catholic Church is Jesus Christ. He is the invisible head of the Church. He gave Simon the name Peter or Kephas or ROCK and said that upon this ROCK he would build his Church. I would prefer to take Jesus’ word over your ignorant and bigoted distortions. Further we are established upon the whole Christ, body and soul, humanity and divinity. Your reference to the “spirit” of Christ is further evidence of a Gnosticism and not Christianity in your thinking. Jesus is risen from the dead!
BJ HULK: In fact, has any saint preached or taught in the Catholic Church since its conception or were they all dead before the Roman Catholic Church began?
FATHER JOE: So it is your contention that all who live and die in the Catholic Church are damned? You are truly a wicked sort, Brad. Can you not see the great good that the Church has accomplished? Read the four volumes of Butler’s Lives of the Saints. That is the real history of the Church. The Church is a lonely voice in the world today arguing for the sanctity of human life and for the dignity of marriage. She speaks for peace in a world racing to war. Can you not see the good fruits? Are you so hateful that you have you closed your mind to even those things that good people outside the Church find meritorious? This discussion is not about a mere difference of opinion upon certain topics. What you are saying smacks of darkness and evil. Be careful, the spirit that speaks to you, if not from your imagination, is a fallen spirit. You might disagree with Catholicism; but your remarks do not even reflect reality. The lives of the saints and the Church are the handiwork of God. You might think you are attacking only the Catholic Church; but you also target the goodness of God.
BJ HULK: Did you know the book of Revelation reveals the Roman Catholic Church as being involved with the beast, which is Satan’s deception on the whole world? They are the feet of the beast described in the book of Daniel along with Babylon, Persia-Medes, Greece and Rome.
FATHER JOE: Did you know that such an interpretation of Revelation was the work of anti-Catholic bigots and those who distrusted immigrants from Catholic countries? The Book of Revelation speaks about the persecution of the Church by pagan Rome, not Catholic or Christian Rome. The devil must surely laugh that the very allegations you make against the Church of Jesus Christ actually apply to you and those other anti-Christs who oppose her.
BJ HULK: I know the Roman Catholic Church is run by Satan and has been for 1600 years.
FATHER JOE: The more I read your words, the more I appreciate that you know nothing. You parrot lies from the enemies of the Church and yet claim to be a prophet of God. Our Lord warned us that many would appear in the last days and claim to speak for God or to be God’s anointed or Christ. Sorry to say, you are one of these, although not a very theologically astute false prophet and alone in a church of one.
BJ HULK: It was prophesied to happen this way and there’s nothing you can do about it. Everyone involved with the Catholic Church and the protestant churches are all deceived by this beast.
FATHER JOE: Would you condemn the whole world except for yourself? You do not even make room for Jesus in your brand of religion. It is all about yourself and your false Christ.
BJ HULK: It’s all because of disobedience to God and staying in their sins.
FATHER JOE: That’s right, you alone are the holy one. You alone are God’s prophet. You alone know the way to the kingdom, a kingdom to which no one else deserves a share. Not!
BJ HULK: No man can forgive another man and Jesus Christ didn’t come to forgive men who won’t obey him.
FATHER JOE: It seems that you really do not understand the Gospel at all, do you? Jesus came to reconcile men to God. He came to forgive sins. You deny this of both Christ and his priests. We are not saved by our own works but by the great work of Christ. We must cooperate with it. We must be properly disposed to his graces.
BJ HULK: He came to forgive those who listen to him and repent of sins when he asks them to. It is God who controls our repentance and forgiveness, not men. Men don’t know the hearts of other men.
FATHER JOE: The priests of Christ cannot generally read souls as Jesus did. That is why the sacrament includes the component of confession. They offer the absolution of Christ and give helpful counsel so that people might better walk with Christ.
BJ HULK: Only God knows such things and that is why we leave all this up to him. All we needed was faith, not religion, Pope’s, Priests and Pastors and false doctrines and gospels. This is what the Jews tried to do and they failed miserably because they wouldn’t obey God.
FATHER JOE: There is no Christian faith without religion. Even what you espouse is a type of Protestant religion, even if you are its only minister or would-be pope. The ministries of the true Church were established by Christ and passed down from the apostles. You represent a break from this succession and many deviant or false gospels. Yours is a religion of exclusion and bigoted hatred. Catholicism believes it is the true Church, but we pray for everyone and shower charity upon people without distinction. We extend the hand of friendship to Protestants, Jews, Moslems, and others. Where you tear down, we seek to build.
BJ HULK: If you can’t answer these questions it’s because you don’t have the spirit of God to help you. If you don’t answer them, then it should be obvious to you that you don’t know God at all.
FATHER JOE: Your so-called questions were not questions, but false allegations and charges. You blaspheme the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. And that is considered among the gravest of sins. May God have mercy on your soul!
JOHN: Well said Fr. Joe. You’re a fine priest and God certainly knew what he was doing when he called you to this vocation.
MARY: I guess you know who this guy is Fr. Joe (BJ HULK), but it sounds to me as if he was on this blog merely for “trolling,” as my 17 year old and her friends like to call it (wanting to stir up the pot just for kicks so to speak….). I guess he doesn’t have any friends or something…poor soul.
BJ HULK: I came here to flip over the tables of the money-changers, that is all. God came to ask people to obey him, not make excuses for their sins and keep on sinning. Father Joe believes he can keep on sinning because Jesus died on the cross for him. What he doesn’t understand is that we still have to obey God’s commands to inherit eternal life. If he’s still sinning, he is not obeying God. God bless you.
Ah, but you are not Jesus and this is not your house. Really, you are the robber or wolf who comes to steal the sheep away. But the good shepherd loves his sheep and protects them. His sheep know his voice. They will not follow a stranger.
Although you claim to be sinless, I perceive no such moral perfection in your interruptions here. But I have already called you on this. No excuse is made for either sin or sinning; rather, I have a healthy appreciation regarding human weakness and the infinite mercy of God. He is always ready and desiring to shower his forgiveness upon us. All he asks is that we come to him with contrite hearts.
Christ did die on the Cross for sinners, and yes, although I am not yet morally perfect, I seek always to walk in the good graces of God. If I become a saint, it will only because I have cooperated with God’s intervention in my life. I am no pelagian. No one can save himself apart from God. Jesus is the saving name. He is Lord.
Catholicism understands faith in terms of obedience and charity. We are admonished to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk.” But, we are also realists about the human condition. I suppose you would contend that anyone who professes Christ and then commits a sin (even a small one) is a liar. Well, I would beseech you to look more closely at your own life. You may very well stand condemned by your own mouth.
May God have mercy on you, a sinner!
BJ HULK: Brad – Thanks for the reply, Father Joe. I was hoping you would answer my questions but that’s okay. They are very difficult questions to answer, anyway.
FATHER JOE: You asked no questions, you made a lot of charges and ridiculed me and the Church. Why should I submit myself to your abuse or respond to your interrogation? Despite your attacks, you are the only one involved with an inquisition here.
BJ HULK: I didn’t come in here to give anyone a bad time. I came in here to speak the truth for the Lord and he comes with conviction to the heart. He is not soft in spirit in any way. If you would hear him in person, then you see how powerful he is.
FATHER JOE: Lying is a sin. You know full well that you came here to give me a bad time. You spam my site with long and derisive comments. You impugn my character and mock the Catholic Church. If you want, you can do this at your site, but not at mine. You came to speak your own private brand of truth, which is really no truth at all. I echo the teachings of my faith. You claim to bypass all churches and act as if you are the mouthpiece of God. You are very much deceived.
BJ HULK: The reason I stopped on your blog about celibacy is because this act has nothing to do with holiness.
FATHER JOE: Celibacy is a wonderful sacrificial form of loving. Following the pattern of our Lord and St. Paul, the celibate priest lives entirely for the flock of Christ. He is the slave of the people he serves. This expression of single-hearted love is noble and meaningful. The celibate clergyman would never deride the sacrament of marriage and the wonderful ways that husbands and wives love each other. But his focus is more directly upon the divine and he knows a special freedom in laying down his life for others. He belongs to no one family but to every family. Celibate love in the priesthood is directed to both service and holiness. It is far different than any kind of secular perception of celibacy. Celibacy is not merely a means to an ends, like productivity. Celibacy is in itself complete. Celibacy is not mere sexual abstinence or chastity. As I have written before, it is a manner of loving. It makes the priest a special sign of contradiction to the world. His treasure and values are not the same as the world. His delight is not simply in earthly pleasure but in the joy of serving the living God. St. Paul himself advises celibate love as most befitting and pointing toward the kingdom of God.
BJ HULK: All it does is creates more ungodliness (lack of holiness) and put a lot of people at risk such as the young boys and nuns that have to be around these priests with lust problems.
FATHER JOE: Your derision of such a pattern of holiness proves that you are a blind guide, someone who is lost himself. Your ridicule contradicts the great apostle and you blaspheme against the example that our Lord gave us in his own life. Of course, it is possible that you are one of those ignorant fools who think Jesus had sexual relations and/or secretly married Mary Magdalene. Are you? Men have the ability to be faithful to celibacy. Healthy heterosexual priests are celibate and have no interest in abusing children. These allegations of yours are just further evidence of your bigotry against the Church. Only wicked men would deride so many saints among the celibate priests and nuns. I was upset with you, now I pity you. I hope and pray that you have not transmitted such views to your wife and three children.
BJ HULK: By not obeying the Lord and having him help us repent of all our sins, man cannot become sinless and receive the Holy Spirit to make him a saint. It’s not our sins that God is concerned about because he can forgive us of all sins but he cannot make us obey him. By not obeying him, we all keep sinning and things like your celibacy are ineffective in achieving any spiritual rewards.
FATHER JOE: Your presumption knows no bounds. Most priests are faithful and we even vow obedience. We preach the forgiveness of sins and have been made ministers of reconciliation. Obedience to Christ, particularly the commandment to love, brings forth eternal life. Disobedience is always understood as sin. God gave us minds to know and hearts to love. He gave us freedom to say YES or NO. Celibacy is not an end unto itself, but must be accompanied by Christian love and faith. However, if you contend that celibate love does not dispose us toward spiritual benefits, then you are sorely deceived. Celibate priests have not wasted their lives. They gave their passion and fertility to God as a sacrificial gift. They did not merely turn away from something like a wife and family, but towards God and allowing him to use them as instruments of mercy and salvation.
BJ HULK: I know you grew up in the Catholic faith and I grew up in the Lutheran faith, which is very similar.
FATHER JOE: I thought you were a former Catholic? The churches are NOT all that similar. However, I did detect certain Lutheran ideas in your earlier argumentation.
BJ HULK: I left that church when I was 16 years old because of my love for alcohol instead. For the next 15 years I tried killing myself with this drug but God came to my rescue after I contemplated his existence. A few days later he took away my desire to drink and I haven’t had a drink since. This was my first sin that he forgave me of.
FATHER JOE: I am glad that you are sober and that God worked decisively in your life. However, you are way too quick to judge others. In addition, a distinction has to be made between forgiveness and (physical) healing.
BJ HULK: Then I met his son, Jesus Christ, who led me through some more repentance. Then he performed several miracles and healings for me to test my faith. This helped me when he took me out of the church that I was involved in for nine years. He left me be for six years before coming back to work out the rest of my repentance. It took another six years of obeying his commands to finally be sin free and get his Holy Spirit. God cannot live in an unholy vessel and that’s why we have to be sinless before he comes to live in us.
FATHER JOE: You talk about God and Jesus as if Jesus is not also of the one divine nature. It is not possible for me to say much about the subjective experiences you have had. Sometimes we as Catholics believe that God will wean us of the satisfactions we receive in faith and with his presence so that we will love the GIVER more than the GIFTS. It can also be said that God is omnipresent and that nothing exists apart from God. However, the mode of that presence can and does vary. Often when people think God is absent, it is not God but they themselves which have moved. Catholics also believe that God’s presence as grace cannot live in us if we are in mortal sin. Mortal sin ruptures our friendship with God. That does not mean that we are spiritually perfect… yet. Hopefully, we grow in wisdom and grace.
BJ HULK: I don’t lie because the Lord won’t let me. I never was a liar in the first place. My biggest problems were alcohol, pride and lust.
FATHER JOE: Self-deception is a kind of lying, as is the impugning of the celibate priesthood and me in particular. You claim to know more than you actually do. As for pride, I would invite readers to look at your words as the false mouthpiece of God and the sinless one.
BJ HULK: I would have been a very bad priest with my lust problem.
FATHER JOE: You would have been a very bad husband and father with a lust problem. Lust is always wrong and is not solved by having a spouse. Lust destroys. Lust treats the person as meat. Love embraces the whole person as a treasure. The beloved is given more importance and meaning than the lover. There is a mutual self-donation— nothing parasitical or predatory
BJ HULK: I do admire you men who go through that but if you have lust in your heart, then it’s impossible to keep the faith. This is one reason I’m against this celibacy. It was the same for my alcoholism. If there was a drink around, I would drink it. But after God removed my desire, I played in a band for three years afterwards and most of the time we were playing in the bars. Not once did I have an urge to drink. When God turns if off, it stays off.
FATHER JOE: Who has lust in the heart? Those who would be chaste and holy must do all they can to avoid sin in thought, word and deed. Lust is always a sin. Priests do not pine away the hours thinking about sex. However, you are rather singular in thinking that the eradication of addictions and/or sinfulness is like flipping a switch. Most ministers would take exception, as well. God works miracles, but sometimes his healings are not automatic but take time, prayer, penance, and patience. Men in Alcoholics Anonymous seek sobriety by placing their drinking and sobriety into the hands of a greater power. They know that where they are weak, he is strong. You cannot ridicule their faith because their sobriety was not like yours.
BJ HULK: But if we don’t want to obey God and keep enjoying our favorite sin, then it will stay around until the day we die. It doesn’t make any difference if you say you’re a Christian or not, your sins cause you spiritual death until you repent of them and God forgives you. It’s forgiveness that stops you from ever sinning again. Jesus forgives but not until we’re ready to listen to him and repent.
FATHER JOE: The Christian life is largely about displacing vices with virtues. Divine forgiveness does not mean that every personality flaw, or sinful tendency or weakness is suddenly eradicated. I have never heard anyone say such a thing. Even the apostle Paul had an infirmity, a thorn in the flesh that afflicted him while he was proclaiming the Gospel.
BJ HULK: If you don’t take me seriously and learn something from what I’m saying, then you are rejecting the Lord and this is called blaspheming the spirit. You can say all the mean things you want to me, (that is Brad), but the Lord is living in me and has very sensitive ears. Everything that you say to me is recorded by him and you will be judged accordingly.
FATHER JOE: I am beginning to wonder if you are quite right? It is not my intention to be mean; it is just that what you say is a tad peculiar. But you have every right to believe what you want and to live your life as you see fit. But you are not the last word from heaven and cannot speak for God. You are also not in charge of his lightning bolts. I will pray that you will come to the fullness of truth and receive whatever healing you still need. Peace!
FATHER JOE (on another Blog):
Brad, you are one sick puppy. We should certainly do all we can to avoid sin, and God’s grace can help us. But we still have a sinful condition. Repentance is always an element of the Christian life in this world. Hopefully, the Holy Spirit will remain with us and perfect us. Sanctifying grace, given in faith and baptism, makes us an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. Actual or helping graces assist those properly disposed in their transformation ever more and more into the likeness of Christ. As long as we are in a state of grace, our acts of charity have value and reflect something of Christ’s love for us.
You are wrong to view yourself as impeccable. You are wrong to view yourself as a Magisterium of one and the mouthpiece of God. You are wrong to place a nebulous spirit of revelation (personally experienced by you) over the written inspired Word of God. You are wrong about many things, and while I cannot read your soul or the ignorance which might excuse you, I suspect you are still very much in your sins. This must be the Devil’s Catch-22: the sinner who thinks he is sinless and so no longer seeks mercy. That is a hell of a scenario.
I will keep praying for you.
MISTER WAC: You preach with Wisdom, Father. I’ll remember you at the tomb of Mother Seton tomorrow.
DOG GOD: Brad, you say Fr Joe is not answering your questions. But the “questions” which you say he is not answering, all begin with “Did you know…?” and then continue with an assertion or an accusation of some sort. Those are not questions.
LUCY: I think celibacy is an abomination to God like for example homosexuality. I think this because of the story of Adam and Eve. When I have heard Christians say why they think homosexuality is wrong they often point to Adam and Eve and state that God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. I think this rule applies to celibacy. God did not make Adam alone. He did not only make Eve. He made them both with the sole purpose of them being partners. Eve comes from Adam’s rib; she is a part of him. Adam cannot therefore, be complete without Eve. So if a man does not have a wife he is denying himself a part of himself, and he is ignoring the purpose God made woman. Man and woman complete each other; how can celibate people run the Church if they are not complete and are not doing what God intended?
FATHER JOE: Men and women complement each other but they do not complete each other. Remember that marriage is an earthly institution. It points to the marriage of the Lamb. Love survives the grave but the sacrament of marriage will no longer be required in heaven. We shall see face-to-face that to which marriage points. Marriage exists for the propagation of the species. It also gives women and men special helpmates in this life and supports in becoming saints. St. Paul recommends celibacy as an eschatological sign of the kingdom. Are you saying that your interpretation of Genesis negates the letters and ministry of St. Paul? Sorry, but you are wrong. Homosexual activity is wrong, condemned by Scripture and is a disorientation of the natural order. Celibacy is perfectly natural. Men and women do not need genital activity to survive and to be happy. We all need friends and the celibate priest and religious has friends and peers who have embraced the same life. Those who would deride celibacy, also undermine the institution of marriage. Healthy and successful marriages are not unions between people trying to find in others what is missing in themselves. Rather, they are unions of people who are whole and fully integrated.
JANINE: If Brad thinks he is so perfect he should try walking on water.
BJ HULK: Hi Janine, when I do walk on the water, it will be the Lord doing it. I’ll be just hanging on.