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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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Priests Cannot Bless Sin

The news has been on fire with the fact that certain German Catholic priests plan to bless same-sex couples on May 10 in defiance of the Vatican decree against it. What exactly does it mean for a priest to bless these couples?  The priest in his very person is an icon for Christ and for his saving activity or ministry in the Church.  It is for this reason that he is forbidden to be present as a witness at marriages not condone as licit and valid.  His very presence signifies approbation or authorization.  Priests can bless persons, places or things.  The word “blessing” can mean many things, but always it signifies divine favor and protection.  What is the statement being made?  What is the spiritual effect of such a blessing or is this merely a political statement.  Certainly we want to elevate the dignity of others as persons with value and rights.  However, can a priest truly bless that which is objectively regarded as wrong and sinful?  Would not such an attempted benediction signify a blasphemy and sacrilege?  When general blessings are given, a priest incurs no culpability if some should lack the correct disposition.  However, the person who dissents and wants his or her wrong labeled as virtuous or a right likely incurs judgment for mortal sin.  If a priest deliberately seeks to bless that which is offensive to God then that priest becomes a broken sign and is personally convicted before the Lord.  Is not the prohibition against blessing same-sex unions more than a disciplinary decree but rather reflective of the Church’s fidelity to the commandments and the moral law?  Maybe we should be more concerned about the formation and inner dissent of these priests than anything, no matter how problematical, they threaten to carry out?  The mind of Christ is also that of the Church.  The compassion of Jesus sometimes embraces a tough love.    

The statement from the dissenting German priests cannot be allowed to stand without consequences.  It is a dare to the universal Church: 

“In view of the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bless homosexual partnerships, we raise our voices and say: We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership in the future and bless their relationship.  We do not refuse a blessing ceremony. We do this in our responsibility as pastors, who promise people at important moments in their lives the blessings that God alone gives. We respect and value their love, and we also believe that God’s blessings are on them.”

Perhaps it is due to the heightened eroticism of our times, but I would fault these shepherds for buying into the notion of transitive gender and deviant sexual intimacy as signposts to personal identity and expressive of genuine love.  As I have written before, the Church would have little concern if such people would broaden their identity beyond any disorientation and commit themselves to a celibate brotherly and sisterly love.  No matter what they want or how hard they try, priests cannot in truth extend the benediction of Christ and his Church over sodomy and equivalent sins.      

The statement from these dissenting clergy speaks not simply to errors in their thinking but also to a heresy of the heart.  They write: 

“Theological arguments and knowledge gained are sufficiently exchanged. We do not accept that an exclusive and outdated sexual morality is carried out on the back of people and undermines our work in pastoral care.” 

Their general assumption is that the Scriptures, our appreciation of natural law and Church moral teaching are wrong.  This is an affront to the Holy Father and the Magisterium over faith and morals.  They have made up their minds.  They buy into the notion that modernity is better attuned to the truth than ancient teachings from faith.  They make themselves the slaves to fashion and fad and cease being sentinels of Christ and signs of contradiction to an unbelieving world.  It is no wonder they have so few conversions to faith because the world has converted them.  No, we are not morally better today.  Indeed, there is a satanic veil that covers the consciences of many so that the truth about the sanctity of life and the dignity of persons cannot be easily discerned.  They wrongly argue that human nature has evolved or changed so that answers from the past are now outmoded and needlessly burdensome.  They are saying that the Church has been wrong for 2,000 years and now they are an enlightened few that can dictate to the rest of the Church.  Note the use of the word “exclusive,” meaning that they reject any form of universal truth or morality— collapsing entirely to a capricious moral code and relativity.

What the organizer Klaus Nelissen says is utter nonsense.  He states, that since Monday is traditionally a day off for priests, “No bishop can tell them not to do it, since they are doing it on their own time.” He speaks about the priesthood as one might a 9 to 5 job.  The vocation of priesthood never lets a man off— he is a priest 24 hours a day, every day— it is who he is.  He has vowed obedience to his bishop and the Holy See.  If Nelissen is a priest, I would urge censure and immediate evaluation of his fitness for priestly ministry. 

The Vatican is clear.  Pope Francis has tried to reconcile with the gay community but about the blessing of same-sex unions, he is adamant:  the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions because God “does not and cannot bless sin.” Such unions even if recognized by the state cannot be blessed by the Church. The Vatican statement asserted, “For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”

Where Does the Christian Find Home?

I can understand why, with each change in administration, many Americans become anxious and concerned.  While we place our trust in God, it is easy to worry and to feel apprehension.  God blesses his people.  However, as with Israel of old, when the people forget God, they often find themselves facing threats and enemies without divine blessing or protection. 

It is true that we are pilgrims or strangers in this world— we are people on a journey.  However, while our true home is heaven, I would take exception with those who would contend that nothing significant of our home can be found in this world.  Yes, as believers we look to Christ as our king and he tells Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world.  Otherwise, his followers would be coming to his defense.  But not long after that dark day leading to his passion and death, our resurrected Lord fully establishes his holy Church.  The mystery of the incarnation would remind us that the kingdom of God breaks into the world, first through the person of Christ and then through the Church he institutes and showers with his Holy Spirit.  A Catholic praying in a church or participating at Mass is truly home, no matter where in the world he might be.  Indeed, something of this “home” is shared by the “little church” of the family where we first learn our faith, our prayers and our values.  It is for this reason that the bishops stand up to defend the nature of marriage and the family along with the meaning of children as persons with rights (even in the womb).  While we are counted individually as citizens, it is the family that sanctifies and gives meaning to the American experiment.  We seek to be a country where basic human rights are safeguarded and where all might be free.  However, this liberty should never be derailed or corrupted as license or made absolute and exclusionary.  We are a people in community and as Americans believe that God has blessed us as a nation, not just for ourselves, but as a beacon of light for all other nations.  Patriots love their country.  This is a virtue. While nationalism would dismiss social evils and tolerate or enable sin, “my country right or wrong,” true patriotism would seek to maintain the core values of our God-given rights and values, “supporting our nation when she is right and correcting her when she is wrong.”  As with Berlin’s national hymn, we should never be ashamed to sing, “God bless America, my home sweet home. God bless America, my home sweet home.”

Ultimately, the old saying that “home is just where one hangs his hat” is untrue; rather, HOME is where one finds his HEART. We welcome the real but invisible presence of Christ in his sacrament and in our families, particular in the eyes of a beloved spouse and children. We pass on the faith to our little ones. We also hope to pass to them a country and world better than when we first entered ourselves.

Our First Parents & Biblical Longevity


My question is quick but I am assuming not simple. In Genesis they mention a lot of people who were born after Adam. Some of these people live 600 plus years. My question is this, was time measured differently back then? I am trying to rationalize how those numbers came to be.


How are we to interpret the many years of life attributed to the patriarchs of Genesis?  This question must be discussed in context with the story of creation.  It so challenges credulity, that there are authorities who would reject the inquiry as silly.  Giving preference to evolution over the Genesis narratives, they would argue the entire business is fiction and contend that the numbers only serve symbolic purposes and certainly cannot be real.  We take confidence in God’s sustaining creative power and that we would need a time machine to go back and see for sure about the longevity.  The Church does teach that because of the primordial fall, death enters the world.  This means either that Adam and Eve were initially immortal or that death as we know it did not exist, no more than opening a door and moving from one room to the next where they would continue to see and to live with God forever.  Certain fundamentalists contend that the human lifespan grew shorter after the fall, especially following the deluge that destroyed the known world.  

We must be careful in our approach to such questions, neither to allow our belief in the supernatural to unreservedly color our assumptions or the current atheism to infect and poison confidence that ours is the God of the miraculous. Truth must be upheld and one form of truth complements another:  scientific, religious and philosophical.  Today, many of us are persuaded given the fossil evidence and DNA markers, that God brought forth humanity from lower pre-existing forms of life.  When a proper body was prepared, God infused an immortal soul and we had the first man.  A maxim popular in Catholic circles comes to mind:  “The Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”  While the Scriptures contain myth and even Genesis has two distinct creation narratives, there are important truths that must not be lost.  God creates everything freely from nothing. 

The creation of the first man and woman signified a decisive moment when self-reflective creatures with souls were called forth to respond in kind to the God who has made them in his own image.  As the stewards of creation they could rightly love God back. God held out to them preternatural gifts left unclaimed and some of the Church fathers believed that the incarnation was imminent where the Lord would join himself to creation.  However, our first parents rebelled against God. 

I often ponder that decisive moment that we call the fall. I can imagine Adam with his wife Eve by his side staring at the sunrise of what should be a new day. Suddenly they have a “eureka moment” and are filled with awe from a divine presence and clear sense of their high calling— seeing with the eyes of the soul something beyond this world.  All they have to do is say YES, just as Mary did at her Annunciation and Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. But it all seems too much to bear.  The devil directs them to turn away— a distraction that breaks the vision. As with the cli·ché, they “cannot see the forest for the trees” or at least for one forbidden tree. They might ponder the gifts of food, drink, pleasure and comfort— but wrongly claim the gifts while neglecting the giver.  It is easier to play the part of the beast.  Eyes that once gazed upward now turn to the ground.  Arms and hands raised in priestly praise to heaven now fall to the earth.  They and their descendants will trod as animals and totter when they seek to stand as men.  Any prospect for the incarnation passes to the future and to a promise made to rebellious children.  God tells them, “You have forgotten me but I have not forgotten you, and I promise, one day I will come searching for you so to bring you home.” Yes, God will enter the human family, not just to unite us to himself but to save us from ourselves and from the devil.        

Did Adam live to be 930 years old?  Did Methuselah live to be 969?  I cannot say.  It is unlikely.  However, God can do as he pleases.  I have an aunt who passed away at 124.  Unless I show the newspaper clippings from when she turned 117, most refuse to believe me and think I am pulling their leg.  It must be admitted that the Semitic people liked playing with numbers and had an elaborate numerology. Even the letters of their alphabet had numeral values.

Whatever the actual ages, the ancient peoples lived long enough to have children and to pass on their stories and their faith.  God would call a people and prepare them for a Messiah who would mend the rift between heaven and earth.  Our Lord Jesus would only live thirty some odd years in this world and his ministry would last a mere three years.  However, in that short time he would accomplish his mission— redeeming us from the devil, raising the dignity of human nature by his participation, and bringing healing and the forgiveness of sins by grace.  After his resurrection, Jesus descends to the dead and drags Adam and Eve by the hair into heaven. 

Sex: Sin or God’s Gift?


I grew up in a small strict Protestant church. I was taught that sex was a sin— period; and if you did it you were going to hell— period. Our Lady told us that most people go to hell for sins of the flesh. So there you have it. The only other sin of the flesh that I can think of is gluttony. It could be forgiven if you were doing it to have children but you still had to repent. Every time they talked about the unforgivable sin, I knew what they were talking about.


You were taught wrong. It is true that there are a few sects that label all sex as sinful; this mentality afflicted Martin Luther who at one point argued that even consensual sex between married spouses was venial sin. Catholics struggled with something of this mentality in the heresy of Jansenism. Let me correct you. God is the author of human sexuality and all that God creates is good. Human sin can corrupt or misdirect a good, but God is never the direct author of evil. Sex between spouses, the marital act, is a holy thing that consummates the marriage and makes possible the creation of new human beings into which God infuses immortal souls. Lust is always a sin but the yearning and intimacy of holy passion makes possible marital fidelity and the family. It is because of the high place given this sacramental act or great mystery that the misuse of sex through abuse, contraception, homosexuality, pedophilia and adultery is so very wrong.

Sex is not the unforgivable sin. Indeed, condemnation of the marital act as sinful might be regarded as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit— just as serious as those who accused Jesus of healing and working miracles through the intervention of demons. It is this blasphemy that is unforgivable for one cannot both embrace and reject the powerful mercy of God. Of course, while there is mortal life, there is hope; at death our state before the Lord becomes fixed.

How Much Do We Believe in a Second Coming?

Is it okay to pray that this signals the Second Coming? Does that scare anyone? Come Lord Jesus Come!

01. “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5). Hum, there are plenty of politicians and one in particular that seems to fit that bill. Check.

02. “You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…” (Matthew 24:6-7). Indisputable, we live in a truly divided and dangerous world. Check.

03. “But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). This defines the hedonism of contemporary society. Check.

04. “…there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place” (Matthew 24:7). Such events are also in the news. Check.

05. “I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades accompanied him. They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). Does the coronavirus pandemic count as a plague? Check.

06. “When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God” (Revelation 6:9). The Church knows growing persecution by Communist China, a secular West and Islamic terrorism. The martyrs herald the birth of the Church and her final consummation in the Lord. Check.

07. “After the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). “The stars in the sky fell to the earth like unripe figs shaken loose from the tree in a strong wind” (Revelation 6:13). Fires in the U.S, in the Amazon and now in Arizona have polluted the atmosphere and blocked the sun’s light. Recently, Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites were launched as a ring of stars in the night sky. This past October we experienced a Blood Moon. Now we have this conjunction of Jupiter and Saturday that was purportedly the Star of Bethlehem that announces the coming of the Messiah. Hum, check!

Virus or no virus, I think we had better seek out the sacrament of penance and reaffirm our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We know neither the day nor the hour. He will come like a thief in the night. Let us remain sober and awake, with lamps burning brightly, as sentinels for the Lord!

Are All Who Know About Jesus Saved?


Today I was in a discussion with a Polish Catholic. She told me that the Catholic Church teaches that someone who is not Catholic (or from any other branch of Christianity) but has heard about Jesus, can go to heaven just because of their good works. As a Protestant, it was a really interesting point. I have talked about the difference with Catholics— about being saved by faith or saved by faith plus works. I am aware of the origin of the Catholic idea and to some extent I would support it, based on the epistle of James. However, what this person said was really weird to me. As a Protestant, we may leave the door open for people who have never heard about Jesus and have the law in their hearts. Those may be saved by living in accordance to the law (i.e. deeds). But we would never apply this to people who have heard about Jesus. Can someone explain this idea and tell me if this is in the Catholic catechism?  Thanks a lot!


First, while there is a universal call to salvation we would reject any kind of universalism that presumes that everyone is necessarily saved.  As much as we might want it otherwise, there is ample Scriptural evidence that hell is real.  Indeed, such makes room for the misuse of human freedom and for the imposition of divine justice.  Second, salvation is a gift that apart from Christ we could not earn or merit.  No one deserves heaven.  Third, while St. Augustine will speak of a predestination to glory, it is difficult in this world to know as to which city we belong.  The many names of the elect are only known by almighty God.    

This is the basic soteriological question:  “Can someone who is not a Catholic and/or a Christian be saved?”  Similar to the notion you mention as a Protestant of “leaving a door open” for good people who do not know the Lord, we would refrain as Catholics from saying in a particular fashion who might be damned.  While the Lord is a just judge, he is also infinitely merciful.  Knowing our place, we would refrain from telling God his business.  God saves whomever he wills to save.  The catechism stipulates, going back to ancient days before there were any Protestant churches and the East and West were still one that ‘there is no salvation outside the Church.”  This is connected to the teaching that there is no other way to the Father except through Jesus Christ. The Church is defined as the mystical body of Christ.  We read in Colossians 1:18:  “He is the head of the body, the church.”  (Note also that when the apostle Paul encounters the Lord and is struck blind, he becomes aware that to persecute the Church is to attack Christ.)  Thus, Catholics will refer both to Christ and the Church as “the way.”  Pope Benedict XVI clarified that there is one covenant between the Jews and Christians and that it is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Any who would find themselves in heaven will have to thank Christ as our one Mediator and Lord.  Many non-Christian critics do not like this view, but it is a root dogma for all true Christianity.  Either the redemptive passion and Cross of Jesus is essential or it is meaningless and our Lord is a fraud. 

While the saving work of Christ is imperative, we must be disposed to the graces of God.  The more one knows the more one will be held accountable.  If a person knows that Jesus is Lord and that he directly instituted the Catholic Church as the great sacrament of his mercy and reconciliation then he or she must enter the Church to be saved.  Indeed, when we celebrate the Eucharist, congregants are asked to spiritually join themselves to Christ so that we might offer ourselves to the Father as one acceptable sacrifice.  This is the core of our worship.  Our participation at Calvary is not entirely passive. How God will judge ignorance is not for us to know.  We cannot read individual souls.  Does faith and baptismal create at least a tenuous attachment to the Church?  Would the Lord reject any who love him even though they should be bias or unaware about the nature of the Church?  Certainly the Catholic Church intercedes in her worship and prayer for those who are formally outside her ranks— might this have value?  What does it mean to know Jesus?  I suspect that some reduce this to merely be aware of his name and yet he is so much more.

A woman came to me years ago to take classes for baptism and entry into the Church because she wanted to share the faith of her husband.  It was during the process of that formation that she came to know Jesus both as her “personal” and as “our communal” Savior.  At the beginning, when I asked her about Jesus, all she knew was that “he was a nice man.”  She had yet to appreciate that he was the Word made flesh, the Second Person of the Trinity and God come among us.  A “nice man” did not cut it— not enough.  She had yet to really know the full truth about Jesus.

I should add something about saving faith as well.  Not only in James but in the Gospels themselves it is made clear that faith is more than words or even a mental dedication.  Faith must be realized by an attitude of loving obedience.  That is why our Lord becomes angry that religious leaders have neglected the spirit of the law.  He emphasizes this spirit by speaking of the twofold commandment of love, first to God and then as a love that cannot be contained and overflows upon neighbor.  John will also speak about this saying that if we say we love God but hate our brother then we are a liar. Faith is defined as both knowing the Lord and loving him.  This love is affirmed, not through empty works, but through works of charity.  There is a big difference.  What the Lord does always has value.  We invite the Lord in love to live and work through us.  Jesus warns his listeners.  Read Matthew 7: 21-23:  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’”

Catholics believe that while faith might only be apparent and false, it can also start off as authentic and later sour.  This is why the apostle Paul speaks so about staying the course or running the race to receive the crown.  We must remain steadfast in faith. The witness of Judas and Peter is always before us.  Both were called to be apostles and both betrayed the Lord.  Judas despairs and dies.  Peter repents and tells the resurrected Jesus three times on the beach, “I love you.”  He is healed and restored to his visible headship.  There are three things that last.  We abide in the HOPE of our salvation in this world.  We are to encounter and claim Christ by FAITH in our pilgrimage to the gates of the heavenly kingdom.  However, hope will be realized and faith will be replaced by an intimate knowing when we see God in the beatific vision.  It is only LOVE that enters with us into heaven and it is in this divine LOVE that we will abide with the saints and the Lord forever.  Peace!

Cohabitation & Reception of Holy Communion


I am an 18 year old Catholic.  I got pregnant early this year and gave birth outside of wedlock.  Because I live with the father of my baby outside of marriage, can I receive the Holy Communion?


First, while I cannot approve of sin I want to affirm your decision to keep your child and to give birth.  Second, while I can appreciate the emotional and material reasons for cohabitation, the failure to get married is problematical.  Third, if there are the makings of spousal love with the genuine desire and the ability to sustain a family, I would urge the two of you to speak to a priest about getting married in the Church.  However, only the two of you as a couple can determine if this relationship has what it takes to make a life-long and faithful marriage.  You are very young and I cannot gauge your maturity. Further, you say nothing about the man with whom you live. Is he single? Are we talking about fornication or adultery?  While there is some discussion about the status of couples in irregular unions and the reception of sacraments, the usual answer is that such couples should refrain from reception given that they are apparently living in mortal sin.  Sexual intercourse and cohabitation outside of marriage is a grievous moral wrong.  A person in serious sin is not disposed to the graces of the Eucharist.  Indeed, it brings down God’s judgment in terms of scandal and blasphemy. 

Whatever else, contact the priest for the child’s sake so that you might have the baby baptized and then brought up in the Catholic faith.  Peace!  

Financially Boycotting Companies


I feel very upset because of the legalization of the killing of our unborn children. I know that some businesses and stores support Planned Parenthood and I try not to buy from them; however, (because I am a selfish person) I sometimes want out of convenience to shop in these places. Would it be wrong to do so?


I suspect that it would be almost impossible to avoid all sorts of establishments. I think the effort to confront them on the level of the wallet is notable but such exclusion would not be absolutely binding. So you might patronize certain stores because of necessity. Know also that many companies and organizations do not advertise their support for PP or for other organizations engaged in these or other egregious wrongs.

Oblivion over Hell?


I need your guidance and help.  I have a selfish doubt that lingers in my mind. I know it’s wrong but I’m scared of the thought because it lingers and can cause damage to my mind. Over the past few months I have found God in my life and I’m learning every day.  Still sometimes but not constantly, I wish religion were not real so that good people without faith might not have to suffer eternity in hell. It makes me feel depressed that I have loved ones who are atheists and thus may have to suffer this fate one day.  I fear it potentially for myself as well. I have repented of my past sins and I am living my life now by God’s word, but I am still scared at the thought of hell. It may be a wrong and selfish thought, but has anyone ever battled something similar? How did you help them through it?

It is not that I am rejecting the idea of God and his religion. I love God and the amazing things he has done for the world.  I just sometimes think it would be a relief if there were nothing and thus no one would suffer after death. Could you please clarify if I am sinning by having this thought? If I am, what sin is it?  I need to know so as to work through it. 


You say that you are not rejecting the “idea” of God but that you love him.  An argument for God’s existence and the notion of a deity will (in itself) save no one.  We are called to a relationship with the “person” of God and this is defined as a bond of love.  Saving faith in Jesus Christ is measured by charitable obedience or fidelity.  The proclamation of the Good News is an important part of our commission as believers.  Hopefully those who hear this testimony and see our witness will be disposed to know and to love and to serve the Lord.  Salvation is a mystery within God’s providence and we must trust to his will and plan for each of us.  If there be any sin or weakness of faith to what you attest it is in respects to this trust or confidence.  The prospect of nothing beyond the grave might be preferred by those who are wicked and mistreat others; however, the lack of a heavenly reward would be unjust for those who have taken up their crosses to follow Jesus.  Many have sacrificed everything for the Gospel.  Many good people through no fault of their own have known great pain and sickness in this world.  The prospect of heaven is held out by a good God to let us know that he is just and has not forgotten his own.