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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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14 Year Old Girl Risks Life at Sea Alone!

The world is crazy! This morning I read in the news that a 14-year-old Dutch girl, Laura Dekker, headed out to sea from Portugal in the hopes of becoming the youngest person to sail ALONE around the world. If you were to ask me, I would say her parents should be locked up and the child placed in protective custody. I would question the judgment of an adult and experienced sailor who would attempt such an unnecessary stunt. But this is only a teenage girl who should be entering the eighth grade. I do not care if she wants to do it or not. Parents who take their responsibilities seriously must sometimes say NO to kids! She is not even legal age for a license, let alone for such a perilous disregard for her life. Do her parents and manager think they will get famous and share big money for her adventure? I noticed from the story that they are trying to sell the rights to the videos of her trip. Here is voyeurism taken to the extreme. Given the clamor these days about child abuse, and rightfully so, does no one else see this as exploitive and hurtful? If this is not child endangerment then I do not know what is. I would hope if she survives to reach American waters that the Coast Guard would intercept her and take her butt back home where it belongs.

The latest word is that her communications equipment is malfunctioning. She is making her trip in a 38 foot long ship called, “Guppy.” The trip will take over a year! The truant officer is going to have his work cut out for him when she fails to report to school. Homeschooling requires a parent teacher and she has no supervision at all. The Dutch child protection services rightfully questioned such insanity. This girl will have to travel the world’s oceans alone, in a ship made for far shorter excursions when fully staffed.

I guess the courts are a disappointment all around the world. We criticize them here at home on matters like abortion and the Dutch court releases the girl in question from the secure guardianship of Dutch child protection services. The agencies were reasonably fearful for her safety and psychological health. No sooner was she released last month, she was spirited away, said goodbye to her dad and friends, and set sail from an undisclosed Portuguese port on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

One supporter argued that the kid was mature for her age and had passed a maritime examination given in the Netherlands. Whoopee! I can fly a kite; maybe I should tie rockets to my backend and shoot for the moon? No, I do not think so. Seriously, she might have grown up on boats with her father, but the key term forgotten here is “with her father.” This young girl is now alone on the seas. Most grown men would panic at such a prospect. There is not simply the issue of the inherit danger and challenges: mechanical failures, abrupt weather changes, etc. But what effects might there be upon her own mental health in being alone for so long? What kind of lasting effects might it have on one so young? If this girl gets hurt or worse yet, dies— I suspect there will be a lot of “passing the buck” and finger-pointing. But her father (and mother, if she is around), her manager, and the Dutch courts will be guilty of abuse and murder.

The Guinness Book of Records reported that they will have nothing to do with it. Concerned about the health and lives of children, they no longer record the attempts of the “youngest” sailors. I would recommend that we all keep this young girl in our daily prayers. If her own parents will not protect her, we can commend her to the watchful eyes of our heavenly Father.

What do you think?

How young might this crazy business ultimately go?