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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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Questions & Answers About Miscellaneous Matters

Does it really matter to what church a person belongs as long as he does what is right?

While we must all live and believe according to the dictates of conscience, objectively speaking, if a person wants to be assured of knowing and doing what is right, he will belong to the right or true Church. The various churches are not the same. Christ directly established the Catholic Church and saving truth subsists in her.

Why are there so many sinners in the Catholic Church?

This is no truer for the Catholic community than it is for others. Christ called to himself sinners and the Catholic Church has been ever faithful in doing the same. We seek the repentance and conversion of souls. We leave ultimate judgment of the weeds and the wheat to our Lord.

Cannot a person be an honest and faithful Christian without going to church?

He may on some level be a believer, but such a person is not a good Christian. The true Christian realizes that just as he is indebted to neighbors and friends, so too does he have debts before God. He was made for God. The Christian approaches God, not as an isolated individual, but as a member of a family of faith, a new People of God. It is our duty to go to Church and every Catholic is required under pain of mortal sin to participate at Sunday Mass.

Why is not fidelity to the Bible sufficient for a union of faith?

The problem is that the “right meaning” of the Bible must be followed for such a unity. The so-called bible churches all claim to follow the Bible and yet they are divided from each other and the fragmentation continues. The union of faith mandates an infallible teacher or interpreter of the Bible as well as a membership willing to submit their judgment to higher authority.

Why do Catholics believe in dogmas instead of the Bible?

Catholic dogmas of faith are generally the teachings of the Bible defined and elaborated upon by competent authority.

Are there not many roads leading to heaven?

Our Lord, Jesus, said that there would be one fold only– one faith, one Church, and one God. No, there is only one road to heaven and that is the one Jesus has marked for us. Truth is not relative, especially upon this point. Christ cannot contradict himself. This gives great impetus to our missionary and evangelization campaigns. However, Catholics themselves should as St. Paul reminds us, “Be of one mind,” and be configured to Christ (Phil 2:5). God certainly judges us according to what we know to be true and how we live out our faith in good conscience. The Church prays for her own and even for those outside her fold. She seeks to embrace them and save them. Who can estimate the efficacy of such intercessory prayer?

Can we believe in a Catholic Church as the true Church but not in the ROMAN Catholic Church?

No, we cannot. They are one and the same. No matter whether the rite is Western or Eastern, the head of the true Church is the bishop of Rome, the Pope.

Do we not all believe in one God?

Most, but not everyone is monotheistic. Mormon doctrine actually holds for polytheism (multiple gods). Religions from the East are also bringing pagan gods into the picture of our culture. Some believe in no god at all. Others define him in unacceptable ways. Further, we do not practice the same things that we were commanded. It should also be said that the devil knows there is one God and it does him no good.

Why do Catholics believe in teachings that are said not to be understandable?

While we do not understand the intrinsic nature of certain doctrines, we know they must be true because God who will not and cannot deceive us revealed them. Of course, there are still natural mysteries that we do not entirely comprehend, and yet, we believe and experience them as true.

Why do Catholics fail to wash one another’s feet as Christ commanded in John 13:1-15?

Actually, it is done on Holy Thursday. The bishop washes the feet of twelve men. This command was not given to all, but to the apostles. It is intimately connected to the call to ministry and priesthood. Jesus did not offer this ritual as a required act for salvation, but only as a reminder of humility modeled after our Lord, himself.

Why do Catholics burn incense in church since Isaiah 1:13 says: “Incense is an abomination to me”?

God rebuked the people for their sins while offering incense to him. God himself commanded the offering of incense, but only as long as it was done with a pure heart.

If Catholics are so good then how can the Church excuse the persecution of Protestants in Spain during the Inquisition?

The civil government of Spain used religion to promote its agenda of unification and national security; the Church did not sanction the harsh treatment of Protestants. Ferdinand and Isabella established the Inquisition for more political than religious reasons. The Jews and the Moors faced the blunt of the assault. The latter group was seen as an enemy of the state. The royal officers who made up the inquisitors also persecuted bishops and priests when it suited their political aims. They imprisoned the Archbishop of Toledo for sixteen years. Repeatedly, the popes protested against the inquisition.

Did Protestants ever persecute Catholics?

Martin Luther advised his followers to kill the popes, cardinals, bishops, and all who would defend them. John Calvin unmercifully persecuted those who disagreed with his views. John Knox was so ruthless that some 17,000 so-called witches were burned in Scotland alone in the course of forty years. Knox said that people were bound in conscience to execute the queen and to kill all the priests. In England, Catholics were fined a hundred dollars a month for failing to participate at Protestant worship. Irish Catholics were imprisoned in dungeons, hanged, drawn and quartered, and faced other frightful ends because of their fidelity to the Catholic faith.

Is it not the Galileo affair, in which he was imprisoned, proof that the Catholic Church opposes progress?

The Pope merely refused to accept proofs that Galileo offered to prove the theory that the earth moves around the sun. Galileo tried to prove it from the Bible, which was impossible. Protestants and Catholics alike rejected his proofs. Nevertheless, the Church honored Cusa and Copernicus who maintained similar theories. However, they claimed as their scientific opinion, only what they could prove.

Since there is nothing in the Bible about it, how can Catholics contend that St. Peter was the bishop of Rome?

Much of what we know comes from tradition. Archeological work and the evidence are that St. Peter was executed in Rome. Pious tradition and Christian lore tend to fill out the story:

St. Peter started his apostolic work ten days after the ascension, about the fifteenth of May in the year 34 AD. He remained four years in Jerusalem and preached the gospel there. Afterwards, he traveled to Antioch where he remained seven years, preaching and administering Church affairs. He left Antioch and returned to Jerusalem where he was imprisoned. Miraculously delivered (Acts 12), he went and preached the gospel in Rome. He performed many miracles and the Church flourished. From that location, he began to send bishops and priests throughout the known world. After seven years, the Emperor Claudius banished him from Rome. He visited Britain, Carthage, and Alexandria and finally returned to Jerusalem. It was there that St. Paul consulted him regarding the Gentiles and the observance of circumcision (Council of Jerusalem). St. Peter decided that the Gentiles were not bound by this matter of the Mosaic law. When Emperor Claudius died, the infamous Nero succeeded him. Peter returned to Rome, just as Aquilla and Priscilla had done. Two years later, St. Paul joined Peter as a prisoner in Rome. During the 22nd year of St. Peter’s Roman pontificate, Nero set the city on fire. The emperor placed the blame on the Christians and persecution ensued. St. Peter left Rome again. The 24th year, he returned and foretells his death (Acts 1:14). St. Peter and St. Paul had frustrated Simon Magus’ magical arts. The two apostles were thrown into the Mamertine prisons for nine months, where St. Paul composed his second letter to Timothy. They converted Process, Martinian, the keeper of the prison, and 47 prisoners. St. Peter miraculously caused water to spring forth from the prison floor in order to baptize the new converts. This well is still preserved. In the 25th year of his Roman pontificate, St. Peter and St. Paul were sentenced to death. St. Peter was crucified upon an inverted cross on Mount Janiculum (feeling unworthy to die precisely like his Lord). St. Paul was taken to the Salvia waters about four miles south of Rome and beheaded. When St. Paul’s head fell under the sword, it made three bounds and a fountain is said to have sprung forth at each place where his head hit the ground. Three fountains are still venerated at the site.

For more such material, contact me about getting my book, CATHOLIC QUESTIONS & ANSWERS.

8 Responses

  1. Is the Catholic church involved in gangstalking?

    FATHER JOE: The proclamation of the faith is a gift offered and freely accepted, not a propaganda or indoctrination that is imposed.

  2. Fr Joe,
    I am finding multiple conflicting answers to this question, and am wondering what you think. I went to pharmacy school never considering that there might be moral issues that could arise over my catholic faith. Pharmacists dispense oral contraceptives in outpatient settings, and in hospital settings, methotrexate for ectopic pregnancies and emergency contraception for sexual assault cases in the emergency room. As I have gotten older and learned more about my faith, this has enlightened me to the conflicts. I have sought advice as to whether pharmacists dispensing these things are in mortal sin. I have been told by more than 1 priest that since I neither prescribe nor use these items that I am fine. Other places I see the opinion that I am participating in an evil act and am definitely morally culpable. I don’t understand why there is such a wide variance of opinion on this. Also, I don’t understand what the heck I am supposed to do about my job now. I work in a hospital and I am the only pharmacist on duty, and do not have the option of asking another pharmacist to handle something for me. Am I obligated to retire or try to seek employment at a catholic hospital? If they aren’t hiring, then what? I picked this job because I was interested in helping people and I was always good at science. This was over 25 year ago, and obviously I was lacking in formation and foresight, but no sense in beating that horse now. If I were being honest, my conscience doesn’t suffer a lot for this, because I don’t use these products, and the law of the land gives patients the right to use them, whether I agree with their use or not. But I am not interested in burning in hell.

    THE LATE DR. WILLIAM MAY (ZENIT):

    The Quandry of Catholic Pharmacists – Is It Moral to Sell Contraceptives, Abortifacients?

    FEBRUARY 16, 2011
    BIOETHICS AND THE DEFENSE OF LIFE

    Here is a question on bioethics asked by a ZENIT reader and answered by the fellows of the Culture of Life Foundation.

    Q: Is it morally permissible to sell something immoral to some one else, for instance, working at a pharmacy and selling Plan B pills and contraceptives? — D.K., Oxford, Michigan, U.S.A.

    William E. May offers the following response:

    The question posed is broad. This answer will be limited to the moral obligations of pharmacists to sell contraceptive and abortifacient materials to their customers. We begin with a brief overview of Catholic and pro-life principles on the issue.

    In a speech to participants at the 25th International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists at Vatican City on Oct. 29, 2007, Benedict XVI instructed Catholic pharmacists to avoid dispensing drugs with “that are clearly immoral such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia.” He declared that conscientious objection is a right that must be recognized by the pharmaceutical profession.[1]

    Pharmacists for Life International (PFLI) opposes the dispensing by pharmacists of abortifacient materials. This organization reported in December 2005 that “the vast majority of pharmacists (69%) state that they have a right of conscience in refusing to fill/counsel for drugs which violate their moral, ethical, or religious convictions.”

    The National Catholic Pharmacists’ Guild of the United States (NCPG) pledges to “uphold the principles of the Catholic faith and all laws of church and country, especially those pertaining to the practice of pharmacy; [and to] assist ecclesiastical authorities in the diffusion of Catholic pharmacy ethics.”

    Cooperation in evil

    Since this is an issue involving cooperation in evil, it could help to summarize traditional Catholic principles in this area.

    One cooperates in evil if one knowingly and freely gives assistance to the morally evil act of another, who is the principal agent of the evil deed. Cooperation is formal if the cooperator intends the evil act of the principal agent. Formal cooperation is always morally wrong and shares in the evil willed by the agent, e.g., the evil of contraception or abortion.

    Cooperation is material if the cooperator does not intend the evil of the principal agent’s act. The material cooperator’s act can itself be a good act or an indifferent one whose morality is given by the end intended.

    Material cooperation is either immediate and mediate. Immediate material cooperation contributes to the essential circumstances while mediate cooperation contributes to the accidental circumstances of the agent’s evil act. Catholic tradition has regarded, and still regards, immediate material cooperation in intrinsically evil acts, such as contraception and abortion, as never morally permissible.[2]

    I must mention at this point that in “The Way of the Lord Jesus: Difficult Moral Questions” (Franciscan Press, 1997), Germain Grisez believes that the teaching summarized here needs clarification. For those who are interested, he proposes an interpretation of the principles of cooperation in the above-mentioned book.[3]

    Abortion potential

    Returning to the question at hand, it seems that there is unanimity among Catholic theologians and philosophers that Catholic pharmacists have a strict moral obligation not to dispense abortifacients, such as Plan B, that are used to induce an abortion.

    Pharmacists may as a result be fired from their jobs with consequent harm to themselves and their families. These bad consequences cannot be used as an excuse for their knowing and willing cooperation in grave evil. Grisez suggests that pharmacists in this situation should try to organize other pharmacists to work for provisions in relevant laws, government regulations, codes of professional ethics to exempt individuals from cooperating in this evil.

    With regard to “contraceptive” pills, there is more debate. The pills usually prescribed today have a different chemical composition than the original contraceptive pill. The composition was changed because of serious harms the original pill could cause the user. The current pill ordinarily works by preventing conception, but if it fails to do this, it has the potential to cause an abortion by rendering the mother’s womb hostile to an embryo. Although this possibility is remote, it cannot be removed, and anyone who knows that the pill can do this is conditionally willing to commit abortion, i.e., kill the unborn baby.

    With regard to these pills that have the potential to induce an abortion, the teaching on cooperation in evil previously summarized — a summary based on the document published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center — concludes that pharmacists have the strict obligation here to refuse to dispense them.

    Grisez, however, does not reach this conclusion because he believes that it is reasonable to think that the pharmacist’s cooperation here is morally permissible material cooperation. His argument is too complex to attempt to reproduce here, but it could be interesting for those facing this situation to consult his reasoning in “Difficult Moral Questions.”[4] I would like to add here, to avoid any misunderstanding, that Grisez has been among those who have shown clearly how and why contraception and abortion are intrinsically evil acts. His studies on contraception from 1964 to the present, and on abortion from 1970 to the present, are among the best ever written.

    Conclusion

    I would conclude, nonetheless, that it is never right to facilitate grave evils such as contraception and abortion by one’s own freely chosen acts if doing so is to be complicit to the anti-life culture so dominant today, especially if one has the duty to instruct the ignorant and bear witness to the truth.

    NOTES

    [1] For the full text of the address, see http://www.zenit.org/article-20955?l=english.
    [2] See “A Catholic Guide to Ethical Clinical Research,” published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center and the Catholic Medical Association in 2008.
    [3] See pages 871-897.
    [4] See pages 374-380.
    * * *

    William E. May, is a Senior Fellow at the Culture of Life Foundation and retired Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

  3. Father Joseph, throughout my life there have been too many situations where something good was within arm’s reach and I was just about to grab that something good, and it always gets pulled away from me just as I am about to have it in my hands. This has happened countless times in Love, and recently more noticeably a new job which would be life changing in a positive way. I know I am not supposed to think this way but I cannot help think about what just happened to me with my most recent job, which by no means is by my own fault a change in my job responsibility which will hurt me in my career. There were many times throughout my life I would think I was cursed, or some evil influence is doing this to me. This most recent incident is appears something that is appears to be real and evil.

    Question: Father – would I be cursed? How can I stop this from happening? What prayers can I say? What can I do? I believe Jesus, Mary and all the Angels and Saints. I pray every day. Why is this happening to me?

    FATHER JOE: Life can be difficult and we all face setbacks. Not sure what events have happened in your life, I see no evidence for malediction. Who do you think cursed you? Why were you cursed? While you say you have faith, did you open any doors to an evil spiritual operation? Does anyone you know practice sorcery or is involved with the occult? God does not have it out to get you. His providence does not work that way. He does sometimes permit the oppressive influence of evil, human and demonic, albeit for a greater good within his divine plan. But what you briefly describe may merely be the struggle we have with the human condition. Bad and good things happen and we are called to make the best of our lives as Christ’s disciples.

  4. Hello Father, after going to confession on saturday, I lashed out in anger at my family over a silly issue. I feel so bad that I might have committed a mortal sin. How do I control this whole anger issue?

    FATHER JOE: I can tell you to pray but I am too remote to be a psychologist for such troubles. I can recommend a willingness to say you are sorry.

  5. I am in desperate need of assistance/guidance for demonic activity that is being displayed by my 6 year old daughter after she was sexually molested by her father 3 years ago. Right after the molestation she would wake up from napping screaming in pain. 3 years later I am seeing her fingers in the middle of the night looking like they are not human hands, but the moment I notice it goes it they are back to being normal again. Her skin peel from the bottom of her feet and now she woke up with claw makes (3) long marks at the back of her neck. No one seems to be able to help me or look at me like I am crazy. Do you know of any place or individual in Maryland that can help us?

    FATHER JOE: It sounds like there are psychological issues (more than spiritual ones) here. I would recommend the following in Maryland: http://aoccs.org/

  6. In the Protoevangelium of James, Mary is depicted as a young girl working on the veil of the temple. At the crucifixtion, the veil of the temple was torn in two. Given the popularity of the non canonical gospels in the early days of the Church, do you know of any of the fathers of the Church that linked these two veils?

    Any modern commentary?

    Peace+

    FATHER JOE: It is not a matter about which I have done any substantial reading. As I recall, the Protoevangelium gives us the name of our Lord’s grandfather (Joachim) and was an important defense for the perpetual virginity of Mary. While I do not have them at hand, there are patristic writings which connect the weaving of the temple veil by Mary with the veil of her own flesh. Of course, it is also this veil that is ripped in two at the time of the crucifixion. Jesus is the new holy of holies. I know the historian Josephus writes about it.

  7. Dear Fr Joe,

    So, if I understand it correctly, the Church teaching has moved with the times and ‘watered down’ the regulations simply because of the power of the bigger whole. Would this not be good reason enough to move further with the times of necessity and allow same sex marriages and women priests?

    Remember, Jesus was so outraged with the practice of usury that it actually prompted Him to violence and the only time that He ever reacted violently, if what is recorded in Holy Scripture is true.
    How come we are not as vociferous about this as we are say about abortion? Jesus actually called the Scribes and Pharasies ‘sons of Satan’ the father of lies and a murderer. He hated their practices and Matthew records it abundantly clearly. He specifically told them they were not of God as if they were they would recognose the He was. He said that their father was Satan.

    Using your justification, just what would be ‘reasonable’ interest. There are some money lenders, here in UK, advertising on TV at 4,520% interest!!!! surely that’s too much but then the average credit card at 29% can hardly be classed as acceptable if inflation is supposed to be 2%. Zero interest is really the only Christian way to furnish ‘debt’. And the concept of ‘debt’ was exactly what Jesus redeemed us from. He became the surrogate kinsman, perfect and free from debt Himself, to surrender His life that we might live. The whole issue revolvs around debt and there are forces out there that want to make every living soul become indebted yet again to the father of lies.
    Why does the Catholic Church keep so very quiet on this one serious issue and yet become so vociferous about women and things?

    With loving concern,
    Paul

    FATHER JOE:

    Church disciplines can change over time. Notice that in the UK the bishops have opted to restore the Friday abstinence. People did not understand the earlier relaxation, that some other penance would have to be substituted. Given some laxity, they errantly opted out. While disciplines can change, as with altar girls and even priestly celibacy demands, the matter of a male-only priesthood has been defined as a doctrinal matter which cannot be altered. No matter how much we might want “women priests,” the Church and the Pope does not have the power or authority to change the ancient practice going back to Christ and the apostles. The popes admit this, themselves.

    As for “same-sex marriages,” it violates the natural and moral law. Again, no matter how sympathetic we might be to the plight of people with such a disorientation, we cannot usurp the Creator’s rights and design. Societies might attempt to redefine marriage so as to include such couples, but it would remain a legal fiction, having no substance in truth.

    Usuary as practiced in the temple was only one element of Christ’s upset with the Jewish leadership. He was upset at their lack of charity and the hardness of hearts. We were also dealing specifically with items that were part of the temple sacrifice. It would be akin to selling tickets for Mass or putting the host up for sale. Disciplines often touch upon Church teachings but the exact nature of those doctrines are distinct. But this takes us off topic and I am no authority on what is and is not ethical banking. Maybe you could take a look at the new guidelines for the Vatican Bank?

  8. Dear Fr Joe,

    I seem to remember the teaching of the Catholic Church from well over 50 years ago,or so, condemning ‘usury’ as being a sin.

    It was wrong to lend money or borrow money at interest. It was permissable for a money lender to charge costs based on risk and lost enterprise, but not interest per see.

    Just what has happened to this teaching and surely, if it had been made more known and prominant we would not be in the terrible position that faces up both here in UK as well as you over there in USA.?

    It was precisely this act of money changing at a price and rate set by the ‘bankers’ that prompted Jesus to violence as he drove those vipers from the Temple, the silver half shekel being the only coin without a pagan face on it that was accepted for payment of the Temple tax, and those sons of Satan used to set an exchange rate that would cripple the honest Jew.

    Is there not a staggering parallel to the state of the world’s economy today, and will God yet come to smite these money changers soon?

    Just a thought, Paul

    FATHER JOE: Usuary is still regarded as a sin although the practical understanding has changed over time, particularly given changing economic systems. Inordinate interest would be regarded as wrong. There was a time when Christians were generally prohibited from such interest-taking, a Medieval incentive to keep Jewish bankers around. This would lead to a great many resentments and prejudice. In their personal dealings, Christians should epouse charity.

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