• Our Blogger

    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Rebekah on Ask a Priest
    Skip on Ask a Priest
    Jon on Ask a Priest
    Gary on Ask a Priest
    Jeff on Ask a Priest


Embryos with Animal Genes Secretly Mixed with Humans

This is wrong on so many levels that I do not know where to begin. Professor Robin Lovell-Badge said the scientists were not concerned about human-animal hybrid embryos because by law these have to be destroyed within 14 days. In other words, we plan to kill any potentially sentient life before it says, “Mama,” or “Daddee.” Planet of the Apes… here we come!

Couple Ordered by City to Stop Feeding the Homeless

God forbid that charitable people should try to feed the poor without city approval and a permit… NOT! Instead of allowing this couple to feed the poor, the homeless will have to return to scavenging through dumpsters! Remember Scrooge’s rejection of charity and the desperation of the poor, “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Town Council Bans Right of Assembly and Free Speech

Have we traveled back in time before 1989 and now find ourselves in the defunct Soviet Union?


This town council needs a basic civics lesson about the Constitution and basic liberties that we cherish. Small town or not, it is demonstrative of a problem here at home. Growing numbers are too willing to surrender what many have died to maintain.

Fewer Parishes & Fewer Priests Who Must Say More Masses

The statistics are in… fewer parishes, fewer priests, more Masses being celebrated. What are they telling me that I do not already know? It is also ironic that the liturgy went from Latin to English and now, even apart from the restoration of the older liturgy, Masses in languages other than English are commonplace in parishes, albeit in the living languages of immigrants.

Seal of Confession is Threatened in Ireland

A priest must keep the seal of Confession even if it means his life.

5 Responses

  1. Dear Fr Joe,

    You are right (as usual!), and your compassion and wisdom, and genuine humility come through; I hope that has not swelled your head too much.

    It is very sad that we are in such a state, and His Holy Father, Benedict, helped in an enormous way when he apologised, without reservation, when he visited us here in UK.

    Without identifying either the abuse or the Religious Order, I wrote to one of my abusers, now an old man, several years ago, and I too received an apology from him, not entirely without conditions, he simply phrased part of his contrition as: “If I ……then I am sorry”. But it helped me enormously.

    King David was certainly not what one might describe as a celibate, spiritual, compassionate, church leader. St Anthony and St Francis would probably not be able to claim personal virginity and sexual innocence, And many of our most loved and reverred Saints would have started off their lives in terribly sinful behaviour. The difference with most of them (I’ve never been particularly enamoured by Joan of Arc however,but that’s another issue!), is that they, like the prodigal son, had a spiritual awakening and genuinely turned their lives around.

    With all of this ‘hoo-hah’ we are still dealing with a relatively small number of men, throughout the whole of the hierarchy, and it is this minority that has had such a terrible effect. Ireland used to be considered a ‘Catholic Country’, now perhaps as little as 5% of the population actually practise their religion. The last 20 years have been a tremendous turning point and secularism has become the invisible hand of Satan in the destruction of all that was good.

    In England we have not only seen a rise in the growth of secularism but also of Islam and most worryingly in the greed of the culture of litigation, another one of the works of the evil one. There used to be a sort of stoic acceptance of the imperfection of real life; should someone have to go into hospital for amputation of a gammy leg and they, through a genuine mistake, or even the intoxication of the surgeon, cut the wrong one off, we used to be very forgiving and just say “Oh well!! accidents happen” Now the legal advisors are on the telephone as soon as the effects of the anaestethic have worn off. And so it is with the Roman Catholic Church.

    Having said that didn’t Jesus tell His followers to give their shirt also should anyone ever ask for their cloak? Did He not tell them to turn the other cheek for continued assault when they are first hit in the face? Did He not let the soldiers take His last earthly posession, and watch them gamble for its possession through bloodied eyes? I would love to see my church do just a little bit of this. Yes it is very sad and a terrible misuse of earthly justice when a priest is falsely accused, no matter what, but Jesus actually calls these victims ‘blessed’ and tells us that many will be persecuted for His Name’s sake. I can also remember the wise words of Sister Perpetua when she told us, as little children, to ask God to send us here our purgatory. I feel He certainly did that some days!

    In the diocese of Cloyne (Ireland), Church officials did not act on complaints made against 19 priests in the 13 years after the child protection rules had been put in place. Perhaps these really were false complaints and those 19 priests were genuinely innocent, or maybe some of them were, but the inerita and inaction were in themselves not only sinful but also illegal. Bishop Magee resigned last year because of this. So it is still not being properly and legally dealt with right up to this very day, it is not yet history. This is why such enormous anger is directed towards The Catholic Church in Ireland; there are similar issues in Australia. Jesus warned the scribes and pharasies for their hypocrasy and condemned them.

    If the visions of Our Holy Mother Mary are to be believed then many priests will be going to Hell, as will many thousands of souls, like snowflakes falling from heaven, simply because there are too few left here on earth to pray for them. Now I don’t claim to understand just how that might work, but Jesus did say than many were called but few were chosen; He also warned that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter the Kingdom of Heaven. My big concern is that you tended to excuse making a collective: “Mea maxima culpa” on the grounds that the church might loose too much; I would respectfully ask you to reconsider that mind set in the Light of Jesus’ wisdom and not that of the lawyers acting on behalf of some very damaged souls. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?

    With love,
    Paul Brann

    FATHER JOE: The problem I have is that “collective guilt” fuels stereotypes against the innocent. The Church is not just the hierarachy, but all the faithful, even those who have been wronged. Further, the possessions of the Church belong to the bishops only as a fiction of law. It is their sacred duty to protect the resources that belong to the People of God. It would also be sinful to play into the hands of the Church’s enemies. The Church will survive until Christ’s consummation. But the local churches can and have been destroyed. In any case, the only bishop who can speak for the whole Church is the Pope and it seems that on numerous occasions he has expressed sadness and regret that priests have hurt the innocent. Again, I have not followed closely the situation in Ireland, but if it is as bad as some say then I would suggest the aggregated resignation and replacement of all their bishops. They could return to other duties and new men could assume their assignments. Words are sometimes too easy and cheap. Resorting to such recourse would really let everyone know that the Church took this matter seriously and that there was genuine regret.

    The Church is a partner in the NICHD World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse. The partners in World Day host activities to increase awareness and education about child abuse and violence toward children, to promote respect for the Rights of the Child, and to make preventing child abuse a top priority. We also have a policy, while not perfect, it is making a difference in the protection of young people. I am far more concerned about action than talk.

  2. Dear Anita Moore OP,
    It is impossible to force a priest to break the seal of the confessional, I know it and you know it, and any priest worth his salts would rather face the wrath of the law of man that betray his position so the whole issue is more acedemc.

    And the Church has only got itself to blame for getting itself into this terrible position for failing in its duty of care towards the little children that Jesus so loved. And not only failing to protect the victims of abuse but for deliberately covering it up and denying that it happened.

    I agree with you that it is the work of Satan, and, as I have previously stated, I doubt very much that a paedophile, ordained or otherwise, would use the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And should he do so then most confessors would surely require surrender to the authorities as a part of the penance. If His priest binds this so called penitant in his sin then he is eternally confined to Hell unless he conforms to the condition of absolution and that is far worse even than excommunication; he can’t just go off to another for confession to a deaf and slightly senile priest in the hope that he might get absolution on the cheap. He is bound in his sin.

    The child abuse is the elephant in this room, and it is that which comes from Hell. It has been rife and terrible and has gone on for a very long time. You may not be aware of it, you may well not know anyone who has suffered from it, and it might be different for you over there in the USA, but over here we have endured these evil acts perpetuated by a minority of men, mainly, but many nuns are guilty also, and it seems that, as Fr Joe suggests, these men really are Ordained Catholic Priests. There were 45 convicted in Ireland not that long ago…..I went to school with one of them; he’s in prison now.

    Also, I would say that the Prime Minister of Ireland is a better Parctising Catholic than ever a paedophile priest could be and whatever he demands is a knee jerk reaction to an appaling situation and certainly not the work of Satan; that was what caused the reaction. Satan entered into the hearts of some very misguided men and they perpetrated the vilest acts of evil on some very innocent children over and over again. As for the Papal Nuncio leaving Ireland and storming back to Rome in a huff, I imagine they will be saying ‘good riddance’!

    There can be no justification for the terrible way that this has been handled and it will not be resolved until the Church can once again be trusted. It will have to earn this trust from now on and if a few good men have to risk imprisonment for contempt of court then so be it. Not until the Church can say a collective “Mea culpa” and mean it will the matter ever start to be resolved.

    Paul Brann


    Years ago I lived with a young priest who announced to us over the dinner table that if anyone confessed to him the molestation of a child, he would go straight to the police… seal or no seal. We tried to argue with him about his sacred trust. He had only been a priest a year and we were shocked that the importance of the seal and its value to the sacrament did not mean more to him. The young man was studying for an anthropology degree so that he could return to his religious community and teach in their college. I suspected that the religious relativism associated with his studies had weakened his faith. As the one who scheduled confessors in the parish, I had no choice. I immediately removed him from the roster. Very soon afterwards he left ministry and got married outside the Church. When asked if he still believed, he said no. Those who do not understand the sacrament of penance would not appreciate the need for the seal. Other forms of confidences might be breeched, but not this one. Ministers also enjoy under law what is understood as “professional secrecy,” something akin to lawyer-client/doctor-patient confidentiality.

    I am not privy to all that has happened in Ireland; there is a mess enough with which we must deal in the United States. The issue here is usually not true pedophilia but homosexual pederasty. The young people involved are often older teens. Dr. Fitzgibbons in Philadelphia who treats many of the sick men reports that most of the abusers he has seen have also had homosexual experiences with adult men. While we are still talking about criminal and sinful behavior, there is a difference in the level of maturity and the ability to give consent. As far as culpability, the priest and any who knowingly enabled his misconduct would seem to me to be implicated. In some cases, parents and society itself also had a part to play. An unhealthy adulation was given the clergy. The fear of scandal was given greater importance than the care of the flock. There was a refusal to question or criticize priests, even when there was growing evidence of wrongdoing. I read a story where a city mayor told the religious community to get a priest (involved with a 19 year old) out of town and the authorities would not prosecute. The priest is now in India. There is a lot of blame to go around. Nevertheless, I am saddened by the stories of priests falsely charged and how their lives are destroyed. It is painful to hear about beautiful old churches being sold to pay off lawsuits. The people in the pews are punished for what priests have done. The innocent are violated once again.

    Do pedophiles go to confession? All sinners go to confession. Priests have heard all the intricacies of human iniquity. And, yes, it is true; certain sins require a form of restitution along with absolution or the resolution of a problem, like marriage outside the Church or cohabitation. However, no matter whether absolution is given, the seal must be preserved.

    As for a collective “mea culpa,” it is problematical here in the U.S. that armies of lawyers threaten to bankrupt the Church if such an admission were made. The American bishops suggested a few years ago that the people in the pews should have a national day of penance on this issue. I objected that what most people wanted to see were the bishops themselves on their knees. Anger in the U.S. was increasing directed toward them for acting inappropriately or ineffectively to protect the children and to punish priestly culprits. Many of us found it almost impossible to believe that men who had admitted hurting children would ever be reassigned where they could do it again. Instead of three strikes, you’re out… I would have suggested that one strike was enough. Such a person could know God’s mercy but never again be trusted. The situation also brought under examination our religious formation for seminaries. While critics of Vatican II jumped on this bandwagon of censure, I was quick to remind a few friends that some of the abusive clergy were older men formed under the former regimen. The problem was older than the Church reforms. Today, more scrutiny is given psychological profiles and general behavior.

  3. Paul Brann: It must have been very difficult for the Prime Minister of Ireland, a practising Catholic, to challenge our Church in their Parliament, but he HAD to because of the inertia and worse that The Church has exhibited.

    Sorry, not buying. A practicing Catholic who knows his Faith knows (a) that assaults on the priesthood and the sacramental seal are grave evils, and (b) that you cannot do evil in order to bring about good.

    And it is not about protecting children, even if there are misguided dupes out there who think it is. Make no mistake about the origins of this project: it comes straight from hell, whose forces have been laying the groundwork for it for many years. It is also the height of hypocrisy in a world that promotes divorce, abortion, contraception, sex education for children, gay “marriage” and concubinage.

  4. While working as a counsellor I was obliged to break the trust of confidentiality only on grounds of child abuse or terrorism. I was legally obliged to report to the Police any gained knowledge that would fall into either of these categories. BUT this is by no means even similar to the ‘seal of the confessional’ The trouble is, in Ireland especially, it would appear that The Catholic Church (and I would assume that this means those higher up the ladder to celestial bliss), simply failed in its duty of care. Right up until 2009 there was still denial and cover-up, and ‘The Church’ had been dragged kicking and screaming into accountability.

    It must have been very difficult for the Prime Minister of Ireland, a practising Catholic, to challenge our Church in their Parliament, but he HAD to because of the inertia and worse that The Church has exhibited.

    In a very large way this attempt to break the seal of the confessional is a necessary development by those who just do not understand. If a paedophile or [word deleted], posing as a priest, and guilty of terrible and diabolical acts on children would even dare to ‘go to confession’ which is a bizarre notion anyway, I would assume that his pennance would be to turn himself in anyway; three Hail Marys and a Glory Be would hardly be appropriate. I just think it unlikely that an evil [word deleted] like this small minority of actors masquarading as desciples of Jesus and trusted with the care of the faithful, would even risk going to a real priest for reconcilliation; they would hardly see the need for the sacrament while they continued to rape and abuse young children. So it would be very unlikely that a priest would ever really know, not only who it was on the other side of the curtain, yet alone what he had done.

    And, not only that, if I steal my Parish Priest’s car and hide it somewhere and then go to confession and tell him that I took it and just where it is, theoretically he can not use that knowledge even to get his own car back, he has to act as if he did not know that information and try to find out just where his car is from another source.

    So in a way a [word deleted] posing as a priest could not only be responsible for terrible abuse of children, he could also be responsible for the imprisonment of a real priest for contempt of court. It is about time that real priests fashioned whips and drove these [word deleted] out of The Holy Temple of Christ. Not acting has done so much damage and this knee jerk reaction is only one of the demands that the legal system places on an institution that it feels has outrageously abused its position for far too long.

    In a way The Church has brought this judgement upon itself, and needs to earn the trust of ordinary sinners all over again.

    Sadly yours,
    Paul Brann

    FATHER JOE: I wish the trouble-makers were only posing as priests, but given that they were truly ordained, the crime is both an offense to persons and against their high calling. It would seem to me that any who enabled or protected them must share some degree of culpability. The seal cannot be violated for any reason, but we can hope that in her general administration and in public charges brought forward, that the Church will act responsibly to protect our children and others. It is a terrible business.

  5. They’re trying it in Australia, too. The devil has always been at war against priests, but the war is now escalating in intensity.

    By “it” I mean the attempt to force priests to violate the sacramental seal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: