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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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Married & Celibate Priests: Wounded Healers

Given the new pastoral provision for Anglicans who desire to join the Catholic Church, there is a revised focus upon the question of priesthood and celibacy. Episcopalian priests will be ordained (absolutely, if not conditionally) and this will include those who are married men. While bishops must be celibate, some of the married priests (former Episcopalian bishops) will be given authority much like that given abbots of religious houses. Further, while future aspirants from their ranks would be asked to embrace celibacy; it has been assured that the Pope could make exceptions for their seminarians on an individual basis and that he would be generous in doing so. Okay, there is the rub. It seems to some conservative critics, that an accommodation is being given these “new” Catholics which continues to be denied to those with long-standing and family ties to Roman Catholicism. Intellectually, many of us are pleased and excited that there is this reciprocal motion: their movement in faith toward Catholic unity and the Church’s willingness to take them into the fold. Of course, we are not merely creatures of intellect; but, like all people, in possession of emotions and passion. That is one of the reasons that few dioceses, if any, would ever assign a celibate priest to live in the same household with a married clergyman and his family. Celibacy is a sacrifice where a man can know joy and a single-hearted love of God. Nevertheless, the sacrifice is real and like the Cross, it can be painful at times. Many good men have had their heart-strings pulled and yet they remained faithful to their promises. They made distance when necessary and cried their tears in silence. As we make room in the Western Church for married priests, we must be mindful of these wounded celibate men. I would not say that we should feel sorry for them, although I am often tempted to feel such for married men who suffer with the tension between their family needs and ministerial commitments. I suppose in that sense we could say that married priests are also wounded healers. How could any man be “another Christ” to his people if he has not embraced our Lord’s Cross? There is a mystery here: the man commissioned to heal and to bring Christ’s mercy to others must himself be like a bread broken and a cup poured out.