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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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Anointing & Faith Healing

JOANA:  Father, my question is about faith healers and quack doctors.  Are they considered genuine or given the power to anoint a sick person?

FATHER JOE:

Only Catholic bishops and priests have the authority to offer the official Anointing of the Sick. It is a sacrament of the Church and very closely connected to the priestly charge over the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. It is an element of the priest’s power to forgive sins or function as a minister of reconciliation. God is at liberty to grant or to facilitate physical restoration and yet the most important element is spiritual healing.

The definition of a “quack doctor” is that he is a fraud. There are too many of those around.

The issue of “faith healers” is more complicated as they include both Catholics and Protestants. There might be an anointing or just the laying on of hands and prayer. God can use whomever he wills. A constant theme of mine is that we should not seek to stifle or ridicule where the Holy Spirit might be active. We can discern something of the truth by the fruits but must be ever on our guard against deception.

I recall an expose several years ago where a minister used a portable receiver in his ear to learn about attendees at the revival or meeting.  The information was whispered to him from a pre-show interview with volunteers. It gave the appearance that the minister was somehow clairvoyant and knew their ills before they came forward. Some of those healed were plants and others had been sent to a special hospital where they were treated but told to keep quiet about the medical intervention. Others got caught up in the euphoria of the moment, claimed healing, only to find themselves still belabored by pain or crippled when the meeting was over and the cameras were off. There was one minister who used to berate those not healed, saying that it was their own fault and that they did not have sufficient faith.  Of course, the organizers were still very quick to pass the money basket to the assembled throng. 

However, with all this said, the miraculous sometimes happens. Miracles of healing are often reported and investigated in the process of canonizing saints. The late Fr. John Lubey here in Washington, DC, (and the priest who married my parents and baptized me), regularly offered healing services along with Mass. People would sometimes collapse (sleeping in the Spirit) when he placed his hands on their heads. He told me that the ministry started in the late 1950’s when he blessed a woman who suffered from a disintegrated hip.  She returned a week later walking with ease and holding x-rays that showed a perfectly formed hip. He was a very humble man and regarded ALL priests as “healing” priests.  He gave all credit to our Lord and never asked for any money for his services.