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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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Priestly Celibacy – Do People Believe It?

There are a number of excellent books written by priests about the value of celibacy; and yet, the public seems to give a heightened weight to criticism of celibacy from either fallen-away priests or from critical laity. Why is this? Given society’s addiction to all things sexual, heterosexual and homosexual, I suspect it is because celibacy is viewed as either a fiction or as an aberrant perversion. The fact that it is a natural lifestyle and one chosen by St. Paul and our Lord is readily dismissed. I recall many years ago taking weekly communion to the elderly Catholic residents of Judiciary House in NW Washington, DC. The maintenance man, himself a senior citizen, saw my collar and remarked that we both wore uniforms. Making small talk, he asked, “Is it true?” “What?” I returned. Incredulously, he queried, “Is it true that you guys never get some?” It was not the kind of question I expected, given that we were standing on a public sidewalk in front of the building where he worked. Pedestrians were passing by on every side of us. I repeated his question, trying to figure how to respond. Did I misunderstand him? No, he did indeed mean sex. I answered, “Yes, it is true; we take promises of perpetual celibacy.” He shook his head. He could not believe it. He walked away unconvinced and mumbled to himself, “How can you live and not get some? A man has to get some? I know I have to get some.” If such average working men were dubious about this a quarter of a century ago, today many would accuse priests of hypocrisy and outright deception. This incident happened before the floodgates opened with the so-called pedophile crisis. The failure of a few has damaged the witness of many. Celibacy, once respected as a sacrifice signifying devotion to God and to the service of his people, is now regarded as expendable or worse, as a sign of sexual deviancy and secret sin. We have our work cut out for us if we hope to correct the false label stamped upon the celibate priesthood. Celibacy is very personal and private to the priest; nevertheless, we must be courageous and extroverted in demonstrating both its viability and utility.