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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 – Under the Shadow of Scandal

While it might seem that “conservative” clergy, to borrow a political adjective, are resentful toward the laity who “would dare” reflect upon priestly celibacy; such is not really the case. Our ire or hurt is only aroused when there is a lack of appreciation or thankfulness for the very real and substantive sacrifice made by priests on their behalf. Our gift of celibacy, enabled by divine grace, is offered to God so that we might more completely and intimately belong to the people we serve. It seems to me that there are two erroneous extremes: the first as a dissent or dismissal of celibacy as wrong or ill-opportune and the second as a cold indifference. It is frequently proposed that priests who stumble regarding celibacy struggle under a sexual immaturity or impeded development (although these critics often wrongly clamor for earlier sexual acting-out as the preventative).

Indeed, I read one researcher who taught that the crime of child molestation was symptomatic of stunted psychosexual development; having retarded their own maturation at childhood, their preoccupation remained with children. Not being a social scientist, I cannot say for sure if this last assessment be true. It seems to me that the actual culprit is a grossly misaligned sexual orientation. Men who abuse children are both sick and criminals.

While the American Psychiatric Association and liberal politicians would grant homosexuality the status of normalcy; the Church deems such attraction as disorientation and the commission of subsequent acts to be wrong and sinful. It may be that certain homosexuals entered the priesthood to disguise their attraction; however, the Holy See has judged homosexuals as unfit candidates for holy orders. There is much worry, even if unsaid or denied, that most clerical child abuse cases were homosexual in character.

Consecrated men who fall with adult women also sin grievously, but according and not as opposed to nature. Despite this, especially in light of criminal allegations against pederasts, certain bishops now wrongly punish such clergy as if they had broken civil law or endangered the innocent. While no molester of children can ever return to ministry; the man who stumbles with a consenting adult woman may need fraternal correction and prayer more than clinical exile for treatment or forced laicization. The priesthood of this man might be salvaged, yes, even if a child is the fruit of a forbidden liaison. It comes down to authentic penance and reform from the priest and how much God’s people are willing to forgive.