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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 – Universal & Absolute?

Despite how it sounds, it is not my intention to disparage the good works accomplished by our few married priests. They are good and holy men. Nevertheless, if I had my way, all priests everywhere would be celibate. Married men accommodated and ordained priests from the Anglican Communion have been given a great gift. I assent and bend my will entirely to the universal Church which made this overture; however, had I my way, they would have been offered the permanent diaconate but no more. But that personal opinion really amounts to nothing.  I am not infallible and I pray not to be a fool.  Again, I do not mean to be hurtful. But a door has been opened and we may have a hard time closing it. I have confidence that the Spirit is alive and well in the Church, even if I fail to understand God’s mysterious ways.  The liberal voices are well aware of how such openings might be exploited; however, their delight is muffled by the conservative character of the candidates who cross the Tiber. These men belong to Pope Benedict and the dissenters hated Benedict. These religious refugees yearned for the doctrinal and moral integrity of Roman Catholicism. Too long they suffered under questionable orders, priestesses, and now the benediction of homosexual unions. Many progressive Catholic voices would prefer that Catholicism mirror such Protestantism, not flee from it. In other words, these Anglicans joining the Church are good men, Catholic before they knew they were Catholic, and the right-thinking sort of men. But they are married and that is the conundrum. How do we fit them into our priesthood without changing our priesthood? How might it affect vocations? What resentments might it spur? We are just now finding out but the future is still unclear.

Why is this a big deal with me? “Water flows downstream.” We normally move in the direction of least resistance. If we are gradually transitioning to a priesthood with optional celibacy, I foresee a day when the celibate diocesan priest will virtually disappear. Under such liberality, the majority of celibate priests would belong to religious orders or special societies. If healthy heterosexual men are given a modified choice, most of them would opt for both marriage and priesthood. Once celibacy and priesthood are no longer linked, it will be harder to argue necessity or the value of supererogation. We really do not want to go this route. I believe in freedom and in most things tend toward libertarianism. But basic human values must be preserved and a celibate priesthood has a significance that is all its own. The choice is to become a priest or to get married. Compromising that choice risks losing it altogether. Do we really want to see this flame of sacrificial loving extinguished?