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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 – The Best Match for Ministry

If priestly celibacy were the product of historical development, then that evolution began among the Jews and the periodic celibacy pursued by the priests of the temple during their tenure of service. However, it is not the misbegotten child of the Middle Ages as the strained research of certain scholars might imply. They are wrong to deny its presence already well formed during the Apostolic and Patristic periods. It may not have been absolutely mandatory; but as I have already said, there is growing evidence for perpetual or absolute continence among the ancient married priests of the Church.

Apologists for married priests will quickly point to the selfless ministers in Protestant communities. They observe, and I have no reason to question it, that these men are sustained by their wives and families, often as collaborators in the ministry. The wives of Orthodox priests tend to become the supporting mother-figures for their husband’s churches. They would similarly point to married men in other professions: doctors, police, firemen, teachers, etc. Well, yes and no, I am sure there are wonderful instances where spouses and children can sustain a man, giving him the strength and courage to go on. But the fact remains, that there are only so many hours in a day and we can only stretch ourselves so far. Most ministers I know keep regular work hours. Many may have weekly bible study and counseling, but only weekend services. I recall reading with great sadness about the first of the Episcopalian priests who entered the Catholic Church and got ordained. His wife said she thought his life would be the same but it was not. She grew to resent how his ministry took precedence and how he was often absent from the home in the evenings. One day she swore she had enough and gave him an ultimatum: “It is the priesthood or me, you have to decide, one or the other!” He told her that he would not leave the priesthood. Now he serves as a celibate priest because she left and divorced him. Married doctors have a terrible divorce rate, with the ones who marry nurses faring the best. Physicians of the soul have been freed of the marital burden for a reason. It is not crass or political. Celibacy best matches up with the life and service of a priest. I am not saying that married men could not be priests, only that such a priesthood would differ accidentally and in other ways hard to express in a few words.

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