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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 – Mortal Sin Prerequisite for Ordination?

Priests are not all the same. While there are constants in religious formation and later in ministry; there are incidents that set us apart and which remain in memory. I was a first-year philosophy student, away from home for the first time. I was surprise by the range of ages and various life-experiences of men around me. There were good days and bad days. Maybe it was my anxious nature, but I especially recall the matters which upset me. An upper classmate wanted the staff to send me home. I shared with him a confidence and he used it against me. It was my presumption that all of us were chaste and pure. He could not believe it and made a scene. He verbally assaulted me for all to hear, “You’re a virgin! If I had my way no one would be allowed into the seminary unless he had first [expletive deleted] a few girls! What do you know about real life?” This guy was getting ready for theology. How dare he argue that mortal sin is a prerequisite for priesthood! I had thought this prejudice was something I had left behind me in a public high school. If a boy was a “virgin” then he was judged as abnormal or accused of being “queer.” [Forgive the slur, it is a label that should not be used against any human being.]  There were opportunities for moral trespass but I refused to take them. There were plenty of pretty female teens around my age. One flaunted the fact that she would make a man out of me and that she was “hot” for me. I was normal, I kept telling myself. Part of me wanted what many regarded as an act of becoming, but it was wrong. As far back as I can remember I had a strong moral sense. Lust was a poor substitute for love. I told one girl to have some respect for herself. She was more than a piece of meat. One girl got mad at what she interpreted as my rejection and threw herself at another boy. She would have an abortion before leaving high school. Another girl regularly confided in me. Her boyfriend abused her. She said I was the only boy with whom she could talk; the others she could not trust. She was happy to have a friend, not just another boy trying to land her in bed. Don’t get me wrong, I had the same feelings and drives of the other boys. But when it came to the girls, I refused to be mastered by my passion. I felt protective of the girls. Many of them were smart and attractive. Their dignity was important to me. I was pained by the prospect of leading any of them into sin or hurting them. My father’s values were my values and he was a strict Catholic. I wanted to be a vehicle for forgiveness and healing, not for sin and pain. My peers and I were young with little education and no money. Acting out sexually was foolish. I can still hear my father’s voice. “Sex outside of marriage is wrong. Marriage is for life! Marriage or priesthood, that’s your choice. Better to die than to ever betray your Catholic religion.” Already I had a sense of a calling, not just to priesthood but more primarily to live out my baptism as a Christian gentleman.