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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 – Integration & Compulsory

There are authorities who would not attack virginity and celibacy directly but focus on issues like proper psycho-sexual integration and the fact that the Church makes the discipline compulsory. This group would assert that many men are deformed in personality and not formed in any way that benefits either them or the faith community. They suggest that some, if not all clergy, are reluctant celibates who suffer a misaligned interior life where debase desires and filthy images are hidden. Frustration and anger resorts in all sorts of compulsive behaviors like excessive eating, drinking, smoking, etc. These critics suggest that mandatory celibacy might fuel a need for control and a lust for power. The Eastern rites are not exempt from their critique since only celibates among priests are permitted to become bishops. The man who is ambitious for such advancement, they argue, trades a wife and family for a higher prelate’s juridical authority. Gays repress and attack their own under the auspices of faith orthodoxy to demonstrate their dominion, even if it disconnects them from the sympathies of their own sexual identity. Women’s ordination is rejected, according to this scenario, not for historical, biblical or doctrinal reasons; but because women can have no role of intimate partnership with them, either in the family home or in the church sanctuary. Okay, I do not much buy this perspective; however, we need to be aware that this is how some think about the celibate priest and the structures that maintain the status-quo.

The revisionists who oppose mandatory celibacy would say that no institution, not even the Church, can demand such a renunciation when many men are twisted and personally corrupted by it. They would admit that there are successful celibates, but only a few. My answer is that the Church is perfectly within her rights and that celibacy is far more often a positive force in the lives of priests than something negative. There is the presumption that many men who discern a calling to the priesthood might not have the accompanying gift of celibacy. My rebuttal is that our Lord works intimately with his Church. If a man is truly called to the priesthood, God will make possible through grace the accompanying celibate life. Everyone truly called, without exception, receives this gift. A lot depends upon how we respond and integrate this gift into discipleship and ministry.  At least this is my view.