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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 – Visions of the Church

It is in light of serious debates over the substance of faith and morals that certain critics wonder why we have purposely sidelined ourselves to apologetics over the accidental of celibacy? They would say that if it be not essential and of original divine mandate, then we are needlessly complicating the dialogue of faith and hampering evangelization. What is more important, the priesthood or celibacy? What is more pressing, making sure that priests sleep alone in their beds or staffing parishes where the flock hungers for the Eucharist? Is the millennium-long tradition of celibacy worth deprivation of hurting people from the healing sacraments and from the absolution of their sins? These critics feel the argument over celibacy is a cuckoo in the nest, a substitute for the real egg that should be there. However, it is my contention that the meaning and value of celibacy comes not just from men but from God. It cannot be honestly dismissed out-of-hand.

Celibacy and marriage are both vocations but also themes that intersect how we bring the saving kerygma to the world around us. Marriage speaks to cooperation and partnership. It is open to dialogue with the world. Celibacy is representative of being a sign of contradiction. We are called to do battle with the world, the devil and the flesh. We struggle as Catholics with both attitudes. Much of this has fueled the tension after the Second Vatican Council. We embrace a certain religious freedom for ourselves, and by practical necessity, for others; and yet, all the while maintaining the proposition that error has no rights. The Catholic Church is the true Church. We pursue a course of ecumenism but always skirting the perilous cliff of religious indifferentism. The kernel or seed remains the same; we embrace dialogue over anaphora for the same purpose, the conversion of souls to Catholic truth. There is give-and-take about accidentals; but there can be no compromise upon substance. Truth is not relative but objective and fixed. We can look at it from different perspectives. Our appreciation can grow deeper but the deposit of faith is passed on only, not reinvented. Marriage and family life is the vocation of dialogue: entailing compromise, diplomatic speech, intimacy, touching, and sometimes confusion and messiness. Celibacy is the vocation of decree: along with obstinacy, command, distance, bulwarks, discipline and order. These themes are not absolute but they are illustrative of the necessary tension that is maintained in the Church. One might argue that the eclipse of celibacy would bode poorly against the dogmatic quality we find vital in Church authority and structure.