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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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Faith & Values in the News

Bad Optics: Obama and HHS vs Little Sisters of the Poor

Here is the face of the Religious Liberty Fight.

Cat poop parasite controls minds early — and permanently, study finds

My cat scratches, bites, pees and poops… all without regard to persons or property. She is an absolute menace. Yet, here she is with me 19 years later…. hum, I knew something was off… mind control… help! somebody help me!

Watch how cat acts like both a human and a cat on the toilet

First a story bout cat mind-control and now cats that use the toilet… what gives?

The Ten Happiest Jobs

Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, …

Playing God: Meet the man who built the most lifelike android ever

GF2045 is the brainchild of Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov, who’s made it his life’s goal to transpose human consciousness into a machine, thus giving us the power of immortality. Oh boy… talk about science fiction, with moral complications!

Motorists beware: New laws take effect Oct. 1

Does tying your kid brother to the roof of the car count as being seat-belted?

American Among Wave of Papal Appointments, Confirmations

Archbishop Augustine Di Noia was one of my favorite professors in seminary a quarter of a century ago. He made Christian Anthropology come alive. Congratulations!

Pope Francis excommunicates pro-gay marriage priest. He’s not the liberal the media wants

Muhahaha! Yes, the Pope is Catholic!

Superdads! Couple adopts 14 kids from foster care

There is nothing I can really say about this… welcome to our brave new world.

Fr. Clements in Chicago made headlines years ago for adopting a boy. It wanted to make a difference for street-tough kids who needed a father. Given the scandals, that is forbidden today. Hum, so two gay guys can adopt children but a celibate Catholic priest cannot… what a twist!

Cardinal Burke: Nancy Pelosi ‘must’ be denied Communion

I wonder how the other bishops feel about this?

Dairy Queen worker’s good deed goes viral

I am sorely tempted toward cynicism and grieving about so many things in our society. What this young man did will make it a little easier to sleep tonight. There is still goodness out there.

Pope says focus on morality can obscure Gospel message

Has a pope ever been so misunderstood?

Muslim Terrorists Caught Crossing US Border

Was this ever on the mainstream news? It is very troubling.

8-foot crocodile spends the night under a lucky guy’s bed

Have you checked under your bed lately? Darn it! I hate it when I find crocodiles hiding under there!

Bill Donohue: Celibacy a ‘Man-Made’ Rule in Catholic Church

Could does not mean it will. People are making too much of too little or nothing. Really, there is no hint whatsoever of any change in Church discipline regarding mandatory celibacy.

Daniel Craig Napolitano, Rest in Peace

My old classmate from college seminary died: Danny Napolitano. My deepest condolences to his family. Rest in peace, Danny.

Deadly brain amoeba infects US tap water for the first time

Hum, and they said the Scotch would kill me… only kidding, I don’t drink… should I start?

Sag Harbor grandmother: I’m LI’s first female priest

A point missed in this scandal is that she received a degree from an approved seminary. Did they know her intentions? Should the laity (not seminarians) receive training from seminaries… particularly if they will use such an academic pedigree to lend credence to rebellion, mortal sin and excommunication?

Scott Mackintosh, Utah Dad, Wears Short Shorts To Teach His Daughter A Lesson

A brave man who loves his daughter… unwilling to shame her, he shamed himself to get the message across.

Priestly Celibacy: Relating to Women

How should the celibate priest relate to women? This question is not simple given that there is an active national debate about how men behave (or misbehave) around women. Some guys treat every woman as chiefly a sexual object. We see this in the proliferation of pornography which focuses upon the desires of men. The sin of fornication is increasingly regarded as a necessary rite of passage and the way to measure the success of the dating experience. Cohabitation now statistically outnumbers married couples. Adultery is a chief cause for separation and divorce. Women complain about harassment, gender stereotypes and abusive and/or forced seduction. It is into this environment that celibate priests are called to respect women, who usually make up the majority of their congregations; however, there can be no romantic associations.

As an effort to safeguard or to insure celibacy, a number of priests in the past were trained to keep women at a distance. This did not mean that they hated women; however, they may have looked upon females with suspicion and tagged them as dangerous. It has been known that some priests have narrowed their friendships to other priests or a few men while treating their flocks (men and women alike) as souls to save but nothing more. We might say that they have attempted to strip gender from the perception of their congregations; but in truth, they have endeavored to neuter themselves. I have never known it to work well.

Priests must acknowledge they are men, not robots. Men relate to women differently than they do to other men. This does not have to be a bad element. Women can bring out a sensitive and courteous side in men. Look at how gentlemen treat their mothers and daughters. Women by their witness and interaction can assist the priest in extracting or bringing to the surface his sympathetic side and gentleness. The failure to properly acknowledge and treat women will result in a coarsening of priestly manners. He becomes distant, authoritarian and legalistic.

While celibate, priests are increasingly surrounded by women. Women are both employees of the Church and volunteers. I am not speaking here simply of housekeepers and cooks. Married and single women are catechists, youth ministers, liturgical musicians, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, secretaries, parish business managers, parish associates, etc. This is in addition to traditional service in altar guilds, rosary groups, sodalities, etc. Women work and are present in rectories, parish schools, and in our churches (both in the pews and assisting the priest at the altar). Most parish priests find themselves more surrounded by females than males. Women among the laity have increasingly taking up the slack from the diminishing numbers of women religious, although nuns and sisters will always have an important part to play in the life of the Church. I make these lists to demonstrate that the priest does not and cannot escape the presence of women. They are integral components of the Church. The celibate priest, as the Church’s man, must be comfortable working with and for them. They will be his coworkers and friends. Having said all this, he should be ever cognizant of the boundaries that must never be crossed. He has to be prepared to exhibit a certain distance or even coldness if a certain boundary line of intimacy is skirted. Some women will fall in love with priests. He must let them know by word and manner that he is not interested. Priests will also find themselves falling in love; it is here that clergy need to be reminded of their celibacy so as to create the necessary space for fidelity in their vocation. His priestly work and the life of prayer and worship are his shield from falling. Nurturing his friendships within the presbyterate is also encouraged; there is a certain solidarity and understanding among men who share the same life and dedication to the Lord.

Priestly Celibacy: Evolution of a Sacrament

If the celibate priesthood represents the providential development of this sacrament, would not the general allowance for married priests represent a denial of this grace-filled trajectory? We are creatures who live in time and it is only in the fullness of time that the mysteries of God and of his Church are unraveled. The deposit of faith is fixed but not stagnant. The priesthood must be understood within the context of its purpose and history. I personally fail to see how a reversal can be permitted. It would seem to be a movement against the stream of history and the retrogression of holy orders to an earlier stage of development or appreciation. Our thoughts these days are so much about what the Church and the priesthood used to be. It may be that some critics are so desperate for the damage to be repaired that they would risk further harm by making more radical shifts. Pope Benedict XVI ardently sought to restore balance and to give an interpretation of Vatican II through the eyes of tradition and not modernity. As to what approach we are now taking, only time and prayer will show. However, whatever we do, the needs of the Church and the value of the priesthood should be given full measure over self-seeking desires and personal or particularized relationships. Marriage might make a priest very happy but it would probably cost the Church. I am not convinced by arguments that it would enrich this vocation in any significant manner to offset what would be lost.

Priestly Celibacy: Obligatory or Optional?

We are repeatedly reminded that the Eastern rites have both married and celibate priests. But the fact that most Catholic laity in the United States seem unaware of this is evidence that this witness is largely off the radar. Instead, it is the preference for marriage among the many visible Protestant clergy that catches our notice. It is here that most will make the comparison. Some denominations will not even commission or ordain men unless they are already married. Such is viewed as a divine command and a source for both maturity and stability. It is for this reason that it makes national headlines when married Episcopalian and Lutheran ministers are received and ordained in the Catholic Church. A new model of ministry is being introduced into Catholicism and one that is both condoned by modernity and challenging to our accepted vision of the priesthood. Some find this prospect exciting. Others find in it an ominous and frightening omen. Speaking for myself, I usually err on the side of human freedom; but about this issue, I may not seem consistent. There are certain basic values and rights about which human freedom is limited. What is the will of God in all this? What is best for the Church? I would keep matters as they are with a priestly celibacy that is both mandatory and absolute.

Priestly Celibacy: Changing More Than Rules

It seems to me that the discussion about married priests is too quick to dismiss the depth of meaning given the celibate priesthood. Celibacy is more than a discipline; it is the chief modifier and visible component to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, mandatory celibacy has come to personify our priesthood. This is why we must approach this debate very carefully. Most of our priestly men identify themselves— their personality, their station as they face God, their place in both the secular and faith communities— by their stance with celibacy. In other words, it might be a discipline, but it has come to permeate and inform everything that makes them priests. While thousands of men left the priesthood in the 1960’s and 1970’s to get married, realizing that the discipline was not changing any time soon; now we run the risk of a new exodus should celibacy become optional. A tiny few married priests from the Episcopalian church is one thing; a wholesale batch of married men and the return of men who left to get married (unlikely) would be another. It would shake the priesthood as we know it to its very foundation. As I wrote before, I also fear that we would needlessly hurt good men who remained at their posts as celibate sentinels, even when such was a terrible and costly sacrifice. Heartstrings were tugged, they fell in love, and yet, they remained faithful to their promises. Celibacy can be a great joy but it can also be a source of heart-rending tears. Whatever the Church decides to do, we must not be blind or insensitive to the cost paid by the diocesan priesthood. We would be changing more than rules.

Priestly Celibacy: Too High a Price for Women?

Given how we understand the priesthood and the demands that we make upon our clergy in the Roman Rite, would the allowance for married priests constitute a violation of human justice? If there is the fear of breaching the seal of confession while talking during sleep, would the couple not be obliged to keep separate bedrooms? The demands of parishioners would take precedence over the needs of his wife and children. Is this fair to them? Given that his first wife, the Church, must always be given her way; what resentments might emerge from the second wife and his family? There is a moral quandary because spouses and families should not be deprived of their due. Right now we have a few married priests (approved of course) who keep their families in neighborhoods apart from where the men serve. Their salaries are enhanced and they are treated differently than celibate clergy. Indeed, I have known several over the years who housed their families in adjacent dioceses or across state lines. What if all priests were treated the same? Could married clergy raise families on a salary rated below poverty level? I was assigned to one parish that was surrounded by drug pushers, pimps with prostitutes and crack houses. My deacon was pistol whipped outside the church doors, the rectory was robbed and dealers shot two bullets through my bedroom window. Would we send a married priest into such an environment? Would they obey and go?

Knowing the life of a traditional Catholic priest, would it really be love to want to subject a woman to the sacrifices and absences that would come along with marriage to one? Even the military man has a term of service. The situation with the priest would be permanent. Several years ago we had a crisis with our local police. The tremendous strain on relationships gave the officers a high divorce rate. It was bad enough that their women had to accept the dangerous profile of their jobs but then the city mandated that police employed had to live within the boundaries of the District. Housing in the better part of town was expensive. The men did not want to house their families in the ghetto or where gangs might identify their wives and children for assault and kidnapping. A number of men tried to skirt the new rules by taking out post office boxes in the city and lying about where they actually lived. They were desperate but good men. Priests have always lived where they worked. The late Archbishop Sheen pressed upon priests that they should live no better than the people they serve. This has often been a point of comparison between Protestant ministers and Catholic priests. Priests must always be accessible or available. They do not work strictly assigned hours. What might this do to a family? The demands are quite different, but the Lutherans have married ministers and they are rightly distressed about the high divorce rate among their pastors. Do we really want to go this way? I noted before that the first married Episcopalian priest who was received and ordained in the United States is now divorced. His wife left him, saying that his prior ministry did not prepare adequately for his life and ministry as a Roman Catholic priest.

Priestly Celibacy: Prophets or False Prophets?

Everyone has an invested interest. Some legitimately feel that wider permission for married priests would resolve the vocations shortage. Shortages in Protestant ranks hint that this may be a false premise. Others have a wayward democratic view about such issues. Unfortunately, many in the pro-marriage camp also subscribe to women priests and that is a deal breaker. The issue of celibacy may be one of discipline; but, the prohibition against women priests is irreformable doctrine.

Most celibate priests probably want to maintain the status-quo. They know firsthand the value of priestly celibacy. Priests who left ministry to get married are wholeheartedly in favor of a liberalization of the rule. However, it is doubtful that such a dispensation for new priests would be applied to the old. The men who left for marriage violated their promises and while some were laicized, a number defected to other churches, rejected the see of Peter and embraced heresy in faith and morals. There would be no place for these aging men in the Catholic ministries. Much is made of the thousands who left in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but time is running out. They are entering the retirement years and many are dying off. Soon they will be all gone. Were they prophets to a married priesthood in the near future? If so they were like the Hebrews who corrupted themselves by worshipping a golden calf after their liberation from Egypt. Before God’s people reached the Promised Land that whole generation and Moses would pass away. This might not seem fair, but it is probably the way it will play out. The Church will not reward disobedience.

Celibacy flows naturally from the sacerdotal calling. Everything about the demands of priesthood, its intrinsic nature, and its place in salvation history (Scripture and Tradition) promotes the organic development of celibacy. Celibacy is not outdated. It has not worn out its welcome or exhausted its utility. It is my conviction that a married priesthood can be tolerated if necessity dictated; but the ideal or preference must remain a celibate priesthood. If we can get along fine without married priests (and vocations are up and growing) then we should maintain mandatory celibacy, even if a married man might rarely be ordained for purposes of ecclesial reunion.