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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: 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.

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