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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: 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.