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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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Men and Especially Women Need Celibate Priests

Pious women delight in the presence of a priest. He signifies in his preaching, rituals and person something of the transcendent for which they long. He is the spiritual father figure who assists them to see over the fences and hedges of lives weighted heavily toward the earthly and immediate chores of survival. Cleaning dippers, feeding families, caring for a home, and working outside the home fills the hours. It is all good but there is a yearning for something more that is satisfied by religion. The priest is the porter for this other world. He is the sentinel for Christ’s kingdom breaking into our world. As a light-bearer, he reflects in his priestly way, Jesus who is the Light of the World. Women were at the Cross and at the empty tomb. Their religion or faith has little to do with abstraction; rather it is an enfleshed encounter with a person. That was true two thousand years ago and it is still true today. The celibate priest, as St. Paul relates of himself, satisfies what is lacking in the oblation of Christ for his people. He is the human medium to make present the saving person and activity of Christ.

Women are largely regarded and treated by men as sexual creatures. While some might invite or find a certain appeal to this role, it can alternately bring about both an empowerment and an intense vulnerability. Men want to please women and win their favor. Unfortunately, some men want much more and may not take no for an answer. The priest is the one man who does not regard women as merely sexual objects. He encourages and looks to their spiritual side. Mentoring women as a spiritual director, I have heard numerous times from them, “I wish I could pray with my husband as I can pray with you.” It is here that the priest must proceed carefully. The woman may feel that here is one man about whom she need not be afraid. She sees in him one to whom she can open her heart and soul. She can be pretty or ugly with him. She can be honest. While not erotic or sexually aroused, his heart is responsive to her. Women often hold priests in high regard and possibly even with infatuation. Men often want women for their bodies. The priest is a man who wants to save their souls. His interest in men and women is the same— that they might believe and belong to Christ.