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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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The Pope Meets Patrick & Philip Jenkins

This is my current screen saver on my computer. It is a video grab photo of my nephews Patrick and Philip (the two African-American boys) having a close encounter with Pope Francis at the US Nunciature.  Both were touched, blessed and one got his head rubbed!  It was carried on ABC News and on C-SPAN. 12034215_10153197439093435_4606405033964439681_o

A Priest’s Personal Blog

Recently a bigot and dissenter argued that priests like me had no right to share our views.  He would silence our voices on blogs, Facebook, twitter… what have you.  The critic sought to use our conservatism and orthodoxy against us.  He argued that unless a priest’s blog was promoted on the diocesan website or endorsed by the bishop, then he had no right to communicate on the Internet.  The only exception he would allow was if the priest denied his priesthood and title.  That, of course, is ridiculous.  That would force us to reject our presbyteral identity.

It is enough to say that this is a PERSONAL Blog that is neither directly associated with nor endorsed by my parish or the Archdiocese. However, it is a fulfillment of a papal command from Pope Benedict XVI to priests on January 24, 2010:

The spread of multimedia communications and its rich ‘menu of options’ might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different ‘voices’ provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.

LINK:  Does a parish priest have time to blog?

LINK:  List of Clergy Blogs

CANON LAW

Can. 831 §1. Except for a just and reasonable cause, the Christian faithful are not to write anything for newspapers, magazines, or periodicals which are accustomed to attack openly the Catholic religion or good morals; clerics and members of religious institutes, however, are to do so only with the permission of the local ordinary.

§2. It is for the conference of bishops to establish norms concerning the requirements for clerics and members of religious institutes to take part on radio or television in dealing with questions of Catholic doctrine or morals.

General guidelines vary from one diocese to the next. For instance, in the Archdiocese of Washington a priest is required to get permission before giving public interviews on television or radio.  The new social media is a separate matter and the Church has opted for freedom so that the voice of the Gospel will be heard and not overwhelmed.  Every priest in good standing is an apostle and evangelizer.  This electronic forum is one of his instruments in the NEW EVANGELIZATION.

Just as parish bulletins with weekly messages are posted online by pastors, many priests blog and use social networking to communicate with family, friends, parishioners and others. There was some speculation a few years ago that new legislation would shut down priest-bloggers, particularly because a few proved an embarrassment. However, Pope Benedict XVI made his statement to ensure the continued clerical (orthodox) voice in the new public forum.

I am proud to say that I was one of the first priests in the nation on the World Wide Web. I established a parish web page in the mid-1990s. While blogging sites did not exist, I ran several informative personal websites (mostly defunct now) and the old message boards. Years later when the Archdiocese decided to ramp up its web presence and to add blogs, a priest friend called me to let me know first. Little did I know that my pattern of blogging, if not my poor or silly messages, would become a model for others. Today I still blog, but not every day. I am also increasing restrained by charity and an abiding respect for others (even when I disagree with them). In a sense I have stepped back for clerics and others who are far better than I am at communicating the things that matter.

Who is my favorite priest blogger in the Archdiocese? I am divided but can list these as the ones I regularly read and have the most intense respect:

Father Kevin Cusick

Msgr. Charles Pope

Donald Cardinal Wuerl