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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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Jesus’ Exclusion of Women Not Culturally Determined


Jesus was a Jew of his times and his selection of only men was not meant to be a perpetual exclusion of women from holy orders.  He complied with the social dictates of his times so that his apostles would be accepted and their message received.  Whenever he could he invited women into his circle of disciples and even commissioned them to service. The sisters of Lazarus were important to him as was Mary Magdalene and his Mother.  While men often emphasize the brokenness or sins of women in Scripture, the texts speak about healing and sending forth.  The sinner woman who anoints Christ’s feet and dries them with her hair is condemned by the eyes and whispers around them. However, Jesus commends her welcoming and acknowledgment of his presence; indeed, she heralds both his coming death and the kingdom. The Samaritan woman at the well is often preached upon as a bad girl who has compromised her chastity with various men.  But the Scriptures emphasize that she goes to her people as a prophetess and many come to believe in Jesus.  Her dialogue and faith profession is up there with Peter’s confession of the Christ.


Jesus was not discouraged from including women among the twelve simply because it would have been too shocking. If it had been the right thing to do— the model Jesus wanted imitated— he would not have hesitated. Jesus was sensational in most things he did; why would he be inhibited here? We should not manufacture evidence for women priests where there is none. 

The only way that we could actually know that Jesus now wants to include women among his clergy would be for a new public supernatural revelation.  Given the past, there is not only insufficient evidence for such a change; the testimony weighs heavy against the inclusion of women in the priesthood of Christ. 

There are many female saints that have made important strides for the Gospel going back to apostolic times to the present. However, just because they have been exemplary in their witness, often outshining male disciples, this in itself does not mandate a change in sacramental discipline.  Church leaders struggle earnestly for ways to be more inclusive of women in decision-making positions and in ministries; but the model of priesthood is not open for debate.  We are locked in a particular pattern and the power of the keys is insufficient to make a change.  The Pope and the bishops are always servants of the Good News, not its masters.

The Holy Father has exerted his authority over that which he has personal say. The lay ministries of Lector and Acolyte have been opened to women, as has the new official ministry of Catechist. The diaconate remains off limits due to its sacramental nature and close association with the priesthood. But women have long been involved with the various works of the Church.  Indeed, they are engaged at church as readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, ushers, and musicians.  They not only cook and clean, but they work as rectory office managers and as directors of religious education.