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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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Reading the Transcripts to Catholic Confessions

A message from Louise . . .

There is a book that compiles transcripts of confessions recorded with a hidden microphone and without the confessor’s or the penitent’s knowledge. It is from the 1960’s and the people confessing are left anonymous. I am awfully curious about it but it feels wrong to read it. Would it be sinful to read such a book?

My response . . .

I am appalled that such a book was ever written and published. While I do not know the work in question, I can answer your question quite bluntly— do not purchase it, do not read it and if by accident you own it, throw it where it belongs— into the trash.  Regardless that the names of penitents remain anonymous, the fact remains that both priest and penitent were unaware of the recording and did not give permission. The one who made the recordings and the subsequent book committed a grievous sin. Those with a prurient interest in the sins of others would better be concerned about their own failings and need for mercy.  Not only are we talking about a violation of the seal of confession but what is arguably a criminal act. Would it be sinful for you to read such a book? Really, you have to ask? You would make yourself party to the sinful acts of others.    

An Article So Stupid It Made My Brain Hurt

Trying to compare the efforts to change Catholic doctrine under Pope Francis with Pope Benedict XVI’s devaluation of Limbo is absolutely ridiculous. While Limbo was taught in many catechisms, it was always at most a scholastic theory and our best guess to keep unbaptized babies out of hell.  We must remember, that many early churchmen, including St. Augustine thought that children who died with original sin on their souls went to hell (even if it should be the luxury suite in perdition).  Indeed, Limbo which is defined by ignorance of God and natural happiness, is still arguably a type of hell because we are made for God and his absence for all eternity is an essential component of hell even if minus the pain to the senses or hellfire. 

The shift against the theory began under Pope John Paul II and the promulgation of the universal catechism (1993), long before the publication of the International Theological Commission’s report in 2007. Further, if one looks closely, the possibility of Limbo is not utterly taken off the table, just arguably unlikely.  We must accept that we have no certitude on this question, even if we are optimistic that a compassionate and loving God might make some special provision for the little ones.  Many other theories have been put forward, even when Limbo was the reigning presumption. All of them are somewhat problematical. Some argued that the unbaptized children might be given a moment of enlightenment to make a judgment about their eternal orientation. Others would suggest that the desire of parents or of the Church for their salvation might suffice to save them as they have never committed personal sin. It was along these lines that the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen penned a prayer of spiritual adoption for children in danger of abortion.  

The article also confuses the teaching about the Limbo of the Innocents with the Limbo of the Fathers. It is wholly different from the certain abode where the righteous dead await the coming of Christ. After the descent of our Lord into hell or unto the quick or to the dead, he would translate the just, including all the patriarchs and prophets into heaven. This likely included good St. Joseph.  This place for the dead no longer exists. However, this is not the hypothetical Limbo of the Innocents or Children.  Despite the article’s assertions to the contrary, most old popular catechisms suggested that it was eternal— sharing a natural happiness as in the primordial garden but knowing nothing of supernatural happiness and seeing God.

The teaching of Limbo made it into the catechisms because given mortality rates, the Church felt the need to say something to calm the fears of parents. Indeed, even the current universal catechism counsels urgency in getting newly born children baptized. Failure to do so endangers their salvation. While the prospect may be unlikely, Catholics are still free to hold a view in favor of Limbo.

The report of the commission echoes the catechism that we have “strong grounds for hope” that infants might be saved— but this hope is not absolutely certain.  We may have shifted away from Limbo, but we are unwilling to dismiss the need for faith in Jesus Christ and for baptism. The Church teaches that baptism with water and in the name of the Trinity brings spiritual regeneration. Original sin is washed away. We are given sanctifying grace. We are made adopted sons and daughters of the heavenly Father and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. We become temples for the Holy Spirit. We are made members of the Church or mystical body of Christ. All this is the core doctrine involved and it is here that nothing has changed.  The assumption otherwise in the article is a lie and is propaganda for revisionists who care nothing about babies— as they are frequently the same voices that place the selfish and fearful whims of women over the right to life of their children.  There has been absolutely no movement on moral teachings like the indissolubility of marriage or the evil of sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage or the heinous wrong of abortion.  The article is comparing apples and oranges.

The author goes so far as to make a comparison of the slow death of Limbo as a theory to the fate of the traditional Latin Mass.  Again, there is no comparison as a medieval theory to save a few cannot be compared to a liturgy with apostolic roots where we have certitude of its efficacy in terms of the re-presentation of Calvary and the real presence of the Eucharist. 

The Bible says we should not call our brother a fool and so I will not speak further about the article’s author.

Can a Gay or Bi-sexual Person Be Close to God?

A message from Lucinda . . .


I am a young girl who wishes to be closer to God, but I am unsure if I can be because of my sexuality. I am bisexual. I feel attraction to both men and women. Many say this is a sin, but I would like to ask a priest for an opinion. I do not wish to sacrifice my happiness, but I want to be closer to the Lord. Is being gay a sin?

If being bisexual is a sin, what shall I do? How can I repent from this? What do I do to stop myself from being attracted to women? I’m unsure if it is possible, as being bisexual is more than a label; it is a part of who I am. Perhaps God has made me this way – does he accept that I am gay? Or does the Lord wish for me to repent and reject these feelings?

I would really appreciate some help. Thank you.   

My response . . .

First, we need to be aware that we live in an eroticized culture where we are saturated with immodest images and fed the lie that only those who are sexually active can be happy and fulfilled. 

Second, only you can get into your head and heart as to how you know yourself and in how you feel about people and the world around you.  Are you truly bisexual or just conflicted as a youth? It is not for me to say. However, so as to respond to your inquiry, I will take what you say at face value.

Third, both the Scriptures and the Church teach that sexual activity (the marital act) is reserved to married men and women. The sexual powers are directed to the unity of spouses with the accompanying goods of fidelity and procreation. Same-sex relationships are not capable of a sexual act that is open to the generation of new human life. 

Fourth, while the catechism will speak of same-sex attraction as disordered, it is not in itself sinful. However, the acting out of same-sex intimacy would constitute serious sin. It should be noted that heterosexual sexual relations outside of marriage also constitute sin. Men and women are made for each other but relations should be within the covenant or sacrament of holy matrimony.    

Now, how do I respond? It is crucial that you do not simply identify yourself by the single characteristic of sexual attraction. You are so much more than this. I have known heterosexual men and women deeply wounded in spirit and personality because they narrowly define themselves and their happiness by the exuberance of their carnal lives. One poor woman I counseled decades ago was deceived into thinking she only had worth when men wanted her and were regularly taking her to bed.  Behind the lust and fleeting excitement, she was very unhappy and frustrated. She told me that she felt as if she was being pulled apart and in different directions. Such a lifestyle made it impossible for her to be whole. The fruit of such a life was not a family and a home but a long string of abortions and a sense of abandonment. 

There is a deception that many buy when preparing for marriage. We often hear spouses say such silly things as, “I am only half a person without him or her.” The truth says different— married or single— we must be whole and complete in ourselves.  It is this appreciation that allows a celibate priest or brother or nun to be happy. We can have many friends but we do not need sex to be complete or to know joy.  If you are truly bi-sexual then it is possible that you might find a young man to marry and to have a family. If not, you can still be rich with love and friendship, albeit without sexual congress. Do not buy the lie that love must always be expressed sexually or genitally.  I know many men and women who love each other in an intense but brotherly or sisterly manner. 

However you feel about your identity, if you are serious about being holy, then God will give you the grace to do so. The Gospel of Christ promises us the Lord’s friendship and a share in his risen life.  However, there is also the command to take up our crosses and follow him.  We cannot have everything or everyone we want in this world.  The love that Christ would have us know is inherently sacrificial. We seek to be good and holy while trying to bring others along with us in the pilgrimage of faith. God forbid that we should turn away from the Lord or lead others into sin because of our selfishness.

Who are you? While gender and attraction are part of the equation, you are so much more. Look beyond it. Make an assessment of your gifts. Discern your calling and move forward as a child of God.   

The Ethical Treatment of Animals

A message from Al . . .


Could you please answer a question for me . . . I don’t understand why God hates animals. I know he gave man free will. Animals depend on humans to take care of them. But humans do such horrible things to them and they can’t take care of themselves. Please help me understand. Thank You.

My response . . .

God loves his creation.  Genesis tells us that God gave the stewardship and subjugation of material creation into the hands of humanity.  Pope Francis and others would remind us that sometimes we have failed in this sacred charge, trashing the environment and either abusing the animals with which we share the good earth or even speeding certain species toward extinction.  The fault as with all sin is a misuse of human freedom.  The problem is not God but the callous way that we as men and women treat what God has made.  Humanity stands between the two created realms— the spiritual and the material.  Our souls possess a kinship with the angels while our bodies make us a part of the mortal and physical world.  Certain animals like dogs have developed a shared affinity and friendship with the human race.  Others are used as beasts of burden and as food.  This might seem harsh, but it is all part of the nature of things. Even if animals should not have immortal souls, nothing is lost in God. We can have certitude that all things continue to exist as eternal paradigms in the divine mind.  If people fail to show compassion to other human persons, should we be surprised when animals are mistreated?  Maybe God has given you this keen appreciation of the status of animals so that you might become an advocate for their ethical treatment?    

Settling Accounts Before Approaching the Altar

A message from Cali . . .

Seeing as you are a priest I’d like to get your opinion on something. I am currently not on speaking terms with my sister. A couple of weeks back her daughter went with me on an egg hunt and she was acting up in the car so I disciplined her. My sister didn’t like what was said. A few days later I gave my niece a warning to quit disrespecting me because she kept pushing my buttons and my sister took it as a threat. I’ve read in the Bible that Jesus said if a brother has anything against you, to put down your gift at the altar and make amends with your brother first. Does this mean that I am not able to receive Holy Communion since my sister will not talk to me and is holding a grudge? Thanks for your time.

My response . . .

How old is the child? Little kids can be annoying but we as adults need to do what we can to be patient. As they get older, the need for discipline becomes more crucial. However, some people are very sensitive about others trying to correct their children. Does your sibling not see the need for her child to treat others with respect? Does she discipline her children? There is too much I do not know about the particular situation to give a satisfactory answer. If you want to make amends with your sister and she has closed the door to you then there is not much you can do. Unburden your soul in confession, keep them in prayer and humbly approach the sacraments. Peace!