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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 Development of Doctrine & Unchanging Truths

Has such a teaching as on capital punishment truly changed or is it the backdrop that frames it and thus changes the question? Those who are politically more liberal seem to give little to no concern about ecclesial precedents. Their agenda is formed more by the fads of the day than by the sources of Christian doctrine.  Voices on the right would place greater weight in the testimony of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Both groups can inadvertently undermine the Magisterium, but only the conservatives feel bad about it. 

It is imperative that there be historical and intellectual integrity. Capricious statements that would require clarification or retraction as well as any subsequent duplicity or subterfuge undermines the authority of the Magisterium to demand assent. Essential to this discussion is the notion of doctrinal development championed by Cardinal John Henry Newman and yet poorly or incorrectly defined by many. As a basic premise, the shift in doctrinal understanding must necessarily be “organic” in its development even if the historical progression is sporadic.  Complicating matters, it has to be admitted that sometimes Church teachings are poorly formulated or complicated by a preponderance of anathemas. It is always important to appreciate the actual core teaching and that which might only be hyperbole. While we can all admit that men make mistakes, what is at stake in the discussion is the protective and guiding movement of the Holy Spirit in the life and preaching of the faith by the shepherds of the Church. I am no great theologian or philosopher, despite the thousands of books I have read. As a simple parish priest, my theological insights are those of a hack. Nevertheless, I place great confidence in my trust of two essential themes:  the dignity of persons and the sanctity of life.  I would also add the qualification that God’s gift of life to us has an incommensurate value— despite our many practical efforts to stick a price tag to it.

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