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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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Feel free to submit a new question or concern in the comment box below.  Various topics and questions are archived here for easy retrieval.  Please be courteous.  God bless you!

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3,566 Responses

  1. Hello Father Joe, I have a question for you. My sister lives in Missouri, and dying from cancer. My family called for a Priest to come and Pray with her, they also asked him if he would Bless her house but he refused to Bless her house. Why would a Priest deny a blessing of a house?

    FATHER JOE: It may simply be a matter of availability for the priest. The minimal requirement for home blessings is that the residents are practicing Catholics in good standing with the Church.

  2. Is it appropriate and or recommended to bless a bible?

    FATHER JOE: A bible can be blessed although it is already sacred given it is the Word of God. Remember, though, that blessed items can be given away but they should not be sold.

  3. I recently read that some vaccinations are grown in the cell lines of aborted fetuses. I read this article but I am having a hard time understanding it https://www.ncbcenter.org/files/1714/3101/2478/vaticanresponse.pdf
    Specifically I am concerned with the hepatitis A vaccine which does not have an alternative made without the use of stem cells. I am going to be traveling to the Holy Land and this is one of the vaccines that are recommended for travelers. I just want to make sure that my understanding is correct that I cannot morally receive this vaccine.

    FATHER JOE:

    This question arises periodically and it is always difficult to answer. I must say from the first that I am not well-versed in the particular vaccine you mention. We had a similar situation years ago where the late moral theologian Dr. William May contended that the original material was so old and needs so great that a vaccine might be taken, although source material extended back to an aborted fetus in 1969 from the UK.

    We must make a few distinctions:

    FORMAL COOPERATION – The moral agent cooperates with the immoral action of another person by sharing the evil intention. This is always illicit or wrong.

    MATERIAL COOPERATION – The moral agent cooperates (directly or indirectly) with the immoral action of another person without sharing the evil intention. This is sometimes illicit (but can be mitigated by factors like double effect).

    The answer that we will seek is under material cooperation. Dr. William May distinguished between proximate and remote cooperation. Immediate or direct cooperation is necessarily proximate. Mediate or indirect cooperation is either proximate or remote. As to active or passive cooperation, the obligation to avoid passive material cooperation may not be absolute when it would be difficult or cause hardship. Clear as mud?

    There is an obligation to take recourse to alternative vaccines if they exist. However, if failure to take the problematical vaccines exposes people to extreme dangers to health, they may also be used on a temporary basis. The avoidance of passive material cooperation is not obligatory when there is a grave reason.

  4. Father Joe, your response is exactly what I feared. This poor man is suffering because of the time we are living in. In addition to what you mentioned, he is the president of a Catholic high school and a grade school. I don’t know what the children are being told at school, and I fear what they are hearing in the community and at home. Thank you for your response.

  5. Hi Father Joe,
    Today I read some comments from Pope Francis, and I’ve been thinking about it all day. The headline read, “Abortion is like hiring a hitman”. I believe that many women struggle with the emotions and regrets of having had an abortion, often at very difficult and desperate times in their lives. It often is a woman’s single and biggest source of regret. Coming to a place of self-forgiveness can take years or can be an ongoing daily battle.
    I pray for Pope Francis every day, and often find him to be full of mercy, caring, and compassion. But this statement really has me feeling heavy hearted. Twenty years ago, I found myself hopeless, helpless, abandoned, and defeated. Can women who have had abortions be victims too? I hope that Pope Francis did not mean to be so harsh. Do you think he was just trying to emphasize the stance against abortion and not so much against the women who have had one? Yes, abortion is always wrong, but isn’t there mercy for women who have repented, received God’s forgiveness, and sought to understand the circumstances to make such a devastating choice?
    I’ll be honest, I love Pope Francis. But this statement really has me hurting and feeling shame again, emotions that have taken me years to work through.
    Thank you Fr Joe.
    Peace,
    Anonymous

    FATHER JOE: It is not my place to tell the Pope his business but he does often seem a bit rash and abrasive in his ordinary public statements.

  6. A local priest went to our bishop to self-report an immoral act between himself and an adult woman. The bishop released a statement reporting this to the media, stating the priest was repentant, no minors were endangered, and there is no suggestion of any criminal act. The priest is on leave while the bishop determines his future in the ministry. What purpose could there have been to make this public?

    FATHER JOE: This is the type of case that would normally not be made public. However, I suspect the critics of the Church are so angry and aggressive at present that it was thought best to announce the matter before it leaked and the Church was once again attacked for a lack of transparency. Unfortunately, this wrongs the priest and the person with whom he was intimate. Just like other sinners, they had a right to confidentiality under the seal of confession and professional secrecy. While there was a sinful indiscretion, no crime was committed. There is a deviant albeit popular voyeurism that insists that all sins must be exposed and played out in plain view. How will this priest continue his ministry? Given the mass media, will it even suffice to send him to another diocese? Much depends upon how forgiving God’s people might be.

  7. At my parish, there is a women’s club and I saw in the bulletin that they were having an event where an actress is coming in to talk about the history of witchcraft for Halloween. I think this is kind of odd. Is it wrong for that club to be hosting this event? Should I see if I can contact the person in charge and voice my concerns? I don’t want to seem rude or holier than thou, especially since im pretty young. Is it something I am obligated to get involved in or am I looking too far into this?

    FATHER JOE: Not knowing who she is and what she is going to say… I can’t say.

  8. Dear Father Joe,

    Today I was thinking about God and unintentionally called him a swear word and voluntarily finished the sentence. Did I sin?

    FATHER JOE: Deliberate blasphemy against God is sinful. However, you say that you “unintentionally” did so. You must know that with ordinary folks this makes no sense. Do you suffer from a form of mental disease called Coprolalia? If this is the case, then there is no sin because of a lack of control.

  9. Hi Fr. Joe,
    I attend Mass at two different churches. Sometimes it’s due to the times offered at a particular church (one has a 5pm Sunday Mass). The other offers a 7am weekday Mass that I attend 1-2 times per week before work. Both churches had a distinct “feel” with one being more traditional and the other being more exuberant and friendly. Honestly, I like both very much. Sometimes I choose which church depending on my mood that day, desiring a more series toned Mass or a more friendly interactive Mass. I’m registered at one church, but my question is, can I also register at the other church too? Is it wrong to be registered to two different churches?

    FATHER JOE: You should be registered at one church. Some places require that you register at the church where you find your domicile within its juridical boundaries.

    Then, second question. I went to confession before Mass a couple weeks ago at the more traditional Church. My penance was to pray a rosary (with some other instructions that would have taken some extra time to complete a full rosary). It caught me off guard a little since I had never before received anything more than reflecting on something with a few Hail Marys (or the like). The trouble was, my rosary beads were at home, and I didn’t have time to pray a full rosary before the start of Mass. I had never experienced this situation before. Usually any penance could easily be done before Mass. I left the confessional before asking if I could receive Communion before my penance was completed, and I didn’t want to go back in to ask. So, I ended up leaving and going to the other church for Mass the next day after I had time to complete my penance. Does a penance have to be completed before receiving Communion?

    FATHER JOE: As long as there is the intention to satisfy for the penance, you can receive after the absolution.

    Thank you Fr. Joe!

  10. Hello Fr Joe, I am a freshman in college and pledging a fraternity, and I have tried to find out if this is acceptable as a Catholic but I haven’t had much luck finding a solid answer. I really like the guys in the fraternity so far and they respect my beliefs as a Catholic, I also even got one used to be Catholic to agree to go to Mass with me. I feel like the fraternity is a good opportunity to make friends and even evangelize some.

    The main problem for me is that it is technically a secret society I think, which also means they have a secret ritual where they dress in dark robes and light candles and such. The guys all tell me it’s just tradition and it “literally means nothing,” and that it is not in contradiction with being a Christian, as many of them are Christians at least to some degree.

    The president told me he thinks the founders were Catholic (which I am not sure of). I feel like this is just a technicality that is tripping me up, as I don’t see why I would need to tell anybody about these secret things, and even if I did I don’t think they would really care, and even if they did it’s not like they can do anything to me. I feel like this shouldn’t be tripping me up as I want to join the fraternity, but I just wanted to make sure, thank you!

    FATHER JOE:

    The Church would make distinctions between organizations that are secret societies and those that have private or secret initiation rituals. Given that the initiation degrees of the Knights of Columbus have valuable lessons, they are supposed to be kept confidential. However, our works and much of what we discuss at meetings can be disclosed to the public. Just as the Knights are not regarded as a secret society, it may be that your fraternity is not considered such either. A problem with an organization like the Freemasons is a past history of seeking to undermine the Church and prayers or rituals that conflict with Catholic devotion and faith. Catholics are still forbidden to join the secret society of the Masonic Lodge. I do not know much about your fraternity, but it may be that it does not strictly satisfy the definition of a forbidden secret society. Not knowing its name or more details I cannot say. While I cannot give you a definitive answer, it sounds like boys merely having some fun.

    I have deleted your reference to the initiation promises as your fraternity might want to keep them confidential. They are very similar to those used by other fraternities, like Delta Upsilon which publishes theirs and renounces secrecy.

  11. Dear Father,

    I recently moved to the Las Vegas area. Today I went to Mass at a church where a Bette Midler music video was played during a break in the homily from a Deacon.

    Oh, but before the concluding prayer, two members carried out a gold-colored rotary drum so the Priest could spin it and select a name in the raffle to win a St. Francis statue. The “winner” need not be present to win.

    Did I mention when the Gifts were brought forward by two youngsters they were not received by the Priest. Instead, the two kids placed them on the altar.

    Also, Holy Communion was given with actual bread which (to me) was different.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never seen anything like that before. I actually felt a bit uncomfortable.

    FATHER JOE: Are you sure it was a Catholic Church, and not a Protestant one or a Catholic breakaway community? Bette Midler is popular with some ministers but no matter how moving, it is still secular music. Raffles and gambling has no proper place in the liturgy either. While it might attract some, such a practice will turn off many more. You are correct that the gifts should be received by the celebrant. While the shapes and the thickness of hosts for Mass sometimes vary, it must be unleavened wheat. The use of other ingredients, like honey, will invalidate the sacred matter.

  12. Hi Fr Joe,
    I rarely, actually almost never, receive both the body AND blood of Christ at Communion. I’m not typically a ‘germ-a-phobe’, but when it comes to drinking out of the same cup as the whole congregation, it is definitely unsettling to me. I have tried to put this hang-up of mine out of my mind and focus on the moment, receiving the precious blood of Christ. But, when I take my sip from the cup, I can’t help but feel a bit of disgust thinking what germs have been shared. And then, I feel horrible that I’ve felt this way given the gift that it is.
    Should I work to overcome my hesitation and perception of sharing the cup? Or should I just let it go and just receive Communion, accepting that this is just the way I feel about it? I wish it didn’t bother me this way. I’ve been told that there is very little chance of spreading germs by sharing the cup this way, but that doesn’t seem to help.
    Any thoughts or advise?
    Thank you!
    Lauren

    FATHER JOE: There is no necessity to receive from the chalice. The host contains the complete risen Christ… body soul and divinity. I would not worry about it.

  13. Dear Fr. Joe,

    Hi, it’s me again. I would just like to ask a question. I have a bad habit of saying God’s name in vain and I am working to stop it. Is using God’s holy name in vain a mortal sin? Some say it’s blaspheme but other say it’s veniel sin becuase it considered profanity. What is your view on this? Do you think using God’s name in vain a mortal sin or veniel? Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: Using God’s name can either be venial or mortal. It is a form of blasphemy. Many routinely use God’s name as an expletive and they find it is a hard habit to break. Others tend to say something bad in great distress or pain, as in the proverbial striking one’s finger with a hammer. Others would use it as a curse and it is here that it is most probably a mortal sin. As an attempt to break away from such usage, there are a few who have resorted to uttering blessings or prayerful aspirations instead. They catch themselves in the process of using God’s name in vain and change it by saying something like, “God save us!” or “Jesus, Mary, Joseph… save souls!”

  14. Hi Father Joe. My fiancee and I are struggling with the Church’s requirement to annul past marriages. Problem: I have several; very very embarrassed. I don’t want to deal with a tribunal, ex wives, judgments, etc. I want to hide under a rock rather than deal with this. No never abandoned a marriage or abused anyone, but still hugely embarrassing. She has about 1 month to finish a US Visa to come here and marry. An annulment, if I can force myself to do it, could take much longer or be denied. My vote is to just go to the Justice of the Peace and get it done. God knows very well neither of us abandoned a marriage or are now married. She says we will be punished by the Church for the rest of our lives for doing this and won’t be able to do communion, etc. Question: Can the “irregular/lack of form” marriage be made whole somehow after the wedding? If so, how? We are about to give up on our marriage plan. Very sad. Thanks. G

    FATHER JOE: The ideal would be to have the former bonds annulled and then to marry your fiancée before a priest in a church. You are correct that annulments take time and they are not assured. However, you may not need several formal annulments. Such an annulment is required if a Catholic marries in the Church before a priest. They are also required if two Protestants marry in any setting. If you or a prior spouse were Catholic, and you did not marry in the Catholic Church, then only a simple declaration of nullity is required because of a lack of canonical form. You would still need to collect a copy of the marriage license, divorce decree and baptismal certificates. Given that you are civilly divorced, you could legally marry your fiancée before a civil magistrate like a judge or a justice of the peace. However, the marriage would not be recognized by the Church. While there is discussion about allowing people in irregular or adulterous unions to receive the sacraments; many feel that the problems would be insurmountable. A person must be spiritually disposed to the sacraments and open to grace. Couples in mortal sin need to be reconciled but such requires both contrition and a genuine amendment of life. If you should attempt a marriage before a civil authority, you would still need to pursue nullification of prior bonds before an ecclesial tribunal. Only after a decisive and affirmative decision could the new bond be convalidated before a priest and deacon and two witnesses.

  15. My professors often upload things for us to print and read that I’m sure are violating copyright. I know that is considered theft. What should I do? Should I not be reading them? Am I obligated to pay restitution?

    FATHER JOE: The responsibility is that of your professors. Do not be quick to judge. It is my understanding that there are certain legal provisions for teachers in various academic settings. Concentrate on your studies.

  16. Dear Father Joe

    I have a question as to whether there is a difference of opinion as to whether a person has to confess mortal sins that he has genuinely forgotten to mention in a previous confession during a later confession?

    My problem is that I have committed many mortal sins in the past, and I have made several attempts at sincerely confessing all of them; It’s not so much that I definitely believe I have omitted to confess them, but that after a period of time, I cannot remember either way if I have confessed, or not.

    I have been told by a couple of catholic priests that there is no need to mention mortal sins in a subsequent confession if there has previously been a genuine attempt to confess all mortal sins, but most of the online advice as to this issue seems to be in conflict with what I have been told by the two catholic priest I have personally approached about this issue, in other words some people believe the answer to my question is affirmative, others seem to state negative.

    (Please note that I am asking this question not to subject the sacrament to misuse, but because my conscience directs me to make a complete confession in the correct manner).

    I would appreciate any spiritual advice you can offer on this matter.

    Thank you for your time.

    FATHER JOE:

    There is no difference of opinion. Mortal sins forgiven but unconfessed through general absolution or because they were forgotten during a prior confession should later be shared with the priest, with the proviso that they are already absolved. If you sincerely believe that they were confessed then the matter is resolved. Human memory is not perfect. But we should be wary of self-deception.

    This is not a matter of personal opinion. It may be that the priests with whom you spoke did not understand or they have judged you as scrupulous and do not want to amplify a problem. They may also know you so well that they know what these sins are based upon your current struggles. Mentioning the same sin in the present might suffice for the sin committed in the past. Priests need enough details to judge souls, but they do not want too many details.

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