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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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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!





3,419 Responses

  1. Your response was I need help……but did you hear about the recent Greece earthquake….the g stands for God. He knows I wasn’t making things up. He is the almighty. I sought his help and he answered.

    FATHER JOE: I will keep you in prayer.

  2. Thank you so much Father Joe for your reply. You are in my prayers.

  3. Father I went to confession and confessed my sin and the many times should of I confessed I did it most recently the very day I went to confession.

    FATHER JOE: I am not sure what you are trying to say. Even if we repeatedly sin, God is always ready to forgive us.

  4. Exodus 35:2 forbids us to work during Sabbath. Some say this rule only apply for Israelites and Christians can honor God while working during Sabbath. Is this a valid argument? Why Exodus 35:2 only applies to Israelites?

    FATHER JOE: The commandment requires that we keep the Lord’s Day holy. The Hebrew Sabbath pointed to creation. The Catholic/Christian Sunday pointed to our re-creation in Jesus Christ. Christians applied this commandment to Sunday, which was called the Lord’s Day in honor of the resurrection. The early Jewish Christians were expelled from the synagogues but they still had their Sunday morning gatherings for Christian prayer and the celebration of the agape and the Lord’s Supper. This transition directed by the Church but which occurred naturally became more complete with the many Gentile converts. Keeping the Lord’s Day included both worship and rest. We are reminded to make time to honor God. While the Church would prefer that believers spend Sundays at church and relaxing with their families; we are also cognizant that many need to work on Sunday (because of the public good) and/or because they need to financially sustain themselves and their families. Particularly when don from sacrificial love, God will not condemn his children.

  5. Hi Father,

    I am very aware of the Bible and the Church’s position of sex before marriage, and that is that it is forbidden. I agree with this and would rather wait until after marriage before I engaged in these acts.

    I was, however, curious – what are the origins and purposes of this act? Why is it forbidden in the first place?


    FATHER JOE: Answering this question in a few words would be a tall order. Sexual intercourse is called the marital act. Marriage best supports the spouses and protects the rights of children. Sexual relations are often wrongly reduced to recreation. In truth, the sexual faculties draw men and women into intimate life-long bonds where they support each other and give a home to children. Sexual expression is literally a self-donation or surrender of two people to each other. Those who are promiscuous often find that they have fragmented their psyche and being. When a man and woman have sexual intimacy there is a drive toward perfect and lasting unity. This is what makes promiscuity and adultery so terrible. What lovers give away is given forever. A bond is forged. We are our bodies.

  6. Fr. Joe,
    We have adoration at our church M-F 7-9. On Monday it stops for Mass and then is continued after Mass.
    I have 2 Questions: In the absence of a priest, who has the privilege of reposing and exposing the Blessed Sacrament and second in the absence of a priest, who and how is a service instead of Mass done?

    FATHER JOE: A priest or deacon can offer Eucharistic Adoration. Ordained ministers are the proper agents to repose the sacrament after adoration.

  7. Father Joe
    Thank you for your previous help. Your straight forward answers have been so appreciated. They have been very helpful in bringing me some peace and closure. I have one more question for you. A woman is engaged but gets pregnant before marriage. She is married in the church, happily has 4 more children with the same man, gets divorced and then the same two people remarry civilly to try again. After the second divorce she decides she wants to date, so seeks a Catholic annulment. She claims she was raped by the man for the first child and brings in witnesses (parents and siblings) to back her claim, and is granted the annulment because of false lies. How will God view and judge these actions. Is repentance needed for the family members who supported these false claims? Where does the woman stand in the eyes of God? I may not want to hear the answer, but I think I need to. Thank you


    The question here is not about rape but about deception. The respondent or prior spouse in such a situation could argue against the false allegation. The subsequent children and the civil remarriage to the same partner while still sacramentally married to each other would also testify against the allegation. Despite problems, the initial bond is civilly re-expressed. While the court of second recourse is generally abrogated now by Pope Francis, it is still required when there is opposition from the respondent. An annulment that is acquired through false evidence or through theological dissent about the true meaning of marriage is worthless. God will not be fooled. He knows the truth, even if men and churchmen should be deceived. Annulments are ultimately not simply about people being free to go through new marriage ceremonies. They are about the possibility of a second marriage attempt (to someone else) that would be acknowledged by almighty God. It really comes down to remaining in a state of grace before God. If one is truly married and no annulment is humanly possible, then the marriage endures despite separation and divorce. Second or third unions (to someone else) in such cases are regarded as adultery. The Church wants to defend the permanence of marriage but we also want to show compassion to God’s people. We want to bring the forgiveness of sins to God’s people. We want them to know grace and one day go to heaven.

    Deception in such matters is mortal sin and would require restitution. Those guilty of perjury would likely be asked to tell the authorities of their deception so as to receive absolution.

  8. Hi Fr joe,

    20 Largest Earthquakes in the World from USGS

    Mag Location Alternative Name Date (UTC) Time (UTC) Latitude Longitude References
    1. 9.5 Bio-Bio, Chile Valdivia Earthquake 1960-05-22 19:11 38.14°S 73.41°W Kanamori & Anderson, 1975
    2. 9.2 Southern Alaska 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake, Prince William Sound Earthquake, Good Friday Earthquake 1964-03-28 03:36 60.91°N 147.34°W Kanamori & Anderson, 1975
    3. 9.1 Off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake, 2004 Sumatra Earthquake and Tsunami, Indian Ocean Earthquake 2004-12-26 00:58 3.30°N 95.98°E Duputel et al., 2012
    4. 9.1 Near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan Tohoku Earthquake 2011-03-11 05:46 38.30°N 142.37°E Duputel et al., 2012
    5. 9.0 Off the East Coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia

    Based on the above I have an observation to make.
    The second largest earthquake, the Alaskan earthquake is also known as the Good Friday quake because it occurred during the Christian holy day of Good Friday, the day associated with Jesus’s crucifixion, on which an earthquake reportedly occurred.An earthquake occurred at the time of Jesus’s death according to bibleverse||Matthew|27:51-54|31.

    The third largest Indonesian Earthquake occurred on Dec 25, 2014 in US time which is also a holy day of Christmas.

    The third largest Indonesian earthquake and fourth largest Japanese earthquake are similar. An earthquake followed by tsunami. If you take the I from Indonesia and J from Japan it reveals I J which is I Jesus……

    Jesus the maker of heaven and earth….my observation is that there is a hidden revelation of his presence and it proclaims his glory and power.

    Do I make any sense or am I delusional..please help ?

    52.62°N 159.78°

    FATHER JOE: I would say that you are delusional and need help that I cannot give. Sorry.

  9. Is it wrong to buy clothes that were made with child labor?

    If I don’t remember whether I promised God I would do something or just made it a goal, am I obliged to carry out the act and assume I promised? P.S. I’m scrupulous.

    FATHER JOE: We are often not privy as to the conditions of people who make the things we use and wear. Should you patronize fast food places if the workers do not get a livable wage? Would you be willing to pay two or three times as much for food, clothing, electronics, etc.? We must also deal with the fact that cheap products have put many alternative sources out of business. The American textile ministry is largely gone. Cheap steel replaces domestic. Even many American flags are stamped, “Made in China.” Children should not be abused by harsh business practices… but what about those cases where their labor sustains a family or puts food in their stomachs? Issues are far more complex than many might initially imagine. While there are general Catholic social principles about work and economics; the truth remains that it is a hard world where injustice still finds a hold. Sometimes when we try to fix it, we can also make matters worse. The sin in all this is not caring or attempting to find ways to improve the lot of others.

  10. Hi Father
    Is cutting self mortal or venial sin. I suffer from this. It has been habitual. It a way to deal with emotional mental spiritual pain. I was told it is venial sin in that case do I need to confess this every time I do this.

    FATHER JOE: If it is due to mental disease or psychological distress than the subjective guilt would be mitigated or lessened (venial sin). Speaking just about the act of cutting itself, such would be regarded as grave or serious matter. Thus, without some form of mitigation it would qualify as mortal sin. Just as a priest can require restitution along with the penance, I would insist upon the penitent seeking professional psychological help.

  11. Hi Father,

    I’m sorry Father if I bother you.

    If you don’t mind, can Father please answer my question.

    My question is in regard to what the Catechism says about masturbation. The second paragraph states:

    CCC 2352 […] To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

    I have a doubt regarding this second paragraph. It talks about the things a pastor has to take into consideration to determine:

    1. the gravity of each sin for each particular case set before him, and
    2. the way he ought to deal with the issue.

    These things are:

    1) affective immaturity
    2) conditions of anxiety
    3) other psychological or social factors

    I would like, if it is possible, a definition for each one of these factors and I would like to see by means of a few illustrative examples, how each one of these variables affects both the culpability and the pastoral action.

    Thanks and God bless you. I appreciate your patience.

    FATHER JOE: It is already pretty self-explanatory. When it comes to maturity, obviously there is a big difference in moral responsibility between a twelve or thirteen year old boy and an adult male. There are also people who suffer all sorts of phobias about sexuality and relationships. When it comes to human psychology, you have both the mentally ill and those who struggle with minimal intelligence. Those deemed intellectually ineducable because of low IQ’s or diminished capacity might do all sorts of things while not appreciating any moral culpability. They are literally like babies in the bodies of adults. Without sufficient reason, no sin can be committed.

  12. Father Joe, is it better to avoid church and confession if you knowingly intend on committing the same sin week after week or is it better to still attend? Are you truly forgiven if you keep repeating the same sin, because in your mind, the sin is justified because you need alimony to continue to live in the standard you were accustomed to living before you divorced, you will no longer be able to do so if you remarry?

    FATHER JOE: If you were truly married but are now divorced, you should live chastely. Sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin. Cohabitation and having sex with another (outside marriage) so as to keep alimony from a prior bond is not only dishonest, it strikes me as somewhat akin to prostitution. I am always amazed that people in such situations still want to go through the motions of faith. How can one be a good Catholic when you are not only walking in the direction of hell but have decided to take someone (you purportedly care about) with you?

  13. Father Joe:

    Can Pope Francis change the Church’s teaching on contraception?

    Also, it is not always clear which teachings are Dogma’s that are considered fixed in that they were inspired by the Spirit and those teachings which may not be so firm. Is there a list of Dogmas considered unchangeable?

    FATHER JOE: I would urge you to look at the universal catechism (CCC). A helpful source is Denzinger’s THE SOURCES OF CATHOLIC DOGMA. There are various efforts at listing but dogmas are often interleaved with one another and must be understood in context. Can the Pope change Catholic teaching on contraception? Given our teachings on the nature of the person and the meaning of the marital act, I cannot imagine any change. As much criticism as Pope Paul VI received, I believe that he did what he had to do. The majority report was wrong. The Spirit of God remained with the Church and the tradition was confirmed.

  14. Good morning Father.I really want to know about “addiction diminish culpability”.I think Father had already answer this question but i dont remember.I have readed a lot of information about addiction or vice.For example,if i have a true addiction like watching pornography,does my addiction diminish or mitigate my culpability?but how the addiction can diminish my culpability even though we know that pornography is a grave matter?thanks and God bless.

    FATHER JOE: Culpability for sin requires freedom in choosing to sin. Addiction attacks the will and damages human freedom. This is why culpability or responsibility may be lessened. It should be said that the person is still guilty or accountable for those free decisions that led up to the addiction. One is also obliged to struggle in overcoming or finding liberation from addictions.

  15. Can you please tell me the catholic view on avoiding remarriage so alimony can still. E collected from the first marriage. Thank you

    FATHER JOE: There is no issue as long as one remains chaste and there is no cohabitation. Remarriage (for a Catholic) would require a Church annulment. It would morally wrong to feign the marriage bond.

  16. Dear Father Joe

    I read this comment and response on July 8, 2017:

    “True or False: The BASILICA in Rome was built in the sale of indulgences?”

    You responded: “St. Peter’s Basilica was paid for in many ways. The churches and Catholic princes were assessed to help defray the cost. The Dominican Johann Tetzel (1465-1519) sold or trafficked in indulgences, but he did so in contradiction to Church laws. This is not to say that people did not make sacrificial donations in association with prayers, penances, Mass intentions, votive offerings, and in thanksgiving for prayers that were answered. Abuses were rightfully opposed by Martin Luther and the Council of Trent issued further correctives against the practice.”

    I posted a question on November 22, 2012:

    “Dear Father Joseph, please help to explain in details the actual story of how Martin Luther accused Johann Tetzel (sent by Pope Leo X) for selling indulgence certificate that later lead to split in the Western Church. The accusation was not true, right?”

    You responded: “The story is a mixed bag. Tetzel preached indulgences. The Church still does; indeed, a plenary indulgence is available during this special Year of Faith called by the Pope. Tetzel was on the record for acknowledging that one had to go to Confession and be in a state of grace for their spiritual benefit. However, no one can buy another out of hell… an exaggeration sometimes thrown at Tetzel by anti-Catholic apologists. Tetzel received so much recrimination because of the debate with Luther that Luther, himself, later apologized and commiserated with him on the poor treatment he was receiving even from churchmen loyal to the Catholic Church. Luther sent him a letter while Tetzel was on his deathbed acknowledging that Tetzel was not the cause of the rebellion of princes and the fracturing of the Church. Tetzel died a broken man accused of scandals which were later proven false.”

    You answered Sean that the Dominican Johann Tetzel sold or trafficked in indulgences but Father also explained to me that Tetzel died a broken man accused of scandals which were later proven false. In truth, Telzel was innocent, right?


    First, there was a trafficking or abuse in indulgences; but such was due to ignorance about what they entailed, emissaries associated with Tetzel and the effort, and their application to the dead. Second, the poor man was wrongly accused of all sorts of immorality, fraud and embezzlement of funds. Tetzel’s view as to how indulgences benefit the living was correct. The problem was how he expressed their benefit for the dead.

    He never discounted the need for contrition or sorrow for sin. Sins, (past, present or future) could not be automatically absolved by paying a fee. Such opinions attributed to Tetzel were groundless.

    The graces from an indulgence, he writes, could only apply “to the pains of sin (temporal punishment) which are confessed and for which there is contrition.”

    Tetzel was arguably not a top rank theologian and he apparently dropped the ball in regard to indulgences for the dead, although even here, he is not guilty of some of the excesses about which he was charged. One cannot buy deceased family and friends out of purgatory.

    It was an abuse to make a plenary indulgence for the dead in any way conditional to a gratuity or financial donation. There had to be contrition from the giver and divine justice had to be respected. One does not bargain with or bribe almighty God. Cardinal Cajetan repudiated the abuse and argued that the Church cannot be judged by the false opinions and practices of individual churchmen. It violated the fundamental understanding of the treasury of graces that comes to us through the communion of the saints.


    An indulgence is not a license to sin without fear of punishment.
    An indulgence is not the forgiveness or absolution from the guilt of sin.
    An indulgence is no escape from moral obligations or the need for restitution and reparation.
    An indulgence does not grant immunity from temptation or insure freedom from sin.
    An indulgence does not buy salvation or automatically bring about the release of a soul from purgatory.


    An indulgence presumes that sin has already been pardoned (state of grace).
    An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.
    An indulgence is granted by the exercise of the power of the keys given to the Church through the application of the superabundant merits of Christ and of the saints.
    An indulgence means a more complete payment of the debt which the sinner owes to God.

  17. Thank you so much Father for the answer, I understand your response. May Our Lord bless you for taking time to answer especially to the young people.

  18. Dear Father Joe
    Can a faithful Catholic offer Mass Intention to a non Catholic? (Mass Intention for all categories)
    Thank you, Father.

    FATHER JOE: Yes, you can have Mass Intentions said for non-Catholics.

  19. True or False: The BASILLICA in Rome was built in the sale of indulgences? Pope Pius XII made a pact with Adolf Hitler? The Catholic Church condemns the use of condoms and thus frowns up any suggestion they be used in Africa, though AIDS is rampant?


    St. Peter’s Basilica was paid for in many ways. The churches and Catholic princes were assessed to help defray the cost. The Dominican Johann Tetzel (1465-1519) sold or trafficked in indulgences, but he did so in contradiction to Church laws. This is not to say that people did not make sacrificial donations in association with prayers, penances, Mass intentions, votive offerings, and in thanksgiving for prayers that were answered. Abuses were rightfully opposed by Martin Luther and the Council of Trent issued further correctives against the practice.

    The Concordat of 1933 during the time of Pope Pius XI was an agreement to stabilize the relationship between the Vatican State and Germany. Many other European nations also had such agreements with Germany. Neither the Pope nor Hitler was at the signing. The Church was deeply concerned about the religious status of twenty million German Catholics. Given the Catholic Church’s opposition to National Socialism, a failure to pursue an arrangement would have meant the end of the Catholic Church within the territories of the Reich.

    The Church opposes the use of condoms because the marital act (vaginal sexual intercourse between a husband and wife) must be that type of act that is open to the generation of new human life. This is the case even if the couple is sterile. Obviously, if people are going to sin by having sex outside of marriage then the matter becomes mute since they are committing mortal sin any way. The point of contention is when married couples want to employ artificial contraception. The Church also views contraception as the handmaid of abortion. She would encourage NFP for married couples and abstinence for those who are not married and thus not entitled to sexual relations. The marital act renews the couple’s sacramental covenant in Christ. It must be open both to human life and to the furtherance of fidelity between the spouses.

    While you may disagree, the Church’s view is that “condomistic intercourse is always intrinsically immoral.”

  20. Hello Father,

    I would like your insight about a situation. I am in my mid twenties.
    To what extent are children supposed to be involved in issues between their parents? My mother is unhappy and every time I call her she talks of all the things going wrong in her life, often she says she is unhappy because of dad. Dad has been angry with her, concerns dowry issues and their culture which demands that it has to be paid. The phone calls leave me heavy hearted because I love them both and as much as I desire a family that’s together in good and bad I may never have it.
    Is detaching from such issues Christlike? What does it mean to help another person carry their cross and how do you respectfully allow other people to take care of their responsibilities? Father to be honest sometimes I feel as though its unfair when people, instead of solving problems their heap on the issues to others. I love my parents. and I always pray for them but I hate the sad feeling. I just wish things were not so dysfunctional.

    FATHER JOE: You would probably be better off talking with a priest familiar with the dowry system. My take on the family tension would be tainted by my strong prejudice against any form of dowry. It has largely disappeared from North America and Europe and I would be happy to see it utterly eradicated. It places undue pressure on families and in some cases might even call vows into question. A woman is a person, not a piece of property upon which one might place a price tag. As for helping others with their crosses, it often comes down to showing compassion and being present to them. But ultimately, our crosses are our own to carry, even if our Lord says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Peace!

  21. She’s in her late thirties and I doubt if she’s educable. I’m the last child of my family so I dont know if my parents taught her how to take care of herself when she was younger, they probably didn’t know how to help her. We’ve asked my mum on some occasions if plans were being made on how to take care of her when we leave the house but she said since my dad hadn’t said anything on the matter, she doesn’t know what to do. So that is the situation of things at the moment. My dad is a doctor and I feel that he’s in a better position to find out what can be done for her but he’s silent on the issue so we don’t know what to do. I really appreciate your prayers, thanks a lot.

  22. Hi Fr Joe, I have a small concern. I have a sister who is mentally handicapped. She depends on us completely to take care of her— from bathing her to brushing her teeth, you name it. Now my other sister and I take turns in cleaning her up when she uses the bathroom.

    But I am the only one who gives her a bath every day. My other sister does not care if she has a daily bath or not. I am tired of being the only one concerned as to whether she has her bath. When I tell my sister to help out, she gets angry. She argues that if I want her to take turns giving our sister a bath then I should handle the cooking and kitchen affairs (which she mostly does). I don’t think it should be that way since taking care of my sister is a collective responsibility for all of us. It’s not a one man job. I have to beg her to help me bath her as if she’s my sole responsibility. My sister is fond of asking for little favors; but when you ask for the same, she gets grumpy or angry and accuses you of trying to control her.

    I love my sister and I try to be patient, overlooking her flaws. However, I became angry when she agreed to help me bath our sister and then later failed to do so, telling me that she “forgot.” I vowed not to run any more errands for her.

    My mother doesn’t lift a finger to help except when no one is around. I generally excuse her because she’s our mother and is in her sixties; but she could still help a little.

    I seem to be the only one noticing these things. Please, how do I deal with this? Sorry for the long post, I didn’t want to leave anything out. Thanks.


    I really do not like to get involved with the inner-workings of families. What I will say is that there should be a civil dialogue about the distribution of responsibilities. I suspect there is a great deal of pent up frustration, especially about the care of your one sister at a time when young women want the freedom and opportunity to get on with their lives.

    When it comes to “special needs” persons, many care-givers struggle with an aversion toward nudity and the body functions of others. This may be where your sister finds herself.

    Left unsaid is how severely challenged is your one sister. How old is she? Has there been an effort to teach her certain elements of self-care? Is she educable? What are the long-term plans for her? What local resources are available for her?

    Traditional spiritually would suggest that what you do for her, you do for Jesus. Thus it becomes not just an obligation, but a privilege to serve. Nevertheless, I can appreciate the difficulties. I will keep you all in prayer.

  23. Last night I had a very vivid dream, I dreamed I had gone to hell, I remember feeling a type of pain worse than I had ever experienced and I remember trying to pray but knowing that God wasn’t listening, somehow in the dream I was given 15 minutes to warn my family and say goodbye, in that brief time I remember being in my mom’s arms sobbing with fear and apologising for not being a good son, I was then sucked back and I awoke. I’m 22, raised Catholic but haven’t been as committed to my faith as I was once, I have had 8 sexual partners and watch pornography regularly. Was my dream a stern warning from God or was it my conscience telling me to change my ways before it’s too late?

    FATHER JOE: Go to Confession and return to regular attendance at Sunday Mass. Support your Parish. Consider joining the Knights of Columbus and make a positive difference in this world. If you are not married then stop having sex outside of wedlock. Find a nice girl and settle down. Detach yourself from the pornography. Pray for the people with whom you have sinned. It is not yet too late… but it will be, sooner than you think.

  24. Thank you Father for sending me information about the Fatima indulgences my question is do you need to celebrate every 13 th of the month what if you miss one. Does the church still grant the indulgences?

    FATHER JOE: It was explained to me that Catholics can obtain the indulgence up to six times, on the 13th day of each month from May through October.

  25. Hi Father for the plenary indulgence for 100 year celebration of Our Lady of Fatima are we required to go to Fatima shrine or any shrine or proper place on the 13 th of month the anniversary of the apparitions. Are we supposed to go every month could you Father exsplain in detail what souls need to do for the Fatima indulgence.

    FATHER JOE: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has a good handout explaining the special Fatima indulgence. Follow this LINK.

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