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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.  Comments are moderated so please be patient in waiting for them to appear and for any responses.  God bless you!





3,911 Responses

  1. I am thinking about going to a women’s retreat thru the Baptist church. I have had numerous spiritual conversations with the minister & find we are spiritually on the same page. Since the catholic church I belong to fails to offer retreats I feel a need to get away with Jesus for awhile. What r ur thoughts

    FATHER JOE: You should make provision to attend a nearby Mass. As a Catholic, your primary approach to Jesus is as the Eucharistic Lord. If there are objections then you should not go on this retreat.

  2. Dear Father, 

    I have a series of questions that I am kind of struggling with now that I am at school as to whether or not they are mortal sins. 

    1. Is it a mortal sin for me to here gossip about people? I mean it’s almost impossible because almost everywhere someone is detracting/gossiping. For instance at the lunch table, in between classes, etc. 

    2. I have a bad habit as I often find myself looking at shapely women. Is this a mortal sin if right as I realize that I’m doing it I look away and I’m not lusting or anything? Also what about objectifying women? 

    3. Is it a sin for me not to tell people they are committing a grave sin? I often feel really guilty for not saying anything but It happens all the time at school when someone says the Lord’s name in vain. Is it my job to tell everyone they are sinning?

    4. Is it a mortal sin to have pride like in your athletic team, or school, or like when your just playing games and messing around with your friends? 

    5. Is it ok to be friends with an atheist if they are not causing you to sin? 


    1. Remember that a mortal sin must be serious matter. Not all gossip may consist of such. However, one should be cautious as today frivolous talk often violates the reputation of persons. This can indeed be a grievous act. Often what we are discussing is a form of detraction. Since it violates both charity and justice it is regarded as mortal sin. Such gossip can be very hurtful.

    2. Men by their nature are drawn to the female form and to beauty. There is no sin if we resist fantasizing about sinful acts and as long as men act as gentlemen. We cannot control every stray thought that enters our heads. Men and women should not impugn the attraction that facilitates marriage and the family. It is a gift from God.

    3. You are not obliged to verbally correct everyone around you for moral infractions. Remember that you can also teach by your witness or personal behavior.

    4. Pride in a team or school is not sinful. It is an expression of devotion and love. We see this in love of country as well, which we call patriotism. However, there is an evil often confused for patriotism called nationalism. We can love our country without excusing its wrongs and by deriding the nations of others. When it comes to games, each side (and the fans) should exhibit good sportsmanship. As long as there is respect for others, the type of pride here is okay. Sinful pride is being self-absorbed and is understood as hubris.

    5. Friendship with an atheist, given a strong Christian faith, might one day lead to the non-believer’s salvation. Lacking that, it reflects a toleration of differences that is vital in the modern world. Hopefully such a relationship reflects mutual respect.

  3. Hey Fr Joe
    I wanted to ask, can I go to confession the next day even if I went the day before? I was kind of frustrated yesterday with having to care for my sister and I took it out on God, my mum and my sister so I want to go to confession today. Would it be considered abuse of the Sacrament? Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: Unless you have committed mortal sin, I would suggest making a good act of contrition and waiting.

  4. Dear Father Joe,

    I was reading through my copy of the Bible the other day and I came across a particular passage which struck my attention; Romans 17:7-9.

    “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”

    I was wondering what you interpretation of this would be, and how I could further use this to take into account and to guide me in my daily life.

    Thanks so much and God bless,

    FATHER JOE: We are made for God. There is no other purpose. Everything that we are and have is a gift. Gifts given must be used and returned to him as gifts. We are called to know, to love, to serve and to give glory to God. We do so now and forever in the kingdom.

  5. Hi Fr.,

    My husband recently passed. Our marriage was blessed in the Church. My daughter suggested I draw her dad’s social security instead of my husband’s since it would likely be a higher amount. Is this morally right?

    FATHER JOE: I am unable to say because the legal situation is not clearly expressed. A marriage convalidated (blessed) in the Church must also be a legal marriage. The social security would come from the man who was your legal husband. Were you married to your daughter’s father? Were you divorced? Unless you were married to him then as far as I know, you are not legally entitled to any compensation. The issue is not just one of morality, but of possible crime and fraud.

  6. Father Joe. I am recuperating from eye surgery last week. I was also dealing with the after-effects of anesthesia last Sunday. Right now, I feel healthy, but the area around my eyes is still bruised and swollen.

    Just curious. How sick or “under the weather” must one be in order to justify staying at home instead of attending Sunday mass? Are there any guidelines?

    FATHER JOE: If you are too sick to go to work, to go shopping and to hang out with friends then you are too sick for church. If you can do these things then you are looking for excuses. Peace!

  7. Hello Father,
    Ive just found jesus after being sprirutlly attack..
    And i would love it if your able to pray for me

    Thanks amen god bless

  8. Hi Father, thank you for everything. I have a question regarding the Catholic Church. These new reports came out in Pennsylvania about sex abuse and priests. Why do these things with priests keep happening? People at my job said they think the Catholic Church is going to shut down because of all the scandals. I just became catholic and I don’t know what to tell these people.

    FATHER JOE: Priests and bishops should know better. The moral high ground in our teaching and preaching makes the fall of clergy all the more sensational. Men called to nurture and to heal have been exposed as the sources for corruption and hurting. Unfortunately, such problems of abuse exist in all professions, religions and states of life. Christ promises that the Church will still exist until the consummation of all things to himself.

  9. Is it detraction to tell someone else that a couple is moving in together? Since that is kind of public, I don’t think it would be , but I wanted to make sure!

    FATHER JOE: It is rather hard to keep secret.

  10. Hey Father Joe,
    I have been contemplating this question for a while now regarding watching TV. I understand we shouldn’t be watching anything that’s going to hurt our relationship with God, cause us to sin, or anything that is inappropriate. Is it okay as long as we give more time to God than the TV? I’m mainly talking about watching sports because I love sports. Also is it okay watch football? On Sunday’s? Thank for your time!

    FATHER JOE: Sorry I can’t answer right now, I’m watching the game on TV. (Of course it is okay.)

  11. Hi again Father,

    on a separate topic from my previous question. I read one of the questions on the age of taking children to Mass.

    So my son is 1 year 10 months now and I’ve been taking him to Mass since birth … at first he was very quiet, sleeping through Mass most of the time … when he started walking …. it was hard to keep him still at Mass. Many times we would end up outside; with him running around trying to catch all the birds; and I’m by his side all the time.

    But when its Holy Communion time, I would still go in; carrying my baba and I’d receive communion … my son would get a blessing from the priest, after which he would strike his chest, (he can’t do the sign of the cross fully, so he would just strike his chest)…

    I always worry about my son running around but I’m always reminded on something that one of my uncle’s who was a priest used to say… “children are children, they are praising God by being children; let them be; don’t smack them or pinch them when they are at Mass … you will only sadden them and spoil their Mass.” but with me.. just to be careful, I would seat in the back seat at Mass and many times I would take my son outside … Sometimes we would take a bit of attention in church … e.g. earlier this year; I was a bit slow in catching up to him; he ran a head of those taking up the offertory; I tried to get him back but the ushers told me to just let him go. Being the over-reaction mom; I still followed from the side of the church …I watched my son lead the offertory, smiling at the priest … he walked all the way to the priest; gave him a baby hi-5 and walked towards me…

    He’s changing a little bit now… he just seats on the kneeler and plays quietly with his toy cars; but my question Father: was it right for me to receive communion, since I was outside for most of the time?

    FATHER JOE: You did alright… the best you can do. I always tell my congregation that we should be patient and understanding of parents with children at Mass. It is a sign that the Church has a future. It also reminds us as to how our Lord entered the world.

  12. Bula and thank you Father for answering my question.

    I guess it would be a grievous sin for me if I were to convert to another faith; given the things I know about our Faith, and I believe, I know these things through the Holy Spirit, and to go to another faith, would be denying everything made known to me through the Holy Spirit.

    But Father, what about those who were raised in a not so staunch Catholic homes; and they really didn’t know the difference between one faith and another. What about those who have suffered abuse by the Church and have left the Faith for that very reason? would it still be a grievous sin for them if they left the Faith?

    FATHER JOE: Jesus suffered at the hands of his newly ordained priests… Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, and the rest abandoned him. While we might understand the reasons for defection, there is no pain that can utterly excuse it. We will be judged as Catholics.

  13. Hello! My cousin is getting married soon and she is not Catholic or religious. Her fiance is not religious either. They are getting married not in a church. I know this is all fine and valid. However, I am not sure if her fiance was ever baptized in the Catholic Church and fell away from it, which would make the wedding invalid. My cousin said once that her fiance’s parents were Catholic, but they weren’t practicing or anything, but she didn’t say that her actual fiance was Catholic, so I don’t really know.
    I am not even going to the wedding because I am under 21 and wasn’t invited, but the rest of my family is. I don’t feel that I should tell them not to go because they already RSVPed that they were going, and also I don’t want to speak falsely or badly about my cousin’s fiance. Anyway, my mom just bought the card that she’s going to give to the couple and she asked me if I liked it and showed it to me and I kind of just said “uh-huh” or something like that. Do you think I committed a mortal sin by like approving that when the wedding could be invalid? Also, is it okay that I am not telling my family not to go to the wedding? Thanks for your help!

    FATHER JOE: I do not mean to be rude or hurtful but you are being rather silly. You do not even know if any Catholic parties are involved. Why would it be your place to dictate to your family as to what to do anyway? You are not the head of the family and not their priest. Peace.

  14. Do you think allowing priests to marry or having women priests would alleviate the sexual abuse problem in the church?

    FATHER JOE: Women priests is an impossibility. Married priests would probably make matters worse.

  15. Hi Fr. Joe,
    I just wanted to say that I’m glad that you’re feeling better! And, I’m glad that you were just busy. Sorry to hear that you weren’t away on vacation though. Praying for you and for all the good/kind priests (of which there are many) during this time where there is shame and catastrophe. Praying, praying, praying. God Bless. And, I hope you get a vacation.

  16. Would someone go to hell if they willingly didn’t pay restitution for a small amount? I once read that not paying restitution is a mortal sin on an examination of conscience. I am staying at a beach house for a few days and I made a little mark on the wall from the door opening and hitting the wall. It’s honestly barely noticeable and I asked my brother if he thinks we should report it but he said it was normal wear and tear. I am very scrupulous so am worried that I am committing a mortal sin.

    FATHER JOE: He is right, you do sound scrupulous. You might mention it but it is doubtful that any restitution is required. A failure to make restitution may either be venial or mortal sin depending upon the overall gravity of the loss. However, there are some sins for which no restitution can suffice.

  17. Father, why have you been ignoring my questions? What good is it to have a blog if you do not answer everyone’s questions. I have many questions about the faith and how the church views it. I don’t know much about the faith yet because I recently became catholic but I really wish I had someone who could just answer all the questions I have. I am eager to learn.

    FATHER JOE: I am not ignoring your questions, but I am the pastor of a parish and the chaplain for the MD State Knights of Columbus. All last week I was at the Supreme Convention in Baltimore. I am only one person. The blogging is a sideline for when I have time. Peace.

  18. Hi Father,

    I have been dating a guy who’s parents are Catholic but he is not a practicing Catholic and was baptized in a Protestant Church as an adult. Before we entered into a relationship, he told me that he had not been baptized in the Catholic Church but now he is saying that he’s unsure about that because he was a baby. He isn’t interested in learning whether or not he was baptized Catholic but I told him it’s something I need to know. If he finds out that he is Catholic, would I be able to/would it be wise to marry him if he is still unwilling to practice the faith? He has already said that our future children could be raised Catholic and we agreed that we will not use contraception. If I were to marry him would I be obligated to try to get him back into the faith? Also, what about the issue of the fruitful reception of the sacrament? Are lapsed Catholics able to marry licitly?

    FATHER JOE: Given Catholic parents, it is likely he was baptized as a child. This would invalidate the Protestant baptism as the sacrament can only be received once. Can a practicing Catholic marry a lapsed or non-practicing one? Yes, but keep in mind that all the weight of the religious formation of children would then fall upon you. His poor witness would also have an effect on their faith development. Indeed, would you not want a husband who would pray with you and go to Mass with you?

  19. Is it ok to attend home of my Aunt who lives with her same sex partner? Would this be viewed as approval? She is having a party. I think I was told in the past that it would be ok by a priest. I do not want to cut my Aunt out of my life. Furthermore, I want to support my family who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

    FATHER JOE: You could visit. Even when we disagree, we need to be kind and charitable.

  20. Are there ghosts/devil’s ?
    Do they really exist ?
    I’m really very curious to know this subject deeply.

    FATHER JOE: The Church would generally understand ghosts as the holy souls of purgatory on their way to heaven. Devils or demons are fallen angels. When a person dies his soul or ghost leaves the body. As for angels, good and demonic, they are pure spirits without bodies.

  21. Good day , Father Joe. Thank you for this blog. I have a straight forward question.
    God’s mother Mary is to the ark of covenant
    As Jesus is to what? After study I think the answer is the content . The word, the bread of life , and the high priest.

    FATHER JOE: Jesus is the embodiment of the New Covenant. Mary carried Jesus in her womb. Thus, she is given the title, Ark of the Covenant. In the Old Testament the tablets of the law from Moses were carried in a gold-covered wooden chest, also called the Ark of the Covenant.

  22. Father Joe I recently came into full communion with the church after having been raised and baptized methhodist. I was married for one year and divorced 32 years ago. I’m remarried to a catholic women( we were married by a Protestant minister) 27 years ago. My first wife was previously divorced and had a privious tubal ligation and didn’t want children. Is my new marriage recognized by the church if not what can I do? God bless and thank you


    This matter should have been resolved before your full-reception into the Catholic faith. Here is the situation:

    1. Given that your first marriage was with a divorced woman it is likely that you could get a declaration of nullity. However, you have to apply for this with your local priest and/or diocesan tribunal. Given that neither of you were Catholic, an essay might be required in addition to the deposition. You would need a copy of your baptismal record, a copy of the marriage license and a copy of the divorce decree. You might also have to find records to prove that she had a previous bond. The sterilization effort on her part would also be grounds as it is an impediment. Prior bonds are presumed valid until proven otherwise.

    2. Your current marriage was to a Catholic but before a Protestant minister. Your wife as a Catholic was obliged to follow canonical form: marriage before a priest and two witnesses. The current bond would be regarded as both illicit and invalid in the Catholic Church. Once your previous marriage is declared null then you could have the current bond convalidated by a Catholic priest. You should go see your parish priest and work on all this. God bless!

  23. Hi Fr Joe,
    I was just checking up on you.
    You haven’t answers a question in a while, so I was a little concerned. I hope that everything is ok and that you’re on vacation!
    I’m praying for you.
    God Bless,

    FATHER JOE: I was sick and then I got busy. I am the state chaplain for the Maryland Knights of Columbus and had to attend the Supreme Convention in Baltimore last week. Thanks for the concern and prayers!

  24. If I dance to hip hop music.not like sexual dancing but waving an tutting am I sinning.i hope I’m not because dancing helps me express myself and relive stress .I did praise dancing but it wasn’t intriguing to me as much as dubstep dancing .

    FATHER JOE: I suppose it is okay but I really have little idea what you are talking about… tutting?… dubstep? Peace!

  25. Dear Father Joe,
    I would like your opinion on Pope Francis’s recent change to the Catechism on the Death Penalty. Personally I agree that it would be used only in the most rare circumstances, where it might be considered more of an issue of self defense. Perhaps on a ship a sea with a maniac on the loose. However, the issue I am concerned with is changing the doctrine expressed in the Catechism. Did the Pope change doctrine? Can he change Doctrines in the Catechism? There may be fine line between a change in Doctrine and a clarification but on this one I don’t see it as a clarification.


    This constitutes the second change in the section of the catechism on the death penalty. The first intervention came from St. Pope John Paul II. The backdrop to this shift was his first-hand experience of a totalitarian state that might imprison and even take human life for political purposes. Similarly the American bishops had virtually always opposed the death penalty, extending way back into the pre-Vatican II days when they perceived a strong national anti-Catholic bias, systemic injustice and the inordinate number of the condemned from targeted ethnic groups (i.e. Irish-Americans and later African-Americans). Nevertheless, in moral principle if not in actual practice, capital punishment was permitted throughout the Church’s history as an act of retributive justice by the State.

    We read in Romans 13:1-4:

    “Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.”

    The teaching was promoted by the universal Magisterium and thus was regarded by many as infallible and even as irreformable. That is why there is a debate among certain critics with the latest papal intervention. My personal assessment was that it might be open to reform or modification but not utter reversal.

    St. Pope John Paul II did not reverse the teaching but he did arguable modify it. The 1992 revision tightened the conditions that would permit the death penalty and permitted it ONLY when there was no other way to protect society.

    “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

    The Holy Father’s watershed encyclical EVANGELIUM VITAE (1995) argued that the death penalty was no longer practically necessary. He wrote that “Punishment ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

    Admittedly this still left a small wiggle room which Pope Francis has arguably closed. He contends that the limited exception of St. Pope John Paul II no longer exists and that the death penalty is an “inadmissible” violation of human dignity.

    I would have preferred to keep the small wiggle room in theory just as I have opposed the death penalty in actual practice. The State may have the right but that right does not have to be exercised. St. Pope John Paul II was very concerned that the death penalty only exacerbated the hurdles to defending the dignity of human life within a culture of death. In other words, so as to protect the lives of the innocent, we might have to include the lives of the guilty. A State that permits the murder of children has compromised its moral authority over questions of life and death.

    I have to admit that I increasingly lean toward the thinking of the late philosopher Germain Grisez about universal goods and the matter of human life as having an incommensurate value. One cannot place a price upon it and thus taking human life situates one as a usurper, taking that which belongs to God as the author of life. If there has been any organic and licit development of doctrine on this issue then it has probably been along these lines.

    Popes are both the magisterial interpreters of the sources of revelation and the chief lawgivers of the Church. They can modify the precepts of the Church, supplement the penitential practices required of believers, change disciplinary laws, establish holy days of obligation, etc. Even if one were to question the validity of any applied moral reasoning that would preclude the death penalty, Pope Francis as the Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ certainly has the governing authority to dictate to Catholics a prohibition in regards to the enactment of capital punishment.

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