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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!





3,883 Responses

  1. Hi father. Why do some people say that some catholic churches are fake. I want to baptize my baby at our lady queen of Angel’s in los Angeles. But they’re saying it’s not valid or fake

    FATHER JOE: La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles is a recognized church of the Catholic faith. Do you mean a similarly named church?

  2. Thank you, Fr Joe,
    That is an interesting hypothesis about what Jesus was writing. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I was thinking more of the perspective that he was writing messages of love, forgiveness, and encouragement to her. It doesn’t seem to me to be in line with Jesus’ way to expose the sins of others in order to make someone else feel less ashamed of their own sin. I have never heard in confession, “Don’t worry dear, your sins aren’t the worst I’ve heard today. Someone today confessed murder, someone confessed adultry, and someone wrongly accused someone who is now unjustly in prison. So the fact you told a lie is minimal compared to everyone else”. I’m not saying it’s incorrect that Jesus may have been writing the sins of others in the sand, it just seems a bit off from my perspective. It’s one thing to say, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, but I think it’s another to think Jesus would expose that sin specifically. It’s a mystery I suppose.

    FATHER JOE: There was no confession here. Jesus could read souls. Note that he is quite harsh with the pharisees and scribes and exposes their hypocrisy. The men preparing to stone the woman had murder in their hearts. Again I suspect that the Lord was somewhat discrete. He may have merely looked at a person and then wrote a single word about a deadly sin. Then he could have looked at another and did the same. He does not look at the woman because there are already too many eyes upon her. In any case, it is my hypothesis and it is one shared by several ancient saints and fathers. Remember, Jesus is both the Divine Justice and the Divine Mercy. He will not only expose sin, for nothing is hidden to him, but he will separate the goats for hell and the lambs for heaven. Peace!

  3. As far as lying , hypothetically speaking, in a situation where your physical life is at risk is it ok to lie to the assailant? Are we beholden to be truthful to an evil doer that is threatening us or our family ? I apologize for being very vague and hypothetical.

    FATHER JOE: The question is debated by Catholic authorities. Aquinas and Augustine would insist that all lying is wrong. Others argue that one might deceive while holding a mental reservation. While I would lean toward the view of the two doctors of the faith, I can also see an argument being made that one must be worthy or capable of receiving the truth. One might tell the truth but leave out elements. One might also remain silent. Recall the situation of the nun hiding Jewish children in the convent. The Nazis came to the door and demanded, “Do you have any Jews hiding in the convent?” The nun responded, “I am sorry, but we have no Jews here for you.” Did she lie? It is argued that she mislead but did not lie because in truth she had no Jews whom she was willing to turn over. It is also the experience of priests as confessors that many cannot handle the truth. Would one who has confessed adultery be required to come clean with the spouse, even if it would destroy the marriage? Silence might be advised. There are also situations where the fullness of truth would merely trouble poor souls who acted in good faith and cannot undo what was done. They are left in ignorance.

  4. Hi Fr. Joe,
    I’ve been reflecting on the story of the woman caught in adultery as told in John. I’m fascinate by the account of Jesus stooping to write in the sand. It does not say what Jesus was writing to the woman. I was curious to know if there are thoughts about what Jesus was writing. Was he writing a message to her? Was he drawing a picture? Was he just doodling to get her attention? Does writing in the sand hold any significance as part of this story? How beautiful the mercy and forgiveness Jesus shows the woman in this story. I’m just trying to understand the significance of the writing in the sand.
    Thank you, Fr. Joe!

    FATHER JOE: We do not know for sure what Jesus was writing. My hypothesis (best guess) is that he was writing the sins of the men who were eager to stone her. Remember he could read souls. This would fit with his admonition, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Seeing their sins exposed in the sand, they drop their rocks and go. Just as they had exposed this woman to shame, our Lord was giving them a taste of their own medicine.

  5. Dear Father Joe,

    Hello, it’s me again. I’d like to ask a question on something different. The other day, I was watching a TV program and all of a sudden a sex scene comes up. I looked at it for at least seven seconds and then looked away. That was really uncalled for and I didn’t think I was sinning at the moment. From what I briefly saw it didn’t expose too much and I didn’t have any sexual excitement. Did I sin?

    FATHER JOE: Probably not.

  6. Bless you worthless sinner. Bless you father and ministry. May our lord give you the strength and endurance to keep helping us all in our spiritual journeys and struggles.


  7. Father, I’ll be doing missionary work affiliated with an Evangelical (Protestant) church in Eastern Europe for 1-3 months. I will not have a car. The closest Catholic Church is about 15 miles away from where I will be staying. I will likely attend church services at the Protestant church during my stay since the nearest Catholic Church is a far walk. Question: What is the Church’s position on my situation? Is it a mortal sin to attend the Protestant church? Would it be a mortal sin to miss Catholic mass during my stay, considering my situation? Why does the Church refrain from worshiping God in a Protestant church?

    FATHER JOE: The real question is why are you as a Catholic working as a missionary for Protestant Evangelicals? Religious relativism or indifferentism is a serious sin.

  8. Got a pretty (censored) day and was so mad I literally sprayed foul things at Him. I am sorry now. Could He forgive my terrible sin today? 😦

    FATHER JOE: Can forgive all wrongs as long as there is repentance and faith.

  9. Hello! I was on a traveling missionary team of four members one summer in the Midwest and we had off one weekend and decided to go back and visit some friends at a previous town we had been doing missionary work in. We were friends with the priest and so the four of us, (two boys, and two girls), stayed at the rectory. I wasn’t sure if it was okay to do that, but we did anyway. It was all completely innocent and fine, but I’m worried that I need to go to Confession now because did I commit scandal? I know that minors should never stay at priests homes, but I’m not sure if it’s the same or different for young adults.

    FATHER JOE: It does not sound as there is anything to confess. However, many dioceses are very restrictive as to who might stay in rectories.

  10. Hi father. Why do some people say some catholic churches are fake. I want to baptize my baby at our lady queen of Angel’s catholic church in Los Angeles. But they’re telling me it’s fake.

    FATHER JOE: The reason why such lies are told is because anti-Catholics are guilty of both ignorance and bigotry. Jesus Christ instituted the one true Church and it is one-and-the-same as the once that follows the successor of Peter (the Pope) today. Protestant churches are regarded as ecclesial communities but not true churches because of the forfeiture or loss of both the priesthood and the Eucharist.

  11. Dear Father Joe,

    I have two questions about confession.

    Question one: about some months ago I went to confession and confessed something that was very hard for me to confess, but I did it. What I’m worried about is if the priest didn’t understand or hear me in confession, What I confessed I knew was sin but didn’t know what it the sin was called so I just described it. Do you think he understood? What makes it worse is that I was kinda whispering since he asked that I kept my voice down and I was kinda nervous, it was never my intention to have him not hear me. He kinda just stared at me and listened. Would my confession still be valid if mabye he had not heard or understood me?

    Question two: When I went to confession I didn’t really fell sorry for my veniel sins but I intended NOT to do them again would this still be counted as sorry or must you actually feel remorse? And would this invalidate the confession also?

    FATHER JOE: You really are too scrupulous. You whispered your sins. The priest heard what he needed to hear. Priests can read into the details what is being discussed. Not wanting to sin again is a form of contrition. You were absolved. Now let it go.

  12. Dear Father Joe,
    Thanks for your last answer. Is it a mortal sin to intentionally be distracted when you are praying. For example I was really tired this morning and my mind kept going places when I was trying to meditate on the Mysteris of the Rosary. I knew I was tired but decided to keep praying and whenever my mind would go somewhere I would try to bring it back.

    FATHER JOE: Distraction because of fatigue is not a sin. Indeed, the mind can often wander. Stop being so hard on yourself.

  13. Would it be a mortal sin to laugh at the way someone’s last name sounded?

    FATHER JOE: You can think this out for yourself. I hereby refuse to answer silly questions.

  14. Hi Father,

    I am truly sorry for going back to the psychics and have promised to God that I would never go again. I went back to confession this past Friday. But I’d like to know if it’s even possible for God to forgive me. Did I commit the unpardonable sin?

    It was never ever my intention to dessert the Holy spirit. And I truly am sorry for going back to the psychics and will never again return to them.

    But am I still forgivable?

    Thank you.


    FATHER JOE: Go to confession and receive absolution. If you are sorry for your sins then YES you are forgiven. Stop wasting time and money on psychics. Go to church on Sunday, say your prayers and try to make a difference for others. I will keep you in my prayers. Trust God.

  15. I was at a family event and my aunt was talking about how this girl she was sponsoring on a reservation had gotten pregnant and my aunt was saying how she wasn’t ready for a kid and just saying that young people shouldn’t have kids and I like wasn’t sure if she was broaching the topic of abortion and whether she thought the girl should have had an abortion. It wasn’t really clear but I was thinking that I should have spoken up and said something like against abortion in case my aunt was hinting at abortion, but I didn’t say anything. Did I commit a mortal sin? Is it a mortal sin to not speak up in conversations like that? Obviously I want to strive to become braver and speak up more but I just don’t know if I am in mortal sin now.

    FATHER JOE: People in mortal sin “know” that they are in mortal sin. The matter might be serious, but the sin must be intentional. As for this particular matter, it is not even a possible venial sin. Your scrupulosity is serious and probably requires help from a mental health professional. As for what your aunt said, she is right many young people have babies when they are not prepared to be mothers. This is not a promotion for abortion but for chastity. Unmarried people should not have sexual intercourse. No sex… no babies… it is as simple as that. The contraceptive mentality reinforces immaturity and the failure to take “real” responsibility.

  16. Hi father,

    Maybe an odd question but my priest speaks to people after mass, saying hello to All leaving but he always ignores me. I joined his church just over a year ago and I am still learning. He used to always say hello to me and my daughter but now he even avoids eye contact. Could I have done something wrong?

    FATHER JOE: How am I supposed to know? Ask him.

  17. Did I commit blasphemy? I’ve been going to psychics for years on and off. I spoke to several psychics again a few months ago and then became afraid and attended confession. I apologized for not fully trusting in God’s timing and not just completely putting my situation in his hands,) but instead, going to psychics. I did feel forgiven after confession, but then I started feeling sad over an issue in my life and ended up going to psychics again. So this is my question: Since I tasted the grace of God when he granted me his forgiveness the first time I confessed, but I returned to contacting psychics afterwards, would that be equivalent to me having blasphemied against the Holy Spirit? (Would that mean I was denying God after tasting the grace he shared from the forgiveness he gave me )? It really wasn’t my intention to deny God. When I contacted the psychics again, I knew I would need to confess again. I never ever rejected God in my heart, nor would I ever want to go to hell, nor was it ever my intention to at all. I’m terrified that I might have committed the unpardonable sin. Could you please kindly advise? Thank you.


    I will give advice, but it will not be kind. Blasphemy is profanation or talk that insults or demeans God. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would be a declaration that a work of God was in truth the operation of demons. You are getting your sins confused.

    Visiting a psychic constitutes the grave sin of false worship. Your practice of seeing a psychic violates the first commandment. “I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have any gods before me.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about the sin of divination:

    “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone” (CCC #2116).

    Do not lie to yourself and to me. Recourse to psychics is a repudiation of the trust we should have in divine providence. Further, most so-called psychics are con-men and –women, exploiting the gullible for money. If there is any supernatural operation then the source is demonic. You cannot be a good Catholic and make recourse to the devil for guidance. You should be ashamed of yourself. If you immediately went back to a psychic after confession then you were probably not truly contrite or sorry for how your sins offended almighty God. You cannot pursue the occult and consider yourself a Catholic in good standing. Decide what you want to be… a Christian trusting the Lord and his Church or a damned soul practicing witchcraft.

  18. Dear Father Joe,

    1. What constitutes detraction? Like is telling another person that a sporting team lost or like the news detraction? And when do matters about people become grave?

    2. When does being stereotypical or making judgments become grave? When do assumptions about people or places become grave?

    3. When does laughing at something or someone become a grave matter? What if we are trying not to laugh and then we give in?

    4. When does disrespecting our parents become mortally sinful?

    5. When does joking around or friendly jokes become sinful and gravely sinful? What about sarcasm and is that a way of lying?

    If you aren’t able to tell I have scrupulosity. I went to see a psychologist and I am on medications. The main problem with my scrupulosity is I am unable to tell if something is of grave matter and there is no definitive line in my head so I always feel as if I need to go to confession because I think I am in a state of mortal sin. Is there any rules or things I should do to help determine whether or not something is grave or whether or not I need to go to confession? Thanks. I really appreciate your time and answers!


    Detraction is unjust damage to another’s good name. It has nothing to do with team rivalry. Such sinful efforts to harm one’s reputation usually emerge from envy and pettiness. It is a malicious attitude that violates the command to love our neighbor.

    Laughter is often uncontrolled or spontaneous. I am not sure what you mean. Do you mean fake laughter, as in mocking? That is always wrong.

    If there is a failure to give respect where it is due (as for parents), then it is always serious, given sufficient deliberation.

    If such “joking around” is malicious and has no aim other than to impugn dignity and to harm others then it is “gravely” wrong. This should be obvious. Sarcasm is a form of contempt.

    There is no measure that I can give you if mental illness makes it impossible for you to make such determinations. Most would simply ask, is such and such a sin? Did it dishonor God? Did it harm persons?

  19. Dear Father, Hello, I’m afraid that I made an accidental promise to God. I didn’t mean to say a promise but it just popped up. I ended up staying something really stupid. Did I make an accidental promise with God?

    FATHER JOE: I am not clear as to what constitutes an accidental promise. Do you mean a frivolous promise? Are we talking about bad word choice? Was your mouth working faster than your brain? Promises require a definite intent. I suspect that the issue here is one of insufficient reflection or a lack of due discretion or gravity. The problem would be less the words said and more the disposition or attitude from which they emerged. Whenever we call upon the name of God there is demanded a certain level of seriousness. Otherwise, we risk taking God’s name in vain.

  20. I am sure that you know of various apps that help one to examine one’s conscience. My question is whether it would be improper to take the app into the confessional to confess all the sins identified. It seems proper to me. I see one priest through the screen with his phone on as he probably reads some spiritual work while waiting.

    FATHER JOE: I have heard that there are such aps but I know nothing about them. I am against taking active phones and tablets into confessionals. Many of these devices are listening and will respond to voice commands. While we are told that there is a general erasure after thirty seconds or so, the trouble is that these devices are listening and recording. It would seem to me that this threatens the seal of confession.

  21. Dear Father Joseph Jenkins,

    Hello, this is quite a weird question. My question is about the sin of cross dressing. Do you think it would be a sin to cross dress in a video game? By this I mean play as the opposite gender video game character, I ask you this because most video games have male protagonists (I’m female.) I don’t do it to deceive instead I just do it to play the game. Would you view this as sinful?

    FATHER JOE: Role playing in video games is not cross dressing.

  22. I have a new work-study job at college and while I was at the interview/meeting, my employer told me that I should double my hours on my pay sheet like in this one particular situation: It is a tutoring job so if we tutor two people in one hour we are supposed to put down two hours, even if we only worked one hour. However, if we only tutor one person in that hour, we only put down one hour. She told me that payroll doesn’t know that they do this. I kind of just said “okay” but now I am thinking, is that wrong for me to do that? Is that like stealing? If it is, I won’t do it. But should I also go back to my employer and tell her that I think it is wrong? Thanks for your help!

    FATHER JOE: I suppose it would have to do with the work policy. Are you simply paid hourly or per-person hourly? It would bother me if something is being kept from payroll. But the question remains.

  23. Dear Father Joe, Thank you for your last answers. When is stereotyping, judging, and making assumptions okay? When is it grave? Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: Deception of any kind is serious. It becomes more so when people (or the reputations) are damaged.

  24. Hi Father,

    What might the Church’s ruling be for a termination of pregnancy as a result of an ectopic pregnancy?

    FATHER JOE: You can never directly intend to destroy the unborn child. The only possible solution would be the removal of the diseased organ or a salpingectomy (cutting and removal of the fallopian tube). It is arguably permitted under the double-effect principle.

  25. Hello Father,

    If someone were baptized as Catholic, but very late one night was browsing the Internet and signed up to join the Satanic Temple (to see what was going on), how would you go about fixing this? Would you have to be baptized again, attend confession, pray for forgiveness, or just forget about it and pretend you never joined?

    FATHER JOE: It is a profoundly stupid thing to do. It is playing with the occult. The person would bring it to confession for absolution. As for baptism, once one is validly baptized, it can never be repeated.

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