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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Ask a Priest

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!





5,114 Responses

  1. Where in the Bible does it say “you must be Catholic to have salvation?” Where in the Bible does it say Christ started the Catholic Church?
    I can’t find the word Catholic in the Bible.


    The word “catholic” is a descriptive word meaning worldwide or universal. We read in Acts 9:31: “The church throughout all [ekklesiai kath-oles] Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the holy Spirit it grew in numbers.” Our Lord founded one Church and there is historical continuity between this “church” and the Catholic Church that we know today. The word “catholic” is also used in the Nicene Creed as one of the four marks of the true Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch (50-140 AD) referred to the Christian faith community as the “Catholic Church” in his extra-biblical epistle to the Smyrnaeans (written around 110 AD).


    The necessity of the Church is ultimately based upon the teaching from St. Paul about the Mystical Body as the union of believers in a spiritual body with Christ as the head. John relates it as Jesus as the vine and his people as the branches. There is an intimate union between Christ and his Church. The matter of salvation in this Church body rests upon the doctrine that Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life, none can be saved apart from Jesus Christ.

    Jesus says to Simon: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19). History reveals a long line of successors and such will endure until the consummation of the world. Today the successor of Peter is Pope Francis.

  2. Dear Father Joe,
    Happy new year. My question is regarding a friend/ coworker of over 15 years . Said person has always been generous and treats me like family. He is a much older gentleman than myself. Well into 70s recently he was for a crime I would rather not say and is free but awaiting trial . His name and picture have been in local news media . I believe he is a good soul who may have done something stupid. Should I still support my friend and if so how I’m the eyes of the Lord? This has been really weighing down on my soul. Thank you

  3. My wife and I are divorced. She wanted the divorce. She had a lover.

    Am I allowed to look for a partner? My ex-wife has remarried.

    I don’t think our Lord wanted us to be alone in life. It has been 22 years since the divorce.

    I haven’t had a partner in a long time. Can I find another partner? Would the Lord agree?


    There are many elements unsaid. What religion were you and your wife? If Catholic, were you married in a Church sanction ceremony with a priest or deacon witnessing your vows?

    Two Protestants married before a minister or a justice-of-the-peace would be regarded as truly married. If one of you were a Catholic and you married outside the Church then the bond would likely be regarded as invalid and illicit. This might free you to marry again, albeit with a simple declaration of nullity from just authority. If you married each other in the Catholic Church then you would need to pursue a formal annulment case. It should be understood that adultery is not in itself grounds for an annulment. However, if there was a pattern of infidelity throughout the relationship then that might illustrate a lack of maturity and the ability to fulfill the obligations of marriage. Deception, mental illness, serious addiction, etc. would all be proper grounds.

    The fact that your ex-wife has civilly remarried would not immediately free you to find a new partner. True marriages are permanent and many such irregular unions are still regarded as adulterous by the faith.

    I cannot say if the Lord has plans for you that might include another or a true companion. Many years have already passed. I would urge you to talk with your local pastor as to how to proceed. I will keep you in prayer.

  4. I recently heard a Muslim scholar say that in studying to become a Catholic Priest, the Koran is required study. I had never heard of that. Is this true ?

    FATHER JOE: No, it is not true.

  5. Hiii! I’d like to ask about christianity and music. Lately I happend to really like hard rock and metal music, especially band KISS. They’re having a concert near my city and I want to go there. People surround me keep telling me that they are satanic and not good band, but the members of it denyed it by themselves, so I dont know what’s true to it. In general, is music very important and influencing on christian live? Can music be a sin?
    Thank you so much for your respond, appreciate it all heart.

    FATHER JOE: I am not suitably informed to judge the music of KISS. However, in principle, the lyrics of music can both inspire and corrupt. Much of modern music is vulgar and offensive. Women are referred to in derisive language and violence, rape and murder is condoned. There are a number of rappers who seem unable to sing anything without multiple “F” words. Such is sinful.

  6. Should jews who convert to Catholicism keep the sabbath, wear tefillin, eat kosher etc… and keep the laws of moses?

    FATHER JOE: I would urge Jews who convert to keep as much of their Hebrew culture as possible. However, they are not morally obliged by the Church to do so.

  7. I have a question how does somebody who is older with multiple health issues on disability due to these health issues have a monogamous committed relationship and live together but cannot marry because the person will lose their disability benefits how does the church feel about that? Confused on where to go from here. So is the church telling me that I am not allowed to have a relationship unless I marry in the church and unfortunately I cannot do that due to loss of income I think that’s pretty unfair.

    FATHER JOE: The Church does not control the dictates of insurance and pension programs. It may be that these other organizations are the ones who are unfair. In any case, the Church does not oppose friendship as long as there is no premarital sex. If you want to get married then you need to accept all the challenges that come along with that.

  8. Hi again Father.

    I think your Ask A Priest feature is a very good component of your website.

    This really is not a question. It’s my opinion based on far too many hours on social media.

    When it comes to some other websites, I’ve wasted lots of time and no doubt done more harm than good to myself and to others by participating in some of those hugely popular social media sites. These are not Catholic websites, but they may have Catholic groups or individuals who participate. I think the net value of these websites is negative. I’ve decided to delete all my social media accounts, including the new Twitter.

    I am attracted to discussions which involve religion, and it seems everyone has their opinions, the people are often anonymous, some are not people but bots, and as the saying goes, it can be a case of the blind leading the blind. Frankly I think it’s often a huge waste of time.

    One of the worst things I’ve noticed is that some people who participate in Catholic discussions are advocating so called “traditional” Catholicism as opposed to what they call “novus ordo.” Some even say they are Catholics, but not Bergoglian, referring to Pope Francis.

    Some people take statements by Pope Francis out of context or even misquote him in order to deceive people. Some are SSPX promoters. SSPX is a schismatic organization. They say they are not, but the Church says otherwise.

    There are some prominent Catholics on TV, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc who criticize Pope Francis on a regular basis. When I look up some remarks they attribute to Pope Francis, I often find these people who present themselves as representatives of the Catholic faith are misrepresenting what he actually said. I don’t know what they hope to achieve by all this.

    I see this so-called traditional anti-Vatican II and anti-Francis movement as a very dangerous thing in our Church. I welcome any comments you may have on this issue.

    FATHER JOE: I agree with you. While we may question some of the pragmatic decisions of any Pope, Francis is still the successor of St. Peter. We need to be faithful and to give him religious assent and respect. Certain traditionalists think they are more Catholic than the Pope. However, not thinking with the Church, they are little different from the Protestants. The heresy is in regard to ecclesial authority. Separating oneself from the See of Peter is alienation from the Church Christ established. One can go through the motions of faith, but Jesus made Peter the visible head of his Church and we are obliged to obey his successors. If Protestants make themselves into their own popes, then many traditionalists do the same, or in an anachronistic manner, they place more allegiance with dead popes than living ones. They dismiss the so-called Novus Ordo Mass and yet the derision of the Eucharist (under any form) is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Many will be condemned by their own words.

  9. I have a question about the seven deadly sins. I’ve read it’s more accurate to say vices, which if I understand means a habitual sin.

    My understanding of confession is that I must confess violations of the 10 Commandments and the Laws of the Church. I am trying to stick to the classic method of listing the type of sin, the number of times, and any relevant circumstances, because otherwise I get confused, then nervous, and I end up rambling on and on which confuses the priest and wastes his time.

    Suppose I have one or more of the deadly vices. I’m not sure how to confess a vice. I don’t see how I could confess to these vices by type, number of times and circumstances.

    For example, suppose for years I have had the vices of lust and sloth. I would see these as character flaws, but not as individual sins I could confess.

    Any advice?

    Thank you.

    P.S. Have a happy and blessed Christmas and New Year!

    FATHER JOE: Remember that temptation is not sin. However, the deadly sins are far more than character flaws. If you succumb in word, thought or deed then a sin is committed. While the subjective gravity may vary, even when the matter is grievous, recourse to confession can win absolution.

  10. I’ve gotten conflicting information on when it’s ok to miss mass. I work 2nd shift so go to evening mass. If I have a prior engagement in the evening and decide to go earlier but I oversleep due to medical issues keeping me up am I excused or am I required to break my plans to attend? And if I am not excused and I chose to keep my plans is skipping mass a venial or mortal sin?

    FATHER JOE: As far as I know there are no bishops currently excusing the general Mass obligation because of COVID. When it comes to Mass one is excused when there is a bout of bad health or attendance is impossible. If you can attend be opt not to do so then you have likely committed a sin. Yes, deliberately missing Sunday Mass through one’s fault is a mortal sin.

  11. My understanding is you cannot eat an hour before communion, not mass, therefore if travel+mass-up to communion=an hr and you ate prior to leaving you are good. Is that wrong?

    FATHER JOE: We should leave plenty of time so as not to violate the one hour fast before receiving Holy Communion.

  12. Father,

    Regarding Archbishop Vigano’s statement on the COVID vaccine, the comments Barbara is referring to can be found here. Listen starting at minute 5 up to minute 6:


    FATHER JOE: He likens it as a “type of satanic baptism” but it is nothing of the kind. The Church acknowledges the problematic nature of the developmental trajectory of the COVID vaccine, even most modern vaccines; however, Catholic moralists assure us that given both the gravity of the pandemic infection and the remote agency involving abortion (many years ago), culpability is mitigated. That is why the Pope has taken the vaccine and has urged others to do so. I have to wonder if the retired archbishop is well. Cardinal Müller has said that his many attacks against Pope Francis “end up questioning the credibility of the Church and her mission.” It should be noted that the COVID-19 vaccines provided by Pfizer and Moderna do not contain fetal cells. In any case, no one can be compelled to take the vaccination against his or her will.

  13. What is allowed on a Catholic consecrated altar? This includes time outside of Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. Please link the relevant church documents on this issue. Thanks.


    The altar has a singular purpose and that is the worship of the Eucharist. During Mass the altar is adorn with two cloths and upon this may be set candles, cross, sacred linens like the corporal and purificator, and the sacred vessels (chalice, paten and possibly a ciborium). During Eucharistic Adoration a tabor stand and a monstrance may be set up. The emphasis is upon the bread (hosts) and wine that becomes the body and blood of Christ.

    I would direct you to the General Instructions of the Roman Missal:


  14. Advice about situation with the sin of omission

    Sometimes situations will arise when I feel urged to correct someone who is committing sin. For example, my parents eat before mass in the hour which they are supposed to be fasting. I find it difficult and awkward to correct them, and out of fear. Therefore, I end up not doing so. Would this qualify as mortal sin since it involves a grave matter: breaking the one hour fast (sacrilege).

    FATHER JOE: The fast law before Holy Communion is indeed serious. Do they know about the law? Do they have medical reasons that would require food? There can be extenuating circumstances. It is okay to remind them but I would nag your parents. Peace!

  15. Pope Francis wants to make them saints? As far as the Jewish People are concerned, they are already saints. May they be eternally blessed (and I’m sure they are!)


  16. I would like to follow up with a much shorter question about the controversial action of Fr. Boller of St. Francis Xavier in New York. I find his addition of a woke-style pledge about “white privilege” etc, apparently grabbed from a Unitarian source, to be a very unjust and dangerous thing. Your opinion? Are you aware of any such anti-Christian pledges being used in your diocese? Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: I do not know who he is or what he did. I would confine myself to the creed.

  17. Recently I saw a video by a priest who is also an author on the subject of digital downloads, copyright, and sin. He says that downloading some ebook, etc, which is under copyright, and which is hosted on a website without approval of the copyright holder, is definitely a sin. But some would argue that it is not sinful.

    Recently a well-known website which hosted many ebooks and articles was seized. Apparently they did not necessarily honor requests by copyright holders to take down their material. It seems a rather large number of people all over the world, including students, have downloaded ebooks, sometimes claiming they could never afford the physical book. This pirate website was charging money for the ability to download many more ebooks per day, so clearly they were benefitting from copyright violations.

    Some say this is stealing, because it deprives the author of income. But one reply would be that a person who can’t afford an expensive book would not buy it in any case. Therefore the author, or whoever gets paid by a sale, isn’t losing anything.

    Another point is that downloading copyrighted materials from an unauthorized distributor may be illegal in some nations, and that it is always a sin for a Catholic to violate the laws of their nation.

    I admit I’ve been uncertain on this issue for some time. I see an aspect of systemically unjust inequality in some cases, such as where poor students are unable to pay to get access to information which more prosperous students may obtain.

    But recently I’ve come around more to the viewpoint of the priest-author. Of course it seems impossible that everyone will stop downloading pirated ebooks or viewing unauthorized YouTube videos. But we are not supposed to think that way.

    I still think this is not 100% a black or white issue when it comes to sinfulness. But I would like to know if there is some consensus about this among the clergy or authorized theologians of the Church. I’m tending now to think if something is sometimes in a gray area of sinfulness, it’s better to treat it definitely as a sin anyway. But this can lead to scruples.

    I hope my question makes sense. I look forward to your reply.

    FATHER JOE: We should try to obey all just laws, including about the property of others. You are right that it is not always clear because some countries have laws that conflict with others. That is why music compilations are sometimes cheaper in Europe than in the States because we extended how long rights are maintained. Such things would include books.

  18. Dear Father Joe,
    If the most important reason Jesus walked the earth was to die and pay the penalty for all the sins of man kind, then why didn’t he teach it first and foremost? When Jesus says to the adulterous woman “Go and sin no more.” He says this as if it is enough. He does not say, “Your very nature is sinful, as is everyone else’s, and these recent acts of yours are proof of this sinful nature in you. You must all wait until I suffer the crucifixion at the appointed time, and I am killed as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. I must then be raised from the dead before I can have any power over your sins, and something very important must be required from you before you can be considered for God’s mercy. After I am raised from the dead, you must call on my name and repent of all your sins, and ask for my forgiveness before I can forgive you. Only then will you be considered a child of my Father and saved from living an eternity in hell. And only after all of that will you have the power to stop sinning.”
    Jesus never sinned, which would mean He never lied. Wouldn’t it be considered a huge lie by omission to not tell everyone He could, the most important information they would all need to have concerning themselves and their standing with God? Why tell the woman to go and sin no more as if it would not be ultimately futile given her unsaved nature? Unless it wasn’t futile. Unless she wasn’t unsaved. Unless people are wrong about why he died on the cross.
    Thank you, I am not any religion. I love Jesus. I have truly encountered God as Jesus, and yet I struggle with how to understand the bible given all the interpretations.


    The New Testament is regarded as inspired and very clearly teaches this truth. It is the linchpin of St. Paul’s letters— faith in the saving death of Christ. “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This truth is proclaimed at the beginning of the last Gospel: “The next day he (John the Baptizer) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’” (John 1:29). The reference to the “lamb” is inherently sacrificial. Jesus will take upon himself all the sins of the world. As the new paschal lamb he will die that we might live. We also read in 1 John 2:2: “He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”

    Our Lord speaks about the oblation or sacrifice of his life as a ransom for the atonement of sin. He says, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The resurrected Christ spells out the truth: “He said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem’” (Luke 44-47).

    Jesus always has the authority to heal and forgive sins; however prior to Calvary this merely disposed or placed people in right relationship for his redemptive act. Remember, after his death he descends to the righteous dead so that they might be translated into heaven. They would benefit as well. The limbo of the fathers no longer exists and he is the bridge from this world into heaven. We access the graces of our Lord’s redemptive act by repentance and having a living faith in him made real through obedience and charity. That is why he urges so many not to sin further. Avoiding sin and pursuing fidelity are always part of the equation.

    There is no sin or deception in Christ. He tells others what they need to know and then sends his Holy Spirit to confirm his apostles in the truth. This same Spirit for 2,000 years has maintained the Church in the truth and given efficacy to the sacraments. There is no futility in faith and obedience. However, the gravity switches from the law to the person of Christ. Holiness of life was possible for the Jews. The promise given them is fulfilled in Christ. This occurs in human history. He is the consummation of the covenant. Jesus as one of us could take upon himself the terrible price for sin. As a divine Person he could render infinite satisfaction for the dishonor we had shown God in Adam.

  19. I am not a Catholic. I understand that you believe that Mary was without sin. Respectfully I ask this : was Mary’s parents without sin. Or was this a special grace given to Mary.

    FATHER JOE: Mary is called the Immaculate Conception because we believe she was preserved from sin at the very first moment of her existence in the womb of St. Ann. Her parents were like us. This was a singular honor given Mary because she was predestined to be the Mother of Christ and it would not be fitting for the All Holy One to enter the world through a sinful vessel. It all really has to do with who Jesus is and the honor due to him. Note that when visiting Elizabeth she proclaims the Lord to be her savior (present tense) and he is not yet born. All are saved by Christ and his Cross. The only difference is that the graces of his saving death touch us FORWARD IN TIME with faith and baptism; when it comes to Mary those same graces reach BACKWARD IN TIME and touch her in the womb. That is why the ancient fathers of the Church call Mary the New Eve. Handmaid of the Lord and first disciple of her Son, she will remain ever faithful and holy.

  20. I was told by a Catholic priest that the ANOINTING lasts until eternity.. can you comment on this. I posed the qt in asking how long does the ANOINTING last and he said for all eternity.. please explain this

    FATHER JOE: Which anointing? The oil of catechumens is to strengthen and prepare us for baptism. He likely meant the chrism oil given in Confirmation. Often anointing refers to the sacrament of the sick or extreme unction for the dying. It is a sacrament often associated with the sacrament of penance. Healing and Forgiveness is given the sick and dying. However, if one lives it can be given many times. It is not forever lasting, especially if we fall into sin.

  21. I was recently on vacation with a group of people. It was Saturday and I mentioned to my wife that we needed to go to mass. She said one of her cousins had asked her bishop friend if it was ok to skip mass when traveling. According to my wife the bishop (who as a priest had marriedus) said you were exempt. We didn’t go and we t out to eat. Did I commit a mortal sin since I trusted my wife. Several days later I did my search on the question and realized I should have gone to mass.

    FATHER JOE: You answered your own question. You should have made time for Mass.

  22. Hi father. Had an argument with my wife this morning as I was trying to put eye drops for our daughters conjunctivitis. I was struggling and losing my patience as I tried for like 20 or 30 minutes without success. My wife kept saying to leave it but I kept trying. After last “just stop” I got really angry with my wofe, not physically violent but I swore once and felt hellfire and rage inside! I felt terrible! I then gave up. After few minutes I apologised to bothy daughter and wife as that was totally wrong. I know myself and pushed it losing completely my cool. Not happy, on the way to work, I moved forward slightly on a turning to scare the driver of the oncoming vehicle cause they didn’t slow down to let me pass, again stupidly. would you consider them as a mortal sins that require confession? 🫂Thank you

    FATHER JOE: I doubt it was a mortal sin. But I would suggest an act of contrition. Life can be stressful. Confession is always good.

  23. Fr i am confused about the Mark of the beast being unforgivable and every other sin can be forgiven ,Can you give me the Churches teaching on this ? Thank you

    FATHER JOE: The mark refers to Cesar and ancient Rome during the early persecutions. We would not read such references as literal or necessarily prophetic. All who oppose Christ and the Church are antichrists. We are called to put on Christ. We are the people marked by the sign of the Cross.

  24. question: Genesis 1:26 ESV / 356 helpful votes
    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
    my question is, who is us? who is our?

    FATHER JOE: It is the royal or divine plural. It is the one Trinitarian God.

  25. If Heaven is unbridled joy, how do we deal with knowing our family will be missing us, especially at Christmas?

    FATHER JOE: I doubt there are individual seasons in heaven. You will see God and his joy will so completely fill you that there will be no space for sorrow. As C.S. Lewis teaches, it is impossible to feel loss for the damned for they freely bring judgment upon themselves and our Lord will not allow hell to manipulate heaven.

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