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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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President Trump Likened to a Doomed Caesar?

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What were they thinking? Would critics really take delight in seeing the President murdered? On the left and right there is continuing evidence of a sickness of the American spirit and of individual souls. Politics has replaced statesmanship and governance. A patriotic love of country and our highest ideals have been supplanted on one side by a callous nationalism and on the other by inflammatory class, gender, orientation and ethnic warfare. How did we go from “one nation, under God” to the attitude that “I am the real American and you are the enemy”?

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Mixed Feelings & Trying to Make Sense of It All

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President Trump renewed his call for the courts to approve his revised executive order, which would temporarily bar nationals from six predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S. The Justice Department reported:

“The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

(MSN used a photo with Cardinal Wuerl looking on in the back. Was it taken from the White House Prayer Breakfast?)

I have mixed feelings. The war against terror is a real conflict. I do not believe in singling out people as dangerous based on religion but it must be admitted that there are countries that harbor terrorists.

It is interesting that many will attack the President for wanting a better manner of vetting immigrants and visitors from other countries while the late F.D. Roosevelt remains beloved by the same critics even though he imposed Japanese-American internment on Jan. 14, 1942 against our own citizens.

I am troubled all around. How do we respect persons, protect rights and remain secure? I do not know the answer. In any case, injustice is not something new.

Will the REAL Conservatism Please Stand Up!

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The stuff going on now is not the face of true conservatism… it is rather an angry populism. Back in the 1950’s Quintin Hogg gave an excellent definition of this perspective on the right: “Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself.”

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More palatable after he detached himself from the taint of anti-Catholicism, Barry Goldwater wrote: “Conservatism, we are told, is out of date. The charge is preposterous, and we ought boldly to say no. The laws of God, and of nature, have no deadline. The principles on which the conservative political position is based…are derived from the nature of man, and from the truths that God has revealed about His creation.”

adamsI would recommend Russell Kirk’s book THE CONSERVATIVE MIND which I read as a young man. It discusses Conservatism as an important facet of our intellectual patrimony going back to the American founding father, John Adams. He warned us that Conservatism must not simply lament and shake fists at the distortion of values and rights by liberalism; rather, we have to respond to the need for a spiritual and moral rebirth of our identity and ideals in every age.

The necessity is finding the thread of continuity. It is in the context of this hermeneutic that the Catholic Church is inherently a conservative institution, passing down revealed and immutable truths to each generation. Doctrine develops and grows, but always in an organic way.

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Today, a big problem is finding the proper leadership. President Reagan was a genuine Conservative who understood the needs and hopes of people. Leaders like him are few and far between. During his administration Bill Bennett served as the Secretary of Education, a department of the executive branch of government that the President thought about eradicating but later sought to reform. It is within this light that Bennett’s THE BOOK OF VIRTUES was an effort to restore values to learning.

The Conservative voice should never fail to respond to the needs of all men and women with a message that both safeguards human rights and grants hope to those struggling to survive and to find happiness. People naturally want to feel secure and to have their basic needs met, hence the constant emphasis upon property and prosperity. While charity was rightly listed as an ingredient under G.W. Bush’s “compassionate Conservatism” such can become intolerable when distanced from genuine love and corrupted into a pattern of orchestrated political overtures to insure dependence and manipulation.

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The late William Buckley, who angered Ayn Rand and distanced himself from the so-called Conservatives of our time, stated: “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” Hear all sides out— yes, even the voices you might not want to hear. There is too much name-calling, hate and polarization. We see this both in our country and the Church. Preserve what is good and lasting. Acknowledge that human nature does not change, although grace can summon us to holiness. Be open to new ideas that do not contradict who we are and what we are about as a people. Peace!

There is Conservative, Liberal & Then There is Sick

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Milo’s Right: That’s Why Catholics Go to Church

I must be getting old. Sorry, but who the heck is Milo?

Seems like a lot of hype about one strange and confused young man. Definitely he is someone who needs prayer more than either admiration or recrimination. But like I said, I had never heard of him until the last day or two. My conservatism is more in tune with Bill Buckley Jr., Jack Kemp, Bill Bennett and Ronald Reagan than either this juvenile weirdness or the polarizing populism of Trump. I much prefer gentlemen debating ideas than demigods deriding persons and shouting for attention.

Michael Novak Dies

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Michael Novak, Catholic Scholar Who Championed Capitalism, Dies at 83

He was one of those great Catholic thinkers whose intellectual honesty and rationalism made possible both a profound movement toward the truth and an appreciation of God’s place in all things. God bless you, Michael, you will be sorely missed, especially today when there is so much confusion in politics and faith. Rest in Peace.

Muslims & Religion in Schools

WHOA! This School Allows School Prayer, But Only For…

People are upset that Muslims are given facilities to pray in schools. I am more upset that we as Christians have so easily surrendered this liberty and have allowed the component of religion to be stripped from our lived culture and from the teaching of social studies. Freedom “of” religion does not mean freedom “from” religion. Such a mentality impoverishes us all and represents a sanitized or censored diversity. Removing the factor of religion falsifies history, as with Columbus, leaving us with charges of genocide, forced slavery, and greed but saying next to nothing positive about his faith and missionary mandate to bring the saving faith of Christ to the New World.

The Pope & Questions About Poverty, Politics & Popularity

SIMON: Hello, Father!  In the beginning I have to mention that I try to be a devout Catholic every day. I believe the Pope is the Father of the Church appointed by Christ. But sometimes I have those thoughts, which keep eating at me inside. I’m very sorry in advance as I know these are not appropriate thoughts for a Catholic to have. I feel guilty for that. I pray that these thoughts would go away and leave me alone; but they keep coming back (sometimes even during the Mass, which is quite frightening for me).

FATHER JOE: It is okay to ask questions.  As believers, we should focus on matters of faith and seek to grow in the Lord.  As for attending to the Mass and better participation at worship, maybe a better understanding of the elements and prayers of the liturgy would help keep your mind from wandering?

SIMON: I sometimes think: 1)  If we are followers of Christ then as the Church teaches, we should try becoming more like Christ every day. Christ lived modestly, as we know, and even in poverty. How is it that so many people today are in hunger and poverty while Pope is an extremely rich man provided with everything that he needs. He even has (or had) a Harley-Davidson. Many people could feed their children from the money of Vatican administration. People in poverty could live for a year from the money you would get by selling a Harley-Davidson bike.

FATHER JOE: First, the Pope is “personally” very poor and most everything he has belongs to the Church. Pope Francis, in particular, has very simple tastes. Second, the motorcycle was given the Holy Father from the Harley-Davidson Company to celebrate their 110th Anniversary. The Pope sold it at auction for the Caritas Roma Charity. It went for $327,000. In addition, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle jacket signed by the pontiff sold for $77,485. Money from the sale of the two items went to benefit a hostel and soup kitchen at the Termini train station in Rome. We must be careful not to make allegations that would misjudge the Holy Father. We would not want to add our voices to those who wrongly condemn. Third, the Church is a worldwide organization and as such she must have income to sustain buildings, pay salaries and operate. While there are isolated cases of hypocrisy, many critics wrong the Church which does more globally for the oppressed, poor and hurting than any other institution.

SIMON: 2) Christ was open to everyone he met. How come it is almost impossible to meet the Pope? It seems sometimes like his time is only reserved for “more important” people. In front of God and Christ, shouldn’t every life be equally worthy?

FATHER JOE: I am perplexed by this assertion.  This is the Pope that takes great personal risks in going out to people. He is only one man and there are a billion Catholics. He could never knock on every door.  Are you upset that you have not met him?  Do you feel that this somehow makes you unimportant?  I can assure you that the Pope and the Church cares about you and everyone else.  Everyone has value.  All life is incommensurate.  This is the Pope that washed the feet of juvenile delinquents for Holy Thursday. This is the Pope that served food at a shelter. Similarly, other Popes reached out to the crowds, kissed babies and showed that they care. The late Saint John Paul II even got shot because he wanted to be visible to his flock. Do you understand how vulnerable this makes them? As for our Lord, he did go out to the marginalized, the poor and the oppressed. But he was also silent when placed before Herod. His words might mean conversion, mercy and life. His silence passed a deadly judgment upon the tetrarch. We will all be judged.  Because of this, we must all be careful in judging others.  Do we have the mind and heart of Christ?  Are we unselfish?  Can we see past our own sins?  Is our own posture that of utter humility?  I would not want to judge the Holy Father either from ignorance or malice. He is Christ’s Vicar on earth.

SIMON: 3) Why is Pope dealing with politics? I understand his intentions for a better and more peaceful world but isn’t it bit unfair— in front of God’s face— to take sides? Jesus never dealt with politics— did he?

FATHER JOE: What do you think got Christ crucified? The charge is even placed over his head on the Cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” The crowd disowned him and shouted, “We have no king but Caesar!” Pilate was not the servant of the Jews but the procurator for the empire of Rome. When Jesus told them to love their enemies and to forgive those who hurt them, he was speaking a morality that was immediately translated into politics. After centuries of persecution, the Church would arise as the religion of the state. The Pope is the sovereign leader or head of the smallest country on earth, the Vatican, which rests in the heart of Rome. He even has his own representatives at the UN. More importantly, he is the visible head of the Catholic Church and it is vital for Christianity to make an impact upon world politics. The Church speaks against persecution, slavery, abortion, injustice, unwarranted aggression, poverty and oppressive economic systems, etc. She defends human rights, including religious liberty. Our faith must touch all the elements of human existence. We are not just Christians when within the walls of our churches. Ours is a jealous God. The testing of the coin is often misunderstood. Christ is asked if it is right to pay the tax to Rome or not. Rome was the occupying power and government. Jesus never answers the question but takes a coin and asks, whose face is upon it? The people answer, “Caesar.” He says, “Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar but give to God what belongs to God.” Ask yourself, what belongs to God? The answer is everything. It is wrong to expect the Pope and the Church to stay out of politics. There may be a separation of Church and state (in terms of a national religion), but they should still work for the common good. It would make no sense for the Church to remain passive or silent, especially as our religious liberty is being compromised both here in the U.S. and around the globe. The Church must have a voice and a part to play in the public forum.

SIMON: 4) Pope should be a servant like Christ used to be and actually on that one I am quite happy with current Pope Francis who seems to be very humble and willing to serve. But still, the Pope is being praised like a rock star. Is that really something that Jesus or St. Peter would have wanted?

FATHER JOE: Jesus was pursued by vast crowds and they cried Hosanna when he entered Jerusalem. While some would turn against him, he was the celebrity or rock star of his time. Thousands wanted to see and hear him. Vast throngs of people sought him for healing. Have you never read the Gospels? Jesus called Peter or the ROCK of his Church and gave him the keys to the kingdom.  He is made the chief shepherd.  Tradition gives him the title, “Servant of the Servants of God.”  As this unique shepherd, the honor given the Pope reflects upon the dignity and place of our Lord, Jesus. The Pope is Christ’s instrument of universality and order in the world.

SIMON: As I mentioned earlier, I know that those thoughts are condemned.

FATHER JOE: I would not use the word “condemned.” Ours is a faith seeking understanding.  We seek to root out ignorance and bigotry.  Only you can answer the quandary as to whether there is a hidden animus against the Holy Father and the Church? If there is resentment, from where does it originate?

SIMON: But I can’t seem to get rid of them. Maybe if I could get rational answers for these questions, then perhaps with the help of God those would leave me alone.

FATHER JOE: I cannot say what the cause of your issues might be.  But we should never be a people who resent the authority and popularity of the Pope. Critics of this sort often display a poor sense of self-worth and want to feel more important themselves. Maybe they are rash and quick to judge others? In any case, I hope the response here helps.

SIMON: Thank you, Father! And please pray for me! Sincerely yours, Simon

FATHER JOE: You are welcome.  Peace!