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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Not the Clarification for Which Many Were Waiting



Last year the Buenos Aires bishops interpreted the pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia so as to permit those sexually active in invalid unions to receive Holy Communion (in certain cases). The Holy Father praised their interpretation in a private letter (September 5, 2016) to Bishop Sergio Alfredo Fenoy, the Delegate of the Buenos Aires Pastoral Region of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina. He wrote, “El escrito es muy bueno y explicita cabalmente el sentido del capitulo VIII de Amoris laetitia. No hay otras interpretaciones.” (Translation: The document is very good and clearly explains the meaning of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. There are no other interpretations). On June 5, 2017 by order of a papal rescript, both the Criteria or Interpretation of the Buenos Aires bishops and the papal letter were published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, purportedly making this the position of the Church’s “authentic Magisterium.” This seems to conflict with the teaching of Pope John Paul II and with the current Code of Canon Law (canon 752). It would affect our discipline about Holy Communion and even Confessional Absolution. Cardinal Wuerl insists that the doctrine has not changed, just the pastoral discipline. I think I will go back to praying on my knees for awhile on this one.

Episcopal Church Near Collapse

While Catholicism continues to struggle with a secular world and modernity, the Episcopalian confession has surrendered to the profane and hedonistic fads of contemporary society. Catholicism might get smaller but it will go down fighting. The Anglicans have already lost and a few faithful souls are trying to keep their heads above water after the ship has sunk.


Religious Subterfuge & Dissent Against Rome

Today the Huffington Post ran the headline, “Nuns Blast Catholic Church’s ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ That Justified Indigenous Oppression.” Eyebrows were raised. What the devil were the sisters talking about? These prudential views went out with the ancient notions concerning the divine right of kings. Do the sisters understand it is 2014 and not the 1600’s?

lcwr 3The challenge to the Vatican came from Sister Maureen Fieldler. This, in itself, was an immediate bad sign that something was up. She is a widely known radical feminist and dissenter on a number of issues, such as so-called abortion rights, liberation theology, women’s ordination, religious indifferentism, etc. Given that she is disobedient to the Vatican at every turn, it was the height of arrogance that she demanded renunciation of 15th-century documents.  The LCWR would have you think that they speak for the angels, but not all angels come from heaven.  The devil can also appear as an angel of light.

The Church has already spoken to abuses in the past and the late Pope John Paul II included the rights of indigenous persons in his famous apologias. This seems sufficient. Of course, the Church would not want to renounce the courageous missionary efforts of saints or the unique value of our saving Catholic faith. These modern sisters would be oddly less celebratory of this saving inheritance.  Like secular anthropologists, they would stress the retention of isolated New World pre-Christian cultural and religious associations from the unique value of the Gospel that came with explorers from the Old World. Along these lines, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has repeatedly compromised itself by engaging in pagan, New Age and various native spiritualties during its conferences and retreats. Indeed, along with their demand to the Pope, they are insisting that he participate in “a sacred ceremony of reconciliation.” You can bet all your donuts that these girls do not mean the Sacrament of Confession. Sorry, while they might pray to the four winds, true Catholics place their confidence in the Holy Spirit and the Church Jesus founded. Christ commanded that we take this faith to the entire world and to baptize in the name of the Trinity. We cannot and must not apologize for the command of Christ at the end of Matthew’s Gospel. It is true that colonization brought with it oppression and disease; but it also gave a new people the saving Gospel and Western civilization. We should not be so quick to idolize a multiculturalism that would utterly discount our rich history and the benefits of colonization. Would Sister Fieldler, her Loretto religious community and the LCWR have preferred that the saving faith were never proclaimed and that the missionaries had stayed at home? While the ancient Church decrees are summarized to sound like one had to convert or die, it was actually much more complex.  While Western countries sought new resources, the Church saw in civilization the opportunity to bring the true faith to the New World. While the soldiers and conquerors did not always abide by the Church’s admonitions to respect human dignity; the sword was also used to protect the colonists and those native peoples who were ordinarily endangered by more violent neighbors. In any case, the issues around this partnership of the Church and state have long been mute.

Vaguely analogous notions of intervention today are not the same as that which included the promulgation of the Gospel in days of old. Even American “Manifest Destiny'” had less to do with the Church and more about a non-denominational American sense of providence and the call to greatness.  The sisters are experts at the jargon that wins a secular modernity to its side. But when one scratches the surface, it becomes clear that there is a peculiar eccentricity to them. For instance, they would attach the anachronistic appeal to the Pope with the effort to strip the Washington football team from using the name Redskins. I suspect few reasonable people see any connection.  The Holy See has no lands of its own and no longer even makes reference to doctrines of discovery. By contrast, there are already plenty of papal declarations which speak to the rights and dignities of indigenous peoples. But the sisters are merely flexing their muscle. If they were serious, they would be reproaching secular governments and struggles in the present, as with the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. Here at home they conveniently disguise the absurd ramifications of their stance. They want to get even with the Holy See, not a secular nation.  Remember, if one must apologize for the past then one must make restitution. Along these lines the proposal was made years ago that all whites should be taxed in the U.S. so that monetary reparations might be paid the descendants of slaves. The argument was rightly made that you cannot fault the living for the crimes of the dead. Would the United States give back all lands and territories that belonged to Native Americans, including Manhattan? Would we surrender Texas to the Mexicans? Would we hand over our territories and Hawaii to the native population as new sovereign countries? We bought Alaska from the Russians but they had essentially claimed it through colonization. Would we give it back to the Eskimos (along with the oil) and go home? And given that most of us are the sons and daughters of immigrants, where would home be? The repercussions would become rather silly. But silliness is not something new for the Loretto religious community or this organization of sisters.

Something is rotten about this business. This overture is not really about renouncing the oppression of indigenous peoples. It is payback for being put into their place by Rome. They want to show that they (the Leadership Conference of Women Religious) have the true moral high ground. This is all about politics and not at all about justice. Once we see the truth about it, the organization and its leadership are exposed as utterly pathetic and without contrition for their disobedience and heresies.

It is sick and twisted that the LCWR resolution targets the Pope. No organization has done more to make a positive difference in the lives of indigenous peoples than the Church. This effort is to take our attention away from their own shortcomings and sins. Indeed, by speaking of these ancient policies as doctrines, these dissenters can then point to the modern doctrinal debates and argue that the Church has the authority to evolve or change other teachings of faith… particularly in those doctrinal conflicts where the LCWR is on the other side. This is a measure to undermine the continuity and permanence of Catholic teachings.

The Vatican in 2012 was critical of the LCWR on a host of issues: particularly their silence on the right to life and their dissent on the nature of the family and human sexuality. These are not the sisters we fondly remember in nostalgia.  They largely refuse to wear their habits and veils, even though the late Pope John Paul II told them to do so.  They have watered down their traditionally prescribed prayer life and often do not live in community.  The feminist agenda has poisoned their hearts and minds.  Many demand that women be ordained priests and condemn what they call a patriarchal Church.  This past April, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller chastised them for failing to comply with Rome’s correctives. They even purposely honored Sister Elizabeth Johnson who was faulted by the U.S. bishops for her Christology and other teachings. [She heavily employs weak metaphors over analogies, compromising or revising the objective truth value of certain Catholic doctrines.  She was my professor at CUA and I recall that she got upset about our usage of JESUS and CHRIST.  She taught that the JESUS of history (minus miracles and messianic claims) was different from the CHRIST of faith (which is what the Church had fashioned him).  It seemed to me that this fell back into the old “two Sons” heresy.  Also, the impression was given that the human JESUS was real and that CHRIST was more symbolic of the Church’s kerygma.  We see many biblical exegetes who use similar language in their analysis of the Scriptures.]  Pope Francis backed the rebuke of the rebellious LCWR. Instead of obedience to Rome’s demands, they now seek to make demands of Rome.

The sisters of this sort are quickly dying out. The Church will probably be better off when they are gone. They will be replaced by a small but growing number of women who practice the traditional disciplines and know that humility and orthodoxy is how we approach the Magisterium and abide with the Church.  Pray for vocations… of the right kind.

Women Bishops – The Lights Go Out for Anglicanism

5f0c3e5657ed3b8229685eac8a081987The General Synod of the Church of England voted on Monday to consecrate priestesses as women bishops. Well, there’s the nail to the coffin for the home of Anglicanism. Ecumenism with them will be restricted to soup kitchens, sharing contributions from C.S, Lewis, and appreciation for perfecting the English language. The bridges have been burned to most else. Since women cannot be ordained in truth, this makes arguments about their Masses and the Eucharist mute. Fake priests can only give you a counterfeit Holy Communion. When it came to morality, our ships passed in the night a long time ago. They disregard both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, wrongly approving homosexuality and dismissing the indissolubility of marriage. Abortion is reduced to a personal choice, far from the Catholic stance that sees it as an assault upon the heart of the Gospel of Life. Their last convention in the States could only agree about how terrible landmines were, as if that is a big issue in suburbia. This is what happens when morality collapses and an “everything goes” mentality takes over. Public opinion and modernity is given preference over divine revelation. Instead of obedience to God, the human becomes the measure of all things— and people are fickle and frequently wrong. The Orthodox churches are lamenting that years of work toward a common faith and even levels of recognition have been thrown upon the garbage heap. Anglicanism, except as a small group received by the Holy See, is destined not to be counted as a branch of the apostolic and “catholic” family of churches. The “reapproachment” with them since Vatican II is now a dismal failure because the Anglicanism of even half a century ago no longer exists. It has been replaced by a mutated structure that will continue to devolve and crumble. Australian Anglicans are arguing that priests might be optional and that the laity can offer the Mass. Fragmented, one segment fights with another, and there is no contemporary pretense of a world Anglican order. Certain traditionalists among them refused the offer of Pope Benedict XVI, hoping to rebuild with a union of conservative African bishops. But how long will it be until modernity will invade that new structure? Ironically, some of them attack the Anglicans who accepted the special offer from the Pope in becoming Catholics. They still buy the prejudices against Rome which were initially an element of their split. Catholicism has its dissenters; but they will have no official weight in the practice of our sacraments and doctrines. The accidentals may change, as with language, but the deposit of faith is safe and sound. As for the Anglicans, could they even agree as to what this deposit consists?

The Anglicans feel that immutable doctrine can be changed by ballot. Here is the vote approving women bishops:

  • House of Bishops: 37 to 2 with 1 abstention
  • House of Clergy: 162 to 25 with 4 abstentions
  • House of Laity: 52 to 45 with 5 abstentions

This move goes against the teachings and pattern passed down from Jesus. There was no woman among the twelve apostles. Jesus did not worry about stereotypes. But this one, he did not break. It was God’s will. Anglicans no longer care. I guess they would say that Jesus was wrong. Of course, this change was anticipated. A long time in the mix, the first ingredient was added back in 1994 when they began ordaining women as priestesses (women priests). Error breeds error. The United States made a woman its chief Episcopalian bishop some years ago, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Before her they elected their first gay bishop. Australian, New Zealand, and Canada also have women bishops. The show continues but it no longer matters. They can wear their pointy hats and play-act all they want— these women are neither true priests nor bishops. Both Orthodoxy and Catholicism are in agreement here. There is no third tier to the Church. Without a valid hierarchy, there can be no true priests. If there is no priesthood, then there can be no Eucharist (sacrifice of propitiation and real presence). If there is no Eucharist, the ecclesial community is not really a CHURCH.  End of Story

Marriage & Willingness for Children

QUESTION (Deirdre):

I was diagnosed as bi-polar when I was 15 years old. I have been on medication for the last 16 years to control my disease. I have always wanted children; however, as I mature, I have realized that being on medication while pregnant is not wise. Neither would I want to bring a child into a situation that could be potentially unstable. So recently, I have been thinking about whether or not I should indeed have a child. If this is the course of action I choose to take, is it accurate that in the eyes of the Church I should never be allowed to get married, to share my life with someone, or enjoy the marital bed all because I chose not to have children?


I know bi-polar people who have children and do quite well. You are correct that there are certain medications that can make pregnancy problematical. I have seen this especially with paranoid schizophrenics. As for your question, unless you are married then it is entirely academic as you cannot morally have children as a single person. The Church views marriage as having two purposes: the propagation of the human race and the fidelity of the spouses. Older couples might be infertile but they can still get married. The marital act must still be that type of act that generates new human life even if such an eventuality is unlikely or impossible. Younger couples must want to have children in order to get married in the Church. The priest will ask this question as part of the prenuptial investigation. Rejecting the possibility makes marriage impossible. Indeed, if there is deceit about this, it is grounds for the annulment of a bond. Depending how long you wait to get married, the issue may become academic as the clock is always ticking on female fertility. You can be happy unmarried and there are joys other than those of the marriage bed.

Purgatory, Religious Life (Nuns) & the Pope


Catholics propose many things not supported in the Scriptures, like Purgatory, Nuns and the Pope. It is a serious sin to add to the Bible. Moving to the matter of the Pope, he is a man who takes upon himself the honor which belongs to God alone. People do not need the Pope to know the will of God. The testimony of Scripture is that the Holy Spirit guides each believer to all truth. All anyone needs is a bible and the Holy Spirit. The papacy has no special commission to teach; it is the pathetic attempt of the blind leading the blind. Disaster awaits them all. Catholics should abandon this man-made system which prevents them from personally knowing Jesus and being saved. Turning to Purgatory, it is purportedly a place where sins are purified after death. However, the Bible says that Jesus does this. Our fate is sealed with death– heaven or hell– nothing more.

[Not to add to the Bible] Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be exposed as a deceiver (Proverbs 30:6).

[Regarding the absence of the Catholic Purgatory] Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear as second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him (Hebrews 9:27-28).


The citation of Proverbs contends that we must not add anything to God’s revelation; taken in the strict sense of the fundamentalist, it would logically mean that everything written (including Scripture?) after the fifth century B.C. (the date of this book’s composition) is inauthentic. Not being very rational, even with their own principles, they will deny and run away from such a position. The Catholic Church adds nothing that alters the substantial message of salvation; indeed, she validates much that the anti-Catholic would steal from God’s hands. While religious life is mentioned, fundamentalist anti-Catholics are never clear about what is wrong with consecrated life. Having spoken about the Pope elsewhere, I will not add much here. The Scriptural and historical evidence is abundantly clear that the Papacy was an institution finding its roots in the significant mission given St. Peter by Jesus, himself. Even the Orthodox churches, who are not in union with the Holy See, view the Pope as the first among equals. As for Purgatory, I fail to see how the Bible texts quoted say anything to challenge this doctrine of faith. The soul in Purgatory is destined for heaven. Jesus has indeed rescued him from the death of sin. However, since we believe that justification is not so much imputation as it is transformation, the soul must be perfected and purified before entry into heaven. The fire of God’s love itself burns away the residue of selfishness to which we cling. Temporal punishment for sin is paid and the little sins which plagued us, as well as evil habits or vices, are eradicated and we are healed. Often Purgatory has been compared to a prison, but it might better be likened to a hospital. Indeed, if Purgatory is the hospital of the afterlife, then hell is the cemetery for dead souls, who have forfeited the divine life, clung to mortal sin, and hate both God and man. The Catholic citation of 2 Maccabees brings another issue to the forefront, the deletion of a book of the Bible by Protestant reformers. Of course, it still shows the orthodox mindset of the Jews regarding prayer for the dead and what Jesus would have held as one who acknowledged by words and then by his own person, the resurrection.

[Expiation for the dead] Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the week was ending, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there. On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his men went to gather up the bodies of the slain and bury them with their kinsmen in their ancestral tombs. But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to life the things that are hidden. Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin (2 Maccabees 12:38-46).

[Clear implication that there is forgiveness of sins in the next life] “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come” (Matthew 12:32).

[Must be made perfect before entering heaven] The treasure and wealth of nations will be brought there, but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:26-27).

Remembering the Religious Nuns & Sisters

I have always had the deepest respect for women religious. It seems to me that we unjustly joke about them or ridicule them. Critics will complain about sister hitting them with a ruler but say nothing about the learning and discipline that made their later successes possible. (By the way, a nun who is four-foot-something tall controlling a class of 50 plus boys might take a broken ruler or two!) These women often did without so that they might make a difference in people’s lives. They gave themselves to God’s service as his brides. Now that so many of them are elderly and sick, we need to remember them with love and respect. They pray in worship to God and in petition for those whom they love.



I so agree with you, Father!


The trouble is not that religious communities are dying and the membership is aging but rather that they are not dying off fast enough. Given that this situation most afflicts the dissenting nuns, the Church will be better off without them.


I will be sad to see them go.


While the numbers of women religious is way down, the national collection to support them goes up. If it were just for nursing care it would not be so bad but the news has been leaked that radical sisters have used some of this money for their activist agenda. That is stealing, pure and simple!


Mostly this is not the case.


The consecrated religious women who signed the NETWORK letter in support of Obama’s pro-abortion healthcare plan should be censured by their bishops and by Rome. Those who dissent on abortion and mock ecclesiastical authority should be stripped of canonical status and shown the door.


Maybe we could dialogue with them first?


I do not know why the Church plays games with these women. The Pope should pointedly tell them, “Wear your habits and live in community or else!” Some like that nun who insulted Pope John Paul II back in 1979 should have been forcibly stripped of her status. Instead, she has gathered admirers and has sowed the seeds of rebellion for 20 years.


He probably forgave her and daily prayed for her.


Father, I am very glad to see that you are back in the Land of Blog. Your humor and common sense have been greatly missed. Ad multos annos!


I was educated in the 1960′s by the Sisters of St Joseph (Boston) through 8th grade. They displayed exceptional dedication, as well as wearing full habits. We are lucky (in NH) to have the Sisters from the Missionary Sisters of the Word order locally. They wear habits and are quite orthodox. They are missionaries here from Mexico to the U.S. And it’s sad to say, they are desperately needed.