Real Priests for Our Age

We are in the middle of the Year for Priests in which it is hoped we will all see a strong re-affirmation of Christ-like models of priesthood. Thanks to Pope Benedict we may just exit that age of sell-out clerics like Fr. John Jenkins of Notre Dame and come back to some sanity in priestly leadership. As an indication of how bad clerical hypocrisy gets, Fr. Jenkins presided over the arrest of Catholic pro-life protesters on campus and has consistently refused to ask the authorities to drop the charges. Some may spend a year in jail due to his “leadership” on this issue. Jenkins followed this by an announcement that he will attend the March for Life in Washington this year – a shameless two-faced gesture not lost on any of us who know what it means to be pro-life. We expect more from priests. In the new era of the priesthood, we need to get away from the flimsy, politically-motivated, “empty sutanes” (i.e., cassocks) and look to those who are providing the kind of priestly leadership that really brings souls to Christ.

Thankfully examples of good priests are becoming more readily available these days. One of these guys is Fr. James Farfaglia who is a new member of HLI’s Board of Directors and pastor of St. Helen’s Parish in Corpus Christi, TX. Father has written a book that is second to none in calling men to holiness and accountability for their marriages and their faith. The book is called Man to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men About Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life. Father James is a very strong priest, and his writing reflects that. His no-nonsense explanations of our fundamental commitments to God and others are a refreshing re-statement of how we are supposed to live – and thrive – in a world hostile to our basic values. Father has spent his priestly life ministering to people in real-life situations, so his pastoral judgment is tried and true.

Another marvelous experience of priesthood happened this week in Rome with the conference sponsored by the Australian and American chapters of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. The week was full of erudite lectures on the priesthood and the liturgy and was filled with prayer and good priestly fraternity. The highlight of it all was our participation in the Mass of Epiphany on Wednesday with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Basilica. I prayed for all our HLI supporters and friends and families there in the Holy City!

Please continue to pray for your priests, and commend us to Our Lady; more than anything, pray for a total renewal of the priesthood and hierarchy so that we may be able to stand strong against the evils of the day and meet the severe challenges of the days to come.

[Editor’s note: CE readers will recognize the name of our own Fr.  James Farfaglia, long-time contributor to our site.  Please see some excerpts and more reviews of his new book on our Theology on the Body channel: “MAN TO MAN: Entering into the Emotional World of a Woman” and “Man to Man – First Thoughts“.]

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  • noelfitz

    I read here about “sell-out clerics like Fr. John Jenkins of Notre Dame” Fr Jenkins is called a hypocrite and two-faced. Has Fr Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame University, been disciplined by the Church? Is he a priest in good standing, are there any ecclesiastical sanctions against him? If not, why not? Is Notre Dame a Catholic University? Is it a center of Catholic scholarship?

    It appears to me that if Fr Jenkins is a two-faced hypocrite and sell-out cleric, as is claimed here, the Church should take action, otherwise would Fr Euteneuer considering apologizing for allegedly libelling Fr Jenkins?

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    Come one Noel. Can we stop judging our holy priests already?

  • ifyp

    “sell-out clerics like Fr. John Jenkins of Notre Dame and come back to some sanity in priestly leadership … Jenkins followed this by an announcement that he will attend the March for Life in Washington this year – a shameless two-faced gesture not lost on any of us who know what it means to be pro-life.”

    We have to remember that priests are humans too. Yes, they are chosen by Christ to lead lives totally for His Church, their Bride, but we must also remember that humans fall and that they need many prayers! I look at many “Orthodox” and strong priests who have fallen (Fr. Maciel, for example), but we don’t know their hearts. All we pray is that they get to heaven and that Our Lord make mistakes they have made into something perfect for His Glory.

  • ngomba

    Mr Fitz,
    I would ask you: unless “The Church” takes action, should all priests stay silent? Will Fr Jenkins ever apologize to the students at the Grotto?

    When Notre Dame allows charges to be pressed against a 78-year old “trespasser” priest arrested for saying the Rosary -twenty feet away from non-students holding Obama signs (not arrested)- I think Fr Euteneuer can legitimately ask if there’s been a sell-out at Our Lady’s University.

    Fr. Euteneuer’s courage and foresight are a beacon for American Catholicism. We would do well listen to this holy man and his insight regarding the future. His recent article in NOR, drawing on his experience as an exorcist, is recommended.

    St John Vianney, ora pro nobis

  • reina

    Answer to HomeschoolNfpDad….
    “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.” St Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:12)

  • noelfitz

    HomeschoolNfpDad,

    Thank you for your post. As I have said before I am impressed with your sound understanding of Church teaching and hence pay attention carefully to your views.

    I try not to judge anyone, it is not my job. “Judgment is mine” says the Lord. I try to folllow St Paul, “I do not even judge myself” (NRSV, 1 Cor 4;3b). I hope in God’s mercy.

    You seem to imply I have judged Fr Euteneuer. This is not so.

  • noelfitz

    Ifyp,
    thank you for your sound post. I agree with you.

    Ngomba,
    No priest has the right to accuse a fellow priest of being two-faced or a hypocrite or of selling out the Church. One can accuse another of having heretical views, but not of being morally corrupt.

    Reina,
    You quote St Paul, a fuller quote is “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.” (NRSV,1 Cor 5:12-13).

    The point I was making is that the Church has not “driven out” Fr Jenkins or censured him, hence he is entitled to his good name.

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    I know I’m not one to judge Fr. Jenkins’ soul, or his fitness as a priest, or the right degree of forbearance and forgiveness he should be extended by the heirarchy, or what ecclesiastical penalties have been applied, or should be applied, or the most prudent way to deal with his behavior.

    But I can say without doubt or equivocation that on one occasion, he showed a very friendly attitude towards a man who promotes the gravely, intrinsic evil of abortion with nearly every resource at his command, while having those who speak out for life arrested. He then gave full assent to the arrested people being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    And then, a few months later, he announced his intention to march with those who speak out for life — while STILL seeking no clemency for those he had arrested for that very thing.

    Now, in what way is that behavior not two-faced and hypocritical?

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    Noel: nor has Father Euteneuer judged Father Jenkins. He has simply stated a few facts and drawn the obvious conclusions. Father Jenkins does have the power to drop charges against those who held a prayer vigil for life when Obama went to speak at Notre Dame. He has an obligation to uphold the rights of Catholics to pray for what the Church teaches on the property of Notre Dame — if Notre Dame is indeed a Catholic university. Now either Father Jenkins upholds the teaching of the Church or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t — if he continues to press charges against pro-life people for the crime of praying on the Notre Dame campus — then his action is against the Church. If his action is against the Church, then the obligation of the prophet is to let Father Jenkins know this. If Father Jenkins’s action is a private action, then the obligation of the prophet is tell him in private. If Father Jenkins’s action is public, then the obligation of the prophet is to tell him in public, in order to correct the public problem created by the action. But Father Jenkins’s action is a public action.

    Now, here is the important thing. Vatican II calls all Catholics to be priest, prophet and king. Father Euteneuer is a Catholic. Therefore, Father Euteneuer is called to be a prophet — independent of what any bishop may or may not do. No contingency on prior episcopal action is placed on the obligation of all Catholics to be prophet. Father Jenkins’s actions go against the Church in a public way. Therefore Father Euteneuer is obliged to correct Father Jenkins in an equally public way, if he can, in order to admonish the sinner (a spiritual work of mercy) and minimize the scandal of the Church. Therefore, Father Euteneuer has done nothing wrong — and indeed has done everything right. Therefore, to state that he has allegedly libeled Father Jenkins is (at best) to misunderstand the facts.

    Jesus demands that we judge the external actions of others: “By their fruits, you will know them.” And the fruit of Father Jenkins’s actions is to force a lot of believing Catholics to face charges that could land them in jail for the crime of praying with the Church on the Notre Dame campus. That is an evil fruit. The obligation of any Catholic is to point this out. Father Euteneuer is in a unique position, given his public voice and public face, where his prophet’s correction of Father Jenkins has a chance of being effective. Therefore, what Father Euteneuer has done in this article is an objective moral good.

    All of this hinges on whether or not Notre Dame is a Catholic university. If not, then a critical premise of my argument is false, and the argument fails. So the real question here is not whether Father Euteneuer has done a good thing or a bad thing. The real question is this: Is Notre Dame a Catholic University, and if it is not, why does it state publicly that it is “an independent, national Catholic university” (emphasis added, see http://nd.edu/aboutnd/)?

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    As to the bluntness of Father Euteneuer’s words (“sell-out clerics” and “clerical hypocrisy”, for instance), I’ll admit that it sometimes grates my ears as well. However, we moderns have become far too sensitive to linguistic twisters. One is immediately reminded of the approving voice of St. Ireneus, when he recounts a meeting between St. Polycarp and Marcion, who had been consecrated a bishop of the Church before leaving it: “And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Do you know me?” “I do know you, the first-born of Satan.” Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth” (Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 3), http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103303.htm, for the story of Marcion, see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09645c.htm).

    Such bluntness was common in Church discourse for centuries. It does not, therefore, constitute a breach of charity in any objective sense.

  • Christi Derr

    I find Fr. Euteneuer’s straightforwardness refreshing! You can also find such straight talk from St. Paul in his letters, in the Gospels from St. John the Baptist and from Our Lord. Real charity is not defined by a “nice” vocabulary, but in real concern for the soul of another. I would guess that Fr. Euteneuer would rather hurt Fr. Jenkins feelings and possibly some readers’ ears, than see him continue in serious error. Fr. Jenkins has committed a serious sin against charity in not dropping or even asking for leniency with these good Catholics arrested for praying at Notre Dame. It is an act of mercy to point that out to him.

  • ngomba

    RE: Accusing other priests.

    How many young boys would have been spared horrific abuse if certain priestly contemporaries of Shanley, Geoghan, Lavigne, Fortune, et al, hadn’t avoided conflict with their fellow priests who were acting two-faced, hypocritical, or selling out the Church? Instead, many waited for “Church discipline”, which often came in the form of transfers.

    I hate to play the “clergy abuse” card here, but it is relevant. When a priest advances the abuse or killing of children for the sake of pride or other satisfactions, other priests have a duty to address (without an eye for notable photo opportunities or acclamations for the New York Times) such moral corruption and any resulting confusion within the laity.

  • http://catholichawk.com PrairieHawk

    Fr. Euteneuer is exercising righteous anger, and in doing so he is following the example of Our Lord himself. Anger is part of love, too, as it seeks to protect the innocent from harm and to bring the wayward back into the fold. How many times did Jesus use the word “hypocrite” in describing his opposition? It was many.

    We’re not used to seeing anger as a part of love in our relativistic age, but it belongs there as long as evil is part of this world. We should be angry about evil, and if, as Fr. Euteneuer is, we’re in a position to speak about it, we should speak without pulling our punches. I’m sure Father takes the heat for the things he says, and he deserves our support, and not handwringing about whether he is nice. Jesus wasn’t always nice. Neither should we be. The world needs a little more righteous anger on the part of the Church. Bless Father for his work and words.

  • noelfitz

    Arkanabar Ilarsadin,
    Thank you for your reply. I think your criticism of Fr Jenkins is that he is not pro-choice and NDU, led by him, honored a “man who promotes the gravely, intrinsic evil of abortion with nearly every resource at his command”.

    Is this man “who promotes the gravely, intrinsic evil of abortion with nearly every resource at his command” also the president of the US and the commander in chief of its armed services, as well as being the leader of the free world?

    We Catholics should hang together or we will hang separately. Enemies of the Church accuse our priests of various moral faults. Catholics should support our priests. If we consider they are not living up to high ideals, it is not our job to rebuke them publicly.

  • noelfitz

    HomeschoolNfpDad,
    Again you have submitted thoughtful posts, which reflect a deep and loyal commitment to the Church.

    As both of us are of are committed Catholics, we do not disagree very much.

    Fr Euteneuer did not judge Fr Jenkins; he only called him a two-faced hypocrite and a clerical sell-out. Perhaps I was wrong to consider this as judging Fr Jenkins.

    You ask “Is Notre Dame a Catholic University”?

    This is another issue, which deserves a deep and detailed discussion.

    Christi Derr
    You wrote “Fr. Jenkins has committed a serious sin against charity”. How do you know this?

    Ngomba
    I am pleased you wrote “I hate to play the “clergy abuse” card here”.

    PrairieHawk
    You wrote “Jesus wasn’t always nice”. Thus you claim we should not be nice either. Would you like to develop this idea further?

    Does anyone think it is inappropriate to call an eminent Catholic priest a two-faced hypocrite and a clerical sell-out? If the accusation is correct and that priest was not censured by the Church, is the Church condoning evil?

  • reina

    Let’s not adopt the worldly, politically correct, notion of judging. This cultural infiltrate has embedded itself into the minds of many Christians.
    Priests who give ground ( or put out the red carpet)to the culture of death need to be dealt with as Christ dealt with the Pharisees….’whitewashed sepulchures!” etc etc.
    We have to remember the souls they are leading into purdition, what Christ referred to when He said, “Hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.” This is because what they represent by their position and clerical clothes and what they do is a grave contradiction. They are leading weak souls into error. Truth and lies do not coincide. They are wolves in sheeps clothing and must be exposed as such for the sake of salvation of souls. God bless you Father Euteneur for your candidness and courage to speak truth to break down these false notions of charity.
    May God help us to stop being weak, spineless and cowardly Catholics and take on some aspect of the holy, firey mission of St.John the Baptist. Righteous indignation is holy. It does no harm to another except to strip them of their facades.

  • Christi Derr

    Well said Reina!

    Noelfitz – great discussion you’ve got going on here :) As to your question…

    What would you call the actions of a Catholic priest who has 88 of his spiritual children arrested – not respecting age (78 year old fellow priest), the justice of their protest, or the financial and familial hardship he was imposing on them, and then refuses to drop the charges or even request leniency for them. I would call these actions sins against charity.

    Coincidentally (and sadly), Our Holy Father was just attacked and almost physically harmed by a mentally unstable woman. She also broke the leg of a Cardinal (Etchegaray) and wounded his hip. The Vatican has requested the charges against her be dropped.

  • noelfitz

    I am grateful to all who have contributed to this discussion.

    Many views have been expressed, forcefully and strongly, but there have been no personal attacks on those contributing to our discussion.

    However if the discussion is continued there is the possibility that it will veer off into other issues, such as the dropping of charges.

    I appreciate that CE has allowed me to express my views and that the replies have been sincere.

    Finally I would ask prayers for Fr Jenkins, Fr Euteneuer, and for all of us.

    Thanks and God bless,

    Noelfitz.

  • elkabrikir

    Here is another example of a holy priest: A “real” man if you will.

    Father Joe Coffey, of Philadelphia, was a semiarian classmate with my cousin at St Charles Borromeo.

    He was featured in the Catholic Standard Times as a literal pray warrior on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

    He has been a Navy chaplain for years. My elderly aunt recalls that he is an
    -”-extremely handsome fellow—there were 12 children in his family—one Good Friday the entire family was in jail because
    of a pro-life demonstration……he now has 45 nieces and nephews—tell that to Elkabrikir (me)—-

    You can google the face of a Hero for Christ in the trenches, whether the “trench” is before an abortion mill in Philly, a grotto in West Bend, or a tent in Afghanistan.

    Courage for the weakest, in season and out of season, demonstrates one is filled with the Holy Spirit. Father Eutenauer and Father Coffey are two priests who glorify God in such a manner, thanks be to God.

    We must pray for openness to life within families and for vocations from all families.

    PS God will not be mocked. He sees all.

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