Catholic brothers

I know about the priests and nuns, but honestly haven’t met many Catholic brothers and so do not know much about. My question is, are catholic brothers allowed to marry? If not, why?

If by “brothers” you mean professed religious, the answer is no. They, like sisters, have made promises of celibacy (and some may take vows - nuns do; but I will leave it to others to parse out all the permutations).

Nuns and monks are cloistered. They only leave the monastic enclosure if absolutely necessary - to go to the dentist for example.

Active religious - Franciscans and Dominicans for example, are not monks or nuns. They are sisters and brothers but not monks or nuns.

Benedictine monastics do not make vows of celibacy. Their vows are obedience, stability and ongoing conversion.

Either way, they do not marry.


Correct, and the religious brothers (and priests) from the active orders take vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, and therefore cannot marry. (Dominicans technically only take a vow of Obedience, but that encompasses the vows of Poverty and Chastity that the other religious brothers and sisters take).

To clarify for the OP, members of any of the male mendicant orders are Brothers. There are Clerical Brothers (priests/ordained) and Lay Brothers (not priests). Some non mendicant congregations are entirely lay Brothers (eg. Christian Brothers). Some clerical orders like Jesuits are almost entirely priests, but also have some non-ordained brothers. Although the religious’ vow of Chastity is technically and canonically different than the secular (diocesan) priests’ promise of Celibacy, in practice it amounts to the same thing: No marriage.

I attended an all Boy’s HS taught by the Brothers od Holy Cross; and NO they too take a Vow of Chasity.

God Bless,


The notion of a married priest is very possible. In fact there are married priests in the Catholic Church today. They are, however, secular priests, not religious priests. Brothers, like all religious, are consecrated persons and thus cannot be married. They are completely consecrated to Christ and follow the example of St. John the Baptist and Our Lord Himself. You should review the Catechism starting at paragraph 914.

I think people often miss this in the discussion of celibate vs married priesthood. Even if the discipline of celibacy were relaxed for priests in the Latin Church it would only apply to secular priests - as in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy today. The notion of a religious, whether priest or not, who is married is an oxymoron. It would be like saying “why can’t married men be single?” Even if we get to a point where every parish in the world is served by a married secular priest, there will always be religious - brothers, sisters, monks, nuns, and priest - in the Church who are celibate.

Wow! I Think I just learnt that sisters and nuns are not the same, but don’t yet get the difference clearly either. Thanks all, my question is answered.

As TimothyH mentioned, Monks and Nuns are “cloistered”, meaning they live in a monastery, separated from the “world”, in order to focus on a life of prayer. Their primary ministry to the Church is to pray. There are often secondary ministries (eg. sewing habits, baking communion wafers, making and selling jams and jellies, etc) which help support their community, but it is all so that they may better focus on their primary ministry: Prayer.

Nun’s are sisters, and if you meet one, address her as “sister”, but not all sisters are nun’s. Nun’s, strictly speaking are the cloistered ones, just as the cloistered men are called monks. Colloquially, you’ll often hear all female religious referred to as nuns, just as you’ll hear male religious referred to as monks…but “friars”, “clerics regular”, canons regular", etc, are not truly monks. Different vows.

Benedictine nuns make the same vows as the monks, as someone already pointed out…obedience, stability, and ongoing conversion…the vow of stability is what really distinguishes them. It’s a vow to remain “stable”, that is, in the same place for the rest of their lives (one particular monastery). That’s what really defines the nun (or monk).

Looking at the Franciscan family, friars and sisters make the 3 vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. There are no Franciscan monks. But there are Franciscan nuns, called Poor Clares. They make the same 3 vows as the friars and sisters, but also make a 4th vow of Enclosure. It is a vow similar to “stability”, where they are vowing to remain enclosed within their monastery, separated from the world.

Franciscan sisters who are NOT Poor Clares would be similar to friars. Their primary ministries are generally out in the world…healthcare, education, counseling, social work, etc. All the same things friars do except for ordained ministry. Prayer is a big part of their lives, but it is not their primary ministry to the world.

Hope this helps somewhat.

To put it simply, if you met a religious sister who worked in a hospital or was a teacher, she’s a Sister. You are unlikely to meet a “nun” unless you visit their abbey.

I was taught by the Filles de Jésus (Daughters of Jesus). They were Sisters; the same Congregation staffed the local hospital.

On the other hand, my family would sometimes go to the Tappistine Monastery to visit the relics of a child saint that were in their guest chapel. We never saw the Trappistine nuns who lived there. They baked altar breads but if you went to buy some all dealings would be conducted with a grill between them and you.
You can read about them here.

From Father John A Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary

SISTERS. A popular term for religious women, whether cloistered nuns or members of congregations under simple vows. The title corresponds to brothers in men’s religious institutes and signifies that they are all members of the same spiritual family, share possessions in common, and live together in Christlike charity.

NUN. In general, a member of a religious institute of women, living in a community under the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. More accurately, nuns are religious women under solemn vows living a cloistered, contemplative life in a monastery.

God Bless you

I have always thought that all nuns were sisters but not all sisters were nuns.


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