Celibacy


#1

When did the church determine that the pope, bishops etc…, would not be married and why?

BIC


#2

I found this on catholicmatch.com

Christians are called to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). This mandate speaks to humanity in general, however, and overlooks numerous passages in the Bible that support the celibate life. In 1 Corinthians, for example, Paul actually seems to prefer the celibate life: “Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. . . . Those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. . . . The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided” (7:27-34). This is not to say that all men should be celibate, however; Paul explains that celibacy is a calling for some and not for others by saying, “Each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (7:7).

Jesus Himself speaks of celibacy in Matthew 19:11-12: “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” Again, the emphasis is on the special nature of celibacy, one for which not all men are suited, but one that nevertheless gives glory to “the kingdom of God.”

Perhaps the best evidence for the scriptural support of celibacy is that Jesus Himself practiced it!

Celibacy is historical.

Most people assume that the celibate priesthood is a convention introduced by the Church fairly late in history. On the contrary, there is evidence that even the earliest Church fathers, such as St. Augustine, St. Cyril, and St. Jerome, fully supported the celibate priesthood. The Spanish Council of Elvira (between 295 and 302) and the First Council of Aries (314), a kind of general council of the West, both enacted legislation forbidding all bishops, priests, and deacons to have conjugal relations with their wives on penalty of exclusion from the clergy. Even the wording of these documents suggests that the councils were not introducing a new rule but rather maintaining a previously established tradition. In 385, Pope Siricius issued the first papal decree on the subject, saying that “clerical continence” was a tradition reaching as far back as apostolic times. While later councils and popes would pass similar edicts, the definitive promulgation of the celibate, unmarried priesthood came at the Second Lateran Council in 1139 under Pope Gregory VII. Far from being a law forced upon the medieval priesthood, it was the acceptance of celibacy by priests centuries earlier that eventually led to its universal promulgation in the twelfth century.

There are also numerous articles on celebacy in the Catholic Encyclopedia; you can find them at www.newadvent.org

As a final caution, the wording of “when did the church decide” doesn’t mean that, for example, the practice of priests/ bishops etc. was normally to be married and that somehow “the Church” decided to make them “celibate”. There were always examples of celibacy from Jesus through St. John the Evangelist on; not to mention that there is oral tradition (as well as written from the Didache) that the married apostles lived celibate lives even though married to their wives–otherwise known as marital continence.

Hope this helps.


#3

[quote=Tantum ergo]I found this on catholicmatch.com

There are also numerous articles on celebacy in the Catholic Encyclopedia; you can find them at www.newadvent.org

As a final caution, the wording of “when did the church decide” doesn’t mean that, for example, the practice of priests/ bishops etc. was normally to be married and that somehow “the Church” decided to make them “celibate”. There were always examples of celibacy from Jesus through St. John the Evangelist on; not to mention that there is oral tradition (as well as written from the Didache) that the married apostles lived celibate lives even though married to their wives–otherwise known as marital continence.

Hope this helps.
[/quote]

So the individuals get to make their own choice? To follow the celibate lifestyle?


#4

Celibacy can be a preferred lifestyle in any profession. The arguments for it are always good.

I could argue that an airline pilot would be more suited to his job as a single person, likewise doctors. I am unmarried, believe me it improves my work too, my boss can call me at any time and get a response from me. Since I like my work it isn’t as big a problem for me, but if I was married it would complicate my job considerably.

The clerical state is very demanding, as is the call to be holy. That is why there have been some unmarried religious and priests from the very beginning, and early in the church history there have been hermits and cenobites: laypeople committed to an intense striving for holiness and continual prayer even though they had no interest in serving at the altar, (although bishops certainly did like to choose monks of good repute to be priests).

The old monks used to say “run from women and bishops!”

But total celibacy is a discipline of the church and not absolutely necessary for a man to be a good priest. In the Byzantine rite churches both the altar and the priest should be “fasting”, the altar should have no more than one liturgy per day and the priest should not have relations with his wife the night before serving at the altar. That is why it is not part of the original tradition for Byzantines to have daily Divine Liturgy, but daily Matins and Vespers at the parish would be common in the tradition (no longer common at the parish in the Western church).

It is in this sense that churchmen were known to be celibate in the earliest days of the church. It was a now and then kind of thing according to a pattern (sort of a weekly “rhythm”). I can no longer remember when the Western church first made total celibacy mandatory, but I am sure someone here does, it was some local Council.

The Holy Spirit calls married men to the priesthood in the Eastern churches. He hopefully understands that He should not call married men in the Western church.


#5

Hi Bic,

There is a history of priestly celibacy on the Vatican site. Just click here.

Verbum


#6

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