History of Clerical Celibacy...?


Our English teacher today told us that clerical celibacy only originated as the result of a patriarchal society in which money was continually passed from father to son, resulting in wealth staying in one place–making certain families immensely powerful. In order to remedy this within the Church, she said, clerical celibacy was instituted.

What is the history behind it? Can someone tell me in brief? This sounded dubious at best.


Hi Al,

The history of celibacy is outlined in this Vatican document:




In addition to the above document, the old Catholic Encyclopedia has a length article on the topic:


It gives you the sense that the history of priestly celibacy is complicated, and some of the details are a bit murky. To say something as simplistic as what your teacher said is, well, overly simplistic.

It reminds me of the people who claim that abstinence from meat on Fridays comes from the Church trying to prop up the commercial fishing industry. Kind of a “just so” story, if you will.


I think English teachers should stick to teaching English and leave the faux history to Jesus Seminar adherents.

– Mark L. Chance.


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