How should I refute this claim?


#1

A friend of mine who’s Baptist told me today that she heard at her church that the reason that Catholic priests do not marry is because when that rule/tradition started, whenever that was, hundreds of years ago I assume, it started because in case the priest died, the parish would then have to spend the money to take care of his wife and children. I have never heard this accusation before, and don’t know where it came from. I of course don’t believe it but I don’t know how to respond in the church’s defense either. How and when did the tradition of a celibate priesthood in Catholicism begin? Thanks :slight_smile:


#2

from what i can understand, most of the priesthood celibacy comes from Jesus’s example and by a passage, argh that i can’t remember at htis moment (if someone could help me here?) in which it is written that if a man is devoted to the Lord then he can focus on Him with his full attention, but if a man has a wife, he has divided interests, but it is better to marry and be faithful than not marry and live in sin. it goes something along those lines. you might also want to inform your friend, that while it is EXTREMELY rare in the US, it Europe there are married priests, as a man who gets married first, then recieves a call, can still become a priest - they jus cannot marry AFTER being ordained. they are in a sense married to the church, expected to live their lives for the church, as a husband lives for his wife. hope that helps!


#3

Have you seen this?:

catholic.com/library/celibacy_and_the_priesthood.asp

In other words, it’s quite ancient.

Secondly, I would demand that your friend produce hard evidence of her claims, not just conjecture or hearsay. Or, at least ask her source to come up with evidence.


#4

Celia,

Who cares anyway?

Maybee this was a very small concern. Remember that Satan loves to mix truth with his lies. Luther, Zwingli, Smyth, Smith, Cavin, Eddy, Baker, Wesley, etc. all proved this. The issue of celibate preists involved many topics and concerns. Of course your Baptists friends will ignore the Scripture text that supports it. They pick and choose what to believe and talk about as best I can tell.

Ask your Baptist friend if the Preacher (some Baptists now even let women preach as well as practicing homosexuals) would move out of his church to accept a higher paying job at another church? Hum, is God important or the money? Pay is not a major issue to a Catholic priest.

Here are some of the main reasons for celibacy:

Jesus was celibate! He led by example.

Scripture tells clergy to give up everything, including wives and jobs.

Early Christians gave up everything to the Church.

The early Church had sex scandels too. Having priests without wifes that cheated on them or vice versa made life easier. Not having to worry about divorace made life easier.

Going to spread Gods word in the wilderness was much easier without a family. Remember they did not have cars or Burger Kings in those days.

Clergy could dedicate 100% of their time to the parish and did not have to deny thier children or wife attention.

There is much more just look for the answers - start with Scripture itself and see whether Catholic clergy or Baptist Preachers stay closer to what is in Gods word?

By the way, there are many Catholic priests who are married. This is a choice the Church made to better itself. Someday we may have more married priests. The next pope may even allow this?

Gods peace,


#5

[quote=Celia]A friend of mine who’s Baptist told me today that she heard at her church that the reason that Catholic priests do not marry is because when that rule/tradition started, whenever that was, hundreds of years ago I assume, it started because in case the priest died, the parish would then have to spend the money to take care of his wife and children. I have never heard this accusation before, and don’t know where it came from. I of course don’t believe it but I don’t know how to respond in the church’s defense either. How and when did the tradition of a celibate priesthood in Catholicism begin? Thanks :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Print this and give it to your friend.
God bless.


#6

[quote=luvthelight]from what i can understand, most of the priesthood celibacy comes from Jesus’s example and by a passage, argh that i can’t remember at htis moment (if someone could help me here?) in which it is written that if a man is devoted to the Lord then he can focus on Him with his full attention, but if a man has a wife, he has divided interests, but it is better to marry and be faithful than not marry and live in sin. it goes something along those lines. you might also want to inform your friend, that while it is EXTREMELY rare in the US, it Europe there are married priests, as a man who gets married first, then recieves a call, can still become a priest - they jus cannot marry AFTER being ordained. they are in a sense married to the church, expected to live their lives for the church, as a husband lives for his wife. hope that helps!
[/quote]

The Quote with Jesus talking about Celibacy is Matt 19:12-14 or something like that. And you can also find ST. Paul talking about it in 1st Corr.

Where did you hear about priest in Europe being married? Im not sure if that is correct.

If you think about the Priesthood and the amount of dedication that is requires im not exactly sure how a priest can be a priest and still live up to being a good husband and good father. considering the amount of time a priest NEEDS to dedicate himseelf to prayer and the lay people.


#7

[quote=luvthelight]You might also want to inform your friend, that while it is EXTREMELY rare in the US, in Europe there are married priests, as a man who gets married first, then recieves a call, can still become a priest - they just cannot marry AFTER being ordained. they are in a sense married to the church, expected to live their lives for the church, as a husband lives for his wife. hope that helps!
[/quote]

Umm… Not exactly. If a man becomes married he may still be ordained in the Anglican Church as a priest (he will not be able to become a Bishop however). If that Anglican Priest then leaves the Anglican Church he MIGHT be granted ordination within the Catholic Church. If however an unmarried man is ordained as an Anglican Priest, he will not be allowed to then marry after his ordination. At least that is what I have been taught (which could be incorrect since I know little of the Anglican Church’s doctrines).


#8

sorry i guess that i had been misled, however, i did some research, and i was partly right. There are married Catholic priests (most commonly in the Eastern rite) but

“The tradition in the Western or Latin-Rite Church has been for priests as well as bishops to take vows of celibacy, a rule that has been firmly in place since the early Middle Ages. Even today, though, exceptions are made. For example, there are married Latin-Rite priests who are converts from Lutheranism and Episcopalianism.” from the catholic answers homepage thingy.

sorry about that!


#9

Celia,

Celibacy was regarded as an ideal for priests from quite early on (I believe there are records of councils as early as the 3rd century saying this). Married people could become priests (and that was the normal pattern except for monks), but at least theoretically they were not supposed to have sex with their wives. This became particularly important after the institution of daily Eucharist in the Western Church (I’m not sure when this was but I think Augustine mentions it as a local custom–I don’t think it became universal for another couple centuries, but I could be wrong). There was a widespread belief that priests should not have intercourse with their wives the night before offering the Holy Sacrifice. So if you offer it every day that means no sex, period. However, this was not enforced very strictly. In practice, in the early Middle Ages priests were married and had children just like everyone else.

In the 11th century, as part of the reforms of the Church instituted by Gregory VII and other popes, celibacy was enforced, and for the first time priests were made to separate from their wives. Thousands of families were torn apart by this. But in fact priestly celibacy stilll wasn’t enforced very strictly (once the initial fervor died down)–it was just that now any union between a priest and a woman had no legal status and was considered concubinage rather than marriage. While priestly concubinage was considered sin, it was often tolerated in practice and wasn’t considered as bad as priestly marriage (or more technically, attempts to marry, since any such attempts were considered invalid).

The Protestant Reformers (rightly, in my opinion) attacked this as hypocrisy. Why tolerate priestly concubinage while banning priestly marriage? The Protestants chose to legitimize the marriage of the clergy, while the Catholic Church after the Council of Trent took the opposite approach. So it’s only been in the past 500 years that priestly celibacy has been rigorously enforced. Of course, priestly concubinage (not to speak of much worse things) still occurs, but it’s not tolerated in the way it was in the Middle Ages.

Property did play a role in the 11th-century reforms, but not as cynically as your friend claims. One of the major goals of the Gregorian Papacy was to free the Church from the structures of feudal society. If you were a priest and you were married with children, then you were concerned for your children’s inheritance and you would be tied up with all the dynastic intrigues of medieval society. Much in the spirit of St. Paul, the Gregorian reformers believed that a celibate priesthood would be more devoted to Christ and would be less amenable to control by secular forces. (The present system of cardinals electing the Pope in great secrecy derives from the same motive, I believe.)

I hope this is helpful. I’ve tried to be as fair and clear as I can–it’s a complex business.

Edwin


#10

They would have to take care of the family, but that is not the reason why we have this teaching. We want to be like Christ and Christ wasn’t married because he didn’t have the time to raise a family and still teach to all the people. That is like today, a priest can’t commit himself fully to the Churhc if he has a family. St. Peter left everything behind to follow Jesus, so must the priests.


#11

Why is a Baptist preacher preaching about the Catholic practice of priestly celibacy–something that has no effect on either himself or his congregation?


#12

Thanks all for your good answers. Interesting stuff. :slight_smile: Now I’m all set for our next convo. (We always get into religious stuff :rolleyes: ) I’m not sure who she got this from. If it was her pastor I wouldn’t be surprised, he is a very nice guy and not necessarily anti-catholic (meaning he doesn’t think we’re the devil or anything) but he is very opposed to Catholic teaching. (On Easter sunday, my friend was baptized and I had to sit through a whole sermon on how baptism doesn’t really have any validity until you can understand the concept of baptism…rendering infant baptism meaningless…but anyway…) In any case thanks again for your help. If anyone has anything to add, please do :slight_smile:


#13

To my knowledge there is no regulation regarding married priests having sex with their wives. It may have been part of custom in certain places and times, but I’m not aware of any Canon Law in the East or West that forbids it the night before performing a Mass.


#14

Remember, the easiest way to refute this argument is to point out that the Church DOES ordain married men (though it doesn’t allow ordained men to marry). This is true to a greater or lesser extent throughout the entire Church. The West just has a preference and discipline for generally ordaining single men.


#15

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