Pope Marriage?

Is there a Church teaching on whether or not a Pope can receive Sacrament of Matrimony after becoming Pope, and when was this teaching first formalized?

I know there have been Popes who have become Pope after receiving marriage, however I have not heard of the contrary.

Thanks for your time and consideration, and may the peace and joy of Christ be with you always, especially through your most difficult times.

As a priest and bishop, the pope would have promised a life of celibacy (i.e. not being married). Only the pope can dispense a man from the promise of celibacy. Even permanent deacons who are allowed to be married cannot marry again if their wife dies without this dispensation.

Traditionally ordination involved a solemn vow of celibacy, though I understand it to be a promise rather than a vow now adays. Since marriage is also a solemn vow, the precedent solemn vow to celibacy would trump the vow required for marraige. That is why profession to a religious order or Holy Orders is an impediment to marriage. Without dispensation from the vow to celibacy marriage is invalid. In essence the pope would have to dispense himself from his own vows. In general you can only be released by the authority of someone else, so I don’t think the pope can dispense himself, but I could be wrong.

As for the history of holy order being an impediment to marriage? I don’t know when the earliest formulation was, but it goes back to the earliest days of the Church. I’m sure some will provide scriptural or early church father quotations, but my memory is swiss cheese and finding the references on my phone is tedious at best. :smiley:

St. Peter had a mother-in-law (Matt 8:14 & parallels)

But he was married before the institution of the priesthood. I beleive the OP is asking if a Pope can marry after they become Pope.

Popes like Saint Peter who were married were married before they received Holy Orders. Men who’ve been ordained are not allowed to remarry after the death of their spouse. Of course there is a good number of popes who followed the example of secular rulers at the time and kept concubines and fathered illegitimate children.

In the early Church, there were some Popes who were married. For the last thousand years, married men are not ordained bishop in the East or West.

But the Pope could dispense himself from this discipline. There is nothing in Divine Law which says a bishop cannot marry. It is merely Church discipline. It is a more rigorous and pervasive discipline than the one by which only celibate men are ordained to the priesthood, as we can see plenty of married priests who were Anglicans and who are Eastern-rite, but we still do not see married bishops even in the Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox communions. It is within the realm of possibility, if not in the realm of probability that it would happen.

Exactly true. Celibacy is a matter of law (man-made rules), not doctrine (God-made rules).

Actually, the Pope would not need to dispense himself, as he is the only Catholic who is not bound by Canon Law in the first place. He could just do it.

Since the Pope celebrates Mass every day, and since many Eastern Catholic groups with married priests have the priests exercise continence every night when they’re going to be celebrating Mass the next day, the theoretical Pope’s theoretical wife wouldn’t be getting much action.

(If you know what I mean, and I know you do.)

This was one of the reasons why most of the devout early Christian bishops who were previously married, East and West, would usually become totally continent all the time when entering into the life of a bishop; and often, the wives would go off and become nuns so as not to be frustrated or provide a distraction.

The one Egyptian bishop who was once a student of Hypatia the mathematician, but who obviously wasn’t really a good neo-Platonist because he was too into his wife (instead of regarding all flesh as trash, blah blah blah), spent a lot of time refusing to become a priest or bishop because it would be burdensome to him and his wife in this way. And when he finally got forced to become a bishop (towns tended to elect you whether you wanted to bishop or not), he refused to send his wife away from the house (although he was apparently living with her like brother and sister), and it got to be a big controversy.

Currently in the West, the few married priests (and deacons) apparently don’t have to do this, but it does get brought up by canon law people and other interested parties (like folks from various places in the East). For the Pope as leader of many Eastern churches, it obviously would be a lot stronger consideration.

That’s rather a crude way to put it, but this has not been true since Pope St. Pius X.

  1. Eastern Catholic priests are not held to any restrictions with regard to marital relations. It used to be customary for priests to abstain from relations the night before celebrating the Divine Liturgy, just as Catholic laypeople were encouraged to abstain the night before receiving communion. These restrictions were abolished by Pope Pius X in an effort to encourage frequent reception of communion. Some Orthodox priests do still adhere to the previous custom, but it is not the universal practice within Orthodoxy.
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