Priests and Marriage


#1

Can someone please tell me if the policy of the Catholic Church which disallows priests to be married is a bible-based rule? If so, can you please tell me where I can find the scriptures in the bible? If not bible-based can you tell me how and why this policy came into existance?


#2

The policy of the Latin Catholic church regarding celibacy for clergy has been in place as an OPTION since Jesus Christ Himself (you can find the relevant scriptures in Matthew 19:10-12 and 1 Corinthians 7:37, 38), and as a mandatory requirement for bishops and higher clergy since the 3rd century A.D., even before the Bible itself was complied in written form. In various parts of the Christian world it had always been an honorable aspiration, and again depending on the country/ tribe/ confederation became the norm well prior to the start of the second millennium (1000 A.D.) Even for those such as the Orthodox who ordain married men, the man must be married PRIOR to the ordination, and may not marry afterward; once a widower after ordination the widower may not remarry.

Further, the Church itself antedates the Bible by nearly 400 years; the tradition (oral) passed on by the apostles themselves and verified by the Fathers of the Church show us that the apostles and early Christian clergy held virginity and celibate clergy in most high regard and accepted it as both a positive and a normative standard. . .as does the Bible. Precisely because marriage itself, as defended by Christ, was considered so highly in the Christian world–Christian wives enjoying the status of being equal before their husbands in Christ–virginity was also held in high regard.


#3

Thank you for your very informative response. Out of curiosity, do you know of any cases where a Roman Catholic priest is married (in the USA?)

Do you think that the next Pope may take steps to relax the existing policy in an effort to attract more new priests?

And lastly, if I my be so bold as to ask a personal question, what is your opinion on allowing priests to marry? Here I take the liberty to offer my opinion - I personally believe that the Catholic Church would be doing the morally right thing by allowing priests to marry. I think a relaxation of the existing policy is long overdue.


#4

Yes, there are a very very few married Priests in the US. They are (all?) converts from the Anglican church who were married clergy in their prior denomination. They have a special exemption. If for some reason they become widowers, they may not remarry. There is one pastor in my diocese who falls under this category.

I am…concerned…that a change to the celibacy of the Priesthood at this time would only encourage those dissenters within the Church to push for more heterodox changes…

In the long run, I don’t think that its a horrible idea, the orthodox manage to pull it off quite well…BUT I do think that by taking the added responsibility a family represents, a Priest will be splitting his time more, and be less able to tend his flock. Have you ever looked at the schedule that the average Priest is on? They do not have much time for themselves…and adding a family to the mix…well, they’ll have to take the time from somewhere. There are some serious questions that need to be answered before a change could be made.

I am not in favor of it…


#5

[quote=Old Callahan]Thank you for your very informative response. Out of curiosity, do you know of any cases where a Roman Catholic priest is married (in the USA?)
[/quote]

There are a few priests who have converted to Catholicism from Anglicanism as married men. These cases are exceptions and have no bearing on the existing discipline of a celibate clergy.

Do you think that the next Pope may take steps to relax the existing policy in an effort to attract more new priests?

No, because there isn’t any proven reason to do so.

And lastly, if I my be so bold as to ask a personal question, what is your opinion on allowing priests to marry?

I see no reason to do away with the existing practice and lots of reasons why it should be maintained. I’ll give you three: 1) One, it images the example of Christ, 2) It is a model of sacrifice for the rest of us for someone to give up a legitimate good for the sake of serving God, 3) It allows the clergy to serve God with singlemindedness and an undivided heart (1 Cor 7:32-35).

Here I take the liberty to offer my opinion - I personally believe that the Catholic Church would be doing the morally right thing by allowing priests to marry. I think a relaxation of the existing policy is long overdue.

The implication is that the Church is doing the morally wrong thing by not allowing it. What is the basis for your opinion?


#6

Allthough I do not know of any specific cases, I DO know there are Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) Priests that are in fact married. The circumstances that are necessary for the Church to lift the discipline are few, thus there are few married priests in the Latin Rite.

The Church makes exceptions to the discipline when a married clergyman from a non-Catholic Christian denomination converts to the Catholic Church. These exceptions are not granted to EVERY convert, but each situation is looked at on an individual basis.


#7

[quote=Isidore_AK]In the long run, I don’t think that its a horrible idea, the orthodox manage to pull it off quite well…BUT I do think that by taking the added responsibility a family represents, a Priest will be splitting his time more, and be less able to tend his flock. Have you ever looked at the schedule that the average Priest is on? They do not have much time for themselves…and adding a family to the mix…well, they’ll have to take the time from somewhere. There are some serious questions that need to be answered before a change could be made.

I am not in favor of it…
[/quote]

An overworked priest is a sign of the church needing more priests. Do we really want these men to be so exhausted?

It probably also varies from church to church. I have a friend who is a priest and we used to go water skiing together on his boat. He works hard, but finds time to “play” and decompress. Everyone needs time to rest or they will burn out.

Perhaps, more men would enter the priesthood if they were allowed to be married. This could solve the shortage problems and offer some great talent for post marital and precana (sp) counseling. A priest who knows the pressures of a family and a busy job could bring a lot of wisdom to couples.
.


#8

[quote=Old Callahan]Can someone please tell me if the policy of the Catholic Church which disallows priests to be married is a bible-based rule? If so, can you please tell me where I can find the scriptures in the bible? If not bible-based can you tell me how and why this policy came into existance?
[/quote]

It is voluntary. In certain Catholic Rites, priests can marry.


#9

Fidelis,

The implication is that the Church is doing the morally wrong thing by not allowing it. What is the basis for your opinion?

Absolutely not! I’m not suggesting that at all. That was simply a poor choice of words. What I meant to say is that since there is no real, unambiguous and binding biblical basis for priests to remain celibate, in my opinion it would be a “morally right” step for the Catholic Church to abolish the celibacy requirement (as opposed to a morally or biblically wrong step).

Unless I’m missing something, the bible seems to be making it optional. Are we asking parish priests to go out into the world and travel from town to town, healing, preaching, etc., as the apostles did?


#10

[quote=Old Callahan]Fidelis,

The implication is that the Church is doing the morally wrong thing by not allowing it. What is the basis for your opinion?

Absolutely not! I’m not suggesting that at all. That was simply a poor choice of words. What I meant to say is that since there is no real, unambiguous and binding biblical basis for priests to remain celibate, in my opinion it would be a “morally right” step for the Catholic Church to abolish the celibacy requirement (as opposed to a morally or biblically wrong step).

Unless I’m missing something, the bible seems to be making it optional. Are we asking parish priests to go out into the world and travel from town to town, healing, preaching, etc., as the apostles did?
[/quote]

You are correct in saying the Bible does not declare celibacy for priests mandatory. However, you are incorrect that it makes it optional. What 1 Cor 7 and Matt 19 do make clear is that celibacy is emminently desirable*–even preferable–*in allowing someone to single-heartedly serve the Lord. The call to holiness and discipleship is always one of choosing the best.


#11

[quote=Ignatius]It is voluntary. In certain Catholic Rites, priests can marry.
[/quote]

CHRISTOS VOSKRES!

This is NOT correct!!!

In the Eastern Rites of the Church, married men are ordained to the Diaconate and to the Holy Priesthood.

WE DO NOT PERMIT PRIESTS TO MARRY!!!

THEY MUST BE MARRIED BEFORE ORDINATION TO THE DIACONATE!!!

A married man can NEVER advance beyond the position of a parish priest. A Bishop must be either celibate or a widower.

FELDAMADT HRISTUS!
FALOBAN FELDAMADT!


#12

[quote=Old Callahan]Thank you for your very informative response. Out of curiosity, do you know of any cases where a Roman Catholic priest is married (in the USA?)
[/quote]

Eastern rites Catholic clergy can be married ones (they must be married prior to ordination, though). As also given, there are some Anglicans who continue their ministry as Latin rite priests.

Do you think that the next Pope may take steps to relax the existing policy in an effort to attract more new priests?

I would think there is always a possibility, as seen in the Holy See’s allowance of Eastern rites clergy.

And lastly, if I my be so bold as to ask a personal question, what is your opinion on allowing priests to marry?

I wouldn’t know. Even in the Eastern rites, only men married prior to ordination are allowed to become priests and deacons. Those who are celibate are not allowed to marry after ordination.


#13

You are correct in saying the Bible does not declare celibacy for priests mandatory. However, you are incorrect that it makes it optional. What 1 Cor 7 and Matt 19 do make clear is that celibacy is emminently desirable–even preferable–in allowing someone to single-heartedly serve the Lord. The call to holiness and discipleship is always one of choosing the best.

I must disagree with your comment that I am incorrect in my assessment of your selected scriptures. In Matthew 19: 10-12 Jesus is teaching about divorce. Even if you take verse 11 literally and stretch the last line of verse 12 to the breaking point we still see a clear “option”. In 1 Corinthians 7: 37-38 are totally off subject. You probably meant to quote verse 35 which can be construed as a “suggestion”.

Celibacy is emminently desirable - even preferable are your words.

Let me ask you this; do you believe that the Catholic Church is facing a significant shortage of new priests? If so, why do you suppose this is? If not, please substantiate.


#14

[quote=Patchunky]CHRISTOS VOSKRES!

This is NOT correct!!!

In the Eastern Rites of the Church, married men are ordained to the Diaconate and to the Holy Priesthood.

WE DO NOT PERMIT PRIESTS TO MARRY!!!

THEY MUST BE MARRIED BEFORE ORDINATION TO THE DIACONATE!!!

A married man can NEVER advance beyond the position of a parish priest. A Bishop must be either celibate or a widower.

FELDAMADT HRISTUS!
FALOBAN FELDAMADT!
[/quote]

Indeed, He is risen!

In rereading my wording I see that it was clumsy. I didn’t mean to imply that they could marry after they become priests. Thank you.


#15

Old Callahan

Thank you for your very informative response. Out of curiosity, do you know of any cases where a Roman Catholic priest is married (in the USA?)

My pastor at the parish that I attend is a convert from Anglicanism.
The website is www.atonementonline.com if you want to check it out for further information.
There are other Anglican Priest that have come into the Church and ordained as Catholic Priest. Some are married some are not. However, once they are ordained, if not married they can never marry. If married and their wife dies, they cannot remarry. I understand that there are also some Lutherans that have come into the Church under similar circumstances. The discipline of priests not been able to marry applies to Deacons also. They cannot marry once ordained. However, a married man may be ordained a deacon, but then again as with priests, if their wife dies, they cannot remarry. In my parish we have two priests and two deacons. One priest is married the other is not. One deacon is married the other is not.
Personally I do not believe that the Church will ever allow priests to marry, but IMO, it may allow in some cases in the future married men to become a priests. There is a big difference in allowing priest to marry and allowing married men to become priests. One other thing to keep in mind is that most priests will remain in a parish for about seven years and then they are transferred. This would put undue pressure on the families of married priests. However, the former bishop told our priest that he would allow him to remain at this parish forever.

Please do not fall for the old trap of some anti-Catholics that the CC forbids marriage. The CC holds marriage in very, very high esteem. St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians encourages celibacy. Celibacy is a discipline and disciplines can be changed. It is not a doctrine nor dogma.

Let me ask you this; do you believe that the Catholic Church is facing a significant shortage of new priests? If so, why do you suppose this is? If not, please substantiate.

In some areas, yes there is a shortage of priest and there are many opinions as to why. Personally I feel that what is happening is a weeding out of many priests who have been disobedient, but in some diocese there are many seminarians. (Lincoln, Nebraska for one and somebody correct me if I’m wrong). Also, there are many vocations that are coming out of Africa and I’m sure many of them will be sent to places where there are shortages.

[font=&quot][font=Comic Sans MS]Another thing to remember; a man who has discerned that he is being called to the vocation of a priest, knows very well what the Church requires of him. He has to make the decision if he wants to remain celibate or if he wants to marry some day in the future. He is not forced to become a priest. That is the mans decision and with the decision comes obedience. It takes about eight years in the seminary studying to become a priest. A man can up to the moment before he is ordained change his mind. It’s up to him. [/font][/font]


#16

I couldn’t agree more. Being a priest is like working a double shift everyday. How can one possibly attend to affairs of the church, and raise a family at the same time. I suppose it’s possible, but not very practical. Consider the following bible versus supporting the Catholic position on Celibacy of Priests I got from www.scripturecatholic.com

IV. Celibacy is Church Practice, Not Dogma
Matt. 19:11-12 - Jesus says celibacy is a gift from God and whoever can bear it should bear it. Jesus praises and recommends celibacy for full-time ministers in the Church. Because celibacy is a gift from God, those who criticize the Church’s practice of celibacy are criticizing God and this wonderful gift He bestows on His chosen ones.

Matt. 19:29 - Jesus says that whoever gives up children for the sake of His name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. Jesus praises celibacy when it is done for the sake of His kingdom.

Matt. 22:30 - Jesus explains that in heaven there are no marriages. To bring about Jesus’ kingdom on earth, priests live the heavenly consecration to God by not taking a wife in marriage. This way, priests are able to focus exclusively on the spiritual family, and not have any additional pressures of the biological family (which is for the vocation of marriage). This also makes it easier for priests to be transferred to different parishes where they are most needed without having to worry about the impact of their transfer on wife and children.

1 Cor 7:1 – Paul teaches that it is well for a man not to touch a woman. This is the choice that the Catholic priests of the Roman rite freely make.

1 Cor. 7:7 - Paul also acknowledges that celibacy is a gift from God and wishes that all were celibate like he is.

1 Cor. 7:27 – Paul teaches men that they should not seek marriage. In Paul’s opinion, marriage introduces worldly temptations that can interfere with one’s relationship with God, specifically regarding those who will become full-time ministers in the Church.

1 Cor. 7:32-33, 38 - Paul recommends celibacy for full-time ministers in the Church so that they are able to focus entirely upon God and building up His kingdom. He “who refrains from marriage will do better.”

1 Tim. 3:2 - Paul instructs that bishops must be married only once. Many Protestants use this verse to prove that the Church’s celibacy law is in error. But they are mistaken because this verse refers to bishops that were widowers. Paul is instructing that these widowers could not remarry. The verse also refers to those bishops who were currently married. They also could not remarry (in the Catholic Church’s Eastern rite, priests are allowed to marry; celibacy is only a disciplinary rule for the clergy of the Roman rite). Therefore, this text has nothing to do with imposing a marriage requirement on becoming a bishop.

1 Tim. 4:3 - in this verse, Paul refers to deceitful doctrines that forbid marriage. Many non-Catholics also use this verse to impugn the Church’s practice of celibacy. This is entirely misguided because the Catholic Church (unlike many Protestant churches) exalts marriage to a sacrament. In fact, marriage is elevated to a sacrament, but consecrated virginity is not. The Church declares marriage sacred, covenantal and lifegiving. Paul is referring to doctrines that forbid marriage and other goods when done outside the teaching of Christ and for a lessor good. Celibacy is an act of giving up one good (marriage and children) for a greater good (complete spiritual union with God).

1 Tim. 5:9-12 - Paul recommends that older widows take a pledge of celibacy. This was the beginning of women religious orders.

2 Tim. 2:3-4 - Paul instructs his bishop Timothy that no soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim his to satisfy the One who enlisted him. Paul is using an analogy to describe the role of the celibate priesthood in the Church.

Rev. 14:4 - unlike our sinful world of the flesh, in heaven, those consecrated to virginity are honored.

Isaiah 56:3-7 - the eunuchs who keep God’s covenant will have a special place in the kingdom of heaven. Jer. 16:1-4 - Jeremiah is told by God not to take a wife or have children.


#17

[quote=Old Callahan]Thank you for your very informative response. Out of curiosity, do you know of any cases where a Roman Catholic priest is married (in the USA?)

Do you think that the next Pope may take steps to relax the existing policy in an effort to attract more new priests?

And lastly, if I my be so bold as to ask a personal question, what is your opinion on allowing priests to marry? Here I take the liberty to offer my opinion - I personally believe that the Catholic Church would be doing the morally right thing by allowing priests to marry. I think a relaxation of the existing policy is long overdue.
[/quote]

I have to disagree. Those who choose religious life and the priest hood are choosing to be celibate for the kingdom. Priest are married to the Church and I just dont see how letting them get married is gonna change the situation. I think that will open up a whole world of problems. I guess for me this is something in my opinion that should stay the same.

God Bless,
Kerri


#18

[quote=km112482]I have to disagree. Those who choose religious life and the priest hood are choosing to be celibate for the kingdom. Priest are married to the Church and I just dont see how letting them get married is gonna change the situation. I think that will open up a whole world of problems. I guess for me this is something in my opinion that should stay the same.

God Bless,
Kerri
[/quote]

FELDAMADT HRISTUS!
FALOBAN FELDAMADT!


Actually, we had a former pastor who was a 5th GENERATION PRIEST!!

One of my best friend’s is a married priest, his brother is a priest, his sister is a nun AND HIS FATHER IS A PRIEST!

His father was ordained in the middle of the night at a kitchen table in the underground church in Ukraine. He used to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the cellars of peoples homes with someone guarding the windows so the secret police would not arrest them.

Oh, his grandfather was also a priest who died in exile in Siberia…

Seems to speaks VOLUMES for me!!!

XPUCTOCb BOCKPEC!


#19

[quote=Patchunky]FELDAMADT HRISTUS!
FALOBAN FELDAMADT!

Actually, we had a former pastor who was a 5th GENERATION PRIEST!!

One of my best friend’s is a married priest, his brother is a priest, his sister is a nun AND HIS FATHER IS A PRIEST!

His father was ordained in the middle of the night at a kitchen table in the underground church in Ukraine. He used to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the cellars of peoples homes with someone guarding the windows so the secret police would not arrest them.

Oh, his grandfather was also a priest who died in exile in Siberia…

Seems to speaks VOLUMES for me!!!

XPUCTOCb BOCKPEC!
[/quote]

Sorry I was not trying to offend anyone. I am just stateing my opinion that is all.

God Bless,
Kerri


#20

Can we at least agree to disagree? :slight_smile:


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