Was Celibacy/Continence the norm for priests since the beginning?


#1

What is everyone’s thoughts on whether celibacy/continence was practiced by priests in the Church since apostolic times. It seems highly plausible. If anyone’s read Christian Cochini’s work, “The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy,” what are your thoughts on it? What are the main points he makes?


#2

I haven’t read the source you state. But I thought I read somewhere – maybe even on these forums, I don’t remember, that celibacy for priests wasn’t always the norm and came about after a time when married priests had died and their families were then taken care of - financially speaking, by the church. The church saw this as an increasing burden and thus decided it would be best if priests didn’t marry and have families.

I could be wrong on this, so if anyone knows otherwise…please enlighten.


#3

The very existance of the Essenes, a celibate Jewish monastic group possibly responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls, and boasted John the Baptist (and possibly Jesus & James) as members, would tend to confirm the existence of celibant Priests (or Rabbis?) in the time of Christ.


#4

Celibacy was not the norm from the beginning, it wasn’t even mandated for every priest in the Latin Church until the 4th century.

This work you speak of is one of those defenses that tries to raise clerical celibacy to the level of dogma.


#5

[quote=Kevin Walker]The very existance of the Essenes, a celibate Jewish monastic group possibly responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls, and boasted John the Baptist (and possibly Jesus & James) as members, would tend to confirm the existence of celibant Priests (or Rabbis?) in the time of Christ.
[/quote]

I must say in all honesty your post sounds as if this Essene connection is an established historical fact. There are many who feel it came frome the Gnostic version of things and many writers do not feel it is factual at all.


#6

[quote=ByzCath]Celibacy was not the norm from the beginning, it wasn’t even mandated for every priest in the Latin Church until the 4th century.

This work you speak of is one of those defenses that tries to raise clerical celibacy to the level of dogma.
[/quote]

It sounds to me that you are confusing the de facto practice of priestly celibacy with the de jure formalization of priestly celibacy.

According to my recent Church History course these are examples of de jure formalization of celibacy:

“Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604) Reformed clergy along monastic lines; required priests to have some training; encouraged celibacy; encouraged work with poor.”

-and-

“Otto the Great, King of the East Franks (Germans), King/Emperor 963-973, Made bishops civil officials within his kingdom, Celibacy of bishops meant he did not have to worry about competing families to his own.”

The de facto examples of priestly celibacy are contained in the Bible, and some examples have already been listed.

It is fact that a celibant priesthood existed during Biblical times and the Church preceded Constantine by a few hudred years. Obviously as the Church grew and became a state religion, the de facto practice of Priestly celibacy became formalized through civil law as the de jure practice of Priestly celibacy. That might be the source of confusion for non-(Roman) Catholics.


#7

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