Were Priests Still Married?

I was reading the history of, Priestly Celibacy,in Advent Encyclopedia,and i know its a discipline,but baffled confused by some of the laws,maybe i can get some explanations here.
1.Council of Elvira,and later Councils,Priest’s had to separate from wives,children,.Were they still married,though separated for valid consummated consented marriage is sacrament that cant be dissolved by anyone not even the Pope(Catholic Catechism) ?

2.Synod of Melfi 1189 AD. In this first thace of principle that the marriages of the clerics are inso facto invalid( so seemingly declared invalid for first time)----Advent Eccy’.Does this mean that some valid Clergy marriages were valid before this synod.If so,did the Church dissolve valid consummated marriages by allowing the wives to be sold into slavery,and children being Church property? Advent Ency’

3.Did Pope Urban 11 sell priests wives into slavery and abandon children,i saw this on a Catholic website,this just doesn’t seem Christian

Separation does not dissolve the marriage. It just means that the husband and wife live apart and do not have conjugal relations.

2.Synod of Melfi 1189 AD. In this first thace of principle that the marriages of the clerics are inso facto invalid( so seemingly declared invalid for first time)----Advent Eccy’.

Here is the relevant passage from the Encyclopedia. As you can see, the entry does not say that the Synod of Melfi declared that marriages of clerics are ipso facto invalid. The earliest decree in which the children were declared to be slaves, the property of the Church, and never to be enfranchised, seems to have been a canon of the Synod of Pavia in 1018. Similar penalties were promulgated later on against the wives and concubines (see the Synod of Melfi, 1189, can. xii), who by the very fact of their unlawful connection with a subdeacon or clerk of higher rank became liable to be seized as slaves by the over-lord. Hefele (Concilienge-schichte, V, 195) sees in this first trace of the principle that the marriages of the clerics are ipso facto invalid.

But Hefele seems to say for the first time the marriages were info facto(by the very fact or act) invalid,so this would mean they were valid before 1189 Synod
Declarations were declared in synods before 1189 Synod for wives to leave priests
Pope Urban 11 had the wives sold into slavery,children abandoned,were some of these marriages valid consummated with consent ?,if so they cant be anulled
And what happened to the abandoned children?they were declared illegitimate,Church is supposed to be caring even in its discipline.
For a considerable period in history the debate ,maintained that the element which made a marriage was consummation or consent,Pope Alexander 111,(1159-1181declared for tadition,that consent makes the marriage

Far as I know, there is no expression “info facto”. If that’s the way it appeared in the article you read, I think they made a typo. It seems pretty certain they meant “ipso facto”.

For clerical marriage to be invalid ipso facto it would mean there were Church laws in effect stating that any marriage being entered into by an ordained Catholic priest was invalid. Thus, after such a law is enacted, whenever an ordained priest would marry, the marriage was automatically (ipso facto) invalid. I don’t think such a law could apply to priests who were already married prior to enactment of the law.

No, he doesn’t say that. He says that in the “penalties imposed” against the wives and concubines at the 1189 synod he sees the “first trace of the principle” of clerical marriage being declared invalid ipso facto.
A “first trace of a principle” hardly means that it was definitely legislated at the 1189 synod. If the synod had actually decreed clerical marriage to be invalid ipso facto, I think Hefele would have said so. The very terminology “first trace of a principle” indicates to me that the synod did not issue a canon declaring clerical marriage invalid.

I tried to find the text of Canon XII of the Synod of Melfi but had no luck. From the encyclopedia entry I’m presuming it dealt with penalties to be imposed.

Declarations were declared in synods before 1189 Synod for wives to leave priests

Requiring separation and/or imposing penalties against a marriage is not the same thing as declaring the marriage invalid.

For a considerable period in history the debate ,maintained that the element which made a marriage was consummation or consent,Pope Alexander 111,(1159-1181declared for tadition,that consent makes the marriage

I haven’t researched it, but I’m pretty certain that long before 1189 there were things/circumstances that made a marriage ipso facto invalid even if consent and consummation were present. Eg. incestuous marriage (1 Cor 5:5)

Waxwings, if you haven’t already come across it, I think you’ll find JM3’s Post #6 on this previous CAF thread informative and interesting.

Lateran II Council 1139 AD


Summary. Clerics living with women shall be deprived of their office and benefice.

Text. We also decree that those who in the subdiaconate and higher orders have contracted marriage or have concubines, be deprived of their office and ecclesiastical benefice. For since they should be and be called the temple of God, the vessel of the Lord, the abode of the Holy Spirit, it is unbecoming that they indulge in marriage and in impurities. [17]]

Note 17. Identical with canon 4 of Clermont and Reims. Cf. canon 21 of I Lateran.


Summary. Masses celebrated by members of the clergy who have wives or concubines are not to be attended by anyone.

Text. Following in the footsteps of our predecessors, the Roman pontiff s Gregory VII, Urban, and Paschal, we command that no one attend the masses of those who are known to have wives or concubines. But that the law of continence and purity, so pleasing to God, may become more general among persons constituted in sacred orders, we decree that bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, canons regular, monks, and professed clerics (conversi) who, transgressing the holy precept, have dared to contract marriage, shall be separated. For a union of this kind which has been contracted in violation of the ecclesiastical law, we do not regard as matrimony. Those who have been separated from each other, shall do penance commensurate with such excesses.

BTW, I think the 1189 date is a typo; I think it’s supposed to be 1089.

In googling “synod of Melfi 1189” the only thing that comes up is the Catholic Encyclopedia “Celebacy of the Clergy” article where it is present only in that short bracketed reference to it. ( newadvent.org/cathen/03481a.htm ). The other google links are just articles quoting that line from the Encyclopedia.

The “Celibacy” article itself would seem to indicate the earlier date since it traces the history chronologically. In the paragraph that follows the Melfi “1189” reference, the article states , “… Finally, in 1123, at the First Lateran Council, an enactment was passed (confirmed more explicitly in the Second Lateran Council, can. vii)”.

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Urban II speaks of a Melfi synod taking place in 1089. ( newadvent.org/cathen/15210a.htm )
" … In the autumn of 1089 seventy bishops met him in synod at Melfi, where decrees against simony and clerical marriage were promulgated. …"

Lots of links come up when googling Melfi 1089.

The wikipedia entry for the “castle of Melfi” does not show any synod being held there in 1189. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_of_Melfi )

waxwings #1
I was reading the history of, Priestly Celibacy,in Advent Encyclopedia,and i know its a discipline,but baffled confused by some of the laws,maybe i can get some explanations here.

The first fact to be established is that celibate priests are an Apostolic Norm from the beginning. Thus came disciplinary measures to encourage this.

‘In more recent times, the predecessor of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an instruction in 1858 that stated: "Whoever ponders diligently the true tradition of celibacy and clerical continence will indeed find that, from the first centuries of the Catholic Church, if not by a general and explicit law, at least by behavior and custom, it was firmly established that not only bishops and priests, but [all] clergy in Holy Orders were to preserve inviolate virginity or perpetual continence. 9

‘That priestly celibacy is an apostolic tradition “is shown clearly and convincingly” by the work of Stickler, Cochini, Heid, and others. This is the verdict of then–Cardinal Ratzinger. 10

Cardinal Ratzinger in *The Theological Locus of Ecclesial Movements *(note 10), explains the unity existing with and from the apostles, including priestly celibacy.
“That priestly celibacy is not a medieval invention, but goes back to the earliest period of the Church, is shown clearly and convincingly by Card. A.M. Stickler, *The Case for Clerical Celibacy: Its Historical Development and Theological Foundations *(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995). Cf. also I: Cochini, Origines apostoliques du celibat sacerdotal (Paris-Namur, 1981); S Heid, *Zolibat in der friihen Kirche *(Paderborn, 1997).” (p 483 n 2)
9 Quoted by Roman Cholij, Celibacy, Married Clergy, and the Oriental Code. *Eastern Churches Journal *, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), p. 112.
10 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Theological Locus of Ecclesial Movements. Communio (Fall 1998), footnote 2, p. 483.

Fr. George William Rutler, in an article entitled *A Consistent theology of clerical celibacy *(Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Feb. 1989), notes that “Virginity and celibacy were not synonymous in the original ecclesiastical institution of celibacy. Those clerics whose marriages were recognized by the Church, and they were many, were expected to abstain from conjugal union after ordination. The new archeology shows that this was the case for all the Eastern Churches in the earliest centuries, and in a mitigated form later. In the Latin Church this was the clear rule throughout the first millenium, culminating in the laws of the Gregorian reform, especially as found in the First Lateran Council of 1123, and the Second Lateran Council of 1139…The discipline of the Second Lateran Council explicitly forbidding marriage after ordination was not an innovation in the observance of continence. Its prohibition of clerical marriage was only a regulation ensuring that the apostolic norm of abstinence would be better observed.”

Thus, the Church had celibate clergy only, from the beginning.

Yes, this is more explicit.Laws were obviously decreed by Pope Gregory Urban Paschal,and same later in both Lateran Council.It mentions those separated from each other for violating law as not regarded as marriage, so it must mean impediment, annuled. So separation cant mean from a valid consummated consented marriage,which no human can dissolve
Latern Council 1,1123, Canon 21 and 3,says,“That marriage contracted by such clergy,must be dissolved” Dissolved must mean here that the marriages being referred to in all these synods and councils,are breaking Church law,impediment,so they will be pronounced annuled

Council Of Reims,1063 and 1972,says “Clergy are allowed to retain wives” I dont know the reason for this,it seems to contradict the separation of clergy and wives,maybe its because in this instance,the married clergy were validly married and had not broken any chuurch laws,its confusing,now i must chase up Council’s of Reims,and Council Of Lisieux 1064

Celibate priests were indeed Apostolic Norm from beginning.But there were also valid consummated consented clergy ,also from the beginning before Council Of Elvira.

Council Of Elvira, The separations here were of validly married consummated consented clergy, (which no human can dissolve,’ Catholic Catechism’ ).
There were no impediment in these marriages…If these marriages were for violating Church law,there would be grounds for annulment and dissolved,(like as declared at Latern 1,1123,Canon 21)

Reims 1063 and 1072,Lisieux 1064,Clergy were allowed to retain wives ,newadvent.com–Celibacy of Clergy.

And another Council,cant remember name,well before Latern 11, the clergy could separate voluntarly if their wives agreed and gave their consent,if they didn’t agree,no separation of valid marriages were granted…There was no command or Church law obligatory that they must separate

Note,it was voluntary separation,of valid marriage not for breaking Church Law,or impediment,there was no command they separate

waxwings #10
there were also valid consummated consented clergy ,also from the beginning before Council Of Elvira.

No. The more recent scholarship confirms the reality.

The disciplinary canons of the Council of Elvira in 305 are the Church’s earliest record regarding priestly celibacy. The council gave no explanation of its rulings, which were ancient and presumably well-known. Canon 33 forbade all married bishops, priests, and deacons from having sexual relations with their wives and begetting children. The council reminded the married clergy that they were bound by a vow of perpetual continence. Penalty for breaking that vow was deposition from the ministry. Commenting on this council, Pope Pius XI said that these canons, the “first written traces” of the “Law of Ecclesiastical Celibacy,” "presuppose a still earlier unwritten practice. " (Ad Catholici Sacerdotii , 43, 1935).

From the beginning, continence was required for priest and bishop – for Early Church Tradition the most important studies are: Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, by Fr. Christian Cochini, S.J.(Ignatius, San Francisco, 1990); The Case for Clerical Celibacy, by Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler (Ignatius, San Francisco, 1995); Celibacy in the Early Church, by Fr. Stefan Heid, (Ignatius, San Francisco, 2000).

Based on solid documentation, **these authors show that **although one cannot speak of celibacy in the strict sense of the word (not being married), it is certain that since apostolic times the Church had as a norm that men elevated to the deaconate, priesthood and the episcopate should observe continence. If candidates happened to be married – a very common occurrence in the early Church – they were supposed to cease, with the consent of their spouses, not only marital life but even cohabitation under the same roof.
“In 1969 Christian Cocchini, S.J. completed his doctoral thesis at the Institut Catholique, on the history of clerical celibacy. The president of the examiners who approved his dissertation was Cardinal Danielou. Cocchini’s mastery of the sources from the New Testament to the seventh century is unequalled. This is what he found:
“From the beginnings of the Church, and throughout the Greco-Latin world, a single rule prevailed: Priests were celibate; or else, if they had married before ordination, they and their wives promised to live together thereafter without the use of the marriage. This rule was an Apostolic norm; it was proclaimed and practiced by the Apostles; and that norm in turn was founded upon the example of our Lord Himself."

Fr Anthony Zimmerman refers to *Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy *“which argues cogently from the sources that the tradition of clerical celibacy began with the apostles. If that is true, then opponents of obligatory celibacy oppose not the pope, but the twelve apostles. The book, written by Christian Cochini, S.J. (translated from French, Ignatius Press, 1990), merited this remarkable encomium from the late Henri Cardinal de Lubac: ‘This work is of the first importance. It is the result of serious and extensive research. There is nothing even remotely comparable to this work in this whole 20th century.’ And Curator of the Vatican Library, Fr. Alfons M. Stickler (later Cardinal) wrote: ‘This authoritative work is fully in accordance with the tradition of the Society of Jesus in the area of high-level scientific apostolate’ (Foreword to Cochini’s book)."

So the celibacy required for priests is from the time of the apostles, the Apostolic Norm, and obligatory, as confirmed by all scholarship, and by the Fathers and Popes.

Just so any non-Catholics following this thread know:
Celibacy is a regulation in some, but not all, Catholic rites. Celibacy is a regulation – not an infallible doctrine of the Church.
Dispensations from this regulation can, and have been granted. Non-Catholic clergy who convert to Catholicism are sometimes allowed the Catholic sacrament of Ordination when they seek it.

So how do you explain clergy who had wives before ordination(sacrament) and taking wives after ordination,who knew ,and never knew Canon Law, that their marriage(sacrament) were invalid,yet their giving the sacraments and offering Mass(sacrament) were valid.Surely the ordinations were invalid,yet the Church says the ordinations were valid.
It all looks contradictory

In middle ages was a time of extreme corruption in Clergy,i dont understand why the ordination of corrupt clergy were valid(sacrament) yet their marriages were invalid(sacrament)

Pope GregoryV11,The Champion of Priestly Celibacy,interdicted married Clergy from offering Mass,but here you can see the ordinations were recognised valid,although they were married

In the Catholic Church any relaxation of this norm has been, and is, strictly limited and confined to exceptional circumstances.

Not only is the celibate priesthood from Christ, it is most scriptural:
St. Peter asked Our Lord, “What about us? We left all we had to follow you.” The Divine Master answered: “I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, wife, brothers, parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not be given repayment many times over in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life” (Lk 18:28-30, cf. Mt 19:27-30; Mk 10:20-21).

The Magisterium teaches:
“32. This doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state was, as We have already said, revealed by our Divine Redeemer and by the Apostle of the Gentiles; so too, it was solemnly defined as a dogma of divine faith by the holy council of Trent,[57] and explained in the same way by all the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Finally, We and Our Predecessors have often expounded it and earnestly advocated it whenever occasion offered. But recent attacks on this traditional doctrine of the Church, the danger they constitute, and the harm they do to the souls of the faithful lead Us, in fulfillment of the duties of Our charge, to take up the matter once again in this Encyclical Letter, and to reprove these errors which are so often propounded under a specious appearance of truth.”
(Sacra Virginitas, Encyclical Of Pope Pius XII, 1954).

‘In her magisterial statements, the Catholic Church has often spoken of the Eastern practice regarding celibacy. The Church always uses guarded language, not wanting to widen the breach between the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church. But she has never said—never even implied—that the Eastern practice stands on par with her own discipline regarding celibacy. Typical of her attitude is the language of Pope Pius XI in his 1935 encyclical on the Catholic priesthood. After extolling the glories of priestly celibacy, he said he was not criticizing the Oriental discipline. “What we have said has been meant solely to exalt in the Lord something we consider one of the purest glories of the Catholic priesthood , something which seems to us to correspond better to the desires of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his purposes in regard to priestly souls” (Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Section 47).’

See: holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/guests/rayryland/thegift.asp

I dont have time to type long threads.I would ask you to look at the many Catholic Websites and Apologists for ample proof their were married clergy in church.I dont have time to type the many here
I dont doubt the Council of Trent dogma.,celibacy was taught by Jesus and Apostles,but Jesus still chose married and single men ,irrespective to them leaving their wives.
But celibacy in itself is a Disciplinary law,there is no dispute it is Disciplinary
But whither you want to believe it or not,there were married clergy in different countries,regions,in 11th Century Switzerland had more married clergy than single clergy and celibacy became FULLY universal at Council of Trent ,although less universal at Latern Council.
As for Council of Elvira there were no dogmas defined ,it was a Disciplinary Council.and there were most married clergy in first three centuries
Everything i have explained here are from many Catholic Websites and Apologists,and Vatican documents.and the many threads in Catholic Answers, so they cant be wrong.
Nothing you say will ever convince me there were never any married clergy in history of Catholic Church

You are confusing two things.

The first canons you list are talking about married men who then become priests. They are to live in continence. Validly married men who choose to be ordained were still validly married, but were called to live in continence by this particular discipline. If they or their spouse did not want to live in continence, then they would simply not choose to be ordained.

The second is talking about priests who attempt a marriage or keep a concubine after ordination. These canons have penalties associated with that transgression. Those who have received ordination have never been able to marry. So, no ipso facto invalid does not mean that previously priests could validly contract marriage. It is just a stating in the law of the penalties associated with this already existing prohibition.

I am not referring to concubines.

I know all about what you are referring to in your first paragraph,but there were also clergy who were not obliged to live in continence ,validly married, in different times in history of church ,more so in the first three centuries

Other clergy not living in continence ,validly married had the disciplinary law thrown at them and had to separate from wives and children,or resign from clergy

Other clergy living in continence had their marriages declared invalid and annuled.and told to put wives children away if they wanted to continue in Orders,others were defrocked

I can only go by what i have read in Catholic Websites,i am no historian in Canon law,and all these websites cant be wrong.When i look for evidence i go deeply into looking for it

waxwings #16
I can only go by what i have read in Catholic Websites,i am no historian in Canon law,and all these websites cant be wrong.When i look for evidence i go deeply into looking for it

How can the uninformed, misled and untruthful suppositions be compared to the many real studies which are available on the reality that from the beginning apostolic celibacy was the norm? Despite numerous requests, no real scholarship has been, or can be sited, against the historical facts. Certainly the facts are supported by real scholarship only in the last 150 years or so.

No profusion of dubious assertions from websites to the contrary can realistically contradict the recent depth and scope of scholarship by faithful Catholic prelates.

So, although cited as early as post #8, this poster holds up to ridicule Cardinal Ratzinger in The Theological Locus of Ecclesial Movements (note 10), who explains the unity existing with and from the apostles, including priestly celibacy.
See: holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/guests/rayryland/thegift.asp

Yes, many websites are wrong when they portray error and bamboozle the gullible into slavishly following them. Catholic websites may allow errors to be posted so that they may be corrected with the truth.

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