When did priestly celibacy begin anyway?



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You joined 16 hours ago. Are you trolling


Well I lived with priest’s nun’s and other Catholic’s
So I have a different understanding than you.
I’m in agreement with the me 2 movement.


If you know of abuse by any clergy you have every right to and are encouraged to report it. You are high jacking a thread on celibacy with very improper and unasked for comments. Any abuse of any kind on anyone is horrible and should never be tolerated.


It makes no difference who a person lives with. That was inappropriate and frankly quite immature.


I can’t look up too much now, but I understand there were also some pragmatic considerations. For many centuries it was expected that a man’s sons would follow him in his career and receive an inheritance from him. There were issues because the priest’s son might not necessarily be suitable for the clerical state himself. In general, celibacy did help curb certain issues with nepotism, and alleviate concerns about the church being able to provide for whatever children the priest might have (especially in a culture where inheritance was the primary method of providing for them).

That’s not to say it doesn’t have many benefits, of course.


From what I have read, married men became priests in the early church (and even now in the Eastern Traditions) but once priests, men were not allowed to then marry either for the first time or if they became widowed. Even now in the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican priest (and maybe Luthern?) who are married and then convert are allowed to be priests.



Priests (kohanim) who were serving their stint in the Temple (and maybe Levites serving their stints in the Temple, but I don’t recall) had to refrain from having sex while they were doing Temple service. (Wives of priests obviously also observed this regulation! And Jewish “laypeople” had their own set of continence regs.)

When the Apostles began to follow Jesus’ command and said Mass, they probably started following the priestly regs also. We do know that from the earliest times, married bishops and priests had to observe “continence” before saying Mass. (Again, married laypeople also had regs, usually tied to fasting.)

It was also reasonably common in Jewish tradition to have men (like the Nazirites) vow temporary or permanent celibacy, so that they could pray and live for God; or for prophets to live alone and never marry; or for widowed prophetesses like Anna to refuse to remarry. There are some hints that some women also vowed celibacy if their fathers agreed, although this seems to have been uncommon. Priests usually didn’t, because they had an obligation to have kohanim sons (and daughters) to continue the priesthood’s lineage.

Obviously, in a Christian context, where any man of any genetic heritage could say Mass if called to it, it could be a lot easier to have a priest just vow celibacy and never have sex, rather than having a married couple be greatly restricted by the need to say Mass frequently. “Perpetual continence” was also pretty frequent for married bishops, and there was often a lot of pressure by congregations for them to adopt it. If folks decided to grab a monk to be their bishop, they didn’t have to worry about any of this stuff.

Also, from the earliest times, it was forbidden to get married afterwards, if you weren’t already married when you became a bishop, or (later) when you got ordained as a priest. Remarriage was even frowned upon for laity, very often, and it was usually a total no-no for an ordained person. (Unless the widower priest had very young kids, and no female relations to help out.)

So yeah, celibacy was not the only acceptable Early Christian way to go, but it definitely meant fewer rules and worries.


The Church was a thousand years old before it definitively took a stand in favor of celibacy in the twelfth century at the Second Lateran Council held in 1139, when a rule was approved forbidding priests to marry.


That isn’t accurate. The tradition of celibacy for clergy in the West was enforced by local synods as early as the third century with more and more localities adopting it from there. By the 7th century, the eastern council of Trullo, while confirming the tradition in the east of ordaining married men, acknowledges that in the west the clergy “keep the rule of exact perfection.”

Prior to the Council you cite, there were abuses contrary to this discipline and therefore the Council reiterates this law and even re-confirms penalties that preceding Popes had enacted.


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