History of Clerical Celibacy



THE CASE FOR CLERICAL CELIBACY

Reblogged from Ignatius Insight
Clerical Celibacy: Concept and Method | Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler | From The Case for Clerical Celibacy

1. The first and most important prerequisite for a knowledge of the historical development of any institution is the proper understanding of the meaning of the concepts on which it is based. For ecclesiastical celibacy, we have a particularly clear and concise reference in the writings of one of the greatest of the Decretists–commentators on Gratian’s Decretum–who around 1140 collected and explained all the material concerning the juridical tradition of the first millennium of the Church. This Decretist is Huguccio of Pisa (d. 1210), who in his Summa on the Decretum, composed around 1190, began his treatment of celibacy with these words: “In hac Distinctione incipit (Gratianus) tractare specialiter de continentia clericorum, scilicet quam debent observare in non contrahendo martimonio et in noti utendo contracto.” [1]

A reading of this text clearly indicates a double obligation with respect to celibacy: not to marry and, if previously married, not to use the rights of marriage. In addition, it is clear that even in this period, namely, the end of the twelfth century, there were clerics in major orders who had been married prior to ordination. In fact we know from the Scriptures that the ordination of married men was a normal enough event. Saint Paul, in writing to his disciples Titus and Timothy, prescribed that such candidates could be married only once. [2] We know at least that Saint Peter was certainly married, since Peter said to his Master: “What about us? We left all we had to follow you.” To this, Christ responded (Saint Luke): “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.” [3]

Here we clearly already have the first obligation of clerical celibacy, namely, the commitment to continence in the use of marriage after ordination. The real meaning of celibacy, which today is in general almost totally forgotten but which in the first millennium and beyond was well known, consists in this: complete abstinence with respect to the procreation of children even within the context of marriage. In fact all the first laws written on celibacy speak of this prohibition, that is, of the further procreation of children, a point which will be convincingly documented in the second part of this study. This indicates that, despite the fact that many clerics were already married before their ordination, they were nevertheless held to this particular obligation before they could he ordained. In the beginning, the actual prohibition to marry remained somewhat in the background. It emerged only later when the Church imposed the prohibition against marriage on those celibates from whom virtually all the candidates for sacred orders were exclusively recruited.

To complete this initial understanding of celibacy, which from the very beginning was correctly termed ”continence”, we must immediately note that married candidates could approach sacred orders and renounce the use of marriage only with the consent of their wife. The reason for this lies in the fact that, on the basis of the sacrament that had already been received, the wife had an inalienable right to the use of the valid (and consummated) marriage, which in itself was indissoluble. We will consider the complex problems that resulted from this renunciation in the second part of this work.

2. The second prerequisite for a correct understanding of the origins and development of clerical celibacy–which, given what has just been described, should he called sexual ”continence”–concerns the research method to be applied to this question. This is of particular importance given the number of opinions about the origins and first developments of the obligation to continence. Frequently they are the result of a flawed methodology in both their analysis and their explanation of the problem.

In the first place, it is necessary to underline that every area of study has what in general might be termed its own proper object and methodology, which are strictly connected to one another. It is also true that for related areas of study there are common rules that must be observed and applied in actual research. Thus, for example, in historical research, one cannot disregard the rules that are fundamental for a preliminary analysis of the sources and which in turn establish their authenticity and integrity and thereby their intrinsic value. In other words, how credible they are and what probative value can be assigned to them. Only on this basis can one then correctly consider and evaluate the evidence and assertions contained in the particular documents. Thus a proper hermeneutic and a correct interpretation of the sources can only be established on this basis: by taking into account their authenticity, integrity, credibility and particular worth.

In addition to these general methodological prerequisites, it is also necessary to apply, however, the specific method required in every particular field of research. Hence, a competent history of philosophy presupposes an adequate knowledge of philosophy; a history of theology, a knowledge of theology. Likewise, the history of medicine and mathematics requires a sufficient knowledge of these two sciences. Thus, for a history of law, a knowledge of law and of its particular and proper methodology is also clearly fundamental.

Given this, we need to be conscious of the fact that the history of celibacy implies, with respect to its content and development, an understanding of both the law of the Church and of Catholic theology. Therefore, in establishing a correct hermeneutic of the relevant historical evidence (documents and facts), serious consideration must be paid to the method proper to both canon law and theology. While at first sight these observations may appear somewhat abstract, I would like immediately to demonstrate their meaning and necessity by applying them to a concrete question relative to our study.

At the end of the last [19th] century, a well-known and somewhat heated discussion took place about the origins of clerical celibacy. Gustav Bickell, son of a lawyer and himself an orientalist, traced its origins to an apostolic rule by appealing above all to evidence from the East. Franz X. Funk, a well-known historian of the early Church, responded to Bickell claiming that this could not be affirmed since the first law on celibacy could be found only at the beginning of the fourth century. After a series of further exchanges in various articles on the question, Bickell made no reply, while Funk continued to publish his views without receiving any response from his adversary. He did receive, however, the significant agreement of other leading scholars, such as E. F. Vacandard and H. Leclercq. Their influence and authority in combination with their tendency to express their views in widely disseminated works helped to assure Funk’s theory an almost universal acceptance that endures even today. [4]

Taking into consideration what has been stated above concerning the need to follow clear methodological principles for this type of research, it must be pointed out that Funk, both in the development and presentation of his results, did not apply the general principles necessary for a critical study and appreciation of the sources. He accepted as one of his principal arguments against Bickell the spurious story of the monk-bishop Paphnutius of Egypt at the Council of Nicaea (325). This was surprising in such an eminent scholar, given the fact that even before Funk a critical appraisal of the sources had repeatedly concluded that this episode was false. This has also been confirmed by contemporary research, as will be seen when we return to the question in our discussion of the Council of Nicaea. Funk made a still greater error when he asserted that the official obligation to celibacy first began only with the appearance of a specific written law on the topic. The same mistake must also have been made by Vacandard, a historian of theology, and Leclercq, a historian of councils.

Every historian of law knows (as Hans Kelsen, one of the most authoritative legal theorists of this century, has clearly affirmed) that an identification between law in the general sense and norms (rules, statutes) is mistaken, ius et lex. Law (ius) is any obligatory legal norm, whether it be established orally or handed on by means of a custom or already expressed in writing. A norm (lex), on the other hand, is any regulation established in a written form and legitimately promulgated.

It is a particular characteristic of law, explained in every history on the topic, that the origin of every legal system consists in oral traditions and in the transmission of customary norms which only slowly receive a fixed written form. Thus it was only after centuries and for various sociological reasons that the Romans formulated in writing the law of the Twelve Tables. The German peoples only compiled their popular juridical system and customs in written form after many centuries of their actual existence. Up to that time, their law was unwritten and was handed on orally. No one would thereby affirm that, on this basis, their law (ius) was not obligatory and that its observance was left to the free will of the individual.

Like the legal system of any large community, that of the early Church consisted for the greater part in regulations and obligations which were handed on orally, particularly during the three centuries of persecution, which made it difficult to fix them in writing. On the other hand, the Church, to a greater degree than other new societies, had written elements of law from the very beginning. Evidence of this can be found in Scripture. Saint Paul in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians (2:15) wrote: “Stand firm, then, brothers, and keep the traditions that we taught you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Without doubt we are dealing here with obligatory regulations which had been given, as is said explicitly, not only in writing but also handed on orally. Anyone, therefore, who claims that only those norms are obligatory which have been written down fails to do justice to the cognitive method proper to the domain of legal history.

Further, in considering the correct method to arrive at an understanding of the theological foundations of clerical continence, one must give explicit consideration to the fact that alongside the disciplinary and hence juridical material, we are also dealing with a charism which is intimately connected with the Church and with Christ. This clearly implies that the theological foundations can be understood and analyzed only in the light of revelation and of theological reflection.

It is now known that medieval theology gave little independent study to subjects connected with the law and discipline. Rather, it made its own the discussions and the conclusions of the classic canonists, who were flourishing in this period, especially through the work of the glossators. The historians of medieval theology have explicitly identified this phenomenon, [5] and a glance at the works of the greatest of the medieval scholastics, Saint Thomas Aquinas, obviously confirms their findings. This is surely the principal reason why clerical celibacy or continence has not been satisfactorily studied by theology itself, that is, by following its own proper method based on revelation and its sources. True, this lacuna has already been partially filled, but a far more profound understanding of the theological foundations for our subject is urgently required. This all-too-justified demand will be accommodated in the final part of this work.

ENDNOTES:

[1] [In this section (Gratian) begins specifically to treat the clerical celibacy, i.e.. which clerics are bound to observe in not contracting marriage and in not exercising the rights of marriage.] Dist. 27, dict. introd. ad v. quod autem. See Studia Gratiana, ed. by J. Forchicili and Alfons M. Stickler, vols. 1-3 (Bologna, 1953ff.)

[2] 1 Tim 3:2 and 3:12; Titus 1:6.

[3] Mt 19:27-30; Mk 10:20-21; Lk 18:28-30.

[4] Gustav Bickell, “Der Cölibat eine apostolische Anordnung”, in: Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 2 (1878): 26-64. Id., “Der Colibat dennoch eine apostolische Anordnung”, in: Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 3 (1879): 792-99. Franz Xaver Funk, “Der Cölibat keine apostolische Anordnung”, in: Tübinger theologische Quartalschrift 61 (1879): 208-47. Id., “Der Cölibat noch lange keine apostolische Anordnung”, in: Tübinger theologische Quartalschrift 62 (1880): 202- 21. Id., “Cölibat und Priesterehe im Christlichen Altertum”, in: Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen und Untersuchungen 1 (1897) 121-55. Elphège-Florent Vacandard, “Les Origines du célibat ecclésiastique”, in: Études de critique et d’histoire religieuse, 1st ser. (Paris, 1905; 5th ed.: Paris, 1913), 71-120. Id., art. “Célibat”, in: Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 2 (Paris, 1905): 2068-88. Henri Leclercq, “La Législation conciliaire relative au célibat ecclésiastique”, in the extended French edition of Conciliengeschichte, by Carl Josef v. Hefele, vol. 2, part 2 (Paris, 1908), appendix 6, 1321-48. Id., art. “Célibat”, in: Dictionnaire d’Archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 2 (Paris, 1908): 2802-32.

[5] Cf. Arthur Michael Landgraf, “Diritto canonico e teologia nel sec. XII”, in: Studia Gratiana 1:371-413.

Can I Marry a Priest?



Q. I am a young woman. There is a young man that I know whom I am very much attracted to. He wants to become a priest. He says that God has called him to this duty. I believe that is true, but I also believe that I am in love with him. Does that mean that I can’t marry him if he becomes a priest? I’ve been through many very extremely tough and painful spots in my life, and I do not think God would keep me from marrying him. Could you explain to me?

A. A man with the character and integrity to consider the priesthood is very attractive, indeed. I am not surprised that you love him. But, I am sorry, but once a man is ordained to the Priesthood of the Catholic Church, in all rites (Latin & Eastern) –he may not subsequently, marry. There are some rites in the Catholic Church where a married man can be ordained to the priesthood after marriage but he would have to be a member of this rite already.

The celibacy of the priesthood is a beautiful discipline of our Church. Our priests imitate Jesus who was not married. They also imitate the Heavenly state in which none are married or given in marriage.

Matthew 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Mark 12:25 “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Luke 20:35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;

In this way they are able to be undivided in their interests whereas a married man has a divided focus–Wife and family on the one hand and the congregation on the other.

I Cor. 7 32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

By forgoing marriage and family, he proves his serious devotion to Christ and a willingness to sacrifice his own pleasure to further the kingdom. His “wife” is his church and the people are his children. Through baptism he begets children for the kingdom of God.

This is a discipline of the Church. It is very old and very beautiful. However, it could be changed by the hierarchy. But I seriously doubt that it will be changed because the advantages of priestly celibacy, far outweigh the disadvantages.

How Do You Interpret?



Q. You do not hold to what the Scriptures plainly say. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon’s and etc. claim to hold to the Scriptures. They “interpret” the Scriptures in their own way. What I am asking you is, how can you possibly “interpret” the Scriptures in a way that actually contradicts what the Scriptures plainly say and call in “interpreting” them?

A. We Catholics interpret the verses based on the literal meaning first. But if this contradicts other scriptures then we look for an explanation other than the literal meaning.

Protestants do this with:

John 6:51 Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”

Most non Catholics reject the belief that we actually eat the flesh and blood of Jesus in communion. But that is what Jesus literally said we must do in these verses. So, Protestants interpret these verses, actually they only interpret a later verse and never even deal with the above verses. They actually just ignore them.

We all do this interpreting with this verse, also in John 6, because both Protestants and Catholics get physically hungry and thirsty despite having consumed the “bread of Life” according to their respective traditions.

Jn 6:35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

And this verse too, since as far as I know both Protestants and Catholics physically die, eventually.

Jn 6:50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.

So, I hope we can agree that even non Catholics, do not actually take every single verse absolutely literally. Therefore, since every verse in the Bible does not necessarily have to be taken dead literally, verses must be explained. The differences in these explanations are precisely what has given rise to the the ongoing fracturing of Protestantism. And Protestants extol this diversity despite the fact that Jesus, in scripture, literally said, He wanted us all to be ONE.

Other times a verse, if taken dead literally, as in “call no man on earth father,” contradicts other scriptures so then we must look for an explanation that does not detract or nullify any of the verses. This calls for study and interpretation. The reason we do not take the verse about calling no man “father” on earth literally is explained in this post–>Call No Man Father

I do not say that the Protestant interpretation is illegitimate. It is perfectly fine to interpret it that way. But, the problem with your interpretation is that you multiply the other verses (in the linked post above) that must then be explained just in order to interpret that one verse literally and use it to condemn Catholic practice.

You run into the same thing with the verses about the brothers and sisters of Jesus. There is nothing inherently wrong with the interpretation that these were the SIBLINGS of Jesus and CHILDRENof Mary and Joseph. If all you have is the words of scripture of course you would interpret them that way.

But the Catholic Church has lived and been present throughout all of Christian history. The the literal interpretation contradicts historical information and other teachings that Mary was ever a virgin and had no other children. While this is not in scripture it was always and everywhere believed and handed down from the infancy of Christianity. So, since we cling to all that St. Paul taught, both oral and written, we do not interpret the verses about Jesus’ brothers and sisters literally. I explain this in another post–>Who Were the Brothers & Sisters of Jesus?

The founder of Protest-antism believed in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Luther on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary?

And you might find this post interesting also.
Mary Did Not Have Sex “UNTIL” Jesus was Born.
Q. the Scriptures say, “1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a BISHOP,[a] he desires a good work. 2 A BISHOP THEN MUST BE BLAMELESS, THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach…(1 Timothy 3: 1-2; NKJV)”

A. Regarding the requirements for a bishop I understand your interpretation. But Jesus gave Peter the Keys of the Kingdom and the authority to rule the Church. And at the time that that verse was written priests and bishops WERE married. Peter had been married. And celibacy is a practice NOT a DOGMA of the church and could be changed. In fact, we do have married priests in the Catholic Church, but no married bishops.

Anyway, if you look at the passage in context it is not about marriage and the necessity of it in order to be a minister of the Church. It seems to be more about morality and the reference to one wife adverts to definite adherence to Christ’s teaching against divorce and remarriage. Which Protestant just ignore for the most part.

Jesus never taught that one MUST be married. St. Paul was NOT married. We know nothing about the marital status of the other apostles. They do not seem to have been married at the time Jesus called them. Never-the-less, married men were ordained to the priesthood in the early Church. But, because of the example of Jesus and Paul and probably of the other disciples as well, the fact that in Heaven there is no marriage, and for practical reasons a celibate priesthood became the norm.

This is merely a discipline/practice it is not dogmatic and it could change at some time in the future. But that is very doubtful. Click the link for a summary of a book, The Case for Clerical Celibacy.

The verse about a bishop being a husband of one wife can be understood to be more about a bishop being chaste and pure than about marriage being qualifier for being a bishop.

Why Can’t Catholic Priests Get Married?



To answer this question I am posting a discussion I had in the comments section of Priesthood of all believers.

Peter’s style in the comments section was casual/IM…thus, without punctuation or capitalizations. This is normal in those venues and does NOT mean he doesn’t know how to punctuate or capitalize. I didn’t make all of the corrections needed to make his comments and questions formally correct b/c it would have been a lot of work. I thought he had very good and honest questions, representative of the questions many people have so I decided to put them in a post. So, here is our discussion:

Peter: i think you are dead right about presbyters (being the word translated “priest” in English). that is why some are placed into positions of leadership (like james the just or peter and paul, etc). however, these leadership positions are extensively talked about by paul in timothy and other places. in timothy, paul says that presbyters are to be husbands of but one wife and their kids are to be respectful because if they can’t control their family they can’t control the church.

so now tell me, how can a claim be made that presbyters are supposed to be celibate? there is no mandate that presbyters are celibate. in fact, the exact opposite. paul says that they should marry if they can’t control their passions.

BFHU:

You are absolutely correct. There is no Biblical mandate that Priests are to be celibate. In fact, we know since Peter had a mother-in-law that he must have been married, at some point. The normal discipline of priestly celibacy could be changed to allow priests to marry. Celibacy is a discipline in the Latin Rite Catholic Church it is not an unchangeable doctrine or dogma. Eating fish on Fridays, similarly, was a discipline in the Church but it was changed and priestly celibacy might be changed, could be changed, theoretically. But it probably will not be changed any time soon. So disciplines can change but dogma does not change.

There are many good reasons to keep celibacy but the best is because the celibate Priest most closely models Jesus Christ, who was celibate. He also, stands in Persona Christi in most of the sacraments and since in Heaven there will be no marriage, the priest also models life in the age to come. In the Eastern Orthodox churches and even some non-Latin rite Catholic Churches married men are ordained to the priesthood. But the married ones cannot become Bishops. And people in these churches prefer the unmarried priests to the married ones for the obvious reason that an unmarried priest can be married to the Church as he is called to be, and a more available father. But they must marry before ordination; they cannot afterwards marry. And in the Latin Rite Catholic Church Deacons can be married but if their wife dies they may not remarry. These are the disciplines of ordination.

Peter: so why should we discount the ministry of a man simply because he has chosen marriage?

BFHU: The ministry of a man who marries is not discounted by the Church. It is his vocation just like priesthood is a vocation. The married man is purified through his marriage and models the loving union of the Trinity-Man/Woman/child. The fruitfulness of their love brings new life. And he fulfills his priesthood of believers by being:

a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

And the priest, also, is purified through the difficulties of his vocation. The fruitfulness of the Priest’s love of the bride of Christ brings new life, born for eternity in Heaven.

Peter: don’t we learn many otherwise impossible lessons through oneness with our wives? isn’t that why JB, JC, and paul all spoke of the relationship between man and wife as an allegory for Christ and the church?

BFHU: Absolutely accurate there! Thank you for your polite and excellent questions.

Peter: thanks for the response. i agree with you about your points, minus one problematic thing i have always disagreed with the church on. why if the word presbyter is the only word for “priest” do we think that now a priest SHOULD NOT be married.

BFHU: It is not a matter of “should not” but it is a matter of discipline for those who wish to shepherd the church of God, to give up marriage and family in order to devote all attention to the Bride of Christ. The Church does not forbid marriage to any one. All who feel called to the vocation of marriage are free to marry. Part of the discernment for the priesthood is, Am I willing? Am I able to give up marriage? Most are not called to the priesthood. It is a gift.

I Cor 7:1 It is good for a man not to marry…An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs —how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided.”

Peter: i understand there are some whom God calls to live celibate lives, but most of us burn with passion if we aren’t married.

And as St. Paul said, ” it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

BFHU:Very true and then they should marry but as Jesus said….

Matthew 19:12For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Peter:

besides that we are supposed to follow Tradition as it is passed down to us. the very earliest traditions (not only in the New Testament, but also in church history) there were many priests and bishops who were married.

BFHU: Please read I Cor 7 and realize that the Catholic Church takes Paul’s advice much more literally than most Protestants. The New Testament is the earliest Tradition. And we follow it. The Catholic Church still has married priests and celibate priests. The unmarried more closely follow the example of Christ in this matter.

Peter: so what do you do with the fact that peter (and others seemed to be married)? peter, according to the catholic church, is the first pope. what a precedent to set for popes who have the “discipline” of celebacy. we are to go by tradition, the church just seems to pick and choose which traditions it likes.

BFHU: Have you done any research to understand how and why the Church has made the decisions she has? I have experienced over and over thinking, “OK, now there can’t be a good explanation for this! But, once I looked into it, the explanation was beautiful and absolutely sublime. For instance, when a Jewish Levitical Priest was chosen to go into the Holy of Holies,as Zechariah father of John the Baptist was, they had to remain celibate for a month. Celibacy was a discipline for entering into the presence of God just one time on one day. But our priests are in the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist every day. Therefore, perpetual celibacy is a fitting fulfillment of the OT law. For more information, you might be interested in this article about the History of Celibacy. Also, and excellent book Clerical Celebacy is summarized herre–>Clerical Celibacy. Additionally, Tradition with a capital “T” refers to the unwritten teaching of the apostles. And the Catholic Church is as bound to follow that teaching as sacred scripture. Tradition with a lower case “t” would apply to the traditions of men, family traditions, ethnic traditions etc. Celibacy is a Church discipline, as it was passed down from the disciples and is what you WILL find today in the Catholic Church to this day.

Celibacy: Doesn’t this Contradict “the husband of one wife?”



Q. How could Paul command in 1 Tim. 3: 1-2 that a Bishop must be the husband of one wife, and for the Apostles to have handed down a tradition that teaches that priests and Bishops do not have to be married, or worse, are forbidden to be?!


BFHU:
I can see how you read the passage as commanding marriage but that is simply your interpretation. It could also be interpreted as “no more than one wife”. We know that priests and bishops were as first drawn from the married men. But Jesus gave the leaders of His Church the authority to bind and loose and even at the very birth of the Church celibacy began to be practiced even by the married. Why Celibacy? Priests and bishops were needed. The Church did not have the leisure to await the next generation before ordaining priests and bishops. So these were first taken from among the married. But they gave up conjugal rights. Jewish priests had to abstain from sex before offering sacrifice which was infrequent for any one priest. But the Christian priests offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice every day so celibacy became the norm.Why Can’t Catholic Priests Get Married?

Q. You mentioned several Catholic doctrines that supposedly do not have refutations.


BFHU:
I never said there are no refutation for Catholic Doctrines. Protestants, athiests etc. try to refute Catholic doctrine all the time.

Q. The whole notion that the Catholic Church is handing down oral teaching that is parallel to the Bible and comes directly from the Apostles is false.


BFHU:
Why? Do you have scripture to support this opinion?

Q. The early church quoted the scriptures to support the authority of what they said. So much so that we can reproduce the entire New Testament from their writings alone, save for about eleven verses.


BFHU:
And this proves that Catholic oral teaching is not in line with scripture? How so?

Q. 1 Tim. 4: 1-3 where Paul warns of some who would depart from the faith, forbid to marry and command to abstain from meats.


BFHU:
The Catholic Church does not forbid anyone to marry. All are free to choose marriage if that is what they believe is God’s will for their vocation. If a man chooses to become a priest he may not marry after his ordination. Does our culture forbid anyone from being a physician? No. But not just anyone can set up a medical practice. They must meet certain criteria. So it is with the priesthood. This line of reasoning to condemn the Catholic Church and a celibate priesthood is ridiculous. Besides our practice aligns with Scripture:

Matthew 19:12
For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Q. The question I would like to point out to you is, were these early church leaders quoting these scriptures in their letters back and forth to one another openly and saving these letters for posterity, while, in the back rooms, passing on the oral tradition that we can’t eat meat on Friday and priests and Bishops cannot marry???


BFHU:
You misunderstand because of lack of knowledge of the Catholic Faith. Both not eating meat on Fridays and priestly celibacy are merely disciplines they are not on the same level at all as dogma or doctrine or scripture. They are rules of the Church that can be changed when necessary. We are no longer required to abstain from meat on Fridays and there are some rites in the Catholic Church that still ordain married men. And it is theoretically possible that the rule could change and all rites could ordain married men. But in general, we prefer to imitate Christ in this matter and ordain to the priesthood, “eunuchs for the Kingdom of God”.

Q. Is it possible to reconcile these facts, or to continue to believe that the Catholic religion has not tried to make laws for God or taught an oral tradition that can not possibly be from the Apostles, or the early church leaders???


BFHU:
Where does Scripture say that the leaders of the Church are bound only to the rules of the Apostles? Where does the scripture teach sola scriptura? These are traditions of men. I challenge you to prove otherwise.

Q. More specifically, regarding some of the other doctrines you mentioned. The scriptures plainly say that Joseph took Mary to Himself but did not “know her” until after she gave birth to her firstborn Son. (Matt. 1: 18-25). I am not inferring anything here; rather the scripture clearly implies that he did eventually know her.


BFHU:
I understand why you interpret this this way. But it is not imperative to always interpret “until” the way you are. Because Scripture does NOT actually affirm that Joseph “knew Mary”. This is merely a later Protestant interpretation.
What Did the Reformers believe about the Perpetual Virginity of Mary?

Mary Ever Virgin

I Sam 15:35 Samuel did not see Saul again until</strong> the day of his death;

2 Samuel 6:23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children until the day of her death.

Did Samuel see Saul after his death? Or did Michal have children after her death? Scripture is not so uniform in its use of “until” as Protestants might think so using it to prove that Joseph knew Mary is futile.