Tuesday, September 10, 2019

"But the Eastern Churches have married priests..."



"I don't see what is the big deal about married priests. There's a tradition of married priests in the eastern Churches."

Granted. And such is not the tradition in the Latin Church. Do you care at all about the Latin tradition? Or is it only eastern churches that get a pass? No doubt these same people who say "Eh...it's cool, there's married priests in the East" would throw a fit if celibacy were somehow foisted on the East. They would raise the hue and cry and say how it was not part of the eastern tradition and how unjust it was. By the same token, can't you see how unjust it is to shove a married priesthood on the Latin rite churches of the West? Apparently it's always acceptable to dismantle the Latin Church if we can find some obscure justification for it in the annals of the East, but meanwhile the Eastern Churches are sacrosanct.

Also, a few points about this topic, because people are seriously uneducated about it:

It is not true that priests in the Latin rite used to be sexually active until celibacy was mandated in the Middle Ages. Latin rite priests were never sexually active; priestly celibacy is an apostolic tradition.

Yes the patristic Church had married priests, but these married priests were sexually continent. These priests remained married but were expected to live celibate. This is well established in the canons and writings of the fathers. 

In the eastern churches, married priests were expected to live in continence as well.

The tradition of allowing priests in the eastern Churches to be sexually active is not a patristic custom but something that began to encroach upon the east in the era of Justinian II (around 691) due to civil legislation relating to the bishoprics, inheritance, and other secular matters and is based on a misrepresentation of apostolic teaching. It takes its origin from the legislation of the Quinisext Council in Trullo.

Even if there were married priests, there was never an ancient tradition approving of a sexually active priesthood. Never.

Do the research. If you need a place to start, see our essays:

Book Review: The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy by Christian Cochini
The Truth About Priestly Continence and Celibacy in the Early Church
The Council of Ancyra and Clerical Celibacy
The Quinisext Council in Trullo and Priestly Celibacy



12 comments:

Ibelin said...

Something I've always wondered: if a married man becomes a priest and becomes celibate would he not be violating his marriage vows? What if his wife wants sex? If the primary role of marriage is to bring forth children how can he have one vow that overrides another? Does it matter if he's a priest first and then get married? Or what if he's married then becomes a priest?

Boniface said...

I don’t know. Married priests are no longer under that discipline. In the early church though the thinking seems to be that the vows of the priesthood superseded those of marriage. But I’ve never seen that stated. Seems to just be the unstated implication.

Jack said...

I think the idea would be that the wife signs away her marriage right in permitting her husband to be ordained. Also, she would have the right to veto his ordination and prevent it from happening. In other words, the ordination of a married man is, at least in principle, a joint decision of both husband and wife, since according to apostolic tradition she would be losing her marriage right in allowing her husband to be ordained to the priesthood, which is indeed celibate according to tradition. I think there's a kind of limp-wristed reference to this principle in the post Vatican II document about ordaining married men to the diaconate. It says something about the wife being involved in the decision. I think this is a tacit admission that the deacon is in principle meant to be celibate (clerical celibacy is supposed to begin at the subdiaconate, if I'm not mistaken), however in practice married deacons after Vatican II have not been expected to practice celibacy so the text which talks about the wife discerning the vocation of the diaconate with her husband is made rather redundant, at least in practice. Perhaps there's a very small number of post Vatican II married deacons who voluntarily imposed celibacy on themselves after their diaconal ordination, which would indeed be something requiring the cooperation of the wife.

John F. Kennedy said...

A vow of Celibacy is vow not to marry. All celibates (unmarried) are EXPECTED to be chaste, ie, refrain from sexual relations. A typical Latin Rite Priest is celibate and by definition chaste.

Canon Law 277 REQUIRES ALL clergy (bishops, priests and DEACONS) "... to observe perfect and perpetual continence." NO Sex, even if married.

"1983 CIC 277. § 1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity. § 2. Clerics are to behave with due prudence towards persons whose company can endanger their obligation to observe continence or give rise to scandal among the faithful. § 3. The diocesan bishop is competent to establish more specific norms concerning this matter and to pass judgment in particular cases concerning the observance of this obligation."

Read more here; http://www.canonlaw.info/a_deacons.htm

Boniface said...

@John F Kennedy,

Yes, but deacons are always dispensed from this today.

This means that if the discipline is changed it will have to entail a rewrite of canon law in this regard.

John F. Kennedy said...

Boniface, who has given Bishops the Authority to dispense Deacons from this Canon Law requirement? This requirement is for Clergy. If deacons can be dispensed, which like Dr. Ed Peters I don't think so, then that same Authority could dispense the rest of the clergy from the requirement.

Boniface said...

John, forgive me because I can't find the details at the moment, but I don't believe this is something that random bishops do. I believe it is something that was approved by Rome shortly after the establishment of the Permanent Diaconate. But I do know that it is fairly universal for permanent deacons to be dispensed from the requirement of celibacy.

Cheryllisa said...

FYI: In regards to already married men and the Diaconate

CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION

RATIO FUNDAMENTALIS
INSTITUTIONIS
DIACONORUM PERMANENTIUM

BASIC NORMS
FOR THE FORMATION
OF PERMANENT DEACONS

Chapter IV

THE DIMENSIONS OF THE FORMATION
OF PERMANENT DEACONS

Section 68, third paragraph:

For married candidates, to live love means offering themselves to their spouses in a reciprocal belonging, in a total, faithful and indissoluble union, in the likeness of Christ's love for his Church; at the same time it means welcoming children, loving them, educating them and showing forth to the whole Church and society the communion of the family. Today, this vocation is being hard tested by the worrying degradation of certain fundamental values and the exaltation of hedonism and a false conception of liberty. To be lived out in all its fullness, the vocation to family must be nourished by prayer, the liturgy and a daily offering of self.(83)

Jack said...

From Canon Lawyer, Prof. Edward Peters :—


Over the last few decades, various theologians and Church historians (including Stickler, Heid, Cochini, Keefe, McGovern, and Levada) have concluded that complete sexual continence has been, from ancient days, an expectation for all clerics in the Western Church, even those clerics who are married.


https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/summary-of-the-clerical-continence-debate-and-response-to-a-recent-roman-statement-thereon/

Jack said...

From Canon Lawyer, Prof. Edward Peters :—


Turning specifically to married men seeking orders (and by implication of cc. 277 and 1042, such men may only seek ordination to the permanent diaconate), c. 1031, §2 states: "A candidate for the permanent diaconate ... who is married [is not to be ordained] until after completing the thirty-fifth year of age and with the consent of his wife."16 There is no doubt, of course, that by expressly admitting married men to the permanent diaconate, the canonical obligation of clerical celibacy, a secondary or derivative good distinguishable from the more fundamental obligation of continence set forth in c. 277 § 1, is abrogated for such men. But no canonical provision makes any reference, let alone an express one, to lifting the clear and unqualified obligation of continence binding all clerics already established. Indeed, the extraordinary phrase "with the consent of his wife" suggests just the opposite.17

[[
17 The consent of the wife must, moreover, be made in writing and included in the documents to be assembled prior to ordination, underscoring the significance of her decision in this regard. See C/C,/1983, c. 1050, 3°, constituting a second assertion of the wife's veto power over her husband's ordination. Although the 1983 Code does not directly address the matter of women marrying (widowed) permanent deacons, the latter of whom would have needed to obtain dispensations for such marriages (C/C,/1983, c. 1087), the same specific uxorial consent would seem to be required. See, e.g., UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS, National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, no. 75, Washington, D.C., United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005, p. 36.
]]

[...]

None of these commentators considers the question, however, from this point of view, namely, how it comes to be that the consent of a third party (i.e., not the hierarchically authorized minister and not the sui compos recipient) is necessary for any adult to receive any sacrament in the Church.22 Presumably, though, if the wife's consent must be obtained prior to a married man's diaconal ordination, such consent might be withheld, at which point an ordination should not proceed.23 To attribute this significant power in a wife over her husband's ordination primarily, let alone solely, to her concerns for the practicalities of domestic life seems strained.

But the extraordinary and twice-mentioned (CIC 1983, cc. 1031, §2 and 1050, 3°) requirement of uxorial consent to the husband's ordination would be understandable, indeed, wholly justified, if, as a result of the husband's ordination, the wife were to suffer the loss of one of her own fundamental marital rights24 as would be the case if all clerics, including married permanent deacons, were bound under c. 277, §1 to the obligation of "perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." In that case, obviously, the husband's choice to accept ordination and to assume its burdens, including continence (albeit without celibacy) would leave the wife without the opportunity to exercise her legitimately acquired conjugal rights. It is in the face of her own loss of conjugal rights, I suggest, and not because of some vague notions of marital harmony—and even less to canon law having granted one person a power of personal preference over another's ability to receive a sacrament—that the 1983 Code recognize a wife's extraordinary power of veto over her husband's desire to seek the sacrament of orders.25


https://www.canonlaw.info/Studia%20c.%20277.pdf

Jack said...

Following up my earlier speculation that there may be a very small number of post Vatican II "permanent" deacons who have imposed the discipline of clerical continence upon themselves, I just happily discovered that such a thing does exist:

https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/dcn-john-cornelius-and-his-wife-sheryl-are-doing-a-praiseworthy-thing/

Konstantin said...

There have been at least two Eastern Catholic synods in the late 19th century that made celibacy obligatory, that of Sharfeh in 1888 for all priests of the Syriac Catholic Church and that of Alexandria in 1898 for all clergy in Major orders of the Coptic Catholic Church. I do not know if these laws remain in force today.