Benedict XVI had doubts about celibacy

Pope Benedict XVI had doubts about the sense of maintaining the rule of priestly celibacy as a young professor of theology in Germany.  This is indicated by a document, which until now had remained unpublished and published by the magazine ‘Pipeline’, mouthpiece of the Circle of Action of Regensburg (AKR)-group of Catholic critics than it does today echo the newspaper “Suddeutsche Zeitung.

Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, appears among the signatories of that document, dated February 9, 1970 and sent to the German bishops’ conference.  A draft document was on file with the theologian Karl Rahner, one of the signatories, and his former colleague made it available for AKR.
“Our reflections suggest the need for an urgent review and differential treatment of the rule of celibacy for the German church and the universal church,” says the document whose signatories are, in addition to Ratzinger, people like Karl Lehman, later Cardinal and president of the German Bishops Conference, and Walter Kasper, now cardinal in the Roman curia.
Ratzinger and other theologians expressed concern that the celibacy rule not only lead to a shortage of candidates for the priesthood but also to a decrease in the talent of those who choose the priesthood. Theologians point to the difficulty of celibacy in the world today.  On the one hand, living alone often leads to loss of recognition of the priests in their communities. Furthermore, the practice of sexual continence in a world of erotic stimuli becomes increasingly difficult.
The document warns that if the issue of celibacy is not discussed at the highest level, sooner or later it will be discussed at a lower level, and express their fears about a loss of authority of bishops and a mass defection of priests.  The document recalls that celibacy is not dogma, and says that if you can not recruit enough young priests then the Church is bound to change.
http://homedailynews.com
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A Brief History of Celibacy in the Catholic Church

First Century
Peter, the first pope, and the apostles that Jesus chose were, for the most part, married men. The New Testament implies that women presided at eucharistic meals in the early church.

Second and Third Century
Age of Gnosticism: light and spirit are good, darkness and material things are evil. A person cannot be married and be perfect. However, most priests were married.

Fourth Century
306-Council of Elvira, Spain, decree #43: a priest who sleeps with his wife the night before Mass will lose his job.
325-Council of Nicea: decreed that after ordination a priest could not marry. Proclaimed the Nicene Creed.
352-Council of Laodicea: women are not to be ordained. This suggests that before this time there was ordination of women.
385-Pope Siricius left his wife in order to become pope. Decreed that priests may no longer sleep with their wives.

Fifth Century
401-St. Augustine wrote, “Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downwards as the caresses of a woman.”

Sixth Century
567-2nd Council of Tours: any cleric found in bed with his wife would be excommunicated for a year and reduced to the lay state.
580-Pope Pelagius II: his policy was not to bother married priests as long as they did not hand over church property to wives or children.
590-604-Pope Gregory “the Great” said that all sexual desire is sinful in itself (meaning that sexual desire is intrinsically evil?).

Seventh Century
France: documents show that the majority of priest were married.

Eighth Century
St. Boniface reported to the pope that in Germany almost no bishop or priest was celibate.

Ninth Century
836-Council of Aix-la-Chapelle openly admitted that abortions and infanticide took place in convents and monasteries to cover up activities of uncelibate clerics.
St. Ulrich, a holy bishop, argued from scripture and common sense that the only way to purify the church from the worst excesses of celibacy was to permit priests to marry.

Eleventh Century
1045- Benedict IX dispensed himself from celibacy and resigned in order to marry.
1074-Pope Gregory VII said anyone to be ordained must first pledge celibacy: ‘priests [must] first escape from the clutches of their wives.’
1095-Pope Urban II had priests’ wives sold into slavery, children were abandoned.

Twelfth Century
1123-Pope Calistus II: First Lateran Council decreed that clerical marriages were invalid.
1139-Pope Innocent II: Second Lateran Council confirmed the previous council’s decree.

Fourteenth Century
Bishop Pelagio complains that women are still ordained and hearing confessions.

Fifteenth Century
Transition; 50% of priests are married and accepted by the people.

Sixteenth Century
1545-63-Council of Trent states that celibacy and virginity are superior to marriage.
1517-Martin Luther.
1530-Henry VIII.

Seventeenth Century
Inquisition. Galileo. Newton.

Eighteenth Century
1776-American Declaration of Independence.
1789-French Revolution.

Nineteenth Century
1804-Napoleon.
1882-Darwin.
1847-Marx, Communist Manifesto.
1858-Freud.
1869-First Vatican Council; infallibility of pope.

Twentieth Century
1930-Pope Pius XI: sex can be good and holy.
1951-Pope Pius XII: married Lutheran pastor ordained catholic priest in Germany.
1962-Pope John XXIII: Vatican Council II; vernacular; marriage is equal to virginity.
1966-Pope Paul VI: celibacy dispensations.
1970s-Ludmilla Javorova and several other Czech women ordained to serve needs of women imprisoned by Communists.
1978-Pope John Paul II: puts a freeze on dispensations.
1983-New Canon Law.
1980-Married Anglican/Episcopal pastors are ordained as catholic priests in the U.S.; also in Canada and England in 1994.

Popes who were married

St. Peter, Apostle
St. Felix III 483-492 (2 children)
St. Hormidas 514-523 (1 son)
St. Silverus (Antonia) 536-537
Hadrian II 867-872 (1 daughter)
Clement IV 1265-1268 (2 daughters)
Felix V 1439-1449 (1 son)

Popes who were the sons of other popes, other clergy
Name of Pope Papacy Son of
St. Damascus I 366-348 St. Lorenzo, priest
St. Innocent I 401-417 Anastasius I
Boniface 418-422 son of a priest
St. Felix 483-492 son of a priest
Anastasius II 496-498 son of a priest
St. Agapitus I 535-536
Gordiaous, priest
St. Silverus 536-537 St. Homidas, pope
Deusdedit 882-884 son of a priest
Boniface VI 896-896 Hadrian, bishop
John XI 931-935 Pope Sergius III
John XV 989-996 Leo, priest

Popes who had illegitimate children after 1139
Innocent VIII 1484-1492 several children
Alexander VI 1492-1503 several children
Julius 1503-1513 3 daughters
Paul III 1534-1549 3 sons, 1 daughter
Pius IV 1559-1565 3 sons
Gregory XIII 1572-1585 1 son

History sources:
Oxford Dictionary of Popes; H.C. Lea History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church 1957; E. Schillebeeckx The Church with a Human Face 1985; J. McSorley Outline History of the Church by Centuries 1957; F.A.Foy (Ed.) 1990 Catholic Almanac 1989; D.L. Carmody The Double Cross – Ordination, Abortion and Catholic Feminism 1986; P.K. Jewtt The Ordination of Women 1980; A.F. Ide God’s Girls – Ordination of Women in the Early Christian & Gnostic Churches 1986; E. Schüssler Fiorenza In Memory of Her 1984; P. DeRosa Vicars of Christ 1988.

Myths and Facts

Myth: All priests take a vow of celibacy.
Fact: Most priests do not take a vow. It is a promise made before the bishop.

Myth: Celibacy is not the reason for the vocation shortage.
Fact: A 1983 survey of Protestant churches shows a surplus of clergy; the Catholic church alone has a shortage.

Myth: Clerical celibacy has been the norm since the Second Lateran Council in 1139.
Fact: Priests and even popes still continued to marry and have children for several hundred years after that date. In fact, the Eastern Catholic Church still has married priests.

In the Latin Church, one may be a married priest if:

* one is a Protestant pastor first; or
* if one is a life-long Catholic but promises never again to have sexual relations with one’s wife.

Myth: The vocation shortage is due to materialism and lack of faith.
Fact: Research (1985 Lilly endowment): “there is no evidence to support loss of faith for less vocations…youth volunteer and campus ministry is rising.”

We believe that priests should be allowed to marry and that
women have an equal right to have their call to ordination
tested along with male candidates.
We believe celibacy is a gift of the Spirit, as is the call to marriage
and the single life. Gifts cannot be mandated, so it is from a deep respect for the gift of celibacy that we request that it be made optional and not forced upon those who do not feel called in this way.

originally developed by Corpus Canada
revision jointly sponsored by Call To Action and FutureChurch

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Priest resigns mid-homily, protests Church celibacy rule

While celebrating Mass in Rio Tercero, Cordoba, Argentina, Fr. Germán Daveiga (38, photo), announced that he was leaving the priesthood. While stating that he was not in love with anyone at the moment, Fr. Daveiga explained that he preferred to “avoid difficult issues with celibacy and thus [had] decided to step aside out of respect for the Church, the people, my family, and myself.”

Later in a radio interview with Mitre 810, the priest clarified his position, saying that “celibacy lived honestly and faithfully sometimes leads us priests to a life of loneliness that is hard to bear.” He mentioned that the Eastern rite churches allow for married priests and suggested it was time for the Latin rite ones to reconsider the question. “Celibacy has an added value, but that value is not achievable by everyone. Also, we are not living under the same conditions as in other eras,” he added.

In a different radio interview, Fr. Daveiga, who also served for three years as a missionary priest in Camden, NJ, said that he will be leaving the rectory and will seek work outside the Church. He emphasized that he is not an activist and that he had mostly good memories of his time in seminary and his eight years of service as a priest. He said that he has received a lot of support in his decision from his family and his parishioners.

rentapriestsblog

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Women who have had relationships with priests pen open letter to Pope Benedict XVI.

by Alessandro Speciale — Special to GlobalPost
Published: May 26, 2010 13:44 ET
ROME, Italy — They are used to secrecy, to hiding their feelings, to waiting in the shadows for their men. But now a group of women who have had intimate relationships with Catholic priests has decided to speak up against celibacy.

As sex abuse scandals once again rock the Catholic Church, the 39 Italian women who are, or have been, in longtime sentimental and sexual relationships with Catholic priests have penned an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI, denouncing compulsory celibacy as a “torn up shroud.” In the letter, the women describe the closeted lives they lead as companions to priests and ask the pope to consider that, perhaps, their men can only fulfill their priestly duties with their lives fulfilled by marriage.

“In order to become effective witnesses to the need for love, they need to embody it and experience it fully, in the way their nature demands it,” the letter said. “Is it a sick nature? A transgressing one?”

A Vatican spokesperson, as is usual in these cases, declined to comment on the letter or on the women’s stories. But several women who signed and supported the letter agreed to speak with GlobalPost about their relationships with priests.

Antonella Carisio, 41, had always been engaged in parish life, so she didn’t think there was anything wrong with spending a lot of time with Edecir Calegari, the Brazilian priest with whom she ran the parish youth center. Then one evening in June 2006, when she was driving him back to the parish house, she says Calegari kissed her.

“I wrote him a letter that night, telling him I was sure it had been a mistake, that we should forget about it,” said Carisio. When they met again the next night, to “clarify” things, he kissed her again, “and that’s how our relationship started.”

It lasted for two and a half years. Calegari often slept at Carisio’s house. She says he even insisted on being introduced to Carisio’s son as his mother’s partner, not just as the local priest. “Everyone in my family knew, even my grandmother. They were all very nice to him,” she said.

Eventually, the couple was discovered: A fellow priest found one of Carisio’s letters in the parish house and reported Calegari to their superiors. He was moved to Rome and the two vowed to stay together: “When he left, he even gave me an engagement ring.”

But close to the Vatican and under constant scrutiny from superiors, Calegari quickly recovered confidence in his priestly identity, and agreed to do something he had promised Carisio he would never do: go back to Brazil as a missionary.

Calegari now says that he regrets “deeply” what happened, “also because I hurt her. It was a mistake.” He said he is happy in Brazil and thinks that putting an end to the relationship was the right choice: “I never thought of leaving the priesthood. Antonella and I were very close, she was a friend and a confidant, but I was never in love with her.”
“This is something that happens quite often,” said Stefania Salomone, a 42-year-old office manager from Rome. “Most of them are not ready to give up their life as priests for a woman. They want to have it both ways.”

Some of the relationships are not even sexual ones. Salomone’s priest never went beyond hugging her, she said, and when he finally admitted that there was something “real” between the two of them, he said it was over.

After this and another similar experience, she started a website for women who are in relationships with priests and is now in contact with about 50 other women. “There is never a happy ending,” she said. Priests cannot stand to give up being “sacred ministers,” “God’s intermediaries,” for the sake of the daily routine of married life.

Celibacy is compulsory for Catholic priests in the Western church, but its critics always point out that this rule is not spelled out by Jesus in the Gospel. Most of the Apostles, Salomone pointed out, were married, and so were the presbyteroi, the elders who exercised priestly authority in the first Christian communities, as described in the Act of the Apostles and St. Paul’s letters.

Though it was a common rule in the first centuries of the Christian era, celibacy in the Catholic Church started to be more strongly enforced only in the 11th century, and then after the Council of Trent, in the aftermath of the Reformation. Priests continued to have clandestine relationships, of course, but it was not until the Second Vatican Council in 1962 that many of them came into the open and left their offices. According to the semi-official Vatican magazine La Civilta Cattolica, nearly 60,000 priests left the church to get married after the Second Vatican Council.

However many men still feel both callings — to the priesthood and to marriage — and struggle with the rules. “One of the most recurring statements of priests to their ‘companions,’” wrote the women in their open letter, “sums it up in a few words: ‘I need you in order to be who I am,’ that is, a priest.”
The church’s reassignment of Calegari represents a typical response, according to the letter, which says that the church often rewards priests who give up their relationships with a promotion.

B., a 40-year-old lawyer from Tuscany who asked not to be named, said the priest she was involved with “was also critical of the church’s backwardness and of compulsory celibacy.” But this changed after the first months, when a new bishop gave the priest new career opportunities, which he quickly seized. That didn’t push him to end his relationship with B.: “I was closing his gaps, filling up his emotional holes,” she said. “He never had real doubts, no interior drama. Once he was sure that I was there for him, he was OK.”

Carisio said that like B. she never asked Calegari to renounce his vocation. He had entered seminary when he was just 12 and, she said, “he couldn’t deal with the idea of leaving the priesthood.” This would have meant giving up his whole life: “He couldn’t forsake the status and the privilege of being a priest, he couldn’t admit to being just a man.”

Leaving the priesthood would have meant “dealing with real life” for the first time, coping with issues such as finding a job or paying rent.

But it was not just practical concerns. Carisio said Calegari received idolizing letters from friends back home and was admired by his family. “He had always been told that he was dedicating his life to something superior, that trumps everything else.” Abandoning celibacy would have meant “stepping down from the pedestal he had been set upon.”

Along with Calegari’s “egoism and cowardice,” Carisio also blames his superiors for their “hypocrisy.” Their only concern was to protect him from her: “We should take them as models of love and brotherhood, but they do the contrary. They were shocked that a priest could fall in love, and then betrayed him.”

Calegari disagreed, saying his dedication to celibacy is strong. “Changing the church’s rule wouldn’t be a solution,” he added. “I studied in Rome with priests from Eastern Catholic Churches, who are allowed to marry, and they have worse problems. I made a mistake and it just happened, but I didn’t have strong feelings.”

Compulsory celibacy, write the women in their letter, is a “human law” that contrasts sharply with the everyday experience of priests’ lives, even though the church presents it as “God’s will.” The result is that most relationships eventually end in shame. “Why,” they ask the Pope, “all this destruction in the name of love?”

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Feminine beauty created for ‘spousal love,’ says Catholic professor

Crestview Hills, Ky., Aug 7, 2010 / 08:02 am (CNA).- Writing for this week’s edition of the Thomas More College journal, Catholic professor Mary Shivanandan addressed the topic of feminine beauty, explaining that a woman’s physical and spiritual attributes find their fullest expression in “spousal love,” whether in motherhood or consecrated celibacy.

On Aug. 5, The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts released its latest journal issue, Second Spring: an International Journal of Faith and Culture. This recent edition is dedicated to exploring the Theology of the Body from several perspectives.

In her article titled, “The Spousal Nature of Feminine Beauty in John Paul II,” Mary Shivanandan – a professor of Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family at the Catholic University of America – explores the theme of the purpose of a woman’s beauty and where it finds its fullest expression.

“Feminine bodily beauty!” Shivanandan began in her article. “Is this not a topic more suitable to a fashion magazine than a serious journal? What does it have to do with theology?”

“But John Paul II takes feminine beauty very seriously,” the professor underscored.

“Towards the end of the first cycle of his Catechesis on Human Love, he writes: ‘The whole exterior of woman’s body, its particular look, the qualities that stand with the power of perennial attraction … are in strict accordance with motherhood.’”

“Right away,” she added, “we have a perspective on the feminine body that is not characteristic of our culture, which either favors the thin straight silhouette of the fashion model or the dress open and showing curves to the navel.”

In modern society, woman “is presented either without sexual attributes or as a sex object,” the professor lamented. “How is it even possible to address a culture that treats the feminine body in this way?”

However, “John Paul II does not hesitate to rise to the challenge,” she wrote.

“When John Paul II links the visible bodily aspect of a woman with its power of perennial attraction ‘in strict accordance with motherhood,’ he may seem to be limiting the often wondrous visible beauty
of woman to one dimension.”

Yet, “the mystery of femininity manifests and reveals itself in its full depth through motherhood,” Shivanandan said, quoting the late Pontiff.

“This mystery, as he explains in his Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, involves ‘a special openness
to the new person’ on the part of woman through which she discovers her own identity precisely as woman.”

In this gift of self through the openness of bringing new life into the world, a woman not only realizes her identity as female, but reaches the fullest expression of what feminine beauty is, explained Shivanandan.

“Beauty, feminine beauty, which, as John Paul II says, is in strict accordance with motherhood, is
both a source and fruit of spousal love lived sacramentally in the family,” she noted. “From it radiates the beauty of the civilization of love.”

“It is the great challenge of our time to recover this sense of feminine beauty as intrinsically
spousal,” Shivanandon wrote.

In addition to a woman expressing her beauty as a gift of self through spousal love in marriage, the professor added, in “the consecrated virgin the spousal form is also present but expressed in a different way, as signifying the priority of personhood over bodily sexual attraction.”

“Espoused to the Lord, she points to the eschaton (heavenly reality) where there is no giving in human marriage. Thus the woman has to be affirmed in her role as person, oriented to self-gift, spouse and mother in a correct order.”

Shivinandan reflected that this “way of approaching feminine beauty is almost entirely foreign to our culture, which isolates feminine bodily beauty as a thing in itself, using it to sell products or titillate the senses.”

Pope John Paul II, however, “finds the search for what he calls ‘integral beauty’ or ‘purity free from stain’ in the bridegroom’s search in the Song of Songs,” the professor observed.

“He notes that the Song of Songs refers to the bride as ‘a garden closed,’ a ‘fountain sealed,’ because, in the Pope’s words, she is ‘the master of her own mystery.’”

“The authentic gift of the woman, which is essential to her personal dignity, is revealed in the gift of self as spouse and mother.”

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A scandal called priestly celibacy

Fr Joe Borg

Celibacy is a way for the priest to become more united with Christ and his mission.

For a growing number of people in our culture, celibacy is a waste of time and a waste of one’s life. How can one wish to be celibate in a culture which opts for hedonism and instant gratification as a basic value? Others take a more radical position, considering celibacy as a perversion.

For others, celibacy – the mandatory celibacy of priests and religious, and not celibacy per se – is at the root of several of the Church’s problems. The diminishing number of priestly vocations is blamed on mandatory celibacy. Even paedophilia is caused, in their estimation, by the celibate way of living expected from priests.

Take away compulsory celibacy and the Church would solve these thorny problems, they think. As if married priests would be shielded from the problems that harass other married people – infidelity, adultery, family quarrels, and so on.

Others consider celibacy as a scandal. The word scandal is not used here to mean a disgraceful action that damages the reputation of whoever does it, or of an institution whose members commit shameful actions.

A different meaning of the word scandal is used here. It is an action that radically challenges the dominant cultural mentality and becomes a sign of contradiction and negative admiration for the same culture. Christ was such a sign of contradiction and therefore a scandal, as St Paul, among others, attests.

On June 10, the Pope referred to this “scandalous” aspect of celibacy during the late-night vigil concluding the Year of Priests. A Slovakian priest asked the Pope to “enlighten us about the wisdom and the authentic meaning of ecclesial celibacy”.

Unfortunately, I was not present for the celebration; however, priests who were there told me it was an electrifying and edifying celebration. It ended at midnight, but they wanted it to keep on going. Like Peter on Mount Tabor they wished to keep on prolonging that extraordinary moment of grace.

During the vigil the Pope took a number of questions and answered them in his masterly style. Regarding the question of the Slovakian priest, the Pope accepted that:

“It is true that for the agnostic world, the world in which God does not enter, celibacy is a great scandal precisely because it demonstrates that God is considered and lived as a reality.”

This “scandalous” dimension points towards the core value of celibacy. Priestly celibacy is a way for the priest to become more united with Christ and his mission, in an anticipation of “the world of the resurrection”.

Benedict said that through celibacy the priest is pulled forward toward “the new and true life” of the future. “Celibacy, as the criticisms themselves show, is a great sign of faith, of the presence of God in the world.”

The commitment for celibacy is therefore a public manifestation in the belief in the future world. It is, in a certain sense, the actualisation in present time of our way of being in the Father’s bosom for eternity.

It is difficult to live celibacy in the fullness of its meaning, as it is difficult to live, for example, the virtues of humility, charity, obedience, compassion and justice.

The prayers and support of the Christian community, especially in moments of difficulty and, more so, in moments of failure, should be another sign that the Church is not just a human organisation but the family of the children of God striving today towards the fullness of life that we will eventually live tomorrow.

timesofmalta

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If celibacy is so self-evidently wonderful, why are Church officials so defensive about it?

By Eugene Cullen Kennedy

Determined to put down any threat to his already tottering autocracy, Tsar Nicholas allowed his troops to shoot into the crowds who were gathering before his palace seeking to tell him of his people’s widespread grievances. Is this the precedent for deploying Vatican sharpshooters on the roof of St. Peter’s to pick off anybody, from low level Catholics to high ranking Cardinals, who tells the Pope that celibacy may not be the “brilliant jewel” he thinks it is.

Bullets began chipping the marble close to Austria’s Cardinal Schonbrun after he said that a frank discussion of celibacy was a necessary part of the response to the sex abuse scandal. Roman journalist Sando Magister used buckshot to describe Schonbrun as the head of an “off-kilter” Church who by such a statement about celibacy is just reacting to “the pressure of public opinion.” Magister’s shot, cheap by any measure, signals the curial worker bees to swarm through the Vatican hive to buzz supportive remarks, also cheap by any measure, supporting celibacy as, well, a brilliant jewel, just like the Pope says.

The Pope topped off the Year of the Priest by telling 10,000 good priests at the Vatican (the papal equivalent of what the first Mayor Daley of Chicago called a “ruly crowd” at City Council meetings) that celibacy is, well, a jewel and it is not going to be pried out of its setting. It would be “a scandal,” he said, only in “a world where God is not there.”

If that’s clear to everybody — or to anybody — we still wonder why celibacy that was not brought down from the mountain by Moses or preached by Jesus, is defended as if it really were the crown jewel of Christendom?

James Carroll recently offered a brilliant analysis of celibacy’s relationship to the power driven clerical culture. Vatican sharpshooters are not defending celibacy but the clerical culture that could not exist without it. Clerical culture is high class male bonding that is often referred to as a celebration of fraternity. There is truth in that, of course, but clerical culture has more than an incidental similarity to a college fraternity that promotes good times, secrecy, exclusivity and privileges not granted to others. More importantly it promotes the fulfillment of ambition and an endowment with power. Men who make Skull and Bones at Yale often end up running the country. Men who embrace Roman clerical culture often end up running the Church.

There was a period in which clerical culture was a fun-filled place for healthy priests who were given enormous support by it and by the larger Catholic culture in which it was set. That culture enabled men to accept celibacy because its tone was set by the healthy priests who belonged to it. That culture shifted after Vatican II, as did the host Catholic culture around it. Even then, as studies of the priesthood done for the American bishops 40 years ago showed, most priests adjusted to celibacy rather than found it fulfilling in itself. They were like bachelors or favorite uncles, as they described themselves, who needed the extra boost that privileges that celibacy earned for them.

Celibacy is vigorusly defended because any questioning of it is a threat to the power center clerical culture that controls the Church at this time. Modify celibacy and this culture would collapse quickly. Allow women priests and the same culture would be under a siege that it knows that it cannot withstand.

If celibacy is so self-evidently wonderful, we may ask, why are Church officials, from the Pope down, so defensive about it? If it is such a brilliant jewel, why won’t they let us take a closer look at it? If it is filled with light, why do they keep it in the dark? Didn’t Jesus warn us to be careful of those who prefer the darkness to the light?

Eugene Cullen Kennedy is emeritus professor of psychology at Loyola University, Chicago.

Reprinted from the National Catholic Reporter online (June 24/10),

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A Brief History of Celibacy in the Catholic Church

First Century
Peter, the first pope, and the apostles that Jesus chose were, for the most part, married men. The New Testament implies that women presided at eucharistic meals in the early church.
Second and Third Century
Age of Gnosticism: light and spirit are good, darkness and material things are evil. A person cannot be married and be perfect. However, most priests were married.
Fourth Century
306-Council of Elvira, Spain, decree #43: a priest who sleeps with his wife the night before Mass will lose his job.
325-Council of Nicea: decreed that after ordination a priest could not marry. Proclaimed the Nicene Creed.
352-Council of Laodicea: women are not to be ordained. This suggests that before this time there was ordination of women.
385-Pope Siricius left his wife in order to become pope. Decreed that priests may no longer sleep with their wives.

Fifth Century
401-St. Augustine wrote, “Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downwards as the caresses of a woman.”
Sixth Century
567-2nd Council of Tours: any cleric found in bed with his wife would be excommunicated for a year and reduced to the lay state.
580-Pope Pelagius II: his policy was not to bother married priests as long as they did not hand over church property to wives or children.
590-604-Pope Gregory “the Great” said that all sexual desire is sinful in itself (meaning that sexual desire is intrinsically evil?).
Seventh Century
France: documents show that the majority of priest were married.
Eighth Century
St. Boniface reported to the pope that in Germany almost no bishop or priest was celibate.
Ninth Century
836-Council of Aix-la-Chapelle openly admitted that abortions and infanticide took place in convents and monasteries to cover up activities of uncelibate clerics.
St. Ulrich, a holy bishop, argued from scripture and common sense that the only way to purify the church from the worst excesses of celibacy was to permit priests to marry.
Eleventh Century
1045- Benedict IX dispensed himself from celibacy and resigned in order to marry.
1074-Pope Gregory VII said anyone to be ordained must first pledge celibacy: ‘priests [must] first escape from the clutches of their wives.’
1095-Pope Urban II had priests’ wives sold into slavery, children were abandoned.
Twelfth Century
1123-Pope Calistus II: First Lateran Council decreed that clerical marriages were invalid.
1139-Pope Innocent II: Second Lateran Council confirmed the previous council’s decree.
Fourteenth Century
Bishop Pelagio complains that women are still ordained and hearing confessions.
Fifteenth Century
Transition; 50% of priests are married and accepted by the people.
Sixteenth Century
1545-63-Council of Trent states that celibacy and virginity are superior to marriage.
1517-Martin Luther.
1530-Henry VIII.
Seventeenth Century
Inquisition. Galileo. Newton.
Eighteenth Century
1776-American Declaration of Independence.
1789-French Revolution.
Nineteenth Century
1804-Napoleon.
1882-Darwin.
1847-Marx, Communist Manifesto.
1858-Freud.
1869-First Vatican Council; infallibility of pope.
Twentieth Century
1930-Pope Pius XI: sex can be good and holy.
1951-Pope Pius XII: married Lutheran pastor ordained catholic priest in Germany.
1962-Pope John XXIII: Vatican Council II; vernacular; marriage is equal to virginity.
1966-Pope Paul VI: celibacy dispensations.
1970s-Ludmilla Javorova and several other Czech women ordained to serve needs of women imprisoned by Communists.
1978-Pope John Paul II: puts a freeze on dispensations.
1983-New Canon Law.
1980-Married Anglican/Episcopal pastors are ordained as catholic priests in the U.S.; also in Canada and England in 1994.
Popes who were married
St. Peter, Apostle
St. Felix III 483-492 (2 children)
St. Hormidas 514-523 (1 son)
St. Silverus (Antonia) 536-537
Hadrian II 867-872 (1 daughter)
Clement IV 1265-1268 (2 daughters)
Felix V 1439-1449 (1 son)
Popes who were the sons of other popes, other clergy
Name of Pope Papacy Son of
St. Damascus I 366-348 St. Lorenzo, priest
St. Innocent I 401-417 Anastasius I
Boniface 418-422 son of a priest
St. Felix 483-492 son of a priest
Anastasius II 496-498 son of a priest
St. Agapitus I 535-536
Gordiaous, priest
St. Silverus 536-537 St. Homidas, pope
Deusdedit 882-884 son of a priest
Boniface VI 896-896 Hadrian, bishop
John XI 931-935 Pope Sergius III
John XV 989-996 Leo, priest
Popes who had illegitimate children after 1139
Innocent VIII 1484-1492 several children
Alexander VI 1492-1503 several children
Julius 1503-1513 3 daughters
Paul III 1534-1549 3 sons, 1 daughter
Pius IV 1559-1565 3 sons
Gregory XIII 1572-1585 1 son
History sources:
Oxford Dictionary of Popes; H.C. Lea History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church 1957; E. Schillebeeckx The Church with a Human Face 1985; J. McSorley Outline History of the Church by Centuries 1957; F.A.Foy (Ed.) 1990 Catholic Almanac 1989; D.L. Carmody The Double Cross – Ordination, Abortion and Catholic Feminism 1986; P.K. Jewtt The Ordination of Women 1980; A.F. Ide God’s Girls – Ordination of Women in the Early Christian & Gnostic Churches 1986; E. Schüssler Fiorenza In Memory of Her 1984; P. DeRosa Vicars of Christ 1988.
Myths and Facts
Myth: All priests take a vow of celibacy.
Fact: Most priests do not take a vow. It is a promise made before the bishop.
Myth: Celibacy is not the reason for the vocation shortage.
Fact: A 1983 survey of Protestant churches shows a surplus of clergy; the Catholic church alone has a shortage.
Myth: Clerical celibacy has been the norm since the Second Lateran Council in 1139.
Fact: Priests and even popes still continued to marry and have children for several hundred years after that date. In fact, the Eastern Catholic Church still has married priests.
In the Latin Church, one may be a married priest if:
* one is a Protestant pastor first; or
* if one is a life-long Catholic but promises never again to have sexual relations with one’s wife.
Myth: The vocation shortage is due to materialism and lack of faith.
Fact: Research (1985 Lilly endowment): “there is no evidence to support loss of faith for less vocations…youth volunteer and campus ministry is rising.”
We believe that priests should be allowed to marry and that
women have an equal right to have their call to ordination
tested along with male candidates.
We believe celibacy is a gift of the Spirit, as is the call to marriage
and the single life. Gifts cannot be mandated, so it is from a deep respect for the gift of celibacy that we request that it be made optional and not forced upon those who do not feel called in this way.
originally developed by Corpus Canada
revision jointly sponsored by Call To Action and FutureChurch
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