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Author Topic: Celibate bishops-- why?  (Read 1197 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 23, 2014, 08:57:14 PM »

If you can have married men becoming priests, why not bishops? I'm asking not in the sense of necessarily demanding married clergy, but looking for arguments. The only argument I've seen is that it would be just too much work to be a father and a bishop at once, yet Anglican and Lutheran bishops manage just fine.
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2014, 08:58:50 PM »

Well, I'm single with no kids.
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2014, 10:11:36 PM »

If you can have married men becoming priests, why not bishops? I'm asking not in the sense of necessarily demanding married clergy, but looking for arguments. The only argument I've seen is that it would be just too much work to be a father and a bishop at once, yet Anglican and Lutheran bishops manage just fine.

Manage just fine?  They do, eh?
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2014, 12:41:43 PM »

If you can have married men becoming priests, why not bishops? I'm asking not in the sense of necessarily demanding married clergy, but looking for arguments. The only argument I've seen is that it would be just too much work to be a father and a bishop at once, yet Anglican and Lutheran bishops manage just fine.

Because technically bishops are to be celibate, not necessarily un- or non-married.
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2014, 01:19:52 PM »

I understand why. Bishops are pastoring an entire city, or multiple cities which as a single man is far easier than being an effective pastor and juggling a family which is constantly being ignored because of his duties.

It makes the spiritual strain way easier being single.

PP
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2014, 01:27:32 PM »

Well, I'm single with no kids.

Are you a bishop?  angel laugh
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2014, 01:43:17 PM »

Because bishops are chosen from the monastic clergy; not the secular clergy.
(You could have found this by a google search)
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2014, 02:30:00 PM »

If you can have married men becoming priests, why not bishops? I'm asking not in the sense of necessarily demanding married clergy, but looking for arguments. The only argument I've seen is that it would be just too much work to be a father and a bishop at once, yet Anglican and Lutheran bishops manage just fine.

But if you were called to literally give your all, you would have to choose between the two.
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2014, 02:41:38 PM »

Because bishops are chosen from the monastic clergy; not the secular clergy.
(You could have found this by a google search)

I believe an older widowed priest can also be a bishop.
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2014, 02:54:36 PM »

The problem with claiming that bishops must remain celibate because of the demands on their time is that you can just as easily apply it to priests. In fact, Roman Catholics often argue that their priests are celibate because of the demands on the office. The exclusively celibate episcopate seems to have arisen in the fourth century when bishops began to be selected more and more from monastic communities.
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2014, 03:08:13 PM »

The problem with claiming that bishops must remain celibate because of the demands on their time is that you can just as easily apply it to priests. In fact, Roman Catholics often argue that their priests are celibate because of the demands on the office. The exclusively celibate episcopate seems to have arisen in the fourth century when bishops began to be selected more and more from monastic communities.

Well, bishops deal with organizing the church itself which is a lot of work in itself, while priests deal with their families and parish which again is a lot of work in itself. And it's not just about time because being a bishop or a priest it's not like having an 8-hour job and then you go home and watch tv. They require your entire life to the point where it can even become difficult to look after your own person.
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2014, 03:51:39 PM »

This wasn't always the case.  St. Spyridon was a married bishop with kids.  But as Christianity started to grow and bishops were called upon to administer greater areas than simply that of a city including the surrounding the countryside, the church decided that the bishop, the man who is at the center of the unity of faith (see Ignatios' epistles), should not be constrained from ministering to his flock successfully which means removing hindrances, including wife and children.
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2014, 04:33:32 PM »

Well, I'm single with no kids.

Are you a bishop?  angel laugh

No.
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2014, 10:48:08 PM »

@ aristokles: reply # 3  "technically bishops are supped to celibate" ...but no necessarily (so)  Huh
This went by me a little fast, could you explain it a little more clearly please?
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2014, 02:14:55 AM »

sorry for the typos: supped should of course be 'supposed'
       and I --- hope --- you're not referring to immoral activity?
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2014, 11:14:08 PM »

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;


When did the EO church change this practice and why?
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2014, 11:18:18 PM »

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;


When did the EO church change this practice and why?

Well, every patristic commentary I've read seems to suggest that the "husband of one wife" actually meant that a Bishop could not remarry after the divorce and/or death of his first wife. However, that raises another question: why can't men become Bishops provided they get married prior to ordination like Priests? Technically the ancient canons don't forbid it, and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops. I imagine that it has more to do with de facto custom than actual theology. Bishops are usually chosen from monks, who are going to be celibate by default.
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2014, 11:36:22 PM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2014, 11:58:05 PM »

You're serious I thought the Scriptures applied to everybody reading the Bible.
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« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2014, 02:08:34 AM »

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;


When did the EO church change this practice and why?

When we began choosing our bishops from the monastic ranks who are celibate by definition (but who also may be married AND celibate).

Why? As I recall, in response to, and a solution for, the problem of the Turks' penchant for kidnapping our bishops and demanding ransom from the bishops' families and communities. (Islam has changed little there, apparently).

Second point, the canon setting the celibacy of the episcopate precedes the schisms.
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« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2014, 02:29:59 AM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
Yes, I too would like to know this.
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« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2014, 10:54:37 AM »

When did the EO church change this practice and why?

Quote from:  5th-6th Council
Canon 48

The wife of him who is advanced to the Episcopal dignity, shall be separated from her husband by their mutual consent, and after his ordination and consecration to the episcopate she shall enter a monastery situated at a distance from the abode of the bishop, and there let her enjoy the bishop's provision. And if she is deemed worthy she may be advanced to the dignity of a deaconess.
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« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2014, 06:31:48 PM »

When did the EO church change this practice and why?

Quote from:  5th-6th Council
Canon 48

The wife of him who is advanced to the Episcopal dignity, shall be separated from her husband by their mutual consent, and after his ordination and consecration to the episcopate she shall enter a monastery situated at a distance from the abode of the bishop, and there let her enjoy the bishop's provision. And if she is deemed worthy she may be advanced to the dignity of a deaconess.

Was this motivated by altruism (tough to have a family and be a bishop) or perhaps by a desire to ensure that married bishops did not produce sons who would assume the sees upon the passing or deposition of their biological fathers?
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« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2014, 06:32:53 PM »

When did the EO church change this practice and why?

Quote from:  5th-6th Council
Canon 48

The wife of him who is advanced to the Episcopal dignity, shall be separated from her husband by their mutual consent, and after his ordination and consecration to the episcopate she shall enter a monastery situated at a distance from the abode of the bishop, and there let her enjoy the bishop's provision. And if she is deemed worthy she may be advanced to the dignity of a deaconess.

I probably sound like Punch right now, but,

That sounds pretty cruel, heartless, and sacrilegious how the Church will break up a marriage and a family just to avoid having a married Bishop, which seems to be what this Canon is suggesting, unless I'm misinterpreting it.
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« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2014, 07:07:26 PM »

That sounds pretty cruel, heartless, and sacrilegious how the Church will break up a marriage and a family just to avoid having a married Bishop, which seems to be what this Canon is suggesting, unless I'm misinterpreting it.

You can always refuse episcopal ordination. 

I don't know how things were back then, but these days bishops will usually talk to the spouses of ordinands before proceeding with the ordination of their husbands.  Perhaps "mutual consent" in the canon above is not just mutual consent to the separation, but first mutual consent to the election/ordination.
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« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2014, 08:52:13 PM »

I've always heard the reason is not a clear rule, but rather an evolved state.  As the episcopacy became more demanding than it used to be in the Apostolic era, the preference laid heavily on celibate men for the episcopacy.  I'm not sure about the Trullo canon is this is a reason, but for the OOs, this gradually became so in diverse ways in every church throughout history.  I could pinpoint in one instance in the history of the Coptic Church, we did have a married bishop who was written up as a simonist and an opportunist with the Egyptian government.  When he couldn't become the Pope, he became the Metropolitan of Cairo and caused issues.
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« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2014, 10:28:42 PM »

Was this motivated by altruism (tough to have a family and be a bishop) or perhaps by a desire to ensure that married bishops did not produce sons who would assume the sees upon the passing or deposition of their biological fathers?

I too had actually heard that it was because the Early Church feared nepotism amongst bishops that bishops were chosen from the monastics; the idea that it was because balancing running a city's ecclesiastical affairs and family life would be too stressful is news to me and sounds too much like the justification used for a celibate clergy in the Catholic Church.
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« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2014, 10:52:02 PM »

Was this motivated by altruism (tough to have a family and be a bishop) or perhaps by a desire to ensure that married bishops did not produce sons who would assume the sees upon the passing or deposition of their biological fathers?

I too had actually heard that it was because the Early Church feared nepotism amongst bishops that bishops were chosen from the monastics; the idea that it was because balancing running a city's ecclesiastical affairs and family life would be too stressful is news to me and sounds too much like the justification used for a celibate clergy in the Catholic Church.

There's probably a little bit of all of that mixed up in the decision making process. And besides, those who wrote the narratives were not likely to ground a lofty canon in some earthly, pragmatic justification - they needed to point to a higher purpose. But it really doesn't matter today as the celibate episcopacy has become Tradition through centuries and centuries of consistent practice.
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« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2014, 05:47:51 PM »

That sounds pretty cruel, heartless, and sacrilegious how the Church will break up a marriage and a family just to avoid having a married Bishop, which seems to be what this Canon is suggesting, unless I'm misinterpreting it.

You can always refuse episcopal ordination. 

I don't know how things were back then, but these days bishops will usually talk to the spouses of ordinands before proceeding with the ordination of their husbands.  Perhaps "mutual consent" in the canon above is not just mutual consent to the separation, but first mutual consent to the election/ordination.

Is that even justified at all though?

"What God hath joined together let no man tear asunder" etc.
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« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2014, 06:37:04 PM »

That sounds pretty cruel, heartless, and sacrilegious how the Church will break up a marriage and a family just to avoid having a married Bishop, which seems to be what this Canon is suggesting, unless I'm misinterpreting it.

You can always refuse episcopal ordination. 

Oh something to live for! To meet the woman JamesR turns down becoming a Bishop for!
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« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2014, 07:09:33 PM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
Yes, I too would like to know this.
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« Reply #31 on: January 27, 2014, 07:54:23 PM »

I think it makes sense that men who have nothing, have been crucified for Christ, and devoted their lives to God (Monastics) should be the ones leading the Flock. They then have no earthly attachments, no other priorities. Not that they can't handle multitasking, but leading their Flock should be their only job at that point. I find that this view is similar to the idea that no consecrated servant or monastic of the church can work/have a job.  Wink
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« Reply #32 on: January 27, 2014, 08:08:49 PM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
Yes, I too would like to know this.
James, you have a couple of requests...consider my +1 a third request Wink
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« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2014, 12:08:27 AM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
Yes, I too would like to know this.
James, you have a couple of requests...consider my +1 a third request Wink

Someone might want to PM him. If it was a moderator's request, I know JamesR's living circumstances to be rather "in flux" at the moment, so he might need a little more time than what internet time allows, like a few days.
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« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2014, 12:09:52 AM »

^Ok. Thanks for telling us. Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: January 28, 2014, 12:10:24 AM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
Yes, I too would like to know this.
James, you have a couple of requests...consider my +1 a third request Wink

Someone might want to PM him. If it was a moderator's request, I know JamesR's living circumstances to be rather "in flux" at the moment, so he might need a little more time than what internet time allows, like a few days.
no, it's not a mod request...just friendly neighborhood member request...it's an honest one too! If be thrilled to find out that in the Orthodox Church, there are married bishops!
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« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2014, 12:25:31 AM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
Yes, I too would like to know this.
James, you have a couple of requests...consider my +1 a third request Wink

Bishop Daniel Alexander, founder of the African Orthodox Church. Judging from the article, it seems to suggest that he was married at the time he was ordained a Bishop because it says nothing about his second wife dying or being separated from him, which is strange in that it mentions his first wife's death. To be fair however, I'm not sure what the Canonical status of this guy is and what happened to the Church, as it seems to have fragmented.
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« Reply #37 on: January 28, 2014, 12:32:38 AM »

That sounds pretty cruel, heartless, and sacrilegious how the Church will break up a marriage and a family just to avoid having a married Bishop, which seems to be what this Canon is suggesting, unless I'm misinterpreting it.

You can always refuse episcopal ordination. 

Oh something to live for! To meet the woman JamesR turns down becoming a Bishop for!

Probably the first averagely attractive prostitute that even shows me a hint if genuine kindness  Cheesy

"Hey kid, want a good time?"
"Can I have a hug?"
"What?"
"A hug. I have mommy issues."
"Er, okay"
*hugs*
*Starts crying*
"You're the most beautiful woman ever I freaking love you!"
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You're really on to something here. Tattoo to keep you from masturbating, chew to keep you from fornicating... it's a whole new world where you outsource your crosses. You're like a Christian entrepreneur or something.
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James, you have problemz.
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« Reply #38 on: January 28, 2014, 12:52:36 AM »

To be fair however, I'm not sure what the Canonical status of this guy is and what happened to the Church, as it seems to have fragmented.

Did you seriously read that article and believe the guy and his jurisdiction were part of the Church? 
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« Reply #39 on: January 28, 2014, 01:31:34 AM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
Yes, I too would like to know this.
James, you have a couple of requests...consider my +1 a third request Wink

Bishop Daniel Alexander, founder of the African Orthodox Church. Judging from the article, it seems to suggest that he was married at the time he was ordained a Bishop because it says nothing about his second wife dying or being separated from him, which is strange in that it mentions his first wife's death. To be fair however, I'm not sure what the Canonical status of this guy is and what happened to the Church, as it seems to have fragmented.
alas James, you depress me with the reference...I assumed you talked about an Orthodox jurisdiction in the African continent, not an Orthoducks jurisdiction from/associated with the US :/
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« Reply #40 on: January 28, 2014, 09:13:45 AM »

... and there are certain African Orthodox Churches that have married Bishops.

Which?
Yes, I too would like to know this.
James, you have a couple of requests...consider my +1 a third request Wink

Bishop Daniel Alexander, founder of the African Orthodox Church. Judging from the article, it seems to suggest that he was married at the time he was ordained a Bishop because it says nothing about his second wife dying or being separated from him, which is strange in that it mentions his first wife's death. To be fair however, I'm not sure what the Canonical status of this guy is and what happened to the Church, as it seems to have fragmented.

It seems "vagante" is a word missing from your vocabulary. If not, and you suspected this was a pretended, made-up church, why present it as an example? I just don't get it.
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« Reply #41 on: January 31, 2014, 03:02:04 PM »

If you can have married men becoming priests, why not bishops? I'm asking not in the sense of necessarily demanding married clergy, but looking for arguments. The only argument I've seen is that it would be just too much work to be a father and a bishop at once, yet Anglican and Lutheran bishops manage just fine.

There is really only one answer to your question. For reasons known only to God. The Holy Spirit led the Church to require celibacy of its Bishops. Remember as Orthodox Christians, we believe that God leads the Church to the true observance of His will. In other words, when dealing with any theological issue, we determine what the Church has done historically and do that. We do not have to understand why, we only have to accept the belief that God guides the Church. In this case, God has guided His Church to require celibacy of its Bishops.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #42 on: January 31, 2014, 03:59:20 PM »

If you can have married men becoming priests, why not bishops? I'm asking not in the sense of necessarily demanding married clergy, but looking for arguments. The only argument I've seen is that it would be just too much work to be a father and a bishop at once, yet Anglican and Lutheran bishops manage just fine.

There is really only one answer to your question. For reasons known only to God. The Holy Spirit led the Church to require celibacy of its Bishops. Remember as Orthodox Christians, we believe that God leads the Church to the true observance of His will. In other words, when dealing with any theological issue, we determine what the Church has done historically and do that. We do not have to understand why, we only have to accept the belief that God guides the Church. In this case, God has guided His Church to require celibacy of its Bishops.

Fr. John W. Morris

That is generally true but I do have a few caveats. First, this is not a theological issue, but an ecclesiastic disciplinary one undertaken by the Council in Trullo. Second, the two canons adopted at Trullo did not reject married bishops but (a) forced currently married bishops to live separately from their wives and (b) forced married candidates for the episcopy to put their wives in a monastery after obtaining their consent. Third, the Fathers in Trullo recognized that their action ran contrary to Apostolic practice and canons (indeed the Scriptures) by phrasing the first canon as a perhaps temporary response to the scandalization of the faithful by married bishops living together with their wives. We have had many widowed bishops in our history. The current Archbishop Nikon of Boston comes to mind, as well as St. Innocent (Veniaminov) of Alaska--that is assuming that, at least our priests get married for eternity.

I think that under these circumstances, it may be better to defer to the Scriptures and the Apostolic canons than to a vague deference to Holy Tradition, which in this instance may be a pious custom rather than one with a capital T. There is a precedent for this; prior to the 1970s frequent communion was extremely rare and most likely was justified by "for reasons known only to God..." It changed, however, with a renaissance led by Father Schmemann of blessed memory, among others.
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« Reply #43 on: January 31, 2014, 04:05:26 PM »

If you can have married men becoming priests, why not bishops? I'm asking not in the sense of necessarily demanding married clergy, but looking for arguments. The only argument I've seen is that it would be just too much work to be a father and a bishop at once, yet Anglican and Lutheran bishops manage just fine.

But if you were called to literally give your all, you would have to choose between the two.

I did not realize until now that Saint Paul was joking with Saint Timothy when he says in 1 Timothy 3:

"1 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap."

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« Reply #44 on: January 31, 2014, 04:20:10 PM »

This wasn't always the case.  St. Spyridon was a married bishop with kids.  But as Christianity started to grow and bishops were called upon to administer greater areas than simply that of a city including the surrounding the countryside, the church decided that the bishop, the man who is at the center of the unity of faith (see Ignatios' epistles), should not be constrained from ministering to his flock successfully which means removing hindrances, including wife and children.
Could you point me to some references? The ones I am familiar with--the two canons of the Council in Trullo, do not have it. Rather, it seems that the faithful was scandalized because some bishops were living with their lawful wives.

"Canon 12. Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offense to the people. Since, therefore, it is our particular care that all things tend to the good of the flock placed in our hands and committed to us—it has seemed good that henceforth nothing of the kind shall in any way occur. And we say this, not to abolish and overthrow what things were established of old by Apostolic authority, but as caring for the health of the people and their advance to better things, and lest the ecclesiastical state should suffer any reproach. For the divine Apostle says: Do all to the glory of God, give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God, even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me even as I also am of Christ. But if any shall have been observed to do such a thing, let him be deposed." (my emphasis)

The italicized portion indicates how very aware the Fathers of this Council were of the following Scriptural and canonical precedents:

1 Timothy 3: "1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)..."

Apostolic Canon 6: "Let not a bishop, a priest, or a deacon cast off his own wife under pretence of piety; but if he does cast her off, let him be suspended. If he go on in it, let him be deprived."

Matthew 19:6 "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
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