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Author Topic: Catholics accepting second-best priests  (Read 3056 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 13, 2006, 07:27:02 AM »

I saw on TV a RCC priest saying that the reason celibacy was very important was because a priest is better equipped to minister to the flock if he's celibate. I thought that this was odd to say because there's many Catholic priests that are married (in Uniat Churches). By implication these priests are second-rate compared to the celibate ones.

Married priests aren't quite as good, according to Catholic documents....
The consecration to Christ under an additional and lofty title like celibacy evidently gives to the priest, even in the practical field, the maximum efficiency and the best disposition of mind, mentally and emotionally, for the continuous exercise of a perfect charity.[55] This charity will permit him to spend himself wholly for the welfare of all, in a fuller and more concrete way.[56] It also obviously guarantees him a greater freedom and flexibility in the pastoral ministry,[57] in his active and living presence in the world, to which Christ has sent him[58] so that he may pay fully to all the children of God the debt due to them
http://www.vocations.com/priest/celibp6.html
and
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ENCYC/P6SACERD.HTM
 
Given that the Catholic Church also allows for married priests this would mean, but their own argument, that they are willfully accepting second-best practice.

Of course if they want to put forward another argument for celibate priests that would be worth identifying.
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2006, 10:07:54 AM »

I was told that the initial reason for Rome mandating celibacy for the priests was because there was a conflcit in Rome where priests' sons wanted to own the properties which their fathers managed, whereas the church would rather want to keep the property for the faithful.

Thats just what I was told but that could be very well the original reason.
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2006, 01:50:38 PM »

It's an old argument, don't expect the Catholic apologists to give it up until they finally let go of clerical celibacy. When Catholic priests went into the Bulgarian kingdom in the 9th century, they convinced the Bulgarians to kick the Orthodox (Constantinople) priests to the curb using a string of arguments, all of which had no theological or dogmatic significance whatsoever. One of their arguments was... you guessed it... that Orthodox priests were married, and thus probably had sex, and thus were not as pious as the Catholics. But it went even further, for priests are supposed to refrain from sexual relations before the eucharist, but the Catholics argued (probably somewhat correctly) that if a priest was married and wanted to have sex, then it was likely that the amount of services might be cut so that the priest could satisfy his desires (either that, or the priest wouldn't cancel services, and he'd give communion while he was unprepared, and even possibly defiled).
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2006, 07:36:45 PM »

I was told that the initial reason for Rome mandating celibacy for the priests was because there was a conflcit in Rome where priests' sons wanted to own the properties which their fathers managed, whereas the church would rather want to keep the property for the faithful.

Thats just what I was told but that could be very well the original reason.

I heard something similar. They ruled on this some time in the 1100s, or the 1200s.
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2006, 08:09:10 PM »

Mandatory celibacy goes all the way back to the fourth century in some parts of the west. There is even a story in one of the 5th century Church historians about a Spanish bishop trying to enforce celibacy on the entire Church at the First Ecumenical Council, only to be thwarted by a monk/bishop named Paphnutius, who had become very respected because of his resolve shown during the persecution of Diocletian. The authenticity/validity of this story is debated, however. But the point is that the issue was raising it's head even then, and mandatory celibacy was not simply a post-schism phenomenon (which seems to be the direction this is going).
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2006, 09:58:15 PM »

Mandatory celibacy goes all the way back to the fourth century in some parts of the west. There is even a story in one of the 5th century Church historians about a Spanish bishop trying to enforce celibacy on the entire Church at the First Ecumenical Council, only to be thwarted by a monk/bishop named Paphnutius, who had become very respected because of his resolve shown during the persecution of Diocletian. The authenticity/validity of this story is debated, however. But the point is that the issue was raising it's head even then, and mandatory celibacy was not simply a post-schism phenomenon (which seems to be the direction this is going).
I thought that there was some council in the 1100s or the 1200s. Sorry I'm rather vague about this, as I haven't read anything about this for some time.
(which seems to be the direction this is going).
You seem to indicate that it is a particular western thing, even prior to the schism.
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2006, 10:40:51 PM »

We should all become monks!!  Cheesy

One thing I value about the Eastern church is that its bishops are taken from the monasteries. These I suppose are first rate whereas married bishops would be second rate. Hmm there goes the argument.
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2006, 11:18:13 PM »

Mont, buddy, pal,

Why did you quote me out of context?  Huh I said:

"But the point is that the issue was raising it's head even then, and mandatory celibacy was not simply a post-schism phenomenon (which seems to be the direction this is going)."

My point about the "direction" I saw in your post was to place mandatory celibacy after the schism, thereby making it something those naughty Latins did. My point was that the issue was around for 650 years or more before the schism, that the east knew about the issue, but not one time did an Orthodox writer list it as an unOrthodox innovation (and many, such as Photius, listed some pretty minor customs as points of contention). I think the Catholics are shooting themselves in the foot big time with the mandatory celibacy thing, but I also don't think it's fair for Orthodox to attack Catholics for that custom. And of course, you did not say that in your initial post, I was just worried that that was the direction it was going (since it almost always does on the internet discussions), so I wanted to launch a pre-emptive strike! Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2006, 11:56:22 PM »

I agree with Asteriktos, celibate bishops point to the same creeping disease in Orthodoxy;
I am not being a Catholic apologist here; it's just facts. Sorry, Orthodoxy has warts. If you think it is perfect and without faults, at some point you will become disillusioned and your faith will come crashing down.

It may just be that sacerdotalism affected both east and west (west to a greater degree); it became the tradition but isn't necessarily holy tradition.
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2006, 01:00:49 AM »


Why did you quote me out of context?  Huh I said:

"But the point is that the issue was raising it's head even then, and mandatory celibacy was not simply a post-schism phenomenon (which seems to be the direction this is going)."

My point about the "direction" I saw in your post was to place mandatory celibacy after the schism, thereby making it something those naughty Latins did. My point was that the issue was around for 650 years or more before the schism, that the east knew about the issue, but not one time did an Orthodox writer list it as an unOrthodox innovation (and many, such as Photius, listed some pretty minor customs as points of contention). I think the Catholics are shooting themselves in the foot big time with the mandatory celibacy thing, but I also don't think it's fair for Orthodox to attack Catholics for that custom. And of course, you did not say that in your initial post, I was just worried that that was the direction it was going (since it almost always does on the internet discussions), so I wanted to launch a pre-emptive strike!
I don't believe I was quoting you out of context. I recognise the facts you give putting the 'debate' prior to the schism. I also note (by your own facts) that it was a western church 'issue' (or more specifically something that seemed to trouble western churches; even though we were all one big happy church at the time).

I am not arguing against you as such, I am just noticing that within the facts you've presented, which I'm not disputing, it shows a problem in the west. Buddy. Smiley

Although this will appear that I am trying to minimise the error to that of the western parts of the church, that seems to be the case BY THE FACTS YOU'VE PRESENTED SO FAR. Like the fact the filioque clause first raised its head in Spain prior to the schism.

So again I accept your facts that this discussion happened prior to the Catholics splitting from us. I just note the 'trend' happening in one area. Buddy Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2006, 08:08:22 AM »

I agree with Asteriktos, celibate bishops point to the same creeping disease in Orthodoxy;
I am not being a Catholic apologist here; it's just facts. Sorry, Orthodoxy has warts. If you think it is perfect and without faults, at some point you will become disillusioned and your faith will come crashing down.

It may just be that sacerdotalism affected both east and west (west to a greater degree); it became the tradition but isn't necessarily holy tradition.
The Orthodox Church is infallible on matters of dogma. I don't know if celibate clergy counts as dogma though, and I am also accepting of the fact that individuals or groups within it have erred
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2006, 04:40:16 PM »

One thing I value about the Eastern church is that its bishops are taken from the monasteries. These I suppose are first rate whereas married bishops would be second rate.
What married bishops?  

There goes what?
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2006, 05:12:14 PM »

One thing I value about the Eastern church is that its bishops are taken from the monasteries. These I suppose are first rate whereas married bishops would be second rate. Hmm there goes the argument.  

All of our bishops are celibate, but most are not from monasteries.  

In fact, canonically those who take the great schema should never become Bishops, for in that case they will either a) break their obedience to the abbot and monastery by leaving and becoming subject to the synod, or b) fall into schism by not being in obedience to the synod but rather to the abbot.

Also, there is no idea of "second-rate" for married clergy in Orthodoxy, because sexuality and sex aren't treated like necessary evils in Orthodox theology, but rather as blessings and aids to salvation when used properly.
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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2006, 05:56:07 AM »

All of our bishops are celibate, but most are not from monasteries. ÂÂ
My understanding is that you must choose to be celibate or not prior to being a priest. And you must be married before become a 'married priest'... i.e. you can't marry once you're a priest. And, if your wife dies, you can't re-marry... I don't know why.
Also, there is no idea of "second-rate" for married clergy in Orthodoxy, because sexuality and sex aren't treated like necessary evils in Orthodox theology, but rather as blessings and aids to salvation when used properly.
It's the religion for me  Wink
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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2006, 01:57:48 PM »

And, if your wife dies, you can't re-marry... I don't know why.

I think because the priest is supposed to be a father to the laity, so how could he do this and then date and marry one of them?
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2006, 02:10:34 PM »

....you can't marry once you're a priest. And, if your wife dies, you can't re-marry... I don't know why.

I believe it's largely because of how 1 Timothy 3:2 is interpreted.
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2006, 07:27:25 PM »

I think because the priest is supposed to be a father to the laity, so how could he do this and then date and marry one of them?
Can you cease being a priest, then marry, and then become a priest again?
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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2006, 07:59:06 PM »

My understanding is that you must choose to be celibate or not prior to being a priest. And you must be married before become a 'married priest'... i.e. you can't marry once you're a priest. And, if your wife dies, you can't re-marry... I don't know why.

Ahh, well: yes, you must chose whether or not you will be married/celibate before ordination; canonically, before one's ordination to the Subdeaconate (enforced strictly in the GOA, while in the OCA and AOA they are dispensing with the requirement for subdeacons for awhile and allowing them to marry before becoming deacons).

As for re-marriage: if the wife dies, then the husband, in the case of the priest, is supposed to carry on as a widower, which is seen as a holy state to be in; the rest of the story I think Anna and pravoslavbob cover quite well.  Dating members of the flock, of the spiritual family, is seen as a big no-no... and when it does happen, it causes quite a stir (I know of a few cases of priests dating around, and it gets ugly).  

As for the later question, of leaving the Priesthood and then coming back, the Priesthood is seen as a permanent state; if one were to leave the ministry, they would be forfeiting their rights to practice forever, but unless they did something within a specific range of circumstances, their ordinations are still valid.

Let me explain better: ordination is permanent, if the conditions are met.  If it is found out that the ordainee lied about something, or there was some circumstance unknown at the time of ordination that would have prevented the ordination, then ordination is seen as void from the beginning (while any legitimate acts done, like weddings and baptisms, are upheld by economy).  Otherwise, if a priest commits adultery, murder, or anything else to get themselves "defrocked" or "returned to the status of a layman" or whatever it will be called, his ordination is seen as permanent, but overridden/nullified in practice by the synod, and thus, they can never practice again.  If one were to "leave" the priesthood, they would be renouncing the office, and thus wouldn't be allowed to practice again.
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2006, 03:42:45 AM »

Cleveland
very informative post
thank you
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2006, 03:54:45 AM »

Ahh, well: yes, you must chose whether or not you will be married/celibate before ordination; canonically, before one's ordination to the Subdeaconate (enforced strictly in the GOA, while in the OCA and AOA they are dispensing with the requirement for subdeacons for awhile and allowing them to marry before becoming deacons).

As for re-marriage: if the wife dies, then the husband, in the case of the priest, is supposed to carry on as a widower, which is seen as a holy state to be in; the rest of the story I think Anna and pravoslavbob cover quite well.  Dating members of the flock, of the spiritual family, is seen as a big no-no... and when it does happen, it causes quite a stir (I know of a few cases of priests dating around, and it gets ugly). ÂÂ

As for the later question, of leaving the Priesthood and then coming back, the Priesthood is seen as a permanent state; if one were to leave the ministry, they would be forfeiting their rights to practice forever, but unless they did something within a specific range of circumstances, their ordinations are still valid.

Let me explain better: ordination is permanent, if the conditions are met.  If it is found out that the ordainee lied about something, or there was some circumstance unknown at the time of ordination that would have prevented the ordination, then ordination is seen as void from the beginning (while any legitimate acts done, like weddings and baptisms, are upheld by economy).  Otherwise, if a priest commits adultery, murder, or anything else to get themselves "defrocked" or "returned to the status of a layman" or whatever it will be called, his ordination is seen as permanent, but overridden/nullified in practice by the synod, and thus, they can never practice again.  If one were to "leave" the priesthood, they would be renouncing the office, and thus wouldn't be allowed to practice again.
Ta  Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2006, 12:33:32 AM »

There was at least one case at Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, when a widowed priest re-married upon the permission of the Synod. He is an excellent priest and I would like to emphasize that he asked the permission for doing so.
In terms of bishops from monasteries. In Ukraine, where I am originally from, the Synod is above abbots. So if the Synod makes a decision about a monk from any monastery becoming a bishop, an abbot has to obey. But in reality, those hierarchs, who are promoted to be bishops immediately from the monasteries are not an overwhelming majority. Even when such situation happens, it applies to either abbots or priest-monks from lead monasteries.
Also, widowed priests can become bishops with a monastic tonsure prior to their ordination to the episcopacy. Usually in such cases, the tonsure transpires between a decision of a Synod of a Local Orthodox Church about episcopacy of that person and an ordiantion.
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« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2006, 03:00:21 AM »

There was at least one case at Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, when a widowed priest re-married upon the permission of the Synod. He is an excellent priest and I would like to emphasize that he asked the permission for doing so.

I believe you are referring to Fr Joseph Allen.  This was a controversial move, to say the least.
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« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2006, 06:57:57 AM »

I believe you are referring to Fr Joseph Allen.  This was a controversial move, to say the least.
Some people seem to think Antiochians are too controversial.
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« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2006, 10:42:45 AM »

There are very few "rules" (or canons, or whatnot) which cannot be dispensed with by the Synods for pastoral/special reasons.  In Orthodoxy the principle of Economy, which is oft-overused by people and bishops alike, both in speech and action, carries with it the idea that an act permitted under economy does not set precedent.  So the Antiochian synod was well within their rights to dispense with the rule for the one case.  If their decision was wrong, God may or may not call them out on it - in His time, of course Wink .
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« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2006, 11:54:20 AM »

I believe you are referring to Fr Joseph Allen.  This was a controversial move, to say the least.
If that is the case that I've heard about, correct me if I'm mistaken but isn't it true that he functions primarily as a teacher and does not lead a parish?
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« Reply #25 on: April 18, 2006, 01:13:43 PM »

There are intermediate states of canonical, um, dealings with a priest, where he is not permitted to celebrate the sacraments but he still retains the "dignity" of office; this is also a possibility in this case with this particular priest.  Since I don't know details, I won't speculate!
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« Reply #26 on: April 18, 2006, 02:52:15 PM »

If that is the case that I've heard about, correct me if I'm mistaken but isn't it true that he functions primarily as a teacher and does not lead a parish?

I don't know.  At the time that this happened, he was a professor at St. Vladmir's Seminary.  I don't want to get into all the details right now, if you don't mind [Holy Week].  Suffice it to say that this set back relations between the OCA and the Antiochians quite a bit.  Fr Joseph wrote a book about the whole thing (from his perspective of course), and I'm sure that if you google his name you can find lots of things, some factual, some possibly not, I would guess.
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« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2006, 03:03:43 PM »

I have a copy of that book. "Widowed Priest"

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« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2006, 01:00:55 AM »

I believe you are referring to Fr Joseph Allen. ÂÂ
Yes, I do. And I respect him and his decision. If he were to divorce and then to marry without an approval from the Synod, that would be another story. The thing is that I know very well a priest in Ukraine, whose wife passed away from a very painful cancer in a young age. I could witness her and his tragedy. When I saw suffering of friends, it does not become an abstract any more. Hopefully, one day it will be a Pan-Orthodox decision to allow widowed priests to marry.
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« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2006, 01:18:24 AM »

Yes, I do. And I respect him and his decision. If he were to divorce and then to marry without an approval from the Synod, that would be another story. The thing is that I know very well a priest in Ukraine, whose wife passed away from a very painful cancer in a young age. I could witness her and his tragedy. When I saw suffering of friends, it does not become an abstract any more. Hopefully, one day it will be a Pan-Orthodox decision to allow widowed priests to marry.

If you want to discuss this more, then we can discuss it after Pascha, but as I said earlier, I'm not going near  this until Holy Week is over.  Thanks.
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