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16 November 2006 @ 01:31 pm
I wouldn't want them standing behind me, but you get the point.  
The Vatican has decided to stand behind the requirement that Catholic priests remain celibate.

Quoting from the article, the Vatican issued a statement that included, "The value of the choice of priestly celibacy... has been reaffirmed."

Now, the article does not go into the reasoning used by the Vatican in retaining the tradition of celibacy for unmarried priests. (As the article mentions, the Roman Catholic Church has accepted conversion by formerly Anglican priests who were already married, so the rule isn't universal for all Catholic priests.) I'm curious why in an age when the Catholic priesthood is "greying away," this archaic requirement would remain. I understand the theological implications of a priest being married only to the Church, aka the "Bride of Christ." I'm curious how the Church reconciles the idea of a priest being wed to the Church and thus being just one more husband after Jesus. I'm also curious to know how the Church deals with the theory that Jesus was in fact married to Mary Magdalene, but let's not digress into that territory just now.

I'm also curious to know if one person's conclusion on the reasoning behind this remains true: when a Catholic priest dies, who receives his worldly possessions? Who inherits from a priest who has never had children? I'm sure this depends in part on the local laws, but ... would that be the Church, by any chance? Add to this the thought that a wife would be competition for a man's loyalty to the Holy See and it seems like the Church is engaging in the behavior of cults of personality, isolating its membership from the world, from family, and from any sources of love or self-esteem outside of the cult authority chain.

Current Mood: vaguely amused
Current Music: XM Comedy - Sabrina Matthews
Jennifer Danielsjennwarren on November 16th, 2006 08:36 pm (UTC)
To my knowledge, in the old days, the church did not require celibacy in its priests. The church hierarchy started to become hereditary, rather than on the merits and devotion of the priest in question. Likewise, there were complications arising when a high ranking priest died. Did his priestly effects go to his children? Where does his personal property leave off and where does his priestly property begin.

After a few of the popes had succession problems, that's when they started the whole celibacy thing. At least, to my knowledge. Whether or not they were married and these were their children, or if they were by products of extra-marital affairs, I don't know.
Ace Lightning: books01acelightning on November 17th, 2006 12:03 am (UTC)
the word "nepotism", which now means "giving favored positions to relatives or close friends", comes from the Greek nepos, "nephew". the supposedly celibate clergy referred to their illegitimate sons as their "nephews", when handing out appointments.

Ace Lightning: Priestessacelightning on November 17th, 2006 12:16 am (UTC)
the Catholic Church deals with the theory that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene by denying it categorically. and priests are not "married to the Church" in the same way nuns are "brides of Christ". the theological justification for celibacy is that the mundane concerns of a wife and family would interfere with a priest's ability to devote himself entirely to his parishioners and his God. there's also the pervasive dichotomy between flesh and spirit, with spirit being "pure" and "holy", while all fleshly things (but especially sex) are "profane", "impure", and ultimately "unholy". so if a priest engages in a sexual relationship, he's breaking one of his fundamental vows, and he's rendering himself spiritually unfit to be a priest. however, if a nun engages in a sexual relationship, she's committing adultery against God/Jesus (and also breaking one of her vows). (and note that nowhere in the Church's teachings does it say that buggering the altar boys doesn't count.)

The High Dudgeonhephaestos on November 17th, 2006 02:46 am (UTC)
My theory is that it's financial. The church pays the priest's salary. It wouldn't want to have to pay for the support of a wife and 6-8 kids along with each priest.
TSJAFOtsjafo on November 17th, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
Going that way they may end up like the Shakers.

I've never noticed religions to be rational. Venal, greedy, masochistic, insane, yes, but not rational.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on November 17th, 2006 01:12 pm (UTC)
My religion is rational. Hell, one of the fundamental requirements of this religion is that it be rational.
Skyepagawne on November 17th, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)
One of the main reasons that it became necessary for priests to be celibate was to prevent "Church property" from going to the heirs of the priest. They came up with all the other as means of justifying their stand.
Sorciasorcia on November 17th, 2006 10:58 am (UTC)
This is one of those few instances where I believe that the Eastern Orthodox church actually does things "right". In the Eastern Orthodox church priests MUST be married before they may be ordained. Unmarried priests are forever restricted to being Deacons. Marrying allows the priests to actually understand when their congregations talk about having kids and marital issues.

My, admittedly simplistic, theory is that the Catholic Church originally decided on celibacy to be different from the Orthodox church. Now, it's one of those rules that they keep because they'll look weak if they decide to bow to society's tide and change it.
= Faith = Trust =: House Shaeaamberfox on November 23rd, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
I've heard that rabbis are required to be married for much the same reason. It makes sense to me.