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Part 3


The Compulsory Marriage of Priests

While Trullo did not in fact forbid celibacy in the strict sense for priests, the tone of the canons was such that priests were expected to be married and to live conjugal life like the rest of the lay faithful. By the eleventh and twelfth centuries this counsel had in fact become a precept, and celibacy as known in the Latin rite for priests and deacons was definitively rejected. [71]

This was at a time in the Western church when immorality was to be found among a number of the clergy which precipitated the Gregorian reform. Although both Greek and Latin traditions identified the need to eradicate the corruption of sexual morals among the clergy, the means used to do so in each case were very different. Rome did not consider celibacy itself to be the source of the problem. On the contrary, it confirmed the traditional discipline, but in addition it introduced new measures to protect the dignity of the clerical state and the chastity expected of ministers of the altar. The solutions applied were ascetical and disciplinary. Incontinence and infraction of this discipline were severely punished.
Because of abuses in the Greek church in the ninth century, the Byzantine emperor Leo VI legislated to suspend the custom, which had developed since Trullo, of those in major orders reserving to themselves the right to marry within two years of ordination, reaffirming the prohibition on marriage after the conferring of orders. Clerics were either to remain celibate or, if they wished to marry, they had to do so before ordination.

Still, because of illegal marriages after ordination, by the eleventh century the Eastern church prohibited men being ordained to the secular clergy if they were unmarried. It was, as Cholij points out, from the perspective of the remedium concupiscentiae that marriage was considered a suitable state for the priesthood. Celibates who wished to be ordained had to enter a monastery. In this way all priests who lived in village parishes were required to be married, and their sons were expected to follow them into the priestly state. This practice was reinforced in some countries by the state providing special schools for sons of priests. [72] One of the consequences of this is the lack of emphasis on the supernatural aspect of the priestly vocation. Another is that all the higher positions in the Eastern Church are reserved for celibate monks who are generally better trained, as well as being free from family ties. It is not surprising, then, that a system which effectively accommodated two priestly castes gave rise to its own particular problems. [73]

The logic of a situation which effectively imposed marriage on its clerics inevitably had implications for widower priests and deacons. By the fourteenth century a discipline had become well established by which they were forced to abandon their ministry. If they wished to continue as priests they had to enter a monastery. One of the consequences of this legislation was that it led to the overcrowding of monasteries by clerics who were there involuntarily or had no monastic vocation. This often resulted in serious problems of discipline and a decline in the vitality of monastic life. [74] However, a Moscow synod in the seventeenth century abrogated the decrees forbidding widowers to practise their ministry, and subsequently went on to allow them to marry a second time.

When the Ukrainian Orthodox church reunited with Rome in 1595, the law which prohibited celibates from being ordained, and which dismissed priest and deacon widowers from their pastoral ministry, were abrogated as these were considered grave abuses which were in complete opposition to the discipline of the Catholic Church. In synods of the Oriental Catholic Churches, especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, strict celibacy was promoted and encouraged as the preferred state for candidates for the secular priesthood.

Consequences of Trullo for the Theology of the Priesthood

The Trullan legislation had significant consequences from the point of view of the availability of a frequent liturgical service for the faithful. Canon 13 of Trullo prescribed continence for times of prayer and fasting, and liturgical service. The general norm was one day's abstinence during times of liturgical service, apart from the times of prayer and fasting to which all married people were bound. By the seventeenth century three days abstinence was expected. Hence daily Mass could not be celebrated as it was always assumed that priests used their conjugal rights. [75]

In the Carthaginian canons, and in general in the legislation of the Western Church, priests were bound to continence because of their consecration. This consecration was essentially related to their role as mediator, expressed above all in the administration of the sacraments, but also in any other act which could be understood as an exercise of the consecrated ministry. As a result, continence in the Latin rite was not simply a function of the Eucharistic ministry, but was rather a cogent expression of the special nature of the priest's total ministry of mediatorship. As early as the fourth century theology and legislation in the Western Church understood the priesthood as a continuous and uninterrupted ministry, which provided an argument for perpetual continence. It is because the priesthood of the New testament has surpassed that of the Old Covenant that continence has to be perpetual rather than temporary. [76]

On the other hand, the Trullan legislation seems to imply that the priestly ministry is exercised only in the Eucharistic liturgy to which the discipline of continence is related. This suggests an understanding of the priesthood in functional rather than in ontological terms, and therefore a change of emphasis in the theology of the priesthood. It is in a certain sense a return to the Levitical concept of priesthood.

Temporary Continence and the Introduction of Celibacy

From the perspective of celibacy it is instructive to consider the cases of different Oriental Churches who returned to unity with Rome over the past few hundred years. In the sixteenth century when the Albanians of the Greek rite sought unity, and again in the case of the Maronites in the eighteenth century, Rome respected the existing customs of temporary continence. The same applied to the Armenians, the Chaldeans and the Ukrainians, even though their laws precluded the possibility of the daily celebration of the Eucharist. Nevertheless, in these Oriental churches there were often requests from the faithful for a daily liturgy, especially in the larger towns. To facilitate this, Rome would not relax the norms of temporary continence, and so the only solution was to increase the number of celibates ordained in these churches. Thus the conflict between the discipline of temporary continence and frequent liturgical celebration was a very important factor in the movement to introduce strict celibacy in the Catholic Eastern Churches.

Local synods of these churches favoured celibates for important ecclesiastical appointments, because it was recognised that the responsibilities of the married priest were such that they could not give the full dedication required by these appointments. Although slow to set up their own seminaries to provide for the formation of a celibate clergy, some of these churches began to send seminarians to the Urbanianum University in Rome in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. There were still sociological prejudices against a celibate clergy in these churches, but in general the Oriental hierarchies pressed ahead with this task.

The question of celibacy in the Oriental Catholic Churches was discussed at Vatican I. The preparatory study document for the Council indicated that the Oriental bishops in general were in favour of celibacy for their own priests. In one of the Council debates (February 1870) an Armenian archbishop said that the absence of a law of celibacy in the Eastern churches was a real 'wound', because experience had shown the grave ills that resulted in the life of the church as a consequence. Therefore he requested that the problems due to a lack of a celibate clergy be openly discussed so that the wounds could be healed more quickly. [77]

Even so, it was decided by a commission of the Council that the Oriental churches were not yet sufficiently 'mature' to accept a complete law of celibacy. Nevertheless an instruction was published which affirmed the prohibition of marriage on those already ordained, and which recalled the pre-Trullan discipline of perpetual clerical continence in those churches where effective episcopal authority had been maintained.

Subsequent to Vatican I various synods of the Oriental Catholic churches used this instruction as a basis for legislating on clerical celibacy. In fact by the end of the nineteenth century, the discipline of clerical continence in the Eastern Uniate Churches had reverted to the praxis of the early centuries in the Western church. Experience of the Trullan and post-Trullan law of temporary clerical continence had taught the Oriental churches that this discipline led to an unresolvable conflict where the priesthood was considered as a daily ministry and one requiring a total dedication to the church. As we have already seen, the Latin church had its own problems with a married clergy, which were only satisfactorily resolved when strict celibacy became the norm after the Gregorian reform and the legislation of the Council of Trent. From the seventeenth century the Eastern churches in union with Rome began to follow the same evolutionary path along the road to strict celibacy.


1. Christian Cochini, Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1990; Roman Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in East and West, Fowler Wright, Leominister, 1988; Alfons M. Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy: Its Historical Development and Theological Foundations, San Francisco, 1995. See also George W. Rutler, 'A Consistent Theology of Clerical Celibacy' in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, February 1989, pp 9-15, and the bibliography given there; Stanley L. Jaki, Theology of Priestly Celibacy, Front Royal, Va. 1997; J. Coppens, ed., Priesthood and Celibacy, Milan, 1972.

2. During the years 1878-80 a much publicised debate took place about the origins of clerical celibacy between two German scholars - Gustav Bickell, a convert, and author of important works on the sources of canon law, and Franz Xaver Funk, professor of history and theology at Tübingen university. Bickell, an expert in Oriental languages, defended the thesis that in the West the obligation of continence did not start with Pope Siricius in the fourth century, but went back to the apostles, appealing in particular to evidence from the East. In conjunction with this position, he affirmed that the same obligation existed in the East at the time of the apostles, but was progressively neglected from the fourth century. Funk rejected the idea of celibacy rooted in a law coming from the apostles, saying that it was only in the fourth century that a valid law of celibacy was established. After a few scholarly exchanges, Bickell, still convinced that he was right, for the sake of peace and convinced that Funk was intransigent, left him with the last word. Funk continued to publish his views which became the received wisdom among most leading scholars. See Stickler, op. cit., pp 15-16.

3. This refers to one Paphnutius, a monk-bishop from Egypt, who supposedly intervened at the Council of Nicea (325) to reject any plan to impose the discipline of absolute continence on married clerics. Cf. Cholij, ibid., pp.85-92, and Cochini, ibid., pp 195-200, for a discussion on this point.

4. Cf. Stickler, ibid., pp 16-19.

5. For several centuries the laws of these peoples derived from oral tradition only, but nobody would suggest that as a consequence these laws were not obligatory, or that their observance was left to the free choice of the individual.

6. 'It has seemed good absolutely to forbid the bishops, the priests, and the deacons, i.e. all the clerics in the service of the ministry to have [sexual] relations with their wives and procreate children; should anyone do so let him be excluded from the honour of the clergy' (cf. Cochini, ibid., p. 159).

7. 'The earliest trace of a law of ecclesiastical celibacy - based, however, on long established custom - is found in the 33rd canon of the Council of Elvira, held at the beginning of the fourth century when Christians were still being actively persecuted. This law only made obligatory what the gospels and the apostolic preaching had already shown to be something like a natural requirement' [Encyclical, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936) 25].

8. Similar canons promulgated at the Council of Arles (314) confirm this; see Cochini, ibid., pp 161-9.

9. Cf. Stickler, ibid, pp 23-33. See also the discussion of Codex canonum Ecclesiae Africanae, canon 3, in Cholij, ibid., pp 118-24.

10. Cochini, ibid., p. 5.

11. Cf. Stickler, ibid., pp 29-33.

12. 'We have indeed discovered that many priests and deacons of Christ brought children into the world, either through union with their wives or through shameful intercourse. And they used as an excuse for the fact that in the Old Testament - as we can read - priests and ministers are permitted to beget children. Whatever the case may be, if one of these disciples of the passions and tutors of vices thinks that the Lord - in the Law of Moses - gives an indistinct license to those in sacred Orders so that they may satisfy their passions, let him tell me now: why does the Lord warn those who have the custody of the most holy things in the following way: "You must make yourselves holy, for I am Yahweh your God" (Lev 20:7). Likewise, why were the priests ordered, during the year of their tour of duty, to live in the temple, away from their homes? Quite obviously so that they would not be able to have carnal knowledge of any women, even their wives, and, thus, having a conscience radiating integrity, they could offer to God offerings worthy of his acceptance. Those men, once they had fulfilled their time of service, were permitted to have marital intercourse for the sole purpose of ensuring their descent, because no one except the members of the tribe of Levi could be admitted to the divine ministry. This is why, after having enlightened us by his coming, the Lord Jesus formally stipulated in the Gospel that he had not come to abolish the Law, but to bring it to perfection; this is also why he wanted the beauty of the Church whose Bridegroom he is to shine with the splendour of chastity, so that when he returns, on the Day of Judgement, he will find her without stain or wrinkle, as his Apostle taught. It is through the indissoluble law of these decisions that all of us, priests and deacons, are bound together from the day of our ordination, and held to put our hearts and our bodies to the service of sobriety and purity; may we be pleasing to our God in all things, in the sacrifices we offer daily' (PL 13, 1138a - 39a, as quoted in Cochini, ibid., p. 9).

13. Cf. Cochini, ibid., pp 11-13. For a fuller discussion of the significance of this text, see Chapter 2 on the Scriptural Foundations for Celibacy.

14. The authoritative confirmation of the African legislation on celibacy by Rome, and other evidence of seeking papal approval for this discipline, not only reflects a universal tradition but points to the importance of the position of the Roman See on this question. The conciliar acts of the period underline and confirm an awareness of genuine unity and essential uniformity, made real and translated into practice by the principle of unity, the Roman primacy (cf Stickler, ibid., pp 28-30; 32-7).

15. Cf. Cochini, ibid., pp 248-51.

16. Cf. ibid., pp 208-10.

17. Cf. ibid., p. 78.

18. Cf. ibid., p. 298.

19. Ibid., p. 297.

20. 'The virgin Christ and the virgin Mary have consecrated for each sex the beginnings of virginity: the apostles were either virgins or continent after having been married' (Letter to Pammachius, Cochini, ibid., p.297).

21. No. 2, 22: PL, 40, 486.

22. Cf Cochini, ibid., pp 324-26.

23. 'It has come to the knowledge of the Holy Council that bishops, priests, and deacons, who were once heretics but returned to Catholicism, still gave in to carnal desire and united with their wives; so that it does not happen again in the future, we have ordered as follows, which had already been decreed by previous canons: that it not be permitted to these [clerics and their wives] to lead a common life favouring incontinence, but that while keeping conjugal fidelity toward each other, they watch to what is mutually beneficial to them both and not share the same room. With the help of virtue, it would be even better that the cleric find for his wife a new home, so that their chastity enjoy a good witnessing before both God and men. But if, after this warning, someone prefers to live in incontinence with his wife, let him be considered a lector; as to those who are still subject to the ecclesiastical canon, if they live in their cells, contrary to the elders' orders, in the company of women apt to raise suspicions harmful to their reputation, let those be struck with severe canonical penalties' (Cochini, ibid., p. 331).

24. Cf. Alfons M. Stickler, 'The Evolution of the Discipline of Celibacy in the Western Church from the End of the Patristic Era to the Council of Trent', in Coppens, J. (ed), Priesthood and Celibacy, Milan, 1972, pp.503-97.

25. Cf. Hugh Connolly, The Irish Penitentials: Their Significance for the Sacrament of Penance Today, Dublin 1995, pp 80-96.

26. Cf. Poenitentiale Vinniani, no.27, containing the ancient Irish-British norms on clerical continence, quoted in Stickler, ibid., p. 512.

27. 'Si quis clericus vel superior gradus, qui uxorem habuit, et post honorem iterum eam cognoverit, sciat se adulterium commisisse. Clericus quattuor, diaconus sex, sacerdos septem, episcopus duodecim, singuli in pane et aqua iuxta ordinem suum' (quoted in Stickler, ibid., p. 514, note no. 9).

28. Cf. Stickler, ibid., pp 537-39. See also Jaki, op. cit., pp 128-147.

29. During the Gregorian reform there was sustained opposition to the traditional interpretation of canon 3 of the Council of Nicea (325 AD)['This Great Council has strictly forbidden any bishop, priest or deacon, or any member of the clergy from having a subintroduced woman unless she be a mother, sister, aunt or person who is above suspicion'], and the supposed intervention of the Egyptian bishop, Paphnutius, at this Council was strongly canvassed to offset it. He is alleged to have risen during the Council to protest any plan to impose a discipline of total continence on married clerics, suggesting that it be left to the decision of the particular Churches. The argument runs that his advice is supposed to have been accepted by the assembly. The well-known Church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, who was present at the Council and sympathetic to the Arians, does not make any reference to this episode. It is first recorded by the 5th century Greek historian Sozomen. As Stickler points out, there are several arguments against the authenticity of this episode, but the most telling one is that the Eastern Church itself, which should have had a great interest in it, either did not know of it or, because the Eastern Church leaders were convinced that it was false, did not have a record of it in any official document it used. None of the polemical writers on clerical celibacy made use of it, nor did the Council of Trullo (691) refer to it. And given the polemical tone of Trullo it would have served its purpose well to have referred to it if it was true. The story of Paphnutius was used against the Gregorian reform, and this was why Pope Gregory VII, at the Synod of Rome in 1077, condemned the episode as one of the two most important falsifications used by the opponents of the reform (cf Cholij, ibid., pp.78-92, and Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, pp 62-5).

30. Cf. Stickler, ibid., p. 45.

31. Cf. Roman Cholij, 'Priestly Celibacy in Patristics and in the History of the Church', in For Love Alone: Reflections on Priestly Celibacy, Maynooth, 1993, p. 46.

32. 'The Evolution of the Discipline of Celibacy', p. 582.

33. Cranmer was the most completely subservient to Henry VIII of all the major players in the English Reformation. Although Thomas Cromwell was its chief political architect, it was Cranmer's religious ideas that became the beliefs of the fledgling Ecclesia Anglicana. He developed a deep antipathy to the Church and its sacraments, and especially to the Sacrifice of the Mass. It was he who drew up the arguments in favour of the divorce in Henry's appeal to the universities of Europe. He it was who was sent to Rome to plead the king's cause before the Holy See. He was chaplain to Anne Boleyn and through her influence was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1532, in which capacity he danced a canonical jig to Henry's tune. In 1533 he did what Rome would not do, giving sentence against the validity of the king's marriage to Catherine. He followed up by affirming the validity of Henry's marriage to Anne, whom he crowned queen of England on 1st June 1533. On July 11 the pope declared the king's marriage with Anne to be null and void. In September Anne gave birth to the future Elizabeth I. Nevertheless, on Mary's accession after the death of the boy king Edward VI in 1553, the laws relating to the marriage of clerics which Cranmer had championed were repealed, but only for a time, until Elizabeth eventually got round to reversing the situation again. See Diarmaid McCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life, London 1996

34. Cf. Philip Hughes, The Reformation in England, Vol II, London, 1954, p. 115.

35. Cf. ibid., p. 131.

36. Cf. Session XIV of 11 December 1563, under the heading De Sacramento matrimonii; and Session XXV of 3 December 1563, under Caput 14 : De reformatione generali. This latter decree dealt with the question of discipline for clerics guilty of incontinence. Clerics should not cohabit with women of doubtful reputation nor associate with them. Those who were recalcitrant would be deprived of their benefices, and if they persisted they would be dismissed from the ministry.

37. Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, trans. H.J. Schroeder, Rockford, Ill., 1978, can. no.9, p. 182.

38. The education of the clergy up to this time was haphazard and lacked structure. In the West from the seventh to the twelfth centuries the predominant focus for the formation of priests was the monastic or episcopal school. Subsequently the rise of the universities played a part, though only a small proportion of ordinands would have graduated from these centres of learning. Even so, as regards the seminaries, it would take time before the Tridentine decree would be enacted.

39. Cf. Aidan Nichols, Holy Order: Apostolic Priesthood from the New Testament to the Second Vatican Council, Dublin, 1990, pp 87-107.

40. To facilitate priests in the fulfilment of this responsibility, the Council commissioned a Catechism which was to be translated into the vernacular. Perhaps the main contribution of the Roman Catechism to the Tridentine reform from the point of view of the priest was its stress on the necessary spiritual qualities of the candidate for orders - holiness of life, faith, prudence, and a deep knowledge of the truths of divine revelation were demanded.

41. Writing on priestly spirituality became a topic of widespread interest as a result of the Council of Trent in the works of such as Anthony of Molina, Albert Michel and François de la Rochefoucauld. In addition men like Blessed John of Avila (1499-1569), St Philip Neri (1515-1595), and St Charles Borromeo (1480-1547) demonstrated very practical concern for the spiritual formation of priests and gave real penetration to the work of the Counter Reformation in this area.

42. The Case for Clerical Celibacy, pp.50-1. He goes on to point out that 'a constant proof of this truth is to be found in the various heretical and schismatic movements that have arisen in the Church. One of the first institutions to be attacked is clerical continence. Therefore we should not be surprised that one of the first things that was rejected by the heretical movements that broke away from the unity of the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century - Lutherans, Calvinists, Zwinglians, Anglicans - was in fact clerical celibacy' (ibid., p.51). It is also significant that the Old Catholics, when they seceded after Vatican I, abolished celibacy and reverted to a married clergy.

43. In his Apostolic Exhortation on the Priesthood, Haerent animo, published in 1908 to mark the Golden Jubilee of his ordination, he refers to celibacy as 'the fairest jewel of our priesthood'.

44. Allocution, 16 December 1920, in The Catholic Priesthood: Papal Documents from Pius X to Pius XII, Book I, Dublin, 1962, p. 145.

45. Published 20 December 1935, where he refers to celibacy as 'the most precious treasure of the Catholic priesthood'.

46. Apostolic Exhortation, Menti Nostrae, on the Priestly Life, 23 September 1950.
47. Encyclical,
Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, on Priestly Perfection, 1 August 1959.

48. Cf. Cochini, op. cit., pp 226-33.

49. Cf. ibid., pp 185-95.

50. Cf. Stickler, ibid., pp 62-65 for a detailed refutation of this supposed incident. See also note no.3 above.

51. Adversus Vigilantium, 2. PL 23: 340-341; cf. Cochini, ibid., p. 299.

52. Cf. Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, pp.66-9. In his comprehensive study, Rome and the Eastern Churches (Edinburgh, 1992, pp 105-150), Aidan Nichols has identified the main causes of this cleavage.

53. Cf Stickler, ibid., p. 69.

54. 'As to the priests, the deacons, and the subdeacons, and all those who not having wives were enrolled into the clergy in conformity with the divine canons, we also forbid them, on the authority of the holy canons, to bring into their own homes any woman whatever, with the exception, however, of a mother, a daughter, a sister, or other female persons above all suspicion. Should anyone stray from this regulation and keep in his house a woman able to bring suspicion upon him, and after a first and second warning from his bishop or clerics requesting him not to live with such a woman, should he refuse to send her away or if somebody comes to accuse him and provides a proof that he lives in a dishonest way with that woman, his bishop will then have to demote him from the clergy, according to ecclesiastical canons, and surrender him to the council of the town where he was a cleric. As to the bishop, in no way do we permit him to have a wife or to live with her. If it is proven that he does not observe this regulation, let him be rejected from the episcopate; he himself shows that he is unworthy of the priesthood' (Imperial ordinance, dated 546; cf. Cochini, ibid., p. 365).

55. Cf. Cholij, ibid., p.5; Stickler, ibid., p. 75.

56. In the early Church, although second marriages were licit, they were regarded as the effect of incontinence. The Fathers of the Eastern Church took St Paul literally: 'To the unmarried and widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion' (1 Cor 7:8-9). If therefore second marriages for lay people in the Eastern Church were tolerated rather than approved of, it is not surprising that the Church would disapprove of digamists (those who had remarried after the death of the first wife) as candidates for orders.

57. This reflected the Levitical precept that a priest of the Old Covenant could only marry a virgin. The wife of the future priest had therefore to be a chaste virgin when entering marriage. This was the discipline of the early Church, which was a guarantee for the future chastity of their husbands who, once ordained, would have to live with their wives as brother and sister.

58. In the Eastern and Western Churches ordination had always been considered an impediment to marriage and remarriage for the ordinand. The same was the case for a cleric's wife who was left a widow. The reason for this impediment was the fact of the wife's promise or vow of perfect chastity which was made at the time of giving her consent for the husband to be ordained.

59. Cholij, op. cit., p. 35.

60. 'In the Western Church the first documents which legislate on celibacy contain no explicit prohibition of marriage after the reception of orders...In the first pontifical documents, likewise, there is no special mention of the law prohibiting virgin clerics from contracting marriage. The reason for the omission is, however, quite obvious, given that if clerics were to be perpetually continent, once ordained, then a fortiori marriage could not be contracted because it could not be consummated. Given the strong preference that the early Church always had for strict (virgin) celibates [cf Canones ecclesiastici SS. Apostolorum; St Jerome, Adversus Vigilantium, 2: PL 23, 340b-341a; St Gregory Nazianzen, Discourse 40: PG 36, 396b, among others], this omission would indeed otherwise appear inexplicable. The fact that writers have often confused these distinct prohibitions demonstrates how very closely they are related. It is our contention that in the Eastern Church, as much as in the Western Church, the prohibition of marriage after the reception of orders was but the direct consequence of the law of continence' (ibid., pp.36-7). In the Justinian civil code of 535, related to the Eastern Church, priests and deacons are forbidden to marry. What is of particular interest in this document is the way a clear causal relationship between the discipline of continence and the prohibition of marriage is suggested (cf ibid., p. 38).

61. Ibid, p. 53.

62. As we have already seen, the ground had been prepared for this innovation by the Justinian legislation of the previous century which had forbidden such cohabitation. To avoid the alienation of Church property, Justinian had prohibited the elevation of any man who was the father of a family to the episcopate. The combined effect of ecclesiastical and civil legislation was to foster the tendency to promote to the episcopal office only strict celibates.

In the West a parallel development was taking place. By the sixth century, it was considered improper for a married man with children to be ordained a bishop. This was also not unconnected with the question of possible misuse of ecclesiastical goods in relation to the bishop's family.

With time this same consideration became a determining influence in causing ecclesiastical authorities to withhold positions of responsibility, including church administration, from all married clergy, but especially those who still cohabited with their wives. The logical consequence was that strict celibacy gradually became normative for clerics in the Roman Church (cf Cholij, op. cit., pp 106-115).

63. The text of Canon 13 is as follows: 'As we have learned that in the Church of Rome the rule was established that candidates, before receiving ordination as deacon or priest, make a public promise not to have relations anymore with their wives; we, conforming ourselves to the ancient rule of strict observation and apostolic discipline, want the legitimate marriages of consecrated men to remain in effect even in the future, without dissolving the bond uniting these men to their wives, nor depriving them of mutual relations at the appropriate times. In such a way, if someone is deemed worthy to be ordained subdeacon, deacon or priest, let him not be prevented from growing in this dignity because he has a legitimate wife, and neither should it be demanded that he promise, at the time of his ordination, to abstain from legitimate relations with his own wife; for otherwise we would insult marriage, which was instituted by God and blessed by his presence, while the voice of the Gospel call to us: "let no man put asunder those whom God has united", and the Apostle teaches: "Let marriage be respected by all and the conjugal bed be without stain"; and again: "Are you tied to a wife by the bonds of marriage? Then do not seek to break them".

On the other hand, we know that the Fathers gathered at Carthage, as a precautionary measure because of the seriousness of the morals of the ministers of the altar, decided that "the subdeacons, who touch the sacred mysteries, the deacons and the priests too, should abstain from their wives during the periods that are specifically assigned to them,...thus we also will keep what was taught by the apostles and observed since antiquity, knowing that there is a time for everything, especially for fasting and prayer; it is indeed necessary that those who approach the altar, when they touch holy things, be continent in every respect so that they can obtain in all simplicity what they are asking from God". If, therefore, anyone, acting against the apostolic canons, dares deprive a cleric in sacred Orders - i.e. a priest, a deacon, or a subdeacon - from conjugal relations and the society of his wife, let him be deposed; in the same way, "if a priest or deacon sends away his wife with the excuse of piety, let him be excommunicated, and if he persists, deposed"' (cf Cochini, ibid., p. 405).

64. Cholij points to an anomaly in relation to canons 12 and 13 of Trullo. Although the Fathers of Trullo gave separate consideration to bishops in the matter of celibacy as compared with priests and deacons, in the writings of the Church Fathers and the documents of the early councils they are all considered together in this context. While it is true that bishops have the fullness of the priesthood and were considered under special obligation to live the virtues to the full, especially as regards chastity, yet in terms of strict sacerdotal functions of celebrating the Eucharistic sacrifice and acting as mediators between God and men, the bishop's dignity was no greater than that of the ordinary priest. Hence Cholij concludes to the doctrinal inconsistency between canons 12 and 13 of Trullo as expressed by the different disciplines. The Pauline exhortation (1 Cor 7:33) was the classic text used in the Church to defend and promote virginity and priestly celibacy. Greek commentators also used it to explain the celibacy of bishops but, in the light of Trullo 13, could not apply it to other clerics. (cf. Cholij, op. cit., pp 110-11)

65. Cf ibid., p. 121. Stickler reaches the same conclusion - cf. op. cit., pp 75-6 At the same time he considers that the attitude and approach of the Trullan Fathers to the question of celibacy constitute a not unimportant argument that the tradition of the Western Catholic Church remains the authentic one. This tradition, he affirms categorically 'can be traced back to the apostles and is founded on the living consciousness of the entire early Church' (ibid., p. 77).

66. Cf. Cholij, ibid., p. 64. See also Stickler, ibid., pp 45-8

67. Cf. ibid, p. 65.

68. Summa Theologiae, Suppl., 53,3.

69. Cf. Cholij, ibid., p. 67.

70. Cf. ibid., p. 68.

71. Cf. Stickler, 'The Evolution and Discipline of Celibacy', pp 544ff.

72. In Greece since 1923 civil law prohibits celibates from being appointed as parochial clergy
- cf Cholij, op. cit., p. 137

73. Cf. ibid.

74. Cf. ibid., p. 141.

75. There are, however, no norms predating Trullo on temporary continence for clerics. On the other hand the Church during the first centuries was concerned to give prescriptions for temporary continence for married lay people. Cholij argues that the apparent deliberate legislative silence before Trullo as regards clerics, who were of more immediate concern to the Church, leads to the conclusion that there was in fact a very distinct discipline for them, that is total continence.
In the early centuries there are several indications that the practice in the Eastern Churches was frequent, if not a daily, celebration of the Eucharist. Still, this frequency was later reduced to celebrations at weekends and on feastdays. While there may have been other influences at work in bringing about this change, the discipline of temporary continence certainly disfavoured more frequent celebrations and made daily celebration, as a regular feature, impossible (cf Cholij, ibid., p. 157).

76. Cf. Decretals of Pope Siricius in 385 and 386; Synod of Rome Decree (c.400) and other sources quoted by Cochini, ibid., pp 6-17.

77. Cf. Cholij, ibid., p. 175.

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This version: 17th January 2003

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