Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Piacenza on the "Eucharistic Nature" of Priestly Celibacy.

ZENIT has published a translation of a long and detailed address by Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, the recently-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, regarding the theological  underpinnings of clerical celibacy and the teachings of the Popes from Pius XI to Benedict XVI on the matter. It is one of the strongest affirmations in recent years of the theological necessity for priests to be celibate.

Interestingly, the Cardinal speaks of the pronouncements of the Council of Elvira and the Second Council of Carthage regarding celibacy as "dogmatic pronouncements". He also specifically denounces the idea that celibacy is merely "ecclesiastical law", explaining that celibacy is "an intrinsic demand of the priesthood and of the configuration to Christ that the sacrament determines."

 

26 comments:

LeonG said...

This is why many Catholics see married neo-anglican catholic clergy & married deacons as an underhand long-term attempt to subvert traditional priestly celibacy. There should be NO exceptions. Clearly, with the church so destitute for new presbyters this is expedient.

Giovanni A. Cattaneo said...

Again however the question remains what of the Eastern Churches certainly because it has been retained for so long in the West one may come to that conclusion. However to be so closed on the matter we must be careful as to not turn it in to some sort of pseudo-dogma.

Plus the good Cardinal only speaks of celibacy is also required of married permanent Deacons hence marriage and celibacy are not in any way exclusive.

Anonymous said...

Lateran II contradicts the cardinal, as it makes clear that celibacy is no more than an ecclesiastical regulation. Further, if it were essential to the priesthood, not only are the Eastern churches in error, so were the apostles.

Anonymous said...

ToLeonG:

Your disdain for those of us who have responded to the Lord's invitation through His Body, the Church, to ordained service as Deacons and to those married men, who, in fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church came into full communion as married men and were chosen for ordination to the priesthood is not only uncharitable, it reflects a lack of understanding of history, of the the role of the magisterium, and an arrogance which is sadly too common in some segments of our traditionalist community. Be careful, I have seen all too many, in the mistaken notion they are "protecting" Holy Mother Church, going out the back door as Protestants who use a lot of "catholic talk" to try to justify their errors.

Jacob said...

I am more concerned about the continence issue that has come up due to the reaction Edward Peters' article and blog posts.

Married deacons are discovering the law. Given their state of ignorance on what the law entails, I have been waiting for the discussion to shift to married priests and especially the Anglo-Catholics coming in through the ordinariates who will seek (re-)ordination and what they've been told.

Anonymous said...

"...the question remains what of the Eastern Churches...."

The Eastern Churches have always had an essentially celibate priesthood. You can't get married if you're an Eastern Rite priest. And you cannot remarry if you are an ordained married man.

The Roman Rite priests clamoring for marriage don't become Eastern Rite because they wouldn't be allowed to marry.

The good Cardinal's teaching is very welcome and needed. And the polemicists who are trying to muddy the waters with attacks on the Ordinariates are off base.

Jordanes551 said...

Further, if it were essential to the priesthood, not only are the Eastern churches in error, so were the apostles.

According to tradition, the apostles were either unmarried celibates or else practiced lifelong continence, abstaining from conjugal intercourse after their ordinations. There is, however, no evidence that any of them were married besides St. Peter, and even in that case there no evidence in the New Testament that his wife was then living -- rather, she could have already died, since the Gospel mentions only St. Peter's mother-in-law as attending to her houseguests, but not St. Peter's wife.

Byzantium said...

"The Eastern Churches have always had an essentially celibate priesthood."

This is patently false. Especially outside of these United States. Go over to Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine, etc. and you'll see how inaccurate this is.

Paul Haley said...

Celibacy, we are told, is a gift to assist priests in devoting their lives and work solely to their Lord and God. It should not be seen, but often is, as a burden and that is why the subject is sometimes referred to as the "problem" with priestly vocations.

To me, the problem is really an inaccurate and faulty concept of the priestly vocation in the first place - i.e., giving oneself fully and completely to Almighty God. It must be very difficult for married priests and deacons to care for their families while giving full service to God. Having said that, I don't intend to imply that they are not giving full service to God - just that it must be very difficult.

LeonG said...

Even Pope Paul VI (RIP) had no intention to install a married deaconate - this has been subverted by the married state of this institution. It further subvers the notion of a celibate religious state, whether you like it or not!

pclaudel said...

Jacob: Would you (or anyone else in the know, for that matter) be good enough to tell me what article and posts by Edward Peters you are referring to? I have been out of the loop for some time. Links, if available, would be especially appreciated.

Jack said...

\\According to tradition, the apostles were either unmarried celibates or else practiced lifelong continence, abstaining from conjugal intercourse after their ordinations\\

There may be a pious legend to this effect in the West, but the Eastern Churches have no such tradition.

\\since the Gospel mentions only St. Peter's mother-in-law as attending to her houseguests, but not St. Peter's wife.\\

And in one of the Epistles, St. Paul refers to "Cephas" (and I doubt there were two of the apostles called that) bringing his wife with him.

Perfectior said...

Jack:"There may be a pious legend to this effect in the West, but the Eastern Churches have no such tradition."

False; St. Epiphanius, St. John Chrysostomus and other Eastern and Western fathers asserted clearly that the apostles were either unmarried celibates or else practiced lifelong continence, abstaining from conjugal intercourse after their ordinations.

Jack:"And in one of the Epistles, St. Paul refers to "Cephas" (and I doubt there were two of the apostles called that) bringing his wife with him."

False. Saint Paul said that he had the right to have a handmaid, which lived with him like a sister (he uses the word sister, which exclude any flesh intercourse), like Cephas and other Apostles had; it is not a wife, but a handmaid!

Byzantium:"'The Eastern Churches have always had an essentially celibate priesthood'. This is patently false. Especially outside of these United States. Go over to Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine, etc. and you'll see how inaccurate this is."

It is not a question of facts but of right. Eastern Christians reject married bishops (except if they accept to live in perfect continence, and although some people use to speak about the Apostles to defend married priests); they reject also marriage after ordination; one has to marry only a virgin if he wants to become priest, and if he becomes widower, he cannot marry again.
This current discipline allows however matrimonial consummation after ordination, but it is the result of the laxism due to the several schisms in East in the sixth and seventh centuries, laxism erected as a rule since the conciliabulum in Trullo (692), which five Popes (all Greek and Syrian, ans so from Eastern origin) refused to sign because of this point, despite the fact that twice the Byzantine emperor sent his army to Rome to force the Popes to accept it (and twice the imperial army in Italy defended the Pope against the sent army and its Protospatharioi).
Pope Constantine, during his trip to Constantinople, tolerated the application of a part of the decrees of in Trullo, but only in the East, and without the condemnation of other uses.

Interestingly, we can notice two things about the mind of Eastern emperors and clergy in this time:
1° Emperor Justinian ordered the military abduction of Pope S. Sergius (who had refused even to read the decrees, because he knew already of the canon 13 against celibacy) to Constantinople, saying he (Justinian) would act against him like his predecessor (who was monothelete) acted against Pope S. Martin I (who suffered public humiliations in Constantinople for the true faith).
2° The bishops in Trullo say expressly in the canon 13 that they condemn the Roman practice ("Since we know it to be handed down as a rule of the Roman Church...") and even excommunicated the priests who wanted to live separated from their wives, because the Scripture says "Are you bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed" and "What GOD has joined together, let no man put asunder". How ridiculous they are! In the preceding canon (canon 12) they oblige the married man to separate from his wife if he is elected bishop (and thus condemn themselves in the canon 13), and even say that the continence rule for bishops has been established "of old by Apostolic authority".

And how ridiculous are modern orthodox who accept as holy all the decrees of the "council in Trullo" (putting them as the disciplinary part of the Sixth Council ended in 681), and who accept the divorce! And those who say that Apostles did not live in perpetual continence, since even the conciliabulum in Trullo told that Apostles instituted episcopal continence!

(The texts of in Trullo are on the website http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3814.htm)

Anonymous said...

Sacerdotalis Caelibatus by Paul VI praises the Eastern tradition of married clergy in the following manner:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_24061967_sacerdotalis_en.html

"38. If the legislation of the Eastern Church is different in the matter of discipline with regard to clerical celibacy, as was finally established by the Council of Trullo held in the year 692, (77) and which has been clearly recognized by the Second Vatican Council, (78) this is due to the different historical background of that most noble part of the Church, a situation which the Holy Spirit has providentially and supernaturally influenced.

We Ourselves take this opportunity to express Our esteem and Our respect for all the clergy of the Eastern Churches, and to recognize in them examples of fidelity and zeal which make them worthy of sincere veneration."

Paul VI here clearly states that the Eastern tradition of a married, non-continent clergy, developed under the influence of the Holy Spirit. How interesting that conservative Catholics conveniently forget this.

Mar said...

pclaudel,

Here are two links for starters.

http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com/

http://stlouiscatholic.blogspot.com/2011/01/canon-277-does-not-require-perfect-and.html

Anonymous said...

Hey Jack,

Why won't you clue us in on your touting Father Robert Taft, S.J. as one of your heroes? The question is "ad rem" because it raises the question as to your sympathies and your authentic point of view as you engage those of us on this site dedicated to the restoration of the Faith.

I've asked the question twice. I'll simply copy my previous post to you:

Jack,

On January 9th, you were singing the praises of a certain Jesuit by the name of Robert Taft, S.J. I wrote the following as a response, and you never answered (possibly because that particular string was shut down to further comments). Please answer so the board can understand from whence you come in terms of your liturgical and theological position.

You mean THIS Robert Taft, S.J??!!

"As such, I maintain that the Roman Catholic liturgical renewal in the wake of Vatican II was an overwhelming success, returning the liturgy to the people of God to whom it rightly belongs. The reform mandated by the council was not perfect, because nothing but God is perfect. But it was done as well as was humanly possible at the time, and we owe enormous gratitude and respect to those who had the vision to implement it."

AND

"My list of what was not done well or not done at all leaves aside the overly creative liturgies and other abuses that accompanied the reform. These were the fault of individuals, and not what Vatican II mandated. Nor does my list include anything the "reformers of the reform" want to reverse, like the celebration of liturgy in the vernacular, Communion in the hand, Mass facing the people or the removal of the tabernacle to a sacrament chapel."

AND

"Stuck in the aridity of late-medieval theology, the Catholic West has stalled the great movement of patristic ressourcement initiated in postwar France by authors like Yves Congar, O.P., Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P., Jean Daniélou, S.J., and Henri de Lubac, S.J."

Giles

Teena Blackburn said...

Laxism? Surely you know Orthodox priests abstain from marital relations before celebrating the Divine Liturgy? Laity also abstain the night before receiving Holy Communion. We also generally abstain from sexual relations whenever we fast from food-so, every Wednesday and Friday and through four fasting seasons of the Church. I would not claim that all Orthodox are faithful in doing this, but given the state of ascetic life in the Roman Catholic Church, I take great exception to the word "laxism" being used for our acceptance of a married clergy that is not totally celibate. Further, the Roman Catholic Church has been quite clear in its decrees that celibacy for priests is a discipline, and not doctrinally necessary. It's going to take some doing to make that go away.

Jordanes551 said...

There may be a pious legend to this effect in the West, but the Eastern Churches have no such tradition.

No, it's a tradition found in both in the East and the West.

And in one of the Epistles, St. Paul refers to "Cephas" (and I doubt there were two of the apostles called that) bringing his wife with him.

St. Paul never says that St. Peter brought his wife with him. He said that he and St. Barnabas, as apostles, have the same right to bring along with them "a sister woman" (i.e. a wife) as do the other apostles, the brothers of Jesus, and Cephas. But he never says that any of them actually exercised that right (though some of them may have from time to time), nor does he say that they engaged in conjugal relations.

Jack, pardon my frankness, but you really, really need to familiarise yourself with the Faith and Tradition of the Church before expressing any opinions about them. It's not just in this matter where you've fallen down.

Jacob said...

pclaudel:

See also here a post by American Papist, Dr. Peters' son, that is an excellent roundup of all relevant posts on the web as of January 19:

http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=12987

The very first link at the start of the third paragraph goes to Dr. Peters' article that started the whole thing that is at his website.

Perfectior said...

Teena Blackburn,

I didn't speak about laxism nowadays (which however exists even among Eastern non-catholics, e.g. in divorce and similar matters), but about laxism in the fifth to seventh century. You can't deny that the displine suffered a lot, when you see the situation following Persian and Arabic invasions and when you see the ambitious schisms of several archbishops of Constantinople in this period : some were heresiarchs (Nestorius, Sergius), other heretics (Acacius, Paulus, Pyrrhus,...), other merely schismatic (Atticus, elected when S. Chrysosotom was still alive, and whose irregularity was lifted by the Pope only after the Saint's death in exile and on condition that S. John's name be restored in the dyptichs; Anatolius, elected when the robbery of Ephesus deposed S. Flavian and whose irregularity was also lifted by a special dispensation given for the peace of the Church by S. Leo I Pope; Epiphanius whose irregularity was also lifted when he accepted the decree of Pope S. Hormisdas). If the highest dignities were occupied by such sinners, where could the lower ranks find examples of holiness? The principle is true also for non-Byzantine Eastern: e.g. the continence rules disappeared in Syriac and Armenian rites only after their separation from the Church.
S. Jerome, Popes S. Innocent and S. Siricius in West and S. Epiphanius in East mention clearly in the 4d century that perpetual continence was the rule established by the Apostles for all clerics, even diacons (S. Jerome even mentions it in his treatise against Vigilantius, as the general practice in all countries he visited: Rome, Spain, Syria and Egypt).
The fact that the Church can give dispensation like it was given in the East to tolerate conjugal relations even after ordination, does not mean that the discipline did not exist in the time of Our Saviour, since all Apostles left even their family to follow the Lord ("Let the dead bury their dead!" and the answer to S. Peter's question "we have left all things..." : "And every one that has left house, ..., or WIFE, or children, or lands for my name's sake...").
Although it is not clear whether continence is a dogmatic question as a discipline, all the Tradition agrees that it is a dogma that generally speaking continence is more perfect than conjugal relations, and infinitely more suitable to priesthood, and this on a dogmatic basis, since it imitates the example given by the Saviour, King and model of all priests.

Jack said...

\\But he never says that any of them actually exercised that right (though some of them may have from time to time), nor does he say that they engaged in conjugal relations.\\

It doesn't say they didn't, either. Frankly, it's nobody's business.

\\Jack, pardon my frankness, but you really, really need to familiarise yourself with the Faith and Tradition of the Church before expressing any opinions about them. It's not just in this matter where you've fallen down.\\

Jordannes, the Catholic Church is bigger than the Latin Church. and is not coterminus with it.

And you've made some errors on many matters yourself, such as claim elsewhere that Eastern Catholics all read the lessons facing East: this is simply not true.

Reminding traditionalists that the Catholic tradition is bigger than the Latin one might help them find resolutions to vexing and even divisive issues.

That is my intention.

Jordanes551 said...

\\But he never says that any of them actually exercised that right (though some of them may have from time to time), nor does he say that they engaged in conjugal relations.\\

It doesn't say they didn't, either. Frankly, it's nobody's business.


Wrong again, Jack. It is the Catholic Church's business. It is God's business.

So, you've now admitted that the text from I Cor. 9 doesn't tell us that the apostles necessarily were married, or that if married that they didn't practice continence as the ancient tradition says they did. Do you still intend to argue in support of Anonymous 07:43's contention that if celibacy were essential to the priesthood, not only are the Eastern churches in error, so were the apostles"?

Jordannes (sic) , the Catholic Church is bigger than the Latin Church. and is not coterminus with it.

You don't say. I'm glad you have come to that realisation.

And you've made some errors on many matters yourself, such as claim elsewhere that Eastern Catholics all read the lessons facing East: this is simply not true.

I said no such thing. My words were: "Eastern Catholics not only chant the pericopes, but do so ad orientem." I did not say that ALL Eastern Catholics do that.

Reminding traditionalists that the Catholic tradition is bigger than the Latin one might help them find resolutions to vexing and even divisive issues.

I think it rather more likely that telling them things they probably know and understand better than you do will only encourage them not to take you seriously.

pclaudel said...

Mar and Jacob: Thank you.

Mar said...

Il n'y a pas de quoi :)

Anonymous said...

Jack said,

"Reminding traditionalists that the Catholic tradition is bigger than the Latin one might help them find resolutions to vexing and even divisive issues.

That is my intention."

Jack, the fact that you won't explain why you referenced Fr. Robert Taft, S.J. to those of us with a traditional Catholic point of view, leaves your "intention" most suspect.

Giles

Laurent Cleenewerck said...

I have discussed this whole debate at length and with careful review of the sources in my book His Broken Body, for which the relevant chapter is posted at

http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/celibacy