The thread on De spiritali amicitia that veered onto the subject of clerical celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church is now removed from that posting. The comments in themselves are germane and deserve to be kept, so I have transferred them into this new posting:
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Submitted on 2014/09/18 at 6:03 am
Aelred of Rievaulx’s father was a married priest! (One of those so-called ‘celibate clerical marriages’ that conservative Latins like to think were the norm in the West).
The Rad Trad
Submitted on 2014/09/18 at 7:45 pm | In reply to Robert.
Why the disbelief? The Western preference for celibacy clearly did not appear out of no where or, contrary to a surge of junk history in the mid 20th century, from St Gregory VII’s monastic impulses. The West valued celibacy early and it eventually came to legal expression because, as is often the case in Church history, because of abuses to the tradition.
Submitted on 2014/09/19 at 6:04 am | In reply to The Rad Trad.
No disbelief here. What surge of junk history do you have in mind? The now discredited scholarship of Roman Cholij? (Who has not only renounced his theories, but has since been laicised and married). Yes, the West valued celibacy, but it was never a uniform tradition – nor was it a mandated apostolic tradition that all clerics be celibate. In early medieval Europe married clerics were common. Whether they were an abuse or not is an interesting question. Clearly Rome had an early tradition of promoting celibacy (from Leo I?), but the fact that so many diocesan ordinaries overlooked these admonitions for such a long time is an interesting fact to ponder. Perhaps they were just disobedient? Who knows.
Sorry if this is off-topic, Fr Anthony. Please feel free to send to the RC blow-out department.
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This thread may be continued here or on the RC Blow-Out Department as you wish.
I remember Cardinal Stickler singing the praises of Fr Cholij’s book when he came to do ordinations at Gricigliano (including my own minor orders and subdiaconate). I can well believe that historians of repute relativise the value of this book which I have only read partially.
The real issue for priests today is one of the fundamental human need for friendship and being able to trust the other human beings around him. It isn’t sex, nor is it particularly the need of being a father of a family. It is being able to have relationships with other people, relationships of friendship and communion with others, the word being taken out of the modern hyper-sexualised context.
Have priests live in communities? I think this is generally a good idea, if the community is founded on friendship as in the Franciscans or the English Oratory for example. In many other communities, clerics are so aloof from each other, or even nasty, probably (at least partly) because of the fear that friendship might degenerate into homosexual debauchery! If clerics are expected to live as lonely individuals without any human warmth and affirmation, they run the risk of emotional and mental disorders, especially depression. After the era of St Aelred, most monasteries with the Rule of St Benedict discouraged friendship and any kind of intimacy between monks. It is understandable, but a monastic community is more “Orwellian” than most of us imagine. It involves the surrender of personality, and not merely self-will and material possessions.
The situation of a man in a marriage involving a mentally ill or manipulative woman can be much worse. Marriage is no panacea, unless it is built on true friendship and selfless love.
The real issue in the institutional Church seems to be money: having to support families on priests’ stipends and avoiding property of benefices from being left in wills to offspring and not to the Church’s patrimony. The RC Church, at least in the west, would not solve the dearth of priests by abolishing mandatory celibacy. The “system” needs to be shut down and given a complete “hard reboot”. That won’t happen.
I see little point in discussing such a sterile and tired subject, but I am open to new insight.