Kelly asked:

During the early years of the Catholic church, what was the real reason that priests were no longer allowed to get married and have children?


Fr. Dave Dwyer replied:

"... Even in the time of Paul, which is as close to Jesus as we can come from our written sources of scripture, that they were talking about people that chose to live lives of un-marriedness. Even though it was very countercultural to do that ... The culture then was so focused on marriage and families. So there’s evidence even in the earliest days."


Mike Hayes replied:

"Paul thought the end of the world was coming very near, so he was really saying to a lot of people, look we shouldn’t be worried about procreating families or anything like this. The end of the world is coming. We should be practicing these higher matters ... I guess the earliest place that we can see some evidence comes all the way back from like the mid 200 to 300 years with the desert fathers practicing celibacy ... lived separate lives from everybody else ... they lived a life based on prayer and fasting. That tradition was sort of brought into the more modern culture at that time by Saint Augustine, who basically practiced the same kind of things ...

Augustine ... believed that original sin was passed through ... sexual intercourse and therefore he, the Church, sort of became fixated on this. And they failed to see in some ways that intercourse was basically in the context of love, devotion and married life. That it was sort of a part of this lesser state of life. And that people who couldn’t espouse to temper their sexual [desires], that marriage was more of a necessary evil. And that this higher state was something more to be espoused ...

The Council of Nicaea in 325 was the first place that this step toward mandatory celibacy was sort of brought forth ... But even with that it took a thousand years for the Church to really get this sort of nailed down ... and that came from a lot of different places. One option was because they didn’t want children to inherit Church property.”


Fr. Dave Dwyer replied:

"There was temporal affairs and temporal goods of the Church tied up with ordained ministry and hierarchy. So literally, I mean when there were papal states and stuff, popes inherited stuff almost like a monarchy would. And so that was one of the more positive reasons that they didn’t want nepotism ..."


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© 2013 Busted Halo®

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Show air date: February 9, 2009

Name of show: #185

Guest comments by: Fr. Dave Dwyer, Mike Hayes

Question appeared in show: 7:33


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