Why can't catholic priests marry?

(42 Posts)
Lucyellensmum95 Wed 27-Feb-13 23:17:09

My DP just said a really weird thing to me - "it would be good to go back in time to find out why priests can't get married" hmm I didn't think it would be neccesary to go back intime to find that answer grin I daresay someone alive today knows or has written it down!

I am a catholic, he isn't - but i can#t remember, all i can think of is that the priest is "married" to the church. But im not sure thats the reason.

Also, a non catholic preist can marry and have sex but do they consider sex out of wedlock a sin>

Eurostar Thu 28-Feb-13 00:05:32

I was taught (in the Communist system, i.e. religion is the opium of the people) that it was down to the Catholic rulers fearing a loss of assets to children and illegitimate children who would lay claim on property etc rather than it all reverting to the church. Have no sources to back that up.

PootlePosyPerkin Thu 28-Feb-13 00:06:41

I always thought it was because they were married to God/the Church too. Much like nuns.

However, it is a more modern thing, Cardinal Wolsey had a son didn't he?

Viviennemary Thu 28-Feb-13 00:10:18

grin at linerunner. Is it an ecumenical matter? Anyway I thought it was something to do with property ownership. So if churchmen held property it would belong to the church when they died and couldn't be claimed by wives or children.

LineRunner Thu 28-Feb-13 00:16:10

Indeed: medieval property and emotional acquisition justified by the bonkersness of St Paul and the 4th century patriarchs, looted by Henry VIII, lauded by the deranged Victorians and finally challenged by the 21st century dissolute-rebels of the UK.

Pan Thu 28-Feb-13 00:31:49

Well, I don't think the Roman Church has gone to rack and ruin tbh - it's meeting some sharp issues with lots of difficulties yes. And St Paul said lots of things that many Catholics don't agree with, and place his understandings in the file of hmm.
The notion of 'not marrying', as with many notions of the clericism of the church has been and gone over centuries. And the incredible variety of 'catholocism' ( Jesuit/Benedictine/Fransciscan )indicates that there is a v wide interpretation of the 'Holy Book', as just about every major religion has experienced over the interpretations placed on their own 'holy books, or scriptures.

I can see some day, fairly soon when it will be okay for a priest to marry, and that won't be a day too soon. imho

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Thu 28-Feb-13 07:21:49

At some point it must have suited someone powerful within the religion to impose this kind of restriction on priests. Whether it was done through 'interpretation' of the bible, or even at the point of writing parts of the bible. The same reasons why women don't have equal rights to men in most religions. 2000 years have passed and nothing's really changed.

KatieMiddleton Thu 28-Feb-13 07:35:40

I thought it was to stop children of priests from having any claim on the assets of the church. If a priest is not married he has no legitimate children and therefore cannot pass on any inheritance which the church might be liable for.

I'm sure there was a papal decree?? <Googles>

I was raised Catholic and we were told it was to stop any claims on Church wealth by children of priests.

Plus all the usual stuff about priests being married to the Church.

Because the Catholic church would have to pay them enough to legally support a family on the wages of a Priest.

And if you think about the Church's view on contraception, I'd presume priests and their wives would kind of be expected to demonstrate their ability to have a large number of children, in keeping with church teaching. It would be hugely expensive.

Dadthelion Thu 28-Feb-13 10:42:07

Because their boyfriends would get jealous.

meditrina Thu 28-Feb-13 10:52:23

grin at boyfriends!

It was also so the priest could fully devote himself to his parish, without pesky things like demands of own family getting in the way.

David Lodge mentioned this reason in How Far Can You Go? in terms of Vatican II's acknowledgement that sex was in itself a Good Thing and with the advent of reliable contraception - why should priests/monks/nuns not marry each other and take vows of sterility not celibacy?

Cheddars Thu 28-Feb-13 10:57:27

A priest is supposed to put his congregation first, not his wife and children. That is why Catholics call them Father. Also a married priest is less likely to want to work/live in impoverished areas if he has children himself.

With regard to the sex scandals, the victims have on the whole been young boys or men. Having a wife would do nothing to address this problem, and it is simplistic and insulting to believe that paedophilia can be 'cured' by a healthy sexual relationship.

The financial considerations would also be massive in an age where the church is struggling anyway. Personally I don't believe a married clergy will be happening soon.

hiddenhome Thu 28-Feb-13 13:53:19

If a Catholic Priest married, then presumably his wife would also be working and she could contribute to supporting the family too smile

The Catholic Church needs to okay contraception and okay married Priests, then I think the financial concerns wouldn't be an issue.

nightlurker Thu 28-Feb-13 16:28:48

1 Tim 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

I am Mormon, and bishops are required to be married. The same is true for a list of other top leadership positions. You cannot be an apostle or a prophet in the church without being married (having lost a spouse to death still counts as being married in that case).

I think it would be great for Catholic priests to marry. However, I'm not sure the church can afford to support families financially.

sarahtigh Sat 02-Mar-13 19:09:00

priests were allowed to marry up until 13th century then there was a change in canon, while biblically there is a suggestion that Paul was unmarried it is a suggestion not definite but St peter according to gosples was definitely married as Jesus healed his wife's mother As pope is supposed to be St peter's successor seems unlikely that marrying is forbidden

the bible passage does say that those that are unmarried can give a lot more time to the church/gospel as those that are married obviously have to give time to spouse and/or children as well

when Timothy says elders should be husband of one wife I do not think it means they must be married but rather that they should only have one wife not a mistress/ concubine/ slave girl etc as well, I think Bible makes it clear there is no obligation to get married but rather it is better to be married than to struggle continually with sexual desire, " some are born eunuchs, some chose to be eunuchs and for some are for the gospels sake" so celibacy is an biblical option but it should not be compulsory any more than marriage should be compulsory

the inheritance problem is dealt with in most churches by the manse/vicarage being church property so when you cease to be minister/vicar the church gets house back; normally if the minster dies in office the surviving family have 6-12 months to find new accommodation

I do not think the church would need to pay married priests more as often spouse works too and very very few priests are in 1 bed flats most priests houses are amply big enough for a standard family

the only difference i see would be whether they paid widows pensions over and above standard pensions

sarahtigh Sat 02-Mar-13 19:10:31

the church is not legally obliged to support any number of children any more than any other employer

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