Monday, March 04, 2013

It is not good for priests to be alone


And the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Gen 2:18). The Roman Catholic Church says, "Not only is it good for priests to be alone, it is mandatory. Jesus had no help meet; St Paul had no help meet, so neither shall you."

The Roman Catholic Church is alone in the whole of Western Christendom in demanding clerical celibacy. Young seminarians make their vows while they are consumed with idealistic notions of vocation and naively enthused with a sense of their own spiritual perfection. They are taught to believe that celibacy is a discipline that makes them better priests; able to focus solely on the work of God, with no distractions or divided loyalties.

Certainly, some may prefer this way of life; a few may even be called to it. But it is becoming evident - though it has long been known - that a great many come to find it an intolerable burden, not only sexually but socially.

It is not good for man to be alone because he is not meant to be alone. Like God in three persons, man is a social creature. But the Roman Catholic Church sins grievously in demanding an unscriptural isolation which deprives many of its priests of the means of honest face-to-face reflection, leaving them unable to cope with their intimate concerns. Not only was St Peter married (Mt 8:14-17; Mk 1:29-31; Lk 4:38; 1Cor 9:5), but St Paul teaches that mandatory celibacy is the 'doctrine of demons' (1Tim 4:1-3).

Ah, but celibacy is not a doctrine of the Latin Rite Church, you may say: it is a discipline. The distinction is semantic, not least because 'doctrine' simply means teaching, and clerical celibacy is mainfestly taught to seminarians despite its mandatory imposition being rejected at the Council of Nicea in 325. There was, however, considerable regional variation at this time - some bishops demanded it of their deacons and priests; others did not. Some popes sought to impose it (while themselves taking wives, concubines or young boys); others did not. It wasn't until the First Lateran Council (1123) that celibacy was mandated for all Western clergy. The Second Lateran Council (1139) reinforced this by decreeing that holy orders were an impediment to marriage. The Council of Trent (1563) affirmed the authority of the Roman Church to impose celibacy as a discipline, and the Second Vatican Council (1965) maintained this tradition.

But it is not divine law. If marriage was good enough for the 'first pope', it seems cruel to demand of mere priests 'perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven'. Was Peter less of a pope for having a mother-in-law? The plainest teaching of Scripture is that the leaders of the Early Church were married and had children, and that man’s responsibility to his family was his first obligation to God - his first 'priestly' responsibility. Indeed, godly leadership of one's own family was an essential prerequisite to leading the extended family that is the Church: 'For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?' (1Tim 3:6).

Let those who wish to practise the discipline of celibacy be free to do so. Let young seminarians make their vows to remain unmarried and chaste in the years of their youth. But, for God's sake, let us restore their right to change their minds later in life without negating their vocation. Since the Roman Catholic Church already admits some married priests - not least converting Anglicans to the Ordinariate - it is surely not unreasonable to admit married Roman Catholic priests. If it is 'better to marry than to burn' (1Cor 7:9), it must a fortiori be better to marry than to live a life of loneliness and depression, or to end up leaving the priesthood altogether.

The mandatory celibate priesthood has become the refuge of sexual aberration; a haven for predatory paedophiles. It has turned once humble and holy men into shadows of humanity and shells of manhood. Some are content to live the lie; others are tormented with such conscience struggles that they damage their relationship with God, paralyse their ministry, and inflict deep wounds upon the Body of Christ.

His Grace's first act as Caretaker-Pope was to abolish Papal Infallibility. Today he does away with mandatory celibacy. Catholic theology, like society itself, is changing. Celibacy was not established as an authoritarian tool of repression, but as a monastic means of attaining greater holiness through self-sacrifice. Comradeship and togetherness may find culmination in the sexual union, and that level of God-given intimacy should be withheld from no man. There is no hierarchy of holiness in which only the most continent may rise to the highest church office: 'Marriage is honourable in all' (Heb 13:4).

116 Comments:

Blogger Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

As usual, Your (temporary) Holiness is spot on.

Marriage is good. Companionship in marriage is good. Sex in marriage is good. Fatherhood in marriage is good.

All Christian leaders ought to be given the choice of marriage, including our Roman Catholic ordained brothers.

4 March 2013 at 09:51  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

Things will, are, changing.

The world has changed.

There was a time when priests (of any description) were at the centre of communities.

They were pastoral leaders but also co-ordinated a wide range of social services. They were ever alone.

But now the State has taken over much and observance has withered compared even to what it was in the 50's.

The Church now has married priests - men who have moved back to Rome and who already have families. It will not be long before marriage is open to all.

Meanwhile. is the CofE not still demanding celebacy of its homosexual vicars?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20914799

4 March 2013 at 09:57  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Thanks, Your Grace, for saying things so clearly. Doctrine of demons it is, and love always hopes that people will be free of it.

I wonder who will support it.

4 March 2013 at 09:59  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Oh the irony, for it was only a week ago that the poor Cardinal O'Brien was tentatively making the case for priestly marriage, only to be outed this week. Couldn't make it up.

Not sure if the "mandatory celibate priesthood has become the refuge of sexual aberration; a haven for predatory paedophiles" as you suggest. Catholic clergy, though almost uniquely celibate, have no more paedophiles, perverts and sexual oddballs than any 'comparable' professions (teachers, social worker, youth leaders, clergy of other denominations, religions, etc). In fact they seem to score on the low side compared with most, which turns your argument on its head.

I think St Paul, himself unmarried, also said that he who marries "does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better".

Lastly, "Catholic theology, like society itself, is changing." In your dreams, old man. In your dreams.

4 March 2013 at 10:05  
Blogger David B said...

"The Roman Catholic Church says, "Not only is it good for priests to be alone, it is mandatory. Jesus had no help meet; St Paul had no help meet, so neither shall you."

It is my understanding that the RCC said something more akin to "wives and children take recourses, and the church wants all the money"

Perhaps I am wrong, though, and the then powers that be in the church said one thing while meaning another. After all, they do value tradition, and they do have a long tradition of mental reservation.

But I am sure that I've read credible things saying that celibacy was imposed on economic grounds.

Is that not the case?

David

4 March 2013 at 10:14  
Blogger Nicodemus said...

Demons do not give their ground without a fight.

4 March 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

David B,

I've certainly heard it said, by a Diocesan Director of Vocations, to a large gathering of local Roman Catholics who had questioned him on the Church's attitude to celibacy, that it should be borne in mind that priests with wives and families would have to be be paid "properly" (his word, not mine).

However, that seems a somewhat short-sighted view; in the Church of England, and other Churches, many more people are able to undertake non-stipendiary ministry because their spouse is the main bread-winner. Arguably, whilst some married clergy will need salaries to support their families on, others will be much more capable of financial independence, so the situation for the Church would not be black and white.

4 March 2013 at 10:34  
Blogger David B said...

In the course of a brief source for my impression that celibacy of priesthood was largely built on economics, I find -

"The church's official justification was that celibacy frees a priest for service with an undivided mind, but that also included and insured an undivided collection plate and gradually the accumulation of real estate.

In 1179 the 2nd Lateral Council further sought clerical reform b y promoting an exceptionally strong renewal of celibacy. All marriages of priests were ruled invalid. Married priests were forcibly separated from their wives. If they failed to cooperate, the cleric was dismissed and he and his family were sold into slavery. This was considered a drastic solution in that historical period and was enforced with vigor when possible. "

I confess that I am unsure about the credentials of the origin of that quote, though it appears to be Catholic.

It seems that the Catholic response to slavery in that time didn't meld well with Wilberforce, and his Christian and secular allies against the slave trade.

I do wish defenders of the RCC would desist from their oft repeated mantra about the Church dealing with eternal truths.

They don't, they are wrong, sometimes because they have been misled, sometimes because they lie.

The RCC has not gone rotten - it was ever thus.

David

4 March 2013 at 10:43  
Blogger graham wood said...

As I state on another blog, the way forward is to abasndon the unbiblical concept of "clergy" (as opposed to "laity") altogether.
It serves no purpose; and all engaged in Christian ministry should be free to marry or not.

Mainline churches need to reform entirely their existing systems, and many N.T scholars have recognised and articulated the problem, including Dr Jon Zens, and the well known James. D.G. Dunn.
It is time to re-visit the Pauline doctrine of the priesthood of ALL believers in reality rather than in mere theory.
That would, at a stroke, rid the church of this false dichotomy, and all the problems of "celibacy" arguments with it.
What then about ministry?
The N.T pattern of mutual ministries in the body of Christ is clearly set out in 1 Corinthians 12-14, in Ephesians and many other NT passages.
Why are these ignored in respect of the exercise of ministry in our churches?
Zens, for example summarises some of Dunn's findings:
"But because of the traditional ideas connected to clergy functions, the mind-set persists that there are "holy" (sacred) and "ordinary" (profane) professions... thus:

1. The clergy/laity distinction which developed in the post-apostolic tradition is unknown in the N.T.

2.In the N.T ministry and grace belong to the whole people of God, with great diversity among the parts for the common good of all.

3.There is no overriding focus in the N.T. on a special class of ministry.

4.The clergy-tradition, along with the attendant host of pactices built upon it, has probably done more to undermine the N.T. than most heresies.

5. The various ministries intended for all believers have been stifled by the creation of, and almost exclusive focus on, the special caste of the "ordained." Whether "priest" in Catholicism, or "pastor" in Protestantism, the result is the same: significant and necessary ministry is perceived as limited to those who fill the historically defined role expectations of "the minister"

4 March 2013 at 10:45  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 March 2013 at 10:46  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

I remember reading somewhere that the reason for enforced priestly celibacy in the Middle Ages had something to do with priests marrying and fathering children who were, under the operation of Roman Law, entitled to financial support from the church. This also applied to the illegitimate children of priests, born out of concubinage. I'm not sure if this is true, or is just a rumour put about by people who aren't too fond of the Church and like to misrepresent its history. Someone here will know.

4 March 2013 at 10:47  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Temporary Holiness,
The Book of Common Prayer included in it's original version this reason for marriage;
It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.
Whilst I am sure many RC Priests have born the burden of celibacy graciously, marriage for Priests would not be mandatory if it was introduced, (Whilst it could be beneficial for the purification of the soul) sorry ladies.
You excellent coverage of this subject is very timely.

4 March 2013 at 10:48  
Blogger IanCad said...

Better get your skates on YG, or is it YH?
You've only a couple of weeks left or thereabouts. At your current rate of reform we can anticipate only one two more major changes.
Let's see: Transubstantiation, Prayers to the dead, Dunking or Sprinkling, Co-redemtrix status of Mary, Worship of images, Purgatory, Petrine Inheritance, and the list goes on--.

4 March 2013 at 10:52  
Blogger IanCad said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 March 2013 at 10:53  
Blogger David B said...

I find the below in a protestant website, which doesn't show its sources. But the economic reasons for celibacy does seem to be fairly commonly believed.

This was not my source - I wish I could remember what it it was, but I'm sure it was more credible than this one. Maybe it was Chevalier's remarkable book 'Sainte Colline' - I must have a look for it. For what it is worth, though, I quote from an evangelical site.

"Now why does the Curia continue to impose celibacy, in spite of all the offences caused by the priests (many of them have a concubine) and in spite of the fact that every year many priests ask for dispensation from their vows and many others leave the priesthood without asking for dispensation from their priestly vows? Is not this attitude of the Curia harmful to the Roman Catholic Church? Of course it is, but you should not forget that through the imposition of celibacy the Roman Catholic Church defends its economic and financial interests. Have you ever wondered why the roman catholic church tolerates a priest who lives with a concubine allowing him to continue to be a priest, but it does not allow a priest who marries to continue to be a priest? The reason is that the concubine of a priest cannot inherit what belongs to the priest, while his wife and his children can. Therefore the roman catholic church forbids the priests to marry in order to keep the priests from leaving what they have to their wives or their children. When one looks at the history of celibacy in the Catholic Church, it soon becomes apparent that this state of life became mandatory due to financial considerations, not because priests were supposed to emulate Christ by remaining single. In other words, it was the concern of the loss of Church lands to heirs of priests, and not the desire that the priests should be consecrated wholly to their office, which led to the imposition of the celibacy rule."

4 March 2013 at 10:54  
Blogger Euphrosene said...

We are given to understand that St Peter left his wife and family to spread the word.

Sadhus live in spiritual solitude to be purer channels of the divine.

Western priests in contrast are rarely alone. They have housekeepers, their flocks and presumably family and friends.

If you mean sexually alone, then, whatever the original reasons for it being made canon law, my own view is it helps to put God first. Which is as it should be for someone who professes to be a channel of God.

The C0E has enough examples of adultery with their married clergy so it is hardly a shining example of putting God first.

Euphrosene

4 March 2013 at 10:54  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

In the comments in a previous Blog you forcibly reminded one commentator that this "is an Anglican blog"

Why therefore are you commenting on a purely internal matter of Catholic Church organisation and discipline ?

After all nobody is forced to be a Catholic and nobody is forced to be a Catholic Priest.

If the rules for being a Catholic Priest require celibacy then that is the choice the individual has to make, do they want to be a Priest under those rules or not ? If they do not want to accept the requirement of celibacy then then they should not become a Catholic Priest.

Either way what has it got to do with an aggresively Anglican Blogger ?

4 March 2013 at 10:55  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

David B,

The main drive against clerical marriage came with the Gregorian reforms of the second half of the 11th century.

The period before that, from the end of the 9th century to the early 11th, was marked by Papal corruption and licentiousness on a massive scale, with the era becoming known to the Church as a "saeculum obscurum" (dark age), and part of it as "The Rule of the Harlots".

From the mid 11th century, beginning with Gregory VII, a series of Popes from monastic backgrounds implemented a variety of reforms to deal with corruption, strengthen the Church, and to free it from the control of secular rulers. Clerical celibacy, which had previously existed alongside marriage, was strictly enforced as part of a package of measures to bring monastic discipline into a Church which was seen as seriously lax.

4 March 2013 at 10:56  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Good point, Neil. I've asked something similar of Cranmer and his kind in the past, and received no answer. They all seem to have a fascination with us, as though we are their pole star. I don't understand it myself, but they all seem to think they own a piece of us. Weird.

4 March 2013 at 11:09  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Yes, Mr Addison makes a very pertinent point.

Why the obsession with all matters Catholic? In know there is a papal election in progress, but even this must only be of passing concerns to Anglicans – certainly, my staunchly Anglican friends are studious in their indifference to the subject.

I would have thought that the recent poor health of Her Majesty and the consequences to the Church of England of that great stalwart of Anglican Christianity passing away would be of more concern here. (Church of England no more, one suspects.) Yet even this issue seems secondary to an odd obsession with Catholic (sexual) mores.

Now I know you are enjoying dressing up as the Pope, but really…

4 March 2013 at 11:10  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Neil Addison,

Your church professes to be The Church, communion with which is wholly necessary for salvation. And your pope claims to be God's Vicar on Earth, to whom all Christians must submit. His Grace, being Christian, is part of the Universal Church, and therefore perfectly entitled to comment on such matters, for, according to your theology and ecclesiology, he is a member of your church, albeit via an 'ecclesial community'.

Clerical celibacy is not a 'purely internal matter of Catholic Church organisation and discipline', not least because it is advocated in sections of the Eastern Church as well, but also because lies and perceived hypocrisy in any section of the Church damages all parts of it. And, whatever you may think, believe or assert, the Church of England is part of it.

And quoting His Grace out of context to make the point you do is mendacious. What His Grace does not do is plague identifiably Roman Catholic blogs to expound his particular Anglican theology, or harass commenters with his version of infallible and immutable truth. A few of your co-religionists have a habit of doing that here, and that is the important Sitz im Leben of His Grace comment. As a lawyer, you ought to be cognisant of such things.

4 March 2013 at 11:11  
Blogger William said...

Aggressively Anglican

love it.

4 March 2013 at 11:17  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Archbishop Cranmer said...

" What His Grace does not do is plague identifiably Roman Catholic blogs to expound his particular Anglican theology, or harass commenters with his version of infallible and immutable truth. A few of your co-religionists have a habit of doing that here, and that is the important Sitz im Leben of His Grace comment. As a lawyer, you ought to be cognisant of such things." At last, a salvo at the 'Touch not the Lord's Rome anointed' fantasists and about time too, YG.

"William

"Aggressively Anglican"

love it." Me too but is that not an hilarious oxymoron? *Humungous chuckles and giggles*

Ernst

4 March 2013 at 11:28  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

Your church professes to be The Church, communion with which is wholly necessary for salvation. And your pope claims to be God's Vicar on Earth, to whom all Christians must submit.

But with the utmost possible respect you do not accept any of the above therefore having rejected the above idea of the Catholic Church and, from your point of view, freed yourself from it why then proceed to criticise what is after all an internal disciplinary rule ?

And quoting His Grace out of context to make the point you do is mendacious.

??? I quoted you with no disaproval I actually like your Blog because it is firmly rooted in Anglican theology.

Clerical celibacy is not a 'purely internal matter of Catholic Church organisation and discipline', not least because it is advocated in sections of the Eastern Church as well,

I am sorry I utterly fail to understand the point you are making here. My understanding of the Eastern Church (by which I assume that you mean the Orthodox) is that Priests are not allowed to marry but Married Men are allowed to become Priests. Therefore the Orthodox approaches are different both to the Western Catholic and Anglican traditions and rules on clerical marriage.

4 March 2013 at 11:38  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Ok, so The Church is universal when it suits Cranmer to occupy the See of Rome, but the Whore of Babylon when it doesn't. Is this what's called the fallacy of equivocation?

4 March 2013 at 11:40  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

50% of marriages end in divorce.

Therefore I conclude that man is not meant to be together with woman - it is too much to ask of them in commitment.

Your shot.

4 March 2013 at 11:42  
Blogger Corrigan said...

My personal suspicion is that the whole celibacy thing is radically overplayed. There are shedloads of unattached people in the lay community, often with a string of broken marriages behind them, but increasingly these days, single because they couldn't be bothered going to the trouble of shifting their lives to accomodate a partner. In the past, marriage was a practical necessity; not anymore. I wonder how many of those lonely priests Cranmer is so worried about are lonely not because they don't have a partner, but because they think they ought to have one, not withstanding that today over half the population of Britain are singletons. A kind of "grass is awlays greener" thing.

4 March 2013 at 11:48  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"Euphrosene said...

We are given to understand that St Peter left his wife and family to spread the word." Where? Fables, no doubt.

Think St Paul would disagree from historical eyewitness and the apostolic tradition of ministry of a wife's support of her husband??

1 Corinthians 9:5
Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas?

E S Blofeld

4 March 2013 at 12:00  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Che @ 11.42, perhaps woman is not meant to be together with man?

On the other hand you could usefully spend time analysing the stage in a marriage when it was most likely to fail. One could surmise that very few marriages fail in the first year of married and very few fail in the last year of life per se. You would also find that failure of a marriage when the wife is most dependent as the mother of infant children is also unlikely. Failure tends to come later in marriage.

Given the high level of second marriages among the divorced, it does seem that even though 50% of marriages may fail, over 50% of married men and women are prepared to give it a 'shot' more than once.

4 March 2013 at 12:01  
Blogger Corrigan said...

And second marriages are more likely to fail than first marriages.

4 March 2013 at 12:04  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Indeed Corrigan.

And many indeed are the ancient married men who look back with regret on the callow days when, to quote from the book, they tied their own belt and went where they wanted. Given up in their grey hairs they see just how much of a compromise married life was, the thwarted ambitions and satisfactions of independent living its price - 'the life we lose by living' as TS Elliot put it. Yes, wives and children are a blessing, but they are not obtained and retained without cost.

On balance, a life without sex seems not too great a price if at its end the achievement of it has been close union with God and service to many.

4 March 2013 at 12:15  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Excellent post Your Grace. Spot on.

4 March 2013 at 12:25  
Blogger Jim McLean said...

"The mandatory celibate priesthood has become the refuge of sexual aberration; a haven for predatory paedophiles"

What utter nonsense, Your Grace. Are you stuck for things to write about these days?

Why not throw in the rest of the professions that are stereotyped in this fashion...Schoolteachers, Boy Scouts, Music teachers, Politicians...

4 March 2013 at 12:33  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Neil Addison,

His Grace believes the Church of England to be the Catholic Church in England. You do not. That is the difference between us.

His Grace is Catholic; just not Roman. You do not accept that ecclesial model, yet appear to be aggressively asserting that His Grace has no right to speak in the public realm on any internal religious matter that is not specifically Anglican.

With the utmost possible respect, you appear not to understand the national ministry of the Church of England, or the role of its Supreme Governor in the spiritual welfare of all her subjects - whatever their personal beliefs.

His Grace has as much right to comment on your your 'internal disciplinary rules' as he has to criticise those of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Secular Humanism. He asserts no legal right of the state to amend them, but the right to criticise, or protest, is a liberty inherent to Anglican theology.

The point about clerical celibacy not being an exclusively Roman Catholic matter of theology surely lends weight to it being a more universal - Catholic - concern.

But - if His Grace may respectfully ask - by what right do you visit an Anglican blog and presume to criticise His Grace's internal administrative decisions about what may or may not be discussed?

4 March 2013 at 12:40  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

It ain't going to happen anytime soon.

Allowing priests to marry would dramatically increase the cost of the priesthood. A man who has neither wife nor children can live cheap. Add a family, however, and he will demand a wage commensurate with his needs. The costs will increase four-fold. If the RCC thinks it has a vocations problem now, then imagine a future where a priest could marry but still receives the current level of income.

In addition, that Priest would have to model RC life - specifically regarding family life and birth control. Questions that currently get fudged would suddenly be on display. For example "Why do you only have two children, Father? Why are they spaced three years" But how many should he have? What is the proper spacing? Should he e a Providentialist? These practical questions are all avoided because Priests currently do not marry.

But the most important reason this reform hasn't got a prayer is that the decision must be made by those who have already committed themselves to a life without wife and children. Men at the end of their lives would be required to look back over what they have sacrificed and say "It was all unnecessary." That is a bitter cup to drink. The tendency will be to protect the meaning of the sacrifice by enforcing the discipline on the next generation. It would take great exertion to overcome this barrier. There simply is no will to do so.

carl

4 March 2013 at 12:44  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Mr Mclean

"Why not throw in the rest of the professions that are stereotyped in this fashion...Schoolteachers, Boy Scouts, Music teachers, Politicians..."

When have they ever professed to be The Body Of Christ with special mandate and obey The Lord's commandments that bring eternal life?..Bit of a difference, what!

Blofeld

4 March 2013 at 12:46  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

His Grace believes the Church of England to be the Catholic Church in England. You do not. That is the difference between us.

But the Church of England is not the 'Roman Catholic Church in England' and the rule of celibacy is an internal rule of the 'Roman Catholic Church' not the Church of England so the same issue arises.

You .... appear to be aggressively asserting that His Grace has no right to speak in the public realm on any internal religious matter that is not specifically Anglican.

I think that the only aggression is coming from you not me. You have of course the right to speak on any matter you choose and I have the right to say that it is a purely internal (Roman) Catholic issue.

4 March 2013 at 12:50  
Blogger Aaron Lopez said...

What a seriously deceitful and damaging observance you have made of the teachings of St. Paul, who hardly stated clerical celibacy was the stuff of demons. I really hope my immense anger is only righteous indignation for the Lord. That was disgusting cherry-picking.

No, Paul taught celibacy was a good thing. He made a circus of it in the first letter to Corinthians, a people known for their love of basal pleasures. In fact, he wished everyone were celibate (and though I am confused with the practicality of the notion, the Catholic in me dares not question his holy wisdom). And why did Paul teach celibacy was a good thing? Because it was taught by Christ himself.

In the 19th chapter of Matthew (and Luke 16; and Mark 10 by the way), Christ taught about marriage. In that same chapter, it was the apostles themselves who motioned celibacy to remain in holiness. Our Blessed Lord confirmed that idea when he said some will give it up for the kingdom of Heaven. So yes, tradition has it that even if the apostles had a family, they gave it up for the priesthood. Now you may understand why Paul had no bones expounding upon the matter.

Now the theology is cleared up, if the successors of Peter require priests under their jurisdiction to remain celibate, then what is bound on earth will be bound in Heaven. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and the relative strength of the Roman Church is proof of its disciplinary victory. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Anglican Communion. Your Communion has all the manner of married, gay, and female priests, and yet it is in a sorrier state than the Roman Church could ever hope to be. Perhaps the charism of the Holy Spirit are not found in Anglicanism.

You see, Cranmer, Catholics - sinful sufferers as we are - are pretty good at accepting the commandments of Our Blessed Lord and Apostles. When Christ said no divorce and re-marriage, he really did mean it; only the Catholic Church still beckons. When the disciples motioned celibacy, they were all ready for it; only the Catholic Church understands the apostolic zeal. And when Paul taught it was holier to be celibate than to be married, then by God, it's true; only the Catholic Church professes it as such.

(And for that matter, when Christ gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, and asked him to feed his lambs, we neither take it lightly or liberally. It is the Son of God, after all.)

This is why we're still standing, despite being as weak as we've ever been. The One True Church is free from error in faith and morals, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed yet, even when demons are wrecking it from within. Despite our iniquities, our Church has continued for 2000 years. Despite our iniquities, She will continue on for another 2000.

I'll finish off with a prayer, because after all, this is a matter of salvation, not mere political banter.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

4 March 2013 at 12:51  
Blogger gentlemind said...

Asserting that a distinction is "semantic" does not make the distinction semantic. An appeal to "semanitcs" can itself, then, be semantic. Beautiful :)

Celibacy is, by definition, a choice. Celibacy is a relational concept - it exists in relation to non-celibacy (chasteness/fornication). And, by definition, what we choose we can unchoose. The difficulty lies in not knowing what we want (making a choice and then questioning it).

As is often the way, context has gone out of the window. In the context of desiring sex, it is not good for a man to be alone. In the context of desiring something which requires celibacy, it is good to be alone in the context of desiring sex. It's a question of greater goods. In the context of living, it is not good to not eat. In the context of not dying (requiring a lifesaving operation?), fasting may be required. In the context of not dying, it becomes good to not eat.

4 March 2013 at 12:55  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Nice one Mr Lopez.

Cannot wait for Cranmer to reattach his jaw to his head and answer you.

4 March 2013 at 13:09  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

There's nothing to respond to. Once again we see aggressive Roman Catholics smearing the plainest meaning of His Grace's writing with their own distorted caricature. Are you so utterly ignorant of what many other Roman Catholic cardinals, priests and journalists have said about this in recent weeks?

This article - again and again - refers to *mandatory* celibacy. Do you see that? Do you understand it?

Neither Jesus nor St Paul condemned celibacy per se, and neither does His Grace. They may both have found it the 'better way' for their own lives and ministries. But neither sought to impose it upon *all* who seek to lead the Church. That is the difference. St Paul most assuredly *did* teach that *forbidding* people to marry is a 'doctrine of demons'. He never taught that celibacy is a doctrine of demons, and His Grace never said that it was.

4 March 2013 at 13:28  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

No mistaking your point Your Grace (and I do know what mandatory means). A fair cop, but the Curia is to blame.

The case against priests being able to marry has, of course, been severely weakened by the admission of married priests from other denominations. Knowing one of them personally, I can definitely say that nothing in his married state has weakened his effectiveness as a priest – he is excellent and a great loss to the Anglican faith.

My own hope would be that if the Catholic Church were to allow priests to marry (something that I consider infinitely more probable than women priests) it would lead to a renaissance in the English seminaries. I dearly love the priests who come to us from abroad, but would equally love to see a resurgent and powerful English Catholic ministry.

Conclusion: I agree with Cranmer, but perhaps not for the same reasons.

4 March 2013 at 13:39  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

I could also have added that if this were so then a very definite homosexual bent in the Catholic Church (apparent in the last twenty or so years) would be circumvented.

I could have said that but...

4 March 2013 at 13:41  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

Once again we see aggressive Roman Catholics smearing the plainest meaning of His Grace's writing with their own distorted caricature

The only person being aggressive here is yourself. You have opened a debate on a Roman Catholic issue and quite naturally Roman Catholics are responding and many are disagreeing. There is nothing aggressive in that, merely disagreeing with you is not aggression.

4 March 2013 at 13:55  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Neil Addison,

It was you who first aggressively fired out the ad hominem allegation of aggression. It was you who first aggressively challenged His Grace's right upon his private blog to criticise any of what you perceive to be an 'internal' Roman Catholic issue. You may turn your accusatory spirit upon His Grace all you wish. You may deny your personal aggression all you wish. But neither assertion creates a truth.

4 March 2013 at 14:03  
Blogger Corrigan said...

And neither does yours, Cranmer.

4 March 2013 at 14:04  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 March 2013 at 14:11  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

aggressive (adj) - 'openly hostile'; 'attacking without provocation'; 'characterised by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing: aggressive acts against a neighboring country.'

What 'general' sense were you advocating?

4 March 2013 at 14:16  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

I have gone back to my original post and I see the point you are responding to where I said

Either way what has it got to do with an aggresively Anglican Blogger

I was using the word "aggressively Anglican" in a general sense however it was on reflection an incorrect use of words and has clearly caused you offence. For that I apologise

However my other point stands he question of priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church is a purely internal disciplinary matter which has no effect on any other religion.

Nobody is forced to be a Catholic and nobody is forced to be a Catholic Priest.

If the rules for being a Catholic Priest require celibacy then that is the choice the individual has to make, do they want to be a Priest under those rules or not ? If they do not want to accept the requirement of celibacy then then they should not become a Catholic Priest.

4 March 2013 at 14:18  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Clearly, you didn't wish to let your apology stand on its own, so you deleted and added a further riposte.

His Grace envies you (in a non-aggressive kind of way): you obviously knew your whole body and mind and soul at the age of 20, and never sought to change a thing about your life. That may be right for you, but clearly a number of seminarians seek to escape the straitjacket of enforced celibacy later in life without abandoning their priestly vocation. They are unable to do so. That, in His Grace's (non-aggressive) opinion, is both spiritually sad and theologically wrong. It leads many to live a lie, and impoverishes the Church.

4 March 2013 at 14:27  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

you obviously knew your whole body and mind and soul at the age of 20, and never sought to change a thing about your life.

Wrong I'm afraid I don't know my whole body and mind and soul at my present age of 60 and certainly didn't at the age of 20 !

but clearly a number of seminarians seek to escape the straitjacket of enforced celibacy later in life without abandoning their priestly vocation. They are unable to do so. That, in His Grace's (non-aggressive) opinion, is both spiritually sad and theologically wrong.

Superficially attractive but the same logic can be used to justify Divorce and remarriage or allowing Clergy to enter into a same Sex Marriage. Priests like all human beings have to make choices and all choices have good and bad consequences.

4 March 2013 at 14:38  
Blogger Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

Jeez, this discussion is getting hotter than the faggots beneath Cranmer's feet!

I read somewhere yesterday,

"1Ti 6:3-5 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."

St. Paul obviously didn't predict the discussions which are the fruit of blog postings!

Pax vobiscum.

4 March 2013 at 14:57  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

It appears the RCC and it's followers do not grasp the problems involved with a priesthood and if it is ordained biblically and therefore historically by apostolic tradition or writing and our desire to challenge this concept as erroneous in all its forms.

It is important for RC's to remember that at the moment Christ gave up His life on the cross, the curtain, or veil in the temple that separated man from God was torn asunder.
Matthew 27:51
“Then behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.”

This represented the fact that since Christ died for all our sins, past, present and future, man no longer needed to be separated from God by a curtain or anything else.

The idea of a priest/mediator being the middle man became instantly obsolete. Now, we need only one High Priest; Jesus but this salient point just takes off on runway 4 straight over roman catholic heads. Celibacy is just one of many errors within a falsely applied mandate by Rome!

Blofeld

4 March 2013 at 15:00  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

The idea of a priest/mediator being the middle man became instantly obsolete. Now, we need only one High Priest; Jesus but this salient point just takes off on runway 4 straight over roman catholic heads. Celibacy is just one of many errors within a falsely applied mandate by Rome!

Priests exist within all the Apostolic Churches not just the Roman Catholic Church. The Orthodox, the Copts, the Assyrians, the Armenians, the Ethiopians and the Thomists of India. It is only Western Protestantism dating from the time of the Reformation which rejects the idea of the Priesthood. (NB Before the Anglicans and Lutherans rush in I Know there are Priests in those Protestant denominations but the idea of a priestless Christianity does date from the Protestant Reformation)

4 March 2013 at 15:08  
Blogger IanCad said...

Aaron Lopez @ 12:51 wrote:

"The One True Church is free from error in faith and morals--"

As you are referencing the Church of Rome this is a most astonishing assertion.

Given the well documented history of the monstrous acts committed by Rome on all who have opposed her many tyrannies I can only conclude that you are blissfully unaware of them.

When the blandishments of priestcraft failed, resort to the rack, the rope and the flames was forthcoming soon enough.
The legacy of her past, certainly, for me at least, disqualifies her as any beacon of faith or morals.

4 March 2013 at 15:40  
Blogger Flossie said...

I hate it when two people I admire hugely are at each other's throats! Please don't! His Grace's post was lovely and sensitively written, and I agree with it all, but I think Mr Addison probably sees it as a pop at the RC Church. We are all a bit sensitive on these issues at the moment.

What is the real problem is not Roman Catholicism -v- Anglicanism, but that people with the morals of an alley cat are now enjoying themselves hugely at the expense of those whose moral bar is set high but on occasion falls from grace.

We need to stick together, not fall out!

4 March 2013 at 16:19  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Flossie,

Bless you.

Sadly, the post you thought to be 'lovely and sensitively written' was interpreted by Neil Addison as 'aggressively Anglican'.

Mr Addison has since sought to excuse that (aggressive) ad hominem by asserting that he meant it only 'in a general sense' (presumably rather than the specific one His Grace quotes above). Mr Addison has yet to expound the 'general' meaning of 'aggressive' which is not concerned with such matters as unjustified hostility, attacking without provocation, militancy or menacing.

But doubtless the mere request for such information is simply evidence of further aggression.

4 March 2013 at 16:29  
Blogger Flossie said...

Too much testosterone all round. Let's all be a bit more girly.

4 March 2013 at 16:32  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Not a chance, Flossie, His Grace is on a roll, an atavistic masculine pushback... and the ten-pins are flying. Better them than us, I say. Where is that Wolf nipple chip vendor?

4 March 2013 at 16:41  
Blogger Agostino said...

When a Priest is ordained, he takes, in a mystical sense, the Church to be his Bride.

And if Priests were to be allowed to marry, how would that prevent the problem of homosexuality within the Church, which is the root of many problems? Or would you be happy to see Priests marry each other, too? Right state of affairs that would be!

And if, having been married, what if a Priest decides he no longer wishes to be, and seeks divorce? Only to then decide he'd like to marry again?

No Priest answers the call to Priesthood, only to find celibacy imposed upon him without having known about it previously. No one is force to be ordained a Priest, but once ordination has happened, he should accept all the responsibilities that brings.

4 March 2013 at 17:13  
Blogger Flossie said...

Hmm - whether to back out to avoid the tenpins or to muscle in with my rolling pin ...

Your Grace, you have to admit that you can be pretty - um - outspoken when defending what you perceive (rightly or wrongly) to be attacks on the faith that you hold so dear. Which of course is why we love you so much, and follow your blog so devotedly.

PS Avi - what's a Wolf nipple chip vendor? It sounds horridly painful.

4 March 2013 at 17:15  
Blogger Digory Kirke said...

His Grace's views on mandatory celibacy in the Catholic priesthood are not in the least bit offensive to this Roman Catholic, and judging by the way the wind is blowing at the moment may well end up being more than a bit prophetic sooner than we think.

I am reminded of a documentary on Irish television some years ago, when a rather angry old man, disgusted at the liberalisation that had slightly crept in at the edges in Roman Catholicism since Vatican II, reminisced about clerical students back in the day, and how proud he was that such would never "maul" a woman. A bit warped IMHO. If that mentality could be binned, and diocesan clergy given the option to marry, we could see some light. Priests could choose the orders if they felt called to celibacy, as in Orthodoxy.

4 March 2013 at 17:24  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Surely, the trick that we should all want to pull off, is to have the occasional inter-denominational fracas on blogs like this , which are mainly only visited by the religiously committed, or at last fascinated; AND maintain a constructive unity on the core beliefs of Christianity (Nicene Creed territory perhaps ?) in public.

4 March 2013 at 17:25  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ha! When the atavistic rolling pin makes an appearance, wise men withdraw from the field, Flossie. The Wolf nipple chips is a comedic alusion to a Monty Python vignette where a character peddles the ludicrous snack at gladiatorial games much as contemporary counterparts would peddle pop corn.

In any case, I'm amused by several folks here and in other posts who object to having Catholicism dissected by HG, as if he "owns it," yet assume it perfectly natural to disseminate Roman opinion, apologia and teachings on an Anglican blog.

4 March 2013 at 17:54  
Blogger Neil Addison said...


Sadly, the post you thought to be 'lovely and sensitively written' was interpreted by Neil Addison as 'aggressively Anglican'.

Mr Addison has since sought to excuse that (aggressive) ad hominem by asserting that he meant it only 'in a general sense' (presumably rather than the specific one His Grace quotes above). Mr Addison has yet to expound the 'general' meaning of 'aggressive' which is not concerned with such matters as unjustified hostility, attacking without provocation, militancy or menacing.

But doubtless the mere request for such information is simply evidence of further aggression.


No but the request for such further information does demonstrate perhaps a certain lack of grace on your part and a desire to keep a quarrel going. I have said of the word "aggressively" that it was

on reflection an incorrect use of words and has clearly caused you offence. For that I apologise

Is that not sufficient ?

4 March 2013 at 18:01  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hear Hear, Eminence.

The O’Brien case has been a disaster. Paedophile homosexual priests have been a disaster. The number of bachelors coming forward with a vocation is now disastrously low.

One might go so far as to say that when it comes to the Episcopal church, every would be postulant must be married. Bachelor types can enter a religious order where, conversely, celibacy is a worthwhile requirement, and become priests there. Should they later find a wife, they would transfer to the Episcopate.

There’s a certain smoothness and regularity about that plan, don’t you think ?

It has ‘right’ written all over it…

There will, of course, be a bit of a problem for the church. There is no reason why a healthy young woman and her priest husband cannot produce a good dozen children, all of whom will survive. Fortunately, the burden to feed, clothe and house them will fall to the RCC. In contrast to parishioners who follow the churches teaching on not contraception, who have only themselves and their country’s welfare state, if there is one at all, to look to. The church of course, not wanting to know about the results of it’s irresponsible teaching on a subject it was unwise to visit…

4 March 2013 at 18:07  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Incidentally, one would describe Cranmer as an enthusiastic Anglican blogger. And he’s a blast of fresh air for it. The only other fellow Anglican ‘enthusiasts’ that come to mind, gay advocates and women priests types, are the real aggressive Anglicans. They are also nauseatingly self interested, self serving wreckers. Thatcher’s children – if you want something, you go out and get it and sod the consequences. They didn’t exist in great numbers before her…

4 March 2013 at 18:08  
Blogger Jesuestomihi said...

Come come Archbishop St Peter was not the "first Pope" was he? As the first Bishop of Rome, he held a post that was co-equal with the Bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria et al.The first Pope or Pontifex Maximus could not have existed until after Gratian had rejected the title as being occultic and unworthy of a Christian monarch. Unless I am very confused the (allegedly) murdering and adulterous Damasus the 1 was the first Roman Bishop to accept that title. But by then the British Isles had been substantially Christain for three hundred years or so.

The Church of England (this will get up the nose of all non-coms!) can lay claim to being the true original, pre-Catholic, liberated- by- the- Reformation church of the English people! (Hurrah I feel a swelling in the chest and a cheer coming on)

4 March 2013 at 18:12  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Ha.

Don't you just love 'lack of grace'.

More aggressively Roman Catholic ad hominem.

The question is simple: what is this 'general' use of 'aggressive' which you suggest His Grace misunderstood or misinterpreted? Because that is what you're asserting, isn't it? That His Grace just wasn't sufficiently nuanced to be able to grasp your 'general' meaning because his propensity is toward the very specific form of aggression he is now manifesting?

The hypocrisy is evident. You're on an Anglican blog insisting that His Grace has absolutely no right even commenting on 'internal' Roman Catholic matters, and accusing him of being aggressively Anglican in the process. Thus do you aggressively criticise His Grace's internal administration of his blog, when he visits no Roman Catholic blogs to pontificate (aggressively or otherwise) about what they may or may not do.

4 March 2013 at 18:16  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

I repeat since you do not seem to have read what I said

"I have said of the word aggressively" that it was on reflection an incorrect use of words and has clearly caused you offence. For that I apologise"

Why are you insistent on pursuing this issue ? It does show a lack of grace on your part which is disapointing and does I feel demean you a little

You also add
"Thus do you aggressively criticise His Grace's internal administration of his blog, when he visits no Roman Catholic blogs to pontificate (aggressively or otherwise) about what they may or may not do.

I don't know whether you visit Roman Catholic Blogs since, unlike me, you hide behind a false identity. However if a Catholic Blog is talking about Anglican issues then you have every right to question why and to make the point that the issue in question is purely an internal matter for Anglicans

4 March 2013 at 18:28  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Jesuestomihi - I think the point is that St Peter, never mind what he called himself, was appointed by Christ to lead his Church on earth. This is the historical claim that Catholics make in support of Apostolic Succession, and nothing blogged here makes a blind bit of difference, your nationalistic pouter-pidgeon posturing included.

Not sure how Mr Addison feels, but all of this angel dancing risks keeping a fellow from his proper day job – those briefs won’t represent themselves you know. It’s alright for Cranmer, of course, he hasn't had a proper job for years.

Enough already, as Avi should say.

4 March 2013 at 18:31  
Blogger Neil Addison said...

Thanks Ars I shall follow your advice and end it here I just hope Cranmer (whatever his real name is) does the same

4 March 2013 at 18:34  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ooh, a challenge to His Grace's claim and credibility, with a snare of the faux logic of the argument circular. Could HG be secretly trolling about Romish blogs, perhaps clad in a purloined cassock, rosaries dangling, a Marx Brothers nose and moustaches to hide his Proddie countenance? Stay tuned, boys and girls.

4 March 2013 at 18:46  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"..disapointing and does I feel demean you a little.."

Another unpleasant swipe, ad hominem; patronising, ungracious and quite unnecessary.

"However if a Catholic Blog is talking about Anglican issues then you have every right to question why and to make the point that the issue in question is purely an internal matter for Anglicans."

His Grace would never be so arrogant or theologically myopic to assert anything of the sort: his Church exists for all, in the service of all. People are welcome to criticise and carp about it all they wish, whether the matters are 'internal' or not.

4 March 2013 at 18:55  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Rather reminiscent of a playground tussle from schooldays. Two toughs meeting for the first time and squaring up to each other issuing menacing whatevers...

Perish the thought the RCC cannot be discussed in seriousness by whoever and whomever and whenever, what !

Sure you’ll all agree after necessary face saving reflection, you know...

4 March 2013 at 18:55  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

...or Anglicanism come to that...

4 March 2013 at 18:57  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Cardinal Peter Turkson has just tweeted:

"Good Morning. I ask for your prayers that the Holy Spirit will inspire us as we gather in conclave to elect our new Holy Father. Blessings"

Now, is the election of a new pope an 'internal' Roman Catholic matter? Is it one about which Anglicans may or may not write, let alone pray?

When such things are considered, the absurdity of a prohibition on an Anglican ever commenting about such matters is seen to be absurd. It is just another form of authoritarian harassment designed to intimidate and censor. This blog aspires to be a space for free speech on all matters religious and political. If that offends certain Roman Catholic sensitivites, please feel free not to visit.

4 March 2013 at 19:17  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Just a few thoughts.

As St. Peter was married,surely this has some significance. If celibacy was an absolute requirement of the priesthood would not Jesus have nominated an unmarried apostle.

The idea of celibacy is cost effective and 'time rich' with regards to devoted attention to the congregation but realistically how many men can emulate Jesus with regard to virginity. Jesus was a man but he had the fringe benefit of being the Son of God as well.

I do not doubt that some priests can manage celibacy without too much difficulty but they would be few in number.Perhaps seminarians should be recruited at a later age ( in their 30s )The most important thing is for the Church to rid itself of the homosexual element that has crept into the priesthood. As Flossie said it was a place to hide for many who could not be accepted anywhere else professionally as a single man.

A good reason for non discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace or cohabiting. Think of the number of women in the past who have been married unknowingly to homosexual men and the families that have suffered as a consequence of homosexual social exclusion.

With regard to the sexual misconduct by priests, as many have said, it is not restricted to just the Catholic Church. I wonder if these priests ever consider how they hurt ( apart from the initial victims) the Church and all the other Catholics.I am not au fait with the seminarian training programme but I suspect it might be due for a big overhaul.

These may not be Catholic approved thoughts But, they are mine and I am a Catholic.

4 March 2013 at 19:46  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
Despite what people are saying, I believe you have every right to comment on what some might consider an internal RCC matter. Since Celibacy can so clearly have an effect on the society that surrounds the RCC it could affect you, me and our children. So yes, it is our business.

4 March 2013 at 20:35  
Blogger bluedog said...

Cressida @ 19.46, what you say is completely sensible. Do you spend time with Anglicans?

4 March 2013 at 20:44  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

I was going to stand away, but 'lack of grace' is a red rag to a boar. Dear Ars has mellowed (which is brave) and I don't know what happened to Aaron (he of the reconstituted priesthood).

Grace is the nub of the issue, as ever.

Aaron / Ars / Mr Addison

Simple one to answer. This is the immediate context of what probably isn't very nice to read if you're heavily invested:

Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared, Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful, and by them that have known the truth. (Douay-Rheims)

How does a real and observable ban on Christians ('priests') marrying fit with this simple warning against dangerous anti Christian legalism? It doesn't and cannot. Even supposing a mediatory priesthood of men, where is the scriptural warrant for enforced celibacy? Only the opposite is found.

Dress it up how you like, you can't get round it. If you say it's a voluntary vow, Christ says "Swear not", and sees you make that vow a precondition of a key area of service.

If there was no regulation or requirement, no problem, but a child can see that there is. If this had only been a personal choice during the Roman persecutions, fine - but it isn't - it has been perpetuated.

Celibacy may be a good idea sometimes and for some people, it may be a bad idea at others, but Paul takes care to preserve precisely this liberty which the Roman Church destroys. In fixing it for church leaders, one require them to submit to a practice which Christ never required, on a legal principle antagonistic to grace. Galatians is the daisy cutter to that entire principle. As Paul withstood Peter to his face, so in a small way Cranmer is attempting the same.

How can you pit what Paul says elsewhere against what he says here in Timothy?? In Corinthians he speaks as personal opinion 'I, not the Lord' and cites the trouble of persecution as a factor. It is emphatically not a command and he guards against it becoming so.

Shall we respond to scripture, or shall we hedge? Whatever our denomination or imagined jurisdiction, God requires all men everywhere to repent.


4 March 2013 at 21:18  
Blogger Ollie Owl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4 March 2013 at 22:06  
Blogger outsider said...

Cressida de Nova at 19:46 makes some good points.

But I fancy that David B was right early in this comment thread when he argued that the economics probably dictate the doctrine, which would have tickled Marx.

I am surprised that Roman Catholic commenters have not mentioned the arrival of women clergy in the Anglican Church. Right or wrong, the arguments for not excluding women had been around for at least 100 years, when British women started to enter medicine, academia and other professions on equal terms.

They were finally taken up only because the Church of England had become too poor to offer sufficient stipend to keep a family of normal size in decent comfort and thereby attract enough good quality male candidates.
There was an unused supply of women of calibre who either were prepared to accept penury or were only earning a second income for the family.

In the Roman Catholic church, the argument runs the other way. "Celibate" priests are much cheaper than those with a family. Allowing priests to have families would be very expensive.

Of course, the Roman Catholic Church could adopt the alternative economic course of admitting celibate women to full priesthood to keep up the quality. But that is another story.

4 March 2013 at 22:31  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

...to abstain from meats...

Very important part of the original rule of St Benedict. Monasteries were not to serve meat to the brethren unless they were sick. The life in the monastery was NOT to be better than that of the peasants. The peasants of course had their meat doing good work for them, laying eggs, providing wool, and supplying milk.

Thankfully, by the time this man sat at the abbot's table in 1990, meat was back on the menu...

Indeed, context IS crucial...

4 March 2013 at 22:35  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Just as prior to the 12th century marriage for priests was acceptable, I do have the feeling that eventually, but not for the immediate future, the Catholic Church will return to its original position, allowing marriage. Then it will be able to look back on a period of say, 1000 years when it was disallowed , as an aberration in its overall, majestic , historical trajectory. I am being deliberately optimistic, generous and hopeful in my approach here, as the , what shall we say, difficulties of that Church pain all true Christians including this Anglican, giving the real enemy, those who attack our shared faith, ammunition for the campaign being waged against us all. However for the reasons explained earlier, it will take a group of very senior Cardinals and a Pope, of quite unusual generosity, to make such a decision after living lives of celibacy themselves.

4 March 2013 at 22:36  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Ollie - do you want to join them, for different reasons? Yes context is important - you've helped by adding more! I thought Marcion was later, but never mind - no doubt the root was there, as you say.

4 March 2013 at 22:49  
Blogger outsider said...

@Rasher Bacon 22:49.

Mani was 200 years later.

4 March 2013 at 22:58  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

I spend time with Jews, Hindus Moslems ,not many Catholics and a few Anglicans.Pity you don't do similar Bluedog.You would be more expansive in your views and less inclined to hallucinatory thoughts
about gals being French!

4 March 2013 at 23:19  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

The reason to comment on the doctrines and dogmas of Rome is apologetic:

1. So that RCs might learn the errors of Rome.

2. So that others may be innoculated against the errors of Rome.

carl

4 March 2013 at 23:39  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

I can't believe the lack of logic here re celibacy and marriage. Since when has marriage stopped gropers groping? Are Anglican vocations higher than Catholic ones? Are there more gays in the Catholic church than Anglican ones? Sex abuse? Choir schools, public schools anyone?

This is all rubbish. The problem here is the same problem that we have in marriage now - faithfullness or continence to use the old fashioned term. That's what makes adultery wrong - it's not the sex, it's the breaking of faith, of swearing yourself to one and no other. A priest's vow is very similar to a marriage vow in this respect. And is marriage any easier than living alone? It's perfectly possible to be in a relationship yet be lonely as many of my friends are discovering. The root of this malaise is our unwillingness to commit to anything and bringing marriage into the Catholic church isn't going to solve anything. It hasn't for Anglicanism or any other religion that permits its pastors to marry.

4 March 2013 at 23:39  
Blogger Ollie Owl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5 March 2013 at 00:18  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Carl Jacobs is the best thing that ever happened to Catholicism.

1. His clap trap which is often vehement would reinforce the belief of even a luke warm Catholic.

2.He consistently makes one grateful to have been spared the experience of growing up in his bizarre Calvinist cult.

5 March 2013 at 01:00  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

The priests who had sex with teenage boys were not repressed, but the very reverse.

Everyone now has to accept what Catholics have been saying for years: that, more is the pity, such behaviour was becoming socially acceptable in the 1960s, was thoroughly so in the 1970s, and very largely remained so in the 1980s and even beyond, sometimes all the way down to the present day.

Men with a sexual interest in teenage boys would not get married. Or, if they did, then they would continue to have a sexual interest in teenage boys. In much vaster numbers outside the Catholic Priesthood of the Latin Rite, either they already do not get married, or marriage already does not stop them from committing pederasty. Marriage does not stop the sexual abuse of boys by women, either.

There are arguments for married priests, most notably the fact that the Catholic Church has always had them. Always. Continuously. But like "the priest shortage", which exists only in the tiny number of countries that have liberal hierarchies, the abuse of ephebes, also rather a feature of those countries, is not one of those arguments.

5 March 2013 at 01:00  
Blogger Mike Stallard said...

What a lot of words!

The underlying question is this:
We are afraid of sex are we not?

Perhaps we are better off with the frisson and guilt of sin? Celibacy is a mountain to climb for some: for others, it is surprisingly easy.

And it leaves your hands free to serve.

5 March 2013 at 07:24  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Che - you're right that marriage as a state has never stopped sin. However, it is clearly intended as a good thing from God, and the point I think our host was trying to stick to was that rash promises are the domain of the power of the flesh, as Peter's "I will never deny you Lord." He had to be taught about his total lack of power and his dependency. If an organisation requires that all applicants for leadership make this type of promise (not marriage), it goes beyond the wisdom of God and the word of God to cut people off from something given as good. As such, the ban is against God and His creature's enjoyment - end of story. That's why a doctrine of devils is cited as being behind it - serious stuff. The effects of that ban are a secondary matter.

I know one very dear Anglican vicar who has remained single all his life, who would agree that the state of celibacy itself is no antidote to sin - that's Christ. This isn't about choice before God, it's about denying it.

5 March 2013 at 08:10  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

Mr Cranmer, you say "... the right to criticise, or protest, is a liberty inherent to Anglican theology. "

"This blog aspires to be a space for free speech on all matters religious and political. If that offends certain Roman Catholic sensitivites, please feel free not to visit."

But then

"But - if His Grace may respectfully ask - by what right do you visit an Anglican blog and presume to criticise His Grace's internal administrative decisions about what may or may not be discussed?"

This blog has gone from a very interesting place for a lively exchange of views to one where it presumes a right of Anglicans to criticise and yet censors/deletes/excludes the views of those it criticises.

It is as if another entity has take over this blog who can dish it out but can't take it.

Chilling.

5 March 2013 at 08:51  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Harry-ca-Nab,

Untrue. Nothing is deleted bar the comments of one person who was given countless warnings to amend his behaviour. You divorce your quote from its context, and so warp truth. If this blog is not to your liking, please feel free to leave.

5 March 2013 at 08:59  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Harry-ca-Nab,

Amendment to above.

His Grace is also deleting ad hominem comment. He is sick of the backbiting and unintelligent criticism. If you don't like that, please feel free to leave.

5 March 2013 at 09:13  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Goodness.

The R C bullying and whinging is relentless. You have my admiration as always.

They appear as obstreperous and combative as the islamic apologists you view online.

Thankfully their dissent against any inquiries regarding if what they say and do is correct, does not come with a death threat and 3 lbs of Semtex attached. Small mercies, indeed.

If only they and the islamic followers could see that free speech involves freedom to question their views, whether internal or external, also.

Praise God that we are governed religiously under Anglican law and not Romish or Muslim theocracy. *Phew!*

E S Blofeld

ps

Harry and others. Hear that http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/ maybe more to your tiberian palette and old Damian Thompson does like to hear the views of traditionalist RC opine on his blog!

5 March 2013 at 09:37  
Blogger bluedog said...

Cressida @ 23.19 says, 'I spend time with Jews, Hindus Moslems ,not many Catholics and a few Anglicans.'

Such multicultural sophistication! Must be fun planning the menu for the dinner party; 101 ways to serve Chicken Tonight?

'Pity you don't do similar Bluedog.'

Chacun a son gout. Mine's a kennomeat.

5 March 2013 at 10:20  
Blogger broadwood said...

I'm not a Catholic, and think the preisthood is entirely unbiblical, but being single shouldn't mean being condemned to loneliness.

Our society has made romantic love a god - for many the only god! Christian life is supposed to be on a completely different plan - if we all had the kind of relationships with fellow Christians that Our Lord prayed for in John 17, the lot of the single man (or woman) in a Christian community would be considerably easier.

CS Lewis, who was a [contented] bachelor most of his life, argued powerfully about the idolisation of Eros (romantic love) and the undervaluing of friendship (which he held was morally purer than Eros) in our culture, which has only got so much worse since his day.

Having a family is a massive commitment, 'not to be entered into lightly' or as a cheap way of getting your 'jollies' as Paul points out.

Modern 'love' is too often a tragedy of unbounded desires without sincere commitment, overloading relationships with hugely unrealistic [idolatrous] expectations that they will 'save' us - then moving on to the next one when it all implodes under the strain. The casualties of such thinking are all around us, and most of them are children.

People now see having sex as a human right, and celibacy as a kind of torture which it is unreasonable to expect of anyone. But our sexuality is not only expressed and satisfied through physical acts - we are not just bodies, but soul and spirit too - single people have often shown exceptional creativity and devotion to others, precisely because they are free to sublimate their sexual natures into fruitfulness of a different order.

We shouldn't be trying to import wordly attitudes to relationships into the church, but export Godly ones to the world.

5 March 2013 at 10:22  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

Funny, but my perfectly respectful comment on this posting - re the inevitability of married priests didn't stand and I can't get that one given that I was agreeing with you.

Maybe it was pointing out the CofE insistence upon celibacy for its homosexual priests that did it?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20914799

5 March 2013 at 10:24  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Blue Dog @10:20

Your ad hominem comment is showing humour. Stop this canine silliness at once or you will be shown the door or worse - I will be. You must be more serious about my dinner parties.Just remember, if I am presented with my marching orders Hound, you will have no one to torment anymore. It is in your interest to keep the French Poodle on the farm

Enjoy you horse meat.I feel badly that you have to eat this stuff. You see how kind and caring Catholics are worrying about their tormentors..It's OK I don't want you grovelling and apologising to me for your past behaviour, we Catholics are a very forgiving lot..just lovely people really!

5 March 2013 at 11:27  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...


Rasher,

You make some good points here. I do agree that marriage is a good thing and that celibacy is not of itself, a virtue as your vicar friend said. But we are talking of celibacy within the context of a priestly vow, given so that the priest may dedicate himself to his people and to God and in that context, it is a good thing, a virtue.
Maybe it’s because I’m single (not a priest, I hasten to add) that I see this in a different way. You speak of rash promises being the domain of the power of the flesh. But isn’t marriage in that case ‘a rash promise?’ To swear yourself to one and no other for the rest of your life? And if sex were adequate compensation for this bond, then why does it get broken so often? And like other life choices, it excludes other things. A married person is not free to do as they wish. They have a partner, children to look after. Everything they do from that moment henceforth has to include them. It excludes other possible partners. It means sharing your goods. It can mean staying in a lousy job or not working at all, for the sake of the family. Someone like myself generally only has myself to consider in a decision about how I live. The disadvantage is that I am bound as a practising Catholic to lead a celibate life, until I maybe choose to get married. The worldly person might conclude that it would be better not to make promises at all, that there is no point setting hurdles that we might fail. And yet we still do.
The saddest thing about the whole gay marriage argument, is how keen the gay community is to obtain something that we have as a society , largely trashed. Marriage is now seen in the narrowest of terms as something that will allow you to cure an itch, if you will pardon my vulgarity. The wider meaning of it; the commitment, the love, the sacrament in it, has been lost. And that is why priestly celibacy is no longer really understood for what it is; as a mirror image of the same vow. Instead, it’s seen as somewhere respectable to hide for people doubtful about their sexuality, and maybe over the last twenty years or so there is some truth in that assertion. It should not be.
There is tension in all choices in life and for every gain there is a loss. You cannot have it all, and not all are made to commit, be celibate or marry. I think in the words of Christ, let all who can accept this teaching do so. For those who can’t, there are other churches.

6 March 2013 at 02:11  
Blogger len said...

Well Cranmer you have made a good start abolishing 'Papal Infallibility and then the notorious 'Celibacy issue'.If you continue you might actually be able to save Catholicism!.For Catholicism have sown 'the seeds' of its own destruction within itself'.Papal infallibility'(everyone knows only God is infallible) us mortals continually make mistakes only rectifiable by looking to the manual'the Bible'to judge whether we are in error or not.'Papal infallibility' allowed mistakes to become' set in concrete'allowing no one to rectify them.

Celibacy(alone) is in the process of destroying the Catholic Church for this allowed unmarried men(who probably where of a 'certain disposition') to enter the church unnoticed and instead of rectifying the situation the Church attempted to conceal it.

The only way for the Catholic Church to survive is a total drastic transformation to get back to biblical Christianity and if you are allowed to continue Cranmer you will get there in the end(if the 'seeds' that are growing do not blossom into weeds of destruction before you get there)

6 March 2013 at 08:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Che: "And that is why priestly celibacy is no longer really understood for what it is; as a mirror image of the same vow. Instead, it’s seen as somewhere respectable to hide for people doubtful about their sexuality, and maybe over the last twenty years or so there is some truth in that assertion."

One of the benefits of recognising gay rights has been that young people in general don't feel they need to hide now if they're gay. Civil partnerships, and their likely successor: marriage, give their lives the same respectability as any other.

6 March 2013 at 10:04  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. One of the benefits of recognising gay rights has been that young people in general don't feel they need to hide now if they're gay. Civil partnerships, and their likely successor: marriage, give their lives the same respectability as any other.

Absolute rubbish on the ‘marriage’ part, that man - more likely to make them a laughing stock if the truth be known. Chap at work says his 5 yr old daughter finds the idea of 2 men on a wedding cake, as has been seen on TV when the thing has been aired on the news, absolutely hilarious. Have heard of similar with other young children. They seem to instinctively know that marriage is desirable and for not the same gender. Out of the mouth of babes, what !

The natural purity these children have reinforces the idea that SSM is the result of degenerate thinking - by degenerates and advocates for social degeneracy…



6 March 2013 at 17:45  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Not biting, Inspector. There must be someone around here who will. Have you tried Carl yet?

6 March 2013 at 19:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

My dear fruit. You are not biting because you cannot come back to this man’s previous post...

6 March 2013 at 19:53  
Blogger len said...

I see the Inspector is experimenting trying to ascertain exactly how long his particular' piece of the rope' is.
I guess he will find out soon?.

6 March 2013 at 20:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Not biting, Len

6 March 2013 at 20:24  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Che

Thanks - I agree with much of what you say, and see your point on the parallel with the promises of marriage. Marriage certainly can look and feel like a rash promise and a tall order for which I felt unequal! You're right that it has become trashed and misunderstood by society.

However, no one forced me to marry, or to abstain from it. Aside from the vows, it is a state where God joins two people as one flesh, and says no-one is to split them. That's not conceived of anywhere in scripture for a priest. If we set up a 'priestly vow' which is found nowhere in scripture, we put that priest in the place of Christ if the priest is 'married to the church' - another grave and confusing error.

That's really the nub of the issue- current Roman Catholic rules force an unscriptural choice between marriage and service, for which your answer is to leave the Roman Catholic church? I won't argue against that.

Good to examine these things, but as my favourite Roman Catholic said, 'The purpose of opening one's mind, as one's mouth, is to shut it again on something solid'.




7 March 2013 at 00:41  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Spot on.

The trouble is, if Rome admits she has been unbiblical over this issue while the Prods have been right all along, where will that process of confession and repentance end?

7 March 2013 at 07:27  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Heaven, hopefully! I see no hope at all for the RCC but I get a feeling that I'll see Che and GK Chesterton there, not because of rules or organisations down here, but because Christ died and they believe it was for them.

7 March 2013 at 09:00  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

Rambling Seed,

It depends what you mean by unbiblical. For example, nowhere is the Trinity mentioned by name in the New Testament, yet nearly all Christian denominations hold it as a central tenet of their faith; it is something inferred by regular references by Jesus to His equality with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Our teaching on priestly celibacy comes from Jesus's statement that some would become eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven and also on an extensive passage by Paul in Timothy about the practical virtue of celibacy which allows the priest to dedicate himself totally to the Lord. So as I see it, there's a very clear biblical root for celibacy. I agree that it is something that could be changed,and we did have married clergy in the Catholic church, although celibacy has always been part and parcel of the church (St Augustine gave up his mistress and children for a celibate life for example). But I think those who expect it would solve our problems re child abuse and other sexual misconduct are kidding themselves. That's not the answer to this; the answer to child abuse is mandatory reporting and jail, and the answer to breaking vows, priestly or marital, is to emphasise fidelity, not sex.

Rasher,it's an old joke but they say you get two shocks when you get to heaven; one, that you're there and two, when you find out who else is there! Hope to see you and Chesterton at the great banquet. Cheers until then..

8 March 2013 at 20:04  
Blogger len said...

1 Timothy 4:1-5

4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

9 March 2013 at 13:54  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older