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Married Popes?

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by Markie Boy, May 26, 2019.

  1. Markie Boy

    Markie Boy Looking East, Moving Slow Supporter

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    Does anyone know - were there married popes in the first 1,000 years of the Church.

    I have been in dialogue with someone on this, and my finding show there were - even to the point that some had children.

    The other person insists that continence was observed from the start.

    **If this belongs in St. Justin's please move.
     
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  2. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    Don't know about in Rome, but in Egypt we have the famous case of HH St. Demetrios the Vinedresser, the 12th Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria (2nd-early 3rd century).

    [​IMG]

    From HH's entry in the Synaxarium. wherein we commemorate his departure on the 12th of Baba (Paopi)/23rd of October:

    On this day of the year 224 A.D., the pure and celibate father, the fighter of lusts, and the vanquisher of nature, Abba Demetrius I, 12th Pope of Alexandria, departed. This saint was an illiterate farmer, and was married. He lived with his wife 47 years until he was chosen a Patriarch. They did not know one another as married people, but remained throughout that period in their virginity and chastity, a fact which no one knew.

    When the departure of St. Yulianus, 11th Pope, drew near, the angel of the Lord appeared to St. Yulianus in a vision and told him about this saint and that he was to be the Patriarch after him. He gave him a sign saying, "Tomorrow a man shall come to you having a cluster of grapes, seize him and pray over him." Then he woke from his sleep, he told the bishops and the priests who were with him about this vision.

    So it happened on the next day that St. Demetrius found a cluster of grapes that was out of season. He carried it to St. Yulianus, to receive his blessing. The father, the Patriarch, took him by the hand and told those who were present, "This is your Patriarch who will be after me." Then he prayed over him; they held him and kept him until the departure of Abba Yulianus, whereupon they finished the prayers of ordination over him and he was filled with heavenly grace. The Lord enlightened his mind and he learned reading and writing. He studied the church books and their interpretations. Words of grace flew from his mouth when he preached.

    He established the reckoning of the Epacts, by which the dates of fasting were determined on a fixed basis. Christians used to fast the holy 40 days, Lent, right after the feast of Epiphany, as the Lord Christ fasted after His baptism. Then they fasted the Passion week separately, celebrating the Christian Passover on the Sunday that followed the Jewish Passover.

    Some of the Christians used to celebrate Easter on the fourteenth of Neesan (April) and that meant they celebrated with the Jews, not recognizing that the Christian Passover was to be in memory of the Resurrection of the Lord Christ which was after the Mosaic Passover. For that reason, Pope Demetrius took interest in establishing a fixed bases for fasts and Christian holy days. He appended the Holy Fast to the Passion Week.

    Pope Demetrius wrote in this respect to Agabius, Bishop of Jerusalem; to Maximus, Patriarch of Antioch; to the Patriarch of Rome and to others. All approved of it and continued to follow his rules up until the present. The Church of Rome deviated from that and followed, since the 16th century, the Gregorian Calendar. To the Popes of the Coptic Church was the prime credit in determining Easter Day; and they thus sent their Easter messages all over the world, so that the Christians would celebrate Easter on the same day forming a universal joy.

    God was with Abba Demetrius because of his purity. God granted him a gift that after he finished the Liturgy and the people came forward to partake of the Holy Mysteries, he used to see the Lord Christ pushing forward with His Hand those who were worthy. But if one came forward who was not worthy of partaking of the Holy Communion, the Lord would reveal to the Pope his sins and the Pope would not allow him to partake of it until he confessed his sins. The Pope would admonish him for them and would say to him, "Turn away from your sin and repent, after that come and partake of the Holy Mysteries." His flocks conduct was straightened during his time.

    Because he rebuked the sinners much, and urged them on repentance and purity, some of them murmured and said, "This man is married, how can he rebuke us?" The Lord Almighty wished to reveal to them his virtues, so the angel of the Lord came to him at night and told him, "O Demetrius, do not seek your salvation and let others be destroyed with their doubt." The father asked him to clarify his statement and the angel told him, "You must reveal the mystery which is between yourself and your wife to the people that you might remove the doubt from them." On the following morning, after he had celebrated the Divine Liturgy, he ordered the people not to leave the church. He took red-hot coal and placed it in his wife's shawl and his pallium, then they went around in the church and their clothes did not burn. The people were amazed at this miracle. He told them that he and his wife did not know each other as married people. The doubt was removed from the people and they realized the purity of this father and his virginity. During his time, some opposing men appeared whose names were Aklemos, Origen, and Orianus and others who wrote forbidden books, so he excommunicated them.

    During the days of his papacy, he did not stop teaching and confirming the believers in the Orthodox Faith. When he had grown old and became weak, they carried him on a litter to the church to teach the people. He was 105 years old, having spent 15 years unmarried, 47 years until he became Patriarch and 43 years in office, then departed in peace.

    The blessings of his prayers be with us. Amen.
     
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  3. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    Simon Peter was married, as we read about his mother-in-law in the Gospels, and Clement of Alexandria mentions her martyrdom and that they had children, if you hold him to be the first Pope.

    Regardless, Adrian II was married. His wife stayed with him in the Lateran palace.
     
  4. prodromos

    prodromos Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Pope John XII wasn't married, but it appears he wasn't particularly continent either.
     
  5. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    many of the earliest bishops were married, so I would say yes.
     
  6. Andrei D

    Andrei D Active Member

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    I never really thought of it well enough. Why did we abandon St. Peter's example and St. Paul's advice relating to bishops? A generic "chastity is better" or "for holiness" is not a valid argument.

    I've seen mumbling around the "intellidoxia" blogosphere about how the Church would be better off with married bishops (less rampant homosexuality, larger selection base, fewer in-group shenanigans and "select people" rise quickly through monastic orders anyway towards archbishoprics without ever setting foot in a monastery etc.). I haven't been able to make an opinion of my own so I'm just wondering.
     
  7. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    the Church would not be better with married bishops practically. having to spiritually head a diocese and a family would not be good.
     
  8. GoingByzantine

    GoingByzantine Seeking the Narrow Road Supporter

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    I agree with Fr. Matt. It is probable that some of the early popes were married, since many bishops were.

    Besides that, if we are talking about "continence", it is well documented that a handful of popes had intimate relationships with women (and maybe men) outside of marriage when they were supposed to be abstinent. It is said for instance that John XII was killed by a man who found the pope in bed with his wife. Benedict XI is also thought to have committed adultery with men and women during his reign, he resigned the papacy to marry his cousin, only to change his mind. Orthodox tradition holds that he later relinquished his claim on the papacy and through the spiritual guidance of St. Bartholomew of Grottafretta, he lived a pious and penitent life.

    [​IMG]

    At the end of the day, the majority of popes (and bishops for that matter) have been holy and pious people. Your friend is likely wrong about "continence" being observed from the start, as evidenced by what has been said in this thread, but at the same time I wouldn't use that as a reason to put down the practice of having non-married bishops.
     
  9. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    Oops. I clearly missed the bit about continence in the OP. Thought we were just talking marriage, irrespective of celibacy issues. Sorry, OP and everyone.

    Still, common sense dictates that Fr. Matt is probably correct. As far as I can tell, unmarried Popes (again, in Egypt anyway) came with the rise of monasticism and the accompanying tradition of picking bishops from among the monastics, who were obviously usually unmarried or widowers (or so tended to be so as time progressed; as with everything, the earlier generations would've experienced a notable shift as the standards were established; this is probably one of the more practical reasons why praise for celibate marriages is found throughout the desert fathers -- who knows how many were in such arrangements? The Coptic synaxarium entry for HH St. Demetrios does say that his arrangement with his wife was not known to people).

    With clerical celibacy being the at least 'on-the-books' standard for the Roman Church since quite some time ago (first mentioned in the canons of the synod of Elvira, c. 305 AD), it does kind of make the bad behavior of certain Popes stick out a bit more, as it is unlikely that they would've risen to that position without knowing this detail of what it entailed. Still, did the Romans or anyone connected to them ever develop a tradition of choosing their Popes/bishops from among monastics? I honestly don't know. I do remember that when the current Maronite (Catholic) Patriarch, HB Bechara Butros El Raei, was elevated to that position a few years ago, it was cheered on by some of my Maronite friends because it was apparently the first time a Patriarch had been selected for them from among the monastics (he was a member of the Mariamite Order) in centuries. The Maronite Church generally loving to imitate the Romans in all things makes me suspect that the Romans therefore did not establish such a tradition, and hence maybe made having a celibate Papacy a bit more difficult than necessary...which is odd when you consider how simultaneously famous they are for their insistence on a celibate clergy... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
  10. GoingByzantine

    GoingByzantine Seeking the Narrow Road Supporter

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    Interesting thoughts dzheremi. Before the College of Cardinals became a thing (and sometimes afterwards), the Roman bishop was often appointed from among the nobility. Benedict XI who I mentioned above, by some accounts, was only 12 years old when he became Pope. He was from a noble secular background and not from a monastic one. This is presumably why he looks so young in the icon I also posted, as he would have only been in his 20s or 30s upon relinquishing his title.

    It is crazy to me to see the cult that has developed around the Papacy within the RCC. When I was an undergraduate student (and still Catholic), I went to the campus Newman Center one time for a talk about the office of the Pope. I clearly remember it said by the speaker, "There is no way that an unrighteous man can become Pope. If that were to happen then lightning would come down from heaven and smite him to save the holy office." I was dumbfounded by this statement even then, because there have been a handful of really ill-natured Popes, and lightning never came down and removed them. :doh:There have been lots of venerable Popes as well, but at the end of the day it is the people who make the office, the office itself is not some unassailable fortress that cannot be toppled.
     
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  11. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Well-Known Member

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    St. Peter if you consider him a Pope.
     
  12. prodromos

    prodromos Senior Veteran Supporter

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    As I've mentioned in other threads, the bishop of Rome built up an enviable reputation because anyone who accepted the office in the first centuries knew it was a death sentence. Thus only the absolute cream of Christian leadership took on the role since they would ONLY be serving the flock and defending the faith, it was not a position that lent itself to those who sought power or prestige. After the persecution of the Church ended, the see of Rome became just as susceptible to corruption as any other, but by then people had taken the reputation earned by the early bishops as a divine institution. Hence the claims that the papacy could not teach error etc.
     
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  13. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    plus, being the cultural center of the Western world, a lot of early Popes were also brilliant theologians, as they had to navigate arguably the most vibrant city of the day.
     
  14. tz620q

    tz620q Regular Member Supporter

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    To second the first point, of the first 50 popes only 3 died a natural death. As far as married Popes, the church has imposed a discipline on bishops and hence Popes to allow them to devote their lives to the church. That is policy and not dogma. I do find it an interesting and not totally unwarranted theory that without persecution, the Papacy changed from one of selfless service to a less pure form of power and personal grandeur. Even someone like Pope Francis, who has tried to turn his back on the grandeur of private apartments and cars, cannot be immune from the acclaim given him as Pope. So maybe we make the office in our image and get what we expect.
     
  15. prodromos

    prodromos Senior Veteran Supporter

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    It's kind of ironic in light of the claim that God would prevent popes from leading the Church into error. There's 47 popes who God necessarily. 'took out' in order to protect the Church. I mean it's obvious Guv', innit!
     
  16. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    Could at least part of the problem in that area be rooted in the fact that (and I'm trying to phrase this as politely as I can) the RC ecclesiology has elevated the Papacy into an office of its own above that of a bishop, hence leading to the feeling that Popes should have all this acclaim in the first place? (And some of them, of course, then acting accordingly, since they're only human; I can't imagine having that amount of power or responsibility.)

    I don't know about among the Chalcedonian Egyptians (who I know also call their Patriarch, coincidentally also currently HH Theodoros II), but I know it is the custom of the Coptic Orthodox Egyptian majority to address our Pope in Arabic as "Sayedna el-Baba", "Sayedna" (our master) being the honorific we use for all bishops. So even in the way we talk about him, he (and we) are reminded that, while he is Pope, and hence by matter of hierarchical organization the most senior bishop in the Church with certain rights attendant to that (e.g., chairing the Holy Synod), he is still at the end of the day also 'just' a bishop, not of some other, higher office above his brother bishops (e.g., the same Holy Synod which he chairs may censure or depose him, if there is a need to).

    I think the way we conceptualize the person of the Pope (whichever Pope, wherever) is much less important than what we think the Papacy is. And in that, I think the RC has some unique ideas that seem to be missing from the corresponding EO and OO 'papal' churches, i.e., those of Alexandria (as we have yet to take back Rome...mwahahaha... :ebil:).

    (I've just always wanted to use that smiley. :oops:)
     
  17. Markie Boy

    Markie Boy Looking East, Moving Slow Supporter

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    My struggle with the RCC is reaching new heights. I guess I am having a hard time seeing them as perfect as they claim to be, given that they have missed such a basic element in this concept, and stick to it like glue.

    My diocese is having a massive priest shortage, and it's going to hit home for us this summer. Amidst this they stick to mandatory celibacy to the point they will close parishes before ordaining a married priest.

    This may push me to make that drive to the EO parish.
     
  18. GoingByzantine

    GoingByzantine Seeking the Narrow Road Supporter

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    The more that I think about this practice the more I am inclined to feel that, while it might not be wrong in a strictly theological sense, it clearly is failing your parishes and people. Your churches are being shuttered due to a lack of priests, and the clerical abuse is even more widespread then originally thought. Its quite a shame.
     
  19. tz620q

    tz620q Regular Member Supporter

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    Seems about the right ratio to me. One in twelve apostles lived to natural death and three in fifty popes did the same. As far as leading into error, I hope you mean that remark as a joke. Otherwise, you are besmirching men, many of whom died a martyrs death for their orthodox beliefs.
     
  20. tz620q

    tz620q Regular Member Supporter

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    Markie Boy, I pray that you find peace wherever that may be.

    I do think it odd that you feel the Catholic church must be perfect. The only time I have heard this claim from Catholicism is in regards to faith and morals; but that is a claim made by many churches. It is important though to distinguish between the teachings of a church and the sinful men that make up that church. I hope you are not trying to find a church made up of perfect people. It reminds me of the old saying from Groucho Marx, "I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."

    As for the priest shortage, in my area we have been ordaining 2-3 priests a year for over a decade as well as sending others to religious orders. Our pastor contributes this, since many grew up in our parish, to our adding a Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Sometimes all we need is a quiet place to pray. Here is hoping you find such a place.
     
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