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The Original (historical) reason of celibacy of the RC priesthood

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Pavel Mosko, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    A poster yesterday asked a whole slew of questions about the RC. I figured I would cover one because I think it is worth knowing about if you are RC. I will probably post some updates or modifications to the thread, when I go back to reading on this topic again (most likely in a few days).



    (OK this post is based on some reading I did 20+ years ago so likely will be modified/ corrected when i get to rereading on the topic).

    Roughly speaking about a century or so before the Great Schism is where the Celibacy rule change happened in the West.

    The basic reason of celibacy in the RC of the priesthood becoming Celibate came from something I sometimes noticed as a Protestant, namely that sometimes churches, or parishes could essentially become a personal fiefdom of a given minister and his family. In Protestantism that sort of thing is somewhat understandable in that if a minister treats the congregation and church building as his own property in most cases it is also that he actually did the hard work of founding the congregation in question, but this is much, much less likely in the case of parishes in the 900s of Western Europe.

    Anyway this was a problem in some areas because 1)the priesthood of a church was passed on like a hereditary right to the presbyter's son, much like any other piece of property (So the ministry is all about natural inheritance rather than a personal call to it), 2) This was a problem because it was a loss of property as far as the larger Church body is concerned (People who did not buy or build the property were using it like their own), 3) In some cases this led to a breakdown of Church discipline (by virtue of people thinking that they own the parish like an individual franchise they can run it like they want to).
     
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  2. paul1149

    paul1149 that your faith might rest in the power of God Supporter

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    Wouldn't that problem largely be solved simply by the RCC assigning pastorates and bishoprics from above, as it does? How could it grow to be a large problem if people were moved around periodically?
     
  3. Markie Boy

    Markie Boy Looking East, Moving Slow Supporter

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    This is what I found historically as well - it wasn't because of a higher spiritual state as it's often portrayed today.

    Information the average Catholic I have met does not know.
     
  4. tz620q

    tz620q Regular Member Supporter

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    That is the way it could work today, with modern communications and notions of separation of church and state keeping leaders out of church affairs; but during the investiture controversies from roughly 1000-1300 AD, many political leaders took it upon themselves to endow their supporters and relatives with parishes and bishoprics. Often the Pope would not be aware of a vacancy until the local leader had already filled it. The leader would then extract church taxes into his own coffers and insure that the parish would go to the son of the previous priest to keep the money flowing. This is why priestly celibacy is a discipline and not dogma. It is a practical measure, not a biblical mandate; though the wise authors of the Bible also saw wisdom in celibacy for church leaders.
     
  5. Andrewn

    Andrewn Active Member

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    IMO, this is becoming a big problem with multi-million dollar TV ministries. And I don't agree that the minister did the hard work. The money belongs to the people who donated it and should be sent to other established ministries when the said minister is deceased. It should not be treated as a family inheritance.
     
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  6. Snoder

    Snoder Member

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    A priest is a servant of his bishop and had no titles or claims to his parish.

    It is a bit sad that people cannot accept that people were genuinely called to celibacy and answered that call.
     
  7. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Here is another cultural factor that led to this situation, namely the rules of succession in medieval society. Early medieval society (for the most part) is constructed around "gavelkind succession, which is described as follows (this is taken from the wiki of Medieval Kingdom building game/simulator that I've played over the years called Crusader Kings II).


    Gavelkind is a succession law where land is divided among the ruler's children.

    The eldest inherits the primary title and becomes the new player character. The deceased ruler's other titles are distributed among all eligible children in a roughly equal manner. Junior heirs become vassals (or independent rulers, if they inherit equal-tier titles).


    Gavelkind - Crusader Kings II Wiki


    Anyway these kind of ethnic succession laws coming from the pre-Christian Germanic tribes into Christianity sort of setup the situation that would play out later. Basically as a noble, you need to divvy up your property to your legitimately born sons. When you run out of land, you take a loss in your prestige for each son that is sitting around without an inheritance. The Church does provide an easy out for this, sending your spiritually minded sons to the church so they can take over some kind of minister ends up being a kind of win win situation. Unfortunately some of your sons are not always spiritually minded (the game is pretty elaborate and characters have many traits both good and bad, and the ones that have the bad ones tend to get involved in scandals and intrigues).

    But anyway under these kind of situations, you can easily see that a given noble family that has owned the local castle and county, and also has largely staffed the local parish might begin to see that local parish as an official or defacto fiefdom after running it for generations.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  8. Markie Boy

    Markie Boy Looking East, Moving Slow Supporter

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    A call to celibacy and to ministry are separate calls - that sometimes overlap. That's what we saw in Scripture and the early Church for the first 1,000 years.

    It seems to be forgotten that priesthood does not = celibacy 100% of the time. Neither in the Old or New Testament, but it's been made that way, not by God but by man.
     
  9. Rhamiel

    Rhamiel Member of the Round Table

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    We can see celibacy (not married) and continence (abstaining from sex even within marriage) as the norm in the Latin Church long before the schism
     
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