Married Priests? Here’s What The Early Church Taught About Priestly Celibacy

The concept of clerical celibacy is currently under attack, both from critics of the Church who seek to refute it as pointless and restrictive, but also from Pope Francis who has made a number of remarks in recent days suggesting that priests will no longer be required to be celibate in the near future. However, examining the early years of the Church’s history highlights the development of clerical celibacy and how it has been consistently taught from the very earliest ages.

In a recent interview given to mark his decade upon the papal throne, Francis repeated some of his regular phrases regarding priestly celibacy, making hints at future moves to undermine the Church’s traditional teaching.

“There is no contradiction for a priest to marry,” he said. “Celibacy in the Western Church is a temporary prescription: I do not know if it is resolved in one way or another, but it is temporary in this sense; it is not eternal like priestly ordination, which is forever, whether you like it or not.”

Noting celibacy as “a discipline,” the Pope replied in the affirmative when asked if such a rule “could be revised.”

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