Wednesday, March 16, 2011

History of Voluntary or Mandatory Clerical Celibacy

Below is a very small excerpt from a work by A. G. Bell III which covers the author's well-cited research on the history of celibacy and marriage among clergy in the Catholic Church. The link has the full article.

Ordination of Married Man in the Eastern Church
In the previous year, 1971, the Holy Synod of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church at its annual meeting in Ain-Traz, Lebanon, attempted to clarify the relationship between the priesthood and celibacy and marriage. The Synod stated in point 9 of its “Official Teaching”: “As regards the question concerning the connection between celibacy and the priesthood, the experience of our Church confirms, as we have already stated, that there is no intrinsic connection between celibacy and the priesthood; the two are distinct charisms. Celibacy, together with the priesthood, is a special way of bearing witness in the Church.” The Synod took great pains in its “Official Teaching” to show the advantages of both married and celibate priests and the need for both in today's Melkite Church.
In Europe today, the Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia has been ordaining married men to the priesthood as has been its custom since its origins. This discipline was never voided, even though there was at times a strong tendency to latinization in that region when some Latin hierarchs or strongly latinized Byzantines wanted to impose celibacy in the Greek Catholic Church. 
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on the territory of Ukraine ordains to the priesthood candidates who are married, and has never stopped, even during the underground period from 1946 to 1989.  There had been an attempt to change the traditional discipline for a short period after World War I in Galicia (Western Ukraine). The three bishops there-Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky of Lviv, Bishop Josaphat Kotsylovski of Peremyshl and Bishop Gregory Khomyshyn of Stanislaviv-decided to admit to seminaries only candidates who were willing to accept ordination as celibates. However, due to a shortage of suitable candidates, Metropolitan Andrew soon reversed his decision and began to accept candidates who would marry before ordination. The eparchies of Peremyshl and Stanislaviv also could not attract a sufficient number of celibate seminarians. Later, Metropolitan Andrew's successor, Metropolitan Joseph Slipy preferred ordaining celibate candidates. Towards the end of World War II some of the older, married Galician priests fled with their families from the Communists and went to Western Europe and eventually to North America. 

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