PRIESTLY CELIBACY - MEDIA MANUFACTURES MYTHS

ARCHBISHOP PIETRO PAROLIN
NEW SECRETARY OF STATE


Scarcely had Archbishop Pietro Parolin ,until now the Papal Nuncio to Venezuela, been appointed the new Vatican Secretary of State, than he was requested to give an interview to the Venezuelan daily "El Universal". In the course of this interview he was asked about the issue of clerical celibacy in the context of reform and change.

Very rightly, the Archbishop responded that celibacy is not a Dogma of the Church but a discipline which could in theory be discussed  however he went on to say that the "effort made by the church to institute ecclesial celibacy should be taken into account. It cannot simply be said that it belongs to the past."He said that priestly celibacy " remains in the Church because throughout all these years events have occurred that have contributed to developing God's revelation." 

In short order the interview was being trumpeted about in the mainstream media worldwide as if the Archbishop had suggested that change was on the Agenda.Nothing could be further from the truth.The fact that he was Pope Francis' appointment to his important position was not neglected, and it was used to suggest that change was likely in some papers

None seemed to note or care that the Archbishop's reply was perfectly consistent with the facts and with previous statements by Catholic Authorities including previous Popes and all written texts of the Magisterium.

The clear intention of the Media is deliberate mischief.Fortunately in these days, they do not have the field to themselves .And through the Internet a myriad of authentic Catholic voices have come forward to correct the Media "spin" on the Archbishop's words.

An excellent example of this comes from Father Nwora Okeke a truly admirable Nigerian Priest working at Johns Creek in the American State of Georgia . Father's regular postings on FACEBOOK are always excellent for their authentic Catholic teaching. Father wrote :

"The recent statement by Vatican’s new secretary of state that priestly celibacy is open for discussion is nothing new. Many Popes down the centuries have said the same thing. Priestly celibacy is here to stay! Show me the priest who wants to get married and I will show you the one who not only lacks an understanding of the office of priesthood but also is ignorant of the demands of married life. It is true that celibacy is not a dogma but a discipline. It is a charismatic discipline. Every now and then we hear calls on the Church to relax the discipline of priestly celibacy. Such calls usually argue that the discipline of celibacy was a Middle Age imposition but is that really so. I challenge such people to research the 4th century Council of Elivira, canon 33, and also the canons of the Council of Carthage, 387 AD. Both Councils insisted on the apostolic discipline of perfect custom of celibate continence for priests and deacons. One can then understand why the bishops of the Eastern are not allowed to marry. Even priests and deacons in the Eastern Church must consummate their marriage before ordination but not after. And they cannot remarry if their wife dies, just as is the case with Western rite permanent deacons. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches actually require their married clergy to abstain from sexual relations for a limited period before celebrating the Eucharist, and married clergy is barred from becoming a bishop. One can then understand why the daily mass is not the norm in the Orthodox Church. The tradition of celibacy was actually changed in the East by the local Council of Trullo, 692 AD. This council was totally rejected by Pope Sergius I, preferring, he said, "to die rather than consent to erroneous novelties (i.e. non-celibate priesthood)". Many also claim that Peter was married or that St Paul in his letter to Timothy insisted that a bishop must be husband to only one wife. Yes Peter was married and St Paul’s counsel was right. But did Peter and the bishops continue to consummate the marriage after ordination? If so why would he ask the Lord: "We have left everything and followed you.....? Did he add except our family? In early Christian practice, married men who became priests were often older men, "elders”. They were expected to refrain permanently from sexual relations with their wives. Yes, many bishops and priests in the early church were married but a married man can also be celibate for there are documents showing that wives actually signed away their marital rights before the ordination of their husbands. The church usually took care of such wives and their children. Celibacy is an apostolic discipline and not an invention of the Church in the middle ages. Priests identify with Christ, the celibate High Priest for we are “alter Christus” married to the Church. This 2000 years old woman still looks good and most of us priests are happy with her."
                                                     Father Nwora Okeke
God Bless Father Okeke!



Comments

I agree most certainly with the priest's comments on celibacy. However, I do need to clarify some of the priest's comments, specifically that of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholics concerning married clergy.

It is true that the Orthodox do not celebrate the Eucharist (Divine Liturgy) daily, because it was never part of their canons to begin with. Instead, they celebrated other liturgies like Matins, Vespers, which in itself is as long as a Sunday Divine Liturgy. More importantly, this rule was instituted by the monastics. So, to say that daily Eucharist does not occur in the Orthodox Churches because the priests are married is slightly inaccurate.

As for the Eastern Catholics, the discipline didn't really take effect and wasn't really covered in the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches. The Eastern Catholic Churches, specifically those with a high concentration of married priests; still celebrate the Eucharist on a daily basis. The Orthodox may argue that this is a Latinisation and that they've broken canon law, but that's besides the point.

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