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why no married priests

Some interesting things about priests:

1) Apparently, once upon a time, priests would build power and pass it down to their children. This is why the church instituted the celibacy rule. EDIT: Actually, like most things, it's more complicated than that. See comments below.

2) For 1200 years, women priests were part of the Catholic Church. Not sure why they outlawed that one.

3) "An unjust law is no law at all." - St. Augustine.

Click the image to go to the Up to Date story.

Just some notes from the current Up to Date show on NPR.




( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
Actually, the issue of married priest isn't because of the dynastic issue -- that was raised later as justification, but it's not the reason.

The reason is that in the 6th century (the time period of Pope Gregory the Great), there was effectively a revolution in the church, and the papacy was taken over by a succession of monks, rather than the priests and bishops that had come before. In their efforts to reform the Papacy, they made a number of changes, attempting to mold the Church as a whole in the monastic image. One of the changes they made was to institute the rule that priests could not marry and must be celebate. At first, the rule was only enforceable (more or less) within the Patrimony of St. Peter (the lands directly controlled by the Papacy), but it gradually spread throughout Italy in the next century or two. And of course, it took a thousand years to really propagate outwards, and even there it was not always adhered to, especially in places that had a pre-existing non-Roman Church (as in Ireland with the Celtic Catholic Church).

Sorry for the lecture, but you hit the nail on the head where my master's degree is concerned...
May. 8th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
That's really cool history, thanks!
May. 8th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
No, thank you. It's nice to finally have something that justifies the semester I spent in grad school translating the letters of Gregory the Great.
May. 8th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
I hear ya! Glad to offer the opportunity *g*
May. 8th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
Someone once told me that the Church's opposition to abortion came about as part of a deal with Napoleon, who wanted fewer abortions and therefore more future cannon fodder. No idea if that's true though.
May. 8th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
Ha! I wouldn't be surprised. You should ask skaldic, above, about that.
May. 8th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
I think the danger involved to the woman had something to do with it, too. Although, for the longest time, the church defined pregnancy as "quickening", when the mother could feel the baby move. Abortion was only abortion, and miscarriage only miscarriage, after the baby could be felt (around month 4-5). That made miscarriages less devastating for women who, by society's standards, were only alive to produce babies and had troubles doing it.
May. 8th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
That made miscarriages less devastating for women who, by society's standards, were only alive to produce babies and had troubles doing it.

How very generous of them.

Seriously, though, that's fascinating. I'd never heard that before.
May. 8th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
It's St. Augustine. I'll look up the reference after finals if you remind me.
May. 8th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
Nah, that's ok. It's one of those things that's nice to go "huh!" over, but I don't want the depression/simmering irritation that goes along with researching it in depth. =D
May. 8th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
One of the most interesting aspects is that until it was changed in the Victorian era, this ruling gave the woman the power to decide what was an abortion and what was not. After all, from conception until about month 7 only a woman could define whether or not the baby inside her womb had "quickened". It was only when male Victorian doctors decided they could tell conception from a heartbeat that things were changed.
May. 8th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
Re #2. Because they could.

But don't worry, I don't hold the whole gender responsible for that or anything! ;-)
May. 8th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
Interesting that the Orthodox kept their married clergy.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )