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Letters

Priestly celibacy

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 Contents - Dec 2005AD2000 December 2005 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Christmas: time for Christians to stand up! - Michael Gilchrist
Synod on the Eucharist sets agenda for Benedict's pontificate - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
PRAYER: Melbourne initiative: a spiritual approach can defeat drug addiction - Anh Nguyen
Episcopacy: Archbishop Chaput of Denver: America's plain-speaking Pope's man - Peter J. Boyer
Formation: St John Vianney's blueprint for the priesthood back in favour - Fr John Cihak
The Eucharist: gift of an interventionist God - Chris Hilder
Cinema: New movie's balanced presentation of exorcism: The Exorcism of Emily Rose - Shannon Donahoo (reviewer)
Letters: Medical research - Maureen Federico
Letters: Enneagram - Br Con Moloney CFC
Letters: Vatican II myths - Peter D. Howard
Letters: Stem cell therapy - Brian Harris
Letters: Evangelisation - Michael Dunlea
Letters: Church architecture - Barry Ireland
Letters: Priestly celibacy - Philip Holberton
Letters: Catholic journal
Letters: EWTN tapes - Daphne Thorose
Books: The Cube and the Cathedral, by George Weigel - John Ballantyne (reviewer)
Books: Good News About Sex And Marriage, by Christopher West - Kerrie Allen
Books: In Memory of Me / Come to Me, My Children, by Christine McCarthy - Michael Gilchrist (reviewer)
Books: Christmas reading from AD Books
Reflection: Journey of the Magi and the search for truth - Cardinal George Pell

I refer to the article in the October AD2000 (page 13) by Fr Thaddeus Doyle, reprinted from The Irish Catholic.

Fr Doyle maintains there was a rule in the early Church that as soon as married men were ordained "they were expected to renounce the use of their marriage and to live as brother and sister with their wives".

He says that the Council of Elvira in Spain, at the beginning of the fourth century, enacted that clerics "must live in abstinence with their wives". But he does not say that the subject came up at the much more important First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia says: "It seems that most of the bishops present [at Nicaea] were disposed to follow the precedent of the Council of Elvira prohibiting conjugal relations to those bishops, priests, deacons and sub-deacons, who were married before ordination. Paphnutius earnestly entreated his fellow-bishops not to impose this obligation on the orders of the clergy concerned.

"He proposed that only those who were celibates at the time of ordination should continue to observe continence, but, on the other hand, that 'none should be separated from her, to whom, while yet unordained, he had been united'.

"The great veneration in which he was held, and the well known fact that he had himself observed the strictest chastity all his life, gave weight to his proposal, which was unanimously adopted. The Council left it to the discretion of the married clergy to continue or discontinue their marital relations."

Paphnutius said that his proposal was "in accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church", and none of the other bishops there contradicted him.

So I do not see how Fr Doyle can claim that the rule he quotes goes back to the Apostles.

PHILIP HOLBERTON
Willawarrin, NSW

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 18 No 11 (December 2005 - January 2006), p. 14

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