Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Priestly Celibacy: The Tradition

As the superficial and liberal seem to want to blame celibacy for not merely a shortage of vocations but now for child abuse, it is important that we remember what the Fathers of the Church understood the Apostolic Tradition to have been.
It is not the mere invention of the Middle Ages. I suspect the problem is we have failed to glory in it and have felt a little embarassed by it, its those Liberals again!


Richard White said...

Your fellow blogger and traditionalist Fr Ventura (A priestly commentary) has just been arrested for soliciting sex from a prostitute. Hardly fair to blame a decline in respect for celibacy all on the liberals father.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am I supposed to be guilty by association, Mr White!
I don't think I know the priest in question, or his blog, is he the Franciscan with the guitar?

I would never describe myself as a "traditionalist", just as a Catholic and therefore someone who holds The Tradition passed on from the Apostles, or the Apostolic Tradition. Those who Newman termed "Liberals" don't!
I think one can blame Liberalism for everything quite fairly.

Janice said...

No Father, more of a lace and biretta priest than beard and guitar I fear. However, keep up the good work Father.

Dilly said...

It is naive in the extreme to believe that marriage is a solution that would prevent the predicament that Fr Ventura allegedly finds himself in.

Can anyone really believe that among the 7 people listed as victims of this "sting" along with this unfortunate priest, there are no married or "partnered" men? Ian Brady had a "partner". Fred West too. Tolstoy, Lloyd George, JFK, Jeremy Thorpe, Bill Clinton ... all married.

I had two maiden aunts - both celibate, from each end of the generation of "surplus women" - who lived happy, generous and fulfilled lives to the end of their days - by keeping busy (at Church and at work), and having a respected position within their extended families, friendship groups and community. Their funeral masses were packed to the gunnels.

Chris said...

Good day, Fr Blake. The Fr Ventura referred to by Richard White is a young priest from the NE US. He is (as mentioned) a "lace and biretta" priest who has always insisted on absolute obedience to the laws of the church. He obviously needs help in terms of being faithful to celibacy.

To be fair to Mr White I think that you and he understand the term 'liberal' differently. Many would see the word 'liberal' as applying to those in favor of optional celibacy. Yet as Mr White points out those against such a change can also harm celibacy by their behavior. Fr Ventura is a perfect example and sadly there are now cases of sexual misconduct being reported among some of the more recently established groups of religious (whose members claim to promote orthodox Catholic teaching).

As for the matter of clerical celibacy please don't forget those of us in the Eastern Catholic tradition. Clerical celibacy is definitely older than the middle ages but we have never imposed it on our priests. For us it is unusual for one of our pastors to be unmarried. Our hierachs are always celibate because they are believed to be married to the local church (which is also why they seldom move in the way your Latin bishops do.) Celibacy can be a great blessing I'm sure but it isn't essential to the priesthood.

Sorry if I seem to be going on and on but I often feel that Latin Catholics forget that there is a whole group of orthodox faithful and sometimes unappreciated Eastern Rite Catholics who think very differently about such matters. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

A Ukrainian Rite priest who was based in London, Father Romam Cholij many years ago wrote his doctoral thesis on the subject of celibacy in early church. It caused some consternation in Rome because he had unearthed documents showing the very argument now advanced in that video you have posted, father. . He received his doctorate "summa cum laude", at a time when some in Rome were beginning to play down the role of celibacy

nickbris said...

Two of my Great Great Aunts were celebate nuns and spent their whole lives running Penitentiaries for "Fallen Women"

That is women who had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own,servicemens Widows or just deserted unfortunates.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gem, Don't go there!

Chris, I think you underestimate the significance for the Fathers of celibacy for Eastern bishops, it was vertainly more than being the "bridegroom" of the Church.

gemoftheocean said...

Father, but you have to admit that that's what the "argument" the thinly veiled anti-Catholic and/or clueless people come down to. It's an irrational argument on their part.

Chris said...

Hello Father,

I completely agree there is more (much more) to the Eastern theology of being a hierarch than being the spouse of the church.

My real point is that Eastern Catholicism has never imposed celibacy on parochial clergy and that the Second Council of the Vatican not only defended but praised our theology traditions and disciplines. Believe me when I say that at times we feel ignored by those in the wider church - including some bloggers who champion orthodoxy in the church (this is not a dig at you Father as I remember your positive comments about the Divine Liturgy and how bishops relate to the synod).

I admit that I have a personal stake in this matter. We have 2 married priests in our family. Both are wonderful men with wives who are basically unpaid assistants.

Anonymous said...

Tolle, lege de celibatu coacto:


Hmm ... so much for an "apostolic tradition" of continence within clerical marriages, let alone a law of celibacy!

+ Albrecht von Brandenburg

Independent said...

I shall always remember when staying in a small Spanish village in the 1960's that they were very sad that their popular local priest had gone. They said he had kept a mistress but that was not held against him and he had departed to teach Pastoral Theology in the seminary at Barcelona.

Until well after Trent priestly chastity seems to have been difficult to enforce. As late as 1512 the Archbishop of Salzburg lived with his concubine and 15 children. The priests in his archdiocese followed his example.
I don't think that there were many Liberals around(in Newman's sense) at that time.

Independent said...

1612 not 1512 - sorry about the error

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...