Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Clergy and Sex

There is a lot of nonsense on the net, including some plainly silly interpretations of the Code of Canon Law. An Italian friend who teaches Law in Rome begins his course by saying that the English and most especially Americans are incapable of understanding Canon Law. They fail, culturally, he says, to understand there is a benign intelligent law giver who gives the Law.

The following Canon has caused a great deal of fluttering in various hen coups on the net.

1983 CIC 277. § 1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity.
§ 2. Clerics are to behave with due prudence towards persons whose company can endanger their obligation to observe continence or give rise to scandal among the faithful.
§ 3. The diocesan bishop is competent to establish more specific norms concerning this matter and to pass judgment in particular cases concerning the observance of this obligation.

The normal interpretation of "continence" in this context, for those vowed to to life long celibacy it is perpetual chastity, for those who clergy who are married it is that their relationship with their spouse is exclusive, even after death of a spouse, remarriage is not permitted. Continence for marriage is living married life according to the Church's teaching.

Married clergy are not expected to forgo the marriage bed.

The ancient discipline in most places seems to have been modelled on that of Jewish priests in the Old Testament. Those chosen to ascend to the altar were expected to refrain from intercourse with their wives. In the first millennium various councils and local synods reminded clergy that after ordination they were to either live apart from their wives or refrain from sexual intercourse.
In the second millennium by the twelfth century only vowed celibates were ordained in the Western Church, this seems to have been a slowly growing movement from below rather than an imposition from above as it is often pictured. In the East only celibates were ordained to the Episcopate but married priests were still ordained to the diaconate and priesthood Those who were married are regarded as inferior to monastic celibate clergy. However in the East there were numerous decrees stating that married clergy were to refrain from sexual intercourse on the days they officiated at the altar.

In the West the revival of the permanent Diaconate, for married men, after the Council and the admission of former non-Catholic married clergy to the priesthood, a concession first granted by Pius XII to certain Lutherans, seems to have been done in ignorance of the historic understanding of celibacy. Most of the Patristic studies of celibacy seems to have been done by men like Roman Cholij after these modern introductions, which is perhaps an interesting practical example of the development of doctrine.


Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Love the photo!

Mercury said...

It seems continence and celibacy are understood as forgoing the great good of union with one person to create and raise a family in order to attain the greater good of union with God alone which is characterized by spiritual fruitfulness.

It seems that in the past though, it meant freedom from the rather sordid business of marriage. St. Jerome makes St. Augustine look like Dietrich von Hildebrand on this issue. But I don't think it can be denied that marriage and especially sex were seen as an impediment to holiness in themselves, and not sacramental in nature, but more like moral training wheels for the spiritually retarded. (Note: periodic continence for ascetic reasons is obviously beneficial for the same reason that periodic abstention from any good is)

I think though, that in defending both marriage and celibacy from various heresies (Protestantism, Jansenism, Modernism), the Church has come up with a theology in which marriage and sex are tainted in no way, but celibacy for the Kingdom is still clearly on top because of its radically sacrificial nature. Consecrated virginity means living for the intimate union with God from the get-go. But it is a positive thing, not the absence of a negative.

Now the question is: how can so many holy Saints have gotten it so wrong? They obviously weren't repressed idiots, as the liberals would have it. Any thoughts, anyone?

Francesco Possenti said...


I am afraid that you have confused the words "continence", "chastity", and "celibacy".

The Catholic Encyclopaedia is helpful on this point, "continence", "may be defined as abstinence from even the licit gratifications of marriage." (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04330b.htm)

Chastity is, "is the virtue which excludes or moderates the indulgence of the sexual appetite." (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03637d.htm)

Celibacy, "is the renunciation of marriage implicitly or explicitly made, for the more perfect observance of chastity, by all those who receive the Sacrament of Orders in any of the higher grades." (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03481a.htm)

In Catholic theology every person is obliged to practise chastity, i.e. ensure that one's sexual actions and thoughts are in accord with one's state in life".

The debate that you reference over canon 277 is therefore not to be so blithely brushed aside as some sort of culturo-canonical faux pas, but should be seriously considered by those trained in canon law; and, if necessary, clarified by the appropriate instruments of the Church.

It would be my opinion that since canon 277 obliges all clerics to continence (i.e. abstaining from all licit indulgences of the sexual appetite), and that nowhere is it said that this is dispensed with for permanent deacons nor, to my knowledge, in the dispensations granted by Rome for married men to become priests (in Latin Rite Churches) then it is clear that they are canonically obliged to remain continent.

Michael Petek said...

Married clergy are not obliged to forego the marriage bed.

Was it not the case in ancient times that they were?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Michael, That is what I said,

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't think I am confusing the two, on the contrary, my understanding seems to be the correct one but it is the meaning of "continence" that is Dr Peters for example disputes.

Father John Boyle said...

Dear friend, dismissing as "nonsense" and "silly" is the kind of thing Dawkins does in dismissing belief in God. I would like to think that Peters has not wasted his scholarly skills on silliness. I don't think you are right about continence. As another commenter has said, I think you have confused continence and chastity. And what about Cochini? Have you read his work? It would be worth doing so and referring to scholarly studies rather than some Italian canonist who just says Americans don't what they are talking about. All that is needed is for the Church to make an authentic interpretation of the Canon or to include it in the list of obligations that permanent deacons are not bound by.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Dear Father John
It is so good to hear from you.

You are right I could have chosen other words to descibe Ed Peter's thesis. "Dangerous" might have been more accurate. I describe it as "silly" I could have used "irresponsible" because it places people in bad faith, it undermines the ministry of good married deacons and married priests, indeed it sows doubt about Pope's encouragement of Anglicanorum Coetibus, it plays into his enemies hands.

Many deacon's and former Protestant, now Catholic priests have become Catholic clergy on the understanding that they could continue sexual relations with there spouses, this is where every bishop seems to be as well, and the Holy See too, are they wrong and that you and Ed Peters are right?

If you are right, then a serious rupture has taken place, it is far more that a misreading of one particular canon.

CDNowak said...

Fr., perhaps you could explain why 'perfect and perpetual continence' should, in this case, be read as 'chastity'? To the untrained, but interested (perhaps personally), the change in wording from the corresponding 1917 canon (132) would seem deliberate.

To say that clerics are bound to chastity 'and therefore are bound to celibacy' seems to me a bit backwards: the lesser restriction gives rise to the greater. On the other hand, the understanding as given by Dr Peters makes logical sense, the greater restriction binds to the lesser one.

terry said...

I am not a Canon lawyer. But Dr Peters seems to rely too heavily on "black letter" law in his analysis.

Pope John Paul II, the author of the 1983 Code, appears to have made a distinction between what was expected of mature married men who join the permanent diaconate and those of younger unmarried men in regard to continence and celibacy

See his General Audience of 6th October 1993


entitled "Deacons serve the Kingdom of God" especialy the last two paragraphs.

Dr Peters` thesis cannot be reconciled with the Pope`s words as reported on the Vatican website.

See also Pope John Paul II`s address to Men ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on 19th September 1987 at


and in particular paragraph 5 when he talks of married men in the diaconate:

" In particular, the deacon and his wife must be a living example of fidelity and indissolubility in Christian marriage before a world which is in dire need of such signs. By facing in a spirit of faith the challenges of married life and the demands of daily living, they strengthen the family life not only of the Church community but of the whole of society. They also show how the obligations of family, work and ministry can be harmonized in the service of the Church’s mission. Deacons and their wives and children can be a great encouragement to all others who are working to promote"

Fr Ray Blake said...

My reference to my Italian friend's disdain for Anglo Saxon lawyers was an attempt to suggest law was about the mind of the Lawgiver rather than individual laws.

In short the meaning of "continence" is whatever the Church intends it to mean, rather than the meaning Dr Peters assumes it has.

I suggest one reading, maybe Dr Peters might have been wiser to submit a Dubium rather than dissent from the generally held interpretation and putting people in bad faith.

Richard said...

An English Canon Lawyer, Magdalen Ross of Louvain University has written her doctoral thesis on this subject "Historical Antecedents and Canonical Aspects of Continence for Major Clerics in the Catholic Church". I am sure she would be able to settle the debate.

On the side of the angels said...

Don't usually disagree with you Fr

But we're screwed on this one.
Dr Peters is right - the law states one thing - we're practising another [and bad faith doesn't come into it - there's no consent of the spouses so it's a non-sequitur]

James Provost's explanation of the law doesn't hold water:
canon 4 doesn't apply
canon 1135 doesn't apply

277#3 most certainly does not allow a Bishop to change the law on 277#1 - that's the responsibility of the Pope

...and what caused all these problems ?
Negligent canonical advisers to His Holiness John Paul II during the scrutiny period in preparatrion for the final draft.

His Holiness drew a line through the exemption from continence for married permanent deacons and allowed the law to stand as it was.

Why ?
Who can say ? But tradition and all previous references definitely stick to the letter and spirit of the final draft.

In order for it to change - there had to be a deliberate incontrovertible stated change - and there is none.

No matter how much we want it to be there - it's simply not there!!

Now Terry might seem to think that his link implies the Pope thought differently - and maybe he did - but it gets worse.

In the 1998 directive we have Cardinal Laghi make two references:

a] " a certain continence " - which ostensibly looks like a reference to St Paul in 1Cor7 where he speaks of married couples abstaining for limited times for spiritual reasons - but most definitely not permanently.

b] 'welcoming children' !! Nuff said ? [and Dr Peter's optimistically but naiively suggesting he was possibly referring to conceptions before ordination is charitable - but frankly specious]

But Canon 33#1 states it doesn't matter what a directive inadvertently erroneously presumes about the law - it doesn't matter what anyone - even the Pope - says on the issue - the law is the law until made otherwise!

But who can blame Cardinal Laghi for his misinterpretation when His Holiness of blessed memory John Paul II doesn't quite understand that he can't just go around redefining a word to suit his pedagogical needs - marital continence in his Theology of the Body teaching - does not mean continence !!!

Read it for yourself:

What were the Papal canonical advisers playing at?
The moment His Holiness removed the exemption they should have been there with all manner of rectifications, amendments, clarifications, modifications etc, but instead they let a law stand saying one thing while the Church universal practised the opposite.

An unmitigated fiasco!

This is BAD!!
...and it needs to be resolved now - before 2013 when appeals can be made to the thirty year 'habitual practice' rule ; when a response would be forced - and a backdown/revision/reneging on tradition would embarrass everyone.

On the side of the angels said...

This might help a little too:


Anita Moore said...

I don't think that Dr. Peters puts people in bad faith: he acknowledges that many men have entered the permanent diaconate in ignorance -- through no fault of their own -- of the requirement of perpetual continence. But he makes the point that the effect this guiltless ignorance has on the status of particular individuals is unrelated to the law's objective requirements. As a civil lawyer (not a canon lawyer) I must say this sounds reasonable to me.

I understand Dr. Peters to be saying that the law of the Church requires perpetual continence on the part of clerics, and that that law has not been abrogated. He does explicitly call for reasonable accommodations for men who received holy orders without being fully informed of the requirements of their state. He also points out that the change in the husband's state does not take away the wife's acquired right to conjugal relations within the marriage. But how the Church copes with these innocently ignorant individuals is a separate issue from how the Church should deal with future candidates for the permanent diaconate.

Father John Boyle said...

Dear Father Ray
Lots of references to check up in the comments and I'll try to do that. Peters addresses the case of those who have entered the diaconate and married priesthood in good faith: that they should be assured that they may continue to enjoy relations with their wives. Academic discourse must surely be permitted. Note that Peters' article was published way back in 2005. Cochini's book was published by Ignatius in 1990. This is not a new debate. And something, as you rightly say, the Church must resolve one way or the other. In the meantime, you and I and all are free to enquire responsibly what is, in fact, the Church's tradition. What is the basis for you and me being required to be continent? Why in the East are bishops required to be continent and, indeed, celibate? There is absolutely no itention of upsetting those who have been properly dispensed from the requirement of celibacy. Indeed, Anglicanorum coetibus refers to a dispensation from Canon 277 #1 which appears to include from the obligation to perpetual and permanent continence for those married men whom the Ordinary wishes to accept for training for the priesthood. As for submitting a dubium, I am told the chances of getting an answer are next to nil.

Anonymous said...

There's more to it than canon law, there is also theology.

Forget authors like Cholij and Conchini. Have a look at Heinz J. Vogels "Celibacy - Gift or Law?", and Dr A. Dragani's article: http://www.east2west.org/mandatory_clerical_celibacy.htm.

There is sufficient patristic evidence of the fact that married clerics were not required to abstain from sex, no matter what St Jerome and Tertullian thought when they revised their earlier position against clerical continence in marriage.

Finally, the answer to Mercury's question is that so many of the saints in question, such as St Jerome, St Peter Damian - to name a mere couple - were heavily influenced by neo-platonism. Whenever there's an outbreak of that tendency, some clergy become rabidly anti-marriage. One tends to come across it in the traditionalist movement, which is no surprise, seeing that the last major infestation of neo-platonism began with the renaissance and intensified in the church at about the time of the counter-reformation, no doubt in reaction to protestantism.

+ Wolsey

On the side of the angels said...


Won't work I'm afraid [theological recourse sets no precedent until it's permitted to]: The law states one thing:We're engaging in illegal activities and deeply scandalising the dignity of those involved.

But it's happened - and someone's got to sort it - not pretend it doesn't exist.

Fr. Gabriel Burke C.C. said...

Fr Ray ,
I write this as neither an American nor an Englishman. As I Irishman I do not have an Anglo- Saxon mindset especially in the area of law.
As you maybe aware we in Ireland are only now introducing the Diaconate. It has been the topic in some clerical circles. One of the areas hotly disputed has been this very question as to whether a married man may enjoy conjugal rights after ordination.
The old Catholic Encyclopedia gives a definition which rules out any sexual acts even licit ones in Marriage. Stravinskas' new one gives a definition similar to yours.
However the code is expressed as "obsserving perfect and perpetual continence" perfect continence has always had the meaning of complete abstention.Until the new code sex by a cleric was a sacrilege even by a married man with his wife. Therefore the question has to be asked, have Deacons and former Anglican clergymen received a dispensation from perfect continence?
If they have been dispensed, Why this breach with tradition?

terry said...

Is the debate not merely an academic debate: whether the formal statements of Canon Law adequately describe what is licit or not licit for a married man who is a permanent deacon?

In addition to the two statements of Pope John Paul II quoted above, it might be of interest to look at an address by J. Francis Cardinal Stafford, then President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on February 19, 2000

It was entitled "The Ideal Family of the Permanent Deacon". It is on the Vatican website at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_19022000_idf_en.html

It makes it quite clear that there is no requirement of continence on the part of the married permanent deacon and his wife except that "deacons must observe conjugal chastity (Humanae Vitae,21-22)." The first section of the address is entitled "The Deacon as Ideal Husband" and is worth reading in full

Leaving aside its relevance to the debate begun by Dr Peters it is well worth reading for its own sake as regards what is meant by Christian marriage.

In Part 2 he also suggestes 11 rules for the Deacon`s Rule of Life which make it quite clear why the consent of the spouse is required for her husband to become a Deacon. The office of Deacon requires the commitment of his wife and children as well as their support in all aspects of their lives.

On the side of the angels said...

Fr Gabriel- are you my old sparring partner from Mater Dei ['87-8] ? Sitting in the back row enduring the purgatory of NuChurch ; theologically eviscerating Dermot Lane's anti-Christology and Sister Bernard's 'symbol' and the culture of death travesties of 'Loman' [McCoy] Catholicism, laughing along at Eltin Griffin, incongruous at [+]Donal Murray's ramblings on spirituality? Wondering from what planet Julie Zeoli was dropped off from?

Are you really a fellow survivor from the nadir of priestly training engulfed in seminary heterodoxy?

If you read Dr Edward Peter's blog
it will provide all manner of resources and information to clarify the situation.
It's not good news!

Ma Tucker said...

Clergy and Sex
Distasteful to even think about.

The Flying Dutchman said...

There is a post on the Sioux City Deacon Formation blog which I think gets straight to the point in answering Edward Peters: Diaconal Continence and Canon 277 - An Inconsequential Response.

Mercury said...

... yes because the entire Eastern Church is "distasteful".

Deacon Augustine said...

Fr. Ray, I think I would go further than using the term "dangerous" to describe Edward Peter's speculations on Canon 277 section 1. To put forward his theory in such a public forum as the internet is not only "dangerous" it is down right "cruel" and will inevitably provoke crises of conscience in those of us who actually do give a damn what the Church's law is. (Let us not mention, for the moment, those who find it hard to believe that the Magisterium, from the Pope down, can teach one thing - even issuing a Ratio fundamentalis, mentioning nothing about perpetual continence, signed by the Prefects of 4 Vatican Congregations - while the CIC apparently legislates the opposite).

Peters may not have intended any cruelty, or indeed to impugn the credibility of Holy Mother Church and the tweedle-dum legislator who believed that words meant whatever he wanted them to mean, but we all know which road is paved with good intentions....?

I became aware of Peters' paper some months ago and have sought canonical opinion on it and the best that I have been able to glean so far is that "...it's not likely to go anywhere."

But the problem is that this is not just some academic discussion balanced on a scale of probabilities concerning a legislator's intent. For some of us the law here touches our lives most profoundly. It's all very well for Peters to glibly say that it would not affect those of us who were ordained in good faith (or under false pretenses, depending on one's sanguinity at any given moment), but once you know a thing you can't unknow it at will. A seed of doubt is sown; a perfectly happy Catholic marriage suddenly becomes an occasion of possible sacrilege; perhaps the miscarried child was the penalty for a sacrilegious conception.... All very irrational and untrue, I know, but its surprising what tricks your mind can play on you when you discover that what you thought was good was actually objectively evil (possibly).

Now that Peters has opened Pandora's box so publicly, however, it behooves him to follow this through to resolution as a matter of justice towards all those whom this issue affects directly as well as their congregations. Paul Priest is right, this is an unholy mess and it should not be left hanging in the ether - especially as the advent of the Ordinariates will now bring the question under greater scrutiny.

If perpetual continence is imposed on future ordinands then at least Fr. Burke need have no concerns about the permanent diaconate being established in Ireland. There won't be one. The refrain of "My wife won't let me!" will become the stumbling block of every vocations director. The same would go for convert clergy propping up the moribund vocations drives in the dioceses of England & Wales.

Being of Evangelical origins I had been considering transferring my incardination to the Ordinariate anyway. It seems like there may be a very good canonical reason to do so as well. (N.B. Fr. Boyle it is a derogation from 277 #1 rather than a dispensation.)

Fr. Gabriel Burke C.C. said...

on the side of angels.
Yes it is me. I did survive but it took ten years to be ordained.

I have read the Dr Peters blog.

Anonymous said...

On the side of the angels, you win the prize in legal positivism!

Of course, the fundamental assumption common to you and so many others, that continence within clerical marriage is of apostolic origin lacks any basis in reality.

Why not do some research in Migne??

Or, if you lack time, get Vogels.

+ Wolsey

Fr Ray Blake said...

Deacon Augustine,
My sympathies!
Yes, either the Church: recent Popes, bishops etc have mislead married clergy or Dr Peters is doing so, my money is on the latter. I think it is wicked.

In fact if he were right, which I am convinced he is not, there would surely be in the ordination of married clergy a case of "lack of due discretion" which in the case of marriage which would be good cause for annulment.

Fr. Gabriel Burke C.C. said...

Fr Ray.
I dont think anyone is misleading anybody. The way I look at this situation is this. It would appear that the intention of the Church was to ordain married men to the Diaconate and allow Married Anglican clegymen enter the Priesthood.It appears that the Church also allows conjugal rights to these men.
However if Dr Peters is correct that intention was not put into law.There is a difference between the law and the intention of the Church.Dr Peters should not be vilified for showing this but thank for pointing out a fault.
The fault should be corrected. It could be that the fault was caused by sloppy redactors. Or the Church may need to clarfy that Continence and celibacy are one and the same obligation.

Deacon Augustine,
I could be wrong but you seem to imply I am negative towards the introduction of the P.D into Ireland. I am not, when Our Bishop first announced it I asked a simple question, What took you so long? I woul like to see all the ministries in Parishes.

One can easily dismiss Vogel in the same manner you have dismissed Cholij and Conchini. The question of continence in Apostolic times is not as settled as you think. It has been debated by historians for a long time and will continue to be debated for a long time.
Magdalen Ross is American

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr Gabriel,
I am sure that is a reasonable interpretation of Peters' intention.

On the side of the angels said...

Wolsey - It's not legalistic positivism to simply state the law.

Terry - doesn't matter - canon 33#1 says the law stays the law

Augustine - it's deplorable it should have got this far - but it's never too late for all this to get resolved. Whichever way the Church decides to remedy this - it won't be any problem to those already ordained.

Fr Ray - You're scaring me a little bit with your 'shoot the messenger' attitude. Legally continence only means one thing - we can't run away from it and hey? We're Catholics - we wouldn't want to run from it anyway - we'd never be able to sleep at night or look ourselves in the mirror again.

So what? We screwed up: We fix it.

But pretending it can't possibly be that way because it's awkward, difficult, complicated and embarrassing ?
That's not the Catholic way.

Anonymous said...

Father G.B.,

It's a matter of the principle of contradiction. Cholij et alii cannot stand with Vogels - one side either accurately surveys the theological and canonical issues or the other does. I maintain Vogels accurately, but in a summary way, relates the true apostolic traditions.

And actually, when St Hilary of Poitiers, married bishop and church father talks of his desire to sire many children, it's impossible to reconcile his position with an alleged apostolic law of clerical continence. (And it's been years since I've actually read the source - it could have been in Migne). St H. is not the only evidence (and yes, I know what St Jerome and Tertullian said on the topic - but they changed their mind, and their later position in favour of contience or even celibacy is not to be trusted - Tertullian become a notorious rigourist, as, it appears, under the influence of Popes Damasus and/or Siricius, did St Jerome).

+ Wolsey

Anonymous said...

It's worth mentioning that Cholij has recanted - and sought laicisation - and married!

+ Wolsey

Augustine said...

What's at the root of this 'traditional' rule?

(1) Is it that sex is inherently unclean? No, that can't be true, it's not what Catholicism teaches.

(2) Is it that under the Law, the priests of the Temple cult were not allowed to have sex? Well, Christians are not bound by that Law.

(3) Is it that sex somehow inhibits a cleric's function as a pastor or sacramental minister? I don't see how that could be the case, unless you argue that sex inhibits ones function as a doctor, or a teacher, or a lawyer.

Lex malla lex nulla. I can't see any good coming from banning married clergy from sleeping with their wives. I cannot see anything wrong with allowing them too.

Our Church believes in Natural Law and Revealed dogma. Neither says that a cleric may not sleep with his wife.

Anonymous said...


You're certainly on the right track, except for one point.

I can't find the relevant canon (no 7 of Lateran II) on the net in Latin, so here it is in English:

"7. Adhering to the path trod by our predecessors, the Roman pontiffs Gregory VII, Urban and Paschal, we prescribe that nobody is to hear the masses of those whom he knows to have wives or concubines. Indeed, that the law of continence and the purity pleasing to God might be propagated among ecclesiastical persons and those in holy orders, we decree that where bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, canons regular, monks and professed lay brothers have presumed to take wives and so transgress this holy precept, they are to be separated from their partners. For we do not deem there to be a marriage which, it is agreed, has been contracted against ecclesiastical law. Furthermore, when they have separated from each other, let them do a penance commensurate with such outrageous behaviour."

It is contextually clear that "continence" is being taken as "celibacy", otherwise there would be no talk of married clergy being separated from their wives. The motive, as can clearly be seen, is the implied assertion that marriage involved sexual impurity. Such an assertion, whether express or implied, is contrary to the faith.

+ Wolsey

Gary Hardrake said...

@ +Wolsey,

"The motive, as can clearly be seen, is the implied assertion that marriage involved sexual impurity."

Does it? Or does it imply detachment is a good thing and disobedience to the Church's canons is a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

The canon implies that even the marital intercourse of clergy cannot propagate "that purity pleasing to God." It is therefore motivated not by a concept of sacrifice, but by one of avoiding impurity.

+ Wolsey

Magdalen Ross said...

Richard, thank you -- I present the first part of my dissertation next month in Leuven (http://www.law.kuleuven.be/canon_law/doctoral_research) and hope to finish later in the year. As far as I am concerned, Fr Cochini and Fr Heid have settled the debate, but it is difficult to get people to read either book. In the meantime I posted this:


abiologistforlife said...

I think there is a misunderstanding of the Lateran II thing.

It says "where bishops... professed lay brothers have presumed to take wives". These are people who have either contracted the 'impediment of holy orders' or taken a vow of celibacy. See in the next sentence "For we do not deem there to be a marriage which, it is agreed, has been contracted against ecclesiastical law."

The idea here is not some impurity natural to marriage (which, yes, is not part of authentic Catholicism) -- the impurity in this decree comes from a "marriage" attempted *against a previous vow of celibacy* (or impediment).

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