The following is an excerpt from a longer article posted on Clerical Whispers. The article makes an interesting case concerning the 'heresy' of priestly celibacy. It's an interesting read in it's totality, and I encourage readers to take in the whole article. Maybe as just a way to kill time before the Olympic Gold Medal hockey game.
Speaking of which, no matter if the USA wins, it will not be another 'miracle on ice'. Both the Canadian and American teams are fully comprised of NHL professionals. In some respects it's a cross boarder NHL all star game. It's not a national referendum. Now if only Brian Rafalski would take the current resurrection of his game back to the Redwings...., but I digress from more important matters.
The Medieval Papacy
For more than 700 years after Constantine, Roman Emperors and later European monarchs controlled papal elections and personally appointed bishops and abbots who served at their discretion, not the Pope’s.
Monasteries and dioceses brought great wealth to these secular lords through Simony, although little accrued to Rome.
During all that time bishops and priests were married and Churches became Sacramental filling stations owned by mercenary clerics who willed them to family heirs, who then often bought and sold these valuable offices. (Hmmm, perhaps this could be another version of Monopoly.)
The Church had a strong need to curb priestly heirs’ power and corruption, and this problem was solved when Popes submitted to the Emperor’s secular authority, with agreement that Cardinals alone would elect future popes. (This needs more explanation, but perhaps I should read the book this whole article is based on: Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith.)
Finally, after a 700-year struggle, and desiring to eliminate future loss of wealth and control over married clerics, mandatory celibacy laws preventing future heirs were finally instituted.
Again, no vow was sought as it is today, it was demanded.
Failed Vatican efforts to end priestly marriage had continued sporadically until 1139 AD, and Pope Innocent II’s desire to seize clerical wealth and property.
Then, asserting that apostolic continence was the first priestly tradition, Innocent II reached back 700 years to Popes Damasus’ and Siricius’ use of Gnostic-Christian legend in support of his new effort to subdue the priesthood.
Previously, three councils in the 11th century had failed to end priestly marriage by selling wives and children of priests into slavery, with proceeds accruing to the Vatican treasury.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux correctly prophesied in 1135 AD, “Take from the Church an honorable marriage bed, and do you not fill it with concubineage, incest, homosexuality, and every kind of uncleanness?”
But Pope Gregory VII stated, “The Church cannot escape from the laity unless priests first escape the clutches of their wives.” (This is really quite a statement on a number of levels. In truth, it's very, very gnostic and not very Christian.)
Doctrine vs. Discipline
To justify modern papal demands for priestly celibacy, the Church today denies celibacy is a Church doctrine, claiming it is merely an ancient discipline freely initiated by the apostles.
This defense arose only after Vatican Council I in 1870, when the Church infallibly declared that “some new doctrine” may not be added to the Deposit of Faith.
Prior to that time the law was taught as a doctrine because all Church teachings that are claimed to be from the apostles are doctrines.
But, in order to retain control over the priesthood, the Church now denies the law of mandatory celibacy is a Church doctrine that changes Christ’s Sacramental doctrine of priestly matrimony, thus denying the Sacramental grace of matrimony originally given to them by Jesus.
This new terminology was necessary in order to obscure the reality that mandatory celibacy actually alters Jesus’ teaching.
At this point it is important for Catholics to understand the Church’s definition of ‘heretic’: “One who, having accepted the faith of Christ, corrupts its Doctrine.”
Today Christ’s original doctrine, allowing priests to marry and propagate, has been changed.
All popes from Innocent II until Benedictine XVI have knowingly supported this law and are therefore partakers of heresy.
Today St. Peter could not become a priest, because he was married.
The ‘discipline’ of apostolic continence is historically false. There is absolutely no evidence from the Deposit of Faith, none.
Church authorities today can produce no legitimate evidence of its truth. It is myth disguised as doctrine.
It is a doctrinal impediment that intentionally alters Christ’s infallible teaching, it denies a Sacramental grace from God, a sanctifying grace given to Christians by the Son of God, and thus voids all Church claims of infallible teaching authority.
The author of the above article is the author of the book. I may have to get this book because the point he is making is somewhat critical. Is it in fact heresy to use a 'doctrine' to circumvent a direct teaching of Jesus or the Apostles? That particular teaching is the choice the disciples and early Christians were given about choosing marriage or celibacy, and the very clear directive of Paul that marriage was far preferable to attempting a life style one in fact couldn't live.
But of course this question has bigger ramifications. If the Church somehow has the power to circumnavigate Christ's instructions on the acceptability of monogamous marriage for the Apostles, how in the world can it then turn around and claim it doesn't have the power to ordain women?
Secondly, accepting the gnostic notion of sexual continence making one more spiritual has had huge repercussions on the nature and role of sexuality with in Catholicism. None of these repercussions has been very beneficial or healthy for Christians--especially women-- because in essence the exalted status of the Catholic priest was achieved by denying the God given role of women for men. Real spiritual men don't need female 'companionship' and in fact, should they accept such companionship, they have accepted a lesser spiritual state. So much for Genesis and God's intentions about male spiritual needs.
Celibacy, and the theology which supports it, really is a core root issue in Catholicism. It denies the role of women in salvation history, it produces a warped view of sexuality with regards to spirituality, and it produces enormous hypocrisy with in the priesthood. It really needs to be re evaluated. Finally, for the majority of priests, it does not provide for occasions of sanctity, it provides for occasions of sin and exploitation. It's well past time to reform this reform.