Thursday, 17 July 2014

An Early Witness to Clerical Celibacy

Pope Siricius, 384-399.

Directa ad decessorem to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona. (10th February 385)

''For We have learned that many priests of Christ and deacons, long after their consecrations, have begotten offspring either from their own marriages or from shameful unions, and they defend their offense under the pretext that one reads in the Old Testament that the authority to procreate was accorded to the priests and ministers...Why was it also required that the priests live in the temple away from their homes during the year of their service? Evidently, so they could not have carnal intercourse with their wives, in order that they might render an offering acceptable to God, resplendent with purity of conscience.
 Whence, the Lord Jesus, when He had enlightened us by His coming, also testifies in the Gospel that He came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it (Mt 5:17). And so He wished the form of the Church, who is His spouse, to shine with the splendor of chastity, so that, on the Day of Judgement, when He comes again, He may be find  her ''without spot or wrinkle'' (Eph 5:27). By the indissoluble law of these rules we are all bound, priests and deacons, in order that, from the day of our ordination, we may hand over both our hearts and our bodies to temperance and chastity, so that we may be pleasing to the Lord our God in these sacrifices that we daily offer''

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