Clerical Celibacy Abolishment: Everything You Need To Know

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A push for the abolishment of clerical celibacy rule in the Catholic church is causing a stir across Germany.

The push was instigated by a group of 11 retired high-ranking Catholic priests; who are a part of a group of clerics ordained in 1967 in Cologne – a city considered both a Catholic stronghold and one of Germany’s most growing and gay-friendly cities.

A member of the group,  Franz Decker, strongly submitted that every man should have the right to choose to take the vow or not as other Protestant and Orthodox Church pastors have.

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Decker, who is in his mid-70s told reporters: “We believe that requiring that every man who becomes a priest to remain celibate is not acceptable.

“We think, every Catholic should be allowed to choose if they would rather be celibate or not, regardless of whether they want to work as priests or not – just like in the Protestant Church or the Orthodox church, really, every church but the Catholic Church.”

While he has shoved off seeing celibacy as an option in the church, Decker said he believes he’s doing the right thing by pushing for the things that “we see as right, whether we succeed or not.”

Around the 11th century, Pope Benedict VIII issued a rule prohibiting the children of priests from inheriting property. A few decades later Pope Gregory VII issued a decree against clerical marriages.

In 1123 under the leadership of Pope Callistus II, the First Lateran Council decreed that clerical marriages were invalid. The rule was confirmed at the Second Lateran Council held in 1139.



Clerical celibacy- which has long been controversial in the Catholic church began spreading in the Middle Ages.

Clerical celibacy is chiefly practised in the Latin Church and to an extent among the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Ethiopic Catholic Church. While some priests still struggle with celibacy, Popes have also spoken of it as ‘a jewel in the crown of priesthood’.

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The myth still holds that all priests take a vow of celibacy but the shocking fact remains that most priests do not take a vow. They only end up making a promise before the bishop.

Most priests do not take a vow. They only end up making a promise before the bishop.

In fact, The FutureChurch, an organisation that “seek changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership” whispers in an article originally composed by Corpus Canada that there were instances where popes had children even after making a vow.

Popes who were the sons of other popes, other clergies include:

Name of Pope                Papacy                                Son of
St. Damascus I                   366-348                              St. Lorenzo, priest
St. Innocent I                    401-417                               Anastasius I
Boniface                              418-422                              Son of a priest
St. Felix                               483-492                             Son of a priest
Anastasius II                     496-498                             Son of a priest
St. Agapitus I                     535-536                             Gordiaous, priest
St. Silverus                         536-537                              St. Homidas, pope
Deusdedit                          882-884                             Son of a priest
Boniface VI                       896-896                              Hadrian, bishop
John XI                              931-935                               Pope Sergius III
John XV                            989-996                                Leo, priest

Some popes were said to have found comfort in the arms of women and ended up marrying them. This crop of priest include; St. Peter, Apostle, St. Felix III 483-492 (2 children), St. Hormidas 514-523 (1 son), St. Silverus (Antonia) 536-537, Hadrian II 867-872 (1 daughter), Clement IV 1265-1268 (2 daughters) and
Felix V 1439-1449 (1 son).

People who belong to the school of thought of clerical celibacy often argue that Jesus remained focused because he was unmarried. Nevertheless, if Decker’s letter – which Pope France is not in a hurry to comment on – finally passes through the hurdle, the church will again record another massive and historic turn in one of its long-held tradition.

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