Learning About Mandatory Celibacy N.3


Mandatory Celibacy Creates And Saves Roman Supremacy 

'Of No Use At All Combating Sensuality'

"The Spirit explicitly warns us that in the time to come some will forsake the faith and surrender their minds to subversive spirits and demon-inspired doctrines, 2 through the plausible falsehoods of those whose consciences have been permanently branded. 3 They will forbid marriages, and insist on abstinence from foods which God created  to be enjoyed with thanksgiving by believers who have come to knowledge of the truth." 1Timothy4,1-3. REB

20c "Why let people dictate to you: 21 'Do not handle this, do not taste that, do not touch the other- 22 referring to things that must all perish as they are used? That is to follow human rules and regulations. 23 Such conduct may have an air of wisdom, with its forced piety, its self-mortification, and its severity to the body; but it is of no use at all in combating sensuality." Colossians2,20c-23 REB

"Celibacy began in the early church as an ascetic discipline, rooted partly in a neo-platonic contempt for the physical world that had nothing to do with the Gospel. The renunciation of sexual expression by man fit nicely with the patriarchal denigration of women. Non- virginal women typified by Eve as the temptress of Adam, were seen as a source of sin." James Carroll: "Mandatory Celibacy At the Heart Of What's Wrong" National Catholic Reporter, June 9, 2010, ncronline.org

"But if I would show the good that came of it I must talk about things other than the good." Dante Alighieri, Divine Commedia, Canto 1, v.9

Colossians2,20c-23 describes it as "of no use at all in combating sensuality."

In today's English, that is to say, it is ridiculous.

"The doctrine of demons" according to 1Timothy4,1-3.

Then why does the Vatican keep it?

The answer to this question becomes clear with even the briefest historical perspective.

In 1022 AD Pope Benedict VIII banned priests from taking wives. No matter that Jesus picked some married men as his twelve apostles. No matter that his counsel on the matter emphasized that singleness was voluntary, Matthew19,11-12.

No matter the above-cited scriptures from the apostle Paul (who assuredly got to Rome) which unmistakeably prohibit this.

Yes, there was a strong monastic strain in the 4th and fifth centuries, especially in Africa. This was still in a sense voluntary, because a man had a choice between the monastery and serving as a married pastor in a local diocese. But by the 11th century when the Vatican based European church had lost its influence over the Eastern church, and the African church had been weakened by Islam since the 7th and 8th centuries, the Vatican church realized that mandatory celibacy was crucial in claiming and saving Roman supremacy, built on the political supremacy of Rome.  

Here's how it came about.

In 800AD Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope as the new emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. But he was not recognized by the Byzantine Greeks who led the Eastern Church (greatschism.org). Then in 1009, the Roman or "Western" church dogmatized the notion that the Holy Spirit not only proceded from God the Father, but from God the Son also. At this, the Eastern church disclaimed communion with Rome. (Ibid)

Then came the early 11th century Western churchs' push for mandatory celibacy to save what was by now little more than a Vatican based European church, which itself was threatened by splintering from within by married priests with family obligations and property claims that made them more keen on their own local concerns than the global politics of  the supreme Vatican state. Profligacy and concubines and polygamy also threatened church property and a streamlined Vatican administration beyond the borders of Italy. (cf John Oakes, "Why Did Celibacy Become mandatory For Priests, evidenceforchristianity.org

This long fight for mandatory celibacy shifted the balance of power and wealth from the local churches to the Vatican state church.

Mandatory celibacy was crucial in creating Roman supremacy and saving it too, for again history shows it wasn't until Gregory VII (1073-1085) that the Pope and his emissaries were declared greater than all local church counsels. It also wasn't until this time that this Roman Pope claimed the exclusive power to appoint bishops. This was all obviously done without the agreement of African and Eastern Bishops (R.J. Stevens, PHD, "Two Types Of Papacy." www.uwgb.edu)

Mandatory celibacy was also coupled with the rise of Vatican based and Vatican chartered religious orders which had no tradition of married priesthood and no loyalty to the local church. With these two facts, the prior equality and confraternity of Apostles-Bishops (Acts15, in Jerusalem, where all were given equal voice, but the local Apostle James ruled) were indisputably tilted towards Roman supremacy at the expense of the local bishops and married priests.

Vatican supremacy won out and was built on mandatory celibacy. It was not until the early 19th century Germany that its deleterious effects publicly surfaced when two Catholic university professors in Baden tried to rally their Archbishop to nullify it. They also petitioned their local legislature to ban it in 1828. Some temporary and showy enthusiasm for mandatory celibacy was trotted out and their modest and biblical proposal was defeated (Dagmar Herzog, "Intimacy and Exclusion: Religious Politics in Pre-Revolutionary Baden." Princeton University Press, 1996, p.25ff).

The contemporary pro-Vatican periodical "First Things" spins Zell and Aumann's defeat as if Vatican enforced celibacy were some sort of great check on local and nationalist politics, but their own pro-Vatican analysis clearly recognizes the primacy of unbiblical mandatory celibacy in making the Vatican supreme:

"History showed, they said [Karl Zell and Heinrich Aumann, the two Baden professors], that celibacy was one of the means through which the Pope secured power. Priestly celibacy was made mandatory by monastic communities [4-5th century] and later by religious orders [especially 11-19th centuries]. These orders, the Jesuits in particular, relied on Rome for their charters that allowed them a certain degree of freedom from local ordinaries [bishops]. Roman power increased [ie Roman supremacy was secured], while the ability of bishops to shape local matters waned. Anyone learned in European history added Zell and Aumann, knew how frequently the papacy abused whatever power it had accrued." Grant Kaplan firstthings.com/2014/01, "Celibacy As Political Resistance." 

We now round out our brief history by returning to the four prescient and no-nonsense claims of the two professors from Baden about mandatory celibacy (Herzog, op cit supra, p. 25-26):

1. Dangerous and violent and encouraged sexual immorality;

2. "unnecessary coercion" robs individual of personal freedom;

3. better a "return to the old way" of no mandatory celibacy;

4. "it's main goal has been to ensure Rome's authoritarian control over its clergy."

While each of these claims by Zell and Aumann is winning and biblical, the fourth one lays bare the real world historical basis by which mandatory celibacy gave the Vatican a streamlined hierarchical corporate ability to control its principal assets, its priests.

Why Not Change In Today's Church?

The Word says it is of no use as to sensuality and that it is the doctrine of demons.

But this man-made law is not likely to be changed because it would weaken the Roman Supremacy it saved and in some sense created. In other words, if it changed, the power in the Vatican state church would swing back to the local bishops and local priests. This contradicts the historic and modern Vatican State keen to maintain its political leadership on the European and world stage: This political focus is evidenced by Vatican papal delegations assigned to nations for about 1500 hundred years, and now assigned to all but eight nations ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diplomatic_missions_of_the_Holy_See ). 

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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.