June 16, 2011
Have Priests Always Been Celibate?
Saint Paul was one of the first to list out the potential value of celibacy (1 Cor 27:35). Essentially Saint Paul argues that celibate men and women are less divided in their attention and are better able to focus on the Lord. Yet in the beginning, for at least the first 300 years, there were no rules restricting chastity among the clergy. Eventually, the example of the celibate monks began to influence church law. In 305 AD the Council of Elvira, considered the oldest positive ecclesiastical ordinance concerning the celibacy of the clergy, declared that bishops, priests, deacons and all clerics in the ministry were prohibited from marriage. This was reaffirmed by the Council of Carthage in 390.
References: Why Do Catholics DO That? by Kevin Orlin Johnson