Is Mandatory Clerical Celibacy an Apostolic Tradition?

A Critical Consideration of The Case for Clerical Celibacy

By Rev. Deacon Anthony Dragani, Ph.D.

Although the general populace is unaware of it, during the past decade a new effort has been underway to defend the Roman Catholic practice of mandatory priestly celibacy. Putting aside the traditional sociological arguments that we are all familiar with, these new defenders argue for the discipline based primarily on historical grounds. Although their writings have not reached a broad audience, they have found a committed following in some Catholic circles.

Normally I would not concern myself with a defense of the Roman Catholic discipline of mandatory celibacy. After all, it is their tradition and they certainly have a right to defend it. However, this new literature goes a step further and seriously questions the legitimacy of the Eastern tradition of a married priesthood. Representative of the position is The Case for Clerical Celibacy, by Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler. This book is essentially a popularization of the claims of two other authors, distilled into a very readable format. Cardinal Stickler aims to get the word out that mandatory celibacy is the genuine discipline, and that the tradition practiced in the East is an unfortunate “innovation.”[1]

As an Eastern Catholic I am especially troubled by this claim. The history of Eastern Catholicism in North America has been marred by repeated attempts to impose mandatory celibacy upon us, always with tragic results. We have fought long and hard to affirm the legitimacy of our tradition of a married priesthood, and even now this issue is a subject of major concern and sensitivity. Therefore, the fact that an influential Cardinal has written a book that argues against the legitimacy of our tradition causes me some apprehension.

Exactly who is Cardinal Stickler? According to his biography on the book’s cover he is “a member of numerous international academic organizations and academies. He has been a consultor to many Congregations of the Roman Curia, was a member of the preparatory commission for the Second Vatican Council, a peritus to three of the Council Commissions, and a member of the commission for the preparation of the new Codex Iurus Canonici.”[2] These are very impressive credentials to say the least. It is something of a daunting task to critique a book written by such an accomplished churchman, but as an Eastern Catholic I am compelled to answer his charges.

The book itself is divided into four sections. Section I sets forth his premise and methodology. Section II details the history of celibacy in the Latin Church. Section III scrutinizes the Eastern tradition of married clerics, with a special emphasis on the Council in Trullo. Finally, Section IV puts forth a theology of celibacy. We will examine each section of the book in order.

Section I: Concept and Method

Very early in the text Cardinal Stickler cites a myth that he wants to dispel: “that clerical celibacy was introduced only at the beginning of the second millennium, above all by the Second Lateran Council in 1139.”[3] This is the view that is commonly disseminated by secular historians. Other historians, he remarks, date the origins of clerical celibacy to the fourth century. The Cardinal intends to prove a much bolder claim. Specifically, that mandatory clerical celibacy is an apostolic tradition that was “demanded by the apostles” themselves.[4]

In making this claim, the Cardinal realizes that he has to contend with a large body of apparent evidence to the contrary. The documentation for married priests and bishops in the primitive Church is overwhelming. However, he argues that from the moment that these married men were ordained as deacons they immediately ceased all sexual relations with their wives, and lived as brother and sister.[5] This is not celibacy as we understand it today, but in the broader sense of the term, an obligation “not to marry and, if previously married, not to use the rights of marriage.”[6]

Thus, Cardinal Stickler claims that the apostles taught that deacons, priests and bishops who are married have to live in absolute marital continence.[7] He derives this thesis from recent studies of the history of celibacy, two of which are of primary importance: The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy by Christian Cochini, S.J., (1981), and Clerical Celibacy in East and West by Roman Cholij (1988).[8] He is heavily indebted to both authors, and draws most of his information from their books. The Cardinal laments that “these studies have either not yet penetrated the general consciousness or they have been hushed up if they were capable of influencing that consciousness in undesirable ways.”[9] In writing his own book it is clear that the Cardinal hopes to popularize their findings.

The Cardinal’s labors have apparently borne some fruit. Increasingly, certain outlets in the Catholic press are treating the Cardinal’s claims as established facts. On March 13, 2000 the National Catholic Register ran a cover story that presents clerical celibacy as an apostolic tradition, from which the Eastern Churches have deviated. The story does not even mention that most church historians would disagree with such an assertion. More recently, the same publication stated that in the ancient Church the wives of priests and bishops were required to take “a vow of celibacy as their husbands embarked on a second career in ministry.”[10] This highly disputable contention is portrayed by the author as being a recognized historical truth.

One fact that cannot be disputed is that there is no written record of the apostles demanding any sort of clerical celibacy or continence. Cardinal Stickler is aware of this difficulty with his argument. Therefore, he presumes that they must have taught this as an oral tradition, to be handed down from generation to generation.[11] He systematically lays out the evidence for this claim in Section II.

Section II: The Development in the Latin Church

His first piece of evidence comes from the Council of Elvira, which met during the first decade of the fourth century. The early date of this council is crucial to his argument, as he contends that it reflects the teaching of the primitive Church, fresh out of the catacombs. Canon 33 of the Council is the earliest known legislation on clerical continence. It reads as follows:

It has seemed good absolutely to forbid the bishops, priests, and the deacons, i.e., all the clerics engaged in service at the altar, to have [sexual] relations with their wives and procreate children; should anyone do so, let him be excluded from the honor of the clergy.[12]

Cardinal Stickler argues that this written law must presuppose a previous practice.[13] Because of the early date of Elvira, he infers that absolute marital continence must have been required by the early Church. However, in discussing the Council he fails to cite the groundbreaking research of M. Meigne and Roger Gryson, who have convincingly demonstrated that the canons of Elvira are actually a collection of canons spanning the entire fourth century.[14] Canon 33 in reality “belongs to the end of the fourth century, only the first 21 canons ascribed to the Council of Elvira having actually been enacted there.”[15]

Next Cardinal Stickler turns our attention to the Council of Carthage, which met in 390 AD. He is interested in Canon 2 of this council, which apparently mandates clerical continence:

It pleases us all that bishop, priest and deacon, guardians of purity, abstain from [conjugal intercourse] with their wives, so that those who serve at the altar may keep a perfect chastity.[16]

More so than the actual canon itself, Cardinal Stickler is concerned with an intervention that is attached to it. This comes from an African bishop named Genetlius, about whom we know very little:

Bishop Genetlius says: As was previously said, it is fitting that the holy bishops and priests of God as well as the Levites, i.e., those who are in the service of the divine sacraments, observe perfect continence, so that they may obtain in all simplicity what they are asking from God; what the apostles taught and what antiquity itself observed, let us also endeavor to keep.[17]

The Cardinal highlights Genetlius’ assertion that this teaching came from the apostles. Here we have the earliest witness who argues for the apostolic origins of clerical continence. However, “the great patristic scholar and historian Franz Xaver Funk remarked that the Fathers of the Church have been known to appeal to apostolic ordinances too generously, and to credit apostolic origins to institutions which historical research can prove with certainty to have come into the world only at a later time.”[18] Thus, it is probable that Genetlius assumed that the discipline had apostolic origins simply because it was widely practiced in his region. Also, as will be demonstrated later, the Byzantine Church also called upon the authority of the apostles to vindicate their tradition of a married clergy that maintains conjugal relations.

We should also note that the actual text of the canon is significantly more restrained than the language used by Genetlius in his intervention. It does not ascribe an apostolic origin to the practice, nor does it prescribe any penalties for failure to keep continence. Rather, it simply says that “it pleases us.” Also, it does not explicitly state for how long the clerics are to abstain from their wives – it may only mean periodic abstinence.[19]

Cardinal Stickler then considers the African Code of 419 (Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Africanae). Canon 25 declares that:

…since we have heard of the incontinency of certain clerics, even of readers, towards their wives, it seemed good that what had been enacted in divers councils should be confirmed, to wit, that subdeacons who wait upon the holy mysteries, and deacons, and presbyters, as well as bishops according to former statutes, should contain from their wives, so that they should be as though they had them not: and unless they so act, let them be removed from office. But the rest of the clergy are not to be compelled to this, unless they be of mature age.[20]

From this canon it can be observed that clerical continence in the African Church is not limited only to bishops and priests, but also extends to deacons and subdeacons. Yet the Council does not require ordained readers to practice continence, despite the fact that they too are listed as clergy. Why are they exempted from this discipline and subdeacons are not? The reason given is that subdeacons “wait upon the holy mysteries.” Unlike readers, they actually enter the sanctuary and serve at the altar. They touch the sacred vessels.

If the reasoning behind this canon were to be carried to its logical conclusion, there would be far wider implications than just mandatory celibacy for priests.[21] Today the Roman Catholic Church commonly uses lay Eucharistic ministers. These individuals, who are very often married, enter the sanctuary and handle the sacred vessels. Moreover, they actually touch the Eucharist itself. Based on this legislation, they should be made to permanently abstain from marital relations. Yet no one today would dare to propose such a requirement.

When carefully considered it is clear that Canon 25 indicates a belief in ritual purity. Those who enter the sanctuary and touch the sacred vessels must be ritually pure. This would further imply that marital sex is somehow ritually impure. According to Lisa Sowle Cahill, in Judaism ritual purity laws functioned as “a means of ensuring that the bodily processes most intimately connected with life and death be separated from the holy and unchanging presence of God.”[22] As well, “purity laws tended to serve as a sustaining ideology for elites who defined who and what is impure, who is thus of lesser status, and who consequently is excluded from control of material and political goods.”[23] It is not altogether surprising that a concept of ritual purity would manifest itself in certain Christian sectors.[24]

Having examined the relevant fourth century legislation, the Cardinal then draws upon letters which are ascribed to St. Siricius, who was bishop of Rome from 384 to 399. In Cardinal Stickler’s words, Siricius “stated that those many priests and deacons who, even after ordination, have children act against an irrevocable law which has bound major clerics from the beginning of the Church.”[25] Interestingly, the book does not provide even an excerpt from Siricius’ letter. A glance at text from the actual letter reveals Siricius’ motivation:

Would an unclean person dare contaminate what is holy, when what is holy is such for holy persons? Thus those who offered sacrifices in the Temple, in order to be pure, quite properly remained in the Temple during the entire year of their service, having nothing to do with their own households. Even idolaters, in order to carry out their impious acts and offer sacrifice to demons, impose on themselves abstinence from women… if intercourse is a pollution, then the priest must stand ready for heavenly duties, as one who is to intercede for the sins of others; otherwise, he might himself be found unworthy.[26]

Once again we see the language of ritual purity. Sexual intercourse within marriage is described as being “a pollution,” a portrayal that strongly differs from contemporary Catholic teaching.[27] Siricius is writing under the assumption that marital sex automatically defiles the body’s holiness.[28] This is a supposition that the current Magisterium does not share.

The Cardinal is also concerned with Siricius’ exegesis of a particular biblical text. I Timothy 3:2-5 is usually cited as evidence against mandatory celibacy: “Therefore a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once… He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the church of God?” According to Siricius Paul’s restriction that a bishop be married only once “did not mean that he could continue to live with the desire to beget children; rather the injunction of Saint Paul in fact refers to future continence… after the ordination of someone previously married, there is no guarantee that the abstinence required will be practiced if the person actually remarries.”[29]

In Siricius’ interpretation a man who remarries doesn’t have the discipline to practice the perpetual continence demanded by Holy Orders. Thus, Cardinal Stickler sees in this passage not evidence for a married priesthood but confirmation that married clerics had to end all sexual relations with their wives. This is an interesting exegesis of the passage, but it is hardly the only possible meaning. Nor is it even the likely meaning. Most biblical scholars interpret the requirement of being married only once as simply insisting on ordinary marital fidelity.

Having presented the evidence from Siricius, Cardinal Stickler then puts forward similar statements from later Western Church Fathers. Because these come from a later period, we will not trouble ourselves with them here. Eventually the Cardinal arrives at a conclusion:

From what has been analyzed to this point concerning the disciplinary praxis of the Western Church, we can make the following assertion: that the three higher grades of clerical ministry were obliged to continence, that such an obligation can be traced back to the very beginnings of the Church and that it had been handed down as part of the oral tradition. After the period of the persecution of the Church and especially due to the increasing numbers converting, which also meant an increase in the number of ordinations, we find infractions against this difficult obligation. Against such infractions, both councils and Popes insisted with ever-increasing determination on the obligation to continence by means of written laws or regulations.[30]

However, he acknowledges that the “practice, even in the West, did not always correspond to the precept…”[31] Despite the legislation to the contrary a number of married deacons, priests, and bishops continued to have marital relations. In response to this laxity the Latin Church began to ordain only unmarried men as major clerics. Married clerics were “constantly in danger” of sleeping with their wives.[32] Thus “henceforth the concept of celibacy, which could mean either the obligation of complete continence in regard to the use of a marriage contracted before ordination or the prohibition of a future marriage, was now restricted to this latter understanding.”[33]

At the end of Section II Cardinal Stickler makes an interesting, albeit controversial observation. He believes that “when faith dies, so does continence. A constant proof of this truth is to be found in the various schismatic movements that have arisen in the Church. One of the first institutions to be attacked is clerical continence.”[34] If this statement is taken on its face value, it is only logical to conclude that the Eastern Christian Churches, which have a tradition of a married non-continent priesthood, have a weak or possibly dead faith.

Assessing the evidence from the Western Church, in my estimation Cardinal Stickler has successfully demonstrated that in the West the seeds of clerical celibacy date back to the fourth century. However, he has not satisfactorily demonstrated that it dates back to the apostles. In fact, such a bold assertion is nearly impossible to prove. As the Cardinal’s own book illustrates, for nearly the first four hundred years of Christianity there is absolute silence on this issue. If clerical celibacy was taught by the apostles, and presumably came from Christ Himself, why would it first surface in the written record only four centuries later?

The fact that there is no documentation of celibacy until the late fourth seriously calls into question Stickler’s premise.[35] Prior to this period plenty of legislation was written on the conduct of the clergy. For example, both the Apostolic Canons (ca. 217) and the Didascalia (ca. 250) lay out requirements for clerics, but neither places any restrictions on their marital relations.[36] The claim that there was some sort of unwritten ordinance that no one bothered to write down until later is impossible to prove.[37]

Section III: The Practice in the Eastern Church

Most historians assert that the Eastern Churches, which allow married priests, have preserved the original discipline of the primitive Church. Needless to say, Cardinal Stickler adamantly disagrees with this assertion. In this section he argues that clerical continence was also the apostolic tradition of the Eastern Churches, which they eventually abandoned. In making this argument he calls into question the legitimacy of the Eastern discipline.

Throughout this section he draws upon the research of Roman Cholij. In fact Cardinal Stickler wrote the introduction to Cholij’s book, Clerical Celibacy in East and West. As an Eastern Catholic priest who argued against the antiquity of the Eastern discipline, Father Cholij earned the positive attention of some Roman prelates.[38] It should be noted that in recent years Cholij’s thinking on this issue has developed significantly, and he now defends the legitimacy of the Eastern practice of a married priesthood.[39]

Cardinal Stickler admits that no Eastern councils or synods ever required perpetual sexual continence from the clergy. Nonetheless, he argues that absolute continence was the unwritten law in the East, passed on through oral tradition.[40] He claims that this tradition was dismantled by the Council in Trullo, which met in 691.

The Council in Trullo was convoked by the Emperor Justinian II to create disciplinary canons for the Byzantine Church. It was intended to be a completion to the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils. In regards to the sexual conduct of clergy it agreed with the Latin Church that “there must be only a single marriage contracted before ordination, and it cannot be with a widow or with other women excluded by the law. After ordination, a first or further marriage is not licit. Bishops can no longer live in marriage with their spouse but must live in complete continence, and therefore their wives can no longer live with them. On the other hand, these wives must be maintained or supported by the Church.”[41]

Yet there is one substantial difference between the praxis of the Byzantine Church and that of the Latin Church, and it is found in canon 13 of Trullo:

Since we know it to be handed down as a rule of the Roman Church that those who are deemed worthy to be advanced to the deaconate or presbyterate should promise to no longer cohabit with their wives, we, preserving the ancient rule and apostolic perfection and order, will that the lawful marriages of men who are in holy orders be from this time forward firm, by no means dissolving their union with their wives nor depriving them of their mutual intercourse at a convenient time…[42]

This canon clearly allows married deacons and priests to continue normal sexual relations with their wives. Moreover, it claims that this is the authentic teaching of the apostles. Nonetheless, Cardinal Stickler believes this canon to be an “innovation.”[43] In his view it established a new discipline, which became normative for the East.

Before continuing we would do well to pause for a moment and consider the authority and legitimacy of the Council in Trullo. The Cardinal portrays it as some sort of rogue assembly that deviated from the teachings of the holy apostles.[44] Yet beginning with Pope John VIII the Papacy has considered the canons of Trullo to be binding on Byzantine Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox. In fact, up until 1949, when Pope Pius XII promulgated a partial Code of Eastern Canons, the Council in Trullo was considered to be the definitive source of marriage law for Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine Tradition.[45]

Even today the Papacy continues to show respect for the Council’s enduring legacy. In the second paragraph of the apostolic constitution Sacri Canones, Pope John Paul II explicitly recognizes the value of Trullo’s accomplishments. Such papal recognition would never be given to a council that abolished genuine apostolic traditions. In truth, the council’s legislation was quite conservative. According to the noted Roman Catholic canonist Frederick McManus, the Fathers of the Council in Trullo “hardly thought they were innovating. Rather… they were affirming past disciplinary traditions…”[46]

Yet Cardinal Stickler insists that the Council Fathers were innovating. He believes that the novelty introduced by canon 13 “was the basis for the new and definitive obligation concerning celibacy in the Oriental Churches.”[47] Nevertheless, the Cardinal still finds traces of the authentic requirement of absolute continence in the legislation itself. For instance, he writes that “it is difficult actually to understand why in the Eastern Church the condition that candidates for orders be allowed to have been married only once was still kept. As has already been noted, this only makes sense in view of the commitment to continence after ordination.”[48]

Actually there is a far more simple explanation for this requirement. In the Eastern theological tradition marriage is believed to be permanent. So permanent, in fact, that the marital bond extends into the afterlife. Therefore remarriage, even after the death of a spouse, was severely frowned upon.[49] Persons who did enter into a second marriage were often viewed with derision.[50] Because of this belief the clergy were required to have been married only once. They were expected to provide for the laity an exemplary model of marital fidelity.[51]

After examining the evidence from the Christian East, Cardinal Stickler concludes that “the tradition of the Catholic Church of the West remains the genuine one. The fact is that it can be traced back to the apostles and is founded on the living consciousness of the entire early Church.”[52] It seems to me that this statement is far from proven. As one of Cochini’s critics observed, “when clerical celibacy is at issue, historical objectivity turns out to be an elusive commodity.”[53]

If one is looking to uncover a tradition taught by the apostles, the witness of the Eastern Churches should be of tantamount importance. According to tradition only one of the original twelve apostles traveled to the West, Peter. The other eleven apostles established Christian communities throughout the East, as did both Peter and Paul prior to journeying westward. Numerous synods and councils were held in the East prior to the Council in Trullo, many of which detailed the obligations of clerics. In all of these assemblies not a single mention was ever made of perpetual continence being required of priests or deacons.[54] In fact, the silence in the East regarding this supposed apostolic tradition is almost deafening.

Moreover, the Cardinal says that the Council in Trullo “was the basis for the new and definitive obligation concerning celibacy in the Oriental Churches.”[55] However, the Council in Trullo only affected the Eastern Churches of the Byzantine tradition. Numerous other Eastern Churches had nothing to do with the Council in Trullo, and were in no way bound by its canons.[56] To illustrate this point, the following Eastern Churches were not involved in the council, yet have a tradition of a married clergy who maintain normal marital relations with their wives: the Assyrian Church of the East, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, and the Maronite Catholic Church.

All of these Churches had absolutely nothing to do with the Council in Trullo. Nonetheless, they all practice the same discipline as the Churches of the Byzantine tradition. Furthermore, they all claim that this was the tradition handed on to them by the apostles. What is even more remarkable is that throughout much of the first millennium many of these Churches were embroiled in disputes with one another, and were not on speaking terms. If one of these Churches were to have abandoned an apostolic tradition, the other Churches would have readily denounced it.[57] Clearly the unanimous witness of the Christian East testifies against mandatory celibacy having been taught by the apostles.

Section IV: The Theological Foundations

In this final section of the book Cardinal Stickler moves beyond the historical arguments that he has utilized thus far. Now he attempts to explain the theological rationale behind clerical celibacy. He quotes a key passage of scripture upon which he builds a portion of his case. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes, “Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer…”[58] According to the Cardinal, “If continence was imposed on the laity in order that their prayers might be granted, how much greater the obligation on priests, who in a state of purity had to be ready at any moment to offer the sacrifice and administer baptism.”[59]

Amazingly, when quoting this passage of sacred scripture the Cardinal omits the second half of the verse. In the latter half of the verse St. Paul warns married couples to “return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.”[60] Thus, St. Paul is actually cautioning against perpetual continence within marriage. In light of this statement it is nearly impossible to believe that the Apostle would demand such perfect continence from any married couple, even if the man was an ordained presbyter.

Cardinal Stickler believes that a prime reason for clerical celibacy is “the efficacy of mediatory prayer by the sacred minister.” This is “centered on a total dedication to God, on the real possibility of praying constantly as well as being completely free for pastoral ministry and for the service of the Church.”[61] But this begs an important question: why exactly is mediatory prayer rendered less effective by marital sex?[62] He does not provide an answer to this question.

He also argues for celibacy based on the example of Christ. The priest is configured to the person of Christ, and becomes another Christ. “Christ wants the soul, heart and body of his priests,” writes the Cardinal. Christ “wants that purity and continence that are a sign that he lives no longer according to the flesh but according to the spirit.”[63] While this is harmonious with the Latin theological tradition, in the Eastern tradition the persons most perfectly configured to the person of Christ are not the priests, but the monks. In the East the mutually exclusive dichotomy is not between marriage and priesthood, but between marriage and monasticism.[64]

As he concludes the book, Cardinal Stickler raises a fundamental question: “…we must ask ourselves if the basis of celibacy is to be actually found in its ‘suitability.’ Rather, is it not in fact really necessary and indispensable to the priesthood?”[65] He undoubtedly desires for us to answer in the affirmative. But in light of the present teaching of the Catholic Church, is it even possible to do so?

Cardinal Stickler attempts to prove far too much. If he were to successfully demonstrate that mandatory clerical celibacy is indeed an apostolic tradition, would this mean that it is beyond the authority of the Church to change the discipline? The reality is that the Catholic Church has already modified this discipline significantly. Today the Roman Catholic Church routinely ordains married men to diaconate. These men are in no way required to abstain from marital relations, yet all of the fourth century texts that the Cardinal cites call for absolute marital continence by deacons and their wives. Moreover, these same texts claim that this is part of the apostolic tradition. Also, in recent decades the Roman Catholic Church has ordained hundreds of former Episcopal clerics as Catholic priests. And again, these men are not required to cease sexual relations with their wives.

Likewise, the Catholic Church has officially recognized the full legitimacy of the Eastern tradition of a married priesthood.[66] For evidence of this one needs to look no further than the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, which was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1990. Canon 373 authoritatively states that “the hallowed practice of married clerics in the primitive Church and in the tradition of the Eastern Churches throughout the ages is to be held in honor.”[67] The legitimacy of the Eastern discipline is also affirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph no. 1580.

Thus, clerical celibacy is clearly a discipline that the Church has the authority to regulate and govern. This fact bears witness against it being a tradition “demanded by the apostles.”[68] So is clerical celibacy “really necessary and indispensable to the priesthood?”[69] The answer is a resounding no.

This article originally appeared in Eastern Churches Journal.


“African Code.” In The Seven Ecumenical Councils, edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1991.

Balducelli, Roger. “The Apostolic Origins of Clerical Continence: A Critical Appraisal of a New Book.” Theological Studies 43, no. 4 (1982): 693-705.

Cahill, Lisa Sowle. Sex, Gender, and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Callam, Daniel. Review of Clerical Celibacy in East and West. Journal of Theological Studies 41 (1990): 725-29.

Cholij, Roman M.T. “Celibacy, Married Clergy, and the Oriental Code.” Eastern Churches Journal 3, no. 3 (1996): 91-117.

———. “An Eastern Catholic Married Clergy in North America.” Eastern Churches Journal 4, no. 2 (1997): 23-58.

Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. Translated by Canon Law Society of America. Washington: Canon Law Society of America, 1990.

“Council in Trullo.” In The Seven Ecumenical Councils, edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1991.

Coyle, J. Kevin. “Recent Views on the Origins of Clerical Celibacy: A Review of the Literature from 1980-1991.” Logos 34 (1993): 480-531.

Erickson, John H. “The Council in Trullo: Issues Relating to the Marriage of Clergy.” Greek Orthodox Theological Review 40, no. 1-2 (1995): 183-99.

Graham, James K. “Compulsory Celibacy and the Disruption of Intimacy.” Eastern Churches Journal 4, no. 2 (1997): 59-72.

Hastings, Adrian. “The Origins of Priestly Celibacy.” Heythrop Journal 24 (1983): 171-77.

Keleher, Serge. Email, March 25, 2000.

Mackin, Theodore. Divorce and Remarriage. New York: Ramsey, 1984.

McManus, Frederick. “The Council in Trullo: A Roman Catholic Perspective.” Greek Orthodox Theological Review 40, no. 1-2 (1995): 79-96.

Miller, Michael J. “Only Men Can Be Deacons.” National Catholic Register, December 9-15 2001, 9.

Shivanandan, Mary. Crossing the Threshold of Love. Wahington: Catholic University of America Press, 199.

Slesinski, Robert. “Lex Continentia: The Need for an Orthodox Response.” Saint Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 37, no. 1 (1993): 90-97.

Stickler, Alfons Maria Cardinal. The Case for Clerical Celibacy. Translated by Brian Ferme. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995.


[1] Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, trans. Brian Ferme (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 80.

[2] Ibid., back cover.

[3] Ibid., 7.

[4] Ibid., 91.

[5] Ibid., 13.

[6] Ibid., 12.

[7] Ibid., 14.

[8] Ibid., 8.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Michael J. Miller, “Only Men Can Be Deacons,” National Catholic Register, December 9-15 2001.

[11] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 18.

[12] Canon 33 of Elvira, quoted in Ibid., 22.

[13] Ibid., 23.

[14] Daniel Callam, review of Clerical Celibacy in East and West, Journal of Theological Studies 41 (1990): 725.

[15] J. Kevin Coyle, “Recent Views on the Origins of Clerical Celibacy: A Review of the Literature from 1980-1991,” Logos 34 (1993): 499.

[16] Canon 2 of Carthage, quoted in Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 24.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Roger Balducelli, “The Apostolic Origins of Clerical Continence: A Critical Appraisal of a New Book,” Theological Studies 43, no. 4 (1982): 693.

[19] Coyle, “Recent Views on the Origins of Clerical Celibacy: A Review of the Literature from 1980-1991,” 488.

[20] “African Code,” in The Seven Ecumenical Councils, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1991), 454.

[21] Serge Keleher, Email, March 25, 2000.

[22] Lisa Sowle Cahill, Sex, Gender, and Christian Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 133.

[23] Ibid., 134.

[24] See Ibid., 129-41.

[25] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 30.

[26] Epist. 10 2:6, quoted in Coyle, “Recent Views on the Origins of Clerical Celibacy: A Review of the Literature from 1980-1991,” 494.

[27] For an overview of the Catholic Church’s present understanding of marriage and sexuality, which is overwhelmingly positive, see Mary Shivanandan, Crossing the Threshold of Love (Wahington: Catholic University of America Press, 199).

[28] Coyle, “Recent Views on the Origins of Clerical Celibacy: A Review of the Literature from 1980-1991,” 495.

[29] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 31-32.

[30] Ibid., 40.

[31] Ibid., 66.

[32] Ibid., 42.

[33] Ibid., 54.

[34] Ibid., 51.

[35] Coyle, “Recent Views on the Origins of Clerical Celibacy: A Review of the Literature from 1980-1991,” 485.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.: 502.

[38] Robert Slesinski, “Lex Continentia: The Need for an Orthodox Response,” Saint Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 37, no. 1 (1993): 96.

[39] See Roman M.T. Cholij, “An Eastern Catholic Married Clergy in North America,” Eastern Churches Journal 4, no. 2 (1997).

[40] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 77.

[41] Ibid., 72-73.

[42] “Council in Trullo,” in The Seven Ecumenical Councils, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1991), 371.

[43] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 80.

[44] Ibid., 75-76.

[45] See Frederick McManus, “The Council in Trullo: A Roman Catholic Perspective,” Greek Orthodox Theological Review 40, no. 1-2 (1995).

[46] Ibid.: 80.

[47] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 77.

[48] Ibid., 79-80.

[49] Both the Eastern and Western Church Fathers taught that a single marriage should be the norm for Christians, even after the passing away of a spouse. For an overview of the Patristic texts on the subject, see Theodore Mackin, Divorce and Remarriage (New York: Ramsey, 1984).

[50] John H. Erickson, “The Council in Trullo: Issues Relating to the Marriage of Clergy,” Greek Orthodox Theological Review 40, no. 1-2 (1995): 186.

[51] Slesinski, “Lex Continentia: The Need for an Orthodox Response,” 94.

[52] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 77.

[53] Balducelli, “The Apostolic Origins of Clerical Continence: A Critical Appraisal of a New Book,” 694.

[54] Adrian Hastings, “The Origins of Priestly Celibacy,” Heythrop Journal 24 (1983): 174.

[55] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 77.

[56] Keleher.

[57] Ibid.

[58] I Corinthians 7:5, NAB.

[59] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 31.

[60] I Corinthians 7:5, NAB.

[61] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 99.

[62] Balducelli, “The Apostolic Origins of Clerical Continence: A Critical Appraisal of a New Book,” 701.

[63] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 97.

[64] James K. Graham, “Compulsory Celibacy and the Disruption of Intimacy,” Eastern Churches Journal 4, no. 2 (1997): 62.

[65] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 106.

[66] See Roman M.T. Cholij, “Celibacy, Married Clergy, and the Oriental Code,” Eastern Churches Journal 3, no. 3 (1996).

[67] Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, trans. Canon Law Society of America (Washington: Canon Law Society of America, 1990), Canon 373.

[68] Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 91.

[69] Ibid., 106.