In a two-part article, entitled “Should priests be allowed to marry?” I wrote on the celibacy of priests, its origin, the pros and cons, and the current stand of Pope Francis.
I wrote that the current Pontiff, in a recent interview with journalists, stated that celibacy is not dogma and can therefore change.
I ended Part 2 by stating while the Church’s stand can change, we should not expect it any time soon because the Pope Francis may have his eyes set on more urgent reforms in the Church, namely: 1. Putting a closure on the sexual scandals that have rocked the Church and 2. Reforming the Vatican Bank.
And I thought that was the end of that. But then came this email from reader Rev. Dr. Jose B. Fuliga STM, TH. D.
I just thought that Dr. Fuliga’s arguments are too compelling to ignore. Allow me to paraphrase and/or reprint excerpts from his email:
Dr. Fulliga started by saying celibacy should be made optional as it was in the early church.
Then he identified early Church leaders who were married.
Next, he identified 7 Popes who were married.
They were St. Peter the Apostle; St. Felix III (483 – 492 who had 2 children); St. Hormidas (514 – 523, who had a son); St. Silverus (536 – 537, who had a daughter); Clement IV (1265 – 1268, who had 2 daughters) and Felix V (1439-1449, who had a son).
Then, he listed 11 Popes who were sons of other Popes and other clergy.
They were St. Damascus I (366-348); St. Innocent I (401-417); Boniface (418-422); St. Felix (483-492); Anastacius II (496-498); St. Agapitus I (535-536); St. Silverus (536-537); Deusdedit (882-884); Boniface VI (896-896); John XI (931-935); John XV (989-996).
Then, he listed at least 6 Popes who had illegitimate children after 1139. The date is very material because it was in 1139 that celibacy was reiterated in the Second Lateran Council. The 6 Popes were in office from 1484 to 1585.
They were Innocent VIII (1484-1492); Alexander VI (1492-1503); Julius Paul III (1503-1513); Paul III (1534-1549); Pius IV (1559-1565); and Gregory XIII (1572-1585).
By way of footnote, Alexander VI was the father of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia and many others. Alexander VI’s reign was scandalously marked by libertinism and nepotism that Julius II reportedly forbade under pain of excommunication any mention of Alexander VI and any Borgia.
In his email, Dr. Fulliga also makes the following observations/conclusions:
– Mandatory clerical celibacy reduces the Roman Catholic sacraments from seven to six as no one can receive both ordination and matrimony.
– Mandatory celibacy for Catholic clergy would mean the continuing decrease in the number of priests and the increasing number of sexual scandals as is going on now.
– The Catholic Church allows matrimony for clergy of the Eastern rite although married clergy can not become bishops.
– Why does the Roman Catholic Church allow married Protestant clergy who convert to Roman Catholicism to become priests while denying the same privilege to its own clergy?
Dr. Fuliga ended his email by predicting the end of celibacy in 25 years.