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CELIBACY OF THE CLERGY.
I. Demonstration of the necessity of abolishing validity of which, in this controversy, a constrained Clerical Celibacy, exhibiting the can no longer be questioned; and at the Evils of that Institution, and the Remedy:
same time, with a complete historical By the Right Rev. Diogo Antonio Feijó, Senator and ex-Regent of the Empire of compendium of the subject in discussion. Brazil , Bishop elect of Marianna, dc. &c.
The curious reader, moreover, will not Translated from the Portuguese, with an In- fail to be interested in the style of argutroduction and Appendix: By Rev. D., P. mentation, in the opinions advanced upon Kidder, A. M.-One vol. 18mo.-Philadelphia, a variety of questions in ecclesiastical
Sorin & Ball, 1844. IL The Variations of Popery: By Samuel Edgar. history, and especially in some facts reSecond edition, one vol. 8vo. ; London, R. B. specting the widely extended Empire of Seeley and W. Burnside, 1838.
Brazil, that are incidentally interwoven
and illustrated. Especially at this crisis, Soon after the establishment of the when active inquiry is aroused upon this present form of government in Brazil, and other kindred topics ; when some are an attempt was made by several of her endeavouring to clothe the assumptions leading statesmen and clergy, to abolish of the present day in the ghostly tradiclerical celibacy, perhaps the most pro- tions of the past, and others are eager to lific source of corruption in the Roman rend the antiquated veil and reduce every church. One of the principal advocates assumption to its proper merits; it will of this reform was M. Feijó ; himself a be fitling for all to peruse the testimony priest and member of the Chamber of of one perfectly at home among the faDeputies, subsequently Regent of the thers, and at the same time qualified to Empire, and now a senator for life. He speak from experience upon the question wrote the work of which the title is he discusses. While some are gravely placed first at the head of this article—a contemplating the propriety of a return treatise of great importance, both from its to clerical celibacy, and its counterpart, intrinsic character and its origin. It was auricular consession ; it may be well for printed for private circulation, and would them and others to pursue a candid inprobably have been lost to the world had quiry into the origin and applications of not the Rev. Mr. Kidder, a missionary of the former institution in past ages. Indeed, the Methodist Episcopal Church in the it can not be amiss for any to listen to the United States, during his residence in voice of lamentation spontaneously raised Brazil, become acquainted with its dis- on account of the wide-spread and almost tinguished author, and received from him irrepressible evils arising from the imthe copy from which he has made the moralities of men at whose hands we are translation before us. “ The Roman told we must receive absolution, or be Catholic," says Mr. Kidder, “will here excluded from the kingdom of heaven; find a frank and fearless discussion of an nor to be admonished by the fate of those important branch of his church polity, who have been reduced to the extremity substantiated at every step by venerated of suing for the restoration of those nanames and acknowledged authorities.- tural rights, of which a spiritual despotThe argument itself is accompanied by ism has deprived them, and of pleading all the authority due to a bishop nomi- for the intervention of the civil authority nated to the extensive diocese of Mari- as the only hope of securing reform." anna. The Protestant will here discover The Bishop of Marianna dedicates his an independence of thought, and a liber- work to the representatives of the nation,
, ality of views, that he was perhaps little for whose benefit it seems to have been prepared to expect from a Roman Catho- expressly written. “ To whom,” he exlic bishop. The theologian is here fur- claims, " rather than to you, friends of
. nished with a sound argument, and ex- my country, protectors of public liberty, . tensive series of references to ancient and zealous defenders of the rights of authors in point, and also to facts, the Brazilian citizens, ought I to dedicate this
brief essay; the offspring of my respect_vary on the decision of the question, wheto justice, of my veneration to religion, ther this celibacy be divine or human, or and of my love to humanity?” “All even useful. One party in the Popish Brazil,” he says, further on, knows the community account the interdiction a necessity of abolishing a law that never divine appointment. These make the was, is not, and never will be observed. prohibition a matter of faith and moral All Brazil is witness of the evils which obligation, which, unlike a question of the immorality of the transgressors of mere discipline, neither the pope nor the that law entails upon society. Without universal church can change or modify. probity, there is no execution of law; Commanded by God, and sanctioned by without the execution of law, there is no his Almighty fiat, no earthly power can justice; without justice, there is no civil repeal the enactment, which, according liberty; and without civil liberty, there to this system, must remain for ever is an end to public happiness. Legisla- without alteration. This opinion was tors : deign to accept the efforts of one of patronized by Jerome, Epiphanius, Major, your number; reflect upon the important Clichtovius, Gabutius, Siricius and Intruths which he offers to your contempla- nocent.* This party, however, was never tion, and be unwilling to bear the mighty considerable in number or influence. responsibility which will rest upon you A second party reckons the celibacy of if you retard the revocation of a law which the clergy a human constitution. These, is the source of public immorality." in general, esteem the prohibition a ques
Earnestly commending to our readers tion not of faith but of discipline, prethe treatise of M. Feijó, by translating scribed not by God but by man, and which, Mr. Kidder has done the Pro- capable of being altered or even repealed testant cause so essential a service, we by human authority. These are numerturn to a work no less deserving of fa- ous, and include the majority of the vourable notice, for its learning, candour Popish communion: and the opinion has and ability, " The Variations of Popery,” been patronized by many theologians of by Mr. Edgar, for a general discussion of influence and learning, such as Aquinas, this important subject.
Cajetan, Soto, Bellarmine, Valentia, Bos. 'The celibacy of the clergy, as suet, Du Pin, Gother and Milner. readers must all be aware, has for centu- The partisans of this opinion, however, ries been established in the Romish com- are subdivided into two factions, distinmunion. The bishop, the priest and guished by a slight shade of difference. the deacon are, in the Popish theology, One of these factions accounts the matforbid to marry:
This connexion, in- rimonial interdiction apostolical, estabdeed, is allowed to the laity.--The in- lished by the inspired heralds of the gosstitution, in the system of catholicism, pel, and continued in uninterrupted sucis accounted a sacrament, and, therefore, cession till the present day. This forms the sign and means of grace and holiness. a close approximation to the former sysThe Council of Trent, in its twenty-fourth tem, and seems to have been advocated, session, declares this ceremony one of with some variation and inconsistency, the sacraments, by which, according to by Jerome, Chrysostom, Siricius, Innoits sevenih session, “all real righteous- cent, Gregory, Bellarmine, Godeau and ness is begun and augmented." The Thomassin. The other faction reckons same is taught in the Trent Catechism, the regulation merely ecclesiastical or published by the command of Pope Pius.* human, and a matter of mere expediency, But, wonderful to tell, the council as well and capable of dispensation or recision as the catechism prescribes, in sheer in- according to utility. This system has consistency, a renunciation of an institu- been countenanced by Aquinas, Cajetan, tion which conveys true sanctity as a Antoninus and Gratian. The marriage necessary qualification for the priesthood. of the clergy, says Gratian, is forbidden The advocates of Romanism, however,
* Jerom. adv. Jov. Epiph. H. 48. Major, D. Bin. 9. 367. 411. Labb. 20. 150. Cat. 24. Clich. c. 4. Bell, I. 18. Gibert, 1. 109. Trid. 187. Aquin. 3. 486. Gibert, 3. 315. + Thomassin, I. 43. Anton. c. 21.
neither by evangelical or apostolical au- tural interdiction, has, in the Romish thority. Similar statements have been communion, disgraced sacerdotal dignity made by Aquinas and Cajetan.*
and stained the annals of civil and eccleA third party account sacerdotal celi- siastical history. bacy not only ecclesiastical or human, but The celibacy of the clergy, in all its also useless or hurtful. The opposition forms, is a variation from the Jewish to the prohibition, even in the bosom of theocracy delivered in the Old Testathe Romish communion, has in every ment. The Jews countenanced neither age been persevering and powerful. celibacy nor maidenhood, and the Jewish This hostility will, in glowing colours, nation contained neither unmatrimonial appear in the ensuing details. The pri- priests nor cloistered nuns. The pavation has been discountenanced by many triarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were of the ablest patrons of Romanism, such married, and had a numerous offspring. as Panormitan, Erasmus, Durand, Poly- Prior to Moses, the first-born of the Hedorus, Alvarus and Pius. The celibacy brews possessed both civil and ecclesiasof the clergy, says Pius the Second, is tical authority, and was prince and priest; supported by strong reasons, but opposed but was noi debarred connubial enjoyby stronger. The edicts of Siricius and ments. Moses, the celebrated legislator Innocent, by which the privation was first of Israel, was married and had a family. enforced, were rejected by many of the The holy prophets of Palestine, such as clergy. Gregory's tyranny on this topic Noah, Joseph, Samuel, David, Isaiah met with decided hostility. His attempt and Ezekiel, formed this connexion, and was, by many, accounted an innovation became the parents of sons and daughters. and produced a schism.' Many chose to The Levitical priesthood were allowed renounce the priesthood rather than sub- the same liberiy. Matrimony, indeed, mit to pontifical despotism, violate their among the Israelitish clergy, could hardly conjugal engagements, or relinquish the be called a bare permission, but amounted objects of their affections. The German in one sense to a command. The priestemperor and clergy supplicated Pope hood, among the descendants of Abraham, Pius the Fourth for a repeal of the en- was hereditary. The sons of the Aaroniactments against sacerdotal matrimony, cal priests succeeded, in consequence of and supported their petition with the most their birthright, to the administration of irrefragable arguments, such as the novelty the sacerdotal functions.* An injunction of privation and its dreadful consequences therefore seems, in this manner, to have on morality. Augustine, the Bavarian been laid on the minister of the Jewish ambassador at Trent, petitioned against establishment in favour of that institution, clerical celibacy, which, he declared, by which, according to the divine apwas not of divine right or commanded pointment, the priestly office was transby God.” His speech, on the occasion, mitted to their, posterity and successors, met, even in the Council of Trent, with who presided in the worship of Jehovah attention and even applause. The French and the religion of Canaan. king and clergy at Poissy issued a simi- Sacerdotal celibacy is a variation from lar petition to the pope in 1561, enforced the Christian dispensation revealed in the by similar reasons.t 'Many of the Popish New Testament. The Christian Reveerrors, indeed, may, in theory, be as absurd lation affords express precept and examas clerical celibacy. But none, in prac. ple for the marriage of the clergy. Paul, tice, has been attended with such odious addressing Timothy and Titus, represents and appalling effects in the demoralization the bishop as “the husband of one wife.” of man. The rankest and most disgust- The same is said of the deacon. Matriing debauchery, originating in the unna- mony, therefore, according to the book of
God, does not disqualify for the episcoAquin. II. Q. 88. A. II. P. 311. Caje. pacy or the deaconship. The inspired tan, 1. 121. Bell. 1. 19. Godeau, 2. 154.
† Bruys, 3. 398. Bell. 1. 1110. Du Pin, 3. 336. 522. Erasm. 1. 422. Platina in Pius, 2. • Crab. 1. 417. Chrysostom, 1. 268.568. et Paolo, 2. 680.
2. 298. Bell. I. 18.
penman also characterizes " forbidding to indeed, possessing the least authority, till marry" as "a doctrine of devils.” The the days of Jerome and Epiphanius in interdiction of the conjugal union, accord- the end of the fourth century. The monk ing to apostolical authority, emanated not of Palestine and the Bishop of Salamis from God but from Satan. The prohibi- are the first witnesses which could be tion and its practical consequences among produced by all the learning and research the Romish clergy are worthy of their of Bellarmine or Thomassin; and even author. All who are acquainted with the their attestation is contradictory and inannals of sacerdotal celibacy reflect with consistent with cotemporary history. disgust on an institution, which, in its This lengthened period was enlightprogress, has been marked with scenes ened and adorned by a succession of of filthiness that have disgraced ecclesi- apostolical and Christian authors; and astical history, the Popish priesthood and all are silent on this theme, or bear testiour common species. “Take away hon- mony to the unconfined freedom of matourable wedlock,” says Bernard, “and rimony. The inspired writers were folyou will fill the church with fornication, lowed by the apostolical men, Hermas, incest, sodomy and all pollution.” Eras- Clemens, Barnabas, Polycarp and Ignamus, who was well acquainted with its tius. These again were succeeded by a effects, compared it to a pestilence.* long train of ecclesiastical authors, such These authors have drawn the evil with as Justin, Irenæus, Clemens, Origen, the pencil of truth, and emblazoned the Tertullian, Minucius, Athenagoras and canvas with a picture taken from life. Cyprian. But none of these mention, in
The apostles have left examples as express or implied phraseology, any conwell as precepts in favour of matrimony. nubial restriction on the clergy: and the All the apostles, says Ambrosius, except omission is not supplied by a single ponJohn and Paul, were married. Simon, tifical edict or synodal canon prior to the whose pretended successors have become fourth century. the vicegerents of heaven, was a married Many documents of antiquity, on the man, and the sacred historians mention contrary, remain, which testify their unhis mother-in-law. Peter and Philip, say restrained liberty to form and enjoy the Clemens and Eusebius, had children. nuptial connexion, and which are concluPaul was married, according to Clemens, sive and above all suspicion. A few of Ignatius and Eusebius ; though the con- these may be subjoined, taken from Diotrary was alleged by Tertullian, Hilary, nysius, Clemens, Origen, and the aposEpiphanius, Jerome, Ambrosius and Au- tolic canons. gustine.t
Dionysius, about the year one hundred The celibacy of the clergy, varying in and seventy, affords one decisive testithis manner from the Christian dispensa- mony to the marriage of the priesthood tion, is also a variation from ancient tra- in his day. The interesting relation is dition. The interdiction of sacerdotal preserved by Eusebius. Dionysius, acmatrimony is unknown to the oldest cording to the father of eeclesiastical hismonuments of the church, the moulder- tory, was Bishop of Corinth. He was ing fragments of Christian antiquity and esteemed for his wisdom and piety; and the primeval records of ecclesiastical his- did not confine his valuable labours to his tory. No vestige of the prohibition is to own diocese, but extended them to other be found in the long lapse of three hun- parts of Christendom. lle wrote to the dred years after the era of redemption. Lacedemonians, Athenians, Nicomedians, Its warmest patrons can produce no testi- Gortinians, Amastrians and Gnossians, for mony of its existence for three ages after the purpose of enforcing truth and peace. the epoch of the incarnation ; nor any, His letter to the Gnossians was on the
subject of sacerdotal celibacy. Pinytus, * Bernard, Serm. 66. P. 763. Tim. III. 2. 12.
a Čretan bishop, actuated by ignorance et IV. 3. Titus, I. 6. Erasm. 1. 142. † Amb. in 2 Corin. ii. Matth. viii. 14. Clem.
or presumption, urged the necessity of 535. Strom. 3. Euseb. iii. 30, 31. Calm. 22. abstinence in all its rigour on the clergy 410.
of his diocese. Dionysius, having heard
of the unconstitutional attempt, wrote to His argument recoils on its author. “The the Gnossians and admonished Pinytus duties of matrimony," says Origen, cited to regard the weakness of man, and to by Bellarmine, “hinder the continual ·lay no such heavy burden on the clergy. sacrifice, which, it appears to me, should Pinytus, convinced of his error, bowed to be offered only by such as devote themthe wise and well-timed counsel, and re- selves to constant and perpetual contiplied to his Corinthian monitor in strains nency."* This evinces just the contrary of eulogy and admiration. The relation of what the cardinal intended. Some is conclusive against sacerdotal celibacy who ministered at the altar, according to in the days of the Cretan and Corinthian Origen's words, were married, and he bishops. Dionysius, famed for superior complained that their connubial engageinformation on ecclesiastical laws, con- ments prevented their due and regular
demned the injurious and, unwarranted attendance on the sacred duty. He does - innovation. Pinytus pleaded no author- not mention or pretend any ecclesiastical
ity for his opinion, and acquiesced in the law or injunction, requiring the observaother's decision without hesitation. Had tion of clerical celibacy. He only speaks the interdiction of priestly wedlock been his own private opinion as a matter of apostolical or even ecclesiastical, and con- expediency. His language bears testi,
, tinued in the church in uninterrupted suc- mony to the fact, that married men, in cession from the establishment of Chris- the third century, officiated at the altar, tianity, the one would not have advised and to the non-existence of any ecclesiits abolition, nor the other have admitted astical canon or usage enforcing clerical his determination with so much submis- abstinence. He pleads only his private sion.*
judgment in behalf of his opinion. His Clemens, who flourished about the prepossessions against all nuptial engageyear 200, testifies to the same effect. ments are well known, and prompted him "God," says the catechist of Alexandria, to use a remedy in his own person, con"allows every man, whether.priest, dea- trary to all law human and divine. He con or layman, to be the husband of one armed himself against temptation, by a wife, and to use matrimony without re- mutilation which was interdicted by the prehension. What can the enemy of twenty-second apostolical and first Nicene matrimony say against procreation, when canons: and, one would expect, by selfit is permitted to a bishop, that ruleth well preservation. This shows the insignifi
. his own house, and who governs the cance of his opinion on this as on other church?”+ This is clear and satisfactory. topics of faith and discipline. Bellarmine The use, as well as the contract of mar- must have been possessed by the demon riage was, in the beginning of the third of infatuation, when he appealed to Oricentury, lawful both for the clergy and gen's judgment. for the laity. The connubial state and The fifth apostolical canon is to the its enjoyments extended, in the days of same purpose. This enactment "proClemens, to the pastor as well as to the nounces excommunication and, in case of flock. Clemens was a man of extensive contumacy, deposition against the bishop, erudition both in philosophy and theology, priest, or deacon, who, under pretext of and therefore could not, on this topic, be religion, puts away his wife.”+ The mistaken in the existing regulations of canon, notwithstanding the scribbling of
Binius, plainly supposes clerical matri· Origen, who flourished about the mony and forbids separation. These middle of the third century, is another canons, indeed, were compiled neither by witness. Origen's testimony is quoted by an apostolic pen nor in an apostolic age. Bellarmine in favour of sacerdotal celi- Turriano, it is true, ascribed them 10 ihe bacy; but certainly with little judgment. apostles. Baronius and Bellarmine re
tained fifty of them and rejected thirtyEuseb. IV. 23. Niceph. IV. 8. Mendoza, II. 60.
Origen, Hom. 23. Bell. I. 1114. + Clem. Alexan. 1. 552. Tim. III. 4.
| Labb. 1. 20. Bin. 1. 6. Crabb, 1. 15.