A newly released book alleges the Roman Catholic Church today faces its greatest threat since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century splintered Christianity.
The book, Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith, asserts an unorthodox papal change in Christ’s original teaching now requires sexual abstinence for priests and bishops who prove incapable of living celibate lives.
This ancient papal requirement of celibacy for priests is now determined by independent Catholic historians and theologians to be illicit, and the source of today’s clerical sex abuse scandals.
Since 2002 the news media has exposed coordinated efforts of Catholic bishops to conceal sexual crimes committed against young boys; but it is largely unreported that world wide sexual abuse of adult women and young girls are even more prevalent.
Nearly all of these crimes were known of by bishops, who are charged by the Vatican with concealing Church scandal from public knowledge, under threat of being deposed.
Dominican priest Fr. Tom Doyle first warned the Vatican of a coming sex abuse scandal in 1984. He was subsequently deposed.
Frank Keating, former FBI agent and Governor of Oklahoma, resigned his appointed position on the Bishop’s Review Committee after comparing the actions of Catholic bishops to those of a secretive criminal organization.
Despite mandatory celibacy requirements, 90% of Catholic priests are sexually active - 50% continuously and 40% periodically - casting suspicion on faithful priests.
This has led to suicide, broken lives, threatened and bribed victims, loss of faith and billions of dollars from Church coffers paid by the vanishing Catholic faithful.
All of these crimes are committed by men who have vowed to live a life of chastity in service of Christ, but who live a lie.
From these scandals another more serious threat to Catholicism has now arisen, that of papal heresy.
A new examination of ancient Vatican documents reveals Christ’s original teaching that priests are allowed the Sacramental grace of matrimony has been intentionally altered.
For centuries Church laws, pseudo-infallible doctrines, and conflicting papal decrees have knowingly nullified infallible Catholic doctrines established by Christ.
Such unorthodox changes are defined in Church literature as heresy. If true, all Church claims of God given infallibility when teaching the Gospel are untrue, of no more theological authority than the preaching of Billy Graham.
Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith challenges the law of celibacy.
It begins with Catholicism’s first priests, who were married Jewish men, and explains how long forgotten Vatican documents now demonstrate Jesus’ unchangeable teachings were later altered.
These changes occurred more than 900 years ago when most Catholics were illiterate, often denied access to the Bible, and excommunicated should they challenge papal authority.
Since 1139 Catholic theologians and apologists who are aware of these changes have refused to confront evidence presented in this revealing book.
For nearly 2000 years the Catholic Church has proclaimed Church laws and doctrines intended to more clearly explain the teachings of Christ. But remarkably, while history reveals that Jesus selected only married men to serve as His apostles, the Church today forbids priestly marriage.
Also, today the Catholic Church is the only Christian denomination experiencing world wide condemnation from “scandalous” allegations of sex abuse committed against women and children by priests and bishops.
Historically, scandals similar to these are known to have appeared only after mandatory celibacy laws were first instituted, centuries after Christ. Why were these changes made?
As children Catholics are taught that Jesus’ apostles ceased sexual contact with their wives in order to “Act in the person of Jesus”, by adopting His celibate lifestyle and devoting their lives to spreading the Gospel unencumbered by family responsibilities.
But history reveals a different story, a story unknown by faithful Catholics.
Today the law of mandatory celibacy for priests has exposed a telling historical problem. If priests freely accepted celibacy in the beginning why did marriage later begin, and what authority today permits the Church to deny priestly marriage that Jesus permitted?
The answer can be found in historical events beginning around 366AD when a new and different explanation of our first priestly traditions began to appear. This event changed Catholic history.
So historically, how and why did mandatory celibacy come into the Church? In order to answer this question we must return to the time of Jesus, and our first Catholic traditions.
In The Beginning
Jesus made few changes in existing Jewish law for His followers. But among the most important changes He instituted were those concerning marriage for Christians. Jewish men of the time were allowed to have more than one wife as well as concubines; Jesus forbade polygamy.
They were allowed to divorce; Jesus prohibited divorce (Matthew 19:9).
And most importantly, Jewish law required all Jews, including priests, to marry by age 20 (Genesis 1:28), but Jesus allowed Christians to remain unmarried if they freely chose to do so (Matthew 19:12).
And, contrary to current myth, Jesus did not require His apostles to take a vow of celibacy or to abstain from marital sex in order to imitate His lifestyle; Christ allowed His apostles to freely choose either marriage or celibacy.
For these reasons the question of Jesus’ celibacy is pointless as justification for modern celibacy laws that entered the Church centuries later.
As Jesus left the Church, an individual’s free choice to marry and propagate or to remain unmarried was permitted, and no restriction against future marriage by unmarried priests existed.
Today many Catholic traditionalists have begun anew to examine these teachings of Jesus and to compare them to the modern law of mandatory celibacy, a law that did not exist in the beginning.
In order to understand the origins of mandatory celibacy modern Catholics must first come to understand the origin and misleading influence that apocryphal non-Biblical writings had on Jesus’ teaching before the New Testament was first identified as the only legitimate source of Christian Scripture, c.350AD, and their continuing influence on the Church today.
Catholics do not tend to turn to the Bible as a historical document in order to understand the foundational teachings of our faith.
Those who cite New Testament scripture in support of beliefs that may question Church teaching are immediately accused of Protestant sympathies, and of denying Catholic tradition. Such accusations are ad hominem, because scripture and Catholic tradition cannot be separated.
Catholics are taught about the Bible’s importance but are instructed to consult the Catechism for explanations of our first traditions (history), or to consult our priests for answers that will lead to the complete truth.
They alone, we are taught, are divinely ordained by God to teach the infallible Gospel of Christ without error. Catholics are not permitted to challenge Church teaching.
Today, Church explanations of mandatory celibacy pose a great problem because it is acknowledged by all that apostles and priests during the earliest generations were married.
More to the point, in the New Testament St. Paul specifically required bishops and deacons be married fathers, “capable of managing their families” (1Timothy 3).
Even more damaging to the idea of a required vow of celibacy, St. Paul specifically preached against newly converted Christian-Gnostics who brought with them a belief that all priests must reject desires of the flesh in order to successfully mediate between God and man.
This ascetic and dualistic belief of conflict between flesh and soul was first taught by Plato c.428BC and spread across the western world with Alexander the Great before 300BC.
By Christ’s time it had made its way into all religions’ beliefs other than Orthodox Judaism and Christianity, who were unique among all beliefs.
In defense of married priests St. Paul confronted this new Christian-Gnostic belief. He strongly condemned mandatory celibacy and his teaching was continually supported by later popes who excommunicated Christian-Gnostic converts for their persistent support of mandatory celibacy.
“The Spirit has explicitly said that during the last times there will be some who will desert the faith and choose to listed to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from devils; and the cause of this will be lies told by hypocrites…they will say marriage is forbidden, and lay down rules about abstaining from food which God has created to be accepted with thanksgiving by all who believe and who know the truth.” (1Timothy 4:1).
It is important here for Catholics to understand that all New Testament scripture such as this, from either Jesus or His Apostles, are declared by the Church to be the “Deposit of Faith”, which ended c.98AD.
These teachings are unchangeable, immutable, and any “new doctrine” that would change the Deposit of Faith after that time is forbidden.
In theological speak the Deposit of Faith is the original Ordinary and Universal Magisterium.
Absence of Mandatory Celibacy
Evidence is abundant that mandatory celibacy was a late entry into Christianity, and did not exist in the second or third centuries.
As a matter of fact, the Church today acknowledges that “no law of celibacy as we know it today existed in the beginning”.
More enlightening, we have witness in ancient Church literature from Apostolic Fathers such as Bishops St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp of Smyrna, they were ‘hearers’ of St. John the apostle. As married bishops and disciples of St. John, they realized that Jesus permitted men to remain celibate if they freely chose to do so, but viewed them with caution.
Priests of the time were married men who also worked to support their families when celibate pagan converts began to appear in large cities, often resulting in conflict. Many celibate priests believed their ascetic chastity elevated them spiritually in the eyes of God to a superior spiritual plane, even superior to married bishops.
In his letter, 110AD, Ignatius asks Polycarp to instruct priests and their wives thusly: “Speak to my sisters [wives] that they love the Lord and be content with their husbands [priests] both in the flesh and in soul. In like manner exhort my brothers [priests] in the name of Jesus Christ to love their wives as the Lord loved the Church. If anyone is able to remain celibate…let him remain so without boasting. If he boasts about it he is undone, and if he seeks to be more esteemed than the bishop he is corrupted.”
This was an important event in the second century. From such ancient records we find that after the Deposit of Faith, as it was left by Jesus and His apostles, priests continued to choose either marriage or celibacy and that mandatory celibacy did not exist. So, when and how did things change?
An examination of ancient changes in Church teaching during the second and third centuries reveals similar changes in Jesus’ original teachings also began to appear in some areas as Christianity quickly spread throughout the Roman world.
Many brilliant scholars and philosophers from pagan religions became fascinated with the resurrected Christ and converted, becoming influential Christian teachers who believed priests should not despoil themselves with sex.
These converts are known as Patristic Fathers, and while they were good and pious men, they also brought with them non-Christian philosophies that would forever affect the relationships of men and women, and marriage.
Little did they understand that Christianity initially expanded via House-churches, with priests supported by their wives as teachers (1Corinthians 16:19)
Defeating paganism and gaining pagan converts were important goals for the growing Christian Church. This is where the story of mandatory celibacy really begins.
It is a story of change shrouded in the midst of a time before 350 AD, when pseudo-Christian writings were considered to be a legitimate source of Christian scripture, and popes were unchallengeable when claiming to speak ad hoc for Christ.
For this reason Christianity’s first tradition of married priests was quite different from what the Church teaches today.
The first 14 popes were married men, but to understand later changes denying clerical marriage we must again return to the beginning.
The Myth Of Apostolic Continence
By 135 AD, Rome had decimated Jerusalem and its great Jewish Temple, causing both Jews and Christians to flee into the Roman world where Gnostic-Christian beliefs had already begun to appear.
New pseudo-Christian writings claimed Gnosis (New, secret, knowledge) of Jesus and His apostles, knowledge not contained in the Deposit of Faith that ended in the previous century.
For example, writings such as the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and stories upon which the Da Vinci Code is based are Gnostic.
Gnostic attempts to promote the superiority of celibacy and explain away the apostles’ wives that St. Paul spoke of (1Corinthians 9-5), when he complained that he too should marry “just like the other apostles and Jesus’ brothers”, a myth was created, a myth that had no basis in Christianity.
This legend was first introduced in apocryphal writings proposing that the apostles had abandoned sex with their wives in order to imitate Jesus.
Before 200 AD, these writings supported the new teachings of Patristic Fathers such as St. Justin, St. Clement of Alexandria, and Anti-Pope Hippolytus. All were celibate pagans before converting.
But priests continued to marry until things began to change the following century, when Popes would come to see an advantage in supporting this new celibacy movement, believing it would somehow diminish the esteem of celibate pagan priests who remained highly revered across the Roman Empire.
These new apocryphal Gnostic stories suggesting Jesus’ apostles embraced the ‘discipline’ of marital continence then became a powerful influence for change.
In 306 AD, the first recorded attempt by a local Church Council to mandate celibacy for priests occurred in the far western reaches of Christianity, in Elvira, Spain - three hundred years after Jesus.
Failing in that attempt, these Spanish Gnostic-Christians continued to promote their celibacy movement 19 years later at Constantine’s great Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, but failed once more.
They were defeated when bishops agreed that “Too heavy a yoke ought not to be laid upon the clergy; that marriage and married intercourse are of themselves honorable and undefiled.” The issue was settled, priests could freely choose either marriage or celibacy.
But the celibacy movement did not die. Only 40 years later, ca. 366 AD, two popes, Damasus and Siricius, would again cite these apocryphal stories of apostles ceasing marital intercourse.
Pope Damasus, the son of a priest, then introduced for the first time in Catholic history a new term, the Rule of Continence.
According to this new rule, priests were required to cease carnal intercourse with their wives, but no vow was sought as it is today – it was demanded.
Damasus’ successor Siricius, a married bishop who abandoned his wife and children to assume the papacy, continued to institute this new rule.
Tragically, these popes failed to recognize that denial of sex by either spouse violates the Sacrament of Matrimony as taught by St. Paul (1Corinthians 7:3-6).
Today, all married Catholics know they must accept intercourse for a valid marriage to exist.
Fortunately, Rome did not exercise authority over all dioceses across the Empire in those days, and other areas continued to allow priestly marriage throughout the medieval period.
The Medieval Papacy
For more than 700 years after Constantine, Roman Emperors and later European monarchs controlled papal elections and personally appointed bishops and abbots who served at their discretion, not the Pope’s.
Monasteries and dioceses brought great wealth to these secular lords through Simony, although little accrued to Rome.
During all that time bishops and priests were married and Churches became Sacramental filling stations owned by mercenary clerics who willed them to family heirs, who then often bought and sold these valuable offices.
The Church had a strong need to curb priestly heirs’ power and corruption, and this problem was solved when Popes submitted to the Emperor’s secular authority, with agreement that Cardinals alone would elect future popes.
Finally, after a 700-year struggle, and desiring to eliminate future loss of wealth and control over married clerics, mandatory celibacy laws preventing future heirs were finally instituted. Again, no vow was sought as it is today, it was demanded.
Failed Vatican efforts to end priestly marriage had continued sporadically until 1139 AD, and Pope Innocent II’s desire to seize clerical wealth and property.
Then, asserting that apostolic continence was the first priestly tradition, Innocent II reached back 700 years to Popes Damasus’ and Siricius’ use of Gnostic-Christian legend in support of his new effort to subdue the priesthood.
Previously, three councils in the 11th century had failed to end priestly marriage by selling wives and children of priests into slavery, with proceeds accruing to the Vatican treasury.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux correctly prophesied in 1135 AD, “Take from the Church an honorable marriage bed, and do you not fill it with concubineage, incest, homosexuality, and every kind of uncleanness?”
But Pope Gregory VII stated, “The Church cannot escape from the laity unless priests first escape the clutches of their wives.”
Doctrine vs. Discipline
To justify modern papal demands for priestly celibacy, the Church today denies celibacy is a Church doctrine, claiming it is merely an ancient discipline freely initiated by the apostles.
This defense arose only after Vatican Council I in 1870, when the Church infallibly declared that “some new doctrine” may not be added to the Deposit of Faith.
Prior to that time the law was taught as a doctrine because all Church teachings that are claimed to be from the apostles are doctrines.
But, in order to retain control over the priesthood, the Church now denies the law of mandatory celibacy is a Church doctrine that changes Christ’s Sacramental doctrine of priestly matrimony, thus denying the Sacramental grace of matrimony originally given to them by Jesus.
This new terminology was necessary in order to obscure the reality that mandatory celibacy actually alters Jesus’ teaching.
At this point it is important for Catholics to understand the Church’s definition of ‘heretic’: “One who, having accepted the faith of Christ, corrupts its Doctrine.”
Today Christ’s original doctrine, allowing priests to marry and propagate, has been changed.
All popes from Innocent II until Benedictine XVI have knowingly supported this law and are therefore partakers of heresy.
Today St. Peter could not become a priest, because he was married.
The ‘discipline’ of apostolic continence is historically false. There is absolutely no evidence from the Deposit of Faith, none.
Church authorities today can produce no legitimate evidence of its truth. It is myth disguised as doctrine.
It is a doctrinal impediment that intentionally alters Christ’s infallible teaching, it denies a Sacramental grace from God, a sanctifying grace given to Christians by the Son of God, and thus voids all Church claims of infallible teaching authority.
Consequences For Today
Our problem today is not new and the Church knows it. From the earliest days of Christianity, celibate priests have been a cause for concern by men such as St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp.
Before the New Testament was written, a Christian book of instruction, the Didache, stated “Thou shalt not seduce young boys.”
In 306 AD, the Council of Elvira, Spain, declared, “To defilers of boys, communion is not to be given even at death.”
In 1049,- St. Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah recorded a debauched and failing priesthood similar to today’s and pleaded with Pope Leo IX to excommunicate priests guilty of “Incestuous relations with their spiritual children.”
Other councils issued similar anathemas for abuse of women, and securing abortions, and absolving themselves of mortal sin.
These sins of the flesh are repeatedly forgiven today, but commit matrimony only once and a priest is out. Think of Miami, FL priest, Fr. Alberto Cutie.
Former Benedictine Monk and retired psychologist, Richard Sipe, is a therapist who taught at two seminaries and during a period of 30 years treated over 1,500 sexually dysfunctional priests and their victims; all were referred to him by Church authorities for treatment.
He and his colleagues provide the following estimates of priestly formation today. His credentials are impeccable. (http://richardsipe.com).
Only ten percent of all priests and bishops successfully abstain from sex during their priesthood.
Ninety percent engage in sex, 50 percent continuously and 40 percent periodically.
Of those, 30-50 percent are homosexually oriented and their sexual activity is comparable to heterosexual priests and bishops.
Similar studies from Spain, Switzerland, South Africa, and the Philippines produced similar numbers.
In areas of South America and Africa more than half of all priests have wives/mistresses.
A major problem that goes unreported by the media is priestly sex abuse of women and young girls.
Female abuse statistics are comparable to male pedophilia abuse.
This is the sad state of our priesthood today.
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