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Robert Winner

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Should priests be allowed to marry?

When Pope Francis' No. 2, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, said last week that the church's policy on celibate clergy is up for discussion, some analysts saw it as a shift in Vatican thinking.

I ask the TED International Community ... Is this good?

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    Sep 17 2013: Discussion and a shift in thinking seems like a good idea in any organization every couple thousand years:>)
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    Sep 17 2013: I dont know who invented that rules but I strongly believe that God did not forbid priest to marry since priest in the Bible times were allowed to marry. Gift of a celibacy is an individual calling from God just like Paul who didn't marry for the sake of the Gospel. I think priest should have the freedom to choose whether they want to marry or not. Priest who want to marry should not be condemned. I don't think family is a hindrance of doing God's will because our family is our first mission. How can a person lead a multitude number of people if he don't know how to lead his own family.
    • Sep 18 2013: The origin of the Latin priestly custom is purely within the Latin world. Before Rome schismed away from the Church in the 11th century, it had to admit that a married priesthood was perfectly legitimate. Once Rome fell into schism, it could pretend that its unusual customs were normative.
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    Sep 17 2013: To be honest I never really understood why Priests aren't allowed to marry. It would give priests a better understanding of the average person if they had "normal" lives.
    • Sep 19 2013: It is merely a Latin custom. They can spin a lot of tales about it, but, like the use of wafers instead of bread in Communion, it is merely a local custom.
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    Sep 25 2013: I am a hindu and so belong to hindu community, for me Priest means a person who has detach from worldly things and have gain self actualization. So when does person do this? when he is in search of answers and want to feel containment within self. Such an individual is not greedy of followers or of any other things; after gaining self actualization it is his decision if he wants to marry or not. But as an outsider we start questioning his/her Integrity which makes priest so much conscious that he decides not to marry. I feel after substantial year of dedicated service to god, if priest feels to get married he/she may do so without any hesitation.
  • Gord G 50+

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    Sep 21 2013: Considering most priests are male, the church would have to change their position on gay marriage. ;-) (Should a priest be allowed to marry? Absolutely)
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    Sep 25 2013: lolz.. In reply , i feel like to ask - "Should a person be allowed to marry?" :D

    Why our society thinks that a married person can not be a priest ! May be we dont know what makes a priest to priest. The religion is something that transforms yourself from within. Who has been transformed, is a priest, no matter what he/she do in outer world... well, you may consider me as an individual's opinion...

    again i feel like to ask - "Should a priest drink water in wooden pot?" lolzzz
  • Sep 23 2013: There is a larger social priestly impact regarding your question... when a person becomes a priest, he is suppose to be ready to accept celibacy. Becoming a priest means you "marry" into the church. You concentrate your life on the church, you concentrate on your flock, your congregation and think of nothing else but God and your people.

    But humans are not perfect... we do fall in love, lust, sin all the time. Now a priest may want to marry but decide against it mainly because he has educated himself to be a priest for a very long time... he might no longer adapt to the real world once he leaves the church. You cannot earn income with the skills of a religious clergy-out-of-church. They might not have any skills at all besides what they have learned from the church.. so they are reluctant to leave and marry; and therefore any other forbiddenned "activities" will have to be kept secret... and the problem starts there.

    The question of is it good or not is difficult to answer. Personally after reflecting on this issue... i just feel that "is it good?" is somehow a wrong question to ask..
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      Sep 25 2013: I think you bring out a very valid point...........that of earning an income........

      It made me think of this question............Where did a paid clergy come from?............Certainly not from the first century model of Christianity that we find in the scriptures.

      May I also clarify what Robert said in his OP?
      When he says "is it good", he is referring to "a shift in Vatican thinking"........the pronoun "it", I believe, is directly related to his previous sentence. I may be wrong........but I don't think so.
      Read it again, and see if you see it differently now.
  • Sep 18 2013: Priests are already permitted to be married in my Church. Likewise, there are 100% legitimate Catholic priests in communion with Rome who are permitted to be married. It's only the Latin-rite Catholic priests who are prohibited. There is no doctrinal necessity for unmarried priests.
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      Sep 19 2013: Latin-rite......?

      Could you elaborate Bryan, if you don't mind.
      Thank you.
      • Sep 19 2013: The Latin Rite refers to those parts of the followers of the Pope of Rome who are under the Pope not only as a quasi-monarch of all the "Catholic Church", but as their own Patriarch. They use the most common of the "Catholic Mass" types and other rituals. But even within the followers of the Pope of Rome, priests are permitted to be married, so long as they are within one of the "Eastern Churches" in communion with Rome, such as the "Greek Catholics", "Ukrainian Catholics", and many others. These are often called "Byzantine Rite" churches, but all are still subservient to the Pope of Rome.

        In my own Church, the Orthodox Church, which is every bit as "catholic" as the church led by the Pope in Rome, priests are permitted to be married--it's actually expected of them if they are not also monks. Russia, Greece, USA, everywhere there are Orthodox Christians. This is also true of the Oriental Orthodox (Ethiopian, India, etc.)



        (PS: When married clergy from Anglicanism are received as priests by the Roman Catholic Church, they are permitted to remain married.)
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          Sep 20 2013: How is it possible that there are different types of Catholics?
          Why are there different types of Catholics?

          I really do not understand this. It is a bit confusing Bryan.
          And I found that last bit in the comment about Anglicans converting, and being able to remain married quite interesting.

          Why doesn't the church bring all these different groups together, and see what the majority consensus is, and look to scriptures for principles, then there wouldn't be so much division?

          Do you think it's a matter of power or money?

          I am intrigued.
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    Sep 17 2013: in fact priests are allowed to marry right now. the church can not override the law. think about it this way.
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    Sep 17 2013: Many Chinese believe in Buddism in Shanghai instead. I've even heard that some monks in Buddism go to KTV at night. And I really don't know what on hell they've done good to other people. I think basically the crucial point is how much monks and priests can help people with their heart and soul by interpreting the spirit of the gods, but sometimes if they get in touch with too many mundane things they may have insatiable desires and lust which isn't the essence and true meaning of the religion.
    • W T 100+

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      Sep 17 2013: Yoka, what is KTV.

      And I thought monks were allowed to marry.

      http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/237.htm
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        Sep 17 2013: Thank you Mary~! I'm sorry I didn't make it clear due to my bad expressing. I mean I'm definitely in favor of the right of the priests to get married. God will be glad if his children can get happiness.But maybe there should be some restrictions to help, just like prohibiting some monks going to the bad KTV or night club( good KTV is karaoke,bad KTV all involves prostitutes--in China it's not considered decent).I can also accept monks' marriages , not shaving their head utterly, eating meat and drinking alcohol. But I can't stand they go to the night club. This can't be explained into benevolence any way.
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          Sep 19 2013: Well, you'll get no argument from me there.

          What I have always wondered, is how the Buddhist monks help Buddhists followers.

          What exactly is their role in helping individuals walk a Buddhist life.

          Care to share?
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        Sep 19 2013: Hi, Mary ~
        I'm not an authentic Buddhist follower. But I do respect Buddhism . In my perspective, it can lead people to all kinds of benevolence and brings people some peace in mind. When people have worries or upsets in their lives( about family, relationship, work,business,health,finance,etc),and they don't know how to deal with them , they will go to the temples to consult some monks who enjoy high prestige and command universal respect about it. To some extent,the monks represent the buddhas' mortal body and voice, people will trust them because they believe in it.And the most popular Buddhas in China are the Goddess of Mercy---Guanyin and the Tathagata--Rulai. People will donate some money to show their thanks to the temples(monks are the cashiers-no change to your money as respect)and burn some incense(different kinds have different meaning) to worship the Buddha for its protects and blessings. And as a return of people's contribution to the Buddha and the temple, monks will ask you to sign on a virtue book and they will chant sutras for you and your wishes. And many people go to the temples at some special time(festivals or the end or beginning of every year) to pray for an auspicious and prospective future. People also buy some Buddha talismans to wish for carrying the Buddha's protect and good luck with them.
        So actually it's kind of philosophy and a little superstition.It always encourages people to do benevolence ,such as to help others as much as possible, eat vegetables instead of killing animals, do good deeds to compensate the wrong-doings ......
        Only if your sincerity is seen by the Buddhas, your wishes will come true sooner or later. The yardstick of sincerity is your contribution to the Buddhism and your doings. Therefore people will keep visiting the temples regularly and do what the monks tell them to do, which also help to bring the world some harmony.

        I personally think monk and priest are both some kind of psychologists. :)

        Good night
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          Sep 19 2013: I like how you narrow it down to basics.....

          "So actually it's kind of philosophy and a little superstition..."

          "I personally think monk and priest are both some kind of psychologists"

          I really appreciate your knowledge of how the relationship between worshipper and monk works.

          It does sound a lot like what some churches in Christendom do with their worshippers.
          Sometimes fees, or donations are encouraged to conduct weddings, funerals, and other kinds of activities. It really depends on the church I suppose.

          The faith I follow does not have a clergy class, we do not give any money for any service. We are able to have our weddings, and funeral talks without any charge.
          And when we need spiritual help, or are going through a rough patch and need someone to talk to, we have our older men in the congregation which will happily come to our home and pray with us and show us bible principles which may help us with our particular problem. We do not burn incense, or have any kinds of images.
          We really work towards displaying certain attributes which we see principally in our leader Jesus. These are love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, self-control, mildness, and faith.

          It is good to have friends that are like psychologists right?
          It is good to have a listening ear to help our friends, and also to have friends that will listen to our troubles.
          Like the saying goes: Joy shared is doubled. Troubles shared are halved. :)

          Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me Yoka.
          I hope you have also learned about how I live my Christian life.

          Mary :)
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        Sep 20 2013: Thank you Mary, I appreciate your elaboration on Christian life too. I like psychologists.I like Christian and all the religions that teach people peace and kindness . I'm a nullifidian~. ^@^
        But whenever I pass the religious places, I'd like to show my respect to the gods or buddhas. I hope they can bring more happiness to people and forgive an impious follower like me. Because I think I'm still trying to be kind and peaceful, which shows I follow the gods and Buddhas' spirits in a different manifestation.
        And yesterday I was a little tired, in addition to which the typing box has words limitation. I didn't explain another interesting Chinese Buddhist activity. It is fortune-telling. :)
        In some places, you can find some temples have this kind of service. You have to worship on bended knees and kowtow with heart and soul to the Buddha first,then you shake a wooden or bamboo pot full of different meanings of fortune-sticks and draw one fortune-stick out of it. It will drop from the spot to the ground . Then the monk will check the marks and explanations on the stick telling you your fortune tendency and hints on what will happen and how to better react to the future changes.They say it's very accurate in some places. I did once,it's interesting and somewhat accurate.:)

        And I have also heard of Tibet Buddhism. It's different from the common Chinese Buddhism. It's mysterious and powerful. All the Tibet people they worship their Buddha day and night. On their way to the Tibet temples, they worship by groveling(5 body parts-hands,knees,head touch the ground-they kowtow to the ground with sound to show sincerity) between every step during their walk. So it takes them several ten thousand steps and a long time to get to the temple at last. And at that time their heads may have got swollen or a little bleeding.How faithful they are to their Buddha! Their spirit is touching.
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          Sep 20 2013: "Nullifidian".........that's a new word for me.
          I had not heard it before. :)

          This ritual of a long trek kowtowing to the ground is very popular in many religions.
          In Mexico I got to see the devotees of the Virgin of Guadalupe kowtow to the church due to a promise they had made:

          http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2010/12/13/fotos/039n1cap-1.jpg

          Many time religious leaders encourage such extreme behavior in the worshippers.
          Some worshippers are seriously injured, and others faint and need to be taken away to hospitals due to fainting or heat stroke.

          In the Bible, there was a pilgrimage made by the Israelites to Jerusalem once a year to worship. But this was done due to a requirement in the Commandments given to Moses. Families would travel and stay in Jerusalem for days, as a joyful time for spiritual activity. In the Greek scriptures of the Bible (New Testament) no requirements were imposed on Christians to make any sort of pilgrimages.

          I have always wondered why individuals feel the need to make such sacrifice, that could end up hurting them physically, when God does not require it.
          But there are a lot of traditions that man has established, which they apparently enjoy taking part in, as it is part of their belief system.

          It is very interesting to learn about the different rituals and traditions earth wide, and to see the deep need humans have to worship a higher source of power.

          So, Yoka, have you always been a Nullifidian?
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        Sep 20 2013: Dear Mary, thank you for your picture, I learned a lot.I've also found some pics for you as follows:
        http://www.946.com.cn/dlzz/dl11/200408050029_58619.jpg
        http://ts3.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4715179466753990&pid=1.7
        http://ts1.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4551695846342660&pid=1.7

        From the posture I think they are different levels of difficulty. Tibet's style demands 5 body parts to touch the ground at the same time.

        As to the word "Nullifidian", I looked it up in a dictionary,hehe....

        I mean I am irreligious. I sometimes join the Buddhist team(I don't go there regularly and follow rules strictly,but I donate ,burn incense and kowtow when I'm there). I have no chance to join your religion. If your god and people don't mind I would like to be a member of you in your church to show my respect.

        If any impoliteness happened to appear in the comment, please kindly ignore it.:)
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          Sep 20 2013: Those are great pictures Yoka, thank you for sharing them.

          Tibet style....five body parts to touch the ground!!!!.....how do they move?
          That's a little bit extreme huh?

          Oh, so now you are irreligious...hehe

          You know, that term could mean indifferent to religion, but it could also mean hostile.

          I think of you as a spiritual person. You value the idea of spirituality, but you do not officially belong to any religious denomination.

          I do not think my God or my people would mind it at all if you became a member.
          As a matter of fact, you are already a member..........you are a human.
          Humans are my people.
          And the God I worship is the Creator of heaven and earth.
          So, you see, it is not an exclusive club at all. :D

          And I did not perceive any impoliteness on your part, only kindness, and a willingness to share your knowledge and beliefs with me. For this, I thank you very much!!
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        Sep 20 2013: I never kowtow like that,yes, extreme. :)
        Tibet people they stand up and move then kowtow like that. It takes longer time to finish one step in the pilgrimage . That's what is special for me.Tibet people's hearts are full of peace and joy although they are poor.Their smiles are very famous in China,too.
        http://ts2.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4922815320099401&w=201&h=140&c=7&rs=1&pid=1.7
        http://ts3.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4599833806308146&w=92&h=140&c=7&rs=1&pid=1.7
        http://ts1.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4683310818001900&w=132&h=154&c=7&rs=1&pid=1.7
        http://ts4.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4785689924471183&w=144&h=155&c=7&rs=1&pid=1.7


        Thank you for letting me know I'm already a member of you. :)
        You are right, I don't think I officially belong to any religious denomination.But I'm spiritual and touched when I'm with them.
        • W T 100+

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          Sep 21 2013: It is wonderful to see the smiling faces of people who's simple life reflect that material possessions are not what brings true happiness.
          Those pictures are really beautiful.

          I think that Tibet is also known for their legend of Shangri-La is it not?
          That there used to be a paradise on earth at one time?
          This is also what is taught in the Bible.
          Do you know if the people of Tibet think a paradise or Shangri-La will come to Earth again?
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        Sep 21 2013: Looking back for searching the reply button,I've never thought this conversation could be so long~! :)
        I'm happy you like the pics too. Many famous photographic works were taken there on Tibet people's smiles. I always feel there's a wonderful empathy between you and me. Are you really American?Not Chinese? :)))))

        But I regret I don't know Bible much. I used to read the Chinese version once but forgot almost all of it, the gods' names and goddesses' names often made me dizzy. I'm sorry!! :(
        But I think I'll try again, could you tell me which part it is related to Shangri-la?

        We do have Shangri-la, it's actually located in Yun Nan province neighboring Tibet and Si Chuan province. I've never been to Shangri-la, so I can't tell you what people there think about the possibility of paradise advent. But I always buy Tibet bracelets and talismans from Tibet peddlers, I'll ask them about their thoughts on this when I meet them. :))))))
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        Sep 22 2013: Dear Mary, yes, I can. Thx! :)
  • Sep 17 2013: Yes - it is a good thing and it is the church going back to its roots
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      Sep 17 2013: Explain
      • Sep 17 2013: prior to the 3rd century the church allowed priests to marry and have children. The total ban on sex did not occur until the 11th century.
        • Sep 18 2013: The Church never had a ban on marriage of priests. Only a schismatic sect led by Rome had that ban. The Church as a whole did not.
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    Sep 17 2013: I don't know whether I can ask my question intelligently. I thought that there is a principle within Catholicism that the Pope is infallible in matters of faith and morality because he is presumed to be getting continuously the highest possible level of advice by direct channel.

    By that standard, what the Pope says is "good" would be coming directly from the highest arbiter of what is good in that faith.

    Please correct my misunderstanding if I have misinterpreted.
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      Sep 17 2013: Not being Catholic I found this: Over the centuries, papal claims of spiritual authority have been ever more firmly expressed, culminating in 1870 with the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra—literally "from the chair (of Saint Peter)"—to issue a formal definition of faith or morals. Further: The importance of the Roman bishop is largely derived from his role as the traditional successor to Saint Peter, to whom Jesus gave the keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing," naming him as the "rock" upon which the church would be built.

      I also have questions. If the Pope is infalilible and a Pope somewhere stated that Priests would remain celibate ... and a new or later Pope says naw let em marry. Isn't that saying the first gut was wrong ... but we have already established that he cannot be wrong. Quandary?

      Not being Catholic I think that if they marry it would also bring problems of the world to their doorstep ... they would be under a microscope and constantly judged.

      I read somewhere a opinion that if they marry they would be restricted to rise as high as priests and never to Bishop, etc ...

      Interesting side note ... one of the articles I read said that chastity of Priests is never addressed in the bible.

      Hopefully a good catholic discussion will resolve some of my questions.

      Thanks. Bob.
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        Sep 17 2013: Not wrong, I think. There could have been one right answer in one circumstance and another in a new circumstance.
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        Sep 17 2013: ***** Interesting side note ... one of the articles I read said that chastity of Priests is never addressed in the bible. ***

        If you read the Bible. And, especially the first letter that Paul wrote to Timothy, you will see that this tradition of forbidding marriage was something that was dealt with in the first century as well.

        Read for yourself:

        (1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 1-4)

        'The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."

        Paul also spoke about marriage, and how difficult it is to serve God full time, and also look after a spouse, but, he never imposed a law, or regulation regarding marriage.

        If you want to read his words, the first letter to the Corinthians chapter 7 is a great read on God's view of sex and marriage...........look at these verses within the chapter

        "........An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord......"

        I think that worldwide we can see the results of celibacy in the priesthood.
        • Sep 19 2013: The "everyday Catholic", much like the "everyday non-Catholic" is quite ignorant of how "Papal infallibility" works.
          Celibacy of nuns is an entirely different matter, completely unrelated to the priesthood. Nuns are not female priests, they are female monks. All monks, male or female, are and have always been celibate (the Old English word "monoc" was used for either men or women). A "monk" has explicitly renounced all earthly pleasure, which would include sex. Thus, nuns do not marry for the same reason monks do not marry--they are supposed to have turned their back on all worldly matters. Eat simply, live in poverty, live as if they were as angels in heaven.
        • Sep 19 2013: Catholic journals exist--most Catholics don't read them, like most non-Catholics don't read the journals of their respective religions. Classes exist, most Catholics don't bother, don't listen, or just forget--like most non-Catholics.

          As for the story from "a Columbian woman", did you see photographs? Where was this? Where were these mass graves? Did you see them? What actual EVIDENCE did you see, or was it just a wild rumor that was spun to you? I have also heard that Jews sacrifice Christian babies. Doesn't make it true. It is extremely common for Evangelicals and other Protestants to spread outright lies about Catholics. I knew a woman who swore to me up and down that the "Catholic Bible" was so EXTREMELY different from the Bible she knew, particularly in the New Testament, where Catholics had "added a lot of extra books". I bought her a Catholic Bible. She was shocked at how very similar it was to her own. Her own church had been lying to her.
      • Sep 18 2013: For a Pope of Rome to officially speak infallibly, he has to say something to the effect that "This is an infallible statement". There have only been two such statements ever made, as far as I know. If a Papal statement about priestly non-marriage is not presented explicitly as "infallible" (and it never has been, actually), then it is always subject to revision.
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          Sep 19 2013: This is all very interesting.

          Does the everyday Catholic know all of this?

          Why is it then that priests do not marry?
          It is such a normal thing to do.
          And why don't nuns marry?
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          Sep 19 2013: Bryan, why are Catholics ignorant of the Papal infallibility?

          Are there not Catholic journals that the members of parishes receive monthly or yearly to learn about the Church?

          And don't children and adults participate in interactive classes where they learn the history of their faith?

          I am asking, because I have never been a Catholic, and know nothing about the faith, except very general things.

          As for the nuns, I remember a Columbian woman that lived near me who once told me of all the fetuses they had discovered under some monastery because the nuns had been performing abortions on themselves.........I mean, why are there these celibacy rules when the scriptures do not require them? Is it then traditions of men pure and simple?

          [edited misspellings]
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          Sep 19 2013: Hi Bryan, thank you for all the wonderful information you have shared with me on the Catholic Church.

          I suppose you and me are like-minded, we realize that a lot of gossip is spread about religion and it's followers.

          You know, that story about the fetus' struck me, the woman who shared it was herself a Catholic, so I really had no reason to doubt her story. This was almost 18 years ago. We did not have internet then.

          I suppose anyone wanting to find out about it could google for information?
          I don't know.

          I have visited the Vatican site, and have looked up the speeches given by various popes.
          The Vatican put a lot of information online, for anyone to read if they want to.

          But as you say, people do not read, it is easier to believe hearsay, or to follow tradition.

          I like to make sure of all things......especially when it comes to faith.
          I tend to follow scriptural principles, rather than traditions and rituals.

          Thanks for the exchange.