Monthly Archives: August 2010

By Matt C. Abbott in Renew America, November 18, 2006: “Jesuit defends priestly celibacy”

Matt C. Abbott

November 18, 2006

Jesuit defends priestly celibacy

By Matt C. Abbott

The following is a lengthy essay by Father Donald J. Keefe, S.J., who worked for Cardinal (then Archbishop) James Stafford in the early 1990s.


By Donald J. Keefe, S.J.
I. Preliminary Clarifications and Distinctions

The Apostolic Exhortation, “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” reaffirmed the traditional foundation of priestly celibacy [1] in the nuptial union of Christ with the Church: as the priest is ordained to offer sacrifice in persona Christi, [2] so he acts in the Person of the second Adam vis-à-vis the second Eve, the Church. [3] This vindication of the tradition which discovers the foundation of celibacy in the priestly offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice [4] must itself be the basis for any further clarification of the nature of such celibacy.

At the same time, the Apostolic Exhortation raises questions whose difficulty is enhanced by the very clarity of its statement of the tradition concerning the priesthood. Here, we will examine further some of the many implications of the Eucharistic foundation of clerical celibacy and continence; [5] particularly, we will be concerned with those which arise out of the traditional interrelation of the radical liturgical authority of the priest to offer the One Sacrifice in persona Christi, with an obligation to continence which would appear to be liturgically inherent in that offering: i.e., demanded by the symbolism of the Mass. For if we would ask why in fact priests, and generally, all those who serve the altar in proximity to the mystery of the One Sacrifice, should eschew marriage, it can only be the liturgical tradition itself that holds the answers we seek, for here everything in the Church has its source and its principle of explanation.

It is a commonplace objection, one made, ironically enough, by Protestant scholars, that priestly celibacy involves some derogation from the high dignity of marriage. But of course it is the Catholic liturgical tradition which, against the Reform, has insisted in season and out upon the sacramentality of marriage, upon its irrevocability, and upon its symbolic efficacy in the undergirding of all civilized life. One may not seriously contend that the apostolic tradition which honors celibacy and continence, whether of virgins, of widows and widowers, or of the clergy, is in tension or conflict with that equally ancient and yet more foundational — because Eucharistic — tradition which celebrates the One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve, the New Covenant instituted by the One Sacrifice of Christ. [6]

Yet it is at this point that the two traditions intersect to form the concrete paradox whose explanation is sought: it is precisely of those who offer the One Sacrifice that continence is required, and it is required, as the Pope has reminded us, precisely because of that high priestly responsibility. [7]

The task of discovering the inner intelligibility of the strict association of celibacy and continence with priestly orders is made yet the more difficult by the fact, which Pope John Paul II was careful to point out in this Exhortation, of the exceptions to the obligation of celibacy for major clerics (bishops, priests, deacons) which are now in place, whether by indult or by law. Clearly, given the fact of such exceptions, and the yet further fact of an apostolic tradition of clerical celibacy and continence for the higher clergy — firmly established by the recent and exhaustive research of Fr. Christian Cochini and Fr. Roman Cholij as solidly as historical facts are capable of being established, [8] it is clear on the one hand, that in clerical celibacy and continence we have to do with something more than a mere disciplinary velleity urging such celibacy for merely practical reasons; [9] on the other hand, we are dealing with something less absolute than an unconditioned obligation pertaining to the recipient of orders simply as such. [10]

Celibacy cannot be said to be essential to the priesthood in the strict sense of being indispensable — for it has been and is being dispensed, and “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” following Paul VI’s “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” [11] contemplates that it will continue to be dispensed in special circumstances — yet the continual conciliar and Papal emphasis upon the nonnegotiability of priestly celibacy would seem to assign it an importance and significance far more vital to the Church than comports with its being merely a dimension of the clerical and ecclesial bene esse. The nearly bimillennial preoccupation of the Fathers, the Councils and the Popes is too insistent and too persistent for such a relativization of that commitment.

The history of the obligation of priestly celibacy and continence has been reviewed by Fr. Cochini in a work of more than four hundred pages of closely-written text, and by Fr. Cholij in a book of comparable length and density; [12] we can only resume some elements of their work here, and that only in order to pose the problem before us in its historical concreteness. It must suffice that their research is in full agreement with “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” in finding the traditional justification for clerical continence in the liturgical “purity” which according to the Church Fathers is the precondition for the freedom and simplicity of prayer required of the priest if he is properly to fulfill the intercessory role inherent in the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice.

There converge upon this liturgical purity a number of themes: perhaps the most insistent is taken from First Corinthians where, in a discussion of the mutual rights of husband and wife, Paul counsels his readers:

    Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control. I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. (I Cor 7:5-7)

There can be little doubt of Paul’s conviction of the close relationship between prayer as such and a purity that is understood as abstention from conjugal intercourse. The entire seventh chapter of I Corinthians is redolent of this theme. Paul, with the patristic tradition relying upon him, sees this abstention to be the necessary condition for the freedom and simplicity which alone can attain the intimacy with God at once befitting and demanded of the priest by reason of his continual intercession, in persona Christi, for his flock. The patristic meditation upon I Corinthians 7 consequently linked success in prayer, particularly in the intercessory prayer of the priest, to “purity;” the Latin is pudicitia, which translates also as chastity: in the case at hand, it is a chastity which would be violated by the use of marriage. [13] Cochini has pointed out that this liturgical “purity,” in its application to those who serve at the altar, is the only Old Testament liturgical “cleanliness” of which the apostolic tradition has retained an analogue; all the other demands made by the Old Law concerning the means for attaining liturgical purity — bathing, for example — were simply dropped. One hears much nowadays in deprecation of priestly celibacy as largely rooted in the obsolete law requiring ritual cleanliness in the Levitical priest when offering sacrifice; [14] such analyses leave unaccountable the dismissal of such uncleanliness as the Old Testament held to be caused, e.g., by any physical contact with a cadaver. [15]

Further, Cochini has shown that this Old Testament requirement of temporary continence for Levites was subsumed, in the patristic tradition, to a hermeneutic derived from the figura-veritas relation of the Old Testament to the New. [16] De Lubac has shown this relation to be normative for the patristic hermeneutic. [17] The relation is historical: it is given concretely in the Eucharistic transcendence of the many sacrifices of the Old Law. This is to say that the patristic hermeneutic is inescapably a Eucharistic hermeneutic, whose ground is the liturgical consciousness of the free Eucharistic integration of the Old Covenant, the New Covenant, and the Kingdom of God into the history of our salvation in Christ. Consequently the patristic interpretation of such scriptural passages as I Cor 7:5-7 cannot but refer back to and in fact be simultaneous with the traditio which is the Church’s central act of worship, the offering in the person of Christ of the Eucharistic sacrifice, whose original celebration was apostolic. [18]

Thus the ritual cleanliness, the continence, required for the exercise of the Levitical priesthood was understood by the Fathers to be simply a foreshadowing of the full reality of the liturgical purity as it is fulfilled in Christ, the High Priest of the New and more perfect Covenant, and which is immediately implicit in those who are ordained to offer his One Sacrifice, because from the beginning they have been authorized to offer it, and have done so, only in his person, and by his authority. [19] As the service of sacrificial intercession by the Levitical priesthood at the altar of the sacrifices of the Old Law was temporary, so also was the continence required of the Levite; as the Catholic priest offers continually the One Sacrifice of the one High Priest in persona Christi, so also is a continual continence required of his Eucharistic sacrificial intercession. This is not a mere speculative conclusion nor mere conformity to law: it is an integrating element of the self-awareness of the priest in the full realization of his orders, in the identification with the Christ that is explicit and effective in the words of consecration: “This is my Body,” “This is my Blood.”

Again, as the need for continuity in the Levitical priesthood made procreation by the priestly class a duty, so with the historical transcendence of the sacrifices of the Old Law by the One Sacrifice of the New Covenant offered by the Christ who is forever the High Priest, that temporary Old Testament priesthood is transcended by the unique priesthood of Christ which, as eternal, requires no begetting, as provision for its continuity, by those who offer his sacrifice in his name.

A further complication is offered by Paul’s prescription for episcopal orders, that they be conferred upon a man of but one wife. [20] Cochini and Cholij have shown that the early Church took for granted the ordination of married men as bishops, priests and deacons, and also took for granted that they would be continent after ordination; nor could they remarry. [21]


However apostolic be that tradition in its antiquity, the patristic rationale for such celibacy and continual continence relied for the most part upon the fulfillment in Christ of the liturgical purity demanded of the Levitical priesthood, with certain other arguments drawn, as by Cyril of Jerusalem, from such sources as Christ’s virgin birth, and the virginity of Christ and the Virgin Mary. [22] Yet these arguments remain undeveloped; uttered more or less as commonplaces which needed no particular substantiation, they do not seem to speak to the full reason for priestly celibacy and permanent continence, which, following the ancient tradition, “Pastores Dabo Vobis” affirms to be rooted in the priestly sacramental character by which the bishop or priest can and does offer, on a continuous basis, the Sacrifice of the Mass in persona Christi. More specifically, the priest is celibate simply because he offers the One Sacrifice in the person of the second Adam, whose unique sacrifice on the cross instituted his irrevocable covenantal union with the second Eve in the One Flesh of the New Covenant. [23]

We have seen that the relation between the Levitical and the Christian priesthood is simply that of the Old Testament to the New, upon which the Fathers were eloquent: this relation is concretely realized in the Eucharistic representation of the New Covenant as instituted by the One Sacrifice which fulfills and annuls the many sacrifices of the Old Law. Quite evidently, it is to the Eucharist itself that we must look if we are to flesh out the patristic justification for celibate service at the altar and, in sum, for considering the use of sacramental marriage by a man in orders as in some sense assimilable to sexual impurity. [24]

It would seem to follow, given the adequacy of the analysis which links priestly celibacy and continence to the priestly offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice, that such celibacy and continence would not be obligatory for the deacon, who does not possess the priestly character whereby he can offer the One Sacrifice in persona Christi. Yet the apostolic tradition, to whose existence Cochini’s and Cholij’s research gives an ample testimony, does in fact require continence of deacons, whether married or unmarried, quite as insistently as it does of bishops and priests, whether married or unmarried; the patristic and conciliar texts Cochini and Cholij cite so lavishly justify this apostolic obligation — “an indissoluble law” — by reason of the “proximity to the altar” of the deacon as well as of the priest and the bishop. [25]

Evidently, it is the deacon’s specifically Eucharistic office that is there in view, for in the early Church the diaconate has its high rank by reason of the deacon’s assistance at the offering of the One Sacrifice. From this stance, the liturgical continence demanded of the Levitical priesthood as it is fulfilled in the High Priest, the Christ, and in those whom he has authorized to offer his One Sacrifice in his name, must be seen to apply equally the diaconate. [26]

It is interesting that an authoritative scholarly affirmation of the apostolicity of the tradition obliging married deacons to continence had just been published in a Roman journal when the revival of the permanent diaconate was initiated at Vatican II; [27] a further article on the same subject was published by the same author (Alfons Stickler) in another Roman journal two years before the final institution of the permanent diaconate was formally promulgated by Pope Paul VI. [28] Nonetheless, neither then nor later did the Council, the Pope, or the 1983 Code of Canon Law, in recognizing the permanent diaconate, make explicit mention of a requirement of continence in married permanent deacons, i.e, those who were married prior to their ordination. At the same time, neither did the Council, the Pope, or the Canon Law dispense such deacons from subsequent continence; there is in fact reason to believe that the 1983 Code of Canon Law in fact presupposes such continence. [29]

As “Pastores Dabo Vobis” is careful to spell out, [30] celibacy is not imposed upon those married converts who subsequent to their reception into the Church have been by special papal indult ordained to the Catholic priesthood: the 1990 Synod of Bishops even stresses this latter exception, but makes no mention of dispensing the married convert from continence after ordination. [31] Celibacy and continence are of course required of all deacons who are unmarried when ordained, whether to the permanent diaconate, or to the diaconate as en route to priestly orders. Finally, as is the case for priests, bishops, and married deacons, unmarried deacons are by their orders inhibited in any case from entering a subsequent marriage or remarriage. But our concern is not directly with the continence of the diaconate, except insofar as a relaxation of that obligation must have repercussions upon the continence of the priesthood. [32] Without further remark upon diaconal celibacy, we turn to that of the priesthood.

Given the clarity of the apostolic tradition as Cochini has convincingly established it, and given the foundation of that tradition upon the priest’s ordination to offer, in the person of the one High Priest, the Eucharistic sacrifice in the central event of the Church’s worship, there remain exceptions to priestly celibacy which both the tradition and the papal exhortation admit and even require: exceptions which are difficult to understand. We shall not understand them by relativizing the apostolic tradition of priestly celibacy and continence, nor by departing from the comprehensive and compelling doctrine of “Pastores Dabo Vobis.” Cholij cites Newman’s statement of the theological principle which must guide such inquiries as this: it is worth reading again:

    Those who will not view the beginning in the light of the result, are equally unwilling to let the whole elucidate the parts. The Catholic Doctrines…are members of one family, and suggestive, or correlative, or confirmatory, or illustrative of each other. In other words, one furnishes evidences to another, and all to each of them; if this is proved, that becomes probable; if this and that are both probable, but for different reasons, each adds to the other its own probability… 

    Moreover, since the doctrines all together make up one integral religion, it follows that the several evidences which respectively support those doctrines belong to a whole, and must be thrown into a common stock, and all are available in evidence of any. A collection of weak evidences makes up a strong evidence; again, one strong argument imparts cogency to collateral arguments which are in themselves weak. [33]

Newman is of course speaking as a historian, but a historian who understands that history is a religious and not a secular category; he is convinced, as he wrote in another place, that “to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.” [34] His interpretation of the multiplicity of historical facts as converging to form historical probabilities, themselves converging to form historical proof, is the same hermeneutic he further developed in THE GRAMMAR OF ASSENT; it is no more than a systematic appreciation of what the Latin Fathers called the “analogy of faith.” This principle proceeds from the dogmatic fact of the unity of the revelation given the Church. In consequence of this unity, which as “symbolic” is finally sacramental, every affirmation of the Church’s historical faith is at one with all the rest of the creed; such doctrinal statements find their unity in their convergence upon the inexhaustible mystery of Christ, sacramentally present in and to his historical Church in the “Una Caro” of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. We would here employ much this same methodology, not in terms of constructing a historical argument, but with the same reliance as Newman’s upon the historical/sacramental coherence and unity of the apostolic liturgical and doctrinal tradition. We have identified that tradition as at bottom the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice; this is the firmest possible foundation for priestly celibacy, for upon it the Church herself rests, as the Council and the present Pope have sufficiently emphasized. [35]

We may thus summarize the current practice of priestly celibacy and continence in the Roman rite: in the first place, the ordinary candidate for priesthood is celibate: an unmarried deacon. Secondly, married men may be ordained to the priesthood only by papal indult; [36] once ordained, they may continue to live with their wives, but as continent. [37] Thirdly, a man in priestly orders, whether priest or bishop, once ordained, cannot marry or remarry without having first been formally laicized [38] and then dispensed from the obligation of celibacy by an indult quite separable and distinct from the decree of laicization which merely removes such a person from the exercise of his priestly office. [39] Finally, there is no current practice, whether in the Roman rite, in the Uniate rites, or in Eastern Orthodoxy, of ordaining married men to the episcopacy; such ordination was not infrequent in Christian antiquity, although with the requirement of a subsequent continence. [40]

The incongruity of marriage by an undispensed priest is intelligible only as liturgically induced, for not only does it impose a kind of impudicitia upon any attempted marriage; such marriage is perceived as directly inhibited by his exercise of the priestly Eucharistic office. Consequently the incongruity of a priest’s marrying without laicization and dispensation is not to be accounted for as though it were a matter merely of discipline and therefore capable of juridical modification. [41] Rather, the inhibition upon marriage by an ordained cleric is implicit in the very exercise of the sacramental symbolism of the sacrament of orders, which renders incongruous the entry into the covenantal bond of matrimony by a cleric ordained to and engaged in the practice of the priestly office, which is to offer the One Sacrifice. The marriages of such priests are only “attempted;” [42] they are indecencies in themselves. If the term is given full value, such impudicitia can speak only to a real sacramental incongruity induced by ordination to and exercise of the priesthood, for the Church cannot inhibit the inherent matrimonial authority or responsibility of a baptized adult by mere legislation. The ecclesial legislation which bears upon the sacramental capacity of Catholics is declarative; legislation can neither constitute nor annul that capacity. The transformation of the covenantal, because Eucharistically-grounded auctoritas sacrata of the Pope and the bishops into some potentia inordinata or unconditioned potestas regalis would precisely suppress the freedom of the sacramental worship by which the Church is caused. Such an assumption of power could rest only upon the rationalist exaltation and absolutization of ill-understood juridical principles, e.g., ecclesia supplet, into a hierarchical force majeure whose exercise could only be ultra vires in the Church. [43]

It is then reasonable to postulate, as a point d’appui for further inquiry, a liturgical and therefore sacramental/symbolic incompatibility between what may be called living in priestly orders and entering into the marriage bond. This sacramental inhibition arises out of the exercise of the priestly office, and not merely out of the priestly character, for we have seen that the priestly character, which of course remains after laicization, does not prevent a further dispensation from the obligation of celibacy, with implicit capacity to marry.

While this incongruity between at once exercising priestly orders and entering into marriage is not identical with the obligation of celibacy, yet in some manner it must underlie that traditional obligation, which has always borne upon the priesthood as in actu exercito, so to speak. The sacramental incompatibility between marriage and orders, manifest in the canonical recognition of orders as a diriment impediment to entry into the marital covenant, is encountered again in the traditional obligation of continence in married priests. This incompatibility is manifest then as a dissonance between the payment of the “debt” of marriage, and the exercise of the priesthood. [44] The tradition explored by Stickler, Cochini and Cholij finds a mutual exclusion of the payment by the husband of the “debt” of marriage, and by the priest (in persona Christi) of the “ransom” by which we are redeemed. This dissonance or incompatibility must be understood if the traditional obligation of clerical celibacy is to be grasped with any clarity.

This tradition is apostolic: neither in antiquity or since has the ordained bishop, priest or deacon been held capable of marriage except by reason of having formally ceased the exercise of his liturgical office. For such a cleric to “attempt marriage” without formal dispensation from the exercise of his office, and thereafter receiving from the Church’s highest authority a further dispensation from the obligation of celibacy, is to enter upon an indecency, a sacramental nullity. [45] Further, clergy thus laicized and subsequently validly married are traditionally unable to resume their clerical state, although Crouzel has intimated exceptions to this principle in the early Church. [46] In any case, whether in antiquity or since, the resumption of the priestly office by a laicized and subsequently married priest must remain abnormal, despite the drumfire of protest from such organizations as CORPUS. [47]

Among Cochini’s profuse citations of patristic authors, there is a rather cryptic statement by St. Jerome which intimates the tension between the effective symbolism of sacerdotal orders and of sacramental marriage. Jerome speaks of an alternative adultery in this connection, but does not explain the steps leading to this conclusion, which he clearly thinks too obvious to need such explanation. He is exegeting I Tim 3:6:

    [The Apostle] did not say: Let us choose as a bishop a man married to one wife and siring children but: a man who has had only one wife and keeps his children in perfect submission. You surely admit that he who goes on siring children during his episcopate cannot be a bishop. For if people find out about it, he will not be considered a husband but condemned as being an adulterer. [One thing has to be decided]: either you allow priests to exercise their nuptial activity so that there is no difference between virgins and married people; or, if priests are not allowed to touch their wives, [you have to admit that] they are holy, precisely because they imitate virginal purity. But let us go further: if a lay person, any member of the faithful, cannot devote himself to prayer without setting conjugal intercourse aside, the priest who must offer the sacrifice at all times has to pray unceasingly. If he is to pray unceasingly, he must continually be free from marriage. Even under the old law, those who offered victims for the people not only did not reside in their own homes, but also purified themselves by abstaining temporarily from living with their wives; neither did they drink wine or fermented beverages, which generally excite the libido. I will not deny that married men are chosen for the priesthood; the reason is that there are not as many virgins as are needed for the priesthood. If, in an army, the strongest are recruited, does one not also take those who are weaker since not all can be strong? [48]

Jerome here offers a fair indication of the patristic understanding of the grounds for priestly continence: it is an argument a fortiori, resting upon the continence required of the Levitical priesthood, as this is fulfilled and brought to its perfection by the High Priest’s offering of the One Sacrifice. The other Fathers and the early Councils justify clerical celibacy and continence upon grounds generally similar. [49] Permanent continence is inherent in the full Christian development of the Levitical obligation of abstention from marital relations at the time of filling the priestly office. As we have seen, Cochini has shown that the Fathers extend this Christian enhancement of the Levitical obligation of temporary continence to the deacon, and precisely as a Levite in the Christian sense now given that title.

We have seen also that the continuity which the patristic tradition found between the Old Testament and the New must be understood Eucharistically, for it is precisely in the Eucharistic sacrifice that this continuity is actual. The recognition of this fact requires a Eucharistic hermeneutic, as we have observed, following de Lubac; the Old Testament is presented by the Eucharistic liturgy as proleptic and prophetic of the New; it was so preached by the Apostles and their episcopal successors, and was so read by the Fathers of the Church. The Old Testament has for the Catholic tradition no other religious interest; in the same liturgy, the New Covenant was celebrated, preached and read as the final explication and articulation of the Old, and had then, as now, no other Christian intelligibility.

Jerome’s harsh indictment of noncontinent priests as adulterers does not stand alone: it is at one with the patristic consensus which found impure any sacerdotal noncontinence. The charge of adultery is echoed by Pseudo-Jerome, Synesius of Ptolemais, and St. Augustine; [50] it was the usual term employed for clerical noncontinence, [51] and eventually found its way into Justinian’s codification of the Roman law, and into Penitentiaries such as St. Columban’s. Jerome enlarged upon his charge in his LETTER TO PAMMACHIUS:

    Here then is what we have clearly said: marriage is permitted in the Gospel, but women, if they persist in accomplishing the duty that is theirs, cannot receive the reward promised to chastity. Let the husbands, if they grow indignant at this opinion, be irritated not with me but with Holy Scripture, better yet with the bishops, the priests, the deacons, the entire priestly, even Levitical choir who know they cannot offer sacrifices if they accomplish the conjugal act!…Therefore, as we had started to say, the virgin Christ and the Virgin Mary have consecrated for each sex the beginnings of virginity: the apostles were either virgins, or continent after having been married. Bishops, priests and deacons are chosen among virgins and widowers; in any case, once they are ordained, they live in perfect chastity. Why delude ourselves and get upset if, when we are constantly seeking the conjugal act, we are refused the recompenses offered to purity? [52]

Jerome is conscious of speaking for the tradition, the universal and unquestionable consensus, Eastern as well as Western, whose reality it is not necessary to prove: it is as the air one breathes. A profoundly immoral incongruity is recognized between the priest’s offering of the One Sacrifice in persona christi and the priest’s consummation of marriage in his own person.

And yet the problem persists: why should the exercise of the inherently holy symbolism of sacramental marriage be incompatible with the offering of the One Sacrifice? For no other sacramental sign, no other dimension of the Church’s worship, is in this tension with the exercise of orders. This fact is illuminating; from it we may infer that there is between the exercise of matrimonial symbolism, and the exercise of the radical symbolism of orders, the offering of the One Sacrifice, an antagonism and mutual repulsion at the basic level of sacramental efficacy ex opere operato, for it derives from the sacrament itself, not from the dispositions of the priest.

Nor is this antagonism, this conflict, difficult to isolate: “adultery” does in some manner speak to it, for in both sacraments, the man’s liturgical role, the efficacy ex opere operato of his sacramental office, is covenantal and nuptial; in both he utters himself, his nuptial symbolism, in the institution of a definitive nuptial covenant, exclusive of all others, and exhaustive of his personal identity. Clearly, such an affirmation must be single, for only thus is it respectful of the utter uniqueness of her to whom the man is thereby committed wholly.

It is the personal specificity of this commitment, inseparable from accepting ordination to offer sacrifice in the name of the Head of the Church, which underlies the continent yet nuptial priestly spirituality of “Pastores Dabo Vobis.” Its nuptiality is worth examining further. [53]

In the consummation of the marriage covenant, the husband institutes, with the free assent of his wife, the henceforth irrevocable marital bond between them. In every conjugal expression of this nuptial union throughout their lives, the same marital symbolism utters the same unique commitment, and institutes the same covenant, for that sacramental sign is single, as is its effect: there is one marital sacrifice, one marital covenant.

In the priest’s offering of the One Sacrifice in the person of Christ, his sacramental symbolism also is again nuptial, a representation of Christ’s imaging of the headship of the Father in his own headship of the Church. Here the priest offers, in the person of the second Adam, the Sacrifice which institutes, with the second Eve, the One Flesh of the New and eternal Covenant. He does this at the same liturgical level as that at which the husband consummates the marriage covenant with his wife: viz., at the level of person, and so of substance.

In this connection it should be remarked, if only in parentheses, that as the human imaging of the Triune God is at once free, personal and substantial, so the tri-relational character of the human image, at once personal and substantial, can only consist in the “one flesh” of the husband and the wife, in their irrevocable marital bond, whether this be that which is represented Eucharistically, or in the derivative sacrament of Matrimony. [54] In conditions of fallenness, the free and substantial human unity, that of its “one flesh,” is actual only sacramentally: as Eucharist, as Matrimony. The full reality of the image, the transcendent human unity it signs, is manifest only in and as the Kingdom of God.

Further: this masculine-nuptial donation of self is exclusive and permanent, whether it be to the wife in the consummation of the marriage, or to the Church in the offering of the One Sacrifice. [55] It is because such nuptial self-donation is covenantal, an affirmation by the bridegroom of the unique dignity of the bride, that it must be exclusive of all others if it is to be true, a worship in truth. It is not then difficult to understand that a priest should be unmarried, and must remain so, [56] and that a married man, ordained to the priesthood under the aegis of I Tim 3, should after his ordination abstain from all exercise of the symbolism of his marriage, and if widowed, may not remarry.

But while this exclusivity is sacramental, dependent then upon the priestly character, it is, so to speak, operational, rather than co-extensive with the priesthood and thus given wherever the priesthood is given, for it does not make marriage simply impossible for a priest: a laicized priest, removed from his office, can be dispensed from the priestly obligation of celibacy by the Church’s highest authority. The liturgical inhibition upon marriage by the ordained priest, if it is not a matter merely disciplinary and juridical, still is dispensable by the papal indult which may be given the laicized priest who, although still bearing the priestly character which is the “specific source” of pastoral charity, may now marry. [57]

It is then not difficult to understand that in marriage and in the Eucharistic sacrifice, the exercise by a man of his nuptial sacramental symbolism with respect to the nuptial and feminine symbolism whether of a woman or of the Church as the second Eve, consists in a personal self-donation — by the husband in his own person, by the priest in the person of Christ — that is symbolically effective, objectively and historical constitutive of an irrevocable marital covenant. It is in either case a self-donation without reservation, a personal oblation and sacrifice, a total personal turning toward the feminine spouse in the covenant which this same self-donation institutes, whether she be the bride in the marital covenant or the second Eve in the New Covenant.

The nuptial role of the man, modelled on that of the Christ, is sacrificial: as husband or as priest, he is to offer the sacrifice which institutes the covenant, which he does as a head, from whom a bridal body proceeds as a “glory,” to constitute “one flesh:” that the parallelisms between marriage and Eucharist are striking should not be surprising, since the latter is the ground and source of the former.

There are other patristic sources which supplement these parallels. Perhaps the key to the problem posed by the incompatibility of marriage and priesthood may well be found in the patristic insight that marriage is transcended, not ended, by priestly celibacy. [58] The a priori of this transcendence of marriage by the Eucharist “in which the whole spiritual good of the Church is contained,” [59] is already provided for in the grounding of matrimony in the Eucharist as in its cause, and in the signing, by marriage, of Christ’s love for the Church. [60]

We have mentioned the tension between the “debt” of marriage and the analogous “debt” owed by the priest. [61] It is this tension which justifies the likening of priestly noncontinence to adultery. The latter debt, owed by the High Priest as Head of our fallen race, must be paid in persona Christi: it is the debt of the Cross, rendered to the benefit of the Church by the one High Priest, a ransom offered in his name, by his authority, at every celebration of the Mass. Here, it would seem, between the consummation of Matrimony by conjugal intercourse, and the consummation of the sacrifice of the Cross by the death of Christ, is the sacramental analogy we seek, and also the concrete transcendence of the symbolism of marriage by the symbolism of the Eucharist that is here in issue. It must be remembered that by both consummations, an irrevocable covenant is instituted, and that, as between these analogates, it is the Eucharist which constitutes the prime.

Because the Fathers speak so often of the transcendence here in question as a passage, obligatory in the marriage of a priest (or bishop or deacon), from flesh to spirit, [62] we may suppose this “passage” to be from a lower to a higher symbolism, to the historical relation — as between past and present — which the biblical dualism of flesh-spirit represents. The radical contrast between these polar realities is between the mortality which signs our fallenness, and the victory over death which transformed the risen Head, the Word made flesh, into a “living Spirit” whose immortality is made over to us in the Spirit thereupon poured out upon his Church, and mediated to us by our participation in her sacramental worship. Too easily and too often this language of flesh-spirit is understood in a Platonic sense of material over against immaterial, with immortality ascribed to the latter, and mortality to the former. This representation — a relic of the pagan imagination — is of course erroneous, but that image nonetheless has a way of creeping into the discussion unannounced, and must be guarded against. Insofar as Catholic theology is concerned, we must read the flesh-spirit relation as historical and concretely actual in the relation of the Old Covenant to the New. [63] This relation is actually achieved in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the actual bond between the past, the present, and the eschatological future, and thus resolves (in the One Flesh of Christ and his Church — the New Covenant) the dichotomy, left without resolution by the Old Testament, between the fragmentation of the historical, fallen, mortal flesh and the risen life that is spirit and the gift of the Spirit.

It is therefore not at all incidental that the Fathers, in their affirmation of the obligation of priestly continence, link that obligation at once to the passage from the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament to the priesthood which acts in the person of the Christ in offering the Sacrifice that instituted the New and Eternal Covenant celebrated in the Mass, and to the conversion of that priest’s sacramental marriage from flesh to spirit. For we must remember also that it is not only the Old Covenant’s priesthood and sacrifices which are transformed in the New; marriage itself is also transformed: it had become exclusive under the Old Law; now that exclusivity becomes irrevocable, no longer open to divorce. [64]

The flesh-spirit dualism as it is known to the Old Testament was unresolved; it remains unsurmountable apart from the unlooked-for fulfillment of the Old Covenant by the consummation on the cross of the New Covenant in the One Flesh of the Head and the Body, the One Sacrifice acceptable to the Father, by which we are redeemed. Here must be instanced the monumental study of Fr. Louis Ligier; no one has explored the depths of the contrast and the continuity — historical and free because radically liturgical — between the many sacrifices of the Old Law and the One Sacrifice of the New Law as profoundly as has he. [65] Without attempting here more than a general reference to his achievement, we may find in it an ample witness to the final failure of the marital symbolism by which God is referred to his people in the Old Covenant liturgy except insofar as that Old Testament symbolism, found in Zephaniah, Hoseah, Ezekiel, the Wisdom literature and Trito-Isaiah, is referred to, transcended and fulfilled by the One Flesh of the New Covenant.

We have seen that the sacramental marriage has its source in that One Flesh, as the lesser symbol in the greater, as the secondary analogate in the prime, as the effect in the cause. The affirmation of either symbolism, whether of the Eucharist or of Matrimony, is exclusive and irrevocable; each is effective, mutatis mutandis, of that sacrificium which, in Augustine’s CITY OF GOD, has a single finality:

    Sacrificium est omne opus quo agitur ut sancta societate inhereamus Deo- [66]

This definition seems usually to be understood as entirely remote from the Eucharistic context in which Augustine explicitly located it; this incomprehension typifies many Catholic commentaries. But for Augustine, the “sancta societas” by which we may belong to God cannot be other than the One Flesh of the New Covenant, the Christus totus, for very clearly there is no other society by which we may belong to God than the One Flesh of Christ and his Church. The Rev. Marcus Dods’ translation of “sancta societate” as “in a holy fellowship,” [67] time-honored now, as in the Modern Library edition, and taken for granted by Catholic and Protestant alike, is probably responsible for most of this incomprehension among readers of English translations of Augustine’s masterpiece. But at best, Dods’ wording imposes an incongruous sola fide, “fellowship meal” hermeneutic upon Augustine’s text, effectively banishing its sacrificial and sacramental realism. Thus we tend to miss the Eucharistic context of the entire chapter, to which the definition of sacrifice quoted above is Augustine’s programmatic introduction. However, within the Eucharistic context that is explicit in the text of Book ten, Chapter six of the CITY OF GOD, the “sancta societate inhereamus Deo” which Augustine named the telos of all sacrifice cannot be other than the Whole Christ, the marital union of Christ and the Church instituted upon the cross, upon which Augustine elsewhere many times insisted, following Eph 5:31. Thus understood, his definition of sacrifice is historical. It looks back to the sacrifices of the Old Law as giving meaning to all the sacrificial worship of the pagan peoples, which may be understood as salvific only historically, i.e., as subsumed by and converging in the historical passage of the Jewish people from paganism toward the historical object of their Messianic hope; [68] from there Augustine’s definition of sacrifice looks forward to the transcendence of the Old Covenant’s messianic hope by the One Sacrifice of Christ, and thence to the culmination of all sacrifice in the “holy society” that is the fulfilled Kingdom of God and the res tantum of the Eucharistic sacrifice. [69]

If the primary “sancta societas,” to which all sacrifice is referred as to its end, is the Eucharistic communion in the risen One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve, which is to say, in the manifest eschatological New Covenant, then the priest, living out the spirituality inherent in his office in persona Christi, is committed to that uniquely salvific society, that risen Body of Christ, to the exclusion of all other brides.

This exclusive nuptial commitment is explicit in his offering of the “ransom,” the One Sacrifice by whose consummation the debt incurred by original sin is paid and the primordial communion is reinstituted under the Headship of Jesus the Christ in such wise that the Church as second Eve may sing of a Felix Culpa in her Easter liturgy. By reason of our redemption in Christ from the fall, it is not merely a man who is her Head, a first Adam, but the Son of Man, the last Adam, the eternal Son of the eternal Father, the historical Son of Mary. The entirety of “Pastores Dabo Vobis” is centered upon spelling out the implications of ordination to the offering in Christ’s person, and by his authority, of this One Sacrifice. The priestly spirituality which John Paul II has elaborated there and in many previous statements, is nuptial simply. [70] Happily, it is now being implemented locally by such legislation as the fourth edition of the “Program of Priestly Formation,” recently (1992) adopted by the National Conference of Bishops in the United States.

This priestly spirituality is simply the manner of life in which each priest, because he is ordained to act in the person of Christ, accepts the full implication of that ordination by making his own Christ’s self-sacrifice for his bridal Church, the Body in which our communion with the Head, the second Adam, is actual. [71]

It must then follow that ordination to the exercise of covenantal authority of the second Adam is the assumption of a debt to the Church, discharged in the regular offering in the person of Christ of his One Sacrifice. This indebtedness cannot be coincident with that indebtedness which is proper to marriage. The symbolic tension here is evident; as Cochini has persuasively argued, its demand for priestly continence had been experienced and expressed liturgically for more than two centuries before it became articulate as a matter of law or of doctrine in the East as in the West. [72]

If then we are to understand the tension between priestly orders and sacramental marriage, we must set forth both of these sacraments in their historical context, that of the Church’s Eucharistic worship, in which the priest is considered dynamically, as continually offering the One Sacrifice, and not statically, as simply possessing the priestly character. Because the priest’s responsibility to act in the person of Christ is thus dynamic and historical, the liturgical context of its exercise invokes the historical dialectic of distinction and continuity between the Old Covenant and the New, in which the New Covenant at once fulfills and transcends the Old. The distinction in continuity of the two Covenants holds as well between the many sacrifices of the Old Law and their transcendence by One Sacrifice of the New, between the temporary offering of sacrifice proper to the Levitical priesthood and the permanent or continual offering of the One Sacrifice by the Christian priesthood, between the temporary “purity” required of the Levitical priesthood, and the permanent continence required of the Christian priest, and finally, between the revocability of Levitical marriage and the irrevocability of sacramental marriage in the Church.

Further, this liturgical context is covenantal: it is the office of the husband in matrimony, and of the priest in the Eucharist, to institute a covenant by offering sacrifice: the marital covenant, instituted by the sacrifice offered by husband in his own person for his wife, is contrasted to the New Covenant, instituted by the priest’s offering of the Sacrifice of Christ, in the person of Christ, for the Church.

In both cases, the role of the man offering sacrifice is nuptial: whether priest or husband, he acts as the head in relation to the body, to effect or institute that which Augustine saw to be the goal of all sacrifice, the “holy society by which we belong to God.” In the case of the husband, this “holy society” is the “one flesh” of the marriage covenant; in the case of the priest, it is the One Flesh of the New Covenant. In both cases, the self-donation that is the offering of sacrifice by the head is at the same time an election: it is for the exclusive benefit of the bride who is the body of the head. The exclusiveness of the covenant is mutual, for in neither the man nor in the woman is there any reservation of self. In each case, the offerer of sacrifice and the offering are the same: the sacrifice, whether in marriage or on the Cross, is a self-donation without reservation to a unique bride, and in that sense is an immolation, a passage from a condition of flesh to that of “one flesh.” This imports the utter exclusivity of which we have spoken: there is no remainder in the head or in the glory which is his body that is available for any other commitment, or that is capable of an arrière pensée.

But given their similarities, a greater dissimilarity between these two institutions of covenant now enters: the sacrifice instituting the marriage covenant is offered in the proper person of the husband, while the priest offers the One Sacrifice in the person of him who alone can offer it, the Christ. Given the normative exclusivity of the One Sacrifice which instituted the New Covenant, by which sacramental marriage is derivatively marked, it is obvious that the priest, exercising continually the authority of Christ by offering the One Sacrifice in the person of Christ, should not also offer that sacrifice of self which institutes and sustains the marriage covenant: he should not because his own nuptial persona enters wholly, irrevocably and continually into the sacramental symbolism which is the priestly offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice: it is not for nothing that he has been named an alter Christus. Because of his personal integration into the Sacrifice he offers, only a man is capable of acting in the person of the Head, and therefore only a man can be a priest. His personal authority is exhausted in his exercise of the authority of the Head; no authority remains in him to be the head of any other “holy society” than the Church. Thus for as long as he holds his priestly office and exercises Christ’s Headship, he is unable to marry; his exercise of his priesthood in the person of Christ is an exclusive dedication to the bride of Christ which bars any secondary self-donation.

But, supposing the priest to be married prior to his ordination, can he continue to exercise his marital authority, can he continue to pay the marital “debt,” while continually exercising the authority of Christ’s Headship in offering the One Sacrifice? We know that the answer must be in the affirmative: this is in fact the situation in the Uniate Churches, as in the Orthodox. It is then necessary to distinguish between the authority which, in some circumstances, a priest may exercise within a marriage already instituted, and that by which he would institute a novel marriage: it is this latter authority which he simply does not possess for as long as he exercises the authority to act in the person of Christ which is his by ordination.

The apostolic tradition which so emphasized the continence of the married priest spoke of the spiritualizing of his marriage by abstention from conjugal intercourse. Again, we must examine the context of this “spiritualization,” this passage from fleshly to a spiritualized marriage of which the Fathers spoke. There was in the first place no question of any derogation by the Fathers of the marriage itself in their urging of priestly celibacy: the marriage of the married priest was understood to remain in being, and concretely to be enhanced by its spiritualization: this is a mere matter of definition. Neither, in their condemnation of the priest’s use of marriage as an indecency, did the Fathers exhibit any disdain for the use of marriage by the laity. We do not find in that tradition any reversion to the Gnostic dualism of matter and spirit, but the liturgical development of the concrete — viz., symbolic, sacramental — implications of the biblical dualism of flesh and spirit, which is an entirely different enterprise, an affirmation of history as salvific, rather than a flight from it as demonic. The biblical flesh-spirit dualism of the Fathers is salvation-historical, a lived passage in history from participation in a past foreshadowing to a future or anagogical illumination by means of an event of present disclosure which does not annul but reinterprets and reintegrates all the events of the past in the light of a future at once sacramentally realized and sacramentally veiled in the here and now. The obvious paradigm for this free transitus, from past, to present, to anagogical future, is the Old Testament in its relation to the New, and thereby to the Kingdom of God. The obvious application is the passage from the husband’s former institution of the marital covenant, with its liturgical orientation to its Eucharistic fulfillment in the pneuma that is the whole Christ as risen, [73] to the priest’s institution in persona Christi of the New Covenant, whose telos or res tantum is precisely anagogical communion in that resurrected pneuma.

As the Old Covenant had always been seen by the Fathers to relate to the New Covenant as flesh relates to spirit, so the Levitical priesthood is seen to be transcended by the priesthood of the New Law, and so the Levitical marriage is understood to be transcended by the sacramental marriage of the New Law. Pursuing this analogy, the Fathers required further that the marriage of the man ordained to the Catholic priesthood be transcended, that its “flesh” be spiritualized. The priest’s ordination to offer the One Sacrifice in the person of Christ was seen to have so integrated his own persona into that offering as to render incongruous, at a minimum, his continuing in secondarily sacrificial/covenantal conjugal relations with his wife. We have examined that aspect of the patristic rationale for priestly celibacy which speaks to an inhibition upon marriage by the priest; we now look to elements in that rationale which regard his pre-existing marriage as itself transformed from flesh to spirit by his ordination. Briefly, the marriage covenant into which he had earlier entered was held to have been transcended, as flesh is transcended by spirit, through his ordination to offer the One Sacrifice which, by instituting the New Covenant, restores in sacramento the lost integrity of the Good Creation, whose goodness is its nuptial order (Gn 1:28-31), the free unity refused by the first Adam and Eve, and restored in the One Flesh of the second Adam and Eve.

We have seen that sacramental marriage draws its meaning from the One Flesh of the Eucharist: on that basis alone, marriage is exclusive, irrevocable, and holy. [74] At the same time, this holiness is secondary and derivative with respect to the primacy of the Eucharist, quite as is that holiness imparted by the other five comparably subordinate sacraments. Concisely put, all other sacraments are ordered to the central act of the Church’s worship, the Event of the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice, from which alone they derive their own integrity and significance. Full participation in the Church’s Eucharistic worship is the finality of all the other sacraments; they are ordered to the central worship of the Church as the eye is ordered to light.

Thus, the “one flesh” of marriage is dependent, as effect to cause, upon the One Flesh instituted by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the Church, as this One Sacrifice is mediated in its Eucharistic representation: the One Flesh, the “Una Caro” of the Eucharistic communion and the telos of all the secondary sacraments. Consequently it may be said that the priest, in offering the One Sacrifice in the person of Christ, is thus personally integrated into that offering in persona christi as to transcend sacramental marriage as cause to effect. By his ordination, the married priest’s “nuptial meaning” or marital symbolism, his entire personal liturgical responsibility, is henceforth wholly exercised in persona Christi: it is directed to and entirely taken up by the institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, whose res tantum is the eschatological pneuma that is the fulfilled Kingdom of God. Within the effective symbolism of the Eucharistic worship, these two effects, the res et sacramentum and the res tantum, are to each other as cause to final effect. The married priest’s offering the One Sacrifice therefore has a single historical expression, the res et sacramentum of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the New Covenant which signs and freely causes the pneuma that is the eschatological totus Christus, the fulfilled Kingdom of God, the risen second Adam in eschatological union with the risen second Eve.

It is evident from this analysis that by the fact of the married priest’s dedication of his personal “nuptial meaning” to the marital symbolism exercised in his offering, in the person of Christ, the One Sacrifice — whose efficacy is the institution of One Flesh of the New Covenant — his “nuptial meaning” is immediately “spiritualized,” or “pneumatized,” and this by the intentionality, the sacramentum tantum, of his ordination. Given his wife’s necessary consent to that ordination, so must be her nuptiality as well: her marital relation to her husband is assimilated to the One Flesh of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Once again, this is a patristic insight. [75] The priest’s “nuptial meaning,” i.e., his sacramental masculinity, by reason of its exercise in persona christi, has its unique and plenary historical expression in the offering of the One Sacrifice, and therefore in the institution of the New Covenant. There is no “nuptial” remainder in the priest’s own persona that could seek or find sacramental expression in marriage, with the consequence that any other free expression of his nuptiality than that of offering the Eucharistic sacrifice is by definition aberrant, incompatible with his exclusive personal nuptial commitment, in persona christi, to the Bride of Christ. The Fathers have not thought “adultery” too strong a label for this priestly profanation of the single-minded dedication, inherent in the priestly office, to the One Flesh of Christ and his Church. [76]

III. The Resolution of the Problem:

Celibacy and continence are normative for the spirituality of the priesthood; this is the clear message of “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” and of the ancient liturgical practice of the Roman Church upon which that papal teaching rests. Yet celibacy is not essential to the priesthood, as is proven by the possibility of its papal dispensation.

Further, even granted that, apart from a dispensation from laicization and a celibacy, the priesthood is a “diriment impediment” to marriage, it cannot easily be established that the marriage of an unlaicized and undispensed priest who has abdicated his priestly office is a sacramental nullity: with that abdication, his original sacramental capacity to marry may revive: the question is beyond the range of this study. Nonetheless, the purported marriage of a priest who is engaged in the active exercise of his orders is regarded as a canonical nullity: from the viewpoint of the canon law, such a priest may “attempt” marriage, but cannot in fact marry, and this fact is dealt with as a simple sacramental incapacity, incapable of any papal dispensation.

Thus in the practice of the Church, the actual exercise of major orders is an indispensable diriment impediment to marriage, an impediment, that is, arising out of the natural law: arising out of the factual sacramental incapacity of a bishop, priest or deacon engaged in the exercise of his orders. The purported marriage of such a person, as “attempted” only, is not a valid sacramental sign, and so cannot effect the sacramental bond. Simply put, such a priest is incapable of actual entry into the sacramentum tantum of marriage.

However, even after all that has been said, it is not easy to state with precision the relation of celibacy and continence to the priesthood: although Cochini has shown that these requirements are clearly more than disciplinary, celibacy is yet dispensable; granted that celibacy is somehow intrinsic to the priesthood, demanded by it, even pertaining to its spiritual integrity, nonetheless celibacy is not indispensable to the priesthood. In short, while the intrinsic interrelation of celibacy and continence with priestly orders is an objective fact, it is not a fact which can be accounted for in the terms of intrinsically necessary reasons which we too easily associate with intrinsic intelligibility.

If the question of their relation is to be answered, we first must transcend that latent rationalism, for the factual requirement of celibacy and continence as inherent the priesthood is a free requirement; one freely assumes celibacy before ordination, and one freely accepts the obligation of celibacy and continence thereafter.

Perhaps a key to the dilemma posed by the enigmatic relation of celibacy and continence to the priesthood has been provided by the Prof. Lon Fuller, late of the Yale Law School faculty, a jurisprudent in the common-law tradition who, in a small classic, contrasted the “morality of duty” with the “morality of aspiration.” [77] Prof. Fuller illustrated the relation and distinction between these two “moralities” by an economic analogy, likening the morality of duty to exchange value of goods, and the morality of aspiration to their marginal utility. The morality of duty, like the exchange value of goods, is measured by the legal formalities of contract and law, while the morality of aspiration, in analogy with marginal utility, looks rather to an aesthetic perception of the superior, here of the heroic: to a perception finally of the transcendent truth, goodness and beauty of humanity itself.

One may sum up Prof. Fuller’s analysis of the distinction between the obligation or morality that is duty and the obligation or morality that is aspiration by stating that fulfillment of the morality of duty is required by law, and its failures punished, whether civilly or criminally, while the fulfillment of the morality of aspiration is not required by law, nor are its failures punished; rather its fulfillment is rewarded and honored, while failures thus to be heroic are not the subject of any sanction other than the aesthetic: viz., by a loss of honor consequent upon the public perception of a moral failure to conform to an nonnegotiable precept obliging an elite.

This analysis may be supplemented by another drawn from the law’s understanding of the professional’s fiduciary relation to the community. Again speaking in summary terms, the professions will here refer directly to the ancient professions of arms, of law, of medicine, and of religion, whether that of the priesthood or of vowed membership in a religious community. This last profession — roughly, that of the clergy — came by a long evolution to include the profession of learning, whether in the humanities or the sciences. Such other occupations as have gained professional standing have done so derivatively, by establishing their analogy to these ancient and traditional professions.

Each member of a profession stands to his community in a relation of trust and confidence: the warranted member of a profession is given a privileged standing on the express condition, solemnly undertaken, of a personal commitment to and unselfish service of the community in the strategic and arduously acquired competence which specifies the profession. Today these competencies have expanded well beyond the traditional professions, but their analogy with that model holds, in that such highly skilled occupations rank as professions only insofar as they invoke in their members a significant fiduciary relation to the community: i.e., insofar as they are not servile occupations invoking no public personal commitment to serve the common good rather than one’s personal ambition, but are rather characterized and specified by a specific self-donation, which tends to the absorption of the persona of the professional in his profession in a fashion analogous to that which we have seen in the priesthood.

It is not for nothing that the law students of another generation were warned that “the law is a stern mistress, and you may have no other.” The incompatibility of the devotion demanded by a profession such as medicine or arms with that demanded by a family is a matter of widespread and long-standing experience; it is by no means found merely in the professional practice of law.

The free fiduciary responsibility of the professional is honorific in the strict sense: its assumption is a public profession of aspiration to a higher common good, whose perception is rather aesthetic than rational, in the sense that its truth is free: what Anselm called rectitudo, and von Balthasar, Herrlichkeit. Its intrinsic truth is ultimately beautiful, in that it cannot be comprehended within a definition, nor the aspiration to it reduced to legal obligations, to legislation. At the same time, this aspiration insofar as professional is a public profession of a public commitment to a specific community service and, as public, is definitive of the public perception of the profession. Loyalty to this constituting commitment it is a matter of professional morale, of esprit de corps, governing not only admission to the profession but also standing within it. That loyalty is consequently also a matter of professional honor, at once communal and personal: what touches the honor of the profession touches the honor of each of its members.

Because such professional honor is a free commitment, a free aspiration, it can be betrayed. This betrayal is of the profession itself, which as dishonored cannot exist: the professional must be alert to the vindication of professional honor, for it is his own. Betrayals by members of a profession are consequently sanctioned by exclusion from the profession: by being stricken from the register of physicians, disbarment, cashiering, defrocking, and their analogues in the derivative professions.

Nonetheless, despite the severity and summary character of these sanctions, such betrayals of the profession have never been considered to be, of themselves, crimes, although they may encompass crimes such as treason and embezzlement or, until recently, the procurement of an abortion. Neither do they of themselves import civil liabilities: they are properly punished by a species of ceremonial excommunication from the profession.

The faithless and dishonored professional is publicly dishonored by his peers’ disavowal of his fellowship, his former standing as one of them, worthy of their community and of the public trust. By way of corollary, when the profession ceases to be thus zealous for the vindication of its honor, inexorably it becomes servile, a mere trade, a way of earning a livelihood like any other. Contemporary examples are not far to seek. But it is not by such infidelity that a profession is measured.

The application to priestly celibacy of insights drawn from the learned professions must be admitted to rely upon an argument that finally is circular. With the Christianization of the Mediterranean world, the professions of arms, law, medicine, and religion, as known to classic paganism, of course also underwent a baptism into the freedom of the society freed by the immanence within it of the Church, and so into a free rather than a servile responsibility to the free civil society. The former pieties, those supposing the pagan world view, were no longer at peace within, nor able to sustain, the civil society which by the victory of Christianity had became free: the pagan understanding of fidelity could no longer govern the practice of medicine or law or arms, still less of religion. The impact upon civil society of Augustine’s theology of history, with its utterly transformed understanding of the res publica as normed, no longer by the apotheosis of an imperial will, but by the New Covenant, the sancta societate inhereamus Deo,” transformed the relation to the civil society of every citizen from one of servility to one of the free personal responsibility integral to the new personal fidelity to Christ in his Church. The meaning of honor was comparably transformed, [78] for loyalties were no longer a matter of the submergence of personal responsibility in a mass tribal or folk or class unanimity, but required a free and responsible personal decision, a commitment that could not but be public, for it was rooted in the public worship of the Church, which sustained that freedom and that responsibility in her converts to the point of the ultimate fidelity of martyrdom.

Fidelity thus became an expression of membership in the Church’s community of faith, not as heretofore, of membership in the extended patriarchal family or in the tribe, the city, or the empire. Thereupon fiducial free commitment to the common good of free society began to mark the Christian soldier, physician, lawyer, and priest; fiduciary professions came into being with the Christian faith, and it is not difficult to show that only by loyalty to that faith may the professions continue to exist. [79]

While the point cannot be developed here, the norm for such free personal commitment of the Catholic professional to the common good of the free society, and so the norm for professionalism, could only be that profession most fully expressive of the conversion to Christianity which underlies its freedom: this was and is the profession of religion. The first free loyalty of this profession is to the free community that is the Church; only through the concrete and historical efficacy of the Church’s sacramental worship, is it a commitment to the distinct common good of the then novel free civil community.

The transformation of the pagan societies from a bond of servile conformity to one of free fidelity was of course not immediate. But by a kind of osmosis, consequent upon the public worship of the Church, the profession of arms was finally ennobled by chivalry: we may think of the Arthurian legend, the legend of Roland at Roncesvalles, or at the end of the Middle Ages, of the aura surrounding Bayard, the “chevalier sans peur et sans reproche.” The impact of Christian fidelity upon the civil law became apparent in the deaths of Thomas à Becket and Thomas More, both of whom had been chancellor to the king, the keeper of his conscience, and both of whom died as the loyal conscience of the king qua Christian, qua Catholic: each was, in More’s words, “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” The practice of medicine was comparably illumined and transformed by the religious orders devoted to serving Christ in those for whom he died. These transformations, of course, were and are driven by the religious aspiration whose object is the Kingdom of God: Bernard, who aided in the composition of the rules for the Knights Templar, nonetheless did his best to wean members of that perhaps anomalous military yet monastic order to the fullness of the religious life as exemplified by his monastic foundations at Clairvaux and Citeaux.

The frequent servile betrayals of this Christian aspiration by clergy, soldiers, lawyers, physicians and nurses, do not extinguish its vitality, for it lives still where the professions live, which is to say, in those societies still informed and nourished by the faith of the Church.

The Roman Catholic priesthood is of course more than a profession; it is a concretely sacramental institution, not merely an institution of the learned or the highly trained, unified and formed by their common aspiration toward the “holy society” aesthetically perceived, although it is that also. Nonetheless the analysis of a professionalism inspired, as we have maintained it to be, by the priestly profession itself, may clarify the standing of celibacy vis-à-vis the priesthood.

One does not properly speak of the honor or the morale of the priestly profession, but rather of its spirituality; however, the meaning of these terms is sufficiently at one to permit their not incongruous association in this discussion. “Pastores Dabo Vobis” has linked celibacy to the priesthood as a most fundamental element of its spirituality; it is not to much to say that celibacy is integral and indispensable to the priestly spirituality which Pope John Paul II has there outlined: a spirituality is not matter for dispensation. Fr. Cochini has sufficiently established the apostolicity of this spirituality. In the foregoing pages, an attempt has been made to develop systematically the dynamism toward celibacy as something intrinsic to and inherent in the exercise of the priestly office as a spirituality is. The question before us is thereby simplified: in treating of priestly celibacy and continence, we have to do with the spirituality of the priesthood, a spirituality springing from the sacrament of priestly orders and, in that free context of aspiration, inherent in and intrinsic to the priesthood.

It is the nature of this intrinsic linkage that is in issue: we propose that it is simply integral with the res tantum of orders, the free effect ex opere operantis of the priestly character.

Without going further into the content of the spirituality of priestly celibacy and continence, we may with some confidence link it to that morality of aspiration of which Professor Fuller has written, and to that service of the Church which is inherent in the priestly office, exercised as it is in the person of Christ, the second Adam. As the priesthood is neither a right nor a duty but an aspiration and a gift, so also is celibacy an aspiration and a gift indissociable from priestly orders: as the gift is a gift and not an imposition, so the response to that gift is its free acceptance: it cannot be reduced to a necessity inherent in ordination as such, for its inherence in orders is free, a matter of an aspiration which is not, by reason of its freedom, the less integral with the free receipt of the priestly character. To repeat: their association is free, but it is nonetheless concrete, objective and factual: the liturgically and sacramentally objective and factual historical relation of the res et sacramentum to the res tantum.

We may then infer that a noncontinent priesthood is spiritually defective. The papal dispensation from celibacy does not imply a dispensation from continence after ordination, for the meaning of the priesthood is not altered by such dispensation, nor is there a novel priestly spirituality in contemplation by reason of such dispensation, despite persistent efforts by laicized priests so dispensed to presume one. This deprecation of a noncelibate priesthood is supported by the commonplace summary removal from priestly office of any priest attempting marriage. The official and canonical condemnation of such attempts to marry does indeed regard them as scandalous, as touching the integrity of the priestly profession. They are also commonly thus regarded by the laity, Catholic or otherwise, whether favorable or not to clerical marriage.

The occasional papal indults whereby married converts from the Protestant clergy may be ordained to the Catholic priesthood do not affect the spirituality of the priesthood any more than do dispensations from the exercise of the priestly office and from celibacy, nor the probably abstract possibility of the lawful return to office of a priest who has been laicized, dispensed from celibacy and is married. In sum, the priesthood is not and cannot be changed by the Church, for the Church lives by the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice, and cannot transcend its source. That source is apostolic: it includes the tradition of nuptial priestly service to the Church, and so the tradition of priestly celibacy.

Finally then, priestly celibacy is not essential to the priesthood in the sense of inseparable from the priestly character, the res et sacramentum of priestly orders, but it is essential to the spirituality of the priesthood, the res tantum of orders; it is essential to priestly fiduciality to the Church, to what, by analogy with the lay professions, we may speak of as honor and the morale of the priestly office. The celibacy inherent in priestly spirituality is not trivial, not negotiable. We should not be inhibited, still less prevented, merely by reason of the deference owed the Uniate practice, or by reason of ecumenical courtesy toward the customs of the Orthodox communities, from vigorously exploring, developing, instilling, and profiting from this spirituality.

Such deference to the Uniate rites, such ecumenical courtesy toward the Orthodox communions, rest upon rather than derogate from the Catholic recognition of the same character of the priesthood in the orders of the Uniate and Orthodox Churches, as is given by priestly ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic tradition of celibacy stands to the Uniate and Orthodox practice not as a reproach but as a challenge to a free fulfillment of the sacrament of priestly orders whose fullness they unquestionably possess. The Roman emphasis upon the tradition of priestly celibacy contains no denial, express or implicit, of the apostolic succession in those communions, nor of the authenticity of their celebration of the Eucharist or of the other sacraments. The deference and ecumenical courtesy due them indeed presumes a difference with them, and one which is not trivial, which is even sacramental, but it is a difference which is of its nature free — on both sides. Both cannot be in the right, but this is a reason for their both seeking an ever more profound understanding of the Truth which they share so closely, and which they should discuss as a most basic common interest.

With this, the traditional case for priestly celibacy, in and out of marriage, has in principle been made. Priestly celibacy, and priestly continence in marriage, are alike the implication of the causal dependency of the res et sacramentum of marriage upon the res et sacramentum of the Eucharist, and so of the transcendence of the rendering of the debitum of the marital covenant by the offering, in the person of Christ, of the One Sacrifice instituting the New Covenant. This transcendence requires that the res tantum of orders be the free and exclusive ordering of priestly nuptiality to the service of the Bride of Christ, the Church.

IV. A Corollary: The Eucharistic Ground of Consecrated Virginity

The subordination of marriage to the Eucharist as effect to cause, and therefore of the masculine nuptial symbolism of the husband to that of the priest, also accounts for the high standing given to consecrated virginity and to widowhood from the earliest period.

The nuptial symbolism, whether masculine or feminine, of consecrated virginity or celibacy is “spiritual” from the outset, for the sign-value of that consecrated abstention from marriage is directed, as an anticipation and a prefiguring, toward the risen pneuma, the life of unity with the risen Christ which transcends all the sacramental worship proper to the fallen world, and so knows no marriage.

In comparison to and in contrast with the nuptiality of virginity, which is not itself an effective sign but a lived anagogy of the Kingdom, the significance of the conjugal nuptiality of the spouses in sacramental marriage is that of a sacramental sign which causes, ex opere operato, their marital covenant, and causes ex opere operantis the res tantum of the sacrament of marriage, i.e., the fulfillment of the covenant by the spouses’ full entry into the worship of the Church. [80] Because consecrated virginity is not a sacrament, because it has no historical sign-efficacy of its own, it has no veil, no “flesh” to transcend or spiritualize: it is not ordered to the institution of any res et sacramentum, however holy, but only to the eschatological Kingdom of God whose institution on the cross is effectively signed by the Church’s Eucharistic worship. Immediately integrated into that worship, consecrated virginity knows no such obstacle to full participation in the Eucharistic prayer as conjugal intimacy will involve when its sacramental nuptiality is obscured by the cares and tribulation (I Cor 7:28) of daily life. Because virginity and celibacy are ordered to direct participation — a participation mediated by no further sign — in the Eucharistic communion, in the risen One Flesh, the Whole Christ, the pneuma — the risen “sancta societas” — that is the telos of all worship in the Church, it is inescapable that such virginity and celibacy must entail a personal identification with the nuptial sign-value, the historicity, of the One Flesh. This, one may think, is what St. Jerome had in view when he wrote that:

    Therefore, . . the virgin Christ and the Virgin Mary have consecrated for each sex the beginnings of virginity . . . [81]

These “beginnings” find their expression absorbed wholly by the sign that is the Eucharist, whose efficacy is of the Kingdom of God; they pray with an undivided heart, “Thy kingdom come.” They do not have the investment in political life and in civic culture which, as shall be seen, is inseparable from the married state; they are devoted simply and entirely to the Eucharistic worship and therefore to the mission of the Church, which transcends all politics and all cultures.

This devotion to the mission of the Church has flowered in the parishes and in the religious orders in which that mission has been carried out over the centuries. The inherent intentionality of virginity, its intrinsic dynamism, is a consecration to that mission whose ecclesial expression is the nuptial self-forgetfulness explicit in the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Their analogue in the life of the diocesan priest is found in those promises of celibacy and obedience made to the ordinary at ordination — promises whose normal consequence of personal poverty is often more vitally lived in the rectories than in the houses of the religious orders themselves; one may think of the Curé of Ars.

If it be asked, as it often is, how can consecrated virginity, which is not a sacrament however much invested with liturgical solemnity, be given a status in the Church which is higher than that of sacramental marriage, the answer is not difficult. Every sacrament is immediately directed to its historical effect ex opere operato, the so-called res et sacramentum. It is only by way of the institution of this objective historical reality (the Eucharistic One Flesh; the baptismal and confirmational character; sacramental absolution from sin; the marriage bond; the priestly or diaconal character; the personal healing consequent upon anointing) that the final end of all the sacramental worship of the Church is attained: this is the res tantum of the Eucharist: communion with the risen Christ. The final end of the Church’s central act of worship is precisely our anagogic union with the risen Christ in his Kingdom. This final and eschatological effect of sacramental worship is caused solely by the objective reality, at once effect and sign, that is the res et sacramentum of the Eucharist. Analogously, the res tantum of the Eucharist is the res tantum of every sacrament ordered to and sustained by that center, the One Flesh of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

But virginity is directed at no historical effect distinct from the sign that is the Eucharistic union of the historical Church with her Lord; the nuptiality of the consecrated virgin has no res et sacramentum of its own because by the renunciation of the personal signing of personal nuptiality in marriage, it overleaps the tribulation that is marital involvement in the world, to go directly to anagogic participation in the eschatological fulfillment of masculine and feminine existence, the res tantum of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

The virginal identification of one’s personal symbolism as man or woman with the efficacious symbolism of the Eucharistic One Flesh is the highest expression given to human love: all sacramental expression of that love in marriage is secondary and derivative, given for this world only except insofar as fulfilled in the Eucharistic res tantum. There is no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven, because there love is no longer veiled by sacramental signs, as all glory must be veiled in a fallen world. Traditionally, the virgin at her consecration assumes a veil, but does so as feminine in the persona of the Church, the Glory who will be unveiled by Christ her Head in the fulfilled kingdom of God. Comparably, the religious brother by his vows enters into the veiled Glory of the Father, the Christ on the cross, and anagogically into that Glory which was his before the world began.

At the same time it must be remembered that the anagogic realization of the eschatological fulfillment of human sexuality that is consecrated virginity — and clerical celibacy — remains utterly dependent upon the Eucharistic mediation of the One Flesh of Christ and his bridal Church: nothing in the Church stands above the Eucharist, or is independent of the Spirit thereby poured out upon the Church. Nonetheless, the religious significance of consecrated virginity, of priestly celibacy, is thus absorbed by the sign-efficacy of the Eucharist as to leave no remainder which could find other and personal expression. That personal significance and efficacy attaching to consecrated virginity is eschatological simply, a devotion to the Kingdom that is not of this world. The reason is simple enough: because such consecrated virginity, such priestly celibacy, is a personal entry into the eschatological communion that is the res tantum of the Eucharist. That is to say, it is a free consequence of the gift of the Spirit poured out upon the Church in her Eucharistic worship. Virginity and priestly celibacy can be understood only as plenary participation in the ultimate and anagogic efficacy of the Eucharistic res et sacramentum, the One Flesh of Christ and the Church, which signs and effects the pneuma, the Good creation, the eschatological Kingdom of God.

All participation in that pneuma is anagogic, a love unutterable save by the unique Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, represented in the One Flesh of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Consequently virginity and celibacy are not efficacious signs, not sacraments, but the ultimate grace of the sacramental worship of the Church, and the more closely one is bound to the central act of that worship, the more closely one is held to celibacy, to continence, to virginity. This association holds for all Christians, as we learn from Paul in the famous passage from I Cor 7, and from the apostolic tradition which to which the Fathers such as St. Jerome bear an irrefutable witness, of which Pope John Paul II, in “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” does no more than remind us. The superior dignity of virginity, and of the celibacy which is alone consistent with the priestly offering in the person of Christ of his one Sacrifice for the second Eve, therefore requires no defense: it needs only an appreciation which in our time as in the past is often diminished or lacking — in part because it is little discussed and still less understood.

“Pastores Dabo Vobis” is directed to the correction of that disesteem and that ignorance, and so to the reaffirmation and the repristination in our time of the transcendent dignity of the priestly office. It pertains to that high office to proclaim, with the Holy Father, the ancient tradition of which priestly celibacy is an integrating element, indispensable to the integrity of the priestly office.


It now remains to examine one of the immediate implications of priestly celibacy for public life, not only of the Church but of the secular and perhaps post-Christian world. It is one now very largely ignored in recent theological publication, but it is of the highest importance that it be grasped.

Since the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Liberty, DIGNITATIS HUMANAE, the freedom of religious conversion, worship and practice has been written into the formal teaching of the Church. A similar doctrine has long adorned the Federal Constitution of the United States in the First Amendment, which, were it taken at the letter, at once forbids a governmental establishment of any religion, and guarantees the freedom of religious expression. Over the past forty-five years, the so-called “establishment clause” has come under a very heavy secular scrutiny: it is now so read as nearly to preclude all religious expression from public life as a thing inherently divisive and destructive of civic peace. [82] This conclusion would appear to be the end product of a rationalizing process which began almost with the accession of Constantine, when the co-existence of two distinct yet intermingled societies, the political and the religious, the state and the Church, first became problematic; prior to Christianity, this dual citizenship had not existed nor had anyone imagined its possibility: the sacrality of all government was taken for granted. With the juridical recognition of the Church, everything changed. Augustine’s distinction between the City of God and the City of Man, and the two loves which contest our allegiance to either, furnished Gelasius I with his classic resolution of this problem. [83] He read Augustine well enough to know that the “two by which the world … is ruled” are not members of a category, as “two things” which might be distinguished as greater and less, or as members of a species. But that rationalization has been the continuing temptation of all practical and theoretical attempts to resolve the tension between Church and state. Inescapably, they conclude to theocracy or to what has come to be called Erastianism, [84] the subordination in any case either of state to Church or of Church to state, in order finally to reduce Gelasius’ inconvenient “two” to a unity, which is of course to deny the data, the dual “cities” and the dual citizenship which set the problem in the first place.

In our own time, it was John Courtney Murray who led the return to Gelasian principles, by his teaching of the indirect role of the Church in political life; [85] prior to him, there had been a general acceptance by Catholic canonists and theologians of the principle enunciated by Cardinal Bellarmine that the state had a duty to worship, and to worship as Catholic. This clearly legitimated, and even required, a Catholic establishment; however, the practical impossibility of such a thing in most of the Western world forced the elaboration of the “thesis-antithesis” solution, which had little beyond loyalty to recommend it. But Murray saw past the rationalization of Gelasius’ formula out of which Bellarmine’s doctrine had arisen, and reasserted the reality of an authoritative ecclesial influence on public life which had nothing to do with the use of an ecclesial power or potestas competitive with that of the potestas regalis. He referred to this authority as the “indirect influence” of the Church, as opposed to the “direct influence” which in his view would be at once an establishment and a betrayal, however innocent, of the Catholic Church.

Therefore it may be instructive to associate priestly celibacy with that indirect influence of the Church upon the state which Murray argued for on philosophical grounds. The pertinence of sacramental theology to Church and state issues is little explored; [86] it will be useful to probe that matter somewhat here.

First, some definitions, or better, clarifications: the indirect influence of the Church in politics refers to the absence of any ecclesial potestas which would rival, supplant, or become identified with the potestas regalis, the coercive power of the civil government, or in fact, any coercive power whatever. This is merely the inverse of the Church’s internal freedom: coercion has no role in the Church’s exercise of her sole means of public influence, her auctoritas sacrata pontificum.

It is incidental but germane to our discussion that this ecclesial auctoritas serves always to limit the civil government’s exercise of coercive power, but it does not do it by any countervailing exercise of power: to repeat, the Church has no such power; it has only authority, a quite different matter, as Gelasius’ formula intimates, but does not explain.

All authority in the Church is covenantal, rooted in the radical authority in the bishops, and in the priests who assist them, to offer the One Sacrifice, in persona Christi, by which the Church is constituted in One Flesh with her Lord. This exercise of authority is directed entirely to the Church: the priest or bishop — hereafter, “the priest,” for purposes of brevity — has the authority of the Head, which is directed wholly to the institution of the New Covenant, the One Flesh, the Whole Christ. He has no other responsibility than this, and no other authority. Exercising this authority, he has a teaching, a sanctifying, and a ruling office: he preaches, he administers the sacraments, he governs his parish or diocese under a rule of law founded ultimately in and normed by the sacramental order of the Church’s worship. As a ruler, the ultimate sanction at the disposal of the priest is excommunication, with lesser sanctions available for lesser contraventions of the law. None of these sanctions are coercive in the civil law sense: one may live an untroubled civil existence under the definitive imposition of any or all of them. Their authority applies only to those persons freely desiring to be members of the Church in good standing; absent this free submission to the Church’s authority — a submission which is simply the relation of a member of the Body to the Head — such sanctions as the Church may decree are without impact. In no case do ecclesial sanctions consist in that exercise of force majeure which is properly coercive.

But the priestly authority does not exhaust covenantal authority in the Church; the husband and the wife also exercise covenantal authority, the husband as head, the wife as his body or glory, their marriage as their irrevocable covenant, whose derivative relation to the Eucharistic representation we have examined. In fact, any responsible exercise of freedom in the Church is authoritative, legitimated by its covenantal support of free responsibility universally. Further, the correlative and irreducible personal exercises of covenantal authority, by which a man and a woman turn to each other as the marital head and body, form their marital bond; the telos of this authority is participation in the Eucharistic worship in the Church: this is the res tantum of marriage, whose proper finality can be nothing but full participation in that worship upon which marriage depends for its very reality.

Clearly, the exercise by husband and wife of marital authority is itself sacramental worship. Marriage is a sacrament ordered, as we have seen, to the finality, its res tantum, the mutual love of the spouses that is fulfilled only by full participation in the Eucharistic communion: this is true of the finalities of all the secondary sacraments grounded as they are in the Eucharist, and fulfilled as they are in the Eucharistic worship of the Church. But, like the other secondary sacraments, marriage has its own intermediate finality, res et sacramentum rather than res tantum: this finality is the marriage bond itself, the marital community. In this community, the husband is irrevocably joined and committed to this woman, who is his glory by being uniquely chosen by him from among all others and excluding all others. In this marital bond, he affirms her unique feminine dignity and authority over him as the body, the glory, who, “bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh,” gives meaning to, in fact constitutes, his own dignity as her head, her source precisely as his glory. The woman irrevocably chooses this man above all others and excluding all others, affirming and constituting his unique masculine dignity and authority over her, that of the head, affirming him to be the very source of her feminine dignity as his glory, his body. The free, irreducible and constitutive affirmations by both spouses of the other’s nuptial dignity are constitutive at the same time of their own dignity, and of the irrevocable marital covenant in which alone those irreducible dignities are actualized: i.e., in the “one flesh” of their marital community, whose existence and perdurance waits upon no permission or approval but their own.

Lest this description of Catholic marriage sound overdrawn, it should be remembered that the marital affirmation of mutual dignity and the irrevocable bond between the spouses is public. As public, it inserts into civil discourse, ex opere operato, a permanent and effective sign, irrevocable as the marriage bond is itself irrevocable, and is causative of what it signs: viz., a free civil community grounded in, sustained and ordered only by the Eucharistic worship of the Church. By reason of its priority to all civil authority and power, marriage is the concrete historical prius of all free civil society and of all free civil government; obviously therefore, it can owe nothing whatever to any governmental or civil compact. To repeat: marriage does not seek permission: it is a responsible exercise of freedom in the Church, in whose covenantal worship alone is grounded the covenantal freedom and personal responsibility which the public law of every free society presupposes and consequently cannot create. It is the norma normans of the free society.

Marriage is the exercise of an authority given to the baptized by the risen Christ, answerable to no human oversight. No non-Christian state can survive its symbolism, for it is effective ex opere operato of the free society, and its efficacy is therefore not the result of human devices which might be countered by better ones, by arrangements more amenable to the canons of autonomous reason, but rather is the work of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritus Creator poured out by the risen Christ upon his Church, and through the Church upon the world.

The first effect of marriage upon the state is the concrete overturning, not by theory but by praxis, by the actual exercise of marital authority and responsibility, of that monist notion of authority which treats its citizens as units merely quantitatively distinct and therefore as ideally fungible integers, each replaceable by each without remainder and each utterly at the disposal of coercive power. Within such pagan polities, or their neo-pagan successors, the absolute states, each citizen is presupposed, as a matter undiscussable and postulated a priori, to be without distinguishing characteristics for the purposes of the law’s sanctions, to be without any intrinsic dignity which the law need respect, without any responsibility which the law need acknowledge, and without any freedom whose public expression the law may not inhibit as inimical to the utterly impersonal unity of the monist society.

The public exercise of authority as marital, as that of the head, the body, the marital bond, cannot coexist with the exercise of a monist civil authority that must understand its institution to be thus totalitarian, even if it is so only by implication, as a consequence immanent to the impersonal logic of the autonomous mind’s solution of the jurisprudential version of the problem of the relation of the one to the many, and so of the monist state to the civic multitude.

Sacramental marriage is therefore revolutionary, for it is the exercise of a dignity which transcends all circumstance — “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part” — and no utopian theorist has been able to ignore its radical indigestibility by the imperial autonomous mind, its insubordination to totalitarian logic of the rationalized society of the absolute unity of the state. [87]

Because marital authority is exercised in the open forum, it has other highly public and indeed civil consequences: the family, the free, open society and culture grounded in the public exercise and concrete expression of this responsibility, of this freedom, of this dignity. The point need not be belabored: the exercise of covenantal authority that is sacramental marriage is the most radical political act; it is therefore the single foundation of free society, free culture, free government.

The auctoritas sacrata pontificum is effective in public life, as a limit upon the potestas regalis, precisely in marriage, the radical and irreversible political realization of a free society. Obviously, this is a lay exercise of authority and responsibility, not a clerical one, and the celibacy of the Catholic clergy guards against the obscuring of that fact. By reason of the sacrament of marriage, the politics of a free society is for the married, which is to say, for the laity insofar as Roman Catholicism is concerned.

Where the priestly authority to act in persona Christi to offer the One Sacrifice is exercised by married men, then ineluctably such married priests must merge in their persons two irreconcilable authorities, the one ecclesial simply, the other political as well as ecclesial or sacramental. This merger tends toward a monism: the priest’s liturgical authority is joined to, even becomes, a political leadership, with the consequent clericalization of politics that finally submerges the political authority which is proper to marriage into the authority to act in persona christi proper to the priesthood. Examples of this inconsequence abound in our own time; whether or not one approves the content of contemporary pastoral letters on matters of economics or foreign policy, their clericalization of the political process is patent, and the confusion induced by their intimation that all the public impact of the Church upon civil society is of the purely political order has obvious consequences: it is commonly accepted in the United States, by Catholics as well as non-Catholics, that any public expression of the Catholic moral tradition is per se abusive of the separation of Church and state. At the same time, many of the advocates of what has been termed the “theology of politics” insist that the hierarchy should speak out on all public issues to which that moral tradition may have some application, however prudential.

It is then not at all accidental that those circles most opposed to the requirement of priestly celibacy are most concerned to affirm a political leadership role in the priest; Catholic theologians well-known for that opposition would even derive the priestly authority from the exercise of a prior “natural” civil and political leadership. [88] This is to return to a pre-Christian understanding of authority, and the merger of Church and state which has long been recognized to be not only unworkable in a free society; it is the point of view rejected by DIGNITATIS HUMANAE as incompatible with the freedom of the Catholic faith.

But what of the indirect influence which Murray claimed for the institutional Church, for the hierarchy — in fact, for the priest? The authority of the priest is Eucharistic: on that basis we have seen that he is prophet, priest and ruler, in and for the Church. He is in charge of the Church’s worship in truth: he is responsible for guarding from error and profanation the truth-content of the symbols of that worship, the sacraments; his care for the sanctity of marriage is only second to his care for the truth of the Eucharistic liturgy. Beyond this wardenship, he must preach the truth of those sacramental symbols continually, assured that his doing so will be more often out of season than in. He is to summon his people by his preaching, by his administration of the sacraments, to their high dignity and responsibility, which is no more nor less than that of the Church’s Eucharistic worship, which sustains and gives life to all the rest. This responsibility is full-time; it leaves no leisure for those practical and prudential issues which belong to the laity. This does not remove him from “politics” as the term is now used, to denote whatever is of public moment. The priest must speak out against all profanations of human dignity, against those violations of the truth which are always and everywhere wrong, not necessarily as sins, for there is much innocent vice, but precisely as intrinsically vicious, as symbols destructive of our dignity, which must be confronted with and overcome with those sacramental symbols whose efficacity is not that of a coercive force majeure, but is given ex opere operato, instituted and caused by the Lordship of Christ, whose Spirit, the source of all freedom, is poured out upon the Church.

This ecclesial confrontation with the symbols of slavery, and their vanquishing by the truth of Christ, is achieved primarily in marriage. Therefore the teaching and preaching of the dignity and meaning of marriage is so important a priestly duty, for it is this effective nuptial symbolism alone which guards the free society from all the civil temptations to tyranny, and guards the Catholic people from succumbing to the temptation continually set before them by modernity to abdicate their personal dignity in favor of the faceless irresponsibility that is paganism, whether old or new.



* This article represents the research document prepared for and supporting Cardinal Stafford’s lecture on May 26, 1993, before a symposium held at the Gregorian University in honor of the first anniversary of the publication of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on priestly formation, PASTORES DABO VOBIS.
[1] Christian Cochini has provided an important insight into the connotation of clerical celibacy in the early Church: summarizing Alfons Stickler, he observes:
    (Stickler’s) study, “The Continence of the Deacons Especially during the First Millennium of the Church,” published in 1964, was written as part of the studies aiming to bring to the Council Fathers elements of reflection borrowed from history. The author points out that one must understand celibacy in the early Church not only as meaning a prohibition of marriage, but also in the sense of perfect continence for those who were already married.” 

    Christian Cochini, S.J., THE APOSTOLIC ORIGINS OF PRIESTLY CELIBACY. With a Preface by Father Alfons M. Stickler. Translated by Nelly Marans (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990) [henceforth, APOSTOLIC ORIGINS] at 43.

The contemporary usage, drawn from canon law, is more restrictive; celibacy refers to the unmarried state, and the “lex caelibatus” is simply the prohibition of marriage in candidates for major orders; it presumes the unmarried state of those ordained. However, the traditional connotation of clerical celibacy remains; married men in higher orders are expected to be continent; as the present study will point out, no other consistent interpretation of the Church legislation on this subject is possible.

It should be further noted that the broad sense of celibacy in use in the early Church provides further evidence supporting Cochini’s insistence upon the apostolic and liturgical provenance of clerical celibacy, as opposed to such celibacy having its origin in legislation and canon law. Cochini’s research and conclusions are paralleled by Roman Cholij, Clerical Celibacy In East And West. Foreword by Alfons Cardinal Stickler, S.D.B., Librarian and Archivist of the Holy Roman Church; Preface by Michael Napier of the Oratory (Leominster, Herfordshire: Fowler Wright Books, 1989) [henceforth, Clerical Celibacy]. Fr. Cochini’s book originated as a doctoral dissertation for the Institut Catholique (Paris), and Fr. Cholij’s as a doctoral dissertation in canon law written for the Gregorian University in Rome.

Cochini’s dissertation, defended before a board headed by Jean Cardinal Daniélou, S.J., was at the latter’s urging, with the approval of Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and under Fr. Alfons Stickler’s guidance, later expanded into the present work. Its invaluable contribution to the theology of orders seems to have been little regarded in this country, although since its appearance in English translation it is being widely read. This latter edition is furnished with an index, unfortunately lacking in the original. Its distinguished author is now a missionary in Taiwan.

Fr. Cholij, a priest of the Uniate Ukrainian rite, was at the time of his writing secretary to the bishop of the Ukrainian-rite Catholics of London. As Cardinal Stickler observes, Fr. Cholij’s book is a most valuable supplement to Fr. Cochini’s work, the more so in that although himself a member of a rite (Ukrainian) permitting the ordination of married men and their subsequent exercise of marital rights, Cholij agrees with Cochini that this concession rests upon a mistaken interpretation written by the Quinisext Council (In Trullo) into the Greek translation of the canons of the Council of Carthage.

[2] For the use of this term in the documents of Vatican II, see G. Rambaldi, “Sacerdoce du Christ et sacerdoce ministériel dans l’Église,” SACERDOCE ET CÉLIBAT: ÉTUDES HISTORIQUES ET THÉOLOGIQUES, publiée par Joseph Coppens, avec la collaboration de A. M. Charue, P. Chauchard, H. Crouzel, G. Cruchon, A. de Bovis, J. Folliet, G. Guitton, P. Hacker, L. Hödel, Card. J. Höffner, H. Jedin, J. Kosnetter, L. Legrand, L. Leloir, M. Marini, J.-P. Massaut, M. Nédoncelle, G. Rambaldim, A. M. Stickler, F. Van Steenbergen; ser. Bibliotheca Ephemeridium Theologicarum Lovaniensum XXVIII (Gembloux: Éditions Duculot, S.A.; Louvain, Éditions Peeters, S.P.R.L., 1971) [hereafter, SACERDOCE ET CÉLIBAT], 259-304, at 292ff. The term has been the subject of two recent studies: Jerome F. Thompson’s IN PERSONA CHRISTI: ITS SIGNIFICANCE FOR THE THEOLOGY OF THE MINISTERIAL PRIESTHOOD IN THE DOCUMENTS OF VATICAN II. Thesis (M.A.) [Milwaukee: Marquette University, 1987) and Samuel J. Aquila’s THE TEACHING OF VATICAN II ON “IN PERSONA CHRISTI” AND “IN NOMINE ECCLESIAE” IN RELATION TO THE MINISTERIAL PRIESTHOOD IN LIGHT OF THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORMULAE. Thesis [S.T.L.] (Rome: Pont. Athenaeum Anselmianum, 1990). The latter work makes the point that any priestly action in persona Christi is in the person of the Head, and is therefore also in nomine Ecclesiae, the head and the body being inseparable in their covenantal union of One Flesh. This does not of course involve a conceptional merger of two authorities, but the recognition of their free union. A considerable amount of error has arisen since the Council from an ignorance or an ignoring of this point.
[3] “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” A.A.S. 84 (1992) 657-804; ET ORIGINS 21/45 (Apr. 16, 1992) 717, 719-59 (henceforth, P.D.V.) §§23, 29, et passim. For an account of the patristic usage of the “Second Eve” title, stressing its equal application to Mary and to the Church, see Alois Müller, ECCLESIA — MARIA: DIE EINHEIT MARIAS UND DER KIRCHE; zweite, überarbeitete Auflage; ser. Paradosis: Beiträge zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur und Theologie 5 (Freiburg: Universitätsverlag Freiburg Schweiz, 1955), and Yves Congar’s review of that work, negative as to this point, “Marie et l’Église dans la pensée patristique,” REVUE DES SCIENCES PHILOSOPHIQUES ET THÉOLOGIQUES 38 (1954) 3-38. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in THE FEAST OF FAITH (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), at 94, explains to an interlocutor the meaning of the sacerdotal authority to act in persona Christi:
    You raised the question, “Do we need a priest with the power to consecrate?” I would prefer not to speak of “power,” although this term has been used since the early Middle Ages. I think it is better to approach it from another angle. In order that what happened then may become present now, the words “This is my body — this is my blood,” must be said. But the speaker of these words is the “I” of Jesus Christ. Only he can say them; they are his words. No man can dare to take to himself the “I” and “my” of Jesus Christ — and yet the words must be said if the saving mystery is not to remain something in the distant past. So authority is needed, and authority which no one can assume and which no congregation, nor even many congregations together, can confer. Only Jesus Christ himself, in the “sacramental” form he has committed to the whole church, can give this authority. The word must be located, as it were, in sacrament; it must be part of the “sacrament” of the church, partaking of an authority which she does not create, but only transmits. This is what is meant by “ordination” and “priesthood.”
[4] E.g.:
    By the sacrament of orders priests are configured to Christ the priest so that as ministers of the head and coworkers with the episcopal order they may build up and establish his whole body which is the Church. (P.D.V. §20, 727/2) 

    “Sit amoris officium pascere dominicum gregem.” (P.D.V. §24, 729/3, quoting Augustine’s In Johannis Evang., Tract. 123, 5)

    “In virginity or celibacy, the human being is awaiting also in a bodily way, the eschatological marriage of Christ and the Church, giving himself or herself completely to the Church in the hope that Christ may give himself to the Church in the full truth of eternal life.” (P.D.V. §29, 731/3, quoting Familiaris Consortio)

    The internal principle, the force which guides and animates the spiritual life of the priest inasmuch as configured to Christ the head and shepherd, is pastoral charity, as a participation in Christ’s own pastoral charity, a gift freely bestowed by the Holy Spirit and likewise a task and a call which demand a free and committed response on the part of the priest.

    The essential content of this pastoral charity is the gift of self, the total gift of self to the Church. (P.D.V. §23, 728/3)

    Pastoral charity, which has its specific source in the sacrament of holy orders, finds its full expression and its supreme nourishment in the Eucharist. As the Council states, “This pastoral charity flows mainly from the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is thus the center and root of the whole priestly life. The priestly soul thereby strives to apply to itself the action which takes place on the altar of sacrifice.” (quoting Presbyterorum Ordinis, §14) Indeed, the Eucharist represents, makes once again present, the sacrifice of the cross, the full gift of Christ to the Church, the gift of his body given and his blood shed, as the supreme witness of the fact that he is the head and shepherd, servant and spouse of the Church. (P.D.V. §23, 729/1)

    It is especially important that the priest understand the theological motivation of the Church’s law on celibacy. Inasmuch as it is a law, it expresses the Church’s will, even before the will of the subject expressed by his readiness. But the will of the Church finds its ultimate motivation in the link between celibacy and sacred ordination, which configures the priest to Jesus Christ the head and spouse of the Church. The Church, as the spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive manner in which Jesus Christ, her head and spouse loved her. Priestly celibacy, then, is the gift of self in and with Christ to his Church and expresses the priest’s service to the Church in and with the Lord. (P.D.V. §29, 732/1)

The present Pope’s earliest addresses developed the same points; see “Letter of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II to all the Priests of the Church on the Occasion of Holy Thursday, 1979,” and “Letter of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II to all the Bishops of the Church on the Occasion of Holy Thursday, 1979,” (Washington: U.S.C.C. Publications Office, 1979), also published as “Papal Messages to Hierarchy and Priests I: Letter to Bishops; II: A Letter to Priests,” Origins 8 (1979) 693-696, 696-704.

[5] It is generally accepted that the doctrine which finds in the Eucharist the foundation of clerical celibacy is affirmed by the Council of Elvira (ca. 305), by Pope Siricius (385), by the Council of Carthage (390), and generally by the patristic tradition whether Latin or Greek, which habitually related the temporary celibacy required by the many sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood to the permanent celibacy required by the One Sacrifice of the Christian priesthood. The real issue is whether this tradition can be traced to the Apostles, and if so, how; see APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 3-46, and Roman Cholij, CLERICAL CELIBACY IN EAST AND WEST; Foreword by Alfons Cardinal Stickler, S.D.B., Librarian and Archivist of the Holy Roman Church; Preface by Michael Napier of the Oratory (Leominster, Herfordshire: Fowler Wright Books, 1989) [henceforth, CLERICAL CELIBACY], 69-105. Following Gustav Bickel and Alfons Stickler, and against such nineteenth and twentieth century historians as F. X. Funk, E.-F. Vacandard, H. LeClerq, G. Denzler, and R. Gryson, both Cochini and Cholij present cogent arguments for the apostolicity of the discipline first canonized by the Council of Elvira (as Funk accepted: see the quotation in APOSTOLIC ORIGINS at 35). However, they do not develop systematically the causal nexus between ordination to offer the One Sacrifice and the obligation of celibacy. It is that development which the present article undertakes.
[6] Pope John Paul II has from the beginning of his pontificate stressed the strict dependence of sacramental marriage upon the Eucharist; see the lectures now collected as THE ORIGINAL UNITY OF MAN AND WOMAN (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1981) where, perhaps influenced by Karl Barth, but more surely by Augustine’s understanding of the nuptial unity of the Whole Christ, the Pope has associated marriage to our imaging of the Trinity and to the primordial covenant of God with humanity: see pp. 36, 38, 51, 62, 73-4. In the Apostolic Exhortation, FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO, the Pope has written:
    The Eucharist is the very source of Christian Marriage. The Eucharistic sacrifice, in fact, represents Christ’s covenant of love with the Church, sealed with His blood on the Cross. 

    THE ROLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY IN THE MODERN WORLD; Vatican translation from the Vatican Polyglot Press (Boston: St. Paul Editions, n.d.) §57 at 86.

See also H. de Lubac, op. cit., 139-209, for a treatment of the Una Caro theme in its application to the Eucharist from the fourth through the twelfth century. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council instanced the marital union of Christ with his Church in LUMEN GENTIUM, §§6, 7, and 44 THE CONCILIAR AND POST CONCILIAR DOCUMENTS, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P. (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Co., 1975) [henceforth, DOCUMENTS] 354, 356, 404). Barth’s insistence upon the marital character of our covenantal imaging of the Trinity is well known: CHURCH DOGMATICS III/1, ed. G. Bromiley and T. Torrance; tr. J. W. Edwards, O. Bussey, Harold Knight (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 1961), 183-206.

[7] P.D.V. §29, et passim.
[8] It is useful to keep in mind that historical facts, insofar as they are significant (which is to say, insofar as they are of historical interest) are free facts, not the immanent product of necessary forces of whatever provenance. Any “historical-critical method” which supposes them so to be is a mere historicism. The negative assessments of Cochini’s classic work, rely uncritically upon such a rationalist notion of history, postulated a priori, indistinguishable from that which for over two decades has dominated contemporary biblical exegesis. The starveling content of the “historical consciousness” of the exegete so formed is presented in such works as John Meier’s A MARGINAL JEW. The critics of the apostolicity of the tradition for which Cochini contends have similarly missed the central fact of Church history: that it is normed covenantally, by the liturgically-postulated and Eucharistically-ordered free unity of the Old Covenant, the New Covenant, and the Kingdom of God, and consequently does not await the judgment of the ideal and necessitarian constructs to which secular historicist scholarship has submitted since the Enlightenment. Any historical criticism is beside the point if it does not address the central issue: the criteria by which historical reality and truth are assessed. The historian cannot avoid deciding, at least in practice, whether the unity and truth of history are free or not, and whether that truth and unity are intrinsic to history, or on the contrary are imposed ab extra by the fiat of the historiographer. Decisions on these matters cannot be deemed responsible which would foreclose a priori, as a matter of method simply, such eminently scholarly interpretations of Church history as Cochini presented.
For purposes of illustrating this point, we may examine the review article, “The APOSTOLIC ORIGINS of Clerical Continence: A Critical Appraisal of a New Book,” THEOLOGICAL STUDIES 41 (1982) 693-705, by Fr. Roger Balducelli, O.S.F.S., in which the French original of Cochini’s study, ORIGINES APOSTOLIQUES DU CÉLIBAT SACERDOTAL, is examined; see also, in THEOLOGICAL STUDIES 52 (1991) 738-39-52 (1991) 738-39, Fr. George T. Dennis’ derivative and dismissive review of the Ignatius Press translation of Cochini’s study. Fr. Balducelli simply dismisses religious faith as a basis for historical judgment, while remaining supremely uncritical of the comparably arbitrary quality of the fashionable postulatory atheism grounding his own methodology: 

    Cochini also unveils the principle the application of which will allow historians to exploit methodically the possibility of an unrecorded teaching and evoke out of later, nonapostolic utterances the historical certainty that clerical continence is in effect entitled to claim apostolic origins. He stipulates that to the extent to which we can ascertain that a doctrine or a discipline is effectively observed “by the whole Church” and “has always been observed,’ we have the right to think that the point of departure of that doctrine or discipline is located in the age of the apostles (78). For the sake of convenience, this stipulation is made into a principle, and the principle is named “principle of spatial-temporal universality’ (85), where “spatial” points to the fact that the whole Church subscribes to a given doctrine or discipline, and “temporal” refers to the fact that the whole Church has done so always. 

    What response is this principle likely to elicit from historians concerned with the integrity and credibility of their discipline? Can they agree in principle that the spatial-temporal universality of a discipline that first bears witness to its own institutional existence in the fourth century was in fact willed into existence by the apostles, even if these bequeathed to posterity no public evidence of any such act of their will? Only a special kind of historian, I believe, can afford to answer this question in the affirmative. This is the historian who at that critical moment when the act of knowing is about to come to fruition in judgment can in good conscience call upon a conviction to which historians qua historians have no access. This is the believer’s conviction that the Christian Church is indefectibly faithful to the normativeness of her own origins, and cannot therefore subscribe universally and always to an institution unless the authority of an apostolic enactment stand at the origins of it. It is only on the strength of such a privileged conviction that the universality of an institutional discipline can be construed as evidence of the apostolic origins of the same. But since this conviction is available only to believers, an assertion made on the strength of it does not constitute an act of historical knowing, and public validity is not, in consequence, one of the qualities that assertion is entitled to claim of itself. (695-696)

By way of reply to Fr. Balducelli’s methodological excommunication of Fr. Cochini from the ranks of those historians “concerned with the integrity and intelligibility of their discipline,” it is sufficient to rewrite the last paragraph quoted above, from the alternative point of view afforded by the notion of history espoused by Cochini, as well as by Augustine, Newman, and de Lubac, to mention the founder and two great exponents of the classic Western tradition of historical interpretation. We cross out the words to be deleted from Balducelli’s text; we print in bold font those substituted for the deletions, and italicize the inserted words which are not substitutions for, but rather are additions to, Balducelli’s language:

    What response is this principle likely to elicit from historians concerned for the integrity and intelligibility of their discipline? Can they agree in principle that the spatio-temporal universality of a discipline that first bears witness to its own institutional existence in the fourth century was in fact willed into existence by the apostlesof apostolic origin, even if these bequeathed to posterity no public evidence of any such act of their willonly liturgical evidence of that origin? Only a special kind of historian, I believe, one concerned for the free intelligibility of history and of historical knowledge, can afford to answer that question in the affirmative. This is the historian who at the critical moment when the act of knowing is about to come to fruition in judgment can in good conscience call upon a conviction to which historians qua historianswho accept the rationalism of the Enlightenment as normative for their discipline can have no access. This is the believer’s conviction that the ChristianCatholic Church is indefectibly faithful to the normativeness of her own origins, and cannot therefore subscribe universally and always to an institution unless the authority of an apostolic enactmenttradition stand at the origins of it. It is only on the strength of such a free conviction that the universality of an institutional discipline can be construed as evidence of the apostolic origins of the same. But since this conviction is available only to believersfree conviction is, as free, available to all, an assertion made on the strength of it does not constitute an act of historical knowingconstitutes a free act of historical knowing, the only kind of historical knowing that is responsive to the freedom of its object, and public validity is not, in consequence, one of the qualities that assertion is entitled to claim for itselfattends such knowing insofar as the public is understood to be a free community committed to free discourse, and not a community locked into a historicist reduction of freedom to nonhistoricity.

In sum, a historical-critical method such as Balducelli’s, resting upon the untestable criteriological postulates of Enlightenment historicism, cannot deem itself triumphant over or exclusive of other methods of historical criticism resting upon the comparably untestable — and comparably criteriological — Catholic postulate of the free unity and intelligibility of history. Balducelli’s objection to Cochini’s method and the conclusions it substantiates is academically fashionable, but it is not critically sustained, nor can it be. This failure in his logic accounts for Balducelli’s descent to the ad hominem; there is no other support for the “hermeneutic of suspicion” he employs. Cochini’s concern for “the integrity and credibility” of the historian’s discipline rests upon his supposition that history has an intrinsic coherence or truth which is free; one might add, as he has not, that only that postulate permits a responsible historical inquiry, one which would be neither an arbitrary Romantic construct nor an ideologically-driven act of academic legislation.

Moreover, Balducelli supposes that the apostolic tradition must rest upon the apostles’ acts of will, their “enactments.” It is understandable that he should have so voluntarist a notion of the role of the apostles and of the nature of the Church, for this is what authority meant for the Enlightenment: it is simply identical with power, as Thomas Hobbes explained so clearly in THE LEVIATHAN, and with personal autonomy as such, as J. S. Mill supposed in his ESSAY ON LIBERTY. This reductionism remains instinctive to the Enlightenment-inspired rationalism of the contemporary academy. It has dominated Anglo-American jurisprudence from the time of Jeremy Bentham down to Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, and the authors of Roe v. Wade in our own day: by a more or less innocent irony, it is lately denominated “historical consciousness.”

But Augustine knew better: for him and the tradition he began, authority is the antithesis of power, for its exercise is responsible: it is the responsible affirmation and support of the immunity of human freedom and dignity to the mere exercise of coercive force. The apostolic authority is exercised in persona Christi; thus it is exercised responsibly — the responsibility is to the Church, the Bride of the risen Christ, for it is a responsibility for the Church’s historical worship, whose center and ground is the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Therefore the apostolic authority, and its historical tradition, are radically Eucharistic, radically liturgical. As we learn from Paul (I Cor 11:23-26) the source of that authority, of that tradition, is not an apostolic “enactment,” but the Mission of the Son by the Father to give the Spirit, a Mission whose terminus is the institution on the Cross of the New Covenant in His blood, and the proleptic institution at the Last Supper of the Eucharistic Sacrifice which is offered daily by an apostolic authority whose historical objectivity does not wait upon historical research, but is the subject of the Eucharistic anamnesis, the memorial by which the Church is caused to be, and to be historicalu. There are no historical records earlier in the Church than those of this liturgy of sacrifice and memorial, this event of the historical immanence, in sacramento, of the risen Christ.

The universality and historicity to which Cochini’s work appeals is Eucharistic, the direct consequence of the apostolic offering of the One Sacrifice whose free ordering of the past to the present — of the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and, through its fulfillment in the New Covenant, the ordering of both to the Kingdom of God — is constitutive of the only historical consciousness that is free: there is no other free order of history than that which is freely entered into and appropriated by participation in the Eucharistic liturgy. One may reject it, but its Truth is not refuted by the postulates of the Enlightenment; it is only rejected, which is quite another matter.

Henri Crouzel, reviewing Cochini’s thesis in “Une nouvelle étude sur les origines du célibat ecclésiastique,” BULLETIN DE LITTERATURE ECCLÉSIASTIQUE 73 (1982) 293-97, has recognized the legitimacy of his methodology and, in principle, the apostolicity of the tradition of clerical celibacy. Like Cochini, Crouzel appeals to Newman’s theology of the development of doctrine. Here it is only necessary to add that the fons et origo of this development is the Church’s Eucharistic anamnesis, the ground and sustenance of her historical consciousness and so of her historical tradition, which is at bottom Eucharistic.

Therefore the root disagreement in this academic stand-off is over the historicity of the Church’s faith and worship, which affirms that “Jesus is the Lord,” that “This is my Body; This is my Blood.” For some years we have been hearing from Catholic scholars such as Schillebeeckx, Meier, and O’Collins that the Resurrection is not a historical fact. But when the criteria supporting this judgment are applied in rigor they must also force a denial of the historicity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, a correlative denial of its historical identity with the One Sacrifice of the Cross, and finally, a denial of the historicity of the Church’s sacramental worship. Such enlistment in the Enlightenment rationalism prevalent in the theological academy, intent as it lately is upon the triumph of the autonomous mind over the freedom of historical truth, reveals an ignorance of, or a refusal to acknowledge, the bankruptcy of that Enlightenment optimism, that confidence in autonomous rationality, whose insolvency was proven beyond dispute more than sixty years ago by Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems — which have never been rebutted: see Stanley Jaki, THE ONLY CHAOS, AND OTHER ESSAYS (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990) at 159-160.

The sterile historicist triumphalism displayed by most contemporary historical scholarship must in rigor proceed to deny the historicity of the Church across the board, which some of its members will continue to think too high a price for the theological academy’s version of political correctness.

Catholic scholars who are truly “concerned with the integrity and intelligibility of their discipline,” remain Catholic and remain historically conscious by making the liturgical affirmations of the Eucharistic liturgy their own, and this in the full recognition of the normative sacramental and apostolic historicity of those same liturgical affirmations. The single alternative, that alternative posed by the rigorous application of Enlightenment historicism, was explored from its sola fide inception to its unitarian dregs by the liberal theology of which Harnack is the foremost exemplar: his fascination with Marcion was not an accident.

[10] “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” §17, citing PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS, §16.
[11] A.A.S. 59 (1967) 657-697.
[12] Roman Cholij, Clerical Celibacy In East And West, cited in note. 1, supra.
[13] APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 236 (quoting Ambrose, DE OFFICIIS III (PL 104b-5a), 247-48 (citing Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, the so-called CANONS OF HIPPOLYTUS, Epiphanius of Constantia, and Jerome), et passim.
[14] E.g., Jean-Paul Audet, STRUCTURES OF CHRISTIAN PRIESTHOOD: HOME, MARRIAGE AND CELIBACY IN THE PASTORAL SERVICE OF THE CHURCH; tr. Rosemary Sheed (London and Melbourne: Sheed & Ward, Ltd., 1967); Cochini also cites to this effect Edward Schillebeeckx, AUTOUR DU CÉLIBAT DU PRÊTRE, ÉTUDE CRITIQUE (Paris, 1967), and R. Gryson, LES ORIGINES DU CÉLIBAT ECCLÉSIASTIQUE DU PREMIER AU SEPTIÈME SIÈCLE. Série: Recherches et Synthèses. Section d’histoire, 2 (Gembloux: J. Duculot, 1970); this explanation of priestly celibacy had been earlier proposed by Heinrich Böhmer, “Entstehung des Zölibates,” GESCHICHTLICHE STUDIEN ALBERT HAUCK ZUM 70 GEBURTSTAG DARGEBRACHT (Leipzig, 1916) 6-24 (see the quotation by Cochini, APOSTOLIC ORIGINS at 39, in footnote 24), later on by Gryson and most recently by G. Denzler, “Zur Geschichte des Zölibats. Ehe und Ehelosigkeit der Priester bis zur Einführung des Zölibatsgesetzes im Jahre 1139,” STIMMEN DER ZEIT 183 (1969) 383-401, and in DAS PAPSTTUM UND DER AMTZÖLIBAT. Erster Teil: DIE ZEIT BIS ZUR REFORMATION; Zweiter Teil: VON DER REFORMATION BIS IN DIE GEGENWART; ser. Päpste und Paptsttum, Band 5, I, II (Stuttgart, 1973, 1976). In this connection, Böhm also spoke of a “fall of the Church,” as did also have Gryson; the sola fide ecclesiology underlying that tag is equally popular among Catholic opponents of the Catholic understanding of the priesthood, such as Edward Schillebeeckx, in MINISTRY: LEADERSHIP IN THE COMMUNITY OF JESUS CHRIST (New York: Crossroad, 1981), and Cyrille de Vogel, in such articles as “Le ministre charismatique de l’eucharistie: approche rituelle,” MINISTÈRES ET CÉLÉBRATION DE L’EUCHARISTIE; ser. Sacramentum I: Studia Anselmiana 61 (Roma: Editrice Anselmiana, n.d.). See also Donald Gelpi, “Priesthood Today and the Jesuit Vocation,” STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS 19/3 (May, 1987) 50-84, whose account of priestly celibacy is similar to Böhmer’s.
[15] Cochini remarks: “If we go back to the Old Testament’s prescriptions concerning the sanctity of priests, we cannot help but be struck by the fact that only the sexual interdictions survived the deep mutations that put a definitive end to the rules on purity and impurity.” (op. cit., 429)
[16] Ibid., 234-36, quoting Ambrose’s EP. 63, 62-63 (LETTER TO THE CHURCH AT VERCELLI) PL 16, 1527a.
[17] L’ÉCRITURE DANS LA TRADITION (Paris: Aubier, 1967); THE SOURCES OF REVELATION; tr. Luke O’Neill (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968).
[18] I Cor 11:23-26. See P.D.V., §1:
    The Church, the people of God, constantly experiences the reality of this prophetic message and continues joyfully to thank God for it. She knows that Jesus Christ himself is the living, supreme and definitive fulfillment of God’s promise: “I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10:11). He, “the great shepherd of the sheep” (Heb. 13:20), entrusted to the apostles and their successors the ministry of shepherding God’s flock (cf. Jn. 21:15ff.; 1 Pt. 5:2). 

    Without priests the Church would not be able to live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history, an obedience in response to the command of Christ: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19) and “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19; cf. 1 Cor. 11:24), i.e., an obedience to the command to announce the Gospel and to renew daily the sacrifice of the giving of his body and the shedding of his blood for the life of the world.

[19] Cochini has summarized the evidence from Christian antiquity in the introductory chapter of his APOSTOLIC ORIGINS (pp. 3-17) and again in the “Conclusion of Section A” (pp. 245-54). In the first of these summaries he relies heavily upon the repeated references by the Council of Carthage (390) and by Pope Siricius (ca. 385) to the apostolicity of the tradition of celibacy which, at the end of the fourth century, they defend by formal legislation. At the beginning of the fourth century, the Council of Elvira spoke similarly (pp. 158-161). As Crouzel’s review of Cochini’s work points out (citing Albano Vilela, LA CONDITION COLLÉGIALE DES PRÊTRES AU IIIe SIÈCLE; ser. Théologie Historique 14 [Paris: Beauchesne, 1971]), serious problems arise when one looks for earlier explicit recognition of the obligation of clerical celibacy in the Fathers of the second and third centuries: e.g., to those cited by Cochini in APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 137-158, viz., Ignatius’ LETTER TO POLYCARP, Polycrates of Ephesus’ LETTER TO POPE VICTOR, passages from Tertullian’s DE EXHORTATIONE CASTITATIS (13, 4; CC 2, 1035), Hippolytus’ REFUTATIO OMNIUM HAERESIUM [PHILOSOPHOUMENA] (ix, 12, 22; GCS 26, 249-50), Clement of Alexandria’s STROMATA (iii, 12, 90; GCS 15:237), and Origen’s 23RD HOMILY ON NUMBERS and 6TH HOMILY ON LEVITICUS — passages whose interpretation, however, must remain open to further discussion on the grounds Cochini has proposed.
Rather than seek what is not directly available from those second and third century sources, viz., an explicit witness to the universal obligation of celibacy in priests and\or clerics, Crouzel would accept Cochini’s method (as summarized in Stickler’s “Foreword”), with its inference of an apostolic tradition of priestly celibacy from (a) the reading of the widespread fourth-century legal prescriptions requiring clerical celibacy as defensive of a standing tradition of apostolic origin, now threatened, as by the Jovinian revolt, and (b) from the scattered evidence provided by the earlier records, which witness to an “exigence” felt by the primitive Church for a celibate clergy, if not to a formal requirement of such celibacy. Crouzel has underwritten, this approach, if with a certain nuance: 

    Je souscris à cette analyse, mais, précisément à partir d’elle, je nuancerais encore davantage la thèse du P. Cochini. Si la lettre de Clément de Rome aux Corinthiens, l’addresse qui ouvre celle d’Ignace d’Antioche aux Romains, encore plus le témoinage d’Irénée dans ADVERSUS HAERESES iii. 3, 2-3 constituent des indices très valables de la primauté de l’Église de Rome dès le IIe siècle, one ne peut lui attribuer à cette époche tout ce qu’impliqueront les développments postérieurs; c’est la semence que l’action intérieure de l’Esprit Saint et les circonstances extérieures feront grandir en institutions diverses, variables d’ailleurs suivant les périodes. J’accepte volontiers que l’obligation au célibat-continence exprimée au IVe siècle comme une loi ait existé à l’époche apostolique, mais comme une semence par rapport à la plante qui en sortira: c’est à dire comme une exigence, sentie en tant que telle par nombre de clercs comme nous en assurent le témoinage de Tertullien et l’idéal présenté par Origéne, mais non comme une loi imposée nécessairement a tous. (op. cit., 295)

A stronger version of this quasi-evolutionary viewpoint is apparent in Crouzel’s contribution to SACERDOCE ET CÉLIBAT: “Le célibat et le continence dans l’Église primitive,” 333-371 — even to the ideality of Origen’s contribution. We quote from p. 341:

    Les Apôtres vivaient donc, selon Clément, dans la continence avec leurs épouses pour se consacrer (I Co 7, 35) à la prédication. En effet, d’après Origène, la tâche essentielle des prêtres de la nouvelle alliance est leur paternité spirituelle: ils répandent la semence de la Parole. Deux textes pauliniens sont alors cités: (I Co, 4, 15); (Ga 4, 19). Mais Origène ne dit pas explicitement que cette géneration spirituelle est en contradiction avec la géneration corporelle: il interprète seulement, dans une exégèse allégorique du type le plus courant, la paternité qui est la fonction fondamentale de ceux de la nouvelle12 (Gryson, LES ORIGINES DU CELIBAT ÉCCLESIASTIQUE. DEU PREMIER AU SEPTIÈME SIÈCLE, Gembloux, 1970, pp. 14-16). Ce thème va devenir chez plusieurs auteurs postérieurs une raison du célibat ou de la continence. (341) 

    12La aussi Gryson force, à notre avis, ce que le texte permet de dire, en faisant d’Origène un précurseur du célibat des prêtres. [Later, in his review of APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, Crouzel will exhibit much the same diffidence regarding Cochini’s similar reading of Origen.]

Cochini has replied to this earlier analysis of the motives for ecclesiastical celibacy and continence; see APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 423-24, footnote 370. Without presuming to instruct the foremost Origen scholar of the age, one may recall, in the context of the passage quoted by Crouzel supra, Origen’s tendency to meld if not confuse the reality of the Eucharist with that of the preached word, and perhaps thereby to confuse the spiritual paternities arising from these distinct sources as well. If this consideration be permitted, Origen may well be speaking of the spiritual paternity of the priest; one may think this to be indissociable from the spiritualizing of the priest’s masculine nuptiality, which rests not upon the precept of virginity, but upon the requirements of the office of offering the One Sacrifice. So Cochini has persuasively argued: see APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 154-58, 423-24, 438-39. We otherwise risk making of Origen an advocate of that viewpoint, hardly Pauline, which would find in faith the primary cause of the Church, and so the “semence” of her historical traditions. A signal contribution of Cochini’s work has been to distinguish sharply the dynamics of virginity from those of priestly celibacy and continence: see the final pages of APOSTOLIC ORIGINS. Crouzel’s review of Cochini’s study gives reason to suppose that he finds merit in Cochini’s argument.

There can be no doubt that the Holy Spirit is the principle intérieure of the Church’s unity and of its life: viz., of its historicity — not merely of the subjectivity of its members. But the Spirit is sent from the Father through the Son, and concretely, historically, through the One Sacrifice of the Son: it is by the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice that the Spirit is poured out upon the Church and through the Church upon the world, and not otherwise: the Trinitarian doctrine allows no extra Calvinisticum. Where the Trinitarian order of the historical Missions of the Son and the Spirit is not kept firmly in view, the Gift of the Spirit is mediated by no historical reality, and the ecclesiology of sola fide ensues. Thus if we are to grasp the historical unity of the Church and of the Church’s liturgical tradition, we can do so only by returning to the utterly foundational cause of the Church and of the Church’s historicity: the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Eucharistic anamnesis: here the Spirit is given, and not otherwise. Should this Eucharistic foundation of the Gift be ignored, as was the fashion a quarter of a century ago in some academic milieux (e.g., “Priesthood and Ministry from the New Testament to Nicaea,” PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL CONVENTION, The Catholic Theological Society of America, June 16-19, 1969 [Yonkers: St. Joseph’s Seminary, 1969] 63-74), a passage to a sola fide antisacramentalism is inescapable. Nothing could be further from the mind of Fr. Crouzel, and no liberty is taken with his thought in stressing that the “semence,” or the “exigence,” the terms by which he prefers to designate the apostolicity of the tradition of clerical celibacy, is not subjective, not a vagrant aspiration current only among an elite. The apostolic tradition, if we may follow Paul, has the concrete historical objectivity of the Eucharistic liturgy, publicly celebrated, publicly preached in an idiom which emphasized above all else the historical fulfillment of the Old Covenant in the New, and the New Covenant’s signing of the Kingdom of God. Upon this anamnesis of the One Sacrifice rests all that is historical in the Church: all liturgy, all doctrine, all tradition whatsoever. A historical method which cannot accept this must end by denying the historical reality of the Church.

This primitive and apostolically overseen celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy, this preaching, could not have avoided the comparison — which is inherent in the liturgy itself and therefore taken for granted by men of the fourth century such as Eusebius and Jerome as a matter too clear to need explanation — of the purity required of the Levitical priesthood and that required of those who offered the One Sacrifice. It is the apostolic authority underlying this felt necessity, whose root expression is liturgical rather than juridical, upon which Cochini’s fourth century sources have insisted, and in reading this insistence as an authentic appeal to apostolic authority he is right, as Cholij has agreed, and as earlier had historians of the rank of Stickler, Daniélou, de Lubac — and Newman a century before them: see APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA; edited by David J. DeLaura. Includes: An Authoritative Text. Basic Texts of the Newman-Kingsley Controversy. Origin and Reception of the APOLOGIA. Essays in Criticism (New York & London: W. W. Norton & Co., 1968) at 54. There is every reason to include Henri Crouzel in this list of scholars whose eminence is not only scholarly; referring to Stickler’s summary of Cochini’s argumentation, we have read Crouzel’s substantial agreement with it:

    Je souscris à cette analyse, mais … je nuancerai encore davantage la thèse de P. Cochini.

In the final sentence of his review of APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, Crouzel confirms his agreement:

    En tout cas, discutable ou non quant au jugement qu’on peut porter sur elle, l’existence de cette obligation est certaine à partir de ive siècle et on peut affirmer que, sous une forme peut-être moins précis, elle remont aux débuts de l’Église. (297)

The nuance he proceeds to offer, which is quoted above, is entirely proper and necessary; we have done no more here than point to the Eucharistic ground in which the “semence” to which he refers has grown, and which as Eucharistic is quite obviously apostolic. This clarification of Crouzel’s nuance is also necessary, for without it, one may all too easily think of the “semence” as ideal (Crouzel has inadvertently invited such inference by his reference to “l’idéal présenté par Origène”), as possessed of no inherently historical standing and objective significance, and therefore as dependent for its concrete intelligible content upon external circumstance, upon the alien dynamics of an indifferent and autonomous history, rather than recognize the “semence” for what it truly is, the Eucharistic Sacrifice that is the intrinsic free ordering cause of history, the Event of the institution of the New Covenant apart from which history is mere temporal succession, as intrinsically meaningless as the pagan historians supposed it to be. Crouzel’s apostolic “semence” cannot be other than the Eucharistic and sacrificial immanence in history of the Lord of history, for there is no other free principle by which history is ordered. It is this Event which imparts to time its own objectively free intelligibility, that of salvation. The Eucharistic Sacrifice makes time thus to be free, to be historical, to be significant of the Kingdom of God, by continually ordering its past and present to that free fulfillment, objectively realized by Christ, which, as free, is utterly beyond all prior possibility. The gift of the Spiritus Creator continually poured out upon the Church by the Eucharistic One Sacrifice is the New Creation itself, but it is always to be remembered that this work of the Spirit is a creation in Christ. Augustine’s warning is in point:

    Facit haec quidem Spiritus Sanctus, sed absit ut sine Filio facit. 

    CONTRA SERM. ARR. 32 (PL 42:704-705), at 705.

The patristic insistence on the service of the altar as demanding celibacy and continence of the higher clergy is in full agreement with this understanding of Crouzel’s “semence;” the image of growth is valid enough; we encounter it in the Scriptural image of the leaven, but it must be insisted that the Church’s Eucharistic worship is not the product of an a priori immanent-historical dynamic, nor of a Mission of the Spirit which would be prior to or independent of or productive of the Mission of the Son: the causality is all the other way; the doctrine of Nicaea and I Constantinople and Chalcedon is here at stake.

It is then entirely true that one cannot deduce the law of priestly celibacy from the documents and monuments of the earlier Christian centuries: such deduction would impose rational necessity upon the freedom of the Church’s historic objectivity, her liturgy. But her freedom is not randomness: rather its intelligibility is that of the sacramental signs of her worship, which is radically Eucharistic. Cochini’s “principle of progressive explicitation,” akin as it is to Newman’s “illative sense” and to his “principle of development,” is inductive, not deductive; it could not otherwise be directed toward an understanding of a history whose objective significance is free: that of her sacramental worship.

The remarks with which Cochini concludes his summary of the evidence for the existence of an apostolic tradition of clerical celibacy and clerical continence deserve repetition here, for the light they cast upon Crouzel’s review of his work:

    All this explains that one does not find in the history of the early centuries any notion of evolution, according to which the discipline of clerical continence would have been accepted little by little under the pressure of currents favorable to virginity. If such had been the case, there would have been formulated a genuine law of celibacy in the strict sense of the term as we know it today, not a recruiting policy opening the doors to men bound by marriage. It is not the original nature of service at the altar, but the evangelical counsel inviting “some men to become eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven” that would have been the determining motivation. And we cannot see what kind of ruling can have transformed such a counsel into a precept when numerous patristic writings on virginity conscientiously treasure that counsel’s particular value as a virtue that can be pursued only through the exercise of a free will. It is still harder to see that the specific law of continence, supposing that it was promulgated at a later date, could immediately have been accompanied with severe canonical penalties, as was the case with the Council of Elvira. It would be at least a lack of wisdom not to allow for transitions in the case of obligations so difficult for human nature. And, finally, it is totally impossible to see the reasons for this insistence in linking the discipline to the very origins of Christian priesthood if the general climate of the time, the esteem for virginity, were enough to cross such a threshold. (pp. 249-50)

He resumes this theme at the end of his book:

    Let us also note that the motives invoked in favor of clerical continence are independent of the spiritual trend exhorting people to virginity. On the one hand, the consecration of a virgin (or a continent non-priest) appears to be a total gift of self to God “for the Kingdom of God.” The virgin has to please the Divine Spouse in all things, to direct all her faculties toward him, and to surrender to him, without any reservations, her body and soul. The minister of God, on the other hand, must be continent, less in virtue of a charismatic desire to belong totally to God (though it goes without saying that such a disposition is in keeping with his state) than in order to obtain the necessary conditions for the achievement of his specific mission, or, in other words, his functions as a mediator. Exhortations to virginity are therefore changed for the priest into compulsory canonical regulations. Independent in their motivations and in their effects, these two currents reacted on each other, of course, but their sources came from different traditions. While the call to virginity was founded in the evangelical counsels, the discipline of priestly celibacy had its origins, as we have frequently seen, in a positive will of the apostles. 

    It is important to stress this point, for it explains the persistence of the legislators in maintaining the obligations of chastity proper to the ministers of the altar against the many attempts constantly aiming at defeating them. We will take the liberty of pointing out once more that the history of the law on conjugal abstinence is not that of a slow evolution caused by the increasing influence of a movement favorable to virginity, but of a resistance by Tradition to the contrary currents that appeared at different times and places. A resistance similar to that which was to appear throughout the Church’s history: let us recall, for instance, the time of the Gregorian reform or the reactions the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. (438)

For a further illustration of the mutually exclusive views of history here in confrontation see, in THE CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW, vv. 60/3 and 61/1, the exchange between Alfons Stickler and Brian Tierney vis-à-vis the latter’s assertion of the novelty of the doctrine of papal infallibility proclaimed at Vatican I.

[20] The scriptural authority for this demand is I Tim 3:2:
    Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife.

But the traditional reading of this text as the apostolic warrant for absolute clerical continence, whose apostolicity was unquestioned in the early Church, can only have been a radically liturgical exegesis, for the practical universality which Cochini has shown it to possess in the East as in the West is intelligible only if it be coeval with the Eucharistic liturgy itself, and therefore integral with the radically Eucharistic apostolic tradition (I Cor 11:23-27). It can rest upon no prior legislation, but rather is the source of law. E.g., for Pope Siricius, writing ca. 385, this interpretation amounted to an “indissoluble law” which bound him a priori; in this he said no more than had the Fathers at the Council of Elvira in 300 (DS §§*118-*119, §*185) or than the Fathers at the Council of Carthage would say in 390; see APOSTOLIC ORIGINS 3-13.

[21] In his “Summary of Section A” (pp. 245-54) of APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, Cochini observes (pp. 246ff.) of the period up to the close of the fourth century that while the East shows little of the legislation requiring clerical celibacy which had been promulgated by the Church in Africa and Italy after Constantine’s accession, the Eastern patristic testimonies to a law of priestly celibacy “in the context of a discipline similar to that prescribed by Siricius and his colleagues” are even more abundant than in the West. He has particularly cited, in addition to those whose works are mentioned in note 18 supra, Eusebius of Caesarea’s DEMONSTRATIO EVANGELICA (1,9; GCS 25, 43), Ephraem’s CARMINA NISIBENA xviii, 12; (S. Ephraemi Syri CARMINI NISIBENA, ed. Gustav Bickell [Leipzig, 1866], p. 60), and Canon six of the anonymous CANONES ECCLESIASTICI SS. APOSTOLORUM (PL 38: 840b). Of these witnesses he writes:
    All give the strong impression that not only customs but also genuine laws defined for bishops, priests and deacons of their countries obligations similar to those of the western communities. (pp. 247)

The more direct testimony acquired from these sources is corroborated by indirect evidence drawn from Epiphanies of Constantia’s PANARION (HAER. 48, 9; GCS 31, 219-41, at 231; HAER. 59, 4; GCS 31, 267) and his EXPOSITIO FIDEI 21; GCS 37, 522), St. Jerome’s ADVERSUS JOVINIANEM, (I, 34; PL 23:257a-c;) and his APOLOGETICUM AD PAMMACHIUM; Ep. 49, 10 and 21; (CSEL 54:365 and 386-87; see note 49, infra), Athanasius’ LETTER TO DRACONTIUS (PG 25:532d-33b; see Cochini’s commentary on this disputed text, op. cit., 211-16), Cyril of Jerusalem’s 12TH CATECHESIS (CAT. 12, 25; PG 33, 757a), St. Basil’s LETTER TO AMPHILOCIUS, (P. P. Joannou, DISCIPLINE GÉNÉRALE ANTIQUE, 2D-9TH CENTURIES (Grottaferrata, 1962) [hereafter, JOANNOU] II, pp. 127-28) and some controverted passages from St. Gregory of Nazianzen’s DE VITA SUA (PG 37, 10642a; Cochini’s commentary on these appears on pp. 242-44, op. cit.). In addition, he treats at some length Eusebius of Caesarea’s DEMONSTRATIO EVANGELICA I, 9; (GCS 23,43) and HISTORIA ECCLESIASTICA (X; 4, 55, 63, 64, 65 (SCHR 55, 99-102).

Cochini has also surveyed the fourth century canonical material: the Council of Antioch (268-9; reported in Eusebius’ HIST. ECCL. VII, 30, 12-14; SCHR 41, 217-18), C. 33 of the Council of Elvira, (ca. 305; HEFELE-LECLERCQ I, 1), C. 29 of the Council of Arles (314; CCH 148, 25), C. 10 of the Council of Ancyra (314; JOANNOU I, 2, p. 55), C. 1 of the Council of Neocaesarea (314-25; JOANNOU I, 2, p. 75), C. 3 of the Council of Nicaea (325; JOANNOU I, 1, pp. 25-26), and C. 4 of the Council of Gangres (ca. 340; JOANNOU I, 2, p. 91); also THE ECCLESIASTICAL CANONS OF THE HOLY APOSTLES (J. B. Pitra, JURIS ECCLESIASTICI GRAECORUM HISTORIA ET MONUMENTA I (Rome, 1864), pp. 82-86); the so-called CANONS OF HIPPOLYTUS, Cc. 7 & 8 (PO 31, fasc. 2, pp. 359-61); the apocryphal APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS VI, 17, (PG 1, 956a-57a), and C. 6(5) of the APOSTOLIC CANONS [which form Book VIII of the APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS] (JOANNOU I, 2, p. 10). Although published at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century, the APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS rely upon fourth century material.

See also the material cited by Cholij in CLERICAL CELIBACY, 1-16.

[22] APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 208-09, citing Cyril of Jerusalem’s 12TH CATECHESIS, 25 (PG 33, 757a); cf. 253, where Cochini insists upon “service of the altar” and “priestly ministry” as the patristic basis of clerical celibacy, distinguishing this from the ritual or cultic purity of pagan rites to which it is often — and erroneously — subsumed.
[23] This link between the priest’s configuration to the headship of Christ by his ordination, and his consequently nuptial ordering exclusively to the Bride of Christ, is set out in various passages in P.D.V.; e.g.,:
    16. The priest’s fundamental relationship is to Jesus Christ, head and shepherd. Indeed, the priest participates in a specific and authoritative way in the “consecration/ anointing” and in the “mission” of Christ (cf. Lk. 4:18-19). But intimately linked to this relationship is the priest’s relationship with the Church. It is not a question of “relations” which are merely juxtaposed, but rather of ones which are interiorly united in a kind of mutual immanence. The priest’s relation to the Church is inscribed in the very relation which the priest has to Christ, such that the “sacramental representation” to Christ serves as the basis and inspiration for the relation of the priest to the Church. 

    In this sense the synod fathers wrote: “Inasmuch as he represents Christ the head, shepherd and spouse of the Church, the priest is placed not only in the Church but also in the forefront of the Church. The priesthood, along with the word of God and the sacramental signs which it serves, belongs to the constitutive elements of the Church. The ministry of the priest is entirely on behalf of the Church; it aims at promoting the exercise of the common priesthood of the entire people of God; it is ordered not only to the particular Church but also to the universal Church (“Presbyterate Ordinis,” 10), in communion with the bishop, with Peter and under Peter. Through the priesthood of the bishop, the priesthood of the second order is incorporated in the apostolic structure of the Church. In this way priests, like the apostles, act as ambassadors of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). This is the basis of the missionary character of every priest.”(pp. 28)

    Therefore, the ordained ministry arises with the Church and has in bishops, and in priests who are related to and are in communion with them, a particular relation to the original ministry of the apostles — to which it truly “succeeds” — even though with regard to the latter it assumes different forms.

    Consequently, the ordained priesthood ought not to be thought of as existing prior to the Church, because it is totally at the service of the Church. Nor should it be considered as posterior to the ecclesial community, as if the Church could be imagined as already established without this priesthood. (pp. 725-26)

[24] For examples of outspoken language, see CLERICAL CELIBACY at 26; further citations may be found in note 46, infra.
[25] APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 4 (citing the Council of Carthage, the Quinisext Council (in Trullo), and the Council of Trent); 5 (commenting upon the reasons stated by the Council of Carthage for the celibacy required of those clerics “qui sacramentis inserviunt,” “qui sacramenta contrectant,” “qui altari deserviunt”: “Quo possint simpliciter quod a Domino postulant impetrare”); 9, quoting Pope Siricius’ Letter to Bishop Himerius (PL 13, 1138a-39a); 253, remarking upon the indissociability of the service of the deacon from that of the priesthood, and the consequent demand for diaconal celibacy; 256, quoting Innocent I’s Letter to Victricius of Rouen (PL 20, 475c-77a); 260-62, quoting Leo the Great’s Letter to Anastasius of Thessalonika (PL 54, 672b-73a); 274, quoting the Council of Tours, (Cc. 1-3; CCH 148, 143-45) et passim.
[26] It is with this liturgical emphasis in view that the deacons were commonly referred to as Levites, in distinction from the bishops and priests: ibid., 4-5 (the Council of Carthage), 260 (Leo the Great), 267-69 (17th Council of Carthage), 273 (Council of Orange), et passim.
[27] Ibid., 42, citing the timely article of Alfons Stickler, now Cardinal Prefect of the Vatican Library, then a conciliar peritus, whose expertise in the history of canon law was brought to a highly opportune focus precisely on this point in “La continenza dei diaconi specialmente nel primo millenio della chiesa,” SALESIANUM 26 (1964) 275-302. The pages (pp. 42-46) which Cochini devotes to summarizing Stickler’s contribution to the contemporary discussion are of a particular interest, the more so for the apparent ignoring of that contribution by the Fathers and other periti in their discussions of the permanent diaconate during the Council.
[28] Cochini, op. cit. at 42, has cited also Stickler’s “Tratti salienti nella storia del celibato,” SACRA DOCTRINA 15 (1970) 585-620. Later, four years before the promulgation of the new CODEX JURIS CANONICI, [henceforth, C.J.C.], Stickler published “Il celibato ecclesiastico” in L’OSSERVATORE DELLA DOMENICA, supplements to nos. 103, 109, and 115 of L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO for May 6, 13, 20, 1979.
[29] C.J.C., Cc. 1031, §2; 1032, §3; 1042, §1; 1047, §2, 3°. Canon 1050, 3°, requires documentary evidence of the wife’s consent to the ordination of her husband to the permanent diaconate: we have there a relic of the tradition of obligatory continence after the ordination of a married man to the diaconate or a higher order, which ordination could not take place without the wife’s consent, she of course being held to continence quite as strictly as her husband (cf. APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 328). The 1983 C.J.C. only repeats the language of “Ad Pascendum” with respect to the celibacy obligatory for the unmarried deacon:
    C. 1037: Promovendus ad diaconatum permanentem qui non sit uxoratus, itemque promovendus ad presbyteratum, ad ordinam diaconatus ne admittantur, nisi ritu prescripto publice coram Deo et Ecclesia obligationem caelibatus assumpserint, aut vota perpetua in instituto religioso emiserint.
[30] The discussion of celibacy in P.D.V. is found particularly in §§29 and 50 (in the ORIGINS edition, at 731/3–732/1; 742/2-/3). The reference there to the exceptions set forth in “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus” (1967) is at the end of 731/3.
[31] Proposition 11, quoted in P.D.V., §29, with an internal reference to “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” §42 (A.A.S. 59 [1967] 674), which instituted this exception.
[32] The reasons for holding that continence is required equally of the permanent diaconate are set out in the Appendix.
[33] CLERICAL CELIBACY at 70, citing Newman’s APOLOGIA PRO VITA Sua (Boston, 1956) at 70.
[34] John Henry Cardinal Newman, AN ESSAY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE. Sixth edition. Foreword by Ian Ker (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989), 8.
[35] See notes 9, 19, 21, supra. The conciliar citations to this effect include SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM, (Intro.), §10; ET in Vatican Council II: DOCUMENTS 1, 6); LUMEN GENTIUM §§ 3, 11, 26, 28, 48, 50 (DOCUMENTS 351, 362, 381, 382, 384-85, 407-08, 412); CHRISTUS DOMINUS §31.2 (DOCUMENTS 582); PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS §§ 2, 5, 6, 13 (DOCUMENTS 865-66; 871, 874, 888); AD GENTES DIVINITUS 9, 14 (DOCUMENTS 823, 828). For clear papal affirmations of this doctrine after the Council, see Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter of 3 September, 1965, “Mysterium Fidei,” A.A.S. 57 (1965) 753-774; to the same effect, see “The Mystery and Worship of the Holy Eucharist,” A Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of the World,” ORIGINS 9 (March 27, 1980) 653-666 at 656, where the Pope clearly affirms that the Eucharistic representation of the Sacrifice of Christ is the source of the Church. The Eucharistic source of the Church has been a liturgical discovery stressed in recent Eucharistic theology: see Johannes Betz, DIE EUCHARISTIE IN DER ZEIT DER GRIECHISCHEN VÄTER, I/1: DIE AKTUALPRÄSENZ DER PERSON UND DES HEILSWERKES JESU IM ABENDMAHL NACH DER VOREPHESINISCHEN GRIECHISCHEN PATRISTIK, 260 ff., who shows that this doctrine is ancient in the Church:
    Die Menschenwerdung des Logos war ein Handeln Gottes selbst. Auch ihre kultische Vergegenwärtigung, die in der Wandlung der Gaben von Brot und Wein besteht, ist nach der Vätertheologie letztlich das Werk Gottes selbst, näherhin das Werk Christi bzw. des Heiligen Geistes. In dem Geschehen an den Elementen kommt das Inkarnationsgeschehen zur Darstellung. Wie wir sahen, erfolgt diese Wandlung der Elemente durch deren Inbesitznahme von seiten Christi. Dieser Vorgang hat nun aber eine menschliche Voraussetzung: die Übereignung der Gaben an Gott, ihre Darbietung zu dem Zweck, daß Christus sich ihrer zu seiner kultischen Inkarnation bediene. Diese Übereignung geschieht in der Prosphora; sie ist das Werk der Kirche.253 (pp. 318-19.) 

    253Auch bei der Durchführung der geschlichtlichen Inkarnation bediente sich Gott einer menschlichen Voraussetzung: der Jungfrau Maria, die für die Patristik ein Urbild der Kirche ist; vgl. O. Semmelroth, URBILD DER KIRCHE. ORGANISCHER AUFBAU DES MARIENGEHEIMNISSES (Würzburg, 1950) 25ff.

[36] “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” §42; cited in P.D.V., §29; cf. C.J.C., C. 1047, §3; see note 31, supra.
[37] No exception from the law of priestly continence is stated in the relevant canons of the 1983 C.J.C., e.g., Cc. 1036, 1041, 3°, 1042, 1°, and 1047, §3. For reasons which will be developed infra, no such exception may be presumed to be granted as implicit in the language of “in matrimonio viventibus,” the term used in LUMEN GENTIUM §29 and in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” §26 (A.A.S. 59 [1967]) 697-704, at 699, to describe, respectively, married candidates to the diaconate, and married deacons. In “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” §42, the same expression, “in matrimonio viventibus,” describes married candidates to the priesthood. At the letter it may be read either as descriptive of the candidate simply, or of the married state of life in which he is expected to continue. “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” which is heavily reliant upon the doctrinal tradition, and exhibits no indication whatever of an intent to break new paths, uses it to refer to the marital situation both of married candidates to the permanent diaconate, and of married permanent deacons. The 1983 CODE OF CANON LAW avoids the phrase entirely, preferring matrimonium or vinculo matrimoniali in C. 1041,3°, or vir uxorem habens in C. 1042,1°, or in the negative, qui non sit uxoratus in C. 1037. There is no basis in these documents for inferring any intent to legitimate a noncontinent permanent diaconate, any more than the willingness to dispense married converts from priestly celibacy warrants their exercise whether of a noncontinent priesthood or a noncontinent episcopacy. There is still less reason to infer such a result from the language of PASTORES DABO VOBIS.
[38] We cannot here enter upon the difficult inquiry into the theological import of laicization and dispensation from celibacy: Joseph A. Murphy, S.J., has discussed the question in FREEDOM, COMMITMENT, FIDELITY: THE MORAL AND THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATION FOR MAKING A LIFELONG COMMITMENT, WITH SPECIAL REGARD TO VOWING. Excerpta e dissertatione ad Lauream in Facultate Theologica Pontificiae Universitatis Gregorianae (Roma: P.U.G., 1983); see esp. pp. 64-68. Norms for the laicization of priests were published by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as “Per Litteras ad Universos,” A.A.S. 72 (1980) 132-137; ET: “Dispensations from Celibacy,” JURIST 51 (1981) 222-28; “Norms for Laicization of Priests,” VATICAN COUNCIL II: MORE POSTCONCILIAR DOCUMENTS; Gen. Ed. Austin Flannery, O.P. (Northport, NY: Dominican Publications, 1982) at 382ff.
[39] C.J.C., Cc. 290-293.
[40] For analyses of purported early exceptions to this rule, see APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 153ff., citing Hippolytus’ REFUTATIO OMNIUM HAERESIUM [PHILOSOPHOUMENA] ix, 12, 22 (GCS 26, 249-50), Origen’s 23RD HOMILY ON NUMBERS, XXIII, 3 (SCHR 29, 440-42) and his 6TH HOMILY ON LEVITICUS (SCHR 29, 368-70); 169ff., quoting the Council of Ancyra, C. 10 (JOANNOU I, 2, p. 55); and 220ff., quoting Basil’s 2ND LETTER ON THE CANONS ADDRESSED TO AMPHILOCHIUS (JOANNOU I, pp. 127-128).
[41] APOSTOLIC ORIGINS 258, quoting and commenting upon Innocent I’s LETTER TO VICTRICIUS, his LETTER TO EXUPERY OF TOULOUSE, and his LETTER TO MAXIMUS AND SEVERUS, bishops in Calabria.
[42] C.J.C., C. 1087.
[43] Contrast Karl Rahner’s early article, “Reflection on the Concept of Jus Divinum in Catholic Thought,” THEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS V, 219-243, esp., 227, with the reversal of that view in his “Priestertum der Frau,” STIMMEN DER ZEIT 195 (May, 1977) 291-301. Avery Dulles presumes a similar amenability of ecclesial institution to political manouver in THE RESILIENT CHURCH: THE NECESSITY AND LIMITS OF ADAPTATION (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977), pp. 42-43. Perhaps the most systematic theological presentation in English of the appeal to authoritarianism is found in John O’Malley’s recent TRADITION AND TRANSITION: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON VATICAN II (Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1989).
[44] “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus” §34. The idiom which describes as “debt” and “indebtedness” the results of sin is commonplace in the New Testament; such debt is paid finally only by the sacrifice of Christ, which institutes the sancta societas, the redeemed People of God (Augustine, DE CIV. DEI 10, 6, (CCHR.SL 47:278). Insofar as the sacramental covenant of marriage (the secondary “holy society”) is ordered to and made intelligible by the Eucharistic sacrifice (cf. note 6, supra) it is not incongruous that the New Testament should speak of its consummation and institution also as the payment of a debt by the husband. This consideration opens up a realm of inquiry which cannot be explored here; it must suffice to point out the parallel, which is more than verbal.
[45] Because the interest of this study is theological and metaphysical rather than strictly canonical, all references to the inability or incapacity of a cleric in major orders to marry bear upon the sacramental reality, the res et sacramentum, of orders and of marriage. Thus, the canonical distinction between an inability to marry and an incapacity to marry is ignored: any affirmation of marital incapacity or inability in the cleric refers to the same impossibility of his participation in the sacramentum tantum of marriage; any attempted participation by a person thus incapax or inabilis institutes an inefficacious sign, one which cannot cause the res et sacramentum of marriage, the marital vinculum.
[46] APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 162-207; also Alfons Stickler, “L’Évolution de la discipline du célibat dans l’Église en occident de la fin de l’âge patristique au concile du Trente,” SACERDOCE ET CÉLIBAT, 373-442, at 373-74; but see H. Crouzel, “Le célibat et la continence ecclésiastique dans l’Église primitive: leur motivations,” ibid., at 334ff. Cf. APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, Ch. Five, 84-120, in which Cochini reports no cases of noncontinent married priests who returned to their office among the known instances, during the first seven centuries of the Catholic Church in the East and the West, of clerics who were married and were family men. In the East, after the acceptance by the Council in Trullo (a.d. 691) of married and noncontinent priests, the priests and bishops who, widowed after ordination, later remarried were removed from office. Contemporary apostolic rescripts of laicization, and such further rescripts as may be issued dispensing laicized priests from the obligation of celibacy, are not granted as a matter of grace and favor to the priests seeking them, but rather, by reason of an admitted personal unfitness for the priestly office existing at the time of ordination. The resumption of office by laicized priests, apart from exceptional circumstances, becomes thereby a practical impossibility under the general principle of estoppel. The manifest and admitted unfitness of the laicized priest for the priestly office is the perceived precondition for the grant of such a rescript by the Apostolic See, and is yet more evident in those who, having been dispensed from the obligation of celibacy, have married: see THE CODE OF CANON LAW: A TEXT AND COMMENTARY, commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America; eds. James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, Donald E. Heintschel. Study ed. (New York: Paulist Press, 1985) 232ff. However, reinstatement remains possible: any priest so laicized and dispensed from celibacy may apply for reinstatement to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: see PROCEDURES FOR A DISPENSATION FROM PRIESTLY CELIBACY: A COMMENTARY AND GUIDE. (Mimeograph) Prepared under the auspices of the N.C.C.B. Canonical Affairs Committee for use by Ordinaries and Major Superiors. For Private Circulation Only (Washington: N.C.C.B., 1986), at 26. This possibility of a laicized priest’s return to the exercise of the priestly office is consistent with his capacity in any case to exercise such office for the benefit of a person in articulo mortis. Even as laicized and married, he remains a priest, possessing the irrevocable priestly character.
[48] APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, at 294-295, citing Jerome’s ADVERSUS JOVINIANEM, I, 34. (PL 23:257a-c); see also 297-298, citing Jerome’s APOLOGETICUM AD PAMMACHIUM, EP. 49, 10 and 21; (CSEL 54:365 and 386-87) and his ADVERSUS VIGILANTIUM (2; PL 23, 340b-41a.
[49] Cf. note 20, supra.
[50] We see such use of marriage by one in higher orders persistently likened to sexual impurity generally, and more specifically to adultery and incest: APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 100-01, citing in note 37 Pseudo-Jerome’s DE SEPTEM ORDINIBUS ECCLESIAE; 218, citing Ephraem’s CARMINA NISIBANA (see note 20, supra); 223, citing Ambrosiaster’s QUAESTIONES VETERI ET NOVI TESTAMENTI (127; CSEL 50, 414-15); 236, quoting Ambrose’s DE OFFICIIS III (PL 16, 104b-5a); 252, 294-99, quoting Jerome’s ADVERSUS JOVINIANUM, his LETTER TO PAMMACHIUS and his ADVERSUS VIGILANTIUM (see note 46, supra); 304, quoting Synesius of Ptolemais’ LETTER 105 (PG 66, 1484a-88d); 336ff., quoting Cc. 1 and 2, Fourth Council of Arles (CCH 148a, 43-44); 345, quoting the Council of Mâcon (CCH 148a, 225); 380, quoting in n. 282 Cc. 27 and 28 of the PÉNITENTIEL DE VINNIAUS (F. W. H. Wesserschleben, DIE BUSSORDNUNGEN DER ABENDLÄNDISCHEN KIRCHE (Halle: 1851; Graz: 1958) p. 14; 390-91, quoting the Fourth Council of Toledo, Cc. 21-27 (CANONES APOSTOLORUM ET CONCILIORUM SAECULORUM IV, V, VI, VII recognovit atque insignioris lectionum varietatis notationes subjunxit Herm. Theod. Bruns. 2 vols. [Berlin, 1839] [hereafter, BRUNS] I, 230-31; 392-94, quoting the Eighth Council of Toledo, Cc. 4-7 (Bruns, 279-81); see also the material cited in CLERICAL CELIBACY, at 52, 53, 93, 94, 151, 159, 169, and 181.
[52] Cochini’s translation, from APOSTOLIC ORIGINS at 296.
[53] Pope John Paul’s “theology of the body” dominates the priestly spirituality of “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” as it does the spirituality which pervades all his publications, beginning with THE ORIGINAL UNITY OF MAN AND WOMAN. In this theology, virginity — and celibacy — evince
    the “nuptial meaning” of the body through a communion and a personal gift to Jesus Christ and his Church which prefigures and anticipates the perfect and final communion and self-giving of the world to come . . . (P.D.V., §29; for a more extensive quotation from this passage, see note 75 infra).
[54] See note 6, supra.
[55] Representative passages, which may easily be multiplied, include:
    The authority of Jesus Christ as head coincides then with his service, with his gift, with his total, humble and loving dedication on behalf of the Church. All this he did in perfect obedience to the Father; he is the one true Suffering Servant of God, both priest and victim. (P.D.V. § 21) 

    The spiritual existence of every priest receives its life and inspiration from exactly this type of authority, from service to the Church, precisely inasmuch as it is required by the priest’s configuration to Jesus Christ, head and servant of the Church.

    In his spiritual life, therefore, he is called to live out Christ’s spousal love toward the Church, his bride. (P.D.V. §22)

    The consecrated celibacy of the sacred ministers actually manifests the virginal love of Christ for the Church, and the virginal and supernatural fecundity of this marriage, by which the children of God are born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh.” (“Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” §16)

[56] E.g., in a number of places in APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, Cochini quotes patristic authors who identify the Church as the wife of the priest. At 218, Cochini quotes Ephraem’s CARMINA NISIBENA: “Grex tua est uxor tua.” At 100-01 and 314, he has Pseudo-Jerome saying the same: the Church is wife as to priest (DE SEPTEM ORDINIBUS ECCLESIAE; PL 30: 159c-d); we have already seen Pseudo-Jerome’s assimilation of clerical noncontinence to adultery: cf. note 48, supra. The maxim was sufficiently established to be available pour des raisons d’état to Justinian’s Code, (CODEX JUSTINIANUS I, 3, 44): Cochini observes that Justinian’s prohibition of the consecration of married bishops had in view forestalling the alienation of the Church’s wealth by such a bishop’s heirs. The theme of the priest’s marital relation to the Church is repeated in P.D.V., which quotes an address by the Pope “to priests taking part in an assembly organized by the Italian episcopal conference (Nov. 4, 1980)”: in it he taught, and now reaffirms, a “concrete spirituality” by which the priest
    becomes capable of loving the universal Church and that part of it entrusted to him with the deep love of a husband for his wife. (citing INSEGNAMENTI III/2 (1980), at 1055.)

This spirituality was already ancient in the Church when the Council of Elvira wrote it into law.

[57] P.D.V., §23: “Pastoral charity, which has its specific source in the sacrament of holy orders, finds its full expression and its supreme nourishment in the Eucharist.”
[58] APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, at 256, citing the letters of Innocent I referred to in notes 25 and 41 supra; at 262, citing the letters of Leo the Great referred to in notes. 24 and 26 supra; at 276, citing the 3rd canon of the second Council of Arles (442-506; CCH 148, 25) and the 3rd canon of the Council of Nicaea, (JOANNOU I, 1, pp. 25-26); at 314, citing C. 6(5) of THE APOSTOLIC CANONS (JOANNOU I, 2, p. 10); at 339, citing C. 13 of the Council of Clermont (CCH 148A, 108), and at 424, citing the Western legislation following Leo the Great.
[59] “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” §29, citing PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS, §5.
[60] APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 434. Perhaps the greatest contribution of Pope John Paul II to Catholic theology and intellectual life generally is his “theology of the body;” in this he has understood the nuptial character of the objectively sacramental significance of our physical humanity to be at one with our imaging of God which, in contrast to the supposition identifying the human person with the human substance, still dominant in Catholic theology under the influence of Karl Rahner’s THE TRINITY (1970), must now be seen to be nuptial, not psychological simply, with all that this transformation of the meaning o person implies for the freedom, historicity, and covenantal unity of our substantial imaging of the Triune God. The unity of the human substance is now seen to be objectively and freely nuptial, covenantal, sacramental, and consequently triune. In addition to the THE ORIGINAL UNITY OF MAN AND WOMAN: CATECHESIS ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS and FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO, cited in note 6 supra, John Paul II had earlier spelled out his nuptial “theology of the body” in BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART: CATECHESIS ON THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT AND THE WRITINGS OF ST. PAUL, Preface by Donald W. Wuerl (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1983), in REFLECTIONS ON HUMANAE VITAE: CONJUGAL MORALITY AND SPIRITUALITY, Preface by Rev. Msgr. Donald W. Wuerl (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1984), and in THE THEOLOGY OF MARRIAGE AND CELIBACY: CATECHESIS ON MARRIAGE AND CELIBACY IN THE LIGHT OF THE INCARNATION OF THE BODY, Preface by Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, D.D. (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1986); the Pope has expressed himself on this subject more formally in his encyclical letter of March 4, 1979, published as REDEEMER OF MAN: REDEMPTOR HOMINIS (Washington, D.C.: Publications Office, U.S. Catholic Conference, 1979), in his encyclical letter of 30 November, 1980, published as RICH IN MERCY: DIVES IN MISERICORDIA (Washington: Publications Office, U.S. Catholic Conference, 1981), and in his encyclical letter of 8 May, 1986, published as ON THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD: DOMINUM ET VIVIFICANTEM (Washington: Office of Publications and Promotions Service, U.S. Catholic Conference, 1986). In these works, and most recently in VERITATIS SPLENDOR [E.T., ENCYCLICAL LETTER OF JOHN PAUL II: THE SPLENDOR OF TRUTH — VERITATIS SPLENDOR; Vatican Translation (Boston: St. Paul Books & Media, 1993], Pope John Paul II has provided for a reworking of the entire theological tradition on this nuptial and covenantal base.
[61] See notes 44 and 48 supra.
[62] This demand for the “conversion” or “spiritualizing” of an existing marriage at ordination to the priestly office is a “universal rule,” taken for granted by men such as Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, Jerome and Epiphanius at the end of the fourth century. It amounts to a practical apostolic exegesis of I Tim 3:2; see APOSTOLIC TRADITION, 43, citing Alfons Stickler, “La continenza dei diaconi specialmente nel primo millenio della chiesa,” SALESIANUM 26 (1964) 275-302; see also Stickler’s “Tratti salienti nella storia del celibato,” SACRA DOCTRINA 15 (1970) 585-620; “Nota storica sul celibato dei chierici in sacris,” L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO, March 1-3/4, 1970; “Il celibato ecclesiastico,” L’OSSERVATORE DELLA DOMENICA, supplements to nos. 103, 109, and 115 of L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO, May 6, 13, 20, 1979, 52-53, and “A New History of Papal Legislation on Celibacy,” THE CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW 65 (1979), 76-84, critically reviewing Denzler’s DAS PAPSTTUM UND DER AMTZÖLIBAT. See particularly the sources cited by Cochini in APOSTOLIC ORIGINS, 47-64, when setting out his methodological “principle of spatio-temporal universality.” Cochini cites further early witnesses: op. cit., 224, quoting Ambrosiaster’s QUAESTIONES VETERIS ET NOVI TESTAMENTI, 127 (CSEL 50, 414-15); 234-36, quoting Ambrose’s LETTER TO THE CHURCH OF VERCELLI (PL 16, 1257a); 275-276, quoting the 3rd canon of the 2nd Council of Arles; 295-96, quoting Jerome’s ADVERSUS JOVINIANUM I, 34 (PL 23, 257a-c); 299, quoting Jerome’s ADVERSUS VIGILANTIUM 2 (PL 23, 340b-41a); and 345, quoting C. 11 of the Council of Mâcon (CCH 148 A, 225.
[63] See de Lubac, op. cit.
[64] Mt. 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-8; see J. L. McKenzie’s DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE, s.v.
[65] Louis Ligier, S.J., PÉCHÉ D’ADAM ET PÉCHÉ DU MONDE: BIBLE, KIPPUR, EUCHARISTIE I: L’ANCIEN TESTAMENT; II: LE NOUVEAU TESTAMENT; ser. Théologie 43, 48 (Paris: Aubier, Éditions Montaigne, 1960, 1961).
[66] Augustine, DE CIV. DEI 10, 6.
[67] Augustine, THE CITY OF GOD (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1884). Dods’ jejune translation of “sancta societas” as “holy fellowship” is now found in both the English and the American breviaries: see the excerpt from THE CITY OF GOD in the Readings for Friday of the 28th week of the year in THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS IV, 397. In THE MODERNITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE (Baltimore: Helicon, 1953), Jean Guitton has eliminated this insinuation-by-translation of a sola fide Eucharist; there we read, at 53: “in a sacred bond.” Gerald Walsh and Grace Monahan, the translators of the Fathers of the Church edition, prefer “in a holy communion,” which at least leaves intact the Una Caro ordering of the Church at worship, if without offering much insight into its Eucharistic character.
[68] H. U. von Balthasar, THE GLORY OF THE LORD. A THEOLOGICAL AESTHETICS, I: SEEING THE FORM; tr. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis; eds. Joseph Fessio, S.J. and John Riches (San Francisco: Ignatius Press; New York: Crossroad Publications, 1982), 634ff., 647.
[69] It is not anachronistic to speak of an Augustinian res tantum: granted that the full articulation of Augustine’s Eucharistic realism waited upon the twelfth century, that articulation is still the only consistent interpretation of Augustine’s sacramental theology. E.g., Henri de Lubac, in CORPUS MYSTICUM: L’Eucharistie et l’Église au moyen âge. Étude historique; 2e édition, revue et augmentée; ser. Théologie 3 (Paris: Aubier, Éditions Montaigne, 1949), has written of the Augustinianism of the Latin Fathers:
    • 1. Ainsi Alcuin (P.L., 100, 834A), Leidrade (99, 867B), Hetton (105, 763B), Raban Maur (107, 317-318; 112, 89A), Florus (119, 78A), Ratramne (121, 150A et 161), Adrévald de Fleury (124, 950C), etc. Cf. Bède, IN IOANNEM: “Sed quod pertinet ad virtutem sacramenti, non quod pertinet ad visibile sacramentum” (92, 717D). 

      2. Ainsi Bède, IN LEVITICUM (P.L. 91, 334A), Raban Maur DE CLERICORUM INSTITUTIONE (107, 318B), IN EVANGELIA, hom. 64 (110, 269-270), Walafrid Strabon, DE REBUS ECCLESIASTICIS, C. 16 (114, 936C) etc. Encore, S. Thomas IN IOANNEM, C. 6, 1, 6, n. 7.

  • Dans la pensée de toute l’antiquité chrétienne, Eucharistie et Église sont liées. Chez saint Augustin, sous l’influence de la controverse donatiste, cette liaison s’accentue avec un force toute particulière, et il en va de même chez les écrivains latins des VIIe, VIIIe et IXe siècles. Pour eux comme pour Augustin, dont ils dépendent tous directement ou par intermédiaires, et dont ils reproduisent incessamment les formules, l’Eucharistie est rapportée à l’Église comme la cause à l’effet, comme le moyen à la fin, en même temps que comme le signe à la réalité. Or, ce passage du sacramentum à la virtus sacramenti ou de la species visibilis à la res ipsa1 se fait chez eux d’un si rapide élan, l’accent est tellement mis sur l’Église que si, dans un exposé concernant le mystère Eucharistique, se rencontre sans plus le mot “corps du Christ,” c’est souvent non l’Eucharistie, mais l’Église que ce mot désigne.2 (at 23)

For the final formulation of the Augustinian sacramentalism, see Pedro Lopez Gonzalez, “Origen de la expresión ‘res et sacramentum,'” SCRIPTA THEOLOGIA 17 (1985) 73-119. He traces it to a theological development completed within the school of Anselm of Laon during the early twelfth century. See also H. M. Féret, “Sacramentum-Res dans la langue théologique de saint Augustin,” REVUE DES SCIENCES PHIL. ET THEOL. 29 (1940) 223ff., and F. Soria, “La teoría del signo en S. Augustin” CIENCIA TOMISTA 92 (1965) 357-396.

[70] In addition to the statements made in 1979 to bishops and priests which are cited in note 3 supra, and the material developing the “theology of the body,” cited in notes 7, 53, and 60 supra, see “Catechesi Tradendae: Adhortatio Apostolica ad Episcopos, Sacerdotes et Christifideles totius Catholicae Ecclesiae de catechesi nostro tempore tradenda,” A.A.S. 71 (1979) 1277-1340, ET “Apostolic Exhortation on Catechetics,” ORIGINS 9 (1979) 329-347; “Dominicae Cenae; Epistula Apostolica ad universos Ecclesiae Episcopos: de SS. Eucharistiae mysterio et cultu,” A.A.S. 72 (1980) 113-148, ET “”The Mystery and Worship of the Holy Eucharist:” A Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of the World,” ORIGINS 9 (1980) 653-666; “Ad universos Ecclesiae sacerdotes adveniente Feria 5 in Cena Domini anno 1986,” A.A.S. 78 (1986) 689-702, ET “The Example of St. John Vianney: The Pope’s Holy Thursday Letter to Priests, 1986,” ORIGINS 15 (1986) 685-691; “Dominum et Vivificantem: Litterae Encyclicae,” A.A.S. 78 (1986) 809-900; ET: ON THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD: DOMINUM ET VIVIFICANTEM (Washington: Office of Publications and Promotions Service, U.S. Catholic Conference, 1986; Boston: St. Paul Editions, n.d.); “Epistula Sacerdotibus, adveniente feria V in Cena Domina Missa,” A.A.S. 79 (1987) 1285-1295, ET “The Pope’s Holy Thursday Letter to Priests: “A Priesthood Rooted in Prayer,”” ORIGINS 16 (1987) 792-795; “Allocutio Miamae, ad Presbyteros coram admissos,” A.A.S. 80 (1988) 741-749, ET “The Pope Speaks to U.S. Priests,” ORIGINS 17 (1987) 234-237; “Epistula cunctos ad Ecclesiae Presbyteros redeunte iam anno 1988 feria V in Cena Domini,” A.A.S. 80 (1988) 1280-1291, ET “Priests’ Spiritual Fatherhood,” ORIGINS 17 (1988) 737-740, “Interpreting the Decline in Priesthood Statistics,” ORIGINS 18 (1988) 394-396; “Holy Thursday Letter to Priests,” ORIGINS 18 (1989) 729-734.
[71] Once again, note the covenantal corollary of the priestly office in persona Christi: viz., the exercise of authority in nomine Ecclesiae. Because Christ is the head of the bridal Church, the priest’s authority to act in his name is eo ipso the authority to speak as the Head of the Body, the Church; the priestly authority is consequently prophetic and regiminal. Thus the priest’s authority to act in the person of Christ, and therefore in the name of the Church, has free and covenantal unity of the One Flesh and so is single, as Aquila has pointed out; see note 1. supra.
[72] Cholij would assert a causal relation between orders and celibacy; see CLERICAL CELIBACY, 37ff.
[73] The reference is to the Pauline identification of the risen Christ as a living spirit. He is risen as the Head of the Body in a unity of One Flesh, from whom he is never separated, for it is the One Flesh, the Christus totus, the Head and the Body, the New Covenant, in fine, the renewed good creation, that is risen. This is the significance of the Assumption of our Lady, who as assumed is the risen second Eve and the Queen of the Church triumphant, in that “spiritual” unity with her Lord which the sacramental One Flesh of the Eucharistic sacrifice represents in our fallen history. In the light cast by Catholic sacramental realism, “spiritual” always refers to the concrete transcendence over death given by Baptismal entry into the death of the Head, the Christ, and into the triumph of his Resurrection. As baptized, this “spirit” is our objective personal reality, manifest not empirically but as signed and caused by Baptism, as affirmed in and sustained by the Eucharistic worship of the Church. This “spirit” is the work of the Spiritus Creator in us; it is to be contrasted with our “flesh,” which is given over to death: see Rom 8:10-11; I Pet 3:18-22. All talk of soul and body should be thus understood: viz., in the context of the liturgy, not of Platonic or Aristotelian metaphysics. “Spirit” takes its meaning from Resurrection of the Christ, and has nothing to do with immateriality. Its ultimate ground is the Father, whose gift of life through the life, death and resurrection of the Head is our divinization, our sharing in the divine life.
[74] Eph 5: 21-33.
[75] As indicated in note 19 supra, the pertinent texts are cited in CLERICAL CELIBACY at pp. 154-58, 423-24, and 438-39.
[76] After a vindication of consecrated virginity, the Pope goes on to say:
    In this light one can more easily understand and appreciate the reasons behind the centuries-old choice which the Western Church has made and maintained — despite all the difficulties and objections raised down the centuries — of conferring the order of presbyter only on men who have given proof that they have been called by God to the gift of chastity in absolute and perpetual celibacy.
[77] Lon Fuller, THE MORALITY OF LAW. Rev. ed. (Yale University Press, 1964), ch. 1.
[78] For a striking example, see THE HEILAND: THE SAXON GOSPEL. Translation and Commentary by G. Ronald Murphy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990). The CHANSON DE ROLAND and the several developments of the Arthurian legend offer less vivid but still speaking witness to the transformation worked by Christianity of the image of the heroic from the Norse berserker of the Icelandic Eddas to the ascetic as limned in the early lives of the saints. Its implementation in Carolingian and early medieval hagiography is well known.
[79] As for law, the vitality of the English common law tradition ended with Henry VIII’s enlistment in the Reform; as for the physicians, the Nazi regime immediately undertook the subornation of the medical profession, as under the Gauleiter Seyss-Inquart in Holland in 1942, and as in the exploitation by physicians, for “experimental” purposes, of the inmates of the concentration camps established throughout Germany and occupied Poland, before and during World War Two. An entirely comparable contemporary subornation of the practice of medicine to an uncovenanted modernity has removed the professional stigma once attaching to the procurer of abortions, and is well on the way to rendering respectable the procurer of euthanasia. As for the comparable subornation of the military, very few of the German officer corps dared to resist Hitler; so splendid a soldier as Erwin Rommel was blackmailed into suicide by Hitler without protest from them. Stalin liquidated the officer corps of the Soviet army in the decade before the second World War, and that of the Polish army corps in 1944, again without effective protest. The degradation of the professional military schools in this country by their subordination to the demands of feminism is an ongoing scandal: the feminization of the military has proceeded not only without effective protest from the officer corps, but with the active collaboration of its senior members. While the Clinton administration’s initial effort to legitimate the homosexual lifestyle within the military has met a professional resistance too stiff to overcome, whether this revulsion will endure is another matter. As for the Catholic priesthood, the historical rejections by clerics of union with Rome have invariably been accompanied by rejections of the spirituality of priestly celibacy: this needs no illustration, domestic or foreign.
[80] An affirmation of the radical significance of consecrated virginity prefaces the developed discussion of priestly celibacy in P.D.V., §29:
    29. Referring to the evangelical counsels, the council states that “pre-eminent among these counsels is that precious gift of divine grace given to some by the Father (cf. Mt. 19:11; 1 Cor. 7:7) in order more easily to devote themselves to God alone with an undivided heart (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-34) in virginity or celibacy. This perfect continence for love of the kingdom of heaven has always been held in high esteem by the Church as a sign and stimulus of love, and as a singular source of spiritual fertility in the world” (quoting “LUMEN GENTIUM,” §42.) In virginity and celibacy, chastity retains its original meaning, that is, of human sexuality lived as a genuine sign of and precious service to the love of communion and gift of self to others. This meaning is fully found in virginity which makes evident, even in the renunciation of marriage, the “nuptial meaning” of the body through a communion and a personal gift to Jesus Christ and his Church which prefigures and anticipates the perfect and final communion and self-giving of the world to come: “In virginity or celibacy, the human being is awaiting, also in a bodily way, the eschatological marriage of Christ with the Church, giving himself or herself completely to the Church in the hope that Christ may give himself to the Church in the full truth of eternal life.” (quoting the Apostolic Exhortation, “Familiaris Consortio” [Nov. 22, 1981] §16: A.A.S. 74 [1982] 98.)

The same affirmation is found another passage from P.D.V., §29, quoted in note 4, supra.

[81] See note 52, supra.
[82] Nearly twenty years ago, while a member of the faculty of the Boalt School of Law at the University of California in Berkeley, the late David Louisell warned his colleagues that
    Putting aside as far as possible the subjective value judgments grounded in attitudes toward religion (and also putting aside the idiosyncratic expressions of individual Justices as distinguished from the stance of the Court), perhaps the strongest case for the thesis that the Court is tilting against religion is based upon its use of its new “divisive” teaching. For it now seems to be the doctrine that a state violates the establishment clause when it effectuates a policy that results from a political contest wherein some of the politically successful partisans were religiously motivated. LEMON V. KURTZMAN, 403 U.S. 602 (1971); COMMITTEE FOR PUBLIC EDUC. V. NYQUIST, 413 U.S. 756 (1973); MEEK V. PITTENGER, 95 S. Ct. 1753 (1975). This of course is only another way of saying that a citizen is effectively precluded from the democratic arena if his motive for entering it is based upon religious conviction. 


[83] At the end of the fifth century, in “Famulae vestrae pietatis,” a letter to Emperor Anastasius I, Pope Gelasius I wrote:
    Duo sunt quippe, imperator auguste, quibus principaliter mundus hic regitur, auctoritas sacrata pontificum et regalis potestas. 

    DS §*347.

The classic doctrinal expression of this dialectical equipoise is the Bull of Pope Boniface VIII, “Unam Sanctam,” DS §§*870-874, although that Pope’s protest against the rationalization of his doctrine has found as little audience among scholars as Gelasius’ Augustinian formula has met with understanding.

[84] The joinder of the authority of the Church and the coercive power of empire, or nation, or state, with the inevitable suppression of the Church to civil power, is called Caesaropapism when applied to Constantine and his successors; the term has also been used with reference to the feudal governance of the Western Empire from the Carolingian through the Ottonian period, against which the Gregorian Reform reacted. In the more modern context of nation-states, the same subordination of Church to State has produced Erastianism in England, Gallicanism in France, Febronianism or Josephinism in Austria, the Kulturkampf in Germany, the Inquisition in Spain, and the Jeffersonian “wall of separation” in the United States.
[85] Murray’s theology of Church and state is found in scattered articles published in the early volumes of THEOLOGICAL STUDIES; it is summarized in WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS: CATHOLIC REFLECTIONS ON THE AMERICAN PROPOSITION (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960); George Weigel has developed Murray’s political philosophy further in CATHOLICISM AND THE RENEWAL OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY (New York: Paulist Press, 1989).
[86] Gustav Grundlach, S.J., in an article expressing misgivings over the validity of the Nuremberg convictions of war criminals, “Moral Estimate of the Nuremberg Trial,” AMERICA (November 9, 1946) 149-150, attempted to justify the trials and convictions at Nuremberg finally on moral rather than on juridical grounds. The comments by Edmund Walsh, S.J., immediately following Fr. Grundlach’s article, reflected upon and developed the latter’s concerns, using the language of sacramental theology to distinguish a legality which would rest upon human virtue from one which would rest upon the justice of God: the former option he calls a legality effective ex opere operantis; the latter, a legality effective ex opere operato. Only a sacrament has the latter efficacy, one finally dependent upon the Lord of history rather than upon human devices, but Fr. Walsh did not further pursue the question of the sacramental basis of a polity whose law which would be thus effective.
[87] The elimination of the irrationality of marriage and family life by Plato in the REPUBLIC provides the paradigm for all the utopias to follow; for a survey of these, and their routine rationalization of marriage and family — which, by a striking historical irony, is present even in Thomas More’s UTOPIA — see Frank E. and Fritzie P. Manuel, UTOPIAN THOUGHT IN THE WESTERN WORLD (Cambridge: Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1979). Sacramental marriage, immune from such manipulation, makes sense only as grounded in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, as the Reform discovered.
[88] E.g., Edward Schillebeeckx, MINISTRY: Leadership in the Community of Jesus Christ (New York: Crossroad, 1981), esp. ch. iv; John Coleman, “The Future of Ministry,” AMERICA 144 (March 28, 1981) 243-49; “Ministry in the 80’s,” CALL TO GROWTH/MINISTRY 9/2 (Winter, 1982) 24-31.

© Matt C. Abbott

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates. 

“The Obligation of Perfect and Perpetual Continence and Married Deacons in the Latin Church” — A DISSERTATION by Anthony K. W. McLaughlin. Washington, D.C.

A doctoral dissertation by Father Anthony McLaughlin of the Diocese of Tyler in Texas supports the “hermeneutic of continuity” with regard to apostolic continence and canon 277. Herewith is the reference:

“The Obligation of Perfect and Perpetual Continence
And Married Deacons in the Latin Church”

Submitted to the Faculty of the
School of Canon Law
Of The Catholic University of America
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree
Doctor in Canon Law
Anthony K. W. McLaughlin
Washington, D.C.

Read more:

Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke interviewed on EWTN, August 18-2010

Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke interviewed on EWTN, August 18-2010

Recent EWTN homilies: AND

Friday, August 13, 2010

We live not in an age of apostasy, but of spiritual regression

Fr. Brian Van Hove, S.J., who has written several pieces for Ignatius Insight, gave the homily today on EWTN’s televised Mass; his thoughts about apostasy and regression are well worth pondering. He also makes passing mention of Hans Urs von Balthasar and of a brilliant two-volume work, Covenantal Theology: The Eucharistic Order of History (University Press of America, 1991), by Fr. Donald J. Keefe, S.J., which I bought years ago at the urging of Dr. Mark Lowery (University of Dallas), who studied under Keefe at Marquette.

Fr. Van Hove is the Chaplain to the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan.