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Susanna Matrisciano wrote:

Hi, guys —

Peace be with you,

My Bible study group has all these questions. I was elected to find out the answers.

  1. Were all of Jesus' twelve Apostles married?
  2. Did Peter take his wife to Rome with him?
  3. When did the Roman Catholic Church decide that priests were to be celibate?
  4. Did the Church decide this for our priests because married priests were bequeathing the Church properties to their own children?

Thanks and God be with you,


  { Can you address the Apostle's marital status and when the Church decided on celibate priests? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Susanna —

  1. Not all were married.

  2. It is unknown what happened to Peter's wife. However, it appears from the Gospel that she predeceased even his joining of the group of disciples, because had she been alive,
    the sickness of her mother would not have meant that there was no one to wait on Jesus and the Apostles.

  3. The Church always ordained married and non-married men.

    • The married men could stay married until the death of the partner, and could never be bishop, and
    • the unmarried could not marry, and could be bishops.

      In the Middle Ages, many clergy who had nephews or illegitimate sons would give them benefices (places in the Church).

  4. More detailed information can be found by searching the Catholic Encyclopedia at You can search any of the relevant terms.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Hi, Susanna —

I'd offer a modification of Mary Ann's answer.

It is a long standing tradition that the Church does not elevate married men to bishop, but that does not necessarily go back to the beginning. St. Paul writes to Timothy and Titus respecting both presbyters and episcopoi (bishops). In his instructs, he tell them not to ordain either if they have more than one wife.

So there is evidence that the Church may have ordained married men as bishops however the practice didn't last long.

[Related posting]

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