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P. J. Ronyag wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Who was the Pope that abolished priests from marrying?
  • What year did that occur?

Thank you,

P. J.

  { Who was the Pope that abolished priests from marrying and what year did this occur? }

Mike replied:

Hi, P. J. —

Thanks for the question.

The way you phrased your question sounds a little partisan.

Let me answer your question and then elaborate.

The very first Pope was Pope Urban II who presided at a minor council held at Clermont in Auvergne in November of 1095 A.D.

Pope Innocent II, the 164th successor of St. Peter, who oversaw the Second Lateran Council,
a major council in 1139 A.D., reaffirmed this.

I have summarized the issues involved from a New Advent web page. Due to the cultural differences between the twelfth (12th) century and today, I've paraphrased the issues involved.  The council issued 28 canons that:

  • condemned certain heretics
  • excommunicated certain laity for bad behavior
  • condemned bad practices among the laity and religious
  • instituted appropriate disciplines, and
  • established certain practices (like Kings working with Bishops on issues dealing with justice.)

Canons 6, 7, and 11 dealt with the condemning and repression of marriage and concubinage among priests, deacons, subdeacons, monks, and nuns.

  • Why?

Ecclesiastical morals and discipline had grown lax during the recent schism.

The twenty-eight canons pertinent to these matters reproduced, in great part, the decrees of the Council of Reims, in 1131 A.D., and the Council of Clermont, in 1130 A.D. The enactment of these canons are frequently cited under the name of the Lateran Council and acquired an increase in notoriety at that council.

The issue our previous popes had to deal with is one of trust, moral character, integrity, and calling among those called to the clerical state.

This is an issue that we have had to, sadly, re-address over the past few years.

It's important to remember P. J. that celibacy in the Roman Rite is a discipline, not a doctrine.

  • Can it change? <Yes.>
  • Is it likely to change? <No, for good reasons.>

This piece from Catholic Answers may address a lot of other questions you have that are related to the one you asked.

Even today, exceptions are made. For example, there are married Latin-Rite priests who are converts from Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and Episcopalianism.

These other articles from the Catholic Answers website may help as well.

Years ago, another questioner asked a similar question.

How do I refute this argument on married priests versus clerical celibacy?

Hope this helps,


John replied:

Just to add to what Mike has already said well:

No one abolished priests from marrying. From the very beginning, the Church ordained both married and single men to the Diaconate and Priesthood. Soon after the first few generations of Priests and Bishops, the Eastern and Western Church started a tradition of only elevating celibate priests to the level of bishop.

It's important to note; the Church has always ordained married men but,

The Church has never allowed Priests to marry after they were ordained!

So, no Pope ever abolished priests from getting married, because from the very beginning it was understood that you remained what you were when you were ordained.

  • If you were single and celibate, you remained so.
  • If you were married, you also remained so.
  • If you were married and your wife dies after ordination, you could not marry again.

That is still the practice in parts of the Church known as the Eastern Rite. It is also the practice for married Anglican and Lutheran Ministers who wish to convert to Catholicism and subsequently seek Holy Orders.

If led by the Holy Spirit, the Latin Rite of the Church could, at any time, resume this practice of [ordaining married men] in the Western Church. This discipline or practice is not part of the faith, but rather a pastoral provision.

  1. Men seeking the priesthood, are asked to sacrifice that part of their lives to serve the community better. It has some very practical benefits.
  2. Conversely, someday the Church may decide that ordaining more married men would also bring certain benefits.

Nevertheless, in these matters, we trust the Holy Spirit will guide Holy Mother Church.


P. J. replied:

Very informative Mike and John,

Thank you.

P. J.

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