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in making this requisition. The council of Ancyra in 314 licensed the deacons, under certain conditions, to live in married relations. The following is the canon which it issued upon the subject: “ If deacons, at the time of their appointment, declare that they must marry, and that they cannot lead a celibate life, and if accordingly they marry, they may continue their office, as having the permit of the bishop; but if at the time of their election they have not spoken, and have agreed in taking holy orders to lead a celibate life, and if later they marry, they shall lose their diaconate.” The council of NeoCæsarea, held about the same time, appears not to have exceeded the above restrictions. While it ordained, “if a priest (or presbyter] marry, he shall be removed from the ranks of the clergy,” it said nothing about deacons who might claim the same license. At the council of Nicæa, the question of enforcing celibacy was agitated; but the assembled bishops were persuaded to leave the matter where they found it. • It seemed fit to the bishops," says Socrates, to introduce a new law into the Church, that those in holy orders (I speak of bishops, presbyters, and deacons) should have no intercourse with the wives whom they had married prior to ordination. And, when it was proposed to deliberate on this matter, Paphnutius, having arisen in the midst of the assembly of bishops, earnestly entreated them not to impose so heavy a yoke upon the ministers of religion.”1 This exhortation of Paphnutius, since he was a distinguished confessor, and had himself lived a strictly celibate life, had great influence; and the proposed law was abandoned. The third canon of Nicæa, which has
· Hist. Eccl., i. 11. Compare Sozomen, i. 23.
sometimes been interpreted as a sanction for celibacy, has an entirely different application. It forbids in the houses of the clergy, not wives, but the class of persons called ovveioaktov, éyatntai, sorores; that is, women undertaking, according to a perilous custom of which there are some earlier traces, to live with men in familiar companionship, and at the same time to keep the vow of virginity. That the canon has no reference to wives proper, is clear, from the fact that the prohibition is extended to every grade of the clergy; whereas legislation, at the very acme of its stringency, never attempted to impose the law of celibacy upon the lower ranks of ecclesiastics.
In the Greek Church, the requirement of celibacy on the part of the entire clergy was never insisted upon. The synod of Gangra (in Paphlagonia), in the latter part of the fourth century, declared it a proper ground for excommunication, if any one should refuse to share in divine service when a married priest was ministering at the altar. Even bishops at this period occasionally lived in married relations after consecration. Such was the case with the father of Gregory Nazianzen, who had children born in his family after assuming the episcopal office, one of them being the distinguished theologian himself. Socrates states that in his time abstinence from marriage was a matter of choice among the clergy of the East, there being no binding law upon the subject. “It was gradually,” says one of the most
? learned, as well as most candid, of Roman-Catholic writers, “that in the Greek Church it became the practice to require the bishops and all the higher clergy to abstain from married life. The apostolic canons know nothing of such a requirement. They speak, on the contrary, of married bishops; and church history also gives examples of the same, such as Synesius in the fifth century."1 In the case of Synesius, the privilege of retaining his wife was made by him a positive condition of accepting the episcopal office. The Greek Church, however, came finally to insist upon celibate bishops. Those who had wives prior to entering upon the office of bishop were put under obligation to part from them. A law to this effect was promulgated by the so-called Trullan council, held at Constantinople in 692. As regards priests and deacons, on the other hand, the ultimate custom of the Greek Church made a single mar. riage no barrier against consecration, and placed no restriction upon a continuance in married relations consummated prior to consecration. In respect to bishops also, it became usual to avoid an interference with the marriage bond by selecting monks or widower priests to fill vacancies.
1 The council of Ancyra, Canon 19, bad already condemned the custom.
2 Hist. Eccl., v. 22.
In the Latin Church, legislation assumed a more stringent tone. The Roman bishop Siricius, in 385, in answer to inquiries from Spain, issued a decretal letter, in which the position of the council of Elvira was re-affirmed, and married life was disallowed to bishops, presbyters, and deacons. Leo the Great, in the next century, included the sub-deacons under the same requisition. Numerous synods in the fifth century, as that of Carthage in 401, that held under the Roman bishop Innocent I. in 402, that of Orange in 441, prohibited the three orders from living with wives. From the council of Tours, in 461, it appears that those violating the rule of celibacy had been subject to excommunication ; but that council mod. ified the penalty, and decreed that priests and Levites continuing in intercourse with their wives should be debarred from promotion, and from officiating in the public service, the communion meanwhile being granted them. In the succeeding centuries, also, the celibate rule received many formal declarations. All this may be taken as evidence that clerical celibacy became well established in this period in the theory of the Latin Church. At the same time, however, the very frequency with which the requirement of it was asserted is a clear hint that there were many exceptions to it in practice. Moreover, the strict safeguards which it was thought necessary to provide for the purity of the clergy indicate that the prohibition of family relations was often the occasion of immorality. In synod after synod it was ordained that no women, other than near relatives, even for the performance of necessary service, should be found in the houses of the clergy.
1 Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, $ 43.
9 Epist. i. Compare Epist. x. Henry C. Lea, in his learned work on Sacerdotal Celibacy, calls attention to the lack of historical warrant which the decretals of Siricius exhibit. “It is observable,” he says, “that in these decretals no authority is quoted later than the apostolic texts, which, as we have seen, have but little bearing on the subject. No canons of councils, no epistles of earlier popes, no injunctions of the Fathers are brought forward to strengthen the position assumed, whence the presumption is irresistible, that none such existed, and we may rest satisfied that no evidence has been lost that would prove the pre-existence of the rule.”
1 So the Synods of Arles in 443 or 452, Angers in 453, Agde in 606, Toledo in 527-531, Clermont in 535, Orleans in 549, Elusa in 551, Tours in 567, and Macon in 581.
The causes by which the policy of celibacy was especially urged on were the hierarchical and monastic tendencies of the times. The unmarried state served to distinguish the clergy. It widened the gulf between them and the ordinary classes of men. Monasticism encouraged the idea that a special sanctity pertains to the unwedded life. It was felt that the sacred order of the clergy ought not to fall below the highest standard. Hence, the growing warfare against the domestic instincts of those in holy orders.
II.- DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DIFFERENT RANKS OF THE
1. THE LOWER CLERGY. - The functions of the presbyters remained substantially what they had been since the rise of episcopacy. The deacons, as was largely the case in the previous period, were not occupied solely with the temporalities of the Church, but had a share in the conducting of worship and in the administration of sacraments. In the West, the reading of the Gospels in the public service fell to them rather than to the so-called readers. As to the relations of the two orders, the growth of the hierarchical idea would naturally cause relatively greater emphasis to be placed upon the first. We find instances in which the terms priests and Levites are employed to express their comparative standing. But, on the other hand, special causes were at work to increase the relative dignity of the deacons. Their limited number favored
i From the fifteenth canon of the synod of Arles, held in 314, we learn that deacons had sometimes undertaken the entire administration of the eucharist. The synod forbade this to occur thereafter.