Skip to comments.Celibact and Priesthood by Lea
Posted on 10/11/2011 1:36:11 PM PDT by count-your-change
Henry Charles Lea was a remarkable historian. Largely self taught and meticulous in his work, he produced a detailed and lavishly footnoted history of the medieval period.
Anyone who speaks to the subject of priestly celibacy today should first become familiar with this two volume work, History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church, published in 1907, third ed., revised, and reprinted by BiblioLife.
To that end I'll post, in several parts, some excerpts from this work beginning with Vol.2 and unless otherwise noted all quotes are from this volume that begins with chapter 24, The Fifteenth Century.
Lea begins this second volume setting the tone for the rest by writing,
"Neither the assaults of heretics nor the constant efforts at partial reform attempted by individual prelates had thus far proved of any avail. As time wore on, the Church sank deeper into the mire of corruption, and its efforts to extricate itself grew feebler and more hopeless."
celibacY not T. Pardon the “fat fingers”.
Sorry, you haven’t quite made your point here. In fact, I’m not at all sure what it is. Would you care to clarify?
“Anyone who speaks to the subject of priestly celibacy today should first become familiar with this two volume work, History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church, published in 1907, third ed., revised, and reprinted by BiblioLife”
Seems clear enough.
Yep, that Church of England/Episcopal Church worked out real well, didn’t it?
Evidently not for some as they talk about unification but that was less an attempt at reformation than debate about power over religion.
bump for later read
It’s hard to find a more contentious and bigoted historian than Henry Charles Lea. Except perhaps his British counterpart-bigot, G. G. Coulton.
That he “used original sources” is meaningless. Anyone can do that. The Devil cites Scripture. It’s how he and all other historians use original sources that matters. Lea could spin things with the best of ‘em.
No one reads Lea anymore.
So he wrote a biography about the paranoid, schizophrenic, ant-semitic, alcoholic monk who couldn't control his libido, Martin Luther?
But if you a reason to call him “bigoted” please share. Remember Peter Damian used the term “Gomorrah” to refer to what he found among the priests.
Since, as with almost all Protestants, you probably know little about history, you might want to read this before you post anything that cites Lea as an authority:
This is from a classic, unfortunately there is only the beginning of the article: http://archive.catholic.com/thisrock/1996/9605clas.asp
You can read more of it here at the beginning of chapter 7: http://books.google.com/books?id=uWkbfkIQqpQC&pg=PT61&lpg=PT61&dq=How+history+is+miswritten:+a+test+applied+to+the+work+of+H.C.+Lea+at+the+instance+of+Dr.+Coulton&source=bl&ots=-4QB4m_dZQ&sig=k25rf_GGmJuZL10pAaPN3RO0KWo&hl=en&ei=N9OUTp6kHaSCsAKekOXvAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=How%20history%20is%20miswritten%3A%20a%20test%20applied%20to%20the%20work%20of%20H.C.%20Lea%20at%20the%20instance%20of%20Dr.%20Coulton&f=false
Unlike most people I have actually read the works of Lea. I know about his sources, methods, and his anachronism which was so pronounced that it was tantamount to bigotry.
If his mother had not left the Catholic Church in 1822 who knows what might have happened. Maybe he would not have swallowed so much bilge water about the Church being such a threat to liberty that he would not have read that threat BACK INTO MEDIEVAL HISTORY. And to think, his grandfather published the first Catholic Bible in the USA!
I always wondered why he had a nervous breakdown in 1847.
He’s a typical WASP historian who thinks celibacy is unnatural. I have no problem with honest portrayal of sins, by celibates and non-celibates. I do have a real problem with those who start from the assumption that celibacy is unnatural
Cuz it’s not. Only those who understand that celibacy is possible, that continence is possible, will truly experience the real joy of marital sexuality. Because even in marriage one has to be continent sometimes.
And only those who truly honor and value sexual expression can be healthy celibates. Each needs the other.
Lea entered his research with a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore. Then he gathered anecdotal evidence from the original sources to support his pre-judgments.
Yeah, he’s inaccurate. Any sociologist will tell you that anecdotal evidence is not sufficient.
Eggggzackly. No one who knows much about medieval history reads Lea anymore. But our FRiend here apparently does.
Even secular historians dismiss him. Edward Peters, who held the Lea chair at Penn (if memory serves me correctly), wrote his books on medieval juridical issues as a corrective to Lea.
That’s wrong. You are doing, from a Catholic side, what Protestants do to us. Dismissing Luther as an alcoholic and sex-pervert was once done in Catholic propaganda. It’s unfair. Benedict XVI (who has read widely in Luther’s writings) made that point at Erfurt on his recent trip to Germany and has made it many times in the past. Luther was a solidly religious reformer. He was rightly concerned about abuses. He made the fatal error, when confronted on the merits of his theological arguments about penannce, confession, and indulgences by Cardinal Cajetan, of defying the Church and labeling Cajetan unbiblical simply because Cajetan was not persuaded by Luther’s arguments.
Luther may have lacked healthy discretion in that case. He should have counted to ten and rethought his positions. He removed himself from the Catholic faith. He also had plenty of personal flaws and sins, like you and I do.
But he was not driven by alcoholism or libido or mental illness any of that crap. You do the Catholic faith a disservice by cheap argumentation. Yes, I know it was routinely taught to Catholics 50 years ago. But the days of Helmut Grisar are long past.
You would do well to read Jared Wicks, _Man Yearning for Grace_ about the young Luther. Wicks does a good job of pinpointing the places where Luther began to argue himself out of the Church. But he is also fair to Luther as a person. Luther was an honest, decent, sincere man but hotheaded and lacking discernment in some ways.
If he is, where? and I suppose then that anything not directly experienced by the sociologist is merely “anecdotal” and “not sufficient”?
And your comment really have no bearing on what I quoted. Lea is not likely to be appreciated by Catholics as even the Catholic Encyclopedia says of him,
” The anti-clerical animus which prompts a certain type of mind to rake these scandals together, and to revel in and exaggerate their prurient details, is at least as marked as the tendency on the part of the Church's apologists to ignore these uncomfortable pages of history altogether.”
In short, he's being called a “muck raker” but the scandals are and were real. If few have read Lea I encourage them to do so and Peter Damian and the news of today letting them make their own judgment.
Luther drank too much. He said so.
Luther recommended bigamy (or should I say polygamy), violated his vow of celibacy, married a former nun (who also violated her vow), and urged others to violate their vows. Whether or not he did this out of a religious conviction or just wanton lust doesn’t change the fact he did it.
And about mental illness. It seems a rather fair conclusion to say that Luther was at the very least troubled most of his life. How else can someone explain his bizarre comments, actions, conclusions, and his own admitted self-doubts which often came shortly after bravado of the most ridiculous kind? Also, the simple fact is, since the mid 19th century there has been great development of our knowledge of the human mind. Hence, not surprisingly, whether for good or ill, that knowledge was applied to the life of Martin Luther and he was usually found lacking until a few decades ago. The opposite is now happening, however, where scholars, including Pope Benedict, essentially and politely ignore all of Luther’s bizarre comments, actions, conclusions, etc. and focus on his theology. Even when it comes to that - his heretical theology (and it is heretical) - no one calls it that anymore because in this ecumenical age a type of political correctness has gripped even the Church so that the plain truth cannot be told, the heresy is glossed over, and only positives are emphasized.
You don’t have to be Johannes Pistorius The Younger to conclude there was something wrong with Luther.
“Luther was an honest, decent, sincere man but hotheaded and lacking discernment in some ways.”
Luther was honest? I don’t think anyone can say that when they look at how he distorted the scriptures - its wording, the canon, its doctrines.
“Your comments are no less rash than what you accuse Lea of and the link seems to deal with something entirely apart from my post.”
Rash? What exactly did I post to you that was rash?
“And your comment really have no bearing on what I quoted.”
Did I say it had immediate bearing?
“Lea is not likely to be appreciated by Catholics as even the Catholic Encyclopedia says of him,”
And you missed the point, not surprisingly. Catholics can appreciate him for what he got right - amassing huge numbers of sources - but take him to task for what he got wrong - interpreting those sources.
“In short, he’s being called a muck raker but the scandals are and were real.”
Some are real, but saying that because scandals exists that that means it is okay to distort the entire history of an idea, a practice, or a Church is something only bigots would do.
“If few have read Lea I encourage them to do so and Peter Damian and the news of today letting them make their own judgment.”
And I encourage people to read Herbert Thurston to see how Lea literally made a mistaken interpretation - objectively shown - on every single page of some of his works. Then ask yourself, if that is how bad he was at interpreting history why is it that so many anti-Catholic bigots want you to rely on him? Isn’t it clear then that the anti-Catholics bigots encourage such practices to deliberately keep non-Catholics ignorant?
What do know of me? Young, old, male, female, where I live, what I do, my background, my training? Hmmm? You don't. Period. So making a comment like this strikes out on several levels, being rash indeed:
“Since, as with almost all Protestants, you probably know little about history,......’
Just what particular work of Thurston is the one you have in mind?
“What do know of me? Young, old, male, female, where I live, what I do, my background, my training? Hmmm? You don’t. Period. So making a comment like this strikes out on several levels, being rash indeed:”
Not rash at all. Your posts over the months have shown that to be the case as is the case with Protestant after Protestant here. As John Henry Newman said, “And this one thing is certain the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If there ever were a safe truth, it is this. And Protestantism has ever felt it so This is shown in the determination of dispensing with historical Christianity altogether, and of forming a Christianity from the Bible alone: men never would have put [historical Christianity] aside, unless they had despaired of it
To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”
“Just what particular work of Thurston is the one you have in mind?”
The title is: How history is miswritten: a test applied to the work of H.C. Lea at the instance of Dr. Coulton. It’s about 32 pages. Even you could handle that.
Henry Kamen wrote a well-research study of the Spanish Inquisition in which he tries to lay to rest many of the falsehoods about that institution. That it was, even under Torquemada, less savage than the English Star Chamber is a fact that has never found a home in American education. It became part and parcel of the Black Legend, and while it cast a pall over thought in Spain, it was not the cause of Spain’s decadence. That, I guess is the Hidalgo culture of Castile, But, of course, even that is hardly the real truth. My own view is that Spain inherited and retained too much of the old Arab culture as did the Kingdom of the two Sicilies.
Why did the former freeper BChan have his own breakdown?
Should we blame his Catholicism? Or maybe it was just the style, flavor (and spirit) of a certain subset of it, found here frequently on FR religion forum pages that helped push him to the brink?
The stubborn, stiff-necked and proud, will continue on... knowing all the words, yet not having the knowledge of the precepts convert them, much as the Jewish religious authorities of Jesus's day, thought they knew it all --- for was not it God whom had in previous centuries, put them in charge of such matters?
Embroidered phylacteries saved no one in Christ's day (on earth), nor was He impressed by them or their wearers.
They could recite the writings, word for word. Nobody knew it like they did. What happened to them, but they had those temples of theirs overthrown, cast down, stone by stone?
To this day, He dwells not in temples made of hands.
Maybe he would not have swallowed so much bilge water about the Church being such a threat to liberty that he would not have read that threat BACK INTO MEDIEVAL HISTORY.
Read that back into history?
For more than a few, it WAS back in Medieval times, when the Catholic Church in Europe, in conjunction with kings, was indeed a threat to not only liberty, but at times one's very life.
If burning people at the stake, alive, (as in the case of John Huss) is not an abuse of Christ-given authority, what is?
With "history" like that to defend, it's no wonder you're trying to sell to us the meme that "Protestants are ignorant of history", while you feverishly attempt to whitewash the same.
Longing for the good 'ol days, are you? When your church could, under authority it had granted to itself, kill it's critics?
“Why did the former freeper BChan have his own breakdown?”
How would that be relevant?
“Should we blame his Catholicism?”
Are we blaming Lea’s non-Catholicism? Care to throw in anymore irrelevant ideas that don’t even have anything to do with Lea?
“Or maybe it was just the style, flavor (and spirit) of a certain subset of it, found here frequently on FR religion forum pages that helped push him to the brink?”
And that has what to do with Lea?
“The stubborn, stiff-necked and proud, will continue on... knowing all the words, yet not having the knowledge of the precepts convert them, much as the Jewish religious authorities of Jesus’s day, thought they knew it all -— for was not it God whom had in previous centuries, put them in charge of such matters?”
Sounds like Lea’s WASPish sense of authority.
“Embroidered phylacteries saved no one in Christ’s day (on earth), nor was He impressed by them or their wearers.”
Again, what’s any of that got to do with Lea? Are you even capable of discussing Lea?
“They could recite the writings, word for word. Nobody knew it like they did. What happened to them, but they had those temples of theirs overthrown, cast down, stone by stone?”
Again, are you even capable of discussing Lea?
“To this day, He dwells not in temples made of hands.”
Did He dwell in Lea? How would you know?
“Read that back into history?”
“For more than a few, it WAS back in Medieval times, when the Catholic Church in Europe, in conjunction with kings, was indeed a threat to not only liberty, but at times one’s very life.”
No. Not in a world that was Catholic nor to a people that was faithfully Catholic. What I said is exactly the same belief held by the official HC Lea librarian, Dr. Edward Peters. I said nothing strange or bizarre. The fact that you probably know nothing about it - that the greatest living expert on Lea said the exact same thing - only proves my point that Protestants routinely know little about history.
“If burning people at the stake, alive, (as in the case of John Huss) is not an abuse of Christ-given authority, what is?”
So the death penalty is a violation of Christ given authority?
“With “history” like that to defend, it’s no wonder you’re trying to sell to us the meme that “Protestants are ignorant of history”, while you feverishly attempt to whitewash the same.”
I whitewash nothing. What I do is simply tell the truth. You probably have no knowledge of what that is.
“Longing for the good ‘ol days, are you? When your church could, under authority it had granted to itself, kill it’s critics?”
The Church never killed anyone. It never had, nor wanted, authority to do so. See, when you actually know history you don’t make mistakes like the one you just did.
Very well said. BlueDragon, specifically speaking, the Church has only one job, one plan for the authority given to it by it’s head, Jesus Christ: to save souls, so that they might live with Him for eternity.
Luther was certainly driven by his vanities. He was flattered into a public break with the Church by those Princes of the Holy Roman Empire who wanted to do to the Church's assets in Germany what Henry VIII did in England. In other words he, like his many followers in the last 500 years, was a dupe. Though not unintelligent, he was the original useful idiot.
The Pharisees didn't actually kill Jesus, either. Isn't that right? Isn't that what the "historical record" actually shows, since it was the Romans who did it?
“The Pharisees didn’t actually kill Jesus, either. Isn’t that right?”
No, they killed Him - and so did we. We sinners put Christ on the cross really. I would blame the Romans before the Pharisees for the actual crucifixion, however.
I have, on occasion, drank too much. I’m not an alcoholic.
Sorry, the present Pope believes that ad hominems as a way of dismissing Luther are just plain wrong.
So do I. I have read his writings carefully. Have you? I have studied the psychohistory studies of him. Have you?
He lacked discretio. He was unwise, imprudent in his free choice to defy Cajetan. He was a sinner. Like you and me.
He was absolutely right about many of the abuses in the Church. He just wrongly chose to defy authority as a way of correcting the abuses. He should have trusted the divinely guided structures, despite the failings of so many bishops, to reform the Church. He lacked the virtue of hope, in that regard. He was wrong, very wrong.
But he was not insane or alcoholic or unusually libidinous. You do your own cause a disservice by resorting entirely to ad hominems and avoiding the substance—the substance of where he was wrong and the substance of where he was right.
You’d be well advised to read what Joseph Ratzinger has written about Luther, read it carefully and digest it. It’s sane and intelligent. He calls a spade a spade, points out where Luther was wrong, without resorting to cheap ad hominems.
Or read Jared Wicks, as I earlier suggested.
Twelve year olds resort to name calling and ad hominem on the playground. We can do better than that.
He approved of bigamy and was just plain wrong. Toward the end of his life he became more imprudent. He was blatantly anti-semitic, as were a lot of others in his day. So do some other people, without thereby being insane or alcholic.
Nonsense. Lacked discretio but no more driven by vanities than most people are. You want vain people and vanities? I’ll give you vain people and vanities. Henry the Eighth, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell.
Was Luther perfect? No. But among the reformers, he was one of the healthier. He was doctrinally wrong after a certain point, but up to 1517, I can’t see a single error theologically in his writings. His mistake was ecclesial, in being stubborn when Cajetan called him out on his theological rashness.
And he dug in his heels and kept digging his hole. But not out of libido or insanity or even vanity. He should have listened to Staupitz, granted. But he was provoked and provoked bady by dishonest double-dealing behind his back.
The emperor Maximilian intervened behind the scenes to turn the proceedings against Luther in 1518 from a normal theological inquiry into a heresy trial for his life. Maximilian was wrong. Who knows how things might have ended had Maximilian let the Church deal with Luther as a theologian who needed correction rather than as a stubborn heretic? He was NOT at that point either stubborn or heretical.
Granted, even after Maximilian upped the ante, unjustly, Luther should have be docile and listened to Cajetan.
But Maximilian’s move would have unnerved and provoked most people. Luther should have been wise enough to respond calmly, but I’ll cut him a lot of slack even as I, in the end, fault him for responding the way he did.
There’s blame enough to go around in those sad decades. Not all of it belongs to Luther.
“Luther was honest? I dont think anyone can say that when they look at how he distorted the scriptures - its wording, the canon, its doctrines.”
Now, I could accuse you of dishonesty but I think you are just mistaken.
To be dishonest one has to know differently then continue in error. Luther honestly believed his interpretation of Scripture was correct.
I believe it was wrong. Cajetan believed it was wrong, based on the Church’s magisterium.
I fault Luther NOT for coming up with his erroneous (erroneous is different from dishonest—that’s Catholic catechism 101) interpretation of Scripture but fault him for not backing off and saying to himself, hmmm, Cajetan may be right on this, I should reconsider. I fault him for, instead, labeling Cajetan unbiblical when it was a dispute about rival biblical interpretations.
I fault him plenty. But dishonest he was not.
You can’t go around accusing people of lying every time they disagree with you. Some people who disagree with you are liars. Some are honestly opposed to your positions.
So instead of calling you dishonest for disagreeing with me, I’ll say, you are honestly and sincerely mistaken.
Dishonest were the politicians, the rulers who chose sides. Luther was wrong but might have been persuaded to reconciliation had the princes not chosen sides.
The Protestant Reformation was fundamentally about the consolidating nation-state finally reaching a critical mass of absolutism such as to break up the Church.
The theological differences were real, significant, powerful but in the end, by themselves, insufficient to break up the Church in to nationl-state churches.
The princes seized the opportunity to take control of the church in their states. This is the true evil of the era—the rise of absolutism, of state-control of the Church de jure in Protestant areas, de facto in Catholic ones.
Luther was wrong theologically but right about many aspects of the need for reform. He was rash and imprudent but in part because he was provoked radically.
If the princes had stayed out of it, salutary reform might have come sooner. But they didn’t and we’ll never know what might have been.
To explain the whole business as Luther’s psychological, libidinous, alcoholic madness is foolish and does not help your own Catholic cause.
I’m not mistaken, nor did you offer any proof I am.
“To explain the whole business as Luthers psychological, libidinous, alcoholic madness is foolish...”
And who here is doing that? No one. You are either mistaken or dishonest now about what I said. Which is it?