Similarly, Philippe Delhaye wrote: "During the first three or four centuries, no law was promulgated prohibiting clerical marriage. Celibacy was a matter of choice for bishops, priests, and deacons. ... The apostolic constitutions (c. 400) excommunicated a priest or bishop who left his wife 'under pretense of piety' (Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio 1:51).".
However, the 19th-century Protestant historian Philip Schaff evidences that by the early fourth century priestly celibacy-continence was not a novelty, stating that all marriages contracted by clerics in Holy Orders were declared null and void in 530 by Emperor Justinian I, who also declared the children of such marriages illegitimate. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clerical_celibacy)
I'm going to have to disagree with you about contraception being the root of all that is wrong with our current society. I believe contraception and, as a consequence, abortion are symptoms of a morally corrupt society. Sex outside marriage and adultery didn't just begin once contraception and abortion became legal, they had always existed as sins of fallen humanity. Read the Old Testament for plenty of examples of this. Forms of contraception AND abortion, along with child murder after birth, were common ways of dealing with the consequences of illicit sex. The legalizing of the ways to prevent childbirth certainly DID seem to make sexual conduct more widespread and acts once considered shameful and rejected by the moral segment of society have now become commonplace and it's the virgins before marriage that have become the exception instead of the rule. It is the ever-increasing permeation of evil in this world and which will wax worse and worse.
But getting back to the subject of marriage for Catholic priests, perhaps parents would not be disinclined to have sons join the priesthood if they could have marriage and families. I lean towards this helping rather than hurting the church and, as I said, may help to ameliorate the need to accept men who have homosexual tendencies and the subsequent problems they bring to their parishes.
I can see that you are making these observations in good will, and I thank you for them.
I think it is impossible for the Church to allow men who are already priests to marry (for one thing, they’ve already made vows of celibacy and the Church is not in a position to release them from vows en masse), plus it has never been done in that sequence, priesthood —> marriage, historically . BUT -—
BUT t’other way around, marriage —> priesthood — ordaining men who are already married -— is historically and canonically a possibility.
There is no intrinsic, theological reason why a married man cannot later be ordained a priest. I don’t think ~any~ Catholic scholar, however traditional, would disagree with that in theory.
“But getting back to the subject of marriage for Catholic priests, perhaps parents would not be disinclined to have sons join the priesthood if they could have marriage and families. I lean towards this helping rather than hurting the church and, as I said, may help to ameliorate the need to accept men who have homosexual tendencies and the subsequent problems they bring to their parishes.”
This one of the very few areas where some conservative nonCatholic Christians and all liberal Catholics will agree.
Among Catholics, liberal wackadoo Catholics are the ones that really can’t stand the discipline of celibacy and the prohibition of birth control within marriage the most. Try to find one Catholic who digs things like priestesses, ‘gay marriage,’ remarriage and divorce, and gay clergy ‘in relationships’ who also really likes and wants to continue the discipline of celibacy and the teaching about birth control. I have yet to see it or read about it anyhow.