The Bogomils’ Folk Heritage: False Friend or Neglected Source?
A tabloid headline in January 2006 concerning a Hebridean Catholic priest, a mistress and a child may have exuded outrage and even surprise, but, within the context of his medieval predecessors, his actions were not necessarily extraordinary. The principle of forbidding clergy to marry and have sexual relations pre-dated the Gregorian Reforms, with ecclesiastical legislation on abstinence from sexual intercourse dating back to the early fourth century. The basis of ecclesiastical legislation on clerical celibacy and marriage provided by the Gregorian Reforms was reiterated and even supplemented by local episcopal statutes and ordinances. Clergy in mainland Scotland faced similar penalties if they were found to be maintaining a concubine either in their own house or elsewhere. In the context of Gaelic society with its hereditary kindreds and the prevalence of concubinage within secular society, the behaviour of the clergy was perhaps less startling. In the kin-based society of Gaelic Scotland, there were hereditary professional kindreds or learned orders.