ABSTRACT

The history of clerical marriage in the Eastern churches is not only a compelling narrative in its own right, but has assumed position of importance in the debates over the origins and necessity of clerical celibacy in the Latin church. Possession of the apostolic heritage was a significant component in the defence of clerical celibacy and continence in the West, but also a priority for those who legislated for a married priesthood in the East. The married clergy of the Greek church were vigorously denounced by the leaders of the ecclesiastical reforms of the eleventh century, held up as exempla by the defenders of clerical marriage during the Reformation and have been used as evidence both for and against the apostolic origins of clerical celibacy in more recent debates. The freedom to marry in lower orders, which appeared to be implicitly accepted at Chalcedon, was certainly accepted as part of the apostolic tradition by the Fathers in Trullo in 691.