Re: Why can not we have married bishops?
- Dear Issac
First off all, it should be noted that Holy Scripture does not REQUIRE that a bishop be married. It simply says that if he is married, he is only to have had no more than one wife. Several apostles never married and there were married and unmarried men as the first bishops of the Church.
I think in the Syrian Orthodox Church there is no prohibition against married bishops. We simply choose to select our bishops from monastics and unmarried clergy as a rule, but not exclusively. From time to time, because of circumstances, widowers have been selected to be bishops. There are several reasons why the Church does this.
First off all, the office of the bishop is a very heavy responsibility. His first duty is to God and to the people he serves, leaving not much time or devotion to give to a wife. Secondly, it was found early on that a married episcopacy had several problems, not the least of which was the problem of nepotism and inheritance. The Church did not want the office of the bishop or Church property to become inherited, the property of one family. This was not such a big deal in the early Church because lives were often short and people generally poor, especially for bishops due to persecutions. But once the Church became "legal" and the persecutions stopped, the accumulation of wealth became an issue. Once monasticism became prevalent in the fourth century, it became the practice of the Church to select bishops from unmarried priests and monastics, men who had totally devoted their lives to God and prayer.
May God bless us all
Fr. John Varghese
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Issac K Joseph wrote:
> Can any historian report at what time in the history of the church married clergy were denied the office of bishop and were replaced by monks? What was the rational? We all know that St. Paul recommended that a bishop be married and rule well his household.
- Unfortunatelly the answer of Fr. John Varghese about married bishops in our Syrian Orthodox Church was not complete.
There is the possibility of a married clergyman be elevated to the episcopal degree and we have some examples.
Normally in these cases the clergyman is widowed and is an elder but he cannot reach the level of patriarch.
Aniss Ibrahim Sowmy
Sao Paulo - Brasil