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Analysis: Why Not Married Bishops?

December 9, 2020

I have asked this question “why not married Bishops” a few times in connection with the topic of candidates for the Holy Episcopacy, which usually come only from the celibate priests which constitute the list of potential hierarchs. As I reported a few months ago, the list today is comprised of only 16 eligible candidates. 

I pose the question again today “why not married Bishops” based on the recent elevation to the rank of the Episcopacy of Fr. Spyridon Kezios as Bishop of Amastris, because Bishop Spyridon came from the ranks of married priests – we published an interview with him in this issue. His Presbytera died a few years ago, and he was given the ‘ofikion’ of Archimandrite. On that basis he was elected auxiliary Bishop to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros. While I was observing his ordination I once again asked “why not married Bishops,” so that the sickening situation of the forced celibacy of the Archimandrites stops – because it cannot continue any longer. It is time to return to the original Tradition of the Church of married bishops, because it is one thing to select a Bishop from a pool of 16 celibate candidates and another to select from a pool of 750. 

After all, many of the twelve Disciples of Christ were married, including St. Peter. But please also remember that until at least the 9th century if not later, we had married bishops. Saint Paul in his First Letter to Timothy Chapter 3, verse 2 speaks very clearly about the married Bishops and he also advises how a Bishop should behave. He writes the following: “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”

Let me remind here that we even had married Patriarchs of Constantinople or they at least had originated from the married clergy, such as Manouil the First in 1222, Kosmas in 1300, and Ioannis, called the glykys (sweet) in 1320. 

I strongly believe that starting here in the United States, since we experience the nightmarish lack of charismatic celibate priests, the bishops should be selected mainly from among married priests, well educated, with the mind of Christ, a spirit of pastoral sacrifice, and spiritual sensitivity, psychologically healthy as well, and sexually normal. Indubitably, there are also married priests who are problematic and limited in many ways, but less so than the celibates. Also, there are, of course, celibates who are real gems: men with ethos who are physiologically balanced and healthy.

Let the Archimandrites and the celibates go where they belong, to the monasteries. 

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