Marriage of the Clergy

Owen Chadwick

in The Early Reformation on the Continent

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780198269021
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600470 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 Marriage of the Clergy

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Luther's attack on the Church's law that the clergy must be unmarried, following that of Erasmus, caused priests to disregard the law, not by following the old habit of living with women, but by making them wives through a sacrament of the church. His own marriage to the former nun Catherine von Bora was of crucial significance as both partners had broken vows of celibacy. Luther sang the praises of marriage as the noblest condition in creation, and the movement in favour of clerical marriage became unstoppable. Protestants assumed that marriage made a pastor's vocation more effective in protecting him from scandal and allowing him to go where he wished among the people, and priests who remained unmarried were suspected of clinging to the relics of popery.

Keywords: Catherine von Bora; clerical marriage; Martin Luther

Chapter.  6326 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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