The former Roman Catholic priest, L.H. Lehmann, after saying that the primary purposes for which the custom of celibacy has been retained are: (1) To maintain the principle of centralized power, and (2) To retain property for the church that otherwise would go to the priest’s family, says:
"It is not for spiritual reasons that the Roman Catholic Church has for so many centuries denied legitimate marriage to its priests. Those in power have always known that it is only the legality of the marriage relationship that can be denied them, and that the custom of clerical concubinage, with resultant generations of illegitimate offspring, has always taken its place. Loss of centralized power and property titles, disruption of its authoritarians system of government, would have been the result if these generations of priests’ children in the past had been legalized. Clerical concubinage has thus been tolerated in preference to this loss of undisputed power centered in Rome.
"The children of a priest in the past had the right to call him ‘Father’ only in the spiritual sense of the word. The illegitimate sons of popes, cardinals and bishops, however, were often enabled to rise to high positions in the church and state. Several popes were themselves sons and grandsons of other popes and high-church dignitaries. My researches among the collection of papal bulls reveals that concubinage among the clergy of Europe was so prevalent that it was necessary to regulate the practice by law – lest clerical concubinage itself should ever become a legal right" (Out of the Labyrinth, pp.99,100).
In the ninth century, an age in which ignorance and superstition were prevalent even among the clergy, the Emperor Charlemagne, in an attempt to suppress vice among ecclesiastics, issued this edict:
"We have been informed to our great horror that many monks are addicted to debauchery and all sorts of vile abominations, even to unnatural sins. We forbid all such practices and command the monks to cease wandering over the country" (T. Demetrius, Catholicism and Protestantism, p.26)
The Irish historian, William Lecky quotes the following form his History of European Morals:
"An Italian bishop of the tenth century described the morals of his time, saying that if he were to enforce the canons against unchaste persons administering ecclesiastical rites, no one would be left in the Church except boys. A tax was systematically levied on princes and clergymen for license to keep concubines"
Bernard of Clairvaux protested against enforcing celibacy on the clergy as contrary to human nature and Divine law, saying:
"Deprive the Church of honourable marriage, and you fill her with concubinage, incest and all manner of nameless vices and uncleanness."
Henry Bamford Parkes, in his A History of Mexico, says:
"Clerical concubinage was the rule rather than the exception, and friars openly roamed the streets of cities with women on their arms. Many of the priests were ignorant and tyrannical, whose chief interest in their parishioners was the exaction of marriage, baptism, and funeral fees, and who were apt to abuse the confessional."
Many more such testimonials might be given. The widespread looseness of domestic manners in European and Latin American countries including the United States, has been and is a disgrace to religion and a scandal to Christendom. It is extremely difficult to bring a priest into a civil court for punishment because the Roman Church forbids all Roman Catholics to testify against a priest. And most such crimes have been committed against their own people – another evidence that the R.C. people are themselves the first and primary victims of their own church. Numerous Roman Catholic historians have acknowledged that the law of celibacy for priests and the vows of chastity for monks are historical failures.
What we are most concerned to criticize is not the sins of individual men, but the system as imposed by the Roman Church which leads to and tolerates such abuses! When will the Roman Catholic people throughout the world open their eyes and see that the boasted holiness of their church and of their priests is a pure fiction?