Marital/Celibacy Requirements of the Priesthood

The original Order of St James (Orden de Santiago), from the era of the Crusades, opened their rule with a clear statement regarding the importance of the marital state for both its knights and its priests:

Here begins the Rule of the Knights and Priests of the Military Order of the Blessed Apostle James, which consists altogether of three chapters, namely, on conjugal chastity, observing obedience, and living in poverty.  In conjugal chastity, living without sin in order to follow the example of the ancient fathers, “for it is better to marry than to burn,” we manifestly cannot be better than our forefathers; it would be imprudent to presume that we can attain what they themselves could not endure.
(Regla de la Orden de Santiago)

In answering the question of whether a member of clergy is permitted to be married, it is important to remember that St Peter – the First Pope – was a married man.

“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.”
(English Standard Version Catholic Edition 2019, Matthew 8:14)

“Now Simon’s (Simon will be renamed Peter in Matthew 16:18-20 when Jesus gives him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven – understood by Roman Catholics as his commissioning as the first Pope) mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.”
(English Standard Version Catholic Edition 2019, Mark 1:30)

“And [Jesus] arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf.”
(English Standard Version Catholic Edition 2019, Luke 4:38)

“I [Paul] wish that all were [single] as I myself am.  But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
(English Standard Version Catholic Edition 2019, 1 Corinthians 7:7-9).

“Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas (AKA Peter)?”
(English Standard Version Catholic Edition 2019, 1 Corinthians 9:5)

In the matter of the celibacy of the clergy, the Society of St James, follows the ancient Catholic practice of the Church, permits the ordination of properly qualified married men to the Sacred Priesthood.

We do not believe the Sacraments of Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders to be mutually exclusive of each other, but we do recognize the great strain and emotional burden which the duties of the Priesthood can place upon married men, upon their spouses, and upon their families.

It takes a wife with an extraordinarily generous heart and a definite “vocation” of her own, to be the wife of a priest.

The Society of St James will not ordain a man whose wife is unwilling or unable to make the sacrifices and adjustments in their family life which are an integral and necessary aspect of the sacred ministry. Both husband and wife must be “partners” in his vocation as a priest. He in answering the high demands of Sacred Orders and she as his constant and ever-ready helpmate; a supporter in prayer, emotional and moral support, and in strength.