Married bishops

Married bishops
Question from John R. on 6/12/2008:

In the early centuries that Catholic Church had married bishops, which is evident from the Church Fathers and conceded to by Jesuit historian Christian Cochini.

Why did the Church abolish the married episcopate and when? I am asking particularly with the Traditional Anglican Communion's request for full communion with the Holy See in mind. They want to retain their married episcopate.

I read that John XIII reconciled Bishop Salomao Ferraz a married Old Catholic bishop in the early 1960s, and he served as auxiliary bishop of Rio De Janeiro and participated in Vatican II.

Would a married episcopate on the part of the conservative Old Catholics and Anglicans be a stumbling block to full communion?
Answer by Matthew Bunson on 6/17/2008:

Over the last decades, a number of Episcopalian and Anglican bishops have entered into communion with the Church. The cases were handled on an individual basis along the lines established by the “pastoral provision” instituted under Pope John Paul II, a canonical procedure under which married Episcopal clergymen may be ordained in the Catholic Church. Since 1980, dozens of married Episcopal priests have become Catholic priests through the provision.

A number of Episcopalian and Anglican Bishops have likewise entered the Church under the provision. Several high profile bishop converts include Bishop Clarence C. Pope Jr. of Fort Worth, Bishop Jeffrey Steenson of Rio Grande, New Mexico, Bishop Dan Herzog of Albany, and Bishop Graham Leonard of London. All, I believe, became Roman Catholic priests.

A married episcopate is not present in the Catholic Church. Married priests are present in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches, but they also do not have married bishops. The Latin rite, of course, does permit qualified married men 35 years of age or older to be ordained deacons.

The issue of a married episcopate is one of several that will have to be addressed in the case of a large or mass conversion of an Anglican community. For example, in late 2007 the College of Bishops for the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) decided unanimously to seek communion with the Church and sent a letter to the Vatican making the official request. It is my understanding (perhaps incorrectly) that the TAC requested sui iuris (i.e., “of one’s own right”) status, meaning that the bishops would maintain their authority and rights of their churches. Only time will tell how the Vatican proceeds with this matter.

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