In the early church nearly all Christian priests were married. Popes tried to ban marriage and co- habitation, but to little effect. Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) said that all sexual desire is sinful in itself (meaning that sexual desire is intrinsically evil?), but right up to the 800’s the majority of priests were nonetheless married.
In 836, at the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle it was openly admitted that abortions and infanticide took place in convents and monasteries to cover up activities of uncelibate clerics. As a result a very intelligent Saint, called St. Ulrich, a holy bishop, argued from scripture and common sense that the only way to purify the church from the worst excesses of celibacy was to permit priests to marry (Bravo! he’s my favourite saint!).
The debate continued until in 1074 Pope Gregory VII proclaimed that anyone to be ordained must first pledge celibacy: “priests [must] first escape from the clutches of their wives”. It was at the 1st and 2nd Lateran Councils in 1123 and 1139 that clerical marriages were declared invalid, Pope Innocent II
(appropriate name) finally confirming the decision in 1139.
Pope Pelagius II let the cat out of the bag. His policy was not to bother married priests as long as they did not hand over church property to wives or children. In other words, it :was all about money and preventing priests from passing land and houses on ( legally) to their offspring. Celibacy was never scriptural, and was never mentioned by Jesus or his disciples. So why not scrap it now and at least give no excuse for priests to abuse their parishioners? Seems a no-brainer.
Incidentally, as late as the 15 th Century it is estimated that 50% of priests were married and that this was accepted by the people. So what’s the big problem with priestly marriage?