You claim that Peter was the first Pope, and yet Scripture attests that he was married. Since this great apostle could be married, why not all bishops and priests?
Restricting ourselves to the Gospels, no doubt you are referring to Peter’s mother-in-law. We read in Luke 4:38-39: “After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them.” See the story again in Mark 1:30.
The Catholic Church does not deny that Peter was married. However, note her general absence in the New Testament texts. We do not even know her name. We only encounter the mother-in-law, never his wife or any children. Indeed, throughout the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, references are made to Peter’s activities and travels; but, only a vague intimation by Paul in 1 Cor. 9:5 that he had a right to travel with his “believing wife.” If it were not for this mention in the epistle, one might suppose that Peter was a widower. Tradition suggests that his wife was martyred. It is peculiar that although the wife would ordinarily have cared for the needs of guests, Peter had to rely upon his wife’s mother.
However, granting that she was still around (somewhere); she evidently assumed a secondary role in his life behind his leadership of the infant Church. Indeed, her insignificance in the biblical witness would seem to provide weight to the supporters of priestly celibacy. Like Peter, bishops and priests might do better to serve God’s people without the distraction of wives and children. Jesus gives his sheep to Peter. Pastors similarly love Christ and care for their flocks. This is the emphasis of Catholic ministry, our family in faith.
This post was never meant to be a defamation against Peter’s wife. I have also edited it to avoid any peripheral discussion about whether or not the tradition can be trusted regarding her martyrdom; given that some authorities speculated that she might have died earlier and/or that there might have been a second bond. It is probably best that we accept the tradition at face value.
Here are early testimonies for the martyrdom of Peter’s wife:
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (died around 215 AD)
(THE STROMATA, 7:11)
So then he undergoes toils, and trials, and afflictions, not as those among the philosophers who are endowed with manliness, in the hope of present troubles ceasing, and of sharing again in what is pleasant; but knowledge has inspired him with the firmest persuasion of receiving the hopes of the future.
Wherefore he contemns not alone the pains of this world, but all its pleasures.
They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, Remember the Lord. Such was the marriage of the blessed and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them.
Thus also the apostle says, that he who marries should be as though he married not, and deem his marriage free of inordinate affection, and inseparable from love to the Lord; to which the true husband exhorted his wife to cling on her departure out of this life to the Lord.
Was not then faith in the hope after death conspicuous in the case of those who gave thanks to God even in the very extremities of their punishments? For firm, in my opinion, was the faith they possessed, which was followed by works of faith.
EUSEBIUS (around 265 AD to 340 AD)
(ECCLESIAL HISTORY, 3:30)
1. Clement, indeed, whose words we have just quoted, after the above-mentioned facts gives a statement, on account of those who rejected marriage, of the apostles that had wives. Or will they, says he, reject even the apostles? For Peter and Philip begot children; and Philip also gave his daughters in marriage. And Paul does not hesitate, in one of his epistles, to greet his wife, whom he did not take about with him, that he might not be inconvenienced in his ministry.
2. And since we have mentioned this subject it is not improper to subjoin another account which is given by the same author and which is worth reading. In the seventh book of his Stromata he writes as follows: They say, accordingly, that when the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, ‘Remember the Lord.’ Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition toward those dearest to them. This account being in keeping with the subject in hand, I have related here in its proper place.