In our time: Does the Pope have to be a virgin?

In our time: Does the Pope have to be a virgin?

I understand Peter was married and had a daughter and there have been other Popes that were not virgins, but, I wonder if in our time it is a discipline of the Church that the Pope be a virgin.

No. Why would you think so? :shrug:


It would be odd if the pope had had children or sex outside of marraige; however the Church is all about repentance and forgiveness; however living in the practical world; it would be unlikely that someone who had sex outside of wedlock would become pope.

That said; it is entirely practical and would not be surprising if someone who was married and then widowed; became a priest and then Pope; wheras it would be surprising if someone who had out-of-wedlock sex were to become Pope in this day and age.

There is no requirement. Although it would be surprising unless the person was a widower.

Agreed, there is no requirement. While it would be unusual if we had a Pope with children, especially so if they were illegitimate, it would be allowed. I think the classic example to refer to in all questions such as these, is St. Augustine. He engaged in a lot of sexual hedonism, and even had a son, yet he went on to become a priest, a bishop, and arguably the most important theologian in the history of the Church (although St. Thomas Aquinas could give him stiff competition for that title).

Well, I think all the Popes of the 20th and 21st century were virgins. I understand that some time back this was not the case (Pope Alexander VI). So, I was just wondering if it was now a discine of the Church in much the same way that it is a discipline of the Church for priest to be celibate.

But, from the responses that I am getting here it looks as though it is not required of a Cardinal to be a virgin nor of the Pope.:shrug:

Shows you what I know, I thought any priest or nun had to be a virgin. Hey, I’ve been away from the Church a long time & there’s so much I’ve forgotten or misunderstood. These forums have been a great learning experience. :slight_smile:

I laugh whenever I think of Alex. For AP European History my teacher had us read a book about the Church during the Reformation and the Reformation and it had a page or two devoted to Alex and all of the naughty parties he threw at the Vatican. My friends and I talked about him a lot after reading that book. And when we were talking about Dante’s Inferno and some of the popes in hell we all said in unison, “Alex VI !”

In fact, Alexander VI is one of the reasons why I remain Catholic. Whenever I have doubts I remember that it’s amazing that after 2,000 years and some popes like Alex (Julius II comes to mind) the Church’s teachings remain. While some sinners where in there, the Holy Spirit protected Her…It’s amazing when you think of it.

Anyways, like others have said, when in doubt, remember Augustine. Redemption.

I was reading a short bio on Pope John Paul II and it said that he dated this one girl for I think 6 or 8 years? (correct me if I am wrong) if he still remained a vigin after that relationship then God bless him because he truly was strong to resist temptation, I know I could not do that.

And of course he dated her way before becoming Pope, this was during his acting/theatre days.

Now that you mention that the Church is about repentance and forgiveness I remember the child molesters. I think that some of the child molesters may have repented and confessed and were forgiven. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the deviation or the persistence of the illness, and the ignorance of the world in general about molesters and their tendency to strike again; the molesters hurt more people*. These considerations make me think of two realms, the spirit and the world in which we live.

Their sins may have very well been forgiven but, they still need to live in this world and the authorities need to be responsible. Maybe some priests and bishops found themselves in the dilema of; if Our Lord Jesus has forgiven them why must the world punish them (this of course under the ignorance of the persistence of the psychological make up of molesters which was the case up until a couple of decades ago)? HIstorically, many people who have repented have confessed to murder/s and have been forgiven and they were not reported to the authorities. Of course, not all may have been forgiven if they were not truly repentant. This all just makes me consider how the two realms (?) come together. Definately we have a responsibility here on earth and I think laws must be abided. It’s like what Socrates said about how he was willing to die to respect the authorities of Athens who maintained the order of the society. He said that something to the effect that he was born and raised in the Athenian society and so were his children who are being raised and taken care of by the society. So, we need to be responsible here and take due deligence.

So, if there was such a discipline that the Popes are to be virgins, I would think measures would be taken to assure this is the case to prevent scandal and disturbance of the faithfuls. I guess this is why no measures are taken, because it appears not to be a discipline. I just thought that the conclave would function in such a way as to assure the elimination to the papacy of cardinals that would bring scandal, but, there seems to be no measures taken.

Actually, I thought that cardinals eliminated themselves at the conclave for certain reasons. But, this is not the case. I understand the Holy Spirit calls the Pope but, again, I seems to me that we need to be responsible here. It’s like when Satan asked Jesus to jump from the mountain, we cannot just stay with arms folded because the Holy Spirit will take care of everything and assure that all goes well. True, the election of the Pope and Cardinals and Bishops are certainly better and they are not drawing lots like the apostles did, but, it just seems to me that more could be done. For instance, to give the Cardinals the opportunity to eliminate themselves at the conclave or something to this matter.

I am just thinking out loud…:stuck_out_tongue: Any considerations or thoughts?


    • I am still trying to conceive of the other matter aside from ignorance of the psychological make up of molester; that being; cover- up. I have difficulties understanding how some priests or bishops could after understanding the persistence of molesters tranfer them to a parish and put at risk the children of the parish. I have come to understand the attempt to prevent scandal and I think that is fine as long as people were not put at risk. I guess even sending them to a monastery was dangerous because monks were molested. A tragic chapter in the history of the Church.

P.s. Sorry about the ‘have’ instead of ‘has’ on the title of the thread. :smiley: If someone could change it, I would appreciate it.

Hello HeavenlyRoses, :slight_smile:

Oh, I have learned a great deal on these forums. I also learned how ignorant I am. :stuck_out_tongue: These forums great!:thumbsup:

Yes, it’s true. But, during the time of Alex (as you call him :slight_smile: ) there was a lot of manipulation going on with the papacy. It seems to be the case that connections and money played a role. Yet, of course, the Holy Spirit protected the Church. However, the popes have continously taken measures to protect the papacy. I was just reading about Pope Alexander VI on newadvent and seems as though back then the votes were not confidential as they are now; so Alex compensated those who voted him in. ( )Pope John Paul the Great declared Universi Dominici Gregis and Pope Benedict XVI already made a change to assure a better election (requiring a two thirds majority). The human part should be done, if only out of reverence to the Holy Spirit.

Just wondering about all this…

Nope. You just have to commit to celibacy and chastity. It’s the future, not the past, that the Church is concerned about.

It’s a common misconception though.

As to the original post, I can’t believe this is even a question!


Previous sexual experience does not exclude anyone from taking the vow of celibacy in order to become a priest, bishop or pope.

If it is a COMMON ‘misconception’, as you put it, why would you be alarmed that someone would pose the question?

Thank you Kielbasi,

It was only about five years ago that I learned virginity is not a requirement to become a priest ( e.g. Father Corapi). All my life I thought that all the Catholic priests, monks and nuns were virgins and that it was a requirement. But, I also learned that there are nuns and monks that are not virgins. That said, there are religious orders that require it. Not too long ago, I was speaking with some elderly nuns at a convent near my home (I attend Mass at their chapel sometimes during the week) and they were telling me how their memberships went gone down since the sixties and how culture affected it all. They also told me that they do not accept non-virgins. They seem to have an appreciation of the complete sacrifice they understand that they themselves have made. All my life I thought that all the nuns and monks were virgins but I learned that there are religous orders that do not require their members to be so. I appreciate both view points. I don’t think a person is less of a person because they are not virgins and should be given an opportunity to live out their faith in a religous community if this is their calling. Yet, I appreciate the complete sacrifice some understand themselves to have made in this regard.

So, I knew about priests, nuns, and monks not having to be virgins but, I was not sure if it is a requirement to be declared a Bishop, Cardinal or Pope. I gather by the posts here that it is not a requirement.

I think A LOT of Catholics all over the world think that in order to be a Pope the person needs to be a virgin. I think they just expect it and would be alarmed if a Pope is elected that is not and could possibly even have a child out of wedlock. But, now I understand that it is not a requirement and this could happen (child out of wedlock) and it would be acceptable because exactly the person may have confessed and had been forgiven and then decided to be a priest.

Thank you for your assistance,


Just to make a simpler answer, Cannon Law does not require a Pope to be a cardinal, not even part of the clurgy, the only requirment is that they be a Catholic Man so in therory a Catholic 2 year old boy can be Pope, well atleast in theory.

Here is a more interesting question: We have had many saints who lived notorious lives before accepting the true faith. Who is the last Pope we have had that fit that description? I think all of the Popes from the 20th century were devout cradle Catholics…

Please start a new thread.