Schism Over Married Priests
The history of married clergy in the East dates back to the time of the apostles and has been an unbroken norm in the Byzantine churches. In his article Mandatory Clerical Celibacy an Apostolic Tradition? A Critical Consideration of The Case for Clerical Celibacy Anthony T. Dragani, Ph.D. says:
The Council in Trullo was convoked by the Emperor Justinian II to create disciplinary canons for the Byzantine Church. It was intended to be a completion to the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils. In regard to the sexual conduct of clergy it agreed with the Latin Church that “there must be only a single marriage contracted before ordination, and it cannot be with a widow or with other women excluded by the law. After ordination, a first or further marriage is not licit. Bishops can no longer live in marriage with their spouse but must live in complete continence, and there for their wives can no longer live with them. On the other hand, these wives must be maintained or supported by the church.” (Dragani 2000)
Since the late 600s with the Council of Trullo, it can be seen that the Byzantine Church has always had in place the ability for married men to become priest, so the idea that Byzantine Catholics would ‘evolve’ back to a time before that is almost impossible and the idea that the laity merely endure married clergy is false. It is at the very core of Eastern Christianity. This tradition is one that is held on to, so much so, that when the Roman Catholic church
In the early 1900s at the request of Roman bishops in the United States, the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church published Cum Data Fuerit, which required Byzantine priests, in the United States, to be celibate and thus began the Latinization of the Byzantine Catholic church. The results of Cum Data Fuerit were earth-shattering for the church and led to schism according to the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh website:
In 1929, the Holy See issued a decree entitled Cum Data Fuerit, in which its previous position that the Greek Catholic clergy in America must be celibate was reiterated. The Bishop [Basil Takach] vehemently opposed the decree and he appealed in vain to have this decision reversed. When it became apparent that he was without further recourse, he had to enforce the decree. Some priests and laity perceived the decree as an attack upon their Eastern traditions, and they began a campaign against the bishop, questioning his authority to govern the exarchate. Many parishes were drawn into the conflict, families were divided, and numerous legal battles for control of Church properties ensued. Regrettably, this resulted in a schism which led to the formation of the Church that became the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A.
A great deal of damage was done as a result of the attitude toward priestly celibacy and the Byzantine church, however just a few decades later there would be several glimmers of hope in the form of decrees issued during the Second Vatican Council and beyond.