Why Priests Can’t Marry and the Real Estate Factor – A History Lesson

How valuable is this commodity we know as real estate? We all may wink-wink when asked, “what is the world’s oldest profession?” but what about the world’s second oldest profession? That is a toss up between mortgage lending and real estate buying and selling. Real estate my dear reader and all of its attributes go back to the earliest days of recorded history. Archeologists uncover clay tablets from Mesopotamia and what do they find still legible? Mortgage deeds!

Mortgage lending makes it appearance in the bible.  Biblical tradition bans both charging interest to the poor and foreclosing on property mortgaged under abusive loan terms. (See Exodus 22:25-27)
 
"We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine."  (Nehemiah 5:3-11.)

 
Stories abound in the Bible about buying and selling land. Joseph bought low during the famine in Egypt on behalf of the Pharaoh. No mention if Joseph was licenced, took any courses, had his continuing credits up-to-date or if he charged more or less commission than his competitors. I just visualize Joseph pulling out a 2 kilo tablet with his registration chiselled  into it when asked to produce it.  I can accurately state that Joseph did not rely on newspaper ads for his business. Learn that one lesson from the bible –  never rely on newspaper ads for your business!
 
Now about the Church, priests, celibacy and real estate. Many people make the assumption that priests could not marry and that it has always been that way. Not so, as matter of fact even today, a priest can have a wife – if he was married before becoming a priest. What we know today as the law of celibacy started in the twelfth century by the Pope of that period.
 
Did you  know that the Council of Trent in 1563 reaffirmed the issue of clerical celibacy, which was  referred to officially as a Law of the Church – not a law of God? That makes it open for debate and amendment, which should lead to interesting times in the future.
 
Here is where the real estate issue kicks in, in the early days of the Catholic church, the leaders ended the practice of priests marrying in order to stop the property, money and land of the church from being inherited  away from the church. That is, from priests leaving money and land to wives and children when they died. 
 
Just pure common sense on the part of the Vatican, If a priest was never married, then he had no family to leave anything to, therefore all the wealth accumualted by the church would stay in the church. 
 
I have provided this little history lesson for one reason, to show that I am capable of using the Internet for research. Okay,  that was my tongue-in-cheek comment, on a more serious note, this brief history lesson confirms that the desire for ownership of real estate is one of the oldest material desires that is known to mankind. 
 
Get a handle on this desire. I have stated it before in my columns, immigrants to Canada are coming here for a better life but a better life means home ownership, a fact that is denied to them in most of the world. We let them rent money at cheap interest and in turn we give them a profit. Works for everyone. 
 
Look to history for the future. The burning desire to own a home will continue to be one of the greatest desires of most people. Your job is simple, make it easy for them to do so. History is on your side.

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