New York Times: “I caution the clerical wife to be on guard…” — UPDATED

On the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, an assistant professor of medieval European history, Sara Ritchey, has some words of advice:

By the time of the First Lateran Council, the priest’s wife had become a symbol of wantonness and defilement. The reason was that during this period the nature of the host consecrated at Mass received greater theological scrutiny. Medieval theologians were in the process of determining that bread and wine, at the moment of consecration in the hands of an ordained priest at the altar, truly became the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The priest who handled the body and blood of Christ should therefore be uncontaminated lest he defile the sacred corpus.

The priest’s wife was an obvious danger. Her wanton desire, suggested the 11th-century monk Peter Damian, threatened the efficacy of consecration. He chastised priests’ wives as “furious vipers who out of ardor of impatient lust decapitate Christ, the head of clerics,” with their lovers. According to the historian Dyan Elliott, priests’ wives were perceived as raping the altar, a perpetration not only of the priest but also of the whole Christian community.

The priest’s nuclear family was also seen as a risk to the stability of the church. His children represented a threat to laypersons, who feared that their endowments might be absorbed into the hands of the priest’s offspring to create a rival clerical dynasty. A celibate priest would thus ensure donations from the neighboring landed aristocracy. Furthermore, the priest’s wife was often accused, along with her children, of draining the church’s resources with her extravagance and frivolity. Pope Leo IX attempted to remedy this problem in the 11th century by decreeing that the wives and children of priests must serve in his residence at the Lateran Palace in Rome.

Given this history, I caution the clerical wife to be on guard as she enters her role as a sacerdotal attaché. Her position is an anomalous one and, as the Vatican has repeatedly insisted, one that will not receive permanent welcome in the church. That said, for the time being, it will be prudent for the Vatican to honor the dignity of the wives and children of its freshly ordained married priests. And here, I suggest, a real conversation about the continuation of priestly celibacy might begin.

Read the whole thing.

Clearly, the author sees the Church as a place of rampant misogyny and sexism, where women are the root of all evil.  All this, of course, based on writings from the 11th century.

Well.  I think four decades of recent history involving the wives of deacons, and the experience of wives of clergy who have become a part of the life of the Church through the Pastoral Provision (not to mention the wives of priests and deacons in the Oriental Church) might offer a less ominous picture than the one painted here.

Any wives out there want to weigh in?

UPDATE: Carl Olson has a good dissection of everything that’s wrong with the piece right here.


  1. I agree with you Deacon Greg, the wives of Episcopal priests I have know, and husbands of the Women priests, do have a rough road, but it is not because of misogyny, it is because at any moment the priest might be called to a priestly duty. As you point out, the wives of Deacons have become part of “the life of the Church.” I have come to believe that it is a special vocation to be the spouse of an ordained person.

  2. “Any wives out there want to weigh in?” Yes! Unfortunately I’ll have to wait until after work to do it. Catch you later…

  3. The New York time allows this anti-catholic article on their columns? Shocked! (well, not really).

  4. I wonder why today’s academics can write such nonsensical things. She is supposed to be a historian and not a commissar to check the political correctness of the long gone monks (Peter Damian, at that time already an extremely conservative figure, was a figure of the 11th. century, so even we disagree with his views it is both trivial and laughable to say that he is not, according to the standard today, politically correct).

    A historian should reveal interesting facts of the past, his/her job is not to haul hate campaign against an institution he/she dislikes, by using inadequate materials. For a historian, Mrs. Ritney is unable to think in a historical context, which obviously shows her incompetence as an academical researcher.

    She is not a historian in the strict sense, she helps to maintain an ideology which in return, helps to hold her in her academical position.

  5. P.S. it is not enough to quote Peter Damian alone, any serious historian will know that the writings of single persons say very little about the factual historical situation.

    Peter Damian was a monk so he would have just been polemic against the secular clergy, so the real target of his attack was not the priest’s wife but the secular priest.

    And what would Mr. Ritney say to the widely practised concubinage by secular clerics? I read several medieval productions of literature but this had never been a main topic. It was tolerated, I assume, until the Reformation. The Counter-Reformation after the Tridentine Council surely brought a more rigid discipline into the Church and the clergy, which is a good thing.

  6. Humorous. “Medieval theologians” were in the process of developing the doctrine of transubstantiation. Don’t get your Catholicism from the New York Slimes.

  7. UGH!
    I think that there should be some kind of law that when we start talking about “the Church” we start including the expression and experience of the Eastern Churches for they are just as much “the Church” as the Latin Rite Church. If Catholicism, as well as the rest of the culture, had a healthy does of Orthodoxy in its understanding of Apostolic Christianity, this kind of silliness wouldn’t be present. Even the writings of the 12th century show what happens when the west is left to its own thinking without the catholicity of the whole, you know, that other lung JPII talked about. They have always had married clergy. Let’s start learning from them, shall we?

  8. MidwestGirl says:

    My husband and I are recently married, and are expecting our first child in July.

    Currently, I work at a parish with 1600 families, 1 priest, and three deacons. My husband has expressed a desire in discerning the diaconate down the road.

    While I will support this if this is where God is calling us as a couple, I’ve seen first-hand the numerous sacrifices made by deacons and their families, including last minute funerals, counseling, etc., which many times does not include a stipend. It’s truly a life of service.

    While the writer here is very negative and anti-Catholic on in this article, there is SOME truth to what she is saying. Wives of deacons (and priests) do need to enter into this commitment with their husbands with their eyes wide open. Unfortunately, (as our diocese learned with the addition of a married priest), our parish systems currently aren’t set up to support priests with families. The wives need to discern as well if they are called and willing to make these sacrifices for the Church, just as my husband and I have to continually discern if we want to make the sacrifices (such as long hours, low pay, and more) for me to continue ministry work after our first child is born.

  9. From my undergraduate studies of medieval history, this excerpt does reflect the view of the 11th century. In my opinion, once you scrape away the layers of misogyny, the idea of purity/chastity does reflect the current (conservative) defense of a celibate Catholic priesthood, yes? Clearly, married priests CAN be good priests and will face different challenges particular to that state of life. But does that negate the witness of the celibate/chaste priest?

  10. A lot of criticism of the professor. PhD from University of Chicago – a good school. Is this really anti-Catholic as some comments say?

  11. One of the many reasons for celibacy in the west that came around in the 9th-11th centuries was for the reason that the priest offered daily mass, and would have to fast from sexual relations the night before. When you’re offering mass every morning, it pretty much removes the married couples nuptial life. There was a creeping entrance of ritual purity into both the East and Western Church from the 6th century onward. This ritual purity meant that women were not allowed behind the iconostasis in the East because of their cycle, and married priests were somehow unable to offer the sacrifice if they had engaged in sexual intercourse. These are all early medieval inclusions that have no place in the faith. This kind of ritual purity nonsense was set aside by Christ’s sacrifice.

  12. Deacon Norb says:

    Ten Page:
    “Clearly, married priests CAN be good priests and will face different challenges particular to that state of life. But does that negate the witness of the celibate/chaste priest?”

    The social and cultural context of the Church of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries is totally foreign to anything we have — or even cam imagine — today.

    One can make value judgements either way about whether that Late Medieval Era was better or worse than today but those judgements would be based on stereotypical and biased views. One needs to be a gifted scholar of “historiography” to understand what motivated the living authors of that era to frame the chaotic events of their times by their narratives.

    In other words, was their a lot of misogyny during that era among educated clerics? Probably was. Is that tendency toward misogyny inherent within the very nature of Christianity? Nope. How did it all come about? Likely the well known human fault of self-justification. We see that a lot within the context of a war; societies always justify themselves by “demonizing” their enemies.

    Ten Page is absolutely correct here. Married priests can be very good priests — it’s just that their ministry will be very different because their lives are very different

  13. To apply the word “misogyny” to people of quite different eras is already ahistorical. I will never take a historian seriously when he/she applies the vocabulary of today’s political correctness to describe a society so different and foreign to the society of the modern industrialized West.

    As for the attitude to women, you can’t judge from the writings. Do the writings of Peter Damian reflects the actual way how women were treated in the middle ages, or does it merely reflects a kind of topos (a certain way to talk about certain kinds of things in the rhetoric). We know that in the middle ages, despite the writings of Peter Damian, we have powerful abbesses who had a saying in the politics. The women cloisters were highly autonomous. Women got also an education. Hildgegard of Bingen learned Latin, the Uncle of Heloise asked Abaelard, a famous professor of that time, to teach her. And not to mention Matilda of Canossa who was befriended with Gregory VII and in her Castle the Emperor Heinrich IV was held captive.

    Actually, I’ve read many books on history, but the more serious ones don’t use this kind of vocabulary. The task of a serious historian is not to play the Great Inquisitor condemning whatever is different to the modern values, but to explain the historic constellations.

    And I just wonder why can’t married priests be good priests. We have good priests who are married: those converts from Protestantism, Anglicism and the Uniate Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite. Actually, the father of an acquaintance of mine is a married Catholic priest who converted from Lutheranism.

  14. P.S. sorry for the many grammatical mistakes above, didn’t check it before click the “send” button. And in the last passage it should have been “and priests of the Uniate Catholic Churches of Eastern Rite” (as they are not converts).

  15. I would dismiss the article for its error in stating that medieval priests were just figuring out that they were consecrating bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ (of course, theology can develop, etc- but come on!)

    I’m impressed with your readers, Deacon, in that all commenters were thoughtful about this hot button topic.

    Isn’t it interesting that a large portion of the objection to the possibility for a married man to be ordained priest was the money. It is always about the money. For our part, we are very blessed that my husband works full-time as the director of hospital chaplaincy (so he couldn’t pastor a ‘mega’ parish) and that I work part time as a college professor.

  16. pw: Ditto your comment about the tone of this discussion so far. i perused the thread with trembling, but it’s been quite good so far. but, re your line “the objection to the possibility for a married man to be ordained priest was the money. It is always about the money.” no. there’s much more than that in the matter. Consulta auctores probatos. Best, edp.

  17. Honestly. She could have just called up her local Orthodox church and spoken to a real live priest’s wife instead of rooting around in medieval fearmongering. I feel bad for those Episcopalian-to-Catholic clergy wives who are going to get this waved under their noses for who-knows-how-long.

    And I just sent this Letter to the Editor of the NYT:
    Aghast? Agog? Speechless? Perhaps the more recently coined *headdesk*? I cannot think of more appropriate words to describe my reaction to Sara Ritchey’s “For Priests’ Wives, a Word of Caution.” It is disappointing that Ms. Ritchie stuck with her academic medieval texts and neglected to consult a more up-to-date source of information.

    I am the wife of a Greek Orthodox priest, and I have experienced none of the myriad hazards listed by Ms. Ritchie. I am accorded a title of respect (Presbytera) and our family is cherished and supported by our community. Our boys are the de facto mascots of the parish, and there is unquestionable value in other children seeing Fr. Mark as a daddy himself. I do not run the Sunday School, direct the Choir, or preside over the Ladies’ Aid Society. My focus is the care of the priest, so that he may in turn care for those in the community. There is no conflict, no caution, no wariness.

    And for the record, nobody has ever called me the ‘devil’s choice tidbit.’

  18. I think the NYTimes op ed piece is weighing in against celibacy and not really a critique of the wives. Many readers will not even realize that celibacy was not required until the 11th century. This is in the context of a much bigger problem: how can you limit the priesthood to men? As the never ending abuse scandals continue, it is proven that “celibacy” has been unattainable for many male priests. But the age of seeing women as second-rate persons is ending fast. Allowing married priests is a last ditch effort to get priests while ensuring the survival of sexist discrimination that limits the priesthood to men. It seems obvious that many nuns would make good priests. Sadly, I think the Catholic Church will never accept women priests and so it will continue to dwindle and leave a bigger hole for secularism.

  19. friscoeddie says:

    That married priests are seen as a ‘Hot Button’ topic by so many posters is a sad commentary and the reason that the RCC’s sex notions are the total reason for the meltdown of vocations, decline in Mass attendance, lack of youngster participation, school and parish closings and last but not least the abuse cover-up. And posters here attribute it all to the evil NY Times.. sad sad sad.
    Bishops… revisit the medieval sex notions.. uptight posters will eventually follow..

  20. Of course this isn’t the 11th century (most of the time), and there are errors of nuance, to say the least, in the article’s discussion of the development of attitudes toward the Eucharist (not Eucharistic theology). But to dismiss out of hand the Western Church’s complicated and ambivalent—to put it in the least polemical terms—relationship with the lived realities of sexuality and gender, especially the feminine, is the theological and ecclesial equivalent of closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears, and going la-la-la.

    The argument that continence is required (either temporarily or permanently) of the married ordained in order to preserve the ministry from “contamination” is not an artifact of history. And that speaks volumes, in a louder voice than our best efforts to promote a more balanced and joyful theology of the body, about what we really think about sexuality and the ways women and men embody and experience this gift of God. If we don’t actually want Peter Damian and the rest to be our spokespersons in the world, we need to find a way to do what we are always asking Muslim leaders to do: Disassociate ourselves, clearly and firmly and engagingly, from those within the Church and in its tradition who distort the Faith by claiming Catholicism teaches that sex is inherently sinful and women are doorways to the Devil.

    Unless, of course, we believe those things to be true. But it’s more than one’s life is worth, lately, to even ask, because there is no forum in which we may engage these topics with prayerful candor and humility. And we are in an age where there is greater need to do so than ever.

  21. Oregon Catholic says:

    the 2000 yr old dogma of male only priesthood in both the East and West Churches, and in the Jewish religion too since the priesthood began, should tell you that there will never be a female priesthood in the Catholic/Orthodox Church. You are engaging in the relativism of the last few decades in current western society, which is an eyeblink in the span of Christendom, and these attitudes too shall pass as men and women continue in their separate, God-defined roles as humans. If Jesus wanted a female priesthood he would have ordained his Holy Mother and probably some of the other women mentioned as his followers, not just the Apostles.

  22. I thought this was based on information from the 11th century, not current information.

  23. Oregon Catholic says:

    Presbytera, perhaps you could address the sexual continence issue and whether it currently exists in the Orthodox Church or if it ever did. Must a priest fast from intercourse for a prescribed period before consecrating the Body and Blood?

  24. Women priests!?!?!?!?!

  25. Stopped reading when I got to this…
    “Women priests…”
    Sorry. Aint no such thing.

  26. There are indeed many canons on this topic, but basically every fast day is also an abstinence day. If one views the canons from a monastic rather than a congregational point of view, there are really very few days ‘available.’ In modern US practice, however, these canons are not interpreted quite so stringently. By way of analogy, Orthodox priests are supposed to refrain from shaving as a method for thinking less of their looks. But you will find many who primp, preen, and fiddle with their beards endlessly — essentially turning the stricture into an occasion for obsession with the exact opposite.

  27. friscoeddie says:

    JKM, very good… it says eloquently what I tried to post

  28. Dissociate from Peter Damian, a Saint of the Church? That is impossible because of the Communion of the Saint we confess in the Creed.

    Not dissociation, this reminds me so much of the Pharisees who said thank God I am not the others. You would like to appear political correct and so you have to condemn Church members lived before you, for every politically incorrect word they dared to utter? I find it highly hypocritical.

    May I kindly remind people who are so eager to show that “they are not like the bigots who lived centuries before” that there is something called Hermeneutic? And the Principle of Charity (Donald Davidson). That is, we must try to understand the history and our fellow human beings why they did or said something. I always find it childish to condemn people who lived long before us according to our own standards. Political correctness if applied so automatically like some here do is nothing but a bigotry.

  29. goodburker says:

    “the RCC’s sex notions are the total reason for the meltdown of vocations, decline in Mass attendance, lack of youngster participation, school and parish closings and last but not least the abuse cover-up.”

    friscoeddie, you write the above as if it is based on some sociological study and not an opinion. Just wondering where you get your conclusions. If that is the case, then what explains the sex abuse scandals among athletic coaches, school teachers, married ministers in protestant denominations, and on and on?

    If only someone had actually studied the issue and written a dispassionate critique of the question! Oh wait, someone has:

    One other point: vocations, mass attendance, youth participation is down in the West…you are right about that. But in Asia and Africa it is skyrocketing. Why do you think that is?

    God Bless!

  30. I knew if I waited long enough someone else would say it better than I could, and they did. Thanks, Dcn. Norb, JKM, and Presbytera.
    To some extent I agree that we can’t judge the past out of context, and with present- day standards. However I don’t think it’s pandering to political correctness to point out that there were problems with prevalent modes of thought regarding women, sexuality, and the body. And to the extent that these modes of thought still cast a shadow, they are still problems.

  31. The author avoided the biggest problem the wives are going to face; the ban on birth control. Catholic parish pay very, very low wages. If she abides by the birth control ban, she’ll be nearly-constantly pregnant and raising a huge family on a pittance. The practical option is that she’ll have a job and use artificial birth control, meaning the bishop will have to fire her husband, or live with the congregation seeing a priest violate one of the only two rules conservative Catholics care about.

  32. Perhaps it would be helpful if both “sides” — and certainly the pitiful Ms. Ritchie — were actually to read St. Peter Damien, and read him in context. In the passage quoted in the NYT op-ed article Damien is ranting (and rightly so) about the practices of clerical concubinage and attempting marriage AFTER ordination to the clerical state. In both the Western and Eastern Churches a “marriage” contracted after ordination is no marriage. The prior ordination is itself an impediment. St. Peter Damien is not railing against true wives, but against mistresses, concubines, and uncanonical pseudo-marriages.

  33. Deacon Steve says:

    Karen really? Constantly pregnant by not using birth control? It is very possible for a woman to not be constantly pregnant and not be using artificial birth control. I know many families that have only 1 or 2 children that did not use birth control. For one there is NFP which is acceptable for use, as well as a woman’s natural cycle which prevents her from being able to become pregnant all the time. Sorry but the bigger challenge will be for acceptance in Catholic communities that are not used to married clergy. Even with the diaconate in the Western Church, the acceptance of the wives and families of ordained married clergy varies greatly from parish to parish. My wife’s experience as well as the wives of the other 2 deacons at my parish has not been a bed of roses and it has nothing to do with birth control. People make them feel like impediments to getting what they want from me and the other deacons when our wives help us to say no at times to requests because of needs of our families.

  34. Deacon Norb says:

    To follow up with Deacon Steve:

    There are approximately 100 active deacons in my Midwestern Diocese — BTW that number is down from about 150 as recently as ten years ago.

    My guess is that there are 100 different stories about how the wider church in our area treats the wives and the families of their deacons. In some, the relationship between the deacons’-wives/families is a fairly healthy one — in others, that relationship is a disaster.

    Whether folks realize it or not, the family of a deacon lives in a glass house. Different wives react to that lack of privacy in different ways.

    The best of those situations are when the wife and young children of a parish deacon are treated like any other normal family. . . no special parish demands and no special parish expectations. The deacon’s wives who handle the stress best — and some of that stress can be self-imposed — are those who have a support system of other deacon’s wives.

  35. Just read through these posts and was about to post the same information. You have to assume that if it is in the NY Times it will be anti Catholic and also more than likely arrive at their point using distorted or carefully selected information that does not put it in context. St Peter Damien has produced some wonderful work, even for someone from that long ago. It is designed to give more fodder to those who want to see married priest the norm and/or women priest. I suspect we will take a look at how these convert priests with wives work out for a couple hundred years before we move in any way to change the celebacy rule. We know that there can never be women priest in the Catholic Church based on the non negotiable magesterial statement of Pope John Paul II that the Church does not now or ever will have the authority to change this.

  36. You’re right that there are “100 different stories”; or more. It also helps if you’re not the first deacon couple in a parish. I was lucky in that there had been deacons in our parish for many years before my husband was ordained. So people were kind of clued in that every couple is different; and were willing to let us find our own niche. The support system of other deacon families is definitely a biggie.

  37. Saints are not infallible.

  38. Oregon Catholic says:

    But Deacon Steve, you have to admit that you can’t stop with 1 or 2 kids and use NFP indefinitely thereafter. If a woman is healthy and there are no unusual family demands you pretty much can’t justify using NFP more than a couple of years after each child to space births and still say you are following Church teaching. I’ll bet that’s what Karen meant.

  39. What you seem to be saying is that the Church teaches that you have to keep having kids until the equipment breaks down, with maybe a year or two off here and there; and can’t make personal decisions based on how many you can decently provide for. And also can’t take into account your personal limitations as far as being able to nurture and provide good parenting. I don’t think the Church teaches this at all; though I’m sure there’s some out there in the blogasterium who would try and push that point of view as dogma.

  40. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Church teaching on this subject, from the catechism:

    2367 Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God.154 “Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility.”155

    2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

    When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.156

    2369 “By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood.”157

    2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:159

    Dcn. G.

  41. Ms. Ritchie’s piece does distort the idea of what priestly celibacy is. I happen to be married to a pastor of a Protestant church. It is incredibly difficult to have both callings, that of pastor and that of father. I personally believe that the Roman rite has it right when it requires celibacy on the part of the priest. My husband has dual obligations, if you will, to me, our children, our family and to our church, and always with the disconcerting feeling that by giving wholeheartedly in one world, you’re shortchanging the other one. Our culture has been telling women especially, but even men, that you can have it all. Let me say, you can’t have it all and do it well. The discipline of celibacy for Catholic priests is a good one. Let’s trust the church on everything, but especially this one. It is a good thing. Regarding those married priests from the Anglican tradition and married deacons, they know what they face. May God bless them in this endeavor. Let’s all pray for them and show them our greatest kindness.

  42. delia ruhe says:

    Just serft on this while trying to locate Damian’s writings on women. None available in print, of course, like the hysterical antisemitic writings of Chrysostom. The church is not much interested in revealing the dark side of its past. But thanks to Dyan Elliott, whom Ritchey is paraphrasing, we do have a long explication of Damian’s writings available only in the deep recesses of library archives.

  43. Viola Maria Miller says:

    The Western Rite has it correctly. A married priest may be a good priest, but he is divided. He must serve his family as well as Our Lord’s needs at the same time. A celibately pure and holy priest serves His Church His bride with all his heart, and his parish children. Our Lord’s calling is his top priority, not a relational family with complex and conflicted needs. To serve as Jesus’ priest his heart must rest truly purely in God’s heart, as his first love and the love of his life. There is no division. We of course, must pray and respect all our priests from either rite, and deacons, and all their families. We must pray for them, and love them, and help them with all our heart. We follow what the Holy Father, the Pope, states from the Chair of Peter. We accept no less but true faithfulness to Christ. We must accept at times the unacceptable to us, because we are truly Catholic and died to ourselves on the Cross with Jesus. Follow Jesus in whatever state and service He has given you, and follow with all your heart Holy Priests and Laity, married or not. Their is no division in that road to Heaven. It is a rocky road, an anquishinly difficult road at times, a narrow road, not wide. But it is a road we have all accepted, and will keep accepting on our knees daily at every Mass. Jesus we belong to Thee and only Thee. Pray Pray Pray for all our Priests, and for all who serve His Holy Church, here on earth. The pay is low, but the Prize…oh, that prize. Jesus, you are sure worth my Life, I give it to Thee. All my heart, I pray. Amen.


  1. [...] by Allen. Now, go read how he fleshes them out. It’s a keeper.A little hate-chaser: thanks to the NY Times.. . .priests’ wives should beware a religious tradition that views them, in the words of Damian, [...]

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