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The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216$
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Hugh M. Thomas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702566

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702566.001.0001

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The Model Priest and his Antithesis

The Model Priest and his Antithesis

(p.17) 2 The Model Priest and his Antithesis
The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216

Hugh M. Thomas

Oxford University Press

Twelfth-century writers sometimes compared priests to kings, angels, or gods because of their frequent contact with God during the Eucharist and because of their responsibility for pastoral care. Reformers created a model of the ideal priest, setting a very high standard for the behavior of clerics and demanding a high level of ritual purity. However, they defined this model largely in negative terms, through describing the ways in which most priests fell short. In sermons and treatises, twelfth-century moralists blasted the clergy for simony, pluralism, absenteeism, greed, involvement in worldly business, selling of ritual services, drunkenness, and sexual misbehavior. Though exaggerated, these attacks did describe many behaviors practiced by the clergy.

Keywords:   secular clergy, priests, reform, Eucharist, sin, celibacy, ritual purity

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