Met a fellow at the office who is a member of a very large West Suburban parish--and in fact, sits on the Parish Council. Since that parish's early history was well-known to me, we had an enjoyable conversation until he mentioned that 'one of our priests...I forget which one.....said that priestly celibacy would not be required in the future, just as it was not required until the Middle Ages, and that women priests would be coming within the next several years.'
That would have been in recent parish history because the names he dropped were at that parish within the last 5 years or so.
I reminded him of one very simple reason that there would never be (licit) "women priests," which is this: at Ordination, a priest becomes 'alter Christi' (another Christ,) and if memory serves, Christ was a man, not a woman.
(This fellow is a convert, so he can be forgiven for some ignorance, particularly when it is fueled by utterly ridiculous or despicable comments from a priest.)
Moving on......his remarks about 'married priests' included reference to 'property disputes' which forced the Church to mandate celibacy for priests around 1000 AD. (The perfectly correct term is 'continence' early on in Church history and currently with the admission of married Episcopalian priests, e.g.--but 'celibacy' is a valid term applied to UN-married priests.)
'Property disputes' may well have happened; it's not hard to imagine a priest 'giving title' to assets of the Church when his brain-functions were concentrated beneath the belt-line; nor is it hard to imagine that some women were interested in getting the 'title' to a church and all its fixtures. The priest had no legal right to 'give title' to anyone, and the women had no 'right to marry' a priest, but the value of the prize was significant, right? Anyone here surprised? No? Then let's move on.
So that made me look up the references again. Here's another one.
...To understand the history of celibacy from today's perspective it is necessary to realise that
in the West, during the first millennium of the Church, a large number of bishops and priests were married men,
something which today is quite exceptional. However, a precondition for married men to receive orders as deacons,
priests, or bishops was that after ordination they were required to live perpetual continence or the lex continentiae. They had, with the prior agreement of their spouses, to
be prepared to forego conjugal life in the future....
...In the early Church, as already indicated, ordination of married men was the norm. Sacred Scripture
confirms this; St Paul prescribes to his disciples Titus and Timothy that candidates for ordination should only
have been married once (cf. 1 Tim 3:2.12; Tit 1:6). We know that Peter was married and perhaps others of the Apostles.
This seems to be implied in Peter's question to Christ - 'We have left our homes and followed you'. And Jesus replied,
'Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers
or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and
in the age to come eternal life' (Lk 18:28-30; cf. Mt 19:27-30).
Here we see the first obligation of clerical celibacy, that is, continence in relation to the
use of marriage after ordination. This was the original meaning of celibacy - the lex
continentiae or absolute continence in relation to the generation of children. This
is how it is defined in all the first written laws about celibacy, dating from the fourth and fifth centuries.
Candidates for ordination could not commit themselves to live continence without the prior, express agreement of
their spouses, since as a consequence of the sacramental bond they had an inalienable right to conjugal relations.
For several reasons, practical as well as ascetical, a preference developed in the Church for
the ordination of celibate, unmarried men, a preference which subsequently became the normal requirement for all
candidates for the priesthood in the Western Church. Hence, as has been pointed out, in the first millennium of
the Church, celibacy meant either of two things: that ordained ministers did not marry, or, if those chosen to
be ordained were already married, after ordination they had to commit themselves to a life of perpetual continence.
The failure to distinguish between the lex continentiae
and celibacy as we understand it today has given rise to a number of misunderstandings and misinterpretations about
the history of this charism....
Obviously, those 'misunderstandings' and 'misinterpretations' were handed out as "learning" in the fabulously un-orthodox Milwaukee Seminary under the reigns of Abps. Cousins and Weakland.
There is plenty more at the link, and books by Albert Cardinal Stickler and Mgr. Conchini both elaborate on not only the history, but the canon-law involved.
These are the fables which never die. Be prepared!