In the early fourth century, the Council of Elvira, in Spain, became the first provincial body to require priests to renounce sex. But it wasn't until 1123 that priestly celibacy became church-wide law. Pope Callistus II called hundreds of church leaders to Rome for the First Lateran Council. "We absolutely forbid priests, deacons or sub-deacons to live with concubines and wives," the council declared in its canons that year. "Marriage contracts between such persons should be made void and the persons ought to undergo penance." The new laws, which incited strenuous protest from clergy, did less to eliminate sex than to drive it underground. Many male clergy continued to have secret wives, concubines, gay lovers, illegitimate children and, in at least one London parish, a special brothel where "only men with a tonsure, the shaven circle representing Christ's crown of thorns, were admitted." The abuse of children by priests, which mushroomed into a global scandal in the twenty-first century, is seen by many critics as the gravest unintended consequence of mandatory celibacy.
Ariel Sabar, Veritas: A Harvard Professor, A Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife, 2020