Clergy are some of the main and important formal leaders within certain religions. The roles and functions of clergy vary in different religious traditions but these usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the terms used for individual clergy are clergyman, clergywoman and churchman. Less common terms are churchwoman, clergyperson and cleric.

In Christianity the specific names and roles of clergy vary by denomination and there is a wide range of formal and informal clergy positions, including deacons, elders, priests, bishops, preachers, pastors, ministers and the Pope. In Islam, a religious leader is often known formally or informally as an imam, qadi, mufti, mullah or ayatollah. In Jewish tradition, a religious leader is often a rabbi (teacher) or hazzan (cantor).

Religious Leaders, World Economic Forum 2009 Annual Meeting
(left to right) George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury (1991–2002); Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi (UK); Mustafa Cerić, Grand Mufti of Bosnia; and Jim Wallis, Sojourners, United States. 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.


The word "Cleric" comes from the ecclesiastical Latin Clericus, for those belonging to the priestly class. In turn, the source of the Latin word is from the Ecclesiastical Greek Clericus, meaning appertaining to an inheritance, in reference to the fact that the Levitical priests of the Old Testament had no inheritance except the Lord.[1] "Clergy" is from two Old French words, clergié and clergie, which refer to those with learning and derive from Medieval Latin clericatus, from Late Latin clericus (the same word from which "cleric" is derived).[2] "Clerk", which used to mean one ordained to the ministry, also derives from clericus. In the Middle Ages, reading and writing were almost exclusively the domain of the priestly class, and this is the reason for the close relationship of these words.[3] Within Christianity, especially in Eastern Christianity and formerly in Western Roman Catholicism, the term cleric refers to any individual who has been ordained, including deacons, priests, and bishops.[4] In Latin Roman Catholicism, the tonsure was a prerequisite for receiving any of the minor orders or major orders before the tonsure, minor orders, and the subdiaconate were abolished following the Second Vatican Council.[5] Now, the clerical state is tied to reception of the diaconate.[6] Minor Orders are still given in the Eastern Catholic Churches, and those who receive those orders are 'minor clerics.'[7]

The use of the word "Cleric" is also appropriate for Eastern Orthodox minor clergy who are tonsured in order not to trivialize orders such as those of Reader in the Eastern Church, or for those who are tonsured yet have no minor or major orders. It is in this sense that the word entered the Arabic language, most commonly in Lebanon from the French, as kleriki (or, alternatively, cleriki) meaning "seminarian." This is all in keeping with Eastern Orthodox concepts of clergy, which still include those who have not yet received, or do not plan to receive, the diaconate.

A priesthood is a body of priests, shamans, or oracles who have special religious authority or function. The term priest is derived from the Greek presbyter (πρεσβύτερος, presbýteros, elder or senior), but is often used in the sense of sacerdos in particular, i.e., for clergy performing ritual within the sphere of the sacred or numinous communicating with the gods on behalf of the community.


Dalai Lama 1430 Luca Galuzzi 2007crop
14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso in 2007

Buddhist clergy are often collectively referred to as the Sangha, and consist of various orders of male and female monks (originally called bhikshus and bhikshunis respectively). This diversity of monastic orders and styles was originally one community founded by Gautama Buddha during the 5th century BC living under a common set of rules (called the Vinaya). According to scriptural records, these celibate monks and nuns in the time of the Buddha lived an austere life of meditation, living as wandering beggars for nine months out of the year and remaining in retreat during the rainy season (although such a unified condition of Pre-sectarian Buddhism is questioned by some scholars). However, as Buddhism spread geographically over time - encountering different cultures, responding to new social, political, and physical environments - this single form of Buddhist monasticism diversified. The interaction between Buddhism and Tibetan Bon led to a uniquely Tibetan Buddhism, within which various sects, based upon certain teacher-student lineages arose. Similarly, the interaction between Indian Buddhist monks (particularly of the Southern Madhyamika School) and Chinese Confucian and Taoist monks from c200-c900AD produced the distinctive Ch'an Buddhism. Ch'an, like the Tibetan style, further diversified into various sects based upon the transmission style of certain teachers (one of the most well known being the 'rapid enlightenment' style of Linji Yixuan), as well as in response to particular political developments such as the An Lushan Rebellion and the Buddhist persecutions of Emperor Wuzong. In these ways, manual labour was introduced to a practice where monks originally survived on alms; layers of garments were added where originally a single thin robe sufficed; etc. This adaptation of form and roles of Buddhist monastic practice continued after the transmission to Japan. For example, monks took on administrative functions for the Emperor in particular secular communities (registering births, marriages, deaths), thereby creating Buddhist 'priests'. Again, in response to various historic attempts to suppress Buddhism (most recently during the Meiji Era), the practice of celibacy was relaxed and Japanese monks allowed to marry. This form was then transmitted to Korea, during later Japanese occupation,[8] where celibate and non-celibate monks today exist in the same sects. (Similar patterns can also be observed in Tibet during various historic periods multiple forms of monasticism have co-existed such as "ngagpa" lamas, and times at which celibacy was relaxed). As these varied styles of Buddhist monasticism are transmitted to Western cultures, still more new forms are being created.

In general, the Mahayana schools of Buddhism tend to be more culturally adaptive and innovative with forms, while Theravada schools (the form generally practised in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Sri Lanka) tend to take a much more conservative view of monastic life, and continue to observe precepts that forbid monks from touching women or working in certain secular roles. This broad difference in approach led to a major schism among Buddhist monastics in about the 4th century BCE, creating the Early Buddhist Schools.

While female monastic (bhikkhuni) lineages existed in most Buddhist countries at one time, the Theravada lineages of Southeast Asia died out during the 14th-15th Century AD. As there is some debate about whether the bhikkhuni lineage (in the more expansive Vinaya forms) was transmitted to Tibet, the status and future of female Buddhist clergy in this tradition is sometimes disputed by strict adherents to the Theravadan style. Some Mahayana sects, notably in the United States (such as San Francisco Zen Center) are working to reconstruct the female branches of what they consider a common, interwoven lineage.[9]

The diversity of Buddhist traditions makes it difficult to generalize about Buddhist clergy. In the United States, Pure Land priests of the Japanese diaspora serve a role very similar to Protestant ministers of the Christian tradition. Meanwhile, reclusive Theravada forest monks in Thailand live a life devoted to meditation and the practice of austerities in small communities in rural Thailand- a very different life from even their city-dwelling counterparts, who may be involved primarily in teaching, the study of scripture, and the administration of the nationally organized (and government sponsored) Sangha. In the Zen traditions of China, Korea and Japan, manual labor is an important part of religious discipline; meanwhile, in the Theravada tradition, prohibitions against monks working as laborers and farmers continue to be generally observed.

Currently in North America, there are both celibate and non-celibate clergy in a variety of Buddhist traditions from around the world. In some cases they are forest dwelling monks of the Theravada tradition and in other cases they are married clergy of a Japanese Zen lineage and may work a secular job in addition to their role in the Buddhist community. There is also a growing realization that traditional training in ritual and meditation as well as philosophy may not be sufficient to meet the needs and expectations of American lay people. Some communities have begun exploring the need for training in counseling skills as well. Along these lines, at least two fully accredited Master of Divinity programs are currently available: one at Naropa University in Boulder, CO and one at the University of the West in Rosemead, CA.


In general, Christian clergy are ordained; that is, they are set apart for specific ministry in religious rites. Others who have definite roles in worship but who are not ordained (e.g. laypeople acting as acolytes) are generally not considered clergy, even though they may require some sort of official approval to exercise these ministries.

Types of clerics are distinguished from offices, even when the latter are commonly or exclusively occupied by clerics. A Roman Catholic cardinal, for instance, is almost without exception a cleric, but a cardinal is not a type of cleric. An archbishop is not a distinct type of cleric, but is simply a bishop who occupies a particular position with special authority. Conversely, a youth minister at a parish may or may not be a cleric. Different churches have different systems of clergy, though churches with similar polity have similar systems.


IEAB 2006 mauricio saulo crosier
Bishop Maurício Andrade, primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, gives the crosier to Bishop Saulo Barros.

In Anglicanism, clergy consist of the orders of deacons, priests (presbyters) and bishops in ascending order of seniority. Canon, archdeacon, archbishop and the like are specific positions within these orders. Bishops are typically overseers, presiding over a diocese composed of many parishes, with an archbishop presiding over a province, which is a group of dioceses. A parish (generally a single church) is looked after by one or more priests, although one priest may be responsible for several parishes. New clergy are ordained deacons. Those seeking to become priests are usually ordained priest after a year. Since the 1960s some Anglican churches have reinstituted the diaconate as a permanent, rather than transitional, order of ministry focused on ministry that bridges the church and the world, especially ministry to those on the margins of society.

For the forms of address for Anglican clergy, see Forms of address in the United Kingdom.

For a short period of history before the ordination of women as deacons, priests and bishops began within Anglicanism they could be "deaconesses". Although they were usually considered having a ministry distinct from deacons they often had similar ministerial responsibilities.

In Anglican churches all clergy are permitted to marry. In most national churches women may become deacons or priests, but while fifteen out of 38 national churches allow for the consecration of women as bishops, only five have ordained any. Celebration of the Eucharist is reserved for priests and bishops.

National Anglican churches are presided over by one or more primates or metropolitans (archbishops or presiding bishops). The senior archbishop of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury, who acts as leader of the Church of England and 'first among equals' of the primates of all Anglican churches.

Being a deacon, priest or bishop is considered a function of the person and not a job. When priests retire they are still priests even if they no longer have any active ministry. However, they only hold the basic rank after retirement. Thus a retired archbishop can only be considered a bishop (though it is possible to refer to 'Bishop John Smith, the former Archbishop of York'), a canon or archdeacon is a priest on retirement and does not hold any additional honorifics.


Ordained clergy in the Roman Catholic Church are either deacons, priests, or bishops belonging to the diaconate, the presbyterate, or the episcopate, respectively. Among bishops, some are metropolitans, archbishops, or patriarchs. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, the supreme and universal hierarch of the Church, and his authorization is now required for the ordination of all Catholic bishops. With rare exceptions, cardinals are bishops, although it was not always so; formerly, some cardinals were people who had received clerical tonsure, but not Holy Orders. Secular clergy are ministers, such as deacons and priests, who do not belong to a religious institute and live in the world at large, rather than a religious institute (saeculum). The Holy See supports the activity of its clergy by the Congregation for the Clergy ([1]), a dicastery of Roman curia.

Canon Law indicates (canon 207) that "[b]y divine institution, there are among the Christian faithful in the Church sacred ministers who in law are also called clerics; the other members of the Christian faithful are called lay persons".[10] This distinction of a separate ministry was formed in the early times of Christianity; one early source reflecting this distinction, with the three ranks or orders of bishop, priest and deacon, is the writings of Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

Holy Orders is one of the Seven Sacraments, enumerated at the Council of Trent, that the Magisterium considers to be of divine institution. In the Roman Catholic Church, only men are permitted to be clerics, although in antiquity women were ordained to the diaconate.

In the Latin Church before 1972, tonsure admitted someone to the clerical state, after which he could receive the four minor orders (ostiary, lectorate, order of exorcists, order of acolytes) and then the major orders of subdiaconate, diaconate, presbyterate, and finally the episcopate, which according to Roman Catholic doctrine is "the fullness of Holy Orders". Since 1972 the minor orders and the subdiaconate have been replaced by lay ministries and clerical tonsure no longer takes place, except in some Traditionalist Catholic groups, and the clerical state is acquired, even in those groups, by Holy Orders.[11] In the Latin Church the initial level of the three ranks of Holy Orders is that of the diaconate. In addition to these three orders of clerics, some Eastern Catholic, or "Uniate", Churches have what are called "minor clerics".[12]

Members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life are clerics only if they have received Holy Orders. Thus, unordained monks, friars, nuns, and religious brothers and sisters are not part of the clergy.

The Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches prescribe that every cleric must be enrolled or "incardinated" in a diocese or its equivalent (an apostolic vicariate, territorial abbey, personal prelature, etc.) or in a religious institute, society of apostolic life or secular institute.[13][14] The need for this requirement arose because of the trouble caused from the earliest years of the Church by unattached or vagrant clergy subject to no ecclesiastical authority and often causing scandal wherever they went.[15]

Current canon law prescribes that to be ordained a priest, an education is required of two years of philosophy and four of theology, including study of dogmatic and moral theology, the Holy Scriptures, and canon law have to be studied within a seminary or an ecclesiastical faculty at a university.[16][17]

Roman Catholicism mandates clerical celibacy for all clergy in the predominant Latin Rite, with the exception of deacons who do not intend to become priests. Exceptions are sometimes admitted for ordination to transitional diaconate and priesthood on a case-by-case basis for married clergymen of other churches or communities who become Catholics, but ordination of married men to the episcopacy is excluded (see personal ordinariate). Clerical marriage is not allowed and therefore, if those for whom in some particular Church celibacy is optional (such as permanent deacons in the Latin Church) wish to marry, they must do so before ordination. Eastern Catholic Churches either follow the same rules as the Latin Church or require celibacy only for bishops.

In the High Middle Ages, clergy in Western Europe had four privileges:

  1. Right of Canon: whoever committed real violence on the person of a cleric committed a sacrilege. This decree was issued in a Lateran Council of 1097 (requested by Pope Urban II), then renewed in the Lateran Council II (1139)
  2. Right of Forum: by this right clergy could be judged by ecclesiastical tribunals only. Emperor Constantine I granted this right for bishops, which was subsequently extended to the rest of the clergy by Imperial Decree
  3. Right of Immunity: clergy could not be called for military service or other duties or charges incompatible with their role
  4. Right of Competence: a certain part of the income of clergy, necessary for sustenance, could not be sequestered by any action of creditors

Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has no dedicated clergy, and is governed instead by a system of lay priesthood leaders. Locally, unpaid and part-time priesthood holders lead the church; the worldwide church is supervised by full-time general authorities, some of whom receive modest living allowances.[18][19] No formal theological training is required for any position. All leaders in the church are called by revelation and the laying on of hands by one who holds authority. Jesus Christ stands at the head of the church and leads the church through revelation given to the President of the Church, the First Presidency, and Twelve Apostles, all of whom are recognized as prophets, seers, and revelators and have lifetime tenure. Below these men in the hierarchy are quorums of seventy, which are assigned geographically over the areas of the church. Locally, the church is divided into stakes; each stake has a president, who is assisted by two counselors and a high council. The stake is made up of several individual congregations, which are called "wards" or "branches." Wards are led by a bishop and his counselors and branches by a president and his counselors. Local leaders serve in their positions until released by their supervising authorities.[20]

Generally, all worthy males age 12 and above receive the priesthood. Youth age 12 to 18 are ordained to the Aaronic priesthood as deacons, teachers, or priests, which authorizes them to perform certain ordinances and sacraments. Adult males are ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood, as elders, seventies, high priests, or patriarchs in that priesthood, which is concerned with spiritual leadership of the church. Although the term "clergy" is not typically used in the LDS Church, it would most appropriately apply to local bishops and stake presidents. Merely holding an office in the priesthood does not imply authority over other church members or agency to act on behalf of the entire church.


Orthodox clergy
Orthodox Christian clergy: bishop (right, at altar), priest (left), and two deacons (in gold)
Ethiopian Orthodox clergy lead a procession in celebration of Saint Michael

The Orthodox Church has three ranks of holy orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. These are the same offices identified in the New Testament and found in the Early Church, as testified by the writings of the Holy Fathers. Each of these ranks is ordained through the Sacred Mystery (sacrament) of the laying on of hands (called cheirotonia) by bishops. Priests and deacons are ordained by their own diocesan bishop, while bishops are consecrated through the laying on of hands of at least three other bishops.

Within each of these three ranks there are found a number of titles. Bishops may have the title of archbishop, metropolitan, and patriarch, all of which are considered honorifics. Among the Orthodox, all bishops are considered equal, though an individual may have a place of higher or lower honor, and each has his place within the order of precedence. Priests (also called presbyters) may (or may not) have the title of archpriest, protopresbyter (also called "protopriest", or "protopope"), hieromonk (a monk who has been ordained to the priesthood) archimandrite (a senior hieromonk) and hegumen (abbot). Deacons may have the title of hierodeacon (a monk who has been ordained to the deaconate), archdeacon or protodeacon.

The lower clergy are not ordained through cheirotonia (laying on of hands) but through a blessing known as cheirothesia (setting-aside). These clerical ranks are subdeacon, reader and altar server (also known as taper-bearer). Some churches have a separate service for the blessing of a cantor.

Ordination of a bishop, priest, deacon or subdeacon must be conferred during the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist)—though in some churches it is permitted to ordain up through deacon during the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts—and no more than a single individual can be ordained to the same rank in any one service. Numerous members of the lower clergy may be ordained at the same service, and their blessing usually takes place during the Little Hours prior to Liturgy, or may take place as a separate service. The blessing of readers and taper-bearers is usually combined into a single service. Subdeacons are ordained during the Little Hours, but the ceremonies surrounding his blessing continue through the Divine Liturgy, specifically during the Great Entrance.

Bishops are usually drawn from the ranks of the archimandrites, and are required to be celibate; however, a non-monastic priest may be ordained to the episcopate if he no longer lives with his wife (following Canon XII of the Quinisext Council of Trullo)[21] In contemporary usage such a non-monastic priest is usually tonsured to the monastic state, and then elevated to archimandrite, at some point prior to his consecration to the episcopacy. Although not a formal or canonical prerequisite, at present bishops are often required to have earned a university degree, typically but not necessarily in theology.

Usual titles are Your Holiness for a patriarch (with Your All-Holiness reserved for the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople), Your Beatitude for an archbishop/metropolitan overseeing an autocephalous Church, Your Eminence for an archbishop/metropolitan generally, Master or Your Grace for a bishop and Father for priests, deacons and monks,[22] although there are variations between the various Orthodox Churches. For instance, in Churches associated with the Greek tradition, while the Ecumenical Patriarch is addressed as "Your All-Holiness," all other Patriarchs (and archbishops/metropolitans who oversee autocephalous Churches) are addressed as "Your Beatitude."[23]

Orthodox priests, deacons, and subdeacons must be either married or celibate (preferably monastic) prior to ordination, but may not marry after ordination. Remarriage of clergy following divorce or widowhood is forbidden. Married clergy are considered as best-suited to staff parishes, as a priest with a family is thought better qualified to counsel his flock.[24] It has been common practice in the Russian tradition for unmarried, non-monastic clergy to occupy academic posts.


Lutheran pastor confirming the youth of his congregation

Clergy in Protestantism fill a wide variety of roles and functions. In many denominations, such as Methodism, Presbyterianism, and Lutheranism, the roles of clergy are similar to Roman Catholic or Anglican clergy, in that they hold an ordained pastoral or priestly office, administer the sacraments, proclaim the word, lead a local church or parish, and so forth. The Baptist tradition only recognizes two ordained positions in the church as being the elders (pastors) and deacons as outlined in the third chapter of I Timothy[1Tim 3] in the Bible. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ordains two types of presbyters or elders, teaching (pastor) and ruling (leaders of the congregation which form a council with the pastors). Teaching elders are seminary trained and ordained as a presbyter and set aside on behalf of the whole denomination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Ordinarily, teaching elders are installed by a presbytery as pastor of a congregation. Ruling elders, after receiving training, may be commissioned by a presbytery to serve as a pastor of a congregation, as well as preach and administer sacraments.[25]

The process of being designated as a member of the Protestant clergy, as well as that of being assigned to a particular office, varies with the denomination or faith group. Some Protestant denominations, such as Methodism, Presbyterianism, and Lutheranism, are hierarchical in nature; and ordination and assignment to individual pastorates or other ministries are made by the parent denominations. In other traditions, such as the Baptist and other Congregational groups, local churches are free to hire (and often ordain) their own clergy, although the parent denominations typically maintain lists of suitable candidates seeking appointment to local church ministries and encourage local churches to consider these individuals when filling available positions.

Some Protestant denominations require that candidates for ordination be "licensed" to the ministry for a period of time (typically one to three years) prior to being ordained. This period typically is spent performing the duties of ministry under the guidance, supervision, and evaluation of a more senior, ordained minister. In some denominations, however, licensure is a permanent, rather than a transitional state for ministers assigned to certain specialized ministries, such as music ministry or youth ministry.

Many Protestant denominations reject the idea that the clergy are a separate category of people, but rather stress the priesthood of all believers. Based on this theological approach, most Protestants do not have a sacrament of ordination like the pre-Reformation churches. Protestant ordination, therefore, can be viewed more as a public statement by the ordaining body that an individual possesses the theological knowledge, moral fitness, and practical skills required for service in that faith group's ministry. Some Lutheran churches form an exception to this rule, as the Lutheran Book of Concord allows ordination to be received as a sacrament.

Some Protestant denominations dislike the word clergy and do not use it of their own leaders. Often they refer to their leaders as pastors or ministers, titles that, if used, sometimes apply to the person only as long as he or she holds a particular office.


Sir George Fleming, 2nd Baronet, British churchman.


Charles Wesley Leffingwell, Episcopal priest

Hans Ridderstedt 1950

The Reverend Hans G. Ridderstedt (1919-2007), Assistant Vicar at Stockholm Cathedral


Islam, like Judaism, has no clergy in the sacerdotal sense; there is no institution resembling the Christian priesthood. Islamic religious leaders do not "serve as intermediaries between mankind and God",[26] have "process of ordination",[27] nor "sacramental functions".[26] They have been said to resemble more rabbis, serving as "exemplars, teachers, judges, and community leaders," providing religious rules to the pious on "even the most minor and private" matters.[26]

The title mullah (a Persian variation of the Arabic maula, "master"), commonly translated "cleric" in the West and thought to be analogous to "priest" or "rabbi", is a title of address for any educated or respected figure, not even necessarily (though frequently) religious. The title sheikh ("elder") is used similarly.

Most of the religious titles associated with Islam are scholastic or academic in nature: they recognize the holder's exemplary knowledge of the theory and practice of ad-dín (religion), and do not confer any particular spiritual or sacerdotal authority. The most general such title is `alim (pl. `ulamah), or "scholar". This word describes someone engaged in advanced study of the traditional Islamic sciences (`ulum) at an Islamic university or madrasah jami`ah. A scholar's opinions may be valuable to others because of his/her knowledge in religious matters; but such opinions should not generally be considered binding, infallible, or absolute, as the individual Muslim is directly responsible to God for his or her own religious beliefs and practice.


Gérôme - Mufti Reading in His Prayer Stool
A Sunni cleric (mufti) delivering a sermon on the kursi

The nearest analogue among Sunni Muslims to the parish priest or pastor, or to the "pulpit rabbi" of a synagogue, is called the imam khatib. This compound title is merely a common combination of two elementary offices: leader (imam) of the congregational prayer, which in most mosques is performed at the times of all daily prayers; and preacher (khatib) of the sermon or khutba of the obligatory congregational prayer at midday every Friday. Although either duty can be performed by anyone who is regarded as qualified by the congregation, at most well-established mosques imam khatib is a permanent part-time or full-time position. He may be elected by the local community, or appointed by an outside authority – e. g., the national government, or the waqf which sustains the mosque. There is no ordination as such; the only requirement for appointment as an imam khatib is recognition as someone of sufficient learning and virtue to perform both duties on a regular basis, and to instruct the congregation in the basics of Islam.

The title hafiz (lit. "preserver") is awarded to one who has memorized the entire Qur'an, often by attending a special course for the purpose; the imam khatib of a mosque is frequently (though not always) a hafiz.

There are several specialist offices pertaining to the study and administration of Islamic law or shari`ah. A scholar with a specialty in fiqh or jurisprudence is known as a faqih. A qadi is a judge in an Islamic court. A mufti is a scholar who has completed an advanced course of study which qualifies him to issue judicial opinions or fatawah.


Iranian Shi'a cleric and author Sheikh Ali Akbar Nahavandi.

In modern Shia Islam, scholars play a more prominent role in the daily lives of Muslims than in Sunni Islam; and there is a hierarchy of higher titles of scholastic authority, such as Ayatollah. Since around the mid-19th century, a more complex title has been used in Twelver Shi`ism, namely marjaʿ at-taqlid. Marjaʿ (pl. marajiʿ) means "source", and taqlid refers to religious emulation or imitation. Lay Shi`ah must identify a specific marjaʿ whom they emulate, according to his legal opinions (fatawah) or other writings. On several occasions, the Marjaʿiyyat (community of all marajiʿ) has been limited to a single individual, in which case his rulings have been applicable to all those living in the Twelver Shi'ah world. Of broader importance has been the role of the mujtahid, a cleric of superior knowledge who has the authority to perform ijtihad (independent judgment). Mujtahids are few in number, but it is from their ranks that the marajiʿ at-taqlid are drawn.


The spiritual guidance function known in many Christian denominations as "pastoral care" is fulfilled for many Muslims by a murshid ("guide"), a master of the spiritual sciences and disciplines known as tasawuf or Sufism. Sufi guides are commonly styled Shaikh in both speaking and writing; in North Africa they are sometimes called marabouts. They are traditionally appointed by their predecessors, in an unbroken teaching lineage reaching back to Muhammad. (The lineal succession of guides bears a superficial similarity to Christian ordination and apostolic succession, or to Buddhist dharma transmission; but a Sufi guide is regarded primarily as a specialized teacher and Islam denies the existence of an earthly hierarchy among believers.)

Muslims who wish to learn Sufism dedicate themselves to a murshid's guidance by taking an oath called a bai'ah. The aspirant is then known as a murid ("disciple" or "follower"). A murid who takes on special disciplines under the guide's instruction, ranging from an intensive spiritual retreat to voluntary poverty and homelessness, is sometimes known as a dervish.

During the Islamic Golden Age, it was common for scholars to attain recognized mastery of both the "exterior sciences" (`ulum az-zahir) of the madrasahs as well as the "interior sciences" (`ulum al-batin) of Sufism. Al-Ghazali and Rumi are two notable examples.


The highest office an Ahmadi can hold is that of Khalifatu l-Masih. Such a person may appoint amirs who manage regional areas.[28] The consultative body for Ahmadiyya is called the Majlis-i-Shura, which ranks second in importance to the Khalifatu l-Masih.[29] However, the Ahmadiyya community is declared as non-Muslims by many mainstream Muslims and they reject the messianic claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.


Reb Moshe Feinstein
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a leading Rabbinical authority for Orthodox Jewry

Rabbinic Judaism does not have clergy as such, although according to the Torah there is a tribe of priests known as the Kohanim who were leaders of the religion up to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD when most Sadducees were wiped out; each member of the tribe, a Kohen had priestly duties, many of which centered around the sacrificial duties, atonement and blessings of the Israelite nation. Today, Jewish Kohanim know their status by family tradition, and still offer the priestly blessing during certain services in the synagogue and perform the Pidyon haben (redemption of the first-born son) ceremony.

Since the time of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the religious leaders of Judaism have often been rabbis, who are technically scholars in Jewish law empowered to act as judges in a rabbinical court. All types of Judaism except Orthodox Judaism allow women as well as men to be ordained as rabbis and cantors.[30][31] The leadership of a Jewish congregation is, in fact, in the hands of the laity: the president of a synagogue is its actual leader and any adult male Jew (or adult Jew in non-traditional congregations) can lead prayer services. The rabbi is not an occupation found in the Torah; the first time this word is mentioned is in the Mishnah. The modern form of the rabbi developed in the Talmudic era. Rabbis are given authority to make interpretations of Jewish law and custom. Traditionally, a man obtains one of three levels of Semicha (rabbinic ordination) after the completion of an arduous learning program in Torah, Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), Mishnah and Talmud, Midrash, Jewish ethics and lore, the codes of Jewish law and responsa, theology and philosophy.

Regina Jonas, the world's first female rabbi, ordained in 1935, killed in the Holocaust in 1944.[32]

Since the early medieval era an additional communal role, the Hazzan (cantor) has existed as well. Cantors have sometimes been the only functionaries of a synagogue, empowered to undertake religio-civil functions like witnessing marriages. Cantors do provide leadership of actual services, primarily because of their training and expertise in the music and prayer rituals pertaining to them, rather than because of any spiritual or "sacramental" distinction between them and the laity. Cantors as much as rabbis have been recognized by civil authorities in the United States as clergy for legal purposes, mostly for awarding education degrees and their ability to perform weddings, and certify births and deaths.

Additionally, Jewish authorities license mohels, people specially trained by experts in Jewish law and usually also by medical professionals to perform the ritual of circumcision.[33] Traditional Orthodox Judaism does not license women as mohels, but other types of Judaism do. They are appropriately called mohelot (pl. of mohelet, f. of mohel) [2]. As the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California states, "...there is no halachic prescription against female mohels, [but] none exist in the Orthodox world, where the preference is that the task be undertaken by a Jewish man.".[33]

In many places, mohels are also licensed by civil authorities, as circumcision is technically a surgical procedure. Kohanim, who must avoid contact with dead human body parts (such as the removed foreskin) for ritual purity, cannot act as mohels, but some mohels are also either rabbis or cantors.

Another licensed cleric in Judaism is the shochet, who are trained and licensed by religious authorities for kosher slaughter according to ritual law. A Kohen may be a shochet. Most shochetim are ordained rabbis.[34]

Then there is the mashgiach. A mashgiach is someone who supervises the kashrut status of a kosher establishment. The mashgiach must know the Torah laws of kashrut, and how they apply in the environment he is supervising. Obviously, this can vary. In many instances, the mashgiach is a rabbi. This helps, since rabbinical students learn the laws of kosher as part of their syllabus. However, not every mashgiach is a rabbi, and not every rabbi is qualified to be a mashgiach.

Orthodox Judaism

In contemporary Orthodox Judaism, women are forbidden from becoming rabbis or cantors in the Orthodox world primarily because this would affect many aspects of communal observances and practices . Most Orthodox rabbinical seminaries or yeshivas also require dedication of many years to education, but few require a formal degree from a civil education institutions that often define Christian clergy. Training is often focused on Jewish law, and some Orthodox Yeshivas forbid secular education.

In Hasidic Judaism, generally understood as a branch of Orthodox Judaism, there are dynastic spiritual leaders known as Rebbes, often translated in English as "Grand Rabbi". The office of Rebbe is generally a hereditary one, may also be passed from Rebbe to student, or recognized by a congregation conferring a sort of coronation to their new Rebbe. Although one does not need to be an ordained Rabbi to be a Rebbe, most Rebbes today are ordained Rabbis. Since one does not need to be an ordained rabbi to be a Rebbe, at some points in history there were female Rebbes as well, particularly the Maiden of Ludmir.

Conservative Judaism

In Conservative Judaism, both men and women are ordained as rabbis and cantors. Conservative Judaism differs with Orthodoxy in that it sees Jewish Law as binding but also as subject to many interpretations, including more liberal interpretations. Academic requirements for becoming a rabbi are rigorous. First earn a bachelor's degree before entering rabbinical school. Studies are mandated in pastoral care and psychology, the historical development of Judaism and most importantly the academic study of Bible, Talmud and rabbinic literature, philosophy and theology, liturgy, Jewish history, and Hebrew literature of all periods.

Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism

Reconstructionist Judaism and Reform Judaism do not maintain the traditional requirements for study as rooted in Jewish Law and traditionalist text. Both men and women may be rabbis or cantors. The rabbinical seminaries of these movements hold that one must first earn a bachelor's degree before entering the rabbinate. In addition studies are mandated in pastoral care and psychology, the historical development of Judaism; and academic biblical criticism. Emphasis is placed not on Jewish law, but rather on sociology, modern Jewish philosophy, Theology and Pastoral Care.


Sikh clergy consists of five Jathedars, one each from five takhts or sacred seats. The Jathedars are appointed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), an elected body of the Sikhs sometimes called the "Parliament of Sikhs." The highest seat of the Sikh religion is called Akal Takht and the Jathedar of Akal Takht makes all the important decisions after consultations with the Jathedars of the other four takhts and the SGPC.

Traditional religions

Historically traditional (or pagan) religions typically combine religious authority and political power. What this means is that the sacred king or queen is therefore seen to combine both kingship and priesthood within his or her person, even though he or she is often aided by an actual high priest or priestess (see, for example, the Maya priesthood). When the functions of political ruler and religious leader are combined in this way, deification could be seen to be the next logical stage of his or her social advancement within his or her native environment, as is found in the case of the Egyptian Pharaohs. The Vedic priesthood of India is an early instance of a structured body of clergy organized as a separate and hereditary caste, one that occupied the highest social rung of its nation. A modern example of this phenomenon the priestly monarchs of the Yoruba holy city of Ile-Ife in Nigeria, whose reigning Onis have performed ritual ceremonies for centuries for the sustenance of the entire planet and its people.

Health risks for ministry in the United States

In recent years, studies have suggested that American clergy in certain Protestant, Evangelical and Jewish traditions are more at risk than the general population of obesity, hypertension and depression. Their life expectancies have fallen in recent years and in the last decade their use of antidepressants has risen. Several religious bodies in the United States (Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist and Lutheran) have implemented measures to address the issue, through wellness campaigns, for example - but also by simply ensuring that clergy take more time off. It is unclear whether similar symptoms affect American Muslim clerics, although an anecdotal comment by one American imam suggested that leaders of mosques may also share these problems.[35]

One exception to the findings of these studies is the case of American Catholic priests, who are required by canon law to take a spiritual retreat each year, and four weeks of vacation. Sociological studies at the University of Chicago have confirmed this exception; the studies also took the results of several earlier studies into consideration and included Roman Catholic priests nationwide.[36] It remains unclear whether American clergy in other religious traditions experience the same symptoms, or whether clergy outside the United States are similarly affected.

See also


  1. ^ Douglas Harper. "cleric". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ Douglas Harper. "clergy". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  3. ^ Douglas Harper. "clerk". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. ^ Cleric - Catholic Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Paul VI, Apostolic letter motu proprio Ministeria quaedam nos. 2–4, 64 AAS 529 (1972).
  6. ^ Ministeria quaedam no. 1; CIC Canon 266 § 1.
  7. ^ CCEO Canon 327; George Nedungatt, Clerics, in A Guide to the Eastern Code 255, 260 (2002).
  8. ^ Korean Buddhism#Buddhism during Japanese colonial rule
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Code of Canon Law, Canon 207". Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Ministeria quaedam - Disciplina circa Primam Tonsuram, Ordines Minores et Subdiaconatus in Ecclesia Latina innovatur, Litterae Apostolicae Motu Proprio datae, Die 15 m. Augusti a. 1972, Paulus PP.VI - Paulus PP. VI".
  12. ^ "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum orientalium, die XVIII Octobris anno MCMXC - Ioannes Paulus PP. II - Ioannes Paulus II".
  13. ^ "Code of Canon Law - IntraText".
  14. ^ "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum orientalium, die XVIII Octobris anno MCMXC - Ioannes Paulus PP. II - Ioannes Paulus II".
  15. ^ John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (Paulist Press 2002 ISBN 9780809140664), p. 329
  16. ^ "Code of Canon Law - IntraText".
  17. ^ Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canons 342-356
  18. ^ "Questions and Answers - ensign".
  19. ^ "General Authorities," Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 539
  20. ^ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Why Don't Mormons Have Paid Clergy?",
  21. ^ Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
  22. ^ Clergy Etiquette
  23. ^ "Forms of Addresses and Salutations for Orthodox Clergy - Parish & Church Life - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America".
  24. ^ Ken Parry, David Melling, Dimitri Brady, Sidney Griffith & John Healey (eds.), 1999, The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, Oxford, pp116-7
  25. ^ Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Book of Order: 2009-2011 (Louisville: Office of the General Assembly), Form of Government, Chapter 6 and 14. See also "Theology and Worship" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-03-07.
  26. ^ a b c Pipes, Daniel (1983). In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power. Routledge. p. 38. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  27. ^ Brown, Jonathan A.C. (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. p. 24. ISBN 978-1780744209. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  28. ^ The Muslim Resurgence in Ghana Since 1950: Nathan Samwini - 2003 p151
  29. ^ Islam and the Ahmadiyya Jamaʻat: History, Belief, Practice, p.93, Simon Ross Valentine, 2008.
  30. ^ "Orthodox Women To Be Trained As Clergy, If Not Yet as Rabbis –". Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  31. ^ "The Cantor". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  32. ^ "Jonas Regina".
  33. ^ a b "Making the cut | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California". 3 March 2006. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  34. ^ Grandin, Temple (1980). "Problems With Kosher Slaughter". International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems. 1 (6): 375–390 – via The Humane Society of the United States.
  35. ^ Vitello, Paul. "Evidence Grows of Problem of Clergy Burnout".
  36. ^ See A. M. Greeley, Priests: A Calling in Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 2004).

Further reading

Clergy in general

  • Aston, Nigel. Religion and revolution in France, 1780-1804 (CUA Press, 2000)
  • Bremer, Francis J. Shaping New Englands: Puritan Clergymen in Seventeenth-Century England and New England (Twayne, 1994)
  • Dutt, Sukumar. Buddhist monks and monasteries of India (London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1962)
  • Farriss, Nancy Marguerite. Crown and clergy in colonial Mexico, 1759-1821: The crisis of ecclesiastical privilege (Burns & Oates, 1968)
  • Ferguson, Everett. The Early Church at Work and Worship: Volume 1: Ministry, Ordination, Covenant, and Canon (Casemate Publishers, 2014)
  • Freeze, Gregory L. The Parish Clergy in Nineteenth-Century Russia: Crisis, Reform, Counter-Reform (Princeton University Press, 1983)
  • Haig, Alan. The Victorian Clergy (Routledge, 1984), in England
  • Holifield, E. Brooks. God's ambassadors: a history of the Christian clergy in America (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007), a standard scholarly history
  • Lewis, Bonnie Sue. Creating Christian Indians: Native Clergy in the Presbyterian Church (University of Oklahoma Press, 2003)
  • Marshall, Peter. The Catholic Priesthood and the English Reformation (Clarendon Press, 1994)
  • Osborne, Kenan B. Priesthood: A history of ordained ministry in the Roman Catholic Church (Paulist Press, 1989), a standard scholarly history
  • Parry, Ken, ed. The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity (John Wiley & Sons, 2010)
  • Sanneh, Lamin. "The origins of clericalism in West African Islam." The Journal of African History 17.01 (1976): 49-72.
  • Schwarzfuchs, Simon. A concise history of the rabbinate (Blackwell, 1993), a standard scholarly history
  • Zucker, David J. American rabbis: Facts and fiction (Jason Aronson, 1998)

Female clergy

  • Amico, Eleanor B., ed. Reader's Guide to Women's Studies ( Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998), pp 131–33; historiography
  • Collier-Thomas, Bettye. Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and Their Sermons (1997).
  • Flowers, Elizabeth H. Into the Pulpit: Southern Baptist Women and Power Since World War II (Univ of North Carolina Press, 2012)
  • Maloney, Linda M. "Women in Ministry in the Early Church." New Theology Review 16.2 (2013). online
  • Ruether, Rosemary Radford. "Should Women Want Women Priests or Women-Church?." Feminist Theology 20.1 (2011): 63-72.
  • Tucker, Ruth A. and Walter L. Liefeld. Daughters of the Church: Women and Ministry from New Testament Times to the Present (1987), historical survey of female Christian clergy

External links

Canon (priest)

A canon (from the Latin canonicus, itself derived from the Greek κανονικός, kanonikós, "relating to a rule", "regular") is a member of certain bodies subject to an ecclesiastical rule.

Originally, a canon was a cleric living with others in a clergy house or, later, in one of the houses within the precinct of or close to a cathedral and conducting his life according to the orders or rules of the church. This way of life grew common (and is first documented) in the eighth century. In the eleventh century, some churches required clergy thus living together to adopt the rule first proposed by Saint Augustine that they renounce private wealth. Those who embraced this change were known as Augustinians or Canons Regular, whilst those who did not were known as secular canons.

Catholic Church sexual abuse cases

Cases of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, nuns and members of religious orders in the 20th and 21st centuries have been widespread and have led to many allegations, investigations, trials and convictions, as well as revelations about decades of attempts by the Church to cover up reported incidents. The abused include mostly boys but also girls, some as young as three years old, with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14. Criminal cases do not for the most part cover sexual harassment in the workplace against persons who had renounced sexual activity and therefore pre-declined sexual advances. This category includes all priests and seminarians and all religious brothers and sisters. The accusations began to receive isolated, sporadic publicity from the late 1980s. Many of these involved cases in which a figure was accused of decades of abuse; such allegations were frequently made by adults or older youths years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who covered up sex abuse allegations and moved abusive priests to other parishes, where abuse continued.By the 1990s, the cases began to receive significant media and public attention in some countries, especially in Canada, the United States, Australia and, through a series of television documentaries such as Suffer The Children (UTV, 1994), Ireland. In 2002, a critical investigation by The Boston Globe led to widespread media coverage of the issue in the United States. Over the last decade, widespread abuse has been exposed in Europe, Australia, Chile, and the United States.

From 2001 to 2010, the Holy See, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, considered sex abuse allegations involving about 3,000 priests dating back fifty years, reflecting worldwide patterns of long-term abuse as well as the Church hierarchy's pattern of regularly covering up reports of abuse. Diocesan officials and academics knowledgeable about the Roman Catholic Church say that sexual abuse by clergy is generally not discussed, and thus is difficult to measure. Members of the Church's hierarchy have argued that media coverage was excessive and disproportionate, and that such abuse also takes place in other religions and institutions, a stance that dismayed critics who saw it as a device to avoid resolving the abuse problem within the Church.In a 2001 apology, John Paul II called sexual abuse within the Church "a profound contradiction of the teaching and witness of Jesus Christ". Benedict XVI apologised, met with victims, and spoke of his "shame" at the evil of abuse, calling for perpetrators to be brought to justice, and denouncing mishandling by church authorities. In 2018, Pope Francis began by accusing victims of fabricating allegations, but by April was apologizing for his "tragic error" and by August was expressing "shame and sorrow" for the tragic history, without, however, introducing concrete measures either to prosecute abusers or to help victims. On February 23, 2019, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx admitted that numerous church "pedophile records" had been destroyed over time.

Church of England

The Church of England (C of E) is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.The English church renounced papal authority when Henry VIII failed to secure an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in 1534. The English Reformation accelerated under Edward VI's regents, before a brief restoration of papal authority under Queen Mary I and King Philip. The Act of Supremacy 1558 renewed the breach, and the Elizabethan Settlement charted a course enabling the English church to describe itself as both catholic and reformed:

catholic in that it views itself as a part of the universal church of Jesus Christ in unbroken continuity with the early apostolic church. This is expressed in its emphasis on the teachings of the early Church Fathers, as formalised in the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian creeds.

reformed in that it has been shaped by some of the doctrinal principles of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, in particular in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer.In the earlier phase of the English Reformation there were both Catholic martyrs and radical Protestant martyrs. The later phases saw the Penal Laws punish Roman Catholic and nonconforming Protestants. In the 17th century, the Puritan and Presbyterian factions continued to challenge the leadership of the Church which under the Stuarts veered towards a more catholic interpretation of the Elizabethan Settlement especially under Archbishop Laud and the rise of the concept of Anglicanism as the via media. After the victory of the Parliamentarians the Prayer Book was abolished and the Presbyterian and Independent factions dominated. The Episcopacy was abolished. The Restoration restored the Church of England, episcopacy and the Prayer Book. Papal recognition of George III in 1766 led to greater religious tolerance.

Since the English Reformation, the Church of England has used a liturgy in English. The church contains several doctrinal strands, the main three known as Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical and Broad Church. Tensions between theological conservatives and progressives find expression in debates over the ordination of women and homosexuality. The church includes both liberal and conservative clergy and members.The governing structure of the church is based on dioceses, each presided over by a bishop. Within each diocese are local parishes. The General Synod of the Church of England is the legislative body for the church and comprises bishops, other clergy and laity. Its measures must be approved by both Houses of Parliament.

Civil Constitution of the Clergy

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (French: "Constitution civile du clergé") was a law passed on 12 July 1790 during the French Revolution, that caused the immediate subordination of the Catholic Church in France to the French government.Earlier legislation had already arranged the confiscation of the Catholic Church's French land holdings and banned monastic vows. This new law completed the destruction of the monastic orders, outlawing "all regular and secular chapters for either sex, abbacies and priorships, both regular and in commendam, for either sex", etc. It also sought to settle the chaos caused by the earlier confiscation of Church lands and the abolition of the tithe. Additionally, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy regulated the current dioceses so that they could become more uniform and aligned with the administrative districts that had recently been created. It emphasised that officials of the church could not provide commitment to anything outside France, specifically the Pope (due to his power and the influence he had) which was outside France. Lastly, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy made Bishops and Priests elected. By having members of the Clergy elected the church lost much of the authority it had to govern itself and was now subject to the people, since they would vote on the Priest and Bishops as opposed to these individuals being appointed by the church and the hierarchy within.The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed and some of the support for this came from figures that were within the Church, such as the priest and parliamentarian Pierre Claude François Daunou, and, above all, the revolutionary priest Henri Grégoire, who was the first French Catholic priest to take the Obligatory Oath. The measure was opposed, but ultimately acquiesced to, by King Louis XVI.

Clergy house

A clergy house is the residence, or former residence, of one or more priests or ministers of religion. Such residences are known by various names, including "rectory" and "parsonage".

Clerical clothing

Clerical clothing is non-liturgical clothing worn exclusively by clergy. It is distinct from vestments in that it is not reserved specifically for services. Practices vary: is sometimes worn under vestments, and sometimes as the everyday clothing or street wear of a priest, minister, or other clergy member. In some cases, it can be similar or identical to the habit of a monk or nun.

In modern times, many Christian clergy have adopted the use of a shirt with a clerical collar.

Crockford's Clerical Directory

Crockford's Clerical Directory (Crockford) is the authoritative directory of the Anglican Communion in the United Kingdom, containing details of English, Welsh and Irish benefices and churches, and biographies of around 26,000 clergy. It was first issued in 1858 by John Crockford, a London printer and publisher whose father – also named John – had been a Somerset schoolmaster.

Crockford is currently compiled and published for the Archbishops' Council by Church House Publishing. It covers in detail the whole of the Church of England (including the Diocese in Europe), the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Ireland, and it also gives some information – now more limited – about the world-wide Anglican Communion.


A curate ( KEWR-it) is a person who is invested with the care or cure (cura) of souls of a parish. In this sense, "curate" correctly means a parish priest; but in English-speaking countries the term curate is commonly used to describe clergy who are assistants to the parish priest. The duties or office of a curate are called a curacy.


Defrocking, unfrocking, or laicization of clergy is the removal of their rights to exercise the functions of the ordained ministry. It may be grounded on criminal convictions, disciplinary problems, or disagreements over doctrine or dogma, but may also be done at their request for personal reasons, such as running for civil office, taking over a family business, declining health or old age, desire to marry against the rules for clergy in a particular church, or an unresolved dispute. The form of the procedure varies according to the Christian denomination concerned. The term defrocking implies forced laicization for misconduct, while laicization is a neutral term, applicable also when clergy have requested to be released from their ordination vows.

Independent Catholicism

Independent Catholicism is a movement comprising clergy and laity who self-identify as Catholic and who form "micro-churches claiming apostolic succession and valid sacraments," despite a lack of affiliation with the main Catholic Church itself. It is difficult to determine the number of jurisdictions, communities, clergy and members who make up independent Catholicism,, particularly since the movement "is growing and changing in every moment." Many choose independent Catholicism as an alternative means to live and express their catholic faith outside the Catholic Church. The structures, beliefs and practices of independent Catholicism often closely align with those of other Catholic and Christian churches.

Independent Catholicism is part of the larger independent sacramental movement, in which clergy and laity of various faith traditions – including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion and various non-Catholic Christian churches – have separated themselves from the institutions with which they previously self-identified. Within the independent sacramental movement, various independent churches have sprung from the Eastern Orthodox Church, but the members of these independent Orthodox groups most often self-identify as independent Orthodox, and not as independent Catholic.

Jim Bakker

James Orsen Bakker (; born January 2, 1940) is an American televangelist, former Assemblies of God minister, convicted felon, and former host (with his former wife, Tammy Faye Bakker) of The PTL Club, an evangelical Christian television program. Bakker is also known for building Heritage USA in Fort Mill, South Carolina, a former Christian theme park which opened in 1978 and closed in 1989. He has written several books, including I Was Wrong and Time Has Come: How to Prepare Now for Epic Events Ahead.

A cover-up of hush money paid to a church secretary, Jessica Hahn, for alleged rape led to his resignation from the ministry. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud brought about his conviction, imprisonment and divorce. Bakker later remarried and returned to televangelism, where he founded his new ministry Morningside Church in Blue Eye, Missouri and currently works on The Jim Bakker Show, which focuses on the end of days.

List of Church of England Measures

This is a list of Church of England Measures, which are the legislation of the Church of England. Since 1970, Measures have been made by the General Synod; prior to then they were made by its predecessor, the Church Assembly. Under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 (9 & 10 Geo. 5 c. 76), Measures have the same force as an Act of Parliament.

As of July 2010, there were 124 Measures passed and unrepealed.

Minister (Christianity)

In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church, or other religious organization, to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister ("servant", "attendant"), which itself was derived from minus ("less").In the Catholic Church, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, Nordic Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches, the concept of a priesthood is emphasized. In other Christian denominations, such as the Baptist, Congregationalist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Reformed churches, the term "minister" usually refers to members of the ordained clergy who leads a congregation or participates in a role in a parachurch ministry; such a person may serve as a presbyter, pastor, preacher, bishop, chaplain or elder.

With respect to ecclesiastical address, many ministers are styled as "The Reverend"; however, some use "Pastor" or "Father" as a title.


A preacher is a person who delivers sermons or homilies on religious topics to an assembly of people. Less common are preachers who preach on the street, or those whose message is not necessarily religious, but who preach components such as a moral or social worldview or philosophy.


The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and needed to become more Protestant. Puritanism played a significant role in English history, especially during the Protectorate.

Puritans were dissatisfied with the limited extent of the English Reformation and with the Church of England's toleration of certain practices associated with the Roman Catholic Church. They formed and identified with various religious groups advocating greater purity of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and corporate piety. Puritans adopted a Reformed theology and, in that sense, were Calvinists (as were many of their earlier opponents). In church polity, some advocated separation from all other established Christian denominations in favour of autonomous gathered churches. These separatist and independent strands of Puritanism became prominent in the 1640s, when the supporters of a Presbyterian polity in the Westminster Assembly were unable to forge a new English national church.

By the late 1630s, Puritans were in alliance with the growing commercial world, with the parliamentary opposition to the royal prerogative, and with the Scottish Presbyterians with whom they had much in common. Consequently, they became a major political force in England and came to power as a result of the First English Civil War (1642–1646). Almost all Puritan clergy left the Church of England after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and the 1662 Uniformity Act. Many continued to practice their faith in nonconformist denominations, especially in Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches. The nature of the movement in England changed radically, although it retained its character for a much longer period in New England.

Puritanism was never a formally defined religious division within Protestantism, and the term Puritan itself was rarely used after the turn of the 18th century. Some Puritan ideals, including the formal rejection of Roman Catholicism, were incorporated into the doctrines of the Church of England; others were absorbed into the many Protestant denominations that emerged in the late 17th and early 18th centuries in America and Britain. The Congregational churches, widely considered to be a part of the Reformed tradition, are descended from the Puritans. Moreover, Puritan beliefs are enshrined in the Savoy Declaration, the confession of faith held by the Congregationalist churches.

Secular clergy

The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious institute. A diocesan priest is a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Orthodox priest who commits himself or herself to a certain geographical area and is ordained into the service of the citizens of a diocese, a church administrative region. That includes serving the everyday needs of the people in parishes, but their activities are not limited to that of their parish.


Sir is a formal English honorific address for men, derived from Sire in the High Middle Ages. Traditionally, as governed by law and custom, Sir is used for men titled knights i.e. of orders of chivalry, and later also to baronets, and other offices. As the female equivalent for knighthood is damehood, the suo jure female equivalent term is typically Dame. The wife of a knight or baronet tends to be addressed Lady, although a few exceptions and interchanges of these uses exist.

Since the Late Modern era, "Sir" has been increasingly used also as a respectful way to address any commoners of a superior social status or military rank. Equivalent terms of address for women are Madam (shortened "Ma'am"), in addition to social honorifics such as Mr, Mrs and Miss.

The Reverend

The Reverend is an honorific style most often placed before the names of Christian clergy and ministers. There are sometimes differences in the way the style is used in different countries and church traditions. The Reverend is correctly called a style but is often and in some dictionaries called a title, form of address or title of respect. The style is also sometimes used by leaders in non-Christian religions such as Judaism and Buddhism.

The term is an anglicisation of the Latin reverendus, the style originally used in Latin documents in medieval Europe. It is the gerundive or future passive participle of the verb revereri ("to respect; to revere"), meaning "[one who is] to be revered/must be respected". The Reverend is therefore equivalent to The Honourable or The Venerable. It is paired with a modifier or noun for some offices in some religious traditions: Anglican archbishops and most Roman Catholic bishops are usually styled The Most Reverend (reverendissimus); other Anglican bishops and some Roman Catholic bishops are styled The Right Reverend; some Reformed churches have used The Reverend Mister as a style for their clergy.

With Christian clergy, the forms His Reverence and Her Reverence is also sometimes used, along with its parallel in direct address, Your Reverence. The abbreviation HR is sometimes used.

United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is a mainline Protestant denomination and a major part of Methodism. In the 19th century, its main predecessor, the Methodist Episcopal Church, was a leader in evangelicalism. The present denomination was founded in 1968 in Dallas, Texas, by union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley in England, as well as the Great Awakening in the United States. As such, the church's theological orientation is decidedly Wesleyan. It embraces both liturgical and evangelical elements.The United Methodist Church has a connectional polity, a typical feature of a number of Methodist denominations. It is organized into conferences. The highest level is called the General Conference and is the only organization which may speak officially for the UMC. The church is a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council, and other religious associations.

With at least 12 million members as of 2014, the UMC is the largest denomination within the wider Methodist movement of approximately 80 million people across the world. In the United States, the UMC ranks as the largest mainline Protestant denomination, the largest Protestant church after the Southern Baptist Convention, and the third largest Christian denomination. In 2014, its worldwide membership was distributed as follows: 7 million in the United States, and 4.4 million in Africa, Asia and Europe. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 3.6 percent of the US population, or 9 million adult adherents, self-identify with the United Methodist Church revealing a much larger number of adherents than registered membership.

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