The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.
For Catholics, the church views typically that in the last year of seminary training a man will be ordained to the "transitional diaconate." This distinguishes men bound for priesthood from those who have entered the "permanent diaconate" and do not intend to seek ordination as a priest. Deacons, whether transitional or permanent, receive faculties to preach, to perform baptisms, and to witness marriages. They may assist at the Eucharist or the Mass, but are not the ministers of the Eucharist. After six months or more as a transitional deacon, a man will be ordained to the priesthood. Priests are able to preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, hear confessions and give absolutions, anoint the sick, and celebrate the Eucharist or the Mass. Some priests are later chosen to be bishops; bishops may ordain priests, deacons, and bishops.
Bishops are chosen from among the priests in the Catholic Church. Among Eastern Catholic Churches, which permit married priests, bishops must be widowers or unmarried, or agree to abstain from sexual contact with their wives. It is a common misconception that all such bishops come from religious orders. While this is generally true, it is not an absolute rule. Catholic bishops are usually leaders of territorial units called dioceses.
Normally, bishops administer the sacrament of holy orders. In Latin-rite Catholic churches, only bishops (and priests with authorization by the local bishop) may licitly administer the sacrament of confirmation, but if an ordinary priest administers that sacrament illicitly, it is nonetheless considered valid, so that the person confirmed cannot be actually confirmed again, by a bishop or otherwise. Latin rite priests with special permission of the diocesan bishop or the Holy See can lawfully administer confirmation; every Catholic priest must administer confirmation, even without permission, to children in danger of death. In Eastern Catholic Churches, confirmation is done by parish priests via the rite of chrismation, and is usually administered to both babies and adults immediately after their baptism.
The word either derives ultimately from the Greek πρεσβύτερος/presbuteros meaning "elder" or the Latin praepositus meaning "superintendent." The Catholic Church sees the Priesthood as both a reflection of the ancient Jewish priesthood in the Temple, and the work of Jesus as priest. The liturgy of ordination recalls the Old Testament priesthood and the priesthood of Christ. In the words of Thomas Aquinas, "Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a prefiguration of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ" Summa Theologiae III, 22, 4c. Priests may celebrate Mass, hear confessions and give absolution, celebrate Baptism, serve as the Church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, administer Anointing of the Sick, and administer Confirmation if authorized to do so by the Bishop. See Presbyterorum Ordinis for the Second Vatican Council decree on the nature of the Catholic priesthood.
The Rite of Ordination occurs within the context of Holy Mass. After being called forward and presented to the assembly, the candidates are interrogated. Each promises to diligently perform the duties of the Priesthood and to respect and obey his ordinary (bishop or religious superior). Then the candidates lie prostrate before the altar, while the assembled faithful kneel and pray for the help of all the saints in the singing of the Litany of the Saints.
The essential part of the rite is when the bishop silently lays his hands upon each candidate (followed by all priests present), before offering the consecratory prayer, addressed to God the Father, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit upon those being ordained.
After the consecratory prayer, the newly ordained is vested with the stole and chasuble of those belonging to the Ministerial Priesthood and then the bishop anoints his hands with chrism before presenting him with the chalice and paten which he will use when presiding at the Eucharist. Following this, the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward by the people and given to the new priest; then all the priests present, concelebrate the Eucharist with the newly ordained taking the place of honour at the right of the bishop. If there are several newly ordained, it is they who gather closest to the bishop during the Eucharistic Prayer.
The laying of hands of the priesthood is found in 1 Timothy 4:14:
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate."
The following is the full text of the Rite during the Mass (after the Prelude, the Introit, the Procession, the Opening Hymn, the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Opening Prayer, and the First and Second Readings and the Gospel have all taken place), taken from a program for an ordination of priests for the Diocese of Peoria in 2015:
The Calling of the Candidates: Those to be ordained are called by name, they stand in their place and answer: "Present".
The Presentation of the Priest Candidates:
Vocation Director: Most Reverend Father, Holy Mother Church asks you to ordain these, our brothers, to the responsibility of the Priesthood.
Bishop: Do you know them to be worthy?
Vocation Director: After inquiry among the Christian people and upon the recommendation of those responsible, I testify that they have been found worthy.
Bishop: Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these men, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood.
All: Thanks be to God.
Homily of the Bishop
Promise of the Elect:
Bishop: My dear sons, before you enter the Order of the Priesthood, you must declare before the people of God your intention to undertake this office. Do you resolve, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of Priesthood in the presbyteral rank, as worthy fellow workers with the Order of Bishops in caring for the Lord's flock?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: Do you resolve to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: Do you resolve to celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church's tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the Sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: Do you resolve to implore with us God's mercy upon the people entrusted to your care by observing the command to pray without ceasing?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: Do you resolve to be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a pure Sacrifice, and with him to consecrate yourselves to God for the salvation of all?
Elect: I do, with the help of God.
Promise of Obedience of the Priest Candidates:
Each of the candidates goes to the Bishop and, kneeling before him, places his joined hands between those of the Bishop.
Bishop: Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: May God, who has begun this good work in you bring it to fulfillment.
Invitation to Prayer
Laying on of Hands: The Bishop first lays hands on the head of each candidate, followed by the concelebrating priests and all the priests present.
Prayer of Consecration
Procession of the Gifts of Bread and Wine by the relatives of the ordained and Offertory Hymn
Presentation of the Gifts
The Bishop stands and gives the kiss of peace to the new priests, followed by the concelebrants and all the priests present. The Liturgy of the Eucharist (the Preparation of the Altar, the Sanctus, the Memorial Acclamation, the Great Amen, the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), the Communion Antiphon and Hymn, and the Prayer after Communion and Solemn Blessing and Dismissal) then proceeds as normal, with the newly ordained to the immediate right of the Bishop and the other celebrants.
The Diaconate is one of the three Major Orders in the Catholic Church. The first deacons were ordained by the Apostles in Acts of the Apostles chapter 6. The ministry of the deacon in the Roman Catholic Church is described as one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The deacon's ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel during the Mass, preaching and teaching. The deacon's liturgical ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an ordinary minister of Holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when Holy Communion is administered under both kinds. The ministry of charity involves service to the poor and marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more involved in such ministry. As clerics, deacons are required to say the Liturgy of the Hours daily; Deacons, like bishops and priests, are ordinary ministers of the Sacrament of Baptism and can serve as the church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which the bride and groom administer to each other. Deacons may also preside over funeral rites outside of Mass, They can preside over various services such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and they may give certain blessings.
From the 3rd century AD up until seven years after the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), the Roman Catholic Church had four minor orders up to the order of subdeacon, which were conferred on seminarians pro forma before they became deacons. The minor orders and the subdiaconate were not considered sacraments, and for simplicity were suppressed under Pope Paul VI in 1972. Only those orders (deacon, priest, bishop) previously considered major orders of divine institution were retained in most of the Latin rite. Previously some included the subdiaconate into the major orders, and excluded mentioning the order of bishop, as this order was seen as the fullness of the priestly order already conferred. The total number of minor and major orders in the pre-1966 structure was however always considered to be seven.
Holy orders is one of three Catholic sacraments that make an indelible mark called a sacramental character on the recipient's soul (the other two are baptism and confirmation). This sacrament can only be conferred on baptized men. If a woman attempts to be ordained, both she and the person who attempts to ordain her are excommunicated latae sententiae.
The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of holy orders administered by the Eastern Orthodox, Polish National, Oriental Orthodox, and the Assyrian Church of the East because those churches have maintained the apostolic succession of bishops, i.e., their bishops claim to be in a line of succession dating back to the Apostles, just as Catholic bishops do. Consequently, if a priest of one of those eastern churches converts to Roman Catholicism, his ordination is already valid; however, to exercise the order received, he would need to be incardinated either into a religious ordained in the Catholic Church (though there is much debate in the Orthodox Church about this); that is part of the policy called church economy.
A controversy in the Catholic Church over the question of whether Anglican holy orders are valid was settled by Pope Leo XIII in 1896, who wrote in Apostolicae curae that Anglican orders lack validity because the rite by which priests were ordained was not correctly performed from 1547 to 1553 and from 1558 to the 19th century, thus causing a break of continuity in apostolic succession and a break with the sacramental intention of the Church. Leo XIII condemned the Anglican ordinals and deemed the Anglican orders "absolutely null and utterly void". Some Changes in the Anglican Ordinal since King Edward VI, and a fuller appreciation of the pre-Reformation ordinals suggest, according to some private theologians, that the correctness of the dismissal of Anglican orders may be questioned; however Apostolicae curae remains Roman Catholic definitive teaching and was reinforced by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.
Since 1896 many Anglican bishops have been consecrated by bishops of the Old Catholic Church. Nevertheless, all Anglican clergymen who desire to enter the Catholic Church do so as laymen and must be ordained in the Catholic Church in order to serve as priests. Catholics are, according to Ad Tuendam Fidem and Cardinal Ratzinger, obliged to hold the position that Anglican orders are invalid.
Catholics do not recognize the ordination of ministers in other, Protestant, churches that do not maintain the apostolic succession. The Lutheran Churches of Sweden and Finland have always maintained unbroken apostolic succession and their holy orders have never been dismissed by Rome. This is not the case for the Lutheran Churches of Norway, Denmark, and Iceland where there occurred breaks in succession.
Anglicans accept the ordination of most mainline denominations; however, only those denominations in full communion with the Anglican Communion, such as some Lutheran denominations, may preside at services requiring a priest.
Married men may be ordained to the diaconate as Permanent Deacons, but in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church may not be ordained to the priesthood. In the Eastern Catholic Churches and in the Eastern Orthodox Church married deacons may be ordained priests, but may not become bishops. Bishops in the Eastern Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches are almost always drawn from among monks, who have taken a vow of celibacy. They may be widowers, though; it is not required of them never to have been married.
In some cases widowed permanent deacons, or single permanent deacons that later discerned a calling to the priesthood, have been ordained to the priesthood. There have been some situations in which male converts previously married and ordained to the priesthood of an Anglican or Lutheran church have been ordained to the Catholic priesthood, sometimes sub conditione (conditionally), and allowed to function much as an Eastern Rite priest but in a Latin Rite setting; however, this may only happen with the approval of the priest's Bishop and a special permission by the Pope. Some former Anglican, Lutheran, or Episcopal priests who are married, but have either no children, or adult and non-dependent children away from home, can be given a dispensation by the Bishop and the Pope to serve as priests; these married priests, with or without children, may not become Latin-rite Bishops, but can be made Pastors of a Church, vicars general or episcopal vicars or deans, or monsignors (see the 1983 Code of Canon Law for the Latin-rite Churches, and episcopal conference website guidelines, and the website for the Diocese of former Anglicans who became Catholics but retained their Anglican heritage, for more information).
There is a distinction drawn between chastity and celibacy. Celibacy is the state of not being married, so a promise of celibacy is a promise not to enter into marriage but instead to consecrate one's life to service (in other words, "married to God"). Chastity, a virtue expected of all Christians, is the state of sexual purity; for a vowed celibate, or for the single person, chastity means the abstinence from sexual activity. For the married person, chastity means the practice of sex only within marriage between a man and woman, provided that it is unitive and open to the possibility of new life (i.e. non-contraceptive).
Clerical celibacy is the discipline within the Catholic Church by which only unmarried men are ordained to the episcopate, to the priesthood (with individual exceptions) in some autonomous particular Churches, and similarly to the diaconate (with exceptions for certain categories of people). In other autonomous particular Churches, the discipline applies only to the episcopate.
Chief of the Catholic particular Churches that follow this discipline is the Latin Church, but among the Eastern Catholic Churches, at least the Ethiopic Catholic Church applies it also.
In this context, "celibacy" retains its original meaning of "unmarried". Though even the married may observe abstinence from sexual intercourse, the obligation to be celibate is seen as a consequence of the obligation to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Advocates see clerical celibacy as "a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbour."In February 2019, it was revealed that the policy has not always been enforced and that rules had been secretly established by the Vatican to protect non-celibate clergy who violated their vows of celibacy. Some clergy have also been allowed to retain their clerical state after fathering children.Clerics regular
The term Clerics Regular (previously Regular) designates a number of Roman Catholic priests (clerics), and clergy of other traditions, who are members of a religious order (regular) of clergy, but are not Canons Regular. Clerics regular differ from canons regular in that they do not possess cathedral or collegiate churches; they devote themselves more completely to pastoral care, in place of an obligation to the Liturgy of the Hours in common, and have fewer penitential observances in their Rule of Life.Defrocking
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.Directa Decretal
The Directa decretal was written by Pope Siricius in February AD 385. It took the form of a long letter to Spanish bishop Himerius of Tarragona replying to the bishop’s requests for directa on various subjects sent several months earlier to Pope Damasus I. It became the first of a series of documents published by the Magisterium that claimed apostolic origin for clerical celibacy and reminded ministers of the altar of the perpetual continence required of them.Holy orders
In the Christian churches, holy orders are ordained ministries such as bishop, priest, or deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox (ιερωσύνη [hierōsynē], ιεράτευμα [hierateuma], Священство [Svyashchenstvo]), Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament (the sacramentum ordinis). The Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism identifies more with the Roman Catholic position about the sacramental nature of ordination.
Denominations have varied conceptions of holy orders. In the Anglican churches and some Lutheran churches the traditional orders of bishop, priest and deacon are bestowed using ordination rites. The extent to which ordination is considered sacramental in these traditions has, however, been a matter of some internal dispute. Baptists are among the denominations that do not consider ministry as being sacramental in nature and would not think of it in terms of "holy orders" as such. Historically, the word "order" (Latin ordo) designated an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordinatio meant legal incorporation into an ordo. The word "holy" refers to the Church. In context, therefore, a holy order is set apart for ministry in the Church. Other positions, such as pope, patriarch, cardinal, monsignor, archbishop, archimandrite, archpriest, protopresbyter, hieromonk, protodeacon and archdeacon, are not sacramental orders but specialized ministries.Homosexual clergy in the Catholic Church
The canon law of the Catholic Church requires that clerics "observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven". For this reason, priests in Roman Catholic dioceses make vows of celibacy at their ordination, thereby agreeing to remain unmarried and abstinent throughout their lives. In 2005, the Church clarified that men with "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies" cannot be ordained. A senior Vatican official confirmed nevertheless a report in Corriere della Sera that gay men who are closeted and chaste (abstain from sexual activity) for at least three years will still be allowed to become priests, and others have argued that the church would be unable to enforce an outright ban even if it tried.John Arnold (bishop)
John Stanley Kenneth Arnold (born 12 June 1953) is the eleventh Roman Catholic Bishop of Salford. He was formerly an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster and held the titular see of Lindisfarne.List of excommunicable offences from the Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was held in several sessions from 1545 to 1563. The council was convoked to help the church respond to the challenge posed by the Protestant Reformation, which had begun with Martin Luther decades earlier.
A number of canons assigning automatic excommunication were enacted, which became part of the church's canon law for centuries. Heresies about the sacraments or core church doctrines which had been rejected or re-defined by the Protestants were specified and assigned automatic excommunication for Catholics who held them. These canons were replaced by the canon law of the Catholic Church in effect today.Loss of clerical state (Catholic Church)
In the canon law of the Catholic Church, the loss of the clerical state (commonly referred to as laicization or laicisation) is the removal of a bishop, priest or deacon from the status of being a member of the clergy.
The term "defrocking" has no meaning in contemporary Catholic canon law, although it used to mean a cleric being forbidden to wear clerical garb (to "de-frock" etymologically means to take away the clerical attire known as a "frock") without further restrictions, as a gradation of reduction without the full loss of the clerical state.
In the Catholic Church, a bishop, priest, or deacon may be dismissed from the clerical state as a penalty for certain grave offenses, or by a papal decree granted for grave reasons. This may be because of a serious criminal conviction, heresy, or similar matter. Removal from the clerical state is sometimes imposed as a punishment (Latin: ad poenam), or it may be granted as a favor (Latin: pro gratia) at the priest's own request. A Catholic cleric may voluntarily request to be removed from the clerical state for a grave personal reason. Voluntary requests were as of the 1990s believed to be by far the most common means of this loss, and most common within this category was the intention to marry, because Latin rite clergy must as a rule be celibate. Canon law was later amended in March 2019 to make it so clergy belonging to a religious order could lose the right to have clerical status in a community which they have been absent from as well. This community dismissal policy has been in force since 10 April 2019.Monsignor
Monsignor (; Italian: monsignore [monsiɲˈɲoːre]) is an honorific form of address for some members of the clergy, usually of the Roman Catholic Church, including bishops, honorary prelates and canons. In some cases, these ecclesiastical honorific titles derive from the pope, but in other cases it is simply a customary or honorary style belonging to a prelate or honorary prelate. These are granted to individuals who have rendered valuable service to the church, or who provide some special function in church governance, or who are members of bodies such as certain chapters. Although in some languages the word is used as a form of address for bishops, which is indeed its primary use in those languages, this is not customary in English. Monsignor is the apocopic form of the Italian monsignore, from the French mon seigneur, meaning "my lord". It is abbreviated Mgr or Mons, Msgr, or Mons."Monsignor" is a form of address, not an appointment: properly speaking, one cannot be "made a monsignor" or be "the monsignor of a parish". The title or form of address is associated with certain papal awards, which Pope Paul VI reduced to three classes: those of Protonotary Apostolic, Honorary Prelate, and Chaplain of His Holiness.
Apart from those working in the Roman Curia and the diplomatic service of the Holy See, it is usually on the proposal of the local bishop that the Pope grants this title to Catholic diocesan clergy. The grant is subject to criteria of the Holy See that include a minimum age.
Soon after his election in March 2013, Pope Francis suspended the granting of the honorific title of Monsignor except to members of the Holy See's diplomatic service. In December of the same year he communicated his definitive decision to accept no further requests from bishops for appointments to any class but that of Chaplain of His Holiness, the lowest of the three classes, and that candidates presented must be at least 65 years old. He himself, during his 15 years as archbishop of Buenos Aires, never asked that any of his priests receive the title, and he was understood to associate it with clerical "careerism". Grants already made were not revoked.Appointments to all three classes of awards continue to be granted to officials of the Roman Curia and the diplomatic service of the Holy See, and there was no revocation of privileges granted to certain bodies such as chapters of canons whereby all their members or some of them have the rank of Protonotary Apostolic, Honorary Prelate or Chaplain of His Holiness.Also unaffected is the association of the style with the office of vicar general, an appointment made by the bishop of the diocese, not by the Pope. Without necessarily being a protonotary apostolic, a diocesan priest has that titular rank as long as he remains in office.Ordination of women and the Catholic Church
In the liturgical traditions the Roman Catholic Church the term ordination refers to the means by which a person is included in one of the orders of bishops, priests or deacons. The teaching of the Catholic Church on ordination, as expressed in the Code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, is that "only a baptized man (Latin: vir) validly receives sacred ordination" and "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." Additionally, the Roman Catholic Church currently ordains only men as deacons.
The church does not allow any transgender people to be ordained. The church considers trans men to be women, and considers trans women to be men of unsuitable character.Personal ordinariate
A personal ordinariate, sometimes called a "personal ordinariate for former Anglicans" or more informally an "Anglican ordinariate", is a canonical structure within the Catholic Church established in accordance with the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of 4 November 2009 and its complementary norms. The ordinariates were established in order to enable "groups of Anglicans" to join the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their liturgical and spiritual patrimony. They are juridically equivalent to a diocese, "a particular church in which and from which exists the one and unique Catholic Church", but may be erected in the same territory as other dioceses "by reason of the rite of the faithful or some similar reason".Three ordinariates were established between 2011 and 2012:
Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (England and Wales, Scotland)
Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter (United States, Canada)
Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia, Japan)Regular clergy
Regular clergy, or just regulars, is applied in the Roman Catholic Church to clerics who follow a "rule" (Latin regula) in their life, those who are members of religious institutes. Formerly, it meant those who were members of Catholic religious orders, institutes in which at some least of the members made solemn profession. It contrasts with secular clergy.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.State (religious life)
In Christianity, the word state may be taken to signify a profession or calling in life. St. Paul says, in I Corinthians 7:20: "Let every man abide in the same calling in which he was called". States are classified in the Catholic Church as the clerical state, the religious state, and the secular state; and among religious states, again, we have those of the contemplative, the active, and the mixed orders.Vocational discernment in the Catholic Church
Vocational discernment is the process in which men or women in the Catholic Church discern, or recognize, their vocation in the church. The vocations are the life as layman in the world, either married or single, the ordained life and the consecrated life.
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