Catholic clergy

For a more general discussion, see Holy orders. For the film, see Holy Orders (film).


Holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. The Church regards ordination as a Sacrament. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" (Latin: ordo) designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an ordo. In context, therefore, a holy order is simply a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

For Catholics, the church views the last year in the seminary, it is typically in the last year of seminary training that 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.

Episcopate

Main article: Bishop (Catholic Church)

Bishops are chosen from among the priests in the Catholic Church. Among Eastern Catholic Churches, which permit married priests, bishops must either be widowers, 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.

Only bishops can validly administer the sacrament of holy orders. In Latin-rite Catholic churches, only bishops (and priests with authorization by the local bishop) may lawfully administer the sacrament of confirmation, but if an ordinary priest administers that sacrament illegally, 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.

Priesthood

The word either derives ultimately from the Greek πρεσβύτερος/presbuteros meaning "elder" or the Latin praepositus meaning "superintendent." The Catholic Church sees the Second Vatican Council decree on the nature of the Catholic priesthood.

Ordination

A diaconate is similar to a priest which follows an ordination as follows. Presentation of candidates. Bishops sermon on priesthood. Examination of candidate. Promise of obedience to the bishop. They are considered like a shadow of the priest, or a trainee of a priest. From here they may wish to further take the opportunity to become a priest.

Before Second Vatican Council

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, the number of perfection.

Ecumenical efforts regarding holy orders

The get involved!) (August 2008)