Holy Orders

Holy Orders

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The term Holy Orders is used by many Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

es to refer to ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 or to those individuals ordained for a special role or ministry.

In the Roman Catholic (Latin: sacri ordines), Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox (ιερωσύνη [hierōsynē], ιεράτευμα [hierateuma], Священство [Svyashchenstvo]), Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

, Assyrian
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic
Independent Catholic Churches
Independent Catholic churches are Catholic congregations that are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church or any other churches whose sacraments are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church...

 churches and some Lutheran churches Holy Orders comprise the three orders of bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 and deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

, or the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 as a sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 (the sacramentum ordinis). The Anglo-Catholic party within Anglicanism tends to identify with the Roman Catholic position with regard to the sacramental nature of ordination.

denominations
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

 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. Many other denominations do not consider the role of ministry
Minister of religion
In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or 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...

 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
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

, cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

, monsignor
Monsignor
Monsignor, pl. monsignori, is the form of address for those members of the clergy of the Catholic Church holding certain ecclesiastical honorific titles. Monsignor is the apocopic form of the Italian monsignore, from the French mon seigneur, meaning "my lord"...

, archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

, archimandrite
Archimandrite
The title Archimandrite , primarily used in the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic churches, originally referred to a superior abbot whom a bishop appointed to supervise...

, archpriest
Archpriest
An archpriest is a priest with supervisory duties over a number of parishes. The term is most often used in Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic Churches, although it may be used in the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church instead of dean or vicar forane.In the 16th and 17th centuries, during...

, protopresbyter, hieromonk
Hieromonk
Hieromonk , also called a Priestmonk, is a monk who is also a priest in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism....

, protodeacon
Protodeacon
Protodeacon derives from the Greek proto- meaning 'first' and diakonos, which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning "servant", "waiting-man," "minister" or "messenger." The word in English may refer to various clergymen, depending upon the usage of the particular church in question.-Eastern...

, archdeacon
Archdeacon
An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in Anglicanism, Syrian Malabar Nasrani, Chaldean Catholic, and some other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church...

, etc., are not sacramental orders. These are simply offices or titles.

Eastern Christianity



The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 considers ordination (known as Cheirotonia, "laying on of hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

") to be a Sacred Mystery (what in the West is called a sacrament). Although all other mysteries may be performed by a presbyter, ordination may only be conferred by a bishop, and ordination of a bishop may only be performed by several bishops together. Cheirotonia always takes place during the Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

.

It was the mission of the Apostles to go forth into all the world and preach the Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

, baptizing those who believed in the name of the Holy Trinity . In the Early Church those who presided over congregations were referred to variously as episcopos
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

(bishop) or presbyter
Presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

os
(priest). These successors of the Apostles were ordained to their office by the laying on of hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

, and according to Orthodox theology formed a living, organic link with the Apostles, and through them with Jesus Christ himself. This link is believed to continue in unbroken succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 to this day. Over time, the ministry of bishops (who hold the fullness of the priesthood) and presbyters or priests (who hold a portion of the priesthood as bestowed by their bishop) came to be distinguished. In Orthodox terminology, priesthood or sacerdotal refers to the ministry of bishops and priests.

The Eastern Orthodox Church also has ordination to minor orders
Minor orders
The minor orders are the lowest ranks in the Christian clergy. The most recognized minor orders are porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte. In the Latin rite Catholic Church, the minor orders were in most cases replaced by "instituted" ministries of lector and acolyte, though communities that use...

 (known as cheirothesia, "imposition of hands") which is performed outside of the Divine Liturgy, typically by a bishop, although certain archimandrite
Archimandrite
The title Archimandrite , primarily used in the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic churches, originally referred to a superior abbot whom a bishop appointed to supervise...

s of stavropegial monasteries may bestow cheirothesia on members of their communities.

A bishop is the Teacher of the Faith, the carrier of Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition or Holy Tradition is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox traditions, to refer to the fundamental basis of church authority....

, and the living Vessel of Grace through whom the energeia (divine grace
Divine grace
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

) of the Holy Spirit flows into the rest of the church. A bishop is consecrated through the laying on of hands by several bishops. (With the consent of several other bishops, a single bishop has performed the ordination another bishop, in emergency situations, such as times of persecution), The consecration of a bishop takes place near the beginning of the Liturgy, since a bishop can, in addition to performing the Mystery of the Eucharist, also ordain priests and deacons. Before the commencement of the Holy Liturgy, the bishop-elect professes, in the middle of the church before the seated bishops who will consecrate him, in detail the doctrines of the Orthodox Christian Faith and pledges to observe the canons of the Apostles and Councils, the Typikon
Typikon
The Typikon, or Typicon; plural Typika is a liturgical book which contains instructions about the order of the various Eastern Orthodox Christian church services and ceremonies, in the form of a perpetual calendar...

 and customs of the Orthodox Church and to obey ecclesiastical authority. After the Little Entrance, the arch-priest and arch-deacon conduct the bishop-elect before the Royal Gates where he is met by the bishops and kneels before the altar on both knees and the Gospel Book
Gospel Book
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament...

 is laid over his head and the consecrating bishops
Consecrator
Consecrator is a term used in the Roman Catholic Church to designate a bishop who ordains a priest to the episcopal state. The term is often used in Eastern Rite Churches and in Anglican communities. The term "Principal Consecrator" is used to designate the primary bishop who ordains a new bishop...

 lay their hands upon the Gospel Book, while the prayers of ordination are read by the eldest bishop; after this, the newly consecrated bishop ascends the synthranon (bishop's throne in the sanctuary) for the first time.
Customarily, the newly consecrated bishop ordains a priest and a deacon at the Liturgy during which he is consecrated.

A priest may serve only at the pleasure of his bishop. A bishop bestows faculties
Faculty (instrument)
A faculty is a legal instrument or warrant in canon law, especially a judicial or quasi-judicial warrant from an ecclesiastical court or tribunal.In the Roman Catholic Church, it is "the authority, privilege, or permission, to perform an act or function...

 (permission to minister within his diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

) giving a priest chrism and an antimins; he may withdraw faculties and demand the return of these items. The ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 of a priest occurs before the Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer)
Anaphora (liturgy)
The Anaphora is the most solemn part of the Divine liturgy, Mass, or other Christian Communion rite where the offerings of bread and wine are consecrated as the body and blood of Christ. This is the usual name for this part of the Liturgy in Eastern Christianity, but it is more often called the...

 in order that he may on the same day take part in the celebration of the Eucharist: During the Great Entrance, the candidate for ordination carries the Aër
Aër
The Aër is the largest and outermost of the veils covering the Chalice and Diskos in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite. It is rectangular in shape and corresponds to the veil used to cover the chalice and paten in the Latin Rite, but is...

 (chalice
Chalice (cup)
A chalice is a goblet or footed cup intended to hold a drink. In general religious terms, it is intended for drinking during a ceremony.-Christian:...

 veil
Veil
A veil is an article of clothing, worn almost exclusively by women, that is intended to cover some part of the head or face.One view is that as a religious item, it is intended to show honor to an object or space...

) over his head (rather than on his shoulder, as a deacon otherwise carries it then) as a symbol of giving up his diaconate, and comes last in the procession
Procession
A procession is an organized body of people advancing in a formal or ceremonial manner.-Procession elements:...

 and stands at the end of the pair of lines of the priests. After the Aër is taken from the candidate to cover the chalice and diskos, a chair is brought for the bishop to sit on by the northeast corner of the Holy Table (altar). Two deacons go to priest-elect who, at that point, had been standing alone in the middle of the church, and bow him down to the west (to the people) and to the east (to the clergy), asking their consent by saying “Command ye!” and then lead him through the holy doors of the altar where the archdeacon asks the bishop’s consent, saying, “Command, most sacred master!” after which a priest escorts the candidate three times around the Holy Table, during which he kisses each corner of the Holy Table as well as the bishop's epigonation
Epigonation
The epigonation , or palitza , is a vestment used in some Eastern Christian churches.-Description and usage:...

 and right hand and prostrates himself before the holy table at each circuit. The candidate is then taken to the southeast corner of the Holy Table and kneels on both knees, resting his forehead on the edge of the Holy Table. The ordaining bishop then places his omophor and right hand over the ordinand's head and recites aloud the first Prayer of Cheirotonia and then prays silently the other two prayers of cheirotonia while a deacon quietly recites a litany
Litany
A litany, in Christian worship and some forms of Jewish worship, is a form of prayer used in services and processions, and consisting of a number of petitions...

 and the clergy, then the congregation, chant “Lord, have mercy”. Afterwards, the bishop brings the newly-ordained priest to stand in the Holy Doors and presents him to the faithful. He then clothes the priest in each of his sacerdotal vestments, at each of which the people sing, Worthy!. Later, after the Epiklesis of the Liturgy, the bishop hands him a portion of the Lamb (Host) saying:


Receive thou this pledge, and preserve it whole and unharmed until thy last breath, because thou shalt be held to an accounting therefore in the second and terrible Coming of our great Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ.


A deacon may not perform any Sacrament and, indeed, performs no liturgical services on his own but serves only as an assistant to a priest and may not even vest without the blessing of a priest. The ordination of a deacon occurs after the Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer) since his role is not in performing the Holy Mystery but consists only in serving; the ceremony is much the same as at the ordination of a priest, but the deacon-elect is presented to the people and escorted to the holy doors by two sub-deacons (his peers, analogous to the two deacons who so present a priest-elect) is escorted three times around the Holy Table by a deacon, and he kneels on only one knee during the Prayer of Cheirotonia. After being vested as a deacon and given a liturgical fan (ripidion or hexapterygion)), he is led to the side of the Holy Table where he uses the ripidion to gently fan the Holy Gifts (consecrated Body and Blood of Christ).

Anglicanism


The Anglican churches believe their bishops to be in Apostolic Succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

, although there is some difference of opinion with regard to whether ordination is to be regarded as a sacrament. The Anglican Articles of Religion
Articles of Religion
Articles of Religion may refer to:* The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England* A modified version of these, the Articles of Religion of the American Methodist Church...

 hold that only Baptism and the Lord's Supper are to be counted as sacraments of the gospel, and assert that other rites considered to be sacraments by such as the Roman Catholic and Eastern churches were not ordained by Christ and do not have the nature of a sacrament in the absence of any physical matter such as the water in Baptism and the Bread and Wine in the Eucharist. The Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

 provides rites for ordination of bishops, priests and deacons. Only bishops may ordain. Within Anglicanism, three bishops are normally required for ordination to the episcopate, while one bishop is sufficient for performing ordinations to the priesthood and diaconate.

Lutheranism


Lutherans
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 reject the Roman Catholic understanding of holy orders because they do not think sacerdotalism
Sacerdotalism
Sacerdotalism is the idea that a propitiatory sacrifice for sin must be offered by the intervention of an order of men separated to the priesthood...

 is supported by the Bible. Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 taught that each individual was expected to fulfill his God-appointed task in everyday life. The modern usage of the term vocation
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 as a life-task was first employed by Martin Luther. In Luther's Small Catechism
Luther's Small Catechism
Luther's Small Catechism was written by Martin Luther and published in 1529 for the training of children. Luther's Small Catechism reviews The Ten Commandments, The Apostles' Creed, The Lord's Prayer, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, The Office of the Keys & Confession, and The Sacrament of the...

, the holy orders include, but are not limited to the following: bishops, pastors, preachers, governmental offices, citizens, husbands, wives, children, employees, employers, young people, and widow
Widow
A widow is a woman whose spouse has died, while a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood or occasionally viduity. The adjective form is widowed...

s.

Roman Catholicism

See: Priesthood (Catholic Church)
Priesthood (Catholic Church)
The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained priesthood and common priesthood are different in function and essence....

 and Bishop (Catholic Church)
Bishop (Catholic Church)
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith and ruling the Church....



The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops
Bishop (Catholic Church)
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith and ruling the Church....

, deacons and presbyters
Presbyterium
Presbyterium is a modern term used in the Catholic Church and Eastern Catholic Churches after the Second Vatican Council in reference to a college of priests, in active ministry, of an individual particular church such as a diocese or eparchy...

, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained
Holy Orders
The term Holy Orders is used by many Christian churches to refer to ordination or to those individuals ordained for a special role or ministry....

 priesthood and common priesthood (or priesthood of the all the baptized) are different in function and essence.

A distinction is to be made between "priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

" and "presbyter
Presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

." In the 1983 Code of Canon Law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

, "The Latin words sacerdos and sacerdotium are used to refer in general to the ministerial priesthood shared by bishops and presbyters. The words presbyter, presbyterium and presbyteratus refer to priests [in the English use of the word] and presbyters".

The priesthood in the Catholic Church includes the priests of both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rites. As of May 2007, the Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 website stated that there were some 406,411 priests serving the Church worldwide.

While the consecrated life
Consecrated life
The consecrated life in the Christian tradition, especially the Roman Catholic Church, but also the Anglican Church and to some extent other Christian denominations, is, as the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law states: "a stable form of living by which faithful, following Christ more closely under...

 is neither clerical nor lay by definition, clerics can be members of institutes of consecrated, or secular
Secular clergy
The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious order.-Catholic Church:In the Catholic Church, the secular clergy are ministers, such as deacons and priests, who do not belong to a religious order...

 (diocesan
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

), life.

Process and sequence


The sequence in which holy orders are received are: minor orders, deacon, priest, bishop.

For Catholics, it is typically in the last year of seminary
Seminary
A seminary, theological college, or divinity school is an institution of secondary or post-secondary education for educating students in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry...

 training that a man will be ordained to the diaconate, called by Catholics in recent times the "transitional diaconate". This is to distinguish men bound for priesthood from those who have entered the "permanent diaconate" and do not intend to seek further ordination. Deacons, whether transitional or permanent, are licensed to preach sermons (under certain circumstances a permanent deacon may not receive faculties to preach), to perform baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

s, and to witness Catholic marriage
Catholic marriage
Catholic marriage, also called matrimony, is a "covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring...

s, but to perform no other sacraments. They assist at the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 or the Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

, but are not able to consecrate the bread and wine. Normally, after six months or more as a transitional deacon, a man will be ordained to the priesthood. Priests are able to preach, perform baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

s, confirm (with special dispensation from their ordinary), witness marriages, hear confession
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

s and give absolution
Absolution
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches....

s, anoint the sick, and celebrate the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 or the Mass.

Orthodox seminarians are typically tonsure
Tonsure
Tonsure is the traditional practice of Christian churches of cutting or shaving the hair from the scalp of clerics, monastics, and, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, all baptized members...

d as readers before entering seminary, and may later be made subdeacons or deacons; customs vary between seminaries and between Orthodox jurisdictions. Some deacons remain permanently in the diaconate; many go on to be ordained priests. Orthodoxy has two types of clergy: married (known as "white clergy") and monastic
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

 (known as "black clergy"). Monastic deacons are called hierodeacon
Hierodeacon
A Hierodeacon , sometimes translated "deacon-monk", in Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a monk who has been ordained a deacon...

s, monastic priests are called hieromonk
Hieromonk
Hieromonk , also called a Priestmonk, is a monk who is also a priest in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism....

s. Orthodox clergy who will marry must do so prior to ordination to the subdiaconate (although some jurisdictions delay this until the diaconate), though some bishops may make economia (dispensation) to allow a candidate to marry after his ordination to the subdiaconate. But once a man has been ordained a priest, he may not marry. If his wife dies, he may not remarry and must remain celibate. Often, widowed priests will take monastic vows. Orthodox bishops are taken from among the monks.

For Anglicans, a person is usually ordained a deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 once he (or she) has completed training at a theological college. The historic practice of a bishop tutoring a candidate himself ("Reading for Orders") is still to be found.

The candidate then typically serves as an assistant curate
Curate
A curate is a person who is invested with the care or cure of souls of a parish. In this sense "curate" correctly means a parish priest but in English-speaking countries a curate is an assistant to the parish priest...

 and may later be ordained as a priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 at the discretion of the bishop. Other deacons may choose to remain in this order. Anglican deacons can preach sermons, perform baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

s and conduct funerals, but, unlike priests, cannot celebrate the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

. In most branches of the Anglican church, women can be ordained as priests, and in some of them, can also be ordained bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s.
Bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s are chosen from among priests in churches that adhere to Catholic usage.
In the Roman Catholic Church, bishops, like priests, are celibate and thus unmarried; further, a bishop is said to possess the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, empowering him to ordain deacons, priests, and- with papal consent-other bishops. If a bishop, especially one acting as an ordinary- a head of a diocese or archdiocese- is to be ordained, three bishops must usually co-consecrate him with one bishop, usually an archbishop or the bishop of the place, being the chief consecrating prelate.

Among Eastern Rite Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, which permit married priests, bishops must either be unmarried or agree to abstain from 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. In the case of both Catholics- (Western and) Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox, they are usually leaders of territorial units called diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

s (or its equivalent in the east, an eparchy
Eparchy
Eparchy is an anglicized Greek word , authentically Latinized as eparchia and loosely translating as 'rule over something,' like province, prefecture, or territory, to have the jurisdiction over, it has specific meanings both in politics, history and in the hierarchy of the Eastern Christian...

). Only bishops can validly administer the sacrament of holy orders.

Recognition of other churches' orders


The Roman Catholic Church unconditionally recognizes the validity of ordinations in the Eastern churches. Eastern Orthodox bishops can, and frequently do, grant recognition to the holy orders of converts who were earlier ordained in the Catholic Church (though there is much debate in Eastern Orthodoxy about this); that is part of the policy called church economy.

Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 churches, unlike most other Protestant churches, have maintained apostolic succession. The succession of Anglican bishops is not universally recognized, however. The Roman Catholic Church judged Anglican orders invalid when Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

 in 1896 wrote in Apostolicae Curae
Apostolicae Curae
Apostolicae Curae is the title of a papal bull, issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring all Anglican ordinations to be "absolutely null and utterly void"...

that Anglican orders lack validity because the rite by which priests were ordained was not correctly worded from 1547 to 1553 and from 1558 to the time of Archbishop William Laud
William Laud
William Laud was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645. One of the High Church Caroline divines, he opposed radical forms of Puritanism...

. This, if it were true, would cause a break of continuity in apostolic succession. Anglicans responded by pointing out that the wording was the same as used by the Roman Catholic church prior to the Reformation.

Eastern Orthodox bishops have, on occasion, granted "economy" when Anglican priests convert to Orthodoxy. Various Orthodox churches have also declared Anglican Orders valid subject to a finding that the bishops in question did indeed maintain the true faith, the Orthodox concept of Apostolic Succession being one in which the faith must be properly adhered to and transmitted, not simply that the ceremony by which a man is made a bishop is conducted correctly.

Changes in the Anglican Ordinal since King Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

, and a fuller appreciation of the pre-Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 ordinals, suggest that the correctness of the enduring dismissal of Anglican Orders is questionable. To reduce doubt concerning Anglican apostolic succession, especially since the 1930 Bonn agreement
Bonn Agreement (religion)
The Bonn Agreement of 1931 is a document that established full communion between the Church of England and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, including the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands...

 between the Anglican and Old Catholic churches, some Anglican bishops have included among their consecrators bishops of the Old Catholic Church, whose holy orders are recognised as valid and regular by the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

.

Neither Roman Catholics nor Anglicans recognize the validity of ordinations of ministers in Protestant churches that do not maintain Apostolic Succession; but Anglicans, especially Low Church or Evangelical Anglicans, commonly treat Protestant ministers and their sacraments as valid. Rome also does not recognize the apostolic succession of those Lutheran bodies which retained Apostolic Succession.

Officially, the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 accepts the ordinations of those denominations which are in full communion with their own churches, such as the Lutheran state churches of Scandinavia. Those clergy may preside at services requiring a priest if one is not otherwise available.

Marriage and holy orders



The rules discussed in this section are not considered to be among the infallible dogmas of the Catholic Church, but are mutable rules of discipline. See clerical celibacy
Clerical celibacy
Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which some or all members of the clergy in certain religions are required to be unmarried. Since these religions consider deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior outside of marriage to be sinful, clerical celibacy also requires abstension from these...

 for a more detailed discussion.

Married men may be ordained to the diaconate as Permanent Deacons, but in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 generally may not be ordained to the priesthood. In the Eastern Catholic Churches and in the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, married deacons may be ordained priests but may not become bishops. Bishops in the Eastern Rites and the Eastern Orthodox churches are almost always drawn from among monks
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

, 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 have been ordained to the priesthood. There have been some situations in which men previously married and ordained to the priesthood in an Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 church or in a Lutheran church have been ordained to the Catholic priesthood and allowed to function much as an Eastern Rite priest but in a Latin Rite setting. This is never sub conditione (conditionally), as there is in Catholic canon law no true priesthood in Protestant denominations. Such ordination may only happen with the approval of the priest's Bishop and a special permission by the Pope.

Anglican clergy may be married and/or may marry after ordination. In the Old Catholic Church
Old Catholic Church
The term Old Catholic Church is commonly used to describe a number of Ultrajectine Christian churches that originated with groups that split from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, most importantly that of Papal Infallibility...

 and the Liberal Catholic Church
Liberal Catholic Church
The Liberal Catholic Church is a form of Christianity open to theosophical ideas and even reincarnation. It is not connected to the Roman Catholic Church, which considers it heretical and schismatic...

 there are no ordination restrictions related to marriage.

Other concepts of ordination


Ordination ritual and procedures vary by denomination. Different churches and denominations specify more or less rigorous requirements for entering into office, and the process of ordination is likewise given more or less ceremonial pomp depending on the group. Many Protestants still communicate authority and ordain to office by having the existing overseers physically lay hands on the candidates for office.

Methodist churches


The American Methodist model is an episcopal system loosely based on the Anglican model, as the Methodist Church arose from the Anglican Church. It was first devised under the leadership of Bishops Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury
Francis Asbury
Bishop Francis Asbury was one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now The United Methodist Church in the United States...

 of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Methodist Episcopal Church
The Methodist Episcopal Church, sometimes referred to as the M.E. Church, was a development of the first expression of Methodism in the United States. It officially began at the Baltimore Christmas Conference in 1784, with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as the first bishops. Through a series of...

 in the late 18th century. In this approach, an elder (or "presbyter") is ordained to word (preaching and teaching), sacrament (administering Baptism and the Lord's Supper), order (administering the life of the church and, in the case of bishops, ordaining others for mission and ministry), and service. A deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 is a person ordained only to word and service.

In the United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the 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...

, for instance, seminary graduates are examined and approved by the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and then the Clergy Session. They are accepted as "probationary (provisional) members of the conference." The resident bishop may commission them to full time ministry as "provisional" ministers. (Before 1996, the graduate was ordained as a transitional deacon at this point, a provisional role since eliminated. The order of deacon is now a separate and distinct clergy order in the United Methodist Church.) After serving the probationary period, of a minimum of two years, the probationer is then examined again and either continued on probation, discontinued altogether, or approved for ordination. Upon final approval by the Clergy Session of the Conference, the probationer becomes a full member of the Conference and is then ordained as an elder or deacon by the resident Bishop. Those ordained as elders are members of the Order of Elders, and those ordained deacons are members of the Order of Deacons.

The British Methodist Conference has two distinct orders of presbyter and deacon. It does not have bishops as a separate order of ministry.

John Wesley appointed Thomas Coke (above mentioned as bishop) as 'Superintendent', his translation of the Greek 'episcopos' - which is normally translated 'bishop' in English. The British Methodist Church has more than 500 Superintendents who are not a separate order of ministry but a role within the order of Presbyters.

In British Methodism the roles normally undertaken by bishops are expressed in ordaining presbyters and deacons by the annual Conference through its President (or a past president); in confirmation by all presbyters; in local oversight by Superintendents and in regional oversight by Chairs of District.

Presbyterian churches


Presbyterian churches, following their Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 forebears, reject the traditions surrounding overseers and instead identify the offices of bishop (episkopos in Greek) and elder (presbuteros in Greek, from which the term "presbyterian" comes). The two terms seem to be used interchangeably in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 (compare Titus 1.5-9 and I Tim. 3.2-7). Their form of church governance
Ecclesiastical polity
Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or Christian denomination. It also denotes the ministerial structure of the church and the authority relationships between churches...

 is known as presbyterian polity
Presbyterian polity
Presbyterian polity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session or consistory, though other terms, such as church board, may apply...

. While there is increasing authority with each level of gathering of elders ('Session' over a congregation or parish, then presbytery, then possibly a synod, then the General Assembly), there is no hierarchy of elders. Each elder has an equal vote at the court on which they stand.

Elders are usually chosen at their local level, either elected by the congregation and approved by the Session, or appointed directly by the Session. Some churches place limits on the term that the elders serve, while others ordain elders for life.

Presbyterians also ordain (by laying on of hands) ministers of Word and Sacrament (sometimes known as 'teaching elders'). These ministers are regarded simply as Presbyters ordained to a different function, but in practice they provide the leadership for local Session.

Some Presbyterians identify those appointed (by the laying on of hands) to serve in practical ways (Acts 6.1-7) as deacons (diakonos in Greek, meaning "servant"). In many congregations, a group of men or women is thus set aside to deal with matters such as congregational fabric and finance, releasing elders for more 'spiritual' work. These persons may be known as 'deacons', 'board members' or 'managers', depending on the local tradition. Unlike elders and minister, they are not usually 'ordained', and are often elected by the congregation for a set period of time.

Other Presbyterians have used an 'order of deacons' as full-time servants of the wider Church. Unlike ministers, they do not administer sacraments or routinely preach. The Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....

 has recently begun ordaining deacons to this role.

Unlike the Episcopalian system, but similar to the United Methodist system described above, the two Presbyterian offices are different in kind rather than in degree, since one need not be a deacon before becoming an elder. Since there is no hierarchy, the two offices do not make up an "order" in the technical sense, but the terminology of Holy Orders is sometimes still developed.

Congregationalist churches


Congregationalist churches implement different schemes, but the officers usually have less authority than in the presbyterian or episcopalian forms. Some ordain only ministers and rotate members on an advisory board (sometimes called a board of elders or a board of deacons). Because the positions are by comparison less powerful, there is usually less rigor or fanfare in how officers are ordained.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) accepts the legal authority of clergy to perform marriages but does not recognize any other sacraments performed by ministers not ordained to the Latter-day Saint priesthood. Although the Latter-day Saints do claim a doctrine of a certain spiritual "apostolic succession," it is significantly different from that claimed by Catholics and Protestants since there is no succession or continuity between the first century and the lifetime of Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS church. Mormons teach that the priesthood was lost in ancient times not to be restored by Christ until the nineteenth century when it was given to Joseph Smith directly.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a relatively open priesthood, ordaining nearly all worthy adult males and boys of the age of twelve and older. Latter-day Saint priesthood consists of two divisions: the Melchizedek Priesthood and Aaronic Priesthood. The Melchizedek Priesthood because Melchizedek was such a great high priest. Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek. The lesser priesthood is an appendage to the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is called the Aaronic Priesthood because it was conferred on Aaron and his sons throughout all their generations.
The offices, or ranks, of the Melchizedek order (in roughly descending order) include apostle, seventy, patriarch, high priest, and elder. The offices of the Aaronic order are bishop, priest, teacher, and deacon. The manner of ordination consists of the laying on of hands by two or more men holding at least the office being conferred while one acts as voice in conferring the priesthood and/or office and usually pronounces a blessing upon the recipient. Teachers and deacons do not have the authority to ordain others to the priesthood. All church members are authorized to teach and preach regardless of priesthood ordination so long as they maintain good standing within the church. The church does not use the term "holy orders."

Community of Christ



Community of Christ has a largely volunteer priesthood, and all members of the priesthood are free to marry (as traditionally defined by the Christian community). The priesthood is divided into two orders, the Aaronic priesthood and the Melchisedec priesthood. The Aaronic order consists of the offices of deacon, teacher and priest. The Melchisedec Order consists of the offices of elder (including the specialized office of seventy) and high priest (including the specialized offices of evangelist, bishop, apostle, & prophet). Paid ministers include “appointees” and the general officers of the church, which include some specialized priesthood offices (such as the office of president, reserved for the three top members of the church leadership team). As of 1984, women have been eligible for priesthood, which is conferred through the sacrament of ordination by the laying-on-of-hands. While there is technically no age requirement for any office of priesthood, there is no automatic ordination or progression as in the LDS Church. Young people are occasionally ordained as deacon, and sometimes teacher or priest, but generally most priesthood members are called following completion of post secondary school education. In March 2007 a woman was ordained for the first time to the office of president.

Ordination of women



The Roman Catholic Church does not ordain women to any of the orders and has officially declared that it does not have authority to ordain women as priests or bishops. "Ordaining" women as deaconesses is not a possibility in any sacramental sense of the diaconate, for a deaconess is not a female deacon but instead holds a position of lay service. As such, she does not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Many Anglican and Protestant churches ordain women, but in many cases, only to the office of deacon.

Various branches of the Orthodox churches, including the Greek Orthodox, currently set aside women as deaconesses. Some churches are internally divided on whether the Scriptures permit the ordination of women. When one considers the relative size of the churches (1.1 billion Roman Catholics, 300 million Orthodox, 590 million Anglicans and Protestants), it is a minority of Christian churches that ordain women. Protestants constitute about 27 percent of Christians worldwide, and most of their churches that do ordain women have only done so within the past century.

In some traditions women may be ordained to the same orders as men. In others women are restricted from certain offices. The dioceses of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 (in the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

), for example, have voted to permit the consecration
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

 of women as bishops along with the Episcopal Church USA (the United States denomination that is part of the Anglican Communion) and the Anglican Church of Canada
Anglican Church of Canada
The Anglican Church of Canada is the Province of the Anglican Communion in Canada. The official French name is l'Église Anglicane du Canada. The ACC is the third largest church in Canada after the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church of Canada, consisting of 800,000 registered members...

; the Continuing Anglican churches of the world do not permit women to be ordained. Similarly, in some Protestant denominations, women may serve as assistant pastors but not as pastors in charge of congregations. In some denominations, women can be ordained to be an elder or deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

. Some denominations allow for the ordination of women for certain religious orders. Within certain traditions, such as the Anglican and Lutheran, there is a diversity of theology and practice regarding ordination of women.

The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, in accordance with its understanding of the theological tradition on the issue, and the definitive clarification found in the encyclical letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is an Apostolic Letter issued from the Vatican by Pope John Paul II on 22 May 1994, whereby the Pope expounds the teaching of the Catholic Church's position requiring "the reservation of priestly ordination to men alone." In its clear proclamation that "the Church has no...

(1994) written by Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

, officially teaches that it has no authority to ordain women as priests and thus there is no possibility of female priests at any time in the future.

Ordination of Homosexual clergy


The ordination of lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

, gay
Gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

, bisexual or transgender
Transgender
Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles....

 clergy who are sexually active, and open about it, represents a fiercely contested subject within many mainstream Christian Church communities. While the majority of churches are opposed to such ordinations because they view homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 as incompatible with Biblical teaching and traditional Christian practice, there are an increasing number of Christian churches and communities that are open to ordaining people who are gay or lesbian. These are mainly moderate and liberal Protestant churches, such as the Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church
An episcopal church has bishops in its organisational structure which is calledEpiscopal polityEpiscopal Church may refer to:Anglican Communion:...

 and the United Church of Christ
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination primarily in the Reformed tradition but also historically influenced by Lutheranism. The Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches united in 1957 to form the UCC...

, plus the small Metropolitan Community Church
Metropolitan Community Church
The Metropolitan Community Church or The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches is an international Protestant Christian denomination...

, founded as a gay church, and the Church of Sweden
Church of Sweden
The Church of Sweden is the largest Christian church in Sweden. The church professes the Lutheran faith and is a member of the Porvoo Communion. With 6,589,769 baptized members, it is the largest Lutheran church in the world, although combined, there are more Lutherans in the member churches of...

 where such clergy may serve in senior clerical positions.

The issue of ordination has caused particular controversy in the worldwide Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

, following the approval of Gene Robinson
Gene Robinson
Vicki Gene Robinson is the ninth bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Robinson was elected bishop in 2003 and entered office in March 2004...

 to be the Bishop of New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

 in the US Episcopal Church.

Print resources

  • Campbell, Dennis. Yoke of Obedience, 1988. ISBN 0-687-46660-1
  • Oden, Thomas. Pastoral Theology: Essentials of Ministry, 1983. ISBN 0-06-066353-7
  • Willimon, William. Calling & Character: Virtues of the Ordained Life, 2000. ISBN 0-687-09033-4
  • Willimon, William. Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry, 2002. ISBN 0-687-04532-0

External links