Priesthood (Catholic Church)

Priesthood (Catholic Church)

Overview

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 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.
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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 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.

History


The Old Testament describes how God made his people ""a kingdom of priests and a holy nation," and within the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi was chosen to be set apart for the liturgical service of offering sacrifice as priests. The priest was understood as a mediator between God and human beings who offers sacrifices and intercedes for the people.

The New Testament depicts Jesus as the "great high priest" of the New Covenant who, instead of offering the ritual animal sacrifices prescribed by the Jewish Law, offers himself on the cross as the true and perfect sacrifice. The Catholic priesthood is a participation in this priesthood of Christ, and therefore traces its origins to Jesus Christ himself. Thus, the New Testament says that as high priest, Jesus has made the Church "a kingdom of priests for his God and Father." All who are baptized are given a share in the priesthood of Christ; that is, they are conformed to Christ and made capable of offering true worship and praise to God as Christians. "The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly."

The ministerial priesthood of Catholic priests and bishops — what most people think of as "the Catholic priesthood" — has a distinct history. This ministerial priesthood is at the service of the priesthood of all believers and involves the direct consecration of a man to Christ through the sacrament of orders, so that he can act in the person of Christ for the sake of the Christian faithful, above all in dispensing the sacraments. It is understood to have begun at the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

, when Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 instituted 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 the presence of the Twelve Apostles, commanding them to "do this in memory of me." The Catholic priesthood, therefore, is a share in the priesthood of Christ and traces its historical origins to the Twelve Apostles appointed by Christ. Those apostles in turn selected other men to succeed them as the bishops ("episkopoi," Greek for "overseers") of the Christian communities, with whom were associated presbyters ("presbyteroi," Greek for "elders") and deacons ("diakonoi," Greek for "servants"). As communities multiplied and grew in size, the bishops appointed more and more presbyters to preside 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...

 in place of the bishop in the multiple communities in each region. The diaconate evolved as the liturgical assistants of the bishop and his delegate for the administration of Church funds and programmes for the poor. Today, the rank of "presbyter" is typically what one thinks of as a "priest," although technically both a bishop and a presbyter are "priests" in the sense that they share in Christ's ministerial priesthood and offer sacrifice to God in the person of Christ.

Passover and Christ


The theology of the Catholic priesthood is rooted in the priesthood of Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 and to some degree shares elements of the ancient Hebraic priesthood as well. A priest is one who presides over a sacrifice
Sacrifice
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

 and offers that sacrifice and prayers to God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 on behalf of believers. The ancient Jewish priesthood which functioned at the temple in Jerusalem offered animal sacrifices at various times throughout the year for a variety of reasons.

In Christian theology, Jesus is the Lamb
Lamb of God
The title Lamb of God appears in the Gospel of John, with the exclamation of John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" in John 1:29 when he sees Jesus....

 provided by God himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Before his death on the cross
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

, Jesus celebrated the Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 with his disciples and offered blessings over the bread and wine respectively, saying: "Take and eat. This is my body” and "Drink from this all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26b-28 Jerusalem Bible
Jerusalem Bible
The Jerusalem Bible is a Roman Catholic translation of the Bible which first was introduced to the English-speaking public in 1966 and published by Darton, Longman & Todd...

). The next day Christ's body and blood were visibly sacrificed on the cross. Catholics believe that it is this same body, sacrificed on the cross and risen on the third day which is made present in the offering of each Eucharistic sacrifice which is called 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...

. However, Catholicism does not believe that the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist involves a change in the 'accidental' features: i.e., scientific analysis of the Eucharistic elements would indicate the physical properties of wine and bread.

Thus Catholic priests (and bishops who are “high priests”) in presiding at the Eucharist join each offering of the Eucharistic elements in union with the sacrifice of Christ. Catholic ordained ministers are known as priests because by their celebration of the Eucharist, their offering makes present the one eternal sacrifice of Christ.

Catholicism does not teach that Christ is sacrificed again and again, but that "The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice.". Instead, the Catholic Church holds the Jewish concept of memorial in which "..the memorial is not merely a recollection of past events....these events become in a certain way present and real." and thus "...the sacrifice Christ offered once and for all on the cross remains ever present." Properly speaking, in Catholic theology, expressed by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

, "Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers." Thus, Catholic clergy share in the one, unique, Priesthood of Christ.

Education



The 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...

 of the Catholic Church holds that the priesthood is a sacred and perpetual vocational state, not just a profession, and regulates the formation and studies of clerics. In the Latin rite, this legislation is found in canons 232–264. As a general rule, education is extensive and lasts at least five or six years, depending on the national Programme of Priestly Formation.
  • In the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    , priests must have a four-year university degree in Catholic philosophy plus an additional four to five years of graduate-level seminary formation in theology with a focus on Biblical research. A Master of Divinity
    Master of Divinity
    In the academic study of theology, the Master of Divinity is the first professional degree of the pastoral profession in North America...

     is the most common degree.
  • In Scotland
    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...

    , there is a mandatory year of preparation before entering seminary for a year dedicated to spiritual formation
    Spiritual formation
    Spiritual formation is the growth and development of the whole person by an intentional focus on one’s* spiritual and interior life* interactions with others in ordinary life...

    , followed by several years of study.
  • In Europe, Australasia and North America, seminarians usually graduate with a Master of Divinity
    Master of Divinity
    In the academic study of theology, the Master of Divinity is the first professional degree of the pastoral profession in North America...

     or a Master of Theology
    Master of Theology
    A Master of Theology is an advanced theological research degree offered by universities, divinity schools, and seminaries.-North America:In North America, the Master of Theology is considered by the Association of Theological Schools to be the minimum educational credential for teaching...

     degree, which is a four-year professional degree (as opposed to a Master of Arts
    Master of Arts (postgraduate)
    A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

     which is an academic degree). At least four years are to be in theological studies at the major 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...

    .
  • In Africa, Asia and South America, programmes are more flexible, being developed according to the age and academic abilities of those preparing for ordination.


Regardless of where a person prepares for ordination, it includes not only academics but also human, social, spiritual and pastoral formation. The purpose 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...

 education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 is ultimately to prepare men to be pastors of souls. In the end, however, each individual bishop
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....

 is responsible for the official call to priesthood, and only they may ordain. Any ordinations done before the normally scheduled time (before study completion) must have the explicit approval of the bishop; any such ordinations done more than a year in advance must have the approval of the Holy See
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...

.

Rite of ordination


The Rite of Ordination is what "makes" one a priest, having already been a deacon and with the minister of Holy Orders
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....

 being a validly ordained bishop.

The Rite of Ordination occurs within the context of Holy Mass. After being called forward and presented to the assembly, the candidates are questioned. Each promises to diligently perform the duties of the Priesthood and to respect and obey his ordinary
Ordinary
In those hierarchically organised churches of Western Christianity which have an ecclesiastical law system, an ordinary is an officer of the church who by reason of office has ordinary power to execute the church's laws...

 (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
Litany of the Saints
The Litany of the Saints is a sacred prayer of the Roman Catholic Church, the Western Rites of the Orthodox Church, and some Anglican Churches. It is a prayer of invocation to the Triune God, and prayers for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and all the martyrs and saints...

.

The essential part of the rite is when the bishop silently lays his 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....

 upon each candidate (followed by all priests present), before offering the consecratory prayer, addressed to God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 upon those being ordained.

After the consecratory prayer, the newly ordained is vested with the stole and chasuble
Chasuble
The chasuble is the outermost liturgical vestment worn by clergy for the celebration of the Eucharist in Western-tradition Christian Churches that use full vestments, primarily in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches, as well as in some parts of the United Methodist Church...

 of those belonging to the Ministerial Priesthood and then the bishop anoints his hands with chrism
Chrism
Chrism , also called "Myrrh" , Holy anointing oil, or "Consecrated Oil", is a consecrated oil used in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Rite Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, in the Assyrian Church of the East, and in Old-Catholic churches, as well as Anglican churches in the administration...

 before presenting him with the holy chalice
Holy Chalice
In Christian tradition the Holy Chalice is the vessel which Jesus used at the Last Supper to serve the wine.The Gospel of Matthew says:...

 and paten
Paten
A paten, or diskos, is a small plate, usually made of silver or gold, used to hold Eucharistic bread which is to be consecrated. It is generally used during the service itself, while the reserved hosts are stored in the Tabernacle in a ciborium....

 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."

Note that the word for presbyter or elder is not from the same Greek word as priest. Imposition of hands or filling of hands, or semicha
Semicha
, also , or is derived from a Hebrew word which means to "rely on" or "to be authorized". It generally refers to the ordination of a rabbi within Judaism. In this sense it is the "transmission" of rabbinic authority to give advice or judgment in Jewish law...

, in Hebrew, was necessary for the installation of Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

, and rabbis

Early Christianity


The earliest Christians were Jews and Jewish tradition has always deemed the married state as more spiritual than the celibate state . Both Christian and Jewish traditions place a high valuation on chastity as a special gift of God. The life of a priest involves being conformed to Christ. For those who conceive of Christ as celibate, it makes sense then that priests should be celibate too. But the belief that Christ was celibate arose from a lack of mention of a spouse in the Gospels. Many scholars object to the idea that Jesus was celibate, saying that women / wives were not viewed as worthy of mention in Gospel writings due to misogynistic views of women at that time. On these grounds, it is uncertain if Jesus was married or not. It is known that the Apostle Peter had a spouse only from Gospel stories of Peter's mother-in-law sick with fever (Matt 8:14, Mark 1:29, Luke 4:38) .

From its beginnings, the idea of clerical celibacy has been contested in canon courts, in theology, and in religious practices. Celibacy for Roman Catholic priests was not mandated under canon law for the universal church until the Second Lateran Council in 1139 .

The Council of Elvirain Spain(approximately 305-306) was the first council to call for clerical celibacy. In February 385, Pope Siricius
Pope Siricius
Pope Saint Siricius, Bishop of Rome from December 384 until his death on 26 November 399, was successor to Damasus I and was himself succeeded by Anastasius I....

 wrote the Directa decretal, which was a long letter to Spanish bishop Himerius of Tarragona
Himerius of Tarragona
Himerius of Tarragona was bishop of Tarragona during the 4th century.He is most notable as being the recipient of the Directa Decretal, written by Pope Siricius in February 385 AD. It took the form of a long letter to Himerius replying to the bishop’s requests on various subjects sent several...

, replying to the bishop’s requests on various subjects, which had been sent several months earlier to Pope Damasus I
Pope Damasus I
Pope Saint Damasus I was the bishop of Rome from 366 to 384.He was born around 305, probably near the city of Idanha-a-Velha , in what is present-day Portugal, then part of the Western Roman Empire...

. It was the first of a series of documents published by the Church's magisterium
Magisterium
In the Catholic Church the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church. This authority is understood to be embodied in the episcopacy, which is the aggregation of the current bishops of the Church in union with the Pope, led by the Bishop of Rome , who has authority over the bishops,...

 that claimed apostolic origin
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...

 for 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...

 and reminded ministers of the altar of the perpetual continence required.

After the Great Schism


Within a century of the Great Schism of 1054, the Churches of the East and West arrived at different disciplines as to abstaining from sexual contact during marriage. In the East, candidates for the Priesthood could be married with permission to have regular sexual relations with their wives, but were required to abstain before celebrating the Eucharist. An unmarried person, once ordained, could not marry. Additionally, the Christian East required that, before becoming a bishop, a priest separate from his wife (she was permitted to object), with her typically becoming a nun. In the East, more normally, bishops are chosen from those priests who are monks and are thus unmarried.

In the West, the law of celibacy
Celibacy
Celibacy is a personal commitment to avoiding sexual relations, in particular a vow from marriage. Typically celibacy involves avoiding all romantic relationships of any kind. An individual may choose celibacy for religious reasons, such as is the case for priests in some religions, for reasons of...

 was universally required by the 11th century. This law mandated that, in order to become a candidate for ordination, a man could not be married. The law remains in effect in the West, although not for those who are Eastern Rite Catholic clergy, who remain under the ancient Eastern discipline of sexual abstinence before celebration of the Liturgy, as do Eastern Orthodox priests. The issue of mandatory celibacy continues to be debated, though successive popes have declared that the discipline will not change.

Priestly personality profiles



Research in 1999 in the United Kingdom showed Catholic priests to have personality profiles
Personality psychology
Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies personality and individual differences. Its areas of focus include:* Constructing a coherent picture of the individual and his or her major psychological processes...

 which were generally masculine in the area of psychoticism
Psychoticism
Psychoticism is one of the three traits used by the psychologist Hans Eysenck in his P-E-N model model of personality. Psychoticism refers to a personality pattern typified by aggressiveness and interpersonal hostility.High levels of this trait were believed by Eysenck to be linked to increased...

 (used in its technical sense: "more toughminded than men in general") and feminine in terms of introversion and neuroticism
Neuroticism
Neuroticism is a fundamental personality trait in the study of psychology. It is an enduring tendency to experience negative emotional states. Individuals who score high on neuroticism are more likely than the average to experience such feelings as anxiety, anger, guilt, and depressed mood...

.

Duties of a Catholic priest: Proclaim the message of salvation


Three main aspects to the Priesthood: offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
Eucharist (Catholic Church)
"At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood."...

, hearing confessions, and counselling. Whilst continuing to hold the importance of these two aspects of Priesthood, today the Church has a significantly broader understanding.

Priests are also responsible for daily recitation of the principal and minor offices of the Liturgy of the Hours
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...

. Catholic priests are the only ministers of the Sacrament of Penance
and Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick, known also by other names, is distinguished from other forms of religious anointing or "unction" in that it is intended, as its name indicates, for the benefit of a sick person...

.Canon 901.1 They are the ordinary ministers of 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...

 and witnesses to Holy Matrimony
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...

.

Catholic priest: East and West


Although the Catholic Church is frequently referred to as the "Roman Catholic Church" this is a misnomer as it encompasses not only the (Latin/Roman) branch (i.e. the Western Church) but also twenty-two Eastern Churches (sui iuris). Thus, the disciplines, liturgical practices and ordering of the Catholic Priesthood inevitably vary to some extent among the particular Church
Particular Church
In Catholic canon law, a Particular Church is an ecclesial community headed by a bishop or someone recognised as the equivalent of a bishop.There are two kinds of particular Churches:# Local particular Churches ...

es which make up the Universal Church.

See also

  • Catholic Church hierarchy
    Catholic Church hierarchy
    The term Hierarchy in the Catholic Church has a variety of related usages. Literally, "holy government", the term is employed in different instances. There is a Hierarchy of Truths, which refers to the levels of solemnity of the official teaching of the faith...

  • List of Catholic priests
  • Catholic Church doctrine on the ordination of women
    Catholic Church doctrine on the ordination of women
    The Roman Catholic Church doctrine on the ordination of women, as expressed in the current canon law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is that: "Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination." Insofar as priestly and episcopal ordination are concerned, the Church teaches that this...

  • Religious minister

External links

  • VISION Vocation Guide information about Roman Catholic priesthood and religious life with directory of men's religious communities and diocesan links.