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orders, holy

orders, holy [Lat. ordo,=rank], in Christianity, the traditional degrees of the clergy, conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Order. The episcopacy, priesthood or presbyterate, and diaconate were in general use in Christian churches in the 2d cent. In the Roman Catholic tradition a development, beginning in the 3d cent. and culminating in the Middle Ages, resulted in a division of major holy orders (episcopacy, priesthood, diaconate, and subdiaconate) and minor orders (acolyte, exorcist, lector, and doorkeeper), with a special rite of introduction into the clerical state called tonsure. From the late Middle Ages, the minor orders and the major orders of subdiaconate and diaconate were largely ceremonial, considered steps to priestly ordination, and were taken by those who intended to be ordained to the priesthood.

A considerable revision of that schema was undertaken under the direction of Pope Paul VI. In 1967 the diaconate was restored as an independent order with its own ministry (e.g., preaching, baptizing, distributing Holy Communion), and married men began to be received into this order. In 1972 tonsure, minor orders, and subdiaconate were abolished, and a rite of admission to candidacy to the diaconate and priesthood took their place. Thus the Roman Catholic Church, like the Church of England, has three orders—bishop, priest, deacon—and, like the Orthodox Eastern churches, it has permanent deacons who serve in local parishes and assist the priests. For various Protestant clerical systems, see ministry.

Traditionally in the West, the episcopacy has the plenitude of priestly power; bishops—archbishops, patriarchs, and the pope are bishops—alone have the power to ordain to major orders. In the Roman Catholic Church the ordination to the priesthood is considered a sacrament, conferring on the recipient the power to celebrate the eucharist and marking the priest with an indelible character. Like the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, ordination is never repeated. The rite entails the laying on of hands and the recitation of the prayer beginning “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Priests are required to take an oath of obedience to the bishop or superior and a promise of celibacy (already taken at diaconate by those intending to be priests); they are also bound to recite the divine office, the traditional daily prayer of the priest. The diaconate was instituted in the primitive church for the distribution of alms and other material duties (Acts 6.1–6.)

The main administrative life of the Roman Catholic Church is conducted by bishops and their priests called secular clergy. Priests who are members of religious orders are called regular clergy (see monasticism). Monsignor and cardinal are honorary titles and are not identified with any particular office; they are not considered orders.

See also apostolic succession.

Bibliography

See D. N. Power, Ministers of Christ (1969); P. Bradshaw, The Anglican Ordinal (1971); C. R. Meyer, Man of God (1974).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bishop

 

in the Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican churches the highest order of clergyman, head of a territorial unit of ecclesiastic administration (eparchy, diocese). Christian literary documents of the early second century (the Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch) attest to their managing the property of the early Christian communities. By the late second century the bishops had already concentrated spiritual and juridical authority in their hands and had also possessed themselves of the right to dispose of the community’s property; gradually a monarchical episcopate developed. In the fourth century there began to emerge among the bishops a hierarchical division into patriarchs, metropolitans (some of these bearing the title of archbishop), and bishops proper. The title of bishop has been preserved in some Protestant churches in addition to the Anglican, but in them a bishop is not a clergyman but a person exercising what are for the most part purely administrative functions.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

bishop

1. (in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Greek Orthodox Churches) a clergyman having spiritual and administrative powers over a diocese or province of the Church
2. (in some Protestant Churches) a spiritual overseer of a local church or a number of churches
3. a chesspiece, capable of moving diagonally over any number of unoccupied squares of the same colour
4. mulled wine, usually port, spiced with oranges, cloves, etc
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005