Apostolic See web site.


See also the Frequently Asked Questions of the Imperial Roman Church.

Q: What are Holy Orders?
A: Holy Orders are the indelible mark placed on the soul by the Holy Spirit that sets a man aside for special ministry. Major Holy Orders are comprised of Deacon, Priest, and Bishop. The Minor Orders are Porter, Lector, Exorcist, and Acolyte, and the transitional orderof Sub-Deacon.

Q: Do you ordain women?
A: We appoint women to traditional offices, including Deaconess. However, the Holy Orders of Deacon, Priest, and Bishop have always been, as a matter of doctrine, reserved to men. To change such a doctrine in a way that would be legitimate and universal requires the decision of an ecumenical council. Minor Orders likewise are reserved to men.

Q: Can clergy marry?
A: This is a matter of ecclesiastical discipline. Under the rules of the Patriarchate and Catholicate as set forth in Sacerdotes Matrimonio Coniuncti, minor clerics may marry, provided they and their intended spouses are free to do so and have the permission of his religious superior. By the same law, Sub-Deacons, Deacons, and Priests and Bishops may be married provided they are married prior to receiving ordination to the Sub-Diaconate. Only very rarely are priests granted permission to marry, and that decision is vested solely in the Papa-Catholicos. Those who marry illicitly incur the penalties of loss of the clerical state and excommunication.

Q: What about divorce?
A: Divorce is one of the biggest problems facing society today. A sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved, particularly by a secular authority. However, a marriage that has been ended by a civil authority can potentially be annulled by a church tribunal. In such a case, the marriage is said sacramentally never to have existed in the first place. Once an annullment is in place, the persons are free to marry in the church again. There are absolutely no guarantees regarding the outcome of a Church Tribunal.

Q: What is the difference between a Deacon, Priest, and Bishop?


A Deacon is a man in Holy Orders whose special function is to serve the bishop. He also has certain liturgical functions, such as reading the Gospel at the mass. Those entering Holy Orders must start as a Deacon.

A Priest has all the faculties of a Deacon, but can also hear confession, pronounce blessings and absolution, and, most importantly, celebrate the holy mass.

A Bishop has the fullness of Christ's priesthood. He has all the faculties of a Deacon and a Priest, and additionally has the authority to administer the sacraments of confirmation and ordination.

Q: What are the types of Bishops and Archbishops?


Bishops are usually in charge of a jurisdiction called a Diocese, which (usually) comprises a number of parishes, but may also be for a special purpose and not territorial. This type of Bishop is called a Bishop Ordinary, a Diocesan Bishop, or simply an Ordinary. In some jurisdictions, the Bishop is elected by the clergy. In others, the Bishop is selected and appointed by a higher authority over the Diocese.

A Bishop Co-adjutor assists the Bishop Ordinary, and has the right of succession to the Diocesan Bishop position.

A Suffragan Bishop or Auxiliary Bishop is an assistant to the Bishop Ordinary, but has no right of succession. All Bishops hold the fullness of Christ's priesthood and have been consecrated. These differences merely pertain to their role in the church.

An Archbishop is the highest rank of Bishop, but it is not another level of Holy Orders. An Archbishop is most commonly in charge of an Archdiocese, but may simply hold the rank. A Metropolitan Archbishop is typically in charge of an Archdiocese and also has jurisdiction over other Dioceses. In some jurisdictions, the Archbishop is elected by the Bishops under his authority. In other cases, the Archbishop is appointed by a higher authority.

As with Holy Orders, the rank of Archbishop cannot be claimed on one's own initiative; it must be granted. In some instances, these Archiepiscopal or Metropolitan jurisdictions may be for a special purpose, rather than territorial, and hold the Metropolitan authority for the purpose of ministering to those in their care. For example, this could include a military Archdiocese for military chaplains.

Q: What about Canons, Archdeacons, and Deans?


A Canon is a member of a Chapter (group of priests) of the Cathedral or Diocese/Archdiocese. It is a special honor bestowed on a priest (and rarely on a Deacon or layman) by his Bishop. The privileges, duties, and rights vary from Bishop to Bishop.

A Dean is superior in rank to a Canon and heads up the Cathedral Parish, a Deanery (collection of parishes within a Diocese), or some other major Diocesan office.

An Archdeacon is the chief assistant to the Bishop, and is usually a priest. There is usually only one Archdeacon in a Diocese at a time.

Q: What are the Minor Orders?


The Minor Orders were established in antiquity to fill the various needs in the life of the Church. While these functions are now often performed with permission by the laity, the symbolism of the offices remains, and the minor clergy provide useful service to the Church.

Those in the Minor Orders are in the clerical state. Entry into the clerical state comes with the reception of the First Tonsure. While various forms of tonsure exist, today this is administered most commonly by cutting five small pieces of hair in the form of a cross. Those to receive the tonsure present themselves in the clerical cassock holding a candle. After the tonsure itself, they are invested with the surplice, the basic liturgical garment of the clergy. Once a man has received First Tonsure he is a cleric and eligible for possible promotion to the Minor Order.

Porter: Porters are traditionally handed the symbolic keys to the church as a token of their service in keeping the physical property of the church. They also historically rang the bells to announce services. Though Porters may still perform this task, it is sometimes also assigned to laymen.

Lector: Those in this order are able to read the lessons at the Offices. Now there is also a lay office of "Lay Reader" for those not in the clerical state who are authorized to serve by reading lessons. A Lector traditionally touches a book containing the lessons at his ordination.

Exorcist: The exorcists assist(ed) priests with exorcisms and may perform exorcisms of objects, such as salt for Holy Water. An exorcist is traditionally touches a book containing the rites of exorcism at his ordination.

Acolyte: The acolytes traditionally served the mass, though there are now also lay altar servers. For this reason, acolytes are traditionally handed a cruet and a candle at their ordination.

Sub-Deacon: The order of Sub-Deacon is sometimes considered a Major Order. It is the custom of the Imperial Roman Church to consider it formally a Minor Order as it is not directly an order of direct Biblical origin, though it maintains certain elements of service of the diaconate. In either case, it is essentially a transitional order between the Minor Orders and the Major Orders. Sub-Deacons sing the Epistle or Lesson at the liturgy and have other liturgical duties. It was at this order that a cleric historically was first permitted to touch the Sacred Vessels. However, it has long been customary to allow authorized Sacristans to assist with the Sacred Vessels. As symbols of his office, a Sub-Deacon is presented with the Book of Epistles, the chalice and paten, cruets filled with wine and water, and a lavabo basin and towel. He is also invested with the amice and alb (and maniple in the Anglo-Roman and Gallo-Roman Rites), the vesture of all who serve directly at the altar; and the tunicle, the vestment proper to Sub-Deacons.

Q: How do I become a priest?
A: This requires study, discernment, and an examination of calling.

Q: Does the Anglican Patriarchate or the Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Catholicate provide financial or other support to seminarians?

A: The Church provides pastoral oversight and moral support, but does not provide financial support. Seminarians may, when possible, take out private or public academic loans to pursue their theological formation. Or, they may seek private arrangements with persons or organizations that might wish to fund their studies. These are private arrangements made by the individual seminarian, and the Church cannot become involved.

Q: There is no Anglican Patriarchate or Gallo-Russo-Byzantine parish in my area. What will I be doing as a priest? Do I have to move?

A: You do not have to move (unless you want to). Anglican Patriarchate or Gallo-Russo-Byzantine parishes, oratories, missions, and chapels exist in furtherance of our mandate of mission, service, and charity. Your work will be in furtherance of that mandate, whether there is a parish in your area or not. You will be expected to establish a chapel, private or public, to offer the Divine Liturgy (the mass).

Q: Will I have to take an oath to be ordained?

A: Yes. To be commissioned to the Minor Orders, and again when you are ordained to the Major Orders as a Deacon, you will be required to sign an oath to uphold the Faith, Doctrine, and Canon Law, and to be obedient to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. This oath is sometimes given in a ceremony.

Q: What if I am married?

A: The specific laws pertaining to married clergy in this See are set forth in the bull Sacerdotes Matrimonio Coniuncti. You can still be ordained if married, provided your marriage is lawful under Canon Law. If you have been previously married and divorced, those marriages must be annulled if they have not already been. Depending on individual circumstances pertaining to past marriage(s), restrictions may be placed on ability to obtain an annulment on the current marriage due to the impact this may have on the clerical state. Also, before you can be ordained to any level or enter the clerical state, your wife must take the oath of assent and support, in which she both professes that she agrees to your ordination, promises to support you in your ministry, and pledges loyalty and obedience to the Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and the Apostolic See of the Catholicate.

Q: If I am unmarried, take Holy Orders, and then later wish to marry, can I do this?

A: Deacons and minor clerics may marry under the provisions of Sacerdotes Matrimonio Coniuncti, provided it is done properly under Canon Law and permission of the ecclesiastical superior is obtained. There is an oath of support for your ministry that your future spouse must sign as well. Priests and Bishops may not marry once they are ordained as priests. If they are already married at the time of their ordination to the priesthood, then they may not marry again.

Q: If I have more questions about the ministry, to whom should I speak?

A: During the discernment phase, you should talk to a priest you know personally. You will need such a priest to recommend you for the ministry, anyway. As you progress through the admissions process, you will be assigned a formation director to help guide you through the formation process. Also, you may consult Canon Law.

Q: Why do I have to fill out the application and provide identification before beginning the process?

A: So we know who you are! All clergy must uphold a sacred trust, and therefore must pass a background investigation, a physical examination, and a psychological examination prior to ordination, as well as sign the Church's Child Protection Policy. Once you fill out and submit your application, we know you are serious about the ministry. Then, if accepted, we will get you started on the path towards possible ordination.









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