Apostolic See web site.
See also the Frequently
Asked Questions of the Imperial Roman Church.
What are Holy Orders?
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.
Do you ordain women?
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.
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
What about divorce?
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.
What is the difference between a Deacon, Priest, and Bishop?
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.
Priest has all the faculties of a Deacon, but can also hear
confession, pronounce blessings and absolution, and, most
importantly, celebrate the holy mass.
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.
What are the types of Bishops and Archbishops?
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.
Co-adjutor assists the Bishop Ordinary, and has the right of
succession to the Diocesan Bishop position.
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.
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.
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.
What about Canons, Archdeacons, and Deans?
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.
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.
is the chief assistant to the Bishop, and is usually a priest. There
is usually only one Archdeacon in a Diocese at a time.
What are the Minor Orders?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How do I become a priest?
requires study, discernment, and an examination of calling.
or the Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Catholicate provide financial or other
support to seminarians?
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.
There is no Anglican
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).
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.
if I am married?
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
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?
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
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.