Basic Principles for Catholic Clerics

 

1.	A Catholic cleric is in a different state in life.

    Being a cleric is not a job or a hobby, but an inherent trait different from the laity that persists throughout all hours every day. It is permanent in this life and the next.

    From the order of Sub-Deacon and above, the mark is indelible on the soul, meaning that it both persists forever and cannot be removed.

    Clerics in the minor orders can under certain circumstances lose the mark of the clerical state.

    Just as a married person must behave in a different way from a single person, clerics must behave always and everywhere according to their state in life - a Catholic cleric.

 

2.	The authority for a cleric comes from Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Church.

    The clergy represent the authority of Christ on earth, as transmitted to Christ's Holy Church. In the case of the Anglican Patriarchate in the New Roman Communion, that derives from its supreme authority, the Archfather as Coadjutor of Rome, Grand Pontiff of the Anglican Rite, Legate of Christ, successor of Pope Leo X, and temporal successor of Saint Peter the Apostle.

    Bishops are successors of the Apostles, which is what is meant by Apostolic Succession. They have the fullness of Christ's Holy Priesthood.

      Priests share in the ministry of Christ's priesthood for the purpose of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. A priest celebrating mass stands in loco Christi (in place of Christ), meaning that he is an alter Christus (another Christ) celebrating the very same Sacrifice that took place at the Crucifixion.

      Deacons share in the ministry specifically for the purpose of serving the Church and the people. Liturgically, they assist at the altar and sing the Gospel.

      Sub-Deacons participate in the diaconal mission of service. Liturgically, they assist at the altar and sing the Epistle lesson. Traditionally they are the first order of the Holy Orders that are permitted by right of their office to touch the Sacred Vessels.

     

    The Minor Orders each pertain to an element of service within the Church. They are:

      Acolyte, the highest of the minor orders. They were originally altar servers, though that role has been greatly expanded over the years. In some rites, they also used to assist at the altar in a manner similar to a Sub-Deacon. The chief duty traditionally was to light the candles on the altar, to carry candles in procession, and to carry candles at the reading of the Gospel, as well as to prepare the water and wine for the mass and assist at other public liturgy.

      Exorcists previously conducted exorcisms, particularly on those preparing to be baptized. Now the role of exorcisms is generally limited to priests who have permission from their bishop. However, those in the order of Exorcist may perform exorcisms as appointed in the Ritual on physical objects, such as water and salt in the creation of holy water.

      Lectors traditionally read lessons. They may sing the Epistle lesson if there is no Sub- Deacon and may read the lesson at a dialogue mass. They may also be given the faculty to lead certain public worship, such as the Divine Offices.

      Porters were traditionally hosts who guarded the doors to the church and rang the church bells. In the rite of ordination, a new porter opens and closes the church door, as well as rings the church bell. Their main function is to serve in hospitality.

      (Basic) Clerics are those who have received the First Tonsure and are therefore clerics, but have not yet received Holy Orders.

 

3.	Clerics have an absolute obligation to obedience Christ and the Church.

    Regardless of order, clerics are obliged by solemn promise to God to place their duty and obligations as a cleric above all other things. To be a cleric means that the Church becomes their nation and the church hierarchy their supreme government. All other obligations, loyalties, and oaths must be subservient always and everywhere to one's duty to God and the Holy Church as a cleric. To violate this is an offense against God.

    Indeed, there is no such thing as a part-time or hobby cleric. National identity must never be placed above identity as a Catholic cleric. The Church knows no borders. One is a cleric always and everywhere. The rules, duties, and obligations of being a cleric apply always and everywhere.

    Clerics, while recognizing human frailty, are held to a higher standard.

 

4.	Clerics have an absolute obligation to act in accordance with the state in life.

    Clerics must seek to spread the Gospel always and everywhere and act in accordance with the rules pertaining to their state in life is a cleric. They are not expected to be perfect, for they are still human. However, being outside of church property, for example, or being in secular employment does not in any way reduce or remove the obligations of a cleric to act in accordance with their state in life. Clerics, within the bounds of human frailty, must seek to set a positive example.

 

5.	Clerics have an absolute obligation to dress in accordance with the state in life.

    The vesture of clerics is rooted in antiquity, tied inextricably to the Scripture and doctrine of the faith, and a means of reminding both the clerics himself and others of the love of God for the world. Christ promised that we would not be alone, and so He sent the Holy Spirit and founded the Holy Catholic Church. By dressing always and everywhere as Holy Mother Church instructs, clerics reflect the love of God and the fulfillment of Christ's promise to humanity that we would not be alone.

    Various options for vesture exist and delineated in canon law and other instructions. The Anglican Patriarchate retains certain older customs in accordance with its specific heritage and patrimony, which includes, for example, the use of a suit similar to that of the laity under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, the obligation to ensure that everything worn is appropriate for the clerical state exists at all times and in all places.

 

6.	Clerics must continually study and grow in their faith.

    Those who have entered the clerical state have taken on an obligation that is not easy. The fullness of the mind of God is beyond the complete comprehension of mankind. However, we have the collective wisdom of approximately 2000 years of the Church, as well as the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    There exists within the true Church three essential elements: Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition (including the Doctrine and Dogma of the Faith), and the Magisterium (teaching authority of the church).

    Clerics, having taken on this immense obligation in human frailty, must therefore continually study the faith within the framework of the three essential elements.

 

7.	Clerics must continually pray.

    Priests and Bishops must celebrate the Holy Mass. Other clerics must attend and assist at mass. All must participate in the general liturgy and prayers, both public and private, of the church. All must pray the Holy Rosary. We must pray without ceasing that all may be united in Christ with the hope of eternal salvation.

 

8.	Clerics must serve.

    To enter the clerical state to take on the mantle of service. That service is above all to God. Chief within the service to God is service to Christ's Holy Church under the leadership of its hierarchy. Within that framework, clerics must serve humanity - both the people of the Christian faith and those who are not yet Christian, that they may see the light of Christ. All service and indeed all good works mean nothing and are not truly good unless they flow from the altar of Christ. Unless they are rooted in the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, then they are ultimately void of meaning, purpose, and merit. Everything in the Church and indeed in the world should flow from the Holy Sacrifice that takes place on the altar.

 

9.	Clerics must maintain the traditions of the Holy Church.

    Culture does not exist in a vacuum, but instead is the product of society. Likewise, society in turn is influenced by the culture that it creates. The Church in a similar manner has its own culture and indeed its own language, both of which are a product of, reflect, and reinforce the faith. Efforts to "modernize" the Church in terms of various cultural elements take from secular society at large, no matter the stated intention, are inherently heretical, for they necessarily are at odds with and therefore seek to change the sacred elements of the church, including her most sacred beliefs.

    Sacred Tradition often is at odds with society at large - including local culture. Clerics must not alter that tradition, even in terms of their own conduct or presentation, simply to "fit" within local society or gain acceptance. That is a misguided approach that leads to a decline of true faith. Just as Christ was at odds with the society in which He lived on earth, so too will the true Church of Christ always be at least somewhat at odds with society at any given time.

    Sacred Tradition is the bedrock upon which Christ's Holy Church exists on earth. The Church here on earth is called the Church Militant because the enemies of the Church are ever encompassed around her seeking her destruction. The Church exists beyond this world, however. In purgatory, it is called the Church Suffering. In heaven, it is called the Church Triumphant. All Christians, and especially all clerics must recall that the kingdom we serve is ultimately not of this world, and so we must not seek the approval of mere worldly society, but rather seek to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. That is, we must promote that the societies of this world should conform to the laws of God, not the other way around.

 

10.	Clerics have not only obligations, but rights and privileges to assist in their vast mission and weighty responsibilities.

    Along with their significant and solemn responsibilities, clerics have rights and privileges that are designed not to feed the ego, but to assist them and protect them in their mission on earth. Under Canon law and International law, the Archfather and various members of the Pontifical Court and the Patriarchal Curia have immunity by right. This extends in different ways and to different degrees to all members of the clergy, who by ancient right are to be protected against the authority of civil government. These rights exist for the protection of the clergy and to maintain the sovereignty of Holy Mother Church. And, they exist by right whether or not a civil government acknowledges them, and the Church vigorously asserts them.

    The clergy also has certain honours, that their role in the Church of Christ may be known and respected by all. The titles of the clergy reflect the glory of God and the power of Christ and His Holy Church, without which they are nothing. These honours are part of the Sacred Tradition of the Church. Within the Anglican Patriarchate, the standard honours of the clergy are as follows:

 

      CLERICS: The Reverend Don

        "Don" by itself is used only with the full name or first name.
        Priests may also be known as Father, and numbers of religious orders may also
        be known as Brother according to the traditions of their order.

      DIOCESAN OR METROPOLITAN CURIAL PRELATES: The Reverend Monsignor

        Monsignor is used only with the full name or surname.

      BISHOPS: His Grace the Right Reverend Monsignor

      ARCHBISHOPS: His Grace the Most Reverend Monsignor

 

    Pontifical Court

      CHAPLAINS OF HIS HOLINESS & EMINENCE: The Reverend Monsignor

      PATRIARCHAL CHAMBERLAINS: The Very Reverend Monsignor

      PATRIARCHAL CANONS: His Excellency the Very Reverend Monsignor

      FIRST ARCHDEACON: His Excellency the Very Reverend and Venerable Monsignor

      CAPITULAR BISHOPS: His Excellency the Right Reverend Monsignor

      CAPITULAR ARCHBISHOPS: His Excellency the Most Reverend Monsignor

      CROWN CARDINALS: His Eminence the Most Reverend (First Name) Cardinal (Surname)

      ARCHFATHER: His Holiness and Eminence

 

    Reverences of Office

      PRIEST: The faithful should stand when a priest enters the room and remain standing until invited to sit. Men must remove their hats in his presence. The faithful may ask for and receive a blessing (especially if the priest is the parish rector and is visiting the house of one of the faithful of his parish) in which case one should kneel on the left knee unless kneeling would be awkward or impossible. It is also acceptable to kiss the right hand of any priest as a sign of respect for their duty of consecrating the Eucharist. Reverential gestures should be repeated by the faithful when leaving his presence.

       

      PRELATE: The faithful and regular clergy should stand when the prelate enters the room and remain standing until invited to sit. Men must remove their hats in his presence. The faithful may ask for and receive a blessing, if he is a priest, in which case one should kneel on the left knee unless kneeling would be awkward or impossible. The reverential gestures should be repeated when leaving his presence.

       

      BISHOP: The faithful and regular clergy should stand when a bishop enters the room and remain standing until invited to sit. Men must remove their hats in his presence. Kneel on the left knee and kiss ring as sign of respect for his office. One may ask for and receive a blessing. If kneeling would be awkward or impossible, bow at the waist and kiss his ring. Reverential gestures should be repeated when leaving his presence.

       

      ARCHFATHER: Most formally, the faithful and clergy should kneel on the left knee, bow, and touch the Archfather's right foot with the right hand. Less formally, the standard kiss of the ring as a sign of respect for the office is acceptable. If kneeling cannot be done, then bow. One may ask for and receive a blessing. Stand when he enters the room and remain standing until invited to sit. Men must remove their hats in his presence. Reverential gestures should be repeated when leaving his presence.

 

    Concluding Correspondence

      TO A BISHOP: Kissing the Sacred Ring, I have the honor to remain Your Grace's most humble servant;

        (Excellency is used in place of Grace for a Capitular Bishop.)

      TO A PATRIARCHAL CANON: I have the honor to remain Your Excellency's most humble servant;

      TO A CARDINAL: Kissing the Sacred Purple, I have the honour to remain Your Eminence's most humble and devoted servant,".

      TO THE ARCHFATHER: Kissing the Sacred Foot, I have the honour to remain Your Holiness and Eminence's most humble and devoted servant,".

 

In conclusion:

The clergy are not their own, but of God. They serve Christ and His Holy Church above all else. All must be directed to that purpose.

 

 

 

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