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A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the Anglican churches, bishops claim Apostolic succession, a direct historical lineage dating back to the original Twelve Apostles. Within these churches, bishops can ordain clergy including other bishops. Some Protestant churches including the Lutheran and Methodist churches have bishops serving similar functions as well, though not always understood to be within Apostolic succession in the same way.

The office of bishop was already quite distinct from that of priest in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 107), and by the middle of the second century all the chief centres of Christianity were headed by bishops, a form of organization that remained universal until the Protestant Reformation.[1]


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