Holy Orders

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The term Holy Orders is used by many Christian churches to refer to ordination or to those individuals ordained for a special role or ministry.

In the Roman Catholic (Latin: sacri ordines), Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox (ιερωσυνη [hierōsynē], ιερατευμα [hierateuma], Священство [Svyashchenstvo]), Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic churches and some Lutheran churches Holy Orders refers to the three orders of bishop, priest and deacon, or the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. These churches regard ordination as a sacrament (the sacramentum ordinis).

Protestant denominations have varied conceptions of church offices. In the Anglican tradition and some Lutheran churches the traditional orders of bishop, priest and deacon are also bestowed using ordination rites. The extent to which ordination is considered sacramental in these traditions has, however, been a matter of some internal dispute. Many other denominations do not consider the role of ministry as being sacramental in nature and would not think of it in terms of "holy orders" as such.

Historically, the word "order" (Latin ordo) designated an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordinatio meant legal incorporation into an ordo. The word "holy" refers to the Church. In context, therefore, a holy order is set apart for ministry in the Church.

Other offices such as pope, patriarch, cardinal, monsignor, archbishop, archimandrite, archpriest, protopresbyter, hieromonk, protodeacon, archdeacon, etc., are not sacramental orders. These are simply offices or titles.

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