QUAERITUR: bestowing “minor orders”

From a reader:

With the recent news of the upcoming ordination of several men to the Minor Orders, I was wondering — perhaps you’ve spoken on this — what is the canonical standing of these men?  I know several people, hostile and dismissive of the Extraordinary Form, who ridicule and passively insult men who are in FSSP, or some other likeminded communities, by denying them credence to their reception of the Minor Orders.  These hostile men might say to a man who has received porter, exorcist, or even the order of subdiaconate, that “it doesn’t even exist anymore” or “it is a fantasy”……

How would you respond, dear Father?

In olden days the clerical state began with tonsure.  Now, the clerical state begins with ordination to the diaconate.  Furthermore, the minor orders were, in the Latin Church, suppressed by Paul VI.

And yet here we are talking about them, aren’t we?

I am not sure what happens when men are given minor orders in traditional groups today.  I know they don’t become clerics until diaconate, but what they are before that is a bit unclear.

It seems unlikely that the Holy See would be satisfied with the answer that they are just playing make-believe, or “simulating” something when minor orders ceremonies are conducted.  So, the minor orders appear to do something.  It isn’t a fantasy.  The Holy See wouldn’t want them playing make-believe.

Are the men who receive the order of Porter, Porters?   I suppose they are unless the Holy See issues a clarification that they are not.

It isn’t absolutely that someone who is made a porter be also a cleric.

I suspect in the present environment of talks with the SSPX were someone to ask the PCED for a response on such a question, they would probably get a very traditionally-minded response, if they go a response at all.



After a hard day of sorting out the sticky question of whether of not men can still be ordained as exorcists, why not also stick your teeth together with some caramels… from Carmelites.  Get it?  Carmel?… ehem

Yes, not only to the Wyoming Carmelites roast coffee they also have caramels.

Enjoy them along with a piping hot WDTPRS mug of their fine coffee as you contemplate exorcists and porters.

Just like that old tonsure, Mystic Monk coffee is a cut above.  Heheh… get it?  A cut ab  … right.  Okay.

And, it’s still swell!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ASK FATHER Question Box and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. priests wife says:

    In the Byzantine rite, minor orders still exist- but you are not incardinated until the diaconate. From my simplistic point of view, I think it is a great thing to give men ‘jobs’ in the church. We women will participate in church regardless, but I think it is helpful for as many faithful men as possible to have an official role. In our church Sundays, my husband has 2 altar boys plus as many trained ‘altar server’ men (usually 3 or 4) as possible to surround the altar.

  2. Legisperitus says:

    My grandfather went as far as acolyte before leaving seminary. I wonder if that means Paul VI stripped him of the clerical state.

  3. wchoag says:

    I find appealing the explanation regarding the current status of minor orders that the ordination confers the graces and spiritual benefits of the office but no juridical status.

  4. danphunter1 says:

    Do you know why Pope Paul VI surpressed the minor orders?
    And if he did so [I am not doubting he did] by whose canonical act and which act is it, that has restored the minor orders? At least to traditionalist orders.

  5. adorientem says:

    @Legisperitus: That would be the case, but if your grandfather married before the suppression, he would have already lost the clerical state at that time.

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    In olden days the clerical state began with tonsure.

    A young man from our community was recently tonsured by Bishop Fabian Bruskewicz at the FSSP’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary:


    The following happy comment from him probably represents an FSSP understanding:

    “Here are some pictures of the happy occasion of my tonsure. Thanks be to God, I have been raised to the clerical state. . . . . . It marks my death to self and betrothal to the Church.”

  7. Jayna says:

    As to the Mystic Monk advert: Oh no, the last thing they need to start selling is chocolate. I’m an absolute fiend for caramels and knowing that the money is going to a good cause will only act as an enabler!

  8. Supertradmum says:

    I know seminaries in both the undergraduate and graduate levels who wish there were some signs and steps towards ordination to make all the work and preparation more meaningful, as well as indicating their own commitment. May I also add that the old liturgical practice of a formal engagement for couples was a great idea, making the entire period of engagement more serious and spiritual. The Church needs to bring back the Minor Orders for the benefit of all.

    I could never understand why these were suppressed.

  9. wolfeken says:

    The FSSP takes tonsure seriously — and those men are indeed clerics. They wear the cassock and collar and sit in the sanctuary in choir as clerics. [In the Latin Church the clerical state begins with ordination to the diaconate.]

    I’m not sure why we keep saying the FSSP is merely joking around with tonsure, minor orders and the first of the major orders (subdeacon). If it is all pretend, someone should tell His Excellency Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz this before he travels to the FSSP seminary on 20 November to ordain 19 men with the four minor orders.

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    Supertradmum, I know from traditional seminarians that one of these “events” every year or so during their perhaps seven seminary years infuses every year with meaning and accomplishment. These monuments along the way evidently make much difference in motivation of continued commitment and enthusiasm. Perhaps the wonderful difference observed in traditionally formed priests is a result.

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    someone should tell His Excellency Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz

    If so, they should also tell all the Vatican officials who evidently haven’t gotten the word.

  12. andycoan says:

    “I’m not sure why we keep saying the FSSP is merely joking around with tonsure, minor orders and the first of the major orders (subdeacon). ”

    Perhaps because, as Father mentioned, Pope Paul VI supressed those orders in the Latin Rite? I don’t pretend to know all the ends and outs of the SSPX situation, but how is this not just an example of denying the authority of the Pope to govern the Church?

  13. Bryan Boyle says:

    IIRC, and someone correct me if I’m wrong…but, if the FSSP was granted the privilege of maintaining both the practice and spirit of the books in place in 1962 (and Deo Gratias that they were), then, the minor orders, just as the rites, rituals, sacraments, etc, as specifically granted by the Supreme Legislator, then, it would stand to reason that the minor orders were also by inference given to them.

    I’m sure Papa Benedict is aware. As is PCED, etc all the way down the line.

  14. Henry Edwards says:

    how is this not just an example of denying the authority of the Pope to govern the Church?

    As a lay associate of the FSSP, I believe you can be confident that the FSSP is working with the full approval of our Holy Father. I do not know of another order or group in the Church whose devotion and loyalty to their Supreme Pontiff is more complete and unreserved. Would that more bishops and their dioceses in the Church shared this utter devotion and full loyalty to the Vicar of Christ.

  15. I just spent about half an hour researching this topic and am left with many more questions than I have answers.

    I think the real problem here is that those who prefer the extraordinary form of the Roman rite have a ritual without a rite. By rite I mean a hierarchy. Eastern-rite Catholics have not only their own ritual, but they also have their own hierarchies (all under the Pope, of course). When we try to maintain the extraordinary form and the ordinary form under one hierarchy, we get all sorts of confusion like what we have in this question. I don’t see any solution other than to give Traditional Catholics their own hierarchy and canon law. The left and right of the Roman rite are so polarized that they effectively function as two separate rites anyway; instituting a Traditional Roman hierarchy would simply recognize what has been the de facto situation anyway. Then we don’t have to sit around splitting canonical hairs about whether minor orders still exist in the extraordinary form. In the Traditional Roman rite, the answer would be yes, and in the Non-Traditional Roman Rite, the answer would be no. In practice, this seems to be the answer anyway. It’s only in trying to reconcile two sides that refuse to be reconciled that we have to scratch our heads and arrive at answers which ultimately satisfy no one. The two sides aren’t even using the same language; post-1972, we speak of “instituted ministries” as opposed to “minor orders.” How can we reconcile the concepts when we can’t even reconcile the language?

    As to what this does for the cause of unity, well, I am somewhat disheartened. Still, unless a much more prominent middle ground emerges in the Roman rite, I can’t envision a better solution. It’s analagous to provisions made for an Anglican ordinariate, and certainly those who never left the Church are as deserving as returnees and converts.

  16. Geoffrey says:

    “I think the real problem here is that those who prefer the extraordinary form of the Roman rite have a ritual without a rite. By rite I mean a hierarchy.”

    His Holiness the Pope was explicit in saying that there were two forms of the one Roman Rite, and so one hierarchy. I see the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite equivalent to the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom and the Liturgy of Saint Basil of the Byzantine Rite.

    Everything will be sorted out and organized in God’s good time.

  17. JARay says:

    I belong to that age when all Seminarians received Minor Orders and Tonsure after three years in the Seminary. I am one of those who did.
    I left the Seminary and when I did so I reverted to the lay-state. I knew that at the time I made my decision.
    That said, I certainly would like to see the Minor Orders restored (and also the Tonsure). We never wore the Tonsure (That involves having a small bald patch shaved at the back of your head) but all of the Portuguese Seminarians in Lisbon wore the Tonsure after they had received it. We also wore cassocks and roman collars both within the Seminary and outside in the streets. We gave public witness of just who we were.

  18. Daniel Latinus says:

    First of all, instituted acolytes and lectors remain minisitries in the Church, and while they may not make one a cleric, it seems to me these ministries do confer at least some sort of status.

    I also seem to remember reading that bishops and/or episcopal conferences have some authority to create ministries on the model of the instituted acolytes and lectors, or retain the former minor orders if there is a need to do so. (ISTM that the specialized apostolate of the FSSP might constitute a pastoral need to retain the minor orders.)

    Finally, don’t the FSSP founding documents include authority to confer the minor orders? And does the conferral of minor orders have any relation to FSSP members profession as religious?

  19. Henry Edwards says:

    The quote below is from the program of the ordinations on Nov. 20 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary (FSSP) when Bishop Bruskewicz will ordain 12 men to the minor orders of Porter and Lector, and 7 men to the minor orders of Exorcist and Acolyte.

    Question: If indeed “the minor orders are of apostolic order”, does a pope have the power to suppress them, that is, to declare that these minor orders no longer exist? As opposed to the power to order that they no longer be conferred (for a definite or indefinite period of time).

    To make clear the distinction: The pope has the power to order that no ordinations to the priesthood be conferred in a given time or place, but surely he does not have the power to suppress the priesthood that was established by Christ Himself.

    “Minor ordinations are a fanning out of the holy diaconate instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ. They order the soul of the minor cleric gradually toward the eventual reception of the sacred priesthood itself, preparing him not merely at a natural level through the actual discharging of sacred duties, but supernaturally through the spiritual conferral of priestly powers and hierarchical grade. The minor orders are of apostolic origin. By their institution, Holy Mother Church imitates the divine law of Holy Orders in grace and permanence. A minor order once received may neither be repeated nor repelled. The powers they confer adhere within the man for the remainder of his life. The dignity of each order is reckoned according to its proximity to the Blessed Sacrament.”

  20. Henry Edwards says:

    Finally, don’t the FSSP founding documents include authority to confer the minor orders?

    Though no canon lawyer, it looks that way to me, in the quote below from their Decree for the use of all liturgical books in force in 1962

    Note that these liturgical books include not only the 1962 Missal and Breviary, but also the Ritual and Pontifical which I assume include the rites for minor and major ordinations.

    “In virtue of the faculty granted to it by the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei concedes to that which is called the “Fraternity of St. Peter”, founded July 18, 1988 and declared of “Pontifical Right” by the Holy See, the faculty of celebrating Mass, and carrying out the rites of the sacraments and other sacred acts, as well as fulfilling the Divine Office according to the typical edition of the liturgical books in force in the year 1962; namely the Missal, Ritual, Pontifical, and Roman Breviary. This faculty may be used in their own churches or oratories; otherwise it may only be used with the consent of the Ordinary of the place, except for the celebration of private Masses.”

    “Anything to the contrary not withstanding.”

  21. danphunter1 says:

    ” A minor order once received may neither be repeated nor repelled. The powers they confer adhere within the man for the remainder of his life.”
    Mr Edwards,
    So according to this statement by His Excellecy, the minor orders apparently bestow an indelible character on the soul of the recipient.

  22. Fr_Sotelo says:

    danphunter1: Henry is not quoting Bishop Brukewicz, but a program put together by the seminarians at Guadalupe Seminary.

    Henry: I do not believe that the Minor Orders are of apostolic origin just because that is stated in some publication. The Church has to attests to this, and does not do so as a matter of dogma.

    Daniel Latinus: wchoag at the beginning of these comments made the wise distinction between the grace and spiritual benefits conferred by a ritual and the juridical or canonical status it confers. As Fr. Z said, the Minor Orders have been stripped of their power to confer a juridical or canonical status in the Church. And to be quite honest about this, even before Vat. II the seminarians might have been constituted “clerics” but they had all the obligations but really, none of the rights.

    They were never allowed to exercise their orders. The porters could not go out to parish doors and open and close. The exorcists never performed exorcisms. The lectors actually never even lectored at one, single Mass. So, Pope Paul VI, I believe very wisely, asked the question which many people asked, “why are we conferring offices on seminarians and then forbidding them to actually exercise these offices?” It didn’t make sense, so he stripped the Minor Orders of their conferring the status of a new office or canonical mission for some work in the Church (a work which the seminarians were never allowed to carry out). Paul VI said, “let’s convert some of these into ministries and then have the guys actually go out and do the ministry as opposed to having just a new title.”

    wchoag: You are absolutely right. The conferring of the Orders still confers a special grace, as does any ceremony of commissioning in the Church. No one is engaged in “fantasy.” Prayer is prayer, and God never turns a deaf ear to the Church, in either the Extraordinary Form or Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The canonical “status” which is conferred is of secondary importance. What is important is that through these ceremonies, whether Minor Orders (EF) or “ministries” (OF and ancient church practice) the seminarians are spiritually equipped, gradually, to assume the full grace and charge of the sacred priesthood.

  23. Sam Urfer says:

    “I do not believe that the Minor Orders are of apostolic origin just because that is stated in some publication. The Church has to attests to this, and does not do so as a matter of dogma.”

    But on the contrary, “If any one saith, that, besides the priesthood, there are not in the Catholic Church other orders, both greater and minor, by which, as by certain steps, advance is made unto the priesthood; let him be anathema.” http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct23.html

    Paul VI never presumed to “get rid” of the minor Orders; he could not. He only said that people should not receive them anymore, as a special case. They are still part of the Tradition of the Church; they are just…out of sight, for now.

  24. Fr_Sotelo says:


    True, the Minor Orders have existed as ministries since ancient times, when they were called “ministries” and not “orders” and were exercised by laymen as well. But Trent did not say that they are of “apostolic origin” because there is no Scriptural evidence for that.

    In “Ministeria Quaedam” (August 15, 1972) Pope Paul VI decreed the following: “by our apostolic authority we enact the following norms, amending-if and in so far as is necessary-provisions of the Codex Iuris Canonici now in force, and we promulgate them through this Motu Proprio.

    First tonsure is no longer conferred; entrance into the clerical state is joined to the diaconate.
    What up to now were called minor orders are henceforth to be called ministries.
    Ministries may be assigned to lay Christians; hence they are no longer to be considered as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders.”

    So, neither did Paul VI “get rid” of Minor Orders, but neither did he say that people should not receive them anymore. Rather, he restored them as ministries available to laymen who should now actually exercise them and not merely possess them as titles on the way to Major Orders.

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    Ah, yes, more laymen trying to escape the rigors of the lay state, thinking that somehow to be a “mini-priest” is more…..um….holy. Yeah, that’s it.


    There’s nothing wrong with being a good member of the laity if you are a member of the laity! What is wrong is trying to simulate another state of life to avoid the rigors of your own, which happens all too often from all sides of the vocational panorama. I say panorama because there are a lot of dimensions to this.

  26. Fr_Sotelo says:

    catholicmidwest: “Ah, yes, more laymen trying to escape the rigors of the lay state, thinking that somehow to be a “mini-priest” is more…..um….holy.” That’s funny, I always thought that when a Catholic man draws closer to the Church and shares his skills and expertise through teaching, charity, or the liturgy, this was called Catholic Action and not “escaping.”

    In the case of porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte, we are speaking of roles carried out by laymen first and foremost in the ancient Church, before priests arrogated these roles to the program of priestly formation. Ministeria Quaedam states, “By these ministries, the offices to be carried out in the liturgy and the practice of charity, deemed suitable to varying circumstances, were entrusted to the faithful.”

    So, if anyone was simulating or encroaching upon the territory of another vocation, it was the cleric who encroached upon the lay offices, wishing to be a cleric and at the same time take over tasks appropriate to Catholic laymen. For the very notion of a “minor” order tells you that the men who exercised them did not have to be celibate. In the first centuries of the Church, they were active, married men involved in the life and liturgy of the Church.

  27. Athanasius says:

    I tire of this whole line frankly. People arguing against conferral of the minor orders often do so with a false ecclesiology. For instance, those who say that the minor orders no longer exist. Are there Subdeacons in heaven? Probably. What about porters, exorcists, acolytes? More than likely. Therefore the minor orders still exist.

    Secondly, when traditional orders confer them one of two things happen: the minor order is conferred on the person and he becomes sacramentally a cleric, even if Canon law doesn’t recognize a cleric prior to diaconate, because the clerical nature of the minor orders as found in the 1962 books explicitly confers the nature of a cleric on the person. Maybe they’re not canonically, but sacramentally they are.
    If that doesn’t happen, then all traditional orders who confer the minor orders commit a grave sacrilege, since to conduct a liturgical ritual asking God to confect something which is not confected is a sacrilege. You are saying God do this, and by this prayer we do this, when in fact nothing happens.

    What we need is clarity, not all this mumbo jumbo, oh well, they don’t do anything but they’re a good symbol. If they are doing something what are they? One thing I constantly see is reference to their not being used in Scripture, but that is a modernist argument. All theologians held the minor orders to be divino-apostolic tradition prior to the council and to go back to the institution of the Apostles themselves. They are attested to very early in the Church. Why is it that the apologists for the NO constantly say “We’re going back to the early liturgy” but then drop things like the Subdeaconate which is from the ancient liturgy but keep the elevation which only goes to the 13th century?

  28. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, but that’s not generally how people understand all these minor church offices now. People who volunteer like that are often looking to “participate in the parish” on Sunday, and do whatever they want during the week. The ministry thing is usually either a conscience band-aid or a holiness-rush thing to fill the loneliness of modern life with some kind of emotion or activity. Seriously. People are not above fighting over these positions either, jockeying for power, etc, as silly as that sounds.

    It’d be better for people to flush the birth control pills down the toilet, help their kids with the homework and avoid kicking the dog. It’d be better if they let themselves be known publicly as Catholics too. Better in the temporal sense AND the spiritual sense. Seriously.

  29. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Athanasius: You claim that “all theologians” before Vatican II held Minor Orders to be of divine-apostolic origin, and that modernists claim the opposite. Well, I am not trying to be a modernist. My source for my thesis is the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia on “Minor Orders.” Here is the quote:
    Although several medieval theologians regarded minor orders as sacramental, this view is no longer held, for the fundamental reason that minor orders, also the subdiaconate, are not of Divine or Apostolic origin. The rites by which they are conferred are quite different from ordination to holy orders. Minor orders are conferred by the presentation to the candidate of the appropriate instruments, in accordance with the ritual given in the “Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua,” a document which originated in Gaul about the year 500. We do not know how even in Rome the porters and exorcists were ordained in former times. Lectors received a simple benediction; acolytes were created by handing them the linen bag in which they carried the Eucharist; subdeacons by the reception of the chalice.

    The quote above does not seem to agree with your assertions of the minor orders as sacramental either. Perhaps you can produce an authoritative document.

    catholicmidwest: I don’t believe that when lay people participate in apostolates, approved by the Church, their bishops, and their pastors, that they are trying to calm the pangs of conscience for using birth control and not being dedicated to their families. Perhaps that may happen in a few cases, but the sweeping generalization is just that–a sweeping generalization which may fit the laity you deal with, but not those I have had the privilege to work with. It also seems a bit “Miss Cleo, Psychic to the World” to presume to know people’s consciences.

  30. dominic1955 says:

    Fr. Sotelo,

    I do not think Athanasius is saying what you seem to think he’s saying. Forgive me if I misconstrue this, but it seems there must be a distinction between what is of divine origin and what is “apostolic tradition”. That Holy Orders were instituted by Christ is beyond debate. That the Minor Orders have existed for time immemorial, and maybe even back to apostolic times is not far fetched at all, though that is not the same as saying they were instituted by Christ himself as a Sacrament properly so-called. I know that in the Matins reading in the ’62 BR, one of the early Popes (one of Ss. Caius and Soter perhaps?) make mention of the Minor Orders and this was in the 2nd Century and spoken of as matter of fact.

    They would certainly be sacramental in the sense that a blessed scapular or some such is “sacramental”.

    The main point is that when Minor ordinations take place today, something has to happen. Simulation is sacrilege, the conferral of the Minor Orders certainly does *something*. The creation of a “sacramental” (in the lesser sense, not full blown Sacramental) cleric seems perfectly logical to me, even if they do not enjoy the canonical status of a cleric (i.e. incardination).

    Basically, it seems to me, that Pope Paul VI just replaced the clerical Minor Orders with “instituted” ministries. He didn’t “get rid of” them, just replaced them with something else-a most unfortunate move, I might add considering their antiquity. As most of us have probably read of, it always struck me odd that the Consilium folks would want to axe the Minor Orders since they are so old if what they *really* (and that’s the kicker, I doubt they really did…) wanted to go back to the pure, unsullied liturgical structure of the Early Church. Having “ministries” and “extraordinary” ministries allows laypeople (men and women) do things previously limited to deacons and priests. While the roles of minor clerics (i.e. altar serving) have routinely been deputized to laymen (usually boys), what they do is not properly and practically exclusively tied to the actual sacrament of Holy Orders. That said, it is properly ordered towards it. Thus, it is wholly unfitting to have women in the sanctuary as “deputized” ministrixes of ANYTHING whether that is acting as a lector, acolyte, etc. etc.

  31. Fr_Sotelo says:


    That ministries existed in the ancient Church for the liturgy and charity, exercised by laymen, is not disputed by me. What I dispute is that they were “orders” reserved for men in preparation for priestly ordination. If you have a patristic or ancient source to contradict me, I would like to hear it. As far as misunderstanding Athanasius, here is his quote: “All theologians held the minor orders to be divino-apostolic tradition prior to the council and to go back to the institution of the Apostles themselves.” I dispute that quote specifically because it is contradicted by the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia. When you make an assertion that something is divine tradition, instituted by God, or Apostolic tradition, and you have no source for this, well, yes, that does make it far fetched. Again, if I am wrong, is it asking too much for an actual source of Scripture or ancient authority of the Church to be cited? It is too easy to speak of immemorial traditions but, if say, Polycarp could be cited describing candidates being conferred porter on the way to the priesthood, that would go a long way in convincing me.

    Also, it is not consistent to speak of Minor Orders not being a sacrament, but a sacramental, and then, like Athanasius, using the term of “sacrilege” as if we are speaking of sacraments. You must know that “simulation” does not apply to a sacramental. Simulation is an action that refers to a sacrament, and the attempt to confect a sacrament by someone who has no ability to do so (a layman offering Mass) or attempting to confer it on someone who has no ability to receive it (a woman and Holy Orders). To be clear, once again, the Minor Orders, not being sacraments, cannot be the subject of a “simulation.” The Church does not “confect” the Minor Orders. The Minor Orders are a liturgical rite which establishes a mandate or mission to do some office, such as open and close church doors, read Scripture during Mass, lay hands and pray over the possessed, or assist at the altar.

    This mandate for a task and the conferral of grace for this is a sacramental is the spiritual dimension. This is an act of God in favor of the recipient mediated by the bishop. But there is also a canonical or juridical dimension that affected the recipient’s relationship to the Church. At one time, the Church by canonical legislation of the pope also attached the state, the rights, and the obligations of the clerical state to these orders–in addition to the spiritual mission which was entrusted to the recipient. What has changed is that the canonical status or the clerical state has been removed, an act fully within the competence of the Pope to carry out. What has not changed is that by virtue of the liturgical rite, a mandate or commission is still bestowed, with the grace to carry out the mandate of being a porter at the door, a lector or acolyte during Mass, or an exorcist for the deliverance of the possessed. Just because the Church does not confer the clerical state now does not mean that anything is being simulated. The very language of simulation does not belong to something which is not a sacrament, and it is completely out of line to accuse the Church of now committing sacrilege merely because the clerical state is not received until the diaconate. Clerical state or no, the Church has every right to pray the rites of minor orders over the seminarians so that they receive gradual graces on the way to Major Orders.

  32. Legisperitus says:

    @ AdOrientem – That’s a good point. Forgot about that little detail!

  33. wolfeken says:

    There are a lot of people here — both laymen and priests — who claim to know better than the entire Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter and all of the bishops who have been ordaining FSSP men with minor orders and the major order of subdeacon. And I haven’t even mentioned tonsure in the FSSP, which elevates FSSP seminarians to clergy — like it or not, tonsure is happening there and the official policy of the FSSP is to refer to these tonsured seminarians as clergy, including the benefits of sitting in choir and being incensed as clergy.

    I think these points ought to be asked of the bishops who are ordaining. Right now I just see a lot of people second guessing these good bishops, the FSSP, and the men being ordained. For the priests, I assume it’s because you did not receive tonsure, any of the four minor orders or the first major order, so there is perhaps jealousy. For the laymen, I don’t know what the opposition to the FSSP’s ordinations are if you recognize they have full authority to use all of the 1962 books.

    But the fact is several bishops are ordaining these men — opponents ought to flat-out ask them what authority they have if it bothers you so much.

  34. dominic1955 says:

    Fr. Sotelo,

    Well, in the Breviarium Romanum in the Matins lesson for Ss. Caius and Soter it says that Pope St. Caius decreed that the office of bishop should be reached through the orders of porter, reader, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon, deacon and priest and that he was martyred during the reign of Diocletian. It doesn’t say that these are exclusively reserved for preparation for the priesthood but that the Major Orders should be had after receiving the Minor ones.

    As to simulation, yes, that is true. Properly speaking, that only applies to sacraments. What I was getting at though is that when a bishop ordains men to the Minor Orders, certainly that happens. When I was in the seminary, I was a “fellow traveler” of the FSSP and none of them ever said or acted as if men were getting pretend “ordained” into the “instituted ministries” Paul VI came up with. There is a distinction in being ordained an acolyte and being instituted an acolyte, and I don’t think they are fully equivalent. Being instituted an acolyte basically gives you the mandate of the Church to do some task once or usually reserved for clerics. Being ordained an acolyte configures the person to the proper “ministry” of the acolyte. Certainly something is happening there and I will say that they really are ordained to the Minor Orders, not merely “instituted” in ministries in a fancy way.

  35. Fr_Sotelo says:

    dominic1955: “There is a distinction in being ordained an acolyte and being instituted an acolyte, and I don’t think they are fully equivalent.” I believe that you are incorrect. You cannot begin to use the language of “configuring” for a person’s soul, and the ontological change this would mean, without saying the Minor Orders are sacraments, which we agree they are not. When the Church was using the Minor Orders as part of the journey to the altar and the priesthood, it is understandable that we would have spoken of being “ordained” to these orders, even though it is not the most precise and careful use of the term “ordination.”

    Pope Paul VI realized this and changed the language to a more precise term, a term not used simultaneously for Major Orders and more proper to the conferral of a mission or ministry in the Church, which is “institute.” Since the Church was not actually ordaining in the proper sense of ordain, giving a sacrament, it was only appropriate to state what it is the Church is doing, which is instituting to an office of ministry. And even in the OF, this institution is for life, so we should not think of institution to a ministry as something to be taken lightly in the lay state.

    What we may be dancing around here gets back to what Fr. Z said so bluntly. There is no clerical state until the diaconate. Even for the FSSP, SSPX, Good Shepherd, ICK, or whatever group uses the EF rites for those in Major Seminary, “Ministeria Quaedam” retains operative force of law and has not been altered by a decree of the Roman Pontiff. That means, bluntly, that seminarians are receiving ministries, that these ministries are now given to the laity as well, and what a ministry does for the soul of a laymen and what it does for the soul of a seminarian is the same thing .

    Perhaps this is where something “sticks in my craw” and causes deep resentment for some traditionalists, that laity are now, in the entire global Catholic Church, allowed to receive what was once reserved for seminarians. Since some traditionalists see the Church in terms of “clerical elite” vs. “lay trash” who usurp and crash in where they do not belong, it is just too hard to wrap around our heads that this change which has happened. So we grasp and fish for some new, special langauge, or wish to hold onto the old terms, to satisfy ourselves that if a seminarian receives a Minor Order, he gets something spiritual which the laymen is undeserving of and has no business getting from God. But a seminarian can still be special and set apart without having to denigrate the “lay trash” once again and assign them some lower level of spiritual benefit even though the Church has returned to them ministries which in the ancient Church were received commonly by lay, married men.

Comments are closed.