Holy Orders in
Scripture

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’" (Matt. 16:18-19).   

Can a Priest be Married? 

 

As the Priest represents Christ who was unmarried ordinarily a Priest cannot be married.  There are certain instances where an Episcopalian Pastor or an Eastern Rite Priest could convert and become a Roman Catholic Priest. These instances are very rare.  If this where to happen it must be approved by a bishop and with the special  permission of the Pope.

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The Catholic Church's tradition of having Holy Orders is completely Biblical.  The Bible and history both show that the early Church contained Holy Orders within a Church hierarchy.  This hierarchy is a made up of a single person (the Pope) chosen to lead Jesus' flock.  Below the Pope we have Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and the lesser Orders.  As we find in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition Holy Orders are passed along through the authoritative structure that Jesus Himself set up.  Bishops and Priests are appointed!  As Catholics we get our authority from Jesus and we can trace this authority back to Jesus through apostolic succession and through the One True Church Jesus founded (The Catholic Church).

 

During the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther did away with the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  Most protestants churches today have followed in his tradition.  Keep in mind that there are some protestant churches that still have "bishops" but these "bishops" do not get their authority from Jesus so they are not real bishops.

Here are some verses in which Holy Orders occur:

“And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”  (Eph 4:11-12)

“and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  (1 Peter 2:5)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  (1 Peter 2:9)

“For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” (Heb 5:1)

“The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task.” (1Tim.3)

“For a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:7-9)

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae,” (Rom 16:1)

“for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim 3:13)

“For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”  (1 Tim 2:7) These positions require being appointed!  We cannot simply make ourselves a priest or bishop.

Something to think about:  From scripture it is clear that the early Church which Christ founded had priests, bishops, and other Holy Orders. Nowhere does the Bible say that these Holy Orders were ever done away
with.  So, since the Catholic Church has Holy Orders it's teaching on this is actually 100% Biblical.  Not to maintain these orders would contradict the Bible!

Holy Orders in the Church

 

Today the Church is spread throughout the world and it’s divided into dioceses. Dioceses are established by geographical  areas.  Each Diocese has a Bishop as its visible shepherd.  Some Bishops are called Archbishops who oversee larger more important areas which are called Archdioceses.  All bishops are under the authority of the Pope just as Jesus set it up with His apostles and Peter as their leader.  

 

As the early Church grew and spread some disciples were appointed as Priests and Deacons and they shared in some of the Bishops power and authority.   Priests are delegated by the Bishop to celebrate some of the sacraments.  Like the Bishop, Priests share in the priesthood of Christ, especially when they offer up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and forgive our sins. Each Priest is head of a Parish or even parishes. Priests also share in the teaching office.  Some Priests are given the honorary title of Monsignor.  Monsignor's typically assist the Bishop with other duties.  A Deacons role is to assist the bishop and they are usually assigned to a parish.   Unlike Priests deacons can be married.  A deacon is ordained by the bishop but cannot celebrate Mass.  Deacons can baptize, witness marriages and preach.  They can also visit the sick, counsel the bereaved, and do other works of mercy in the diocese.  

 

Some Priests and Bishops may be made Cardinals by the Pope with the job of electing a future Pope and being advisors to the Pope.  Most Cardinals are chosen from the Bishops of the church.  We call this group of Bishops the “College of Cardinals.”

The Roman Curia consists of administrative and judicial offices by which the Pope directs the Church.