BISHOP. A successor of the Apostles who has received the fullness of Christ’s priesthood. His most distinctive power, that of ordaining priests and other bishops, belongs uniquely to a bishop. Moreover, m spite of some disputed cases in history, it is highly probable that a priest would not be authorized by the Holy See to ordain another priest. A priest certainly cannot consecrate a bishop.
In the ordination of a bishop the “matter” is the imposition of hands on the head of the bishop-elect by the consecrating bishops, or at least by the principal consecrator, which is done in silence before the consecratory prayer; the “form” consists of the words of the consecratory prayer, of which the following pertains to the essence of the order, and therefore are required for the validity of the act: “Now pour out upon this chosen one that power which flows from you, the perfect Spirit whom He gave to the apostles, who established the Church in every place as the sanctuary where your name would always be praised and glorified.” (Etym. Greek episkopos , a bishop, literally, overseer.)
PRIEST. An authorized mediator who offers a true sacrifice in acknowledgment of God’s supreme dominion over human beings and in expiation for their sins. A priest’s mediation is the reverse of that of a prophet, who communicates from God to the people. A priest mediates from the people to God.
Christ, who is God and man, is the first, last, and greatest priest of the New Law. He is the eternal high priest who offered himself once and for all on the Cross, a victim of infinite value, and he continually renews that sacrifice on the altar through the ministry of the Church.
Within the Church are men who are specially ordained as priests to consecrate and offer the body and blood of Christ in the Mass. The Apostles were the first ordained priests, when on Holy Thursday night Christ told them to do in his memory what he had just done at the Last Supper. All priests and bishops trace their ordination to the Apostles. Their second essential priestly power, to forgive sins, was conferred by Christ on Easter Sunday, when he told the Apostles, “For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (John 20-22, 23).
All the Christian faithful, however, also share in the priesthood by their baptismal character.
DEACON. A man specially ordained to the service of the Church’s ministry. In the ordination of deacons the “matter” is the imposition of a bishop’s hands on individual candidates, which is done before the consecratory prayer; the “form” consists of the words of the consecratory prayer, of which the following pertain to the essence of the order and therefore are required for the validity of the act: The role of deacons is to assist priests in preaching, the conferral of baptism, performance of marriage, the administration of parishes, and similar duties. (Etym. Latin diaconus ; from Greek diakonos ; a servant, a deacon.)
Fr. Hardons Catholic Dictionary