Holy Orders/Bishops

Is the episcopacy a separate level of Holy Orders in addition to the diaconate & priesthood?
I thought I heard someone state that recently on CA radio but didn’t really catch it – I had always assumed a bishop is a priest elevated to a special office.

The Episcopacy is the fullness of Holy Orders. The Sacrament has three “levels” (for lack of a better term). A Bishop enjoys the fullness of the Sacrament.

Yes. Pakesh’s answer is correct.

That’s true for the various grades of “monsignor” but not the episcopate.

The sacrament of Holy Orders is received only once, in that a man is removed from the lay state and moved into the clerical state upon being ordained a deacon. However, there are three degrees of Holy Orders, in which the function of the ordained man changes. The three degrees of Holy Orders are diaconate (deacon), presbyterate (priest), and espiscopal (bishop).

A priest can be given the title of Monsignor. This is a title only, not another degree of Holy Orders. Likewise, a bishop can be named a Cardinal, who is an official of the Church; it is not another degree of Holy Orders.

The function of deacons is to assist the bishop and priests; priests and bishops are in the ministerial priesthood and the priest is the co-worker of the bishop and gives his obedience to the bishop. The bishop has the fullness of the ministry of the priesthood.

This was a longstanding question in the Catholic Church, but it was finally resolved in Vatican II (LG 21) that the episcopacy is a separate level of Holy Orders.

Thanks for the answers – interesting what you still learn.

I wonder why it was never declared/clarified until V2 – the whole “collegiality” thing maybe?

[quote=didymus;6568570I wonder why it was never declared/clarified until V2 – the whole “collegiality” thing maybe?
[/QUOTE]

It wasn’t. It was known and clear from the start. Bishops were first. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

St. Thomas Aquinas considered the question, but came to the conclusion that bishops did not possess a higher level of the sacrament.

Settling the matter now raises some uncomfortable questions, for example, how were priests in the middle ages sometimes given the authority to perform ordinations (back when the prevailing wisdom was that the episcopacy wasn’t a separate level of Holy Orders).

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