Another thread laments some of the changes that have occured within the church. The scope of the thread is far too broad to facilitate effective discussion (there’s enough there for a dozen threads). But one aspect of the post that seems to have generated the most feedback is the suppression of the “minor orders” (acolyte, lector, porter, and exorcist). I wanted to open a thread here to discuss this topic.
Minor orders were a *ceremonial* recognition of a man’s progress through his seminary training. They were NOT Sacramental, and they did NOT confer any spiritual privileges (and, historically, they could be bestowed upon laypeople, as the are today, in *de facto* fashion, in the case of acolyte and lector). This is why Pope Paul VI (rightly, IMHO) regarded them as superfluous and suppressed them. Nobody seems to mind about the first three, but suppression of the “exorcist” minor order is controversial. People seem to believe that the Church no longer has exorcists. This is **NOT **true. However, present Canon Law requires that anyone performing the ministry of exorcism be at least a priest and operate only with the expressed consent of his Ordinary (Bishop): *No one may lawfully exorcise the possessed without the special and express permission of the local Ordinary… This permission is to be granted by the local Ordinary only to a priest endowed with piety, prudence, and integrity of life (Canon 1172).* Any priest may be an exorcist, regardless of whether he has received this so-called minor order, provided he has his Bishop’s permission. So-called "minor orders" have NOTHING to do with the Church's ministry of exorcism.