Papal Bulls: Power to confirm and ordain given to priests at ordination?


Pope Boniface the IX addressed a bull to the Abbot of the Augustinian Canons of Saint-Osith in the diocese of London in the year 1440 and Pope Martin V to the Cistercian Abbot of Altzelle in Saxozny giving them the authority to ordain to the priesthood. (Galot) The priest missionaries given that they were going to unknown lands were also given the power to ordain and confirm.

Does this mean that the power to confirm and ordain are given to priests at ordination but are restrained and can only be valid if unrestrained by a Pope?


That is true for confirmation. The Latin Code requires that priests obtain a “faculty” in order to confirm. In the East, priests can confirm without any grant/need/notion of such a faculty. Both East and West priests have the same power of order to confirm. It is restricted in the West.

Ordination–apparently so, too. The 1917 Code of canon law specifically mentioned the possibility of “extraordinary ministers” of ordination who were not bishops (canon 951). While the 1983 Code does not speak of ordinary/extraordinary ministers, it does *not *say Bishops are the only ministers of ordination. Even today, then, the Pope could grant this special faculty to a presbyter. I don’t see why it would ever be necessary these days, given the mobility and quantity of bishops.



The seven sacraments—Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick - so Holy Orders is one Sacrament. Is the sacrament of Holy Orders split? Is it considered a Sacrament when a bishop is empowered? When a bishop is empowered is what is happening a lifting of the restriction and an additional empowerment to teach and govern which can only be given by bishops (or those who do not have restrictions to ordain and confirm)? What about the Cardinals, how is it that they are empowered to elect the Pope?


I understand your confusion. This came up in discussion at seminary. There are 2 main theological opinions. 1: that when you are ordained a Priest, you have the fullness of Holy Orders and consecration of Bishops is simply a matter of Jurisdiction. 2: Bishops have the fullness of Holy Orders and they actually receive an Ordination, not just an elevation or consecration.

It appears that the Vatican II documents point to the 2nd opinion. Also, there is the view that the Pope, in the Bull you cited, was speaking of the minor orders. There is only one other instance of this confusion from a Papal Bull.

At this point, I would think it safe to believe the 2nd opinion and NOT the first. Why? Because then we get into the issues of illicit Priests ordaining other Priests. We have enough issues with illicit Bishops doing this.

I hope this helps.


Thank you, Dan.

And priests obtain a ‘faculty’ from their bishop or the Pope? I take it a ‘faculty’ is written permission, right?

And, extraordinary ministers could ordain on their own, this does not mean that they participated in the ceremony with the bishops, right?

When a priests is made bishop by bishops, what is this considered? Is it still considered a sacrament as part of or another level of the sacrament of Orders? How about the Cardinals, what happens there?


Oh, seminary. May God bless you.

Spiritually they are stronger, so, they receive something. Maybe the teaching and governance empowerment? It would explain their superior spiritual strength. It maybe that the rest is given to priests at ordination but they are not allowed to use without permission from the Pope or to be made bishops.

Which is?
What do you mean by minor orders?

Well, I would add to number 1; teaching and governance along with jurisdiction. I am lean towards number one with the additions based on what I have been reading.

Well, that is neither here nor there . I can see wanting to obscure the truth so people would not take advantage or misuse what they have been given but, people will sin anyway. I am certainty not going to pretend that untruth is truth

Yes, thank you.


In the history of the Church there were both minor and major orders. They are (in order)Tonsure, Porter, Lector, Exorcist, Acolyte, (<- minor) Sub-Deacon, Deacon, Priest (<-major).

Besides Tonsure, ALL of them were and are (the Ecclesia Dei communities still have them, i.e. the communities attached to the Extraordinary Form) considered o/Ordinations. This is where the confusion comes from when reading the papal bull because it does not specify. Many historians (I believe) believe that the Pope was speaking of the minor orders. Even today Priests (such as Abbots) are permitted in some communities to do some of the minor orders (such as the Wyoming Carmelite monks and Tonsure).

I don’t know the other article of confusion off hand. But please read what I have provided below.

The ordinary minister of the sacrament is the bishop, who alone has this power in virtue of his ordination. Holy Scripture attributed the power to the Apostles and their successors (Acts 6:6; 16:22; 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Timothy 1:6; Titus 1:5), and the Fathers and councils ascribe the power to the bishop exclusively. First Council of Nicaea (Canon 4) and Apostolic Constitutions VIII.28 — “A bishop lays on hands, ordains. . .a presbyter lays on hands, but does not ordain.” A council held at Alexandria (340) declared the orders conferred by Caluthus, a presbyter, null and void (Athanas., “Apol. contra Arianos”, ii). For the custom said to have existed in the Church of Alexandria see EGYPT. Nor can objection be raised from the fact that chorepiscopi are known to have ordained priests, as there can be no doubt that some chorepiscopi were in bishops’ orders (Gillman, “Das Institut der Chorbischöfe im Orient,” Munich, 1903; Hefele-Leclercq, “Conciles”, II, 1197-1237). No one but a bishop can give any orders now without a delegation from the pope, but a simple priest may be thus authorized to confer minor orders and the subdiaconate. It is generally denied that priests can confer priests’ orders, and history, certainly, records no instance of the exercise of such extraordinary ministry. The diaconate cannot be conferred by a simple priest, according to the majority of theologians. This is sometimes questioned, as Innocent VIII is said to have granted the privilege to Cistercian abbots (1489), but the genuineness of the concession is very doubtful.

Again, I hope this helps.



Thank you for your response. What Papal Bull are you referring to?


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