Sacrament of Holy Orders


#1

A sacrament is a visible sign that effects what it signifies. All sacraments were instituted by Christ. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, there is a threefold hierarchy of ministers: deacons, priests and bishops. Confusingly, some people even Catholics believe that this threefold hierarchy did not distinctly exist during the apostle’s time in the sense that the terms for bishops and priests were often interchanged. If this is the case, is the threefold hierarchy in Holy Orders a divine mandate by Christ?


#2

It was my understanding that the priesthood as we know it took several centuries to develop, as an extension of the bishop’s authority, and that in Apostolic times the hierarchical divisions were twofold, bishop/elder and deacon.


#3

I could be very wrong. Please correct if indeed I am. But I beleive this is correct. As Christianity spread to become the official state religion of Rome, and as, after Diocletian, the Church organized locally in dioceses, Bishops, who had the fullness of orders, gradually allowed deacons more sacramental dispensations, until it become normalized that some could licitly celebrate certain more sacraments than others, this distinction normalized into the three-tier structure of bishop, priest, deacon. When Jesus instituted the priesthood in the order of Melchizedek (w/ bread and wine) at the last supper, the word priesthood applied to the character of priest, which, in varying decrees, is held by bishops, priests, and deacons.

So I guess you could say, instituted by Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit.


#4

The sacrament, and the ministry that is performed by clerics, is clearly initiated by Christ. The administration of the sacrament of orders, and the distribution of the ministries, is not only Scripturally attested, but falls well within the duties and responsibilities of the Church.


#5

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.