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Chapter 20. Holy Orders • 267

the imposition of hands that has come down from the apostles. They

would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be

made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate”

(AG, 16, no. 6).

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Latin Church has restored the

diaconate as a permanent rank of the hierarchy. Now, diaconate as a

permanent office may also be conferred on both married and unmarried

men. The Eastern Churches have always retained it. Seminarians prepar-

ing for priesthood have always been ordained to the diaconate before

ordination to priesthood.


The essential rite of the sacrament of Holy Orders for

all three degrees consists in the bishop’s imposition of

hands on the head of the ordinand and in the bishop’s

specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpour-

ing of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry

to which the candidate is being ordained.

—CCC, no. 1573

The additional rites surrounding this core ordination rite vary greatly

among differing liturgical traditions, but all have in common the expres-

sion of aspects of sacramental grace. The only valid minister of ordina-

tion is a bishop. Now ascended to the Father, Christ continues to guide

the Church through the bishops, who confer this Sacrament of apostolic

ministry and hand on the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Only a baptized man may be ordained in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Jesus Christ chose men to become part of the Twelve. Throughout his

ministry, his attitude toward women was different from the culture, and

he courageously broke with it. For example, he did not hesitate to speak

with the Samaritan woman even though custom forbade it (cf. Jn 4:4-