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Author Topic: What are the different 'ranks' of Clergy?  (Read 5526 times) Average Rating: 0
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Pilgrim
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« on: September 02, 2009, 03:09:50 PM »

OK in the oRthodox Church, there are sub-Deacons, Proto-Presbyters, heiromonks, (And for the Coptics out there, Deaconess) etc etc etc. A whole lot of ranks I've never heard of. Can someone explain or give a resource that explains the different ranks of cle rgy in the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 03:24:37 PM »

In the Chalcedonian Churches, the ordained orders currently in use (in ascending order of rank) are that of Reader, Subdeacon, Deacon, Priest or Presbyter, and Bishop. Readers and Subdeacons are so-called "minor orders", the others "major orders".  There used to be other minor orders, such as Doorkeeper and Chanter, but these have largely fallen into disuse.  The minor order of Taper-bearer has been subsumed by that of the Reader.  One cannot exclude the female diaconate from this list:  although it disappeared completely for a time, there are a small number of female deacons (or deaconesses) active today in the EO Church.  It should be remembered, however, that while the female diaconate and the male diaconate are usually considered to together form a united order (the diaconate is more often considered to be one, not two) deaconesses do not have much of a liturgical role to play.

One should be careful about speaking about which order is more  senior than another (even though this is of course a perfectly legitimate distinction to make), since each order, especially when speaking of the major orders, is considered "full and equal".  That is to say, they all have their function in the body of the Church and together with the laity manifest the Church in its fulness in each local community.

Titles of function and honour given to clergy can make things pretty confusing for those not familiar with such things.  A hieromonk or priest monk is a monk who is a priest.  A hierodeacon or monk deacon is a deacon who is a monk.  "Archpriest" is a title of honour given to a married priest.  "Protodeacon" is a title of honour given to a married deacon.  "Hegoumen" and "Archimandrite" (Archimandrite being higher) might be titles of honour given to priest monks, or they might denote genuine authority as an abbot in a monastic setting.  "Archdeacon" is a title of honour given to a monk deacon.  Some jurisdictions bestow the mitre usually worn by bishops on certain senior Archpriests.  All of this can be confusing, because Slavs, Greeks, Romanians, Antiochians etc. might have these titles and more,and have them mean different things.

I believe non-Chalcedonian Churches have evolved in a slightly different way when it comes to Holy Orders.  Posters from these Traditions will have to answer your questions about their ordained ministries.
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 03:45:12 PM »

OK in the oRthodox Church, there are sub-Deacons, Proto-Presbyters, heiromonks, (And for the Coptics out there, Deaconess) etc etc etc. A whole lot of ranks I've never heard of. Can someone explain or give a resource that explains the different ranks of cle rgy in the Orthodox Church.

Pravoslavbob addressed he main thrust of your question, so I'll just cover a second aspect.

The ranks of "Protopresbyter," "Archimandrite," "Archdeacon," "Metropolitan," "Archbishop," and "Patriarch" are administrative titles, not ranks of clergy (which are, as pointed out above, "Reader," "Subdeacon," "Deacon," "Priest/Presbyter" and "Bishop").  They represent either an older (out of use) or current administrative significance to the person:

- Metropolitans being the bishops of large cities, heading synods with their country-bishops.
- Archbishops being the bishops of Important citices, heading synods with other Metropolitans.
- Patriarchs being the Primates of autocephalous Churches (along with Archbishops) - thus presiding over the Patriarchal/Archdiocesan Synods.
- Archdeacons being the senior deacon of the diocese (usually assisting the bishop)
- Archimandrites being Abbots who are the administrators of one or more local Monasteries on behalf of the bishop (this function is out of use currently).
- Protopresbyter being the president of the presbyters of the parish or diocese (this function is out of use currently).
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2009, 03:47:42 PM »

... as well as Bishops, Archbishops and the responsibilities and 'roles' that they all perform?   Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2009, 03:57:37 PM »

Protopresbyter being the president of the presbyters of the parish or diocese (this function is out of use currently).

This title is currently in use in Slavic jurisdictions as a title of great honour.  I think there are only one or two protopresbyters in the OCA right now (Fr Thomas Hopko being one).  In fact, when one looks at it, it appears as if the OCA almost purposefully reserves this title for just one priest in the whole jurisdiction.
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2009, 06:23:17 PM »

Protopresbyter being the president of the presbyters of the parish or diocese (this function is out of use currently).

This title is currently in use in Slavic jurisdictions as a title of great honour.  I think there are only one or two protopresbyters in the OCA right now (Fr Thomas Hopko being one).  In fact, when one looks at it, it appears as if the OCA almost purposefully reserves this title for just one priest in the whole jurisdiction.

The title is in use in the GOA too -- I know three Protopresbyters -- but the duties of the original office are no longer extant. That was cleveland's point.

More generally, we should distinguish between orders of the clergy and offikia (offices). An order corresponds to actual rite of "ordination" (hence the name ordination...it's to an order), e.g. to sub-deacon or priest. Whereas other things (e.g. economos) are offikia, i.e. offices or duties that would be given to certain clergy, e.g. hearing confessions, managing finances, being the president of the presbyters, etc.
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2009, 12:44:34 AM »

- Protopresbyter being the president of the presbyters of the parish or diocese (this function is out of use currently).

Fr. Paul O'Callaghan down in Wichita is President of the Council of Presbyters for DOWAMA and is called Protopresbyter, at least to my knowledge.
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2009, 02:14:32 AM »

These days, in the GOAA, after 25 years in the priestly order, priests tend to be accorded the "official title" of Protopresbyter.  This title may also be accorded to a priest upon a significant accomplishment, like being the presiding priest when a church is Consecrated. In Greek practice, the title "Archpriest" does not exist, as, translated into Greek, it is a reference to Christ; "Grand Archpriest" is the title surrounding the medallion style Icon of the crowned Christ on the Bishop's Throne in my parish.

But, to clarify previous posts above, there are three orders: diaconate, priest, and bishop.  The others titles are either (honorary) "official titles," or are administrative titles.
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2009, 02:50:32 AM »

Apologies.
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2009, 03:02:52 AM »

- Patriarchs being the Primates of autocephalous Churches (along with Archbishops) - thus presiding over the Patriarchal/Archdiocesan Synods.

And Metropolitans.

Titles such as Archimandrite or Protopresbyter are clergy awards.

At CoP Priest starts with silver cross: he can be awarded: golden cross, then skuphois, then kamilavka, then nabedrennik, the the rank of Protoierei, the mitre, then golden cross with decorations, then the rank of Protopresbyter, then the second one cross, then the rank of Archpresbyter. I coul messed it a bit, but it's something like this.

Diacons can be awarded with: the rank of  Protodiacon, the rank of Archidiacon, the second one orarion, and the kamilavka but I don't know the order.

Archimandrite is on the same level as Mitrate to non-married Priests and Monks. Igumen means Abbot - only a function.
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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2009, 09:36:28 PM »

OK in the oRthodox Church, there are sub-Deacons, Proto-Presbyters, heiromonks, (And for the Coptics out there, Deaconess) etc etc etc. A whole lot of ranks I've never heard of. Can someone explain or give a resource that explains the different ranks of cle rgy in the Orthodox Church.

As already stated, but in reverse order, the following are the basic orders of the Orthodox Church:

Major orders: 

Bishop (Hierarch):   This would include all Patriarchs, Metropolitans, Archbishops, and Bishops.   The various titles are given for distinction in service (as Scripture says, let those of senior rank who rule well be counted worthy of double honor). 

Presbyter (Priest):  This would include all Protopresbyters, Protopriests (protohierei, although in some places translated into english archpriest), and Priests.   

Deacon:  This includes all Archdeacons, Protodeacons, and Deacons

Minor Orders:   Subdeacon, Reader

Now, with the different titles given to presbyters the titles given above generally reflect years of service.    However, there are also titles that reflect administrative office:   The chancellor (protosyngelos) is the senior priest in a diocese.    There are also subdivided regions of a diocese.   These are often termed "deaneries."  They are headed by a priest who in some diocese is given the title "Dean" and in some "Vicar" (Proestos).  The head priest in a parish is given the title "Rector" or "Pastor" (in Greek proistamenos, in slavonic nastoyatel).   
   
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« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2009, 10:28:19 PM »

Fr. Paul O'Callaghan down in Wichita is President of the Council of Presbyters for DOWAMA and is called Protopresbyter, at least to my knowledge.

I'm curious if his title of Protopresbyter was given b/c of that distinct office, or if he merely prefers the Greek word "protopresbyter" over the English word "archpriest". Most Antiochian clergy I know are given the offikion of archpriest after 10 years of service. They are all protopresybters (unless the Antiochians have adopted a hybrid Byzantine-Russian classification system?).

Nowadays, in the U.S., length of service seems to be the most typical factor in determining offikia. For a long time, in most Orthodox settings, the single most important factor was one's level of education. Even today, it's not unheard of in other countries for a priest to be made a protopresbyter upon receiving his doctorate.

In Greece, that sort of thing is codified in the ecclesiastical sections of the civil law and is tied to one's state-sponsored salary. Married, uneducated clergy can never receive any of the higher offices; if you're a village priest who went to ecclesiastical high school, then your title and salary are capped. Once you go to University, it's a different matter. Advanced degrees are even better. Similar tendencies exist in Romania, but it's obviously not as codified. I imagine it's similar throughout the Balkans. Educated clergy were extremely valuable during the Turkokrateia.

For many years, the Russians took this kind of thing to the extreme, especially b/c of their clerical caste system. Sons of priests and deacons were legally required to go to ecclesiastical junior high school (and it was very rare for a boy from a non-priestly family to be admitted; sometimes the Bishop would allow the son of a sub-deacon or reader to go). Physical conditions were often austere and corporeal punishment harsh. If you couldn't hack it, you might languish as a mere reader, or, if you at least had somewhat of a voice, you'd be married to the third daughter of a village clergyman and made a deacon with basically no salary. But if you were a good student, you'd be sent for higher education and be destined for the higher orders and offices. Because of this system, Russia actually had a massive surplus of clergy until the latter part of the 19th century. That's one reason why you read about Russian Bishops of the time traveling with an entourage of 2 priests, 4 deacons, 2 sub-deacons and several readers.
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2009, 06:35:45 PM »

I know one funny and true story about the differences between Greek/Slavic clergy awards.

More-or-less 20 year ago Patriarch Demetrius was visiting Warsaw. I was told that in Greek tradition only Church's Primates are allowed to wear mitres during the service so the Greek Bishops, who was accompanying him did not have their ones. They tolerated our Polish Bishops in theirs but when approximately 10 mitred Archpriests enterred the sanctuary they finally got nervous.

One of the Greek Bishops called one of the Polish Priests and told him: Do you know, who is he? He's the Patriarch of Constantinople. Tell them to take THAT THINGS off!

Unfortunately it was a newly-ordained Priest and he was too humble to ask his older colleagues to do it.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2009, 06:37:28 PM by mike » Logged

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