Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/383

This page needs to be proofread.




laity, as in singing and serving at the altar. Formerly one entered the clergy by being appointed to discharge any of the functions reserved to ecclesiastics. Such functions were of two kinds. The liturgical ones con- stituted orders, though of a.lovver rank; by ordination the recipients of the minor orders received official authority to perform these functions. The other ecclesiastical functions were rather offices entrusted to clerics, whether ordained or not. Thus in the first centuries there figured in the ranks of the clergy no- taries, defensores ecclesiw, wconomi, catechists, cantors, fossores (for the cemeteries), etc., to say nothing of deaconesses. But these various offices did not con- stitute orders, and those who filled them formed part, of the clergy without having been ordained, like tonsured clerics and lay-brothers of to-day. As to the liturgical functions attached to the various minor or- ders, they are really but a participation, originally rather indefinite, in the liturgical ministry formerly confided entirely to the deacons. This explains why minor orders differ in the Latin Church and in the various Eastern Churches.

In the East, though at an early date we hear of por- ters and exorcists (never of acolytes), after the Trullan Synod in 692, in accordance with its sixth canon, only lectors and cantors are known, and often even these orders coalesce, or are conferred at the same time ; the three other minor orders of the Latin Church (porter, exorcist, acolyte) are held to be included in the sub- diaconate. In the, moreover, the subdiaconate has remained a minor order ; in the West it was grad- ually detached from the minor orders, on account of its higher liturgical functions and also because of the vow of celibacy it called for. Finally, Innocent III definitively included it in the major orders, and made the subfleacon, as well as the deacon and priest, eligi- ble for the episcopate (c. 9, " De aetate et qualit. ", I, tit. 14, an. 1207). There are, then, in the Western Church four minor orders: porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte ; the cantors merely exercise an office and are not an order. These four orders are all mentioned about the year 252 in the famous letter of Pope Cor- nelius to Fabius of Antioch (Euseb.. Hist. Eccl. ", I, vi, 43) : " He (Novatian) knew that there were in this Church (of Rome) 46 priests, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, 42 acolytes, and 52 exorcists, lectors, and porters." This quotation shows that besides the acolytes, who were enumerated separately and were at Rome almost assimilated with the subdeacons, there was a kind of indefinite class formed by the clerics of the three latter orders. This seems to indicate that all clerics did not necessarily pass through the four lower orders; as a matter of fact the Council of Sardica (can. xiii) men- tions only the lectorate as obligatory before receiving the diaconate. Pope Siricius (Ad Himerium, nn. 9-10) and Pope Zosimus (Ad Hesychium, nn. 1 and 3) describe for us the ordinary career of Roman clerics: from boyhood or youth they are lectors; about the age of twenty, acolytes or subdeacons; who enter the clergy when already grown up are first exorcists or lectors, after a certain time acolytes or subdeacons. Briefly, it appears that the obligation of receiving all the minor orders without exception is a law dating from the time when the minor orders ceased to be exercised in the original way. Moreover, there is no longer any fixed age at which the minor orders may be received. Canon law is silent on the subject. Canonists, including Benedict XIV (Consti- tution, "Eo quamvis", 4 May, 1745), admit that minor orders may be conferred not only on those who have reached the age of puberty, but on boys over seven years. In fact, minor orders are usually conferred on ecclesia,stical students during their seminary studies. The Council of Trent requires merely that the candi- dates understand Latin (Sess. XXIII, c. xii).

Although several medieval theologians regarded minor orders as sacramental, this opinion is no longer

held, for the fundamental reason that minor orders, also the subdiaconate, are not of Divine or Apostolic origin. The rites by which they are conferred are quite different from ordination to holy orders. Minor orders are conferred by the presentation to the can- didate of the appropriate instruments, in accord- ance with the ritual given in the "Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua", a document which originated in Gaul about the year 500. We do not know how even in Rome the porters and exorcists were ordained in former times. Lectors received a simple benediction; acolytes were created by handing them the linen bag in which they carried the Eucharist ; subdeacons by the reception of the chalice. Moreover, while deacons and priests could be ordained only on the four Ember Saturdays and on two Saturdays in Lent, minor orders could be conferred on any day. Even at the present time the latter may be conferred, apart from general ordina- tions, on all Simdays and on Holy Days of obligation, not necessarily at Slass. The usual minister of these orders, as of the others, is a bishop; but regular abbots who have received episcopal benediction may give the tonsure and minor orders to their subjects in religion. By papal privilege several prelates Nulliu^ (i. e., ex- empt) can conferthese orders. It is an almost universal custom now to confer the four minor orders at one time, and the Council of Trent (loc. cit.) leaves the bishop quite free to dispense with the interstices

Clerics in minor orders enjoy all ecclesiastical privi- leges. They may be nominated to all benefices not major, but must receive within a year the major orders necessary for certain benefices. On the other hand, they are not bound to celibacy, and may lawfully marry. Marriage, however, causes them at once to forfeit every benefice. Formerly it did not exclude them from the ranks of the clergy, and they retained all clerical privileges, provided they contracted only one marriage and that with a virgin, and wore clerical costume and the tonsure (c. miic, "de cler. conjug. " in VP) ; they might even be appointed to the service of a church by the bishop (Cone. Trid., Sess XXIII, c. vi). This earlier discipline, however, is no longer in accordance with modern custom and law. A minor cleric who marries is regarded as having for- feited his clerical privileges. (SeeORDEHs; Acolyte; Exorcist; Lector; Porter; Subdeacon; Abbot; Tonsure.)

Many. Pralect. de sacra ordinatione (Paris. 1905). 29, 127, 265, etc.; Gasp.\rri. De sacra ordinatione (Paris, 1893); Ferraris, Prompta bibliothcca, s. v. Ordo. See also commentaries pf various canonists on the Decretals, De clericis conjugatis, I, tit. 11-14; III, tit. 3.


Minsk, Diocese OF (Minscensis), suffragan of Mo- hilefT, in Western Russia. The city of Minsk is situ- ated on the Swislotsch, a tributary of tlie Beresina, which, again, flows into the Dnieper. In 1879 it num- bered 91 ,500 inhabitants, of whom 27,280 were Catho- lics. It is the nominal see of a Roman Catholic, a Gripco-Ruthenian Uniat, and a Russian Orthodox bishop, .'^fter the suppression of the Sees of Smo- lensk and Livland, Catherine II sought and obtained from the pope the establishment of the metropolitan See of Mohilew, at the same time arbitrarily abolishing the See of Kieff. To make amends for this sup- pression, Paul I, with the concurrence of Pius VI, established, 17 Nov., 1798, the Latin Seeof Minsk, and placed it under the Metropolitan of Mohileff. The first liishop was .lacob Ignatius Dederko, fonnerly a canon of Wilna (d. 1829). After his resignation (1816), the see remained vacant until 1831. In 1839 Pope Gregory XVI appointed Mathias Lipski, after whose death the see again remained for some time without an occupant, the pope and the Russian Gov- ernment being unable to agree as to a successor. Like the other dioceses of Western Russia and of Poland,