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Minister (Catholic Church)

In the Catholic Church, the term minister refers to the person, whether lay or ordained, who is commissioned to perform some work on behalf of the Church. The term minister is not commonly used to refer to a member of the clergy, nor as a common term of address. While this, the longstanding Christian tradition, it is unlike the usage of the term in many Protestant churches that developed its clerical meaning in order to avoid the use of term "priest." There are two principle kinds of ministers, the general and the sacramental. Specific distinction in terminology may be found in various documents, among others: Participation of the Lay Faithful in the Presbyteral Ministry.[1]

General Sense

In the general sense, A minister performs any of a wide array of services in the church: such as a Youth Minister (an age-specific religious ministry) or a Minister of Religious Education. In some parishes of the Catholic Church in the United States there are ministers of hospitality, music ministers, etc. There are also lectors who read scriptural passages to the congregation, altar servers and acolytes who assist the clergy at the altar, cantors who lead the singing and ushers who direct the seating and procession of the congregation. These are all called lay ministers or liturgical ministers. They are lay persons; they are not ordained, nor are the word minister used as a form of address in speaking to them. In the United States, and to a lesser extent in other countries, Catholic deacons, priests, and bishops are sometimes called ordained ministers

Sacramental Sense

In the Catholic parlance, the other kind of minister is a person who ministers a sacrament. This means that he or she is a conduit of the sacramental power. This is not an office or position, but instead a function that different kinds of people may perform, depending on the sacrament. There are two kinds of ministers in this sacramental sense (ordinary minister and extraordinary minister). The ordinary minister of a sacrament has both the spiritual power to perform the sacrament (i.e. a valid sacrament) and the legal authority to perform the sacrament (i.e. a licit sacrament). An extraordinary minister (Latin: minister extraordinarius) has the spiritual power, but may only perform the sacrament in certain special instances under canon law (i.e. emergencies). If an extraordinary minister performs a sacrament illegally, the sacrament still happens, but the person ministering could be liable for an ecclesiastical penalty, such as the interdict. If a person who is neither an ordinary nor an extraordinary minister attempts to perform a sacrament, no preternatural effect happens, (i.e., the putative sacrament is not merely illicit, but invalid).

Note: It is the Vatican that has said that the Orthodox share the Catholic Faith and are separated sister Catholic Churches. The Envoy Magizine article about Archbishop Cooper is misleading. The terms Orthodox Catholic and Orthodox Christian are synonomous. There are independent Western Rite Orthodox jurisdictions all over the world. Archbishop Cooper's Order does NOT have gay or women priests.

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