| Year 2009 Canonical Studies
(Fr. Mathew Kochupurackal)
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The word ‘order’ in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordination means incorporation into an ordo. Since ancient times, tradition has named certain established bodies in the Church. They were called taxies or ordines. And so the liturgy speaks of the ordo episcoporum, ordo presbterorum and ordo diaconorum. Other groups also receive the name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows, etc. Integration into one of those bodies in the Church was accomplished by a rite called ordinatio, a religious and liturgical act which was a consecration, a blessing or a sacrament.

Today the word ordinatio is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons, and goes beyond a simple election, designation, or institution by the community, of it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a sacred power (potestas sacra) which can come only from Christ himself through his Church. Ordination is called consecratio, for it is a setting apart and an investiture by Christ himself for his Church. They laying of hands by the bishop, with the consecratory prayer, constitutes the visible sign of this ordination (Catechism of the Catholic Church (hereafter CCC) nos. 1537 – 1538).

The Latin code c. 1008 reads as follows: “By divine institution some among Christ’s faithful are, through the sacrament of order, marked with an indelible character and are thus constituted sacred ministers; thereby they are consecrated and deputed so that, each according to his own grade, they fulfil, in the person of Christ the Head, the offices of teaching, sanctifying and ruling, and so they nourish the people of God.”

The Eastern code c. 743 makes a more direct reference to the apostolic character of orders, “Through sacramental ordination celebrated by a bishop in virtue of the working of the Holy Spirit, sacred ministers are constituted, who are endowed with the function and power the Lord granted to his apostles, and in varying degrees share in the proclamation of the gospel, shepherding and sanctifying the people of God”.

The formulation of the Eastern canon is inspired by the oriental patristic theology. It has a pneumatological dimension and reflects the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. The sacred ministers re first and foremost Christ’s faithful ‘who are incorporated as they are into Christ through baptism and are constituted the people of God; and so, participating in their own way in the priestly, prophetic and royal function of Christ, and are called, each according to his condition, to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfil in the world” (c. 7§1). Those of the faithful who are marked by holy order are

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