Secular clergy

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The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious order.

Roman Catholic Church

In the Roman Catholic Church, the secular clergy are ministers, such as deacons and priests, who do not belong to a religious order. While regular clergy take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and place themselves under a monastic rule (regulum), secular clergy do not take vows, and they live in the world (saeculum). They are still bound to Canon law, which for Latin Rite priests means that they are bound to obligations of celibacy and obedience. Like regular clergy, secular clergy are also bound to the recitation of the Divine Office.

Secular priests were allowed to marry till the year 1139 when the Second Lateran Council enacted a universal church law that prohibited all priests from contracting marriages. The law of clerical celibacy is not a divine law but a church law that can be rescinded by a pope and an ecumenical council.

A number of intra-Church conflicts have occurred due to the tensions between regular and secular clergy. The secular clergy, in which the hierarchy essentially resides, always takes precedence of the regular clergy of equal rank; the latter is not essential to the Church nor can it subsist by itself, being dependent on bishops for ordination.

One of the roots of the Philippine Revolution was the agitation of native secular priests for parish assignments. The powerful religious orders were given preferential...
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