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cit.) leaves the bishop quite free to dispense with the interstices (q.v.).
Clerics in minor orders enjoy all ecclesiastical privileges.
At the present time the ranks of the clergy are entered by the tonsure, after which all the orders without omission are received in succession.
Moreover, ecclesiastics, as a general rule, no longer remain in the lower orders, the liturgical functions of which are discharged either by the clergy in the higher orders, as in exorcism, or by the 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. The liturgical ones constituted orders, though of a lower 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.
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The lower degrees of the hierarchy are designated by the name of minor orders, in opposition to the "major" or "sacred" orders.
By papal privilege several prelates Nullius (i.e., exempt) can confer these orders.
It is an almost universal custom now to confer the four minor orders at, one time, and the Council of Trent (loc.
In fact, minor orders are usually conferred on ecclesiastical students during their seminary studies. Although several medieval theologians regarded minor orders as sacramental, this view is no longer held, for the fundamental reason that minor orders, also the subdiaconate, are not of Divine or Apostolic origin.
The Council of Trent requires merely that the candidates understand Latin (Sess. The rites by which they are conferred are quite different from ordination to holy orders.