Secular clergy
The term secular clergy refers to deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

s and priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s who are not monastics
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 or members of a religious order
Religious order
A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of initiates and, in some...


Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, the secular clergy are ministers, such as deacons and priests
Priesthood (Catholic Church)
The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained priesthood and common priesthood are different in function and essence....

, who do not belong to a religious order. While regular clergy
Regular clergy
Regular clergy, or just regulars, is applied in the Roman Catholic Church to clerics who follow a "rule" in their life. Strictly, it means those members of religious orders who have made solemn profession. It contrasts with secular clergy.-Terminology and history:The observance of the Rule of St...

 take vows
Religious vows
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices and views.In the Buddhist tradition, in particular within the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, many different kinds of religious vows are taken by the lay community as well as by...

 of chastity
Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion....

, poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

, and obedience
The term obedience can refer to:* Obedience ** The educational film Obedience about the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures* Vow of obedience as an evangelical counsel* Obedience training for dogs...

 and place themselves under a monastic rule (regulum), secular clergy do not take vows, and they live in the world (saeculum
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

). They are still bound to Canon law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

, 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
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...


Married men were historically permitted into the clergy, provided they had only been married once (not remarried after their wife had died). In 386, Pope Siricius sent the declaration Cum in unum to numerous ecclesiastical provinces, authoritatively interpreting that the Pauline text "a bishop must be the husband of one wife" to mean a cleric must have been married only once and was to live a life of celibacy after ordination. 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
Philippine Revolution
The Philippine Revolution , called the "Tagalog War" by the Spanish, was an armed military conflict between the people of the Philippines and the Spanish colonial authorities which resulted in the secession of the Philippine Islands from the Spanish Empire.The Philippine Revolution began in August...

 was the agitation of native secular priests for parish assignments. The powerful religious orders were given preferential treatment in these assignments and were usually Spaniards who trained in European chapter
Chapter (religion)
Chapter designates certain corporate ecclesiastical bodies in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Nordic Lutheran churches....

s. The agitation led to the execution of the "Gomburza
Gomburza or GOMBURZA is an acronym denoting the surnames of the priests Mariano Gómez, José Apolonio Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, three Filipino priests who were executed on 17 February 1872 at Bagumbayan in Manila, Philippines by Spanish colonial authorities on charges of subversion arising from...


The secular clergy in contemporary times is referred to as the "diocesan"
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 or (in the case of an archdiocese) "archdiocesan" clergy.

Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion...

 is a patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of secular clergy.

Orthodox Church

In the Orthodox Church, the term "secular clergy" refers to married priests and deacons, as opposed to monastic
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 clergy (hieromonk
Hieromonk , also called a Priestmonk, is a monk who is also a priest in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism....

s and hierodeacon
A Hierodeacon , sometimes translated "deacon-monk", in Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a monk who has been ordained a deacon...

s). The secular clergy are sometimes referred to as "white clergy", black being the customary color worn by monks.

Traditionally, parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

priests are expected to be secular clergy rather than being monastics, as the support of a wife is considered necessary for a priest living "in the world".
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