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A canon (from the Latin canonicus, itself derived from the Greek κανονικός, kanonikós, "relating to a rule", "regular") is a member of certain bodies subject to an ecclesiastical rule.
Originally, a canon was a cleric living with others in a clergy house or, later, in one of the houses within the precinct of or close to a cathedral or other major church and conducting his life according to the customary discipline or rules of the church. This way of life grew common (and is first documented) in the eighth century. In the eleventh century, some churches required clergy thus living together to adopt the rule first proposed by Saint Augustine that they renounce private wealth. Those who embraced this change were known as Augustinians or Canons Regular, whilst those who did not were known as secular canons.
In the Latin Church, the members of the chapter of a cathedral (cathedral chapter) or of a collegiate church (so-called after their chapter) are canons. Depending on the title of the church, several languages use specific titles, e.g., in German Domherr or Domkapitular in a Dom (i.e., cathedral), Stiftsherr in a prelature that has the status of a Stift (notably under a prince of the Church).
One of the functions of the cathedral chapter in the Latin Church was to elect a vicar capitular (now named a diocesan administrator) to serve during a sede vacante period of the diocese. Since the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law, this responsibility belongs to the college of consultors, unless the national bishops conference decides that the functions that canon law ascribes to the college of consultors, including this one, are to be entrusted to the cathedral chapter.
The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which is a Catholic Society of Apostolic Life dedicated to the Traditional Latin Mass, practice a rule of life generally based on historical secular canons. They refer to their priests as Canons, use the style The Rev. Canon [Name] and wear distinct choir dress.
All canons of the Church of England have been secular since the Reformation, although an individual canon may also be a member of a religious order. Mostly, however, they are ordained, that is, priests or other clergy. Today, the system of canons is retained almost exclusively in connection with cathedral churches. A canon is a member of the chapter of (for the most part) priests, headed by a dean, which is responsible for administering a cathedral or certain other churches that are styled collegiate churches. The dean and chapter are the formal body which has legal responsibility for the cathedral and for electing the bishop.
The title of Canon is not a permanent title and, when no longer in a position entitling preferment, it is usually dropped from a cleric's title nomenclature. However, it is still given in many dioceses to senior parish priests (including some rural deans, those who have played a role in the wider life of the diocese, those who have served in the diocese for a long time, or similar) as a largely honorary title. It is usually awarded in recognition of long and dedicated service to the diocese. Honorary canons are members of the chapter in name but are non-residential and receive no emoluments. They are entitled to call themselves canon and may have a role in the administration of the cathedral.
Generally speaking, canons in Anglican Churches are either canons residentiary (working at the cathedral, and few in number) or honorary canons (non-cathedral clergy given the title as a mark of honour — often many of them): either may wear a violet or violet-trimmed cassock. In some Church of England dioceses, the title Prebendary is used instead of canon when the cleric is involved administratively with a cathedral. Canons may be members of the diocesan/bishop's staff rather than cathedral staff, such as in the Episcopal Church (United States), where a diocese's "Canon to the Ordinary" is a senior priest who works directly for the diocesan bishop (Ordinary).
Honorary canons within the Roman Catholic Church may still be nominated after the Second Vatican Council. Also, priests (and honorary chaplains) of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre are, in fact, titular or honorary canons of these respective Orders and have the right to the honorific title of "Canon" and "Monsignor" [ citation needed ] in addition to the choir dress of a canon, which includes the mozetta (black with purple piping for Malta and white with a red Jerusalem cross for Holy Sepulchre.
Since the reign of King Henry IV, the heads of state of France have been granted by the pope the title of sole honorary canon of Saint John Lateran and Saint Peter's.On the demise of the Kingdom of France this honour became transferred to the Presidents of the Republic, and hence is currently held by Emmanuel Macron. This applies even when the French President is not a Catholic or is an atheist. The proto-canon of the papal basilica of Saint Mary Major is the King of Spain, currently Felipe VI.
Before the Reformation, the King of England was a canon of the basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls.
In addition to canons who are clerics in holy orders, cathedrals in the Anglican Communion may also appoint lay persons as canons. The rank of "lay canon" is especially conferred upon diocesan chancellors (the senior legal officer of the diocese, who is usually, though not exclusively, a lay person).[ citation needed ]
It has traditionally been said that the King of England (now the British Sovereign) is a canon or prebendary of St David's Cathedral, Wales. However, this is based on a misconception. The canonry of St Mary's College, St David's became the property of the Crown on the dissolution of the monasteries. The Sovereign was never a canon of St David's, even as a layman (see also The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1562) Article 37), though he or she may occupy the first prebendal stall, which is assigned for the monarch's use.[ citation needed ]
A canon professor is a canon at an Anglican cathedral (either lay or in orders) who also holds a university professorship. There are four canon professorships in the University of Oxford in conjunction with Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and two in Durham University in conjunction with Durham Cathedral,although academics titled "canon professor" may also be found at other universities where the appointments as canon and professor have been made independently.
Section 2 of the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1995 [ citation needed ]was passed for the express purpose of enabling Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, to appoint not more than two lay canons. One of the motivations for this provision was the fact that, under section 6 of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Act 1840, the position of Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Oxford was annexed to a Residentiary Canonry of the cathedral, meaning that the Regius professorship could be held only by an Anglican priest. Following the death of Peter Hinchliff in 1995 the Regius professorship was held by Henry Mayr-Harting, a Roman Catholic layman, from 1997 until 2003, and was taken up by another lay person, Sarah Foot, in Michaelmas Term 2007. Three other Statutory Professorships, the Regius Professorship of Divinity, Lady Margaret Professorship of Divinity, recently held by the famous Anglican theologian, John Macquarrie, and Regius Professorship of Moral and Pastoral Theology, are annexed to canonries of Christ Church and were until recently held only by Anglican priests.
At Durham, the canon professorships are the Van Mildert Professor of Divinity, the holder of which must be an Anglican priest, and the Michael Ramsey Professor of Anglican Studies, who must be Anglican but did not have to be ordained.Historically, the chair in Greek at the university was also a canon professorship. This canonry was transferred to the Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in 1940.
The Lightfoot professorship was attached to the canonry until 1985, [ citation needed ]when the non-Anglican James Dunn was appointed.
Minor canons are those clergy who are members of the foundation of a cathedral or collegiate establishment. They take part in the daily services. They have sometimes formed a distinct corporation as at St Paul's Cathedral, London. In St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, they are distinct from, and rank before, the Vicars Choral. The two groups overlap however; the two senior vicars, the Dean's Vicar and the Succentor, are also the two senior Minor Canons. Some Minor Canons do sit with, but are not voting members of, the Chapter. Although at present Minor Canons are generally more junior clergy this is a recent development. Within living memory such offices were often freehold and were held by clergy of great distinction and seniority.
Canons regular are the members of certain religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church (not to be confused with clerics regular), composed of priests and some choir canons who live in community, [ clarification needed ] with lay brothers. There is a variety of congregations of canons, some of which are part of the Confederation of Canons Regular of St. Augustine:
Many bishops endeavoured to imitate St. Augustine and St. Eusebius, and to live a common life with the clergy of their church. Rules taken from the sacred canons were even drawn up for their use, of which the most celebrated is that of St. Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz (766). In the tenth century, this institution declined; the canons, as the clergy attached to a church and living a common life were called, began to live separately; some of them, however, resisted this relaxation of discipline, and even added poverty to their common life. This is the origin of the canons regular. Pope Benedict XII by his constitution Ad decorem (15 May 1339) prescribed a general reform of the canons regular. The canons regular ex professo united Holy Orders with religious life, and being attached to a church, devoted themselves to promoting the dignity of divine worship. With monks, Holy Orders are incidental and secondary, and are superadded to the religious life. With canons as with the clerks regular, Holy Orders are the principal thing, and the religious life is superadded to the Holy Orders.[ citation needed ]
In certain Christian churches, holy orders are the ordained ministries of bishop, priest (presbyter), and deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament. The Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism identifies more with the Roman Catholic position about the sacramental nature of ordination.
Defrocking, unfrocking, or laicization of clergy is the removal of their rights to exercise the functions of the ordained ministry. It may be grounded on criminal convictions, disciplinary problems, or disagreements over doctrine or dogma, but may also be done at their request for personal reasons, such as running for civil office, taking over a family business, declining health or old age, desire to marry against the rules for clergy in a particular church, or an unresolved dispute. The form of the procedure varies according to the Christian denomination concerned. The term defrocking implies forced laicization for misconduct, while laicization is a neutral term, applicable also when clergy have requested to be released from their ordination vows.
In Christianity, a minister is a person authorised by a church or other religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister, which itself was derived from minus ("less").
An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, St Thomas Christians, Eastern Orthodox churches and some other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the Catholic Church. An archdeacon is often responsible for administration within an archdeaconry, which is the principal subdivision of the diocese. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church has defined an archdeacon as "A cleric having a defined administrative authority delegated to him by the bishop in the whole or part of the diocese." The office has often been described metaphorically as that of oculus episcopi, the "bishop's eye".
A prebendary is a member of the Roman Catholic or Anglican clergy, a form of canon with a role in the administration of a cathedral or collegiate church. When attending services, prebendaries sit in particular seats, usually at the back of the choir stalls, known as prebendal stalls.
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists of its bishops, priests, and deacons. In the ecclesiological sense of the term, "hierarchy" strictly means the "holy ordering" of the Church, the Body of Christ, so to respect the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity.
A religious is, in the terminology of many Western Christian denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, what in common language one would call a "monk" or "nun", as opposed to an ordained "priest". A religious may also be a priest if he has undergone ordination, but in general he is not.
The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious institute. A diocesan priest is a Catholic, Anglican or Eastern Orthodox priest who commits themself to a certain geographical area and is ordained into the service of the citizens of a diocese, a church administrative region. That includes serving the everyday needs of the people in parishes, but their activities are not limited to that of their parish.
A deanery is an ecclesiastical entity in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, the Evangelical Church in Germany, and the Church of Norway. A deanery is either the jurisdiction or residence of a dean.
The Very Reverend is a style given to members of the clergy. The definite article "The" should always precede "Reverend" as "Reverend" is a style or fashion and not a title.
The Oxford Faculty of Theology and Religion co-ordinates the teaching of theology at the University of Oxford, England. It is part of Oxford's Humanities Division.
Christ Church Cathedral is the cathedral of the Anglican diocese of Oxford, which consists of the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. It is also the chapel of Christ Church at the University of Oxford. This dual role as cathedral and college chapel is unique in the Church of England.
Stephen Whitefield Sykes was a Church of England bishop and academic specialising in divinity. He was Van Mildert Professor of Divinity at Durham University from 1974 to 1985, and Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University from 1985 to 1990. Between from 1990 and 1999, he served as the Bishop of Ely, the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Ely. He was the Principal of St John's College, Durham from 1999 to 2006. He served as an Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Durham during his time as head of St John's College and in retirement.
The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordained clergy: the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons. More accurately, Anglican ministry includes many laypeople who devote themselves to the ministry of the church, either individually or in lower/assisting offices such as lector, acolyte, sub-deacon, Eucharistic minister, cantor, musicians, parish secretary or assistant, warden, vestry member, etc. Ultimately, all baptized members of the church are considered to partake in the ministry of the Body of Christ.
The priesthood is one of the three holy orders of the Catholic Church, comprising the ordained priests or presbyters. The other two orders are the bishops and the deacons. Church doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised Catholics as the "common priesthood".
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders and is responsible for teaching doctrine, governing Catholics in his jurisdiction, sanctifying the world and representing the Church. Catholics trace the origins of the office of bishop to the apostles, who it is believed were endowed with a special charism by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Catholics believe this special charism has been transmitted through an unbroken succession of bishops by the laying on of hands in the sacrament of holy orders.
Sarah Rosamund Irvine Foot is an English Anglican priest and early medieval historian, currently serving as Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Oxford.
Godfrey William Ernest Candler Ashby is a British Anglican bishop, theologian, and academic. From 1980 to 1985, he was the eighth Bishop of St John's in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. From 1988 to 1995, he was the Assistant Bishop of Leicester in the Church of England.
This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.
William Jones Skilton is an American Anglican bishop. He was the first suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.