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What is Ordination? A Roman Catholic Perspective

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This article discusses some of the reflections about the sacrament of orders in Roman Catholic theology, particularly from and since the Second Vatican Council. The paper first outlines some of the theological and pastoral issues that can be seen as part of the current debate about sacramental ordination. The article then critically examines the long and complex process of theological development that informs this debate. This process has provided a number of ‘strands of tradition’ that continue to influence the Roman Catholic understanding of ordination. Particular and significant shifts of thought at the Council are identified and some current models or views about ordination are discussed. Finally, a way of approaching ordination through the lens of an ‘ontological functionalism’ is suggested.

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