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In the Catholic Church, the secular clergy are ordained ministers, such as deacons and priests, who

do not belong to a religious institute. While regular clergy take religious vows of chastity, poverty,
and obedience and follow the rule of life of the institute to which they belong, secular clergy do not
take vows, and they live in the world at large, rather than a religious institute (saeculum). Canon
law makes specific demands on clergy, whether regular or secular, quite apart from the obligations
consequent to religious vows.
Thus in the Latin Church, among other regulations, clerics other than permanent deacons "are
obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and
therefore are bound to celibacy"[1] and to carry out the Liturgy of the Hours daily.[2] They are forbidden
to "assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power".[3] Depending on
which conference of bishops they belong to, deacons may also be required to recite the Divine
Office daily. All clerics, once ordained, are forbidden from marrying or remarrying.
The teachings of the Church and some scholars hold that a tradition of clerical continence existed in
early Christianity, whereby married men who became priests were expected to abstain from sexual
relations with their wives.[4][5] The Council of Elvira, held in 306, before Constantine had legitimized
Christianity, made it an explicit law that bishops and other clergy should not have sexual relations
with their wives. Despite consistently upholding the doctrine of clerical celibacy, over the following
centuries the Church experienced many difficulties in enforcing it, particularly in rural areas of
Europe. Finally, in the 12th century the Western Church declared that Holy Orders were not merely a
prohibitive but a diriment canonical impediment to marriage, making marriage by priests invalid and
not merely forbidden.[6][7]
A number of intra-Church conflicts have occurred due to the tensions between regular and secular
clergy.[citation needed] The secular clergy, in which the hierarchy essentially resides, always takes
precedence over 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.[8][clarification needed] 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 treatment in these assignments and were usually
Spaniards who trained in European chapters. The agitation led to the execution of the
"Gomburzafilibusteros."
St. Thomas Becket is a patron saint of secular clergy. St. John Vianney is patron saint of parish
priests. St. Stephen is patron saint of deacons.