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Form of Degradation from Holy Orders

Adapted from The Roman Pontifical
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Selections from the Book of Psalms from The Psalter According to the Seventy Translated from the Septuagint by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery.

Form of degradation from holy orders No deprivation of any person in holy orders shall take place save for grave errors in doctrine or practice, which if not confessed by the delinquent must be duly proved by open trial in the church courts and even after conviction in such courts, the accent of the diocesan Synod shall be necessary in the case of any priest or deacon, and that of the provincial synod in the case of any bishop, before degradation from holy orders can be proceeded with. The bishop, attended by the diocesan officials, shall stand in front of the high altar, facing the people, and shall say:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. For as much as N (Deacon, Priest, Bishop) has grievously offended against the law of God and the ordinances of the Holy Catholic Church, by open and notorious sin, whereof he has been a fully convicted by his own confession or by open trial, we therefore, by the Council and with assent of the diocesan or provincial synod, have met here in the presence of God and this congregation, to depose him from the office he has misused, to take from him the trust which he has violated, to deprive him of the privileges he has forfeited; and that publicly, that others may be warned in time neither to receive his ministrations nor to follow his example. And that you may know that this our act is justly and rightly done, the sentence shall now be read in your hearing.
Here the bishop’s secretary, the synod clerk or the Chancellor of the diocese shall read aloud the sentence of the court. Then shall be said the antiphon and the Psalms following: ANT. You shall be no priest to me seeing you have forgotten the law of your God. Psalm 49:14-23 Sacrifice unto God a sacrifice of praise, and pay unto the Most High thy vows. And call upon Me in the day of thine affliction, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me. But unto the sinner God hath said: Why declarest thou My statutes and takest up My covenant in thy mouth? Thou hast hated instruction, and hast cast out My words behind thee. If thou sawest a thief, thou didst run with him; and with the adulterer thou hast set thy portion. Thy mouth hath abounded with evil, and thy tongue hath woven deceits. Thou didst sit down and speak against thy brother, and against thine own mother's son didst thou lay a stumbling-block; these things thou didst, and I kept silence. Thou didst think an iniquity, that I should be like unto thee; I will reprove thee,

and bring thy sins before thy face. Wherefore, understand these things, ye that forget God, lest He snatch you away and there be none to deliver you. A sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me, and there is the way wherein I shall show unto him My salvation. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, now and always unto the ages of ages. Amen. Psalm72 How good is God to Israel, to them that are upright of heart! But as for me, my feet were all but shaken; my steps well nigh had slipped. For I was jealous of the transgressors, when I beheld the peace of sinners. For they make no sign of refusal in the time of their death, and they have steadfastness in the time of their scourging. They are not in such toils as other men, nor with other men shall they be scourged. Wherefore, their pride hath utterly mastered them, they have wrapped themselves in their injustice and ungodliness. Their injustice shall go forth as out of fatness, they have passed through to their heart’s intent. They have thought and spoken in wickedness, they have spoken unrighteousness in arrogance. They have set their mouth against heaven, and their tongue roves in the earth. Therefore shall my people return hither, and full days shall be found in them. And they said: How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High? Behold, these are the sinners; they prosper in this age and have obtained riches. And I said: Surely in vain have I kept justice in my heart and washed my hands among the innocent. And I became a man scourged all the day long, and reproof was mine in every morning. And I said: I shall speak thus: Lo, I should have broken covenant with the generation of Your sons. And I sought to understand, but this was toilsome in my sight, until I come into the sanctuary of God and understand their end. Surely, for their crafty dealings You have appointed evils for them; Your have cast them down in their exaltation. How are they come unto desolation in a moment! They have ceased to be; they have perished because of their iniquity. As a dream of one who wakes, O Lord, in Your city You shall bring their image to nought. For my heart was fired and my reins have been changed; and I was brought to nought and knew it not. I became as a beast before You, and I am ever with You. You have held me by my right hand, and by Your counsel You have guided me, and with glory have You taken me to Yourself. For what have I in heaven? And besides You, what have I desired upon earth? My heart and my flesh have failed, O God of my heart; and God is my portion forever. For behold, they that remove themselves from You shall perish; You have destroyed all that go a whoring from You. But it is good for me to cleave unto God, to put my hope in the Lord, that I may declare all Your praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, now and always unto the ages of ages. Amen. Psalm 101 Of mercy and judgment will I sing unto You, O Lord; I will chant and have understanding in a blameless path. When will You come unto me? I have walked in the innocence of my heart in the midst of my house. I have no unlawful thing before my eyes; the workers of transgressions I

have hated. A crooked heart has not cleaved unto me; as for the wicked man who turned from me, I knew him not. Him that privily talked against his neighbor did I drive away from me. With him whose eye was proud and his heart insatiate, I did not eat. My eyes were upon the faithful of the land, that they might sit with me; the man that walked in the blameless path, he ministered unto me. The proud doer dwelt not in the midst of my house; the speaker of unjust things prospered not before mine eyes. In the morning I slew all the sinners of the land, utterly to destroy out of the city of the Lord all them that work iniquity. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, now and always unto the ages of ages. Amen. ANT. You shall be no priest to me seeing you have forgotten the law of your God. Malachi 2: 1-9 A reading from the Book of the Prophet Malachi. And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name, says the LORD of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart. “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it. Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant with Levi may continue,” Says the LORD of hosts.“ My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear Me; So he feared Me and was reverent before My name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept My ways But have shown partiality in the law.” V/. R/. V/. R/. V/. V/. R/. V/. R/. V/. But You O Lord, have mercy upon us. Thanks be to God. Lord be with you And with your spirit Let us pray. O Lord to us belongs confusion of face. For we have sinned against you. We have sinned, we have done amiss. And have dealt wickedly. Arise, O God, maintain your own cause.

R/. V/. R/. V/. R/. V/. R/. V/. R/.

Remember how the foolish man blasphemes you daily. Deliver us, O Lord, from the evil man. And preserve us from the wicked man. Break the power of the ungodly and malicious. Take away his ungodliness and you shall find none. Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts. Show us the light of your countenance and we shall be whole. O Lord hear our prayer. And let our cry come unto you.

Lord God, who by your prophet has said he clean that bear the vessels of the Lord; who slew him Nadab and Abihu when they offered strange fire unto you; and sent the sword upon the house of Eli, taking the priesthood from it for the guilt of Hophni and Phineas; mercifully look upon your church, and impute not unto her the sins of her rebellious children, but to raise up in her faithful priests, who shall do according to that which is in your heart and in your mind; build them a sure house, and cause them to walk before your anointed forever. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God onto the ages of ages. Amen. O Almighty God, who into the place of the traitor Judas did choose your faithful servant Matthias to be one of the number of the twelve apostles; grant that your church, being always preserved from false apostles, may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then shall the depondent, if present, dressed in his ecclesiastical garb, be caused to kneel before the bishop seated in front of the altar, who shall say:

N, because you have violated God's law, and profaned His holy things, have put no difference between the holy and profaned, neither showed it to between the unclean and the clean, so that God is profaned among us; know that you shall bear your iniquity and not come near unto him, to do the office of a priest unto him, nor come near to any of His holy things in His holy place, but shall bear your shame and the abominations you have committed.

If the depondent be a bishop, then shall the pastoral staff be put into his hands and taken from him again, the Officiant saying:

Because you have been a hireling and not a shepherd; because the diseased have not been strengthened, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have you bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought again that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost, but have ruled with force and with cruelty; therefore the Lord refuses his flock at your hand, and causes you to cease from feeding the flock, and we, in token thereof, take from you the pastoral staff, and the office of a bishop in his church. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
If a priest, a stole shall be put on his neck, and a chalice in his hands, which being taken away from him, the bishop shall say:

Because you have despised the easy yoke and light burden of Christ, have refused to drink of His Cup, and have counted the Blood of the covenant, wherewith you were sanctified, an unholy thing, we take from you the office of the priesthood and the right to minister at the altar of God. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
If a deacon, the book of the Gospels is to be put into his hands and withdrawn with the words:

Because you have not obeyed the Gospel of Christ, whereof the dispensation was committed unto you, we take from you the office of a deacon and the authority to read that Gospel in the Church. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Then shall the surplice or alb be taken away with these words:

Because, after escaping the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you have been again entangled therein and overcome, defiling your garments, we take from you the white robe, the token of the righteousness of Saints, and therewith all right of ministration in the Church, that others may be warned, and yourself moved to repentance, that you may be washed again from your sins in the Blood of the Lamb. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Here note that the depondent shall be degraded successively from each office in the Ministry to which he has attained, beginning with the highest. But, if the depondent be absent, the bishop shall proceed as follows:

Because N has violated God's law, and profaned His holy things, has put no difference between the holy and the profane, neither showed it between the unclean and the clean, so that God is profaned among us: he shall bear his iniquity and not come near unto God to do the office of a priest unto Him come near to any of His holy things in His holy place, but shall bear his shame, and the abominations he has committed. Whereas our Lord Jesus Christ has left to the ministers of His Church the power of binding and loosing, and has declared of his own mouth and that whoso will not hear the Church shall be unto us as a heathen man and a publican, and by His Apostle has taught us to withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly, and to put away from us wicked persons; we, by His authority committed to us, hereby deprive N of all privileges and powers in the ministry of the Church, and depose him from his office of (deacon priest bishop). In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Then, addressing the people he shall add:

Forasmuch as N is now deposed and thrust out from being a minister unto the Lord, we call on you, brethren, to bear witness to the fact, and to keep yourselves and others from receiving any ministrations of the Church at his hands, lest you become partakers of his evil deeds, but to have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. As we do now erase and blot out his name from the register of the clergy of this Church (here the bishop shall draw a pen line through the name of the deposed cleric on the roll presented to him by an official) in token that if he does not repent and amend, God will blot out his name from the book of life. Amen. But as God, Who has taken this unfruitful branch away from His Vine, is able to purge it, that it may bring forth much fruit, and to graff it in again; let us pray to Him that He will, of His great mercy, vouchsafe conversion and amendment to our sinful brother, and restore him whole to the Church.

Then, all kneeling, shall say the following prayers: Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy. Our Father….then silently until V/. And lead us not into temptation. R/. But deliver us from evil. V/. I said, O Lord, be merciful unto me. R/. Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you. V/. Turn again, O Lord, at the last. R/. And be gracious unto your servants. V/. Let your merciful kindness, O Lord, be upon us. R/. As we put our trust in you. V/. We have sinned with our fathers. R/. We have done amiss, and dealt wickedly. V/. O Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins. R/. Neither reward us according to our iniquities. V/. Remember not our old sins. R/. But have mercy upon us, and that soon. Psalm 50 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy; and according to the multitude of Your compassions blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against You only have I sinned and done this evil before You, that You might be justified in Your words, and prevail when You are judged. For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me. For behold, You have loved truth; the hidden and secret things of Your wisdom have You made manifest unto me. You shall sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; You shall wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. You shall make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones that be humbled, they shall rejoice. Turn Your face away from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation, and with Your governing Spirit establish me. I shall teach transgressors Your ways, and the ungodly shall turn back unto You. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, You God of my salvation; my tongue shall rejoice in Your righteousness. O Lord, You shall open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Your praise. For if You had desired sacrifice, I had given it; with whole-burnt offerings You shall not be pleased. A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise. Do good, O Lord, in Your good pleasure unto Sion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be built. Then shall You be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings. Then shall they offer bullocks upon Your altar. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, now and always unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Psalm 129 Out of the depths have I cried to You, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. If You should mark iniquities, O Lord, O Lord, who shall stand? For with You there is forgiveness. For Your name's sake have I patiently waited for You, O Lord; my soul has waited patiently for Your word, my soul has hoped in the Lord. From the morning watch until night, from the morning watch let Israel hope in the Lord. For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption; and He shall redeem Israel out of all his iniquities. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, now and always unto the ages of ages. Amen. Then shall the bishop rise, and continue the office standing at the altar. V/. O Lord hear our prayer. R/. And let our cry come unto You.

Let us pray: O most merciful God, who has sent Your Only-begotten Son into the world, to save sinners, to seek the lost sheep, and to purify for Himself an acceptable people, zealous in good works; Who desires not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Grant Your grace unto Your servant N, that his mind may be enlightened, and that he may come to a knowledge of his sin. Take from him all obstinacy and hardness of heart, give him a new heart and a new spirit, take from him his heart of stone, and give him a heart of flesh, and renew Your Spirit within him, that denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts, he may live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, waiting for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God our Savior Jesus Christ. Who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns one God onto the ages of ages. Amen.
At the close of the prayers, if the deposed cleric is present he shall be conducted out of the church by two officials, the bishop saying:

Go out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed.
Then shall be said: Psalm 124 They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion; he that dwells at Jerusalem, nevermore shall he be shaken. Mountains are round about her, and the Lord is round about His people from henceforth and for evermore. For the Lord will not permit the rod of sinners to be upon the lot of the righteous, lest the righteous stretch forth their hands unto iniquities. Do good, O Lord, unto

them that are good and unto the upright of heart. But them that turn aside unto crooked ways shall the Lord lead away with the workers of iniquity; peace be upon Israel. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, now and always unto the ages of ages. Amen. V/. R/. V/. R/. Establish the thing, O Lord, that you have wrought in us. For Your Temple’s sake at Jerusalem. Let us depart in peace. In the name of Christ. Amen.