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Minor Orders

The lowest offices of the ministry: porters, lectors, exorcists, and acolytes in the West, and lectors and cantors in the East. Subdeacons are classed as a Major Order (with bishops, priests, and deacons) in the West, but as a Minor Order in the East. The giving of Minor Orders is still basically governed in the West by the Statuta Ecclesiae Antiqua (c.500). All four (which are first mentioned in a letter of Bishop Cornelius of Rome to Fabian of Antioch in 252) are now usually conferred at the same time by a bishop or abbot upon students who are intended for the priesthood. Though each office did have a specific function, this has now been abandoned since the function has been taken over by the laity or priesthood (e.g., lighting of candles, once done by an acolyte, is now done by a layman). The Minor Orders are now only a step toward full ordination.