Secular Clergy

A term used since the twelfth century to distinguish priests living in the world (Lat. saeculum) from the “regular clergy” who were members of religious orders living according to “rule” (Lat. regula). They are not bound by vows, but owe canonical obedience to their bishops, and may possess property. According to canon law they must be celibate. They take precedence over regular clergy of equal rank.