Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
Those specially ordained for Divine Service as deacons, priests, or bishops. In this sense the clergy form the Church's hierarchy. Entrance into the clerical state now takes place when a man is ordained deacon. Formerly it was at the time he received first tonsure. (Etym. Latin clericus; from Greek kleros, lot, portion; the clergy whose portion is the Lord.)