What is Clergy?
As clergy is called the class made up of priests who are guided by Christian doctrine, according to the precepts of the Catholic Church. In this sense, clergy can also refer to the clergy considered as a whole. The word, as such, comes from the late Latin clerus , and this from the Byzantine Greek κλῆρος (kléros).
As such, under the name of clergy, all persons who have been ordained in the religious service are considered, such as priests and deacons. The existence of the clergy dates back to the Middle Ages, when the religious establishment enjoyed certain privileges equivalent to those of the feudal nobility.
The function of the clergy is the practice of worship, which included the celebration of the liturgy, teaching and preaching, as well as the administration of the sacraments (baptism, confirmation, marriage, extreme unction, etc.).
Regular and secular clergy
As a regular clergy is called one who is subject to the rules of a religious order, and consecrated to the service of the Catholic Church and to the study and preaching of Catholic doctrine. As such, the regular clergy is characterized by making vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity. Some religious orders that are part of the regular clergy are, for example, that of the Benedictines, the Franciscans or the Jesuits.
For their part, the secular clergy, that is, the one who lives in the world and not in the cloister, is the one whose clergy live among the people, get involved in the life of the communities, administer the sacraments and preach the word. As such, it is the part of the clergy whose hierarchical organization departs from the pope, up to the bishops, the priests and deacons. The secular clergy is the one in charge of the administrative functions of the Catholic Church.
High clergy and low clergy
Formerly, as a high clergy it was called the one that was made up of archbishops, bishops, cardinals, abbots and canons who came from wealthy families and held lineage nobility. On the other hand, there was the lower clergy, made up of priests and deacons of humble origins. In this sense, the high clergy was the equivalent of the nobility in clerical society.