The true hierarchy

Which hierarchy is the true and lawful one? It is the priesthood which has retained and continues to follow these conditions:

1. In the first place such a hierarchy is true, which has received the grace of the Holy Spirit from the Apostles themselves in an unbroken line of succession from one to another. …In the time when the erring Church of Rome spawned the Protestant sects, the Protestants commenced to elect and establish presbyters themselves, and these ministers not only baptize, but they officiate at a so-called “communion service,” which of course is not a valid sacrament, as the ministers have no apostolic ordination and are not presbyters.

2. Secondly, an authentic hierarchy is such, which confesses all the truths of holy religion, for there are heresies which entirely deprive bishops and priests of their ministerial grace.

3. Thirdly, a Priesthood to be lawful must administer the Sacraments orderly, according to the rules of the Holy Church Catholic, not changing essential actions, as there are acts and conditions in the rites of Mysteries that are essential, without which a certain Sacrament may not be valid.

4. Fourthly, to be a lawful and true hierarchy, the same must be governed and govern its spiritual charge according to the rules of the Holy Apostles, the Seven Ecumenical Councils, and other laws which are accepted by the Orthodox Church in general.

5. A fifth condition necessary for proving the lawfulness of the Priesthood is its unity with the Orthodox Church in the spirit of peace and love. Whoever destroys this unity, except for a genuine and important cause, and bishops and priests together with Christians who follow them, that separate themselves from the higher Church authorities, are excommunicated from the Church, according to the rules of the Apostles and the canons of the Councils.
Archimandrite Sebastian (Dabovic)

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