Religious Leaders, World Economic Forum 2009 Annual Meeting
(left to right) George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury (1991–2002); Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi (UK); Mustafa Cerić, Grand Mufti of Bosnia; and Jim Wallis, Sojourners, United States. 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Clergy are some of the main and important formal leaders within certain religions. The roles and functions of clergy vary in different religious traditions but these usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the terms used for individual clergy are cleric, clergyman, clergywoman, clergyperson and churchman.

In Christianity the specific names and roles of clergy vary by denomination and there is a wide range of formal and informal clergy positions, including deacons, priests, bishops, preachers, pastors, ministers and the Pope. In Islam, a religious leader is often known formally or informally as an imam, mufti, mullah or ayatollah. In Jewish tradition, a religious leader is often a rabbi or hazzan (cantor).

"Cleric" comes from the ecclesiastical Latin clericus, for those belonging to the priestly class. This is from the Ecclesiastical Greek clericus, meaning appertaining to an inheritance, in reference to the fact that the Levitical priests of the Old Testament had no inheritance except the Lord.

Current canon law prescribes that to be ordained a priest, an education is required of two years of philosophy and four of theology, including study of dogmatic and moral theology, the Holy Scriptures, and canon law have to be studied within a seminary or an ecclesiastical faculty at a university.

Related Pages

Images


Clergy Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.