Rite of Ordination of a Bishop (1968)


1.  The ordination of a deacon should take place on a Sunday or holyday, when a large number of the faithful can attend, unless pastoral reasons suggest another day, such as the feast of an apostle.

2.  The principal consecrator must be assisted by at least two other consecrating bishops, but it is fitting for all the bishops present together with the principal consecrator to ordain the bishop-elect.

3.  Two priests assist the bishop-elect.

4.  It is most appropriate for all the consecrating bishops and the priests assisting the bishop-elect to concelebrate the Mass with the principal consecrator and with the bishop-elect.  If the ordination takes place in the bishop-elect's own church, some priests of his diocese should also concelebrate.

5.  If the ordination takes place in the bishop-elect's only church, the principal consecrator may ask the newly ordained bishop to preside over the celebration of the eucharistic liturgy.  If the ordination does not take place in the bishop-elect's own church, the principal consecrator presides at the concelebration; in this case the new bishop takes the first place among the other celebrants.

6.  The principal consecrator and the concelebrating bishops and priests wear the vestments required for Mass.  The bishop-elect wears all the priestly vestments, the pectoral cross, and the dalmatic.  If the consecrating bishops do not concelebrate, they wear the rochet or alb, pectoral cross, stole, cope, and miter.  If the priests assisting the bishop-elect do not concelebrate, they wear the cope over an alb or surplice.

7.  The blessing of the ring, pastoral staff, and miter ordinarily takes place at a convenient time prior to the ordination service.

8.  In addition to what is needed for the concelebration of a pontifical Mass, there should be ready: (a) the Roman Pontifical; (b) copies of the consecratory prayer for the consecrating bishops; (c) a linen gremial; (d) holy chrism; (e) a ring, staff, and miter for the bishop-elect.

9.  Seats for the principal consecrator, consecrating bishops, the bishop-elect, and concelebrating priests are arranged as follows:

10.  When everything is ready, the procession moves through the church to the altar in the usual way.  A deacon carries the Book of the Gospels; he is followed by the priests who will concelebrate, the bishop-elect between the priests assisting him, the consecrating bishops, and, finally, the principal consecrator between two deacons.

Liturgy of the Word

11.  The liturgy of the word takes place according to the rubrics.

12.  The readings may be taken in whole or in part from the Mass of the day or from the texts listed....

The profession of faith is not said, nor are the general intercessions.

Ordination of a Bishop


13.  The ordination of a bishop begins after the gospel. While all stand, the hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus is sung, or another hymn similar to it, depending on local custom.

14.  The principal consecrator and the consecrating bishops, wearing their miters, go to the seats prepared for the ordination and sit.

15.  The bishop-elect is led by his assisting priests to the chair of the principal consecrator, before whom he makes a sign of reverence.

Presentation of the Bishop-Elect

16.  One of the priests addresses the principal consecrator: Most Reverend Father, the church of N. asks you to ordain this priest, N., for service as bishop.

If the bishop-elect is not to be ordained as a residential bishop: Most Reverend Father, our holy mother the Catholic Church asks you to ordain this priest, N., for service as a bishop.

Apostolic Letter

The principal consecrator asks him:  Have you a mandate from the Holy See?

He replies:  We have.

Principal consecrator:  Let it be read.

Everyone sits while the document is read.

Consent of the People

17.  After the reading, all present say: Thanks be to God, or give their assent to the choice in some other way, according to local custom.


18.  Then the principal consecrator, while all are sitting, briefly addresses the clergy, people, and the bishop-elect on the duties of a bishop.  He may use these words:

Consider carefully the position in the Church to while our brother is about to be raised.  Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, in turn sent twelve apostles into the world.  These men were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel and gather every race and people into a single flock to be guided and governed in the way of holiness.  Because this service was to continue to the end of time, the apostles selected others to help them.  By the laying on of hands which confers the sacrament of orders in its fullness, the apostles passed on the gift of the Holy Spirit which they themselves had received from Christ.  In that way, by a succession of bishops unbroken from one generation to the next, the powers conferred in the beginning were handed down, and the work of the Savior lives and grows in our time.

In the person of the bishop, with his priests around him, Jesus Christ, the Lord, who became High Priest for ever, is present among you.  Through the ministry of the bishop, Christ himself continues to proclaim the Gospel and to confer the mysteries of faith on those who believe.  Through the fatherly action of the bishop, Christ adds new members to his body.  Through the bishop's wisdom and prudence, Christ guides you in your earthly pilgrimage toward eternal happiness.

Gladly and gratefully, therefore, receive our brother whom we are about to accept into the college of bishops by the laying on of hands.  Respect him as a minister of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God.  He has been entrusted with the task of witnessing to the truth of the Gospel and fostering a spirit of justice and holiness.  Remember the words of Christ spoken to the apostles: "Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me."

He then addresses the bishop-elect:

You, dear brother, have been chosen by the Lord.  Remember that you are chosen from among men and appointed to act for men and women in relation to God.  The title of bishop is not one of honor but of function, and therefore a bishop should strive to serve rather than to rule.  Such is the counsel of the Master: the greater should behave as if he were the least, and the leader as if he were the one who serves.  Proclaim the message whether it is welcome or unwelcome; correct error with unfailing patience and teaching.  Pray and offer sacrifice for the people committed to your care and so draw every kind of grace for them from the overflowing holiness of Christ.

As a steward of the mysteries of Christ in the church entrusted to you, be a faithful overseer and guardian.  Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, always be mindful of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.

As a father and a brother, love all those whom God places in your care.  Love the priests and deacons who share with you the ministry of Christ.  Love the poor and infirm, strangers and the homeless.  Encourage the faithful to work with you in your apostolic task; listen willingly to what they have to say.  Never relax your concern for those who do not yet belong to the one fold of Christ; they too are commended to you in the Lord.  Never forget that in the Catholic Church, made one by the bond of Christian love, you are incorporated into the college of bishops.  You should therefore have a constant concern for all the churches and gladly come to the aid and support of churches in need.  Attend to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit appoints you an overseer of the Church of God -- in the name of the Father, whose image you personify in the Church -- and in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, whose role of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd you undertake -- and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church of Christ and supports our weakness with his strength.

Examination of the Candidate

19.  The bishop-elect then rises and stands in front of the principal consecrator, who questions him:  An age-old custom of the Fathers decrees that a bishop-elect is to be questioned before the people on his resolve to uphold the faith and to discharge his duties faithfully.

My brother, are you resolved by the grace of the Holy Spirit to discharge to the end of your life the office of the apostles entrusted to us, which we now pass on to you by the laying on of hands?

The bishop-elect replies:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to be faithful and constant in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ?

Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to maintain the deposit of faith, entire and incorrupt, as handed down by the apostles and professed by the Church everywhere and at all times?

Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to build up the Church as the body of Christ and to remain united to it within the order of bishops under the authority of the successor of the apostle Peter?

Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to be faithful in your obedience to the successor of the apostle Peter?

Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved as a devoted father to sustain the people of God and to guide them on the way of salvation in cooperation with the priests and deacons who share your ministry?

Bishop-elect:   I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to show kindness and compassion in the name of the Lord to the poor and to strangers and to all who are in need?

Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved as a good shepherd to seek out the sheep who stray and to gather them into the fold of the Lord?

Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to pray for the people of God without ceasing, and to carry out the duties of one who has the fullness of the priesthood so as to afford no grounds for reproach?

Bishop-elect:  I am, with the help of God.

Principal consecrator:  May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.

Invitation to Prayer

20.  Then all stand, and the bishop, without his miter, invites the people to pray:  My dear people, let us pray that almighty God in his goodness will pour out his grace upon this man whom he has chosen to provide for the needs of the Church.

Deacon (except during the Easter season): Let us kneel.

Litany of the Saints

21.  The bishop-elect prostrates himself and, except during the Easter season, the rest kneel at their places.  The cantors begin the litany...; they may add, at the proper place, names of other saints (for example, the patron saint, the titular of the church, the founder of the church, the patron saint of the one to be ordained) or petitions suitable to the occasion.

22.  After the litany, the principal consecrator alone stands and, with hands joined, sings or says:  Lord, be moved by our prayers.  Anoint your servant with the fullness of priestly grace, and bless him with spiritual power in all its richness.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  R.  Amen.

Deacon: Let us stand.

Laying on of Hands

23.   All rise.  The principal consecrator and the consecrating bishops stand at their places, facing the people.  The bishop-elect rises, goes to the principal consecrator, and kneels before him.

24.  The principal consecrator lays his hands upon the head of the bishop-elect, in silence.  After him, all the other bishops present do the same.

Book of the Gospels  

25.  Then the principal consecrator places the open Book of the Gospels upon the head of the bishop-elect; two deacons, standing at either side of the bishop-elect, hold the Book of the Gospels above his head until the prayer of consecration is completed.

Prayer of Consecration

26.  Next the principal consecrator, with his hands extended over the bishop-elect, sings the prayer of consecration or says it aloud:

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies and God of all consolation, you dwell in heaven, yet look with compassion on all that is humble.  You know all things before they came to be; by your gracious word you have established the plan of your Church.

From the beginning you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation.  You established rulers and priests, and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you.  From the creation of the world you have been pleased to be glorified by those whom you have chosen.

    The following part of the prayer is recited by all the consecrating bishops, with hands joined:

So now pour out upon this chosen one the power that is from you, the governing Spirit whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit given by him to his holy apostles, who founded the Church in every place to be your temple for the unceasing glory and praise of your name.

    Then the principal consecrator continues alone.

Father, you know all hearts.  You have chosen your servant for the office of bishop.  May he be a shepherd to your holy flock, and a high priest blameless in your sight, ministering to you night and day; may he always gain the blessing of your favor and offer the gifts of your holy Church.  Through the Spirit who gives the grace of high priesthood grant him the power to forgive sins as you have commanded, to assign ministries as you have decreed, and to loose every bond by the authority which you gave to your apostles.  May he be pleasing to you by his gentleness and purity of heart, presenting a fragrant offering to you, through Jesus Christ, your Son, through whom glory and power and honor are yours with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, now and for ever.  R.  Amen.

27.  After the prayer of consecration, the deacons remove the Book of the Gospels which they have been holding above the head of the new bishop.  One of them hold the book until it is given to the bishop.  The principal consecrator and the consecrating bishops, wearing their miters, sit.

Anointing of the Bishops' Head

28.  The principal consecrator puts on a linen gremial, takes the chrism, and anoints the head of the bishop, who kneels before him.  He says:  God has brought you to share the high priesthood of Christ.  May he pour out on you the oil of mystical anointing and enrich you with spiritual blessings.  

The principal consecrator washes his hands.

Presentation of the Book of the Gospels

29.  He then hands the Book of the Gospels to the newly ordained bishop, saying:  Receive the Gospel and preach the word of God with unfailing patience and sound teaching.

Afterward the deacon takes the Book of the Gospels and returns it to its place.

Investiture with Ring, Miter, and Pastoral Staff

30.  The principal consecrator places the ring on the ring finger of the new bishop's right hand, saying:  Take this ring, the seal of your fidelity.  With faith and love protect the bride of God, his holy Church.

31.  Then the principal consecrator places the miter on the head of the new bishop, in silence.

32.  Lastly he gives the pastoral staff to the bishop, and says:  Take this staff as a sign of your pastoral office: keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.

Seating of the Bishop

33.  All stand.  If the ordination takes place at the bishop's chair and if the new bishop is in his own church, the principal consecrator invites him to occupy the chair; in that case the principal consecrator sits at the right of the newly ordained bishop.  If the new bishop is not in his own church, he is invited by the principal consecrator to take the first place among the concelebrating bishops.

If the ordination does not take place at the bishop's chair, the principal consecrator leads the newly ordained bishop to the chair or to a place prepared for him, and the consecrating bishops follow them.

Kiss of Peace

34.  The newly ordained then sets aside his staff and receives the kiss of peace from the principal consecrator and all the other bishops.

35.  After the presentation of the staff and until the end of the ordination rite, the following antiphon may be sung with Psalm 96: Alleluia, go and teach all people my Gospel, alleluia.  The antiphon is repeated after every two verses.  Glory to the Father is not said.  The psalm is interrupted and the antiphon repeated when all have given the kiss of peace to the new bishop.  Any other appropriate song may be sung. 

Liturgy of the Eucharist

36.  The rite for the concelebration of Mass is followed with this change:

37.  In Eucharistic Prayer I, the special form of Father, accept this offering is said: Father accept this offering from your whole family and from the one you have chosen for the order of bishops.  Protect the gifts you have given him, and let him yield a harvest worthy of you.  [Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.]

Concluding Rite

Hymn of Thanksgiving and Blessing

38.  At the conclusion of the prayer after communion, the hymn Te Deum is sung, or another hymn similar to it, depending on the local custom.  Meanwhile, the newly ordained bishop is led by the consecrating bishops through the church, and he blesses the congregation.

After the hymn, the new bishop may stand at the altar or at the chair with staff and miter and address the people briefly.

Solemn Blessing

39.  The following blessing may be used in place of the usual blessing. 

    If the newly ordained bishop is the celebrant, he says:  Lord God, you care for your people with kindness, you rule them with love.  Give you Spirit of wisdom to the bishops you have made teachers and pastors.  By advancing in holiness may the flock become the eternal joy of the shepherds.  R.  Amen.

Lord God, by your power you allot us the number of our days and the measure of our years.  Look favorably upon the service we perform for you, and give true, lasting peace in our time.  R.  Amen.

Lord God, now that you have raised me to the order of bishops, may I please you in the performance of my office.  Unite the hearts of people and bishop, so that the shepherd may not be without the support of his flock, or the flock without the loving concern of its shepherd.  R.  Amen.

May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.  R.  Amen.

    If the principal consecrator presides over the eucharistic liturgy, he says:  May the Lord bless and keep you.  He chose to make you a bishop for his people: may you know happiness in this present life and share unending joy.  R.  Amen.

The Lord has gathered his people and clergy in unity.  By his care and your stewardship may they be governed happily for many years.  R.  Amen.

May they be obedient to God's law, free from hardships, rich in every blessing, and loyally assist you in your ministry.  May they be blessed with peace and calm in this life and come to share with you the fellowship of the citizens of heaven.  R.  Amen.

May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.  R.  Amen.