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Sacramental character

In Christianity, according to the Tridentine dogmas of Catholicism, a sacramental character is an indelible supernatural mark made on a person's soul by any of three of the seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, and holy orders. The characters imprinted by those three sacraments are held to differ from each other. Each character is held to remain indelible during the recipient's life, and therefore each of those three sacraments may be received only once. In the case of holy orders, a man who has been ordained a deacon may be ordained a priest, but may not again be ordained a deacon; similarly a priest may be ordained a bishop but may not again be ordained a priest, and a bishop may not receive any further holy orders. Theologians differ on the question of whether the episcopal character is merely an extension of the presbyteral character, or is separate from it. Catholic dogmas do not state whether sacramental characters continue indelible after death, although theologians consider it very probable.

The doctrine of sacramental characters is at least 1000 years older than the Council of Trent, which defined it a dogma, having been written about by Augustine of Hippo.



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