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Which Sacraments Can Only Be Done by a Priest?


In this segment from the Busted Halo Show, a listener named Wendy asks a question about the sacraments. “Which sacraments can only be done by a priest?” she asks. “By a deacon?” Father Dave explains “who can do what” when it comes to the seven sacraments.

WATCH: Sacraments 101 and 201 Videos

In terms of sacramental authority, only a bishop can perform all seven sacraments: Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Holy Orders, Marriage, and the Anointing of the Sick. Because of their position of authority, only bishops can preside over the Sacrament of Holy Orders or the ordination of priests. Likewise, Confirmation can only be performed by a bishop, with some exceptions. For example, if a bishop appoints a suitable representative, then another priest may preside in place of the bishop. Additionally, many priests are allowed to confirm their own parishioners during the Easter Vigil.

All priests, including bishops, can perform the Sacraments of Holy Communion, Reconciliation, and the Anointing of the Sick. All bishops, priests, and deacons can perform the Sacrament of Marriage.

RELATED: What Does the Bible Say About the Seven Sacraments?

Finally, the Sacrament of Baptism is normally performed by a bishop, priest, or deacon. However, special circumstances may permit a layperson to perform a baptism. If, for example, the one who will be baptized is in danger of death and there’s no priest or deacon present, any Christian layperson may baptize them.

Photo credit: Retired Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq of Brooklyn, N.Y., imparts the final blessing at an annual Mass celebrated for Black History Month at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)