Religion and the Church

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Religion is a daily part of life in Fading Suns; unlike the modern era, faith is not a question, it is merely a part of living, much like breathing or eating. The Universal Church of the Celestial Sun - the institution in which that faith is placed - is in some ways more a social institution than a political body (though parts of it are certainly very political).

The Religious Mentality

The presence of the Pancreator, His Prophet and the Saints in daily life is uncontested. Serfs toil under fading suns and attend regular services; when their luck is good, it is because the Pancreator has blessed them, and when life is unkind it is because they are being tested or because of the work of demons and evil spirits. The supernatural has always provided a causal explanation for the things outside of science's grasp, and in the New Dark Ages the dearth of science means that much of human knowledge no longer lies within its purview. Additionally, the fundamental unexplainability of key phenomena - theurgy, antinomy, the Symbiots, the jumpgates and the Fading Suns themselves - mean that the promise of science no longer holds the appeal it once did.

In ages past, it was believed that a sufficiently advanced science could explain all natural phenomena, and it was this underlying philosophy that drove continued research and exploration. That belief is no longer held. Even the Guilds - as much as anything the last bastion of that earlier ideal - scorn 'pure science' as foolish. Engineers redeem technology by following steps set down in ancient manuals rather than by trying to discover the logical relationship between parts, Charioteers replace elegant formulas with labyrinthine tables when calculating orbital mechanics, and the Apothecaries study tomes depicting every part of the human body instead of seeking to understand the way it functions. Learning is now by rote rather than inquiry, and in place of the scientific method a shrine to tradition has been raised - and in many ways, that shrine is embodied in the Church.

That replaced ideal permeates the culture of Fading Suns. Nobles look to the life and works of Lextius as a model for their own doings, and mark their laws by those reported to have been made by him. Charioteers mutter prayers to Saint Paulus before they pass through each jumpgate, and the Muster asks for Saint Mantius' blessing before battles. (The Muster's slaves, on the other hand, often pray to Saint Maya that they be freed from their chains.) Perhaps harder to understand is the way that religion defines morality. To the modern eye, compassion is valued because it is some way virtuous - it has some rational value to society. In the New Dark Ages, compassion is valued because it is Saint Amalthea's virtue. The Prophet preached compassion; therefore, it is good. The difference is subtle, but important, for in the first case the value of compassion comes from some inner understanding, and in the second it is derived by an outside authority - and this metaphor applies to the New Dark Ages in general. For most people, faith is not a matter of inner spirituality, but is instead an external truth - the presence of the Church in the lives of the people is a matter of immutable natural law and not the consequence of some personal choice that everyone happens to make.

The effect of this culture on people's lives is sometimes subtle and sometimes substantial. Oaths sworn before the Pancreator carry great weight before courts of law, and tithes are settled before tax, charity and even food. When a problem arises in the order of things, the instinctual response is not to look for its causes, but to seek out means to cope with its consequences. If the people are unsettled, the noble responds with more restriction to keep them down, rather than by trying to assuage the source of their troubles. If a terraforming engine begins to fail, men of learning will - on the whole - seek to prepare the people for a post-apocalyptic world rather than attempt to repair the flagging machine. Indeed, certain radical theologians suggest that attempts to treat the causes of problems are the height of hubris, for (they say) all trials and tribulations come from the Divine, and to contest them is to contest the Pancreator's will. It is instead the lot of mankind to abide, and like Job keep his faith despite trouble.

History of the Church

The Universal Church of the Celestial Sun as an institution is almost as ancient as the teachings of the Prophet himself, as the Church was created by Saint Palamedes Alecto shortly after the Prophet's death. The Church lead humanity in its first true test among the stars, the Ukar Wars, and has since then been a constant part of human existence.

Originally, there was some conflict between Palamedes' Urth Orthodoxy and Amalthea's Sanctuary Aeon as to which religious school would lead the Church. The more militant Orthodoxy eventually took the lead, and has been the unquestioned body spiritual of the Known Worlds since. The Amaltheans have retained a certain autonomy as a consequence, however; while they are a division of the Church and obedient to its will, they are not subservient members of it in the same way that the other non-Orthodox factions often seem to be. The Sanctuary Aeon has held on to more technology than the rest of the Known Worlds, and its missions - extensions of the autocephalus Archbishopric of Artemis - exist on every planet to salve the sick.

The next two sects to arise were the Temple Avesti and the Brother Battle. The Temple Avesti was originally a mostly-independent denomination of 'pilgrims' who preached a very fundamentalist version of the Omega Gospels heavy on fire and brimstone. The early Temple promoted activity over education, and Avesti pilgrims were charged with aggressively burning out sin in the Known Worlds. Additionally, the Avesti took the concept of the Holy Flame literally, and the flameguns became the mark of their cleansing. Eventually, the depredations of the Temple Avesti upon the rest of the jumpweb lead to a united Orthodox-Noble armada over their homeworld Pyre, at which time the leaders of the Temple submitted to Patriarchal control. Indeed, any Orthodox priest can give orders to Avesti of equal or lesser rank and the Avesti are required to follow them. As a consequence, the Avesti are leashed to the Orthodoxy, but for political reasons that leash is kept loose - it is with the fanaticism of Temple Avesti that the Orthodoxy can threaten their political enemies, though like all fanatics the Avesti sometimes act when the Orthodoxy would not desire it. Still, that is the price the Orthodoxy must pay if it wants to be able to plausibly deny involvement in extreme Avesti cleansings. In general, the Avesti are considered to be uneducated and uncouth by the powers that be among the Known Worlds, but their zeal lends them a particular strength that ostracization can only increase.

The Brother Battle are an order of warrior monks akin to the Knights Templar of medieval history; founded as an order of monastic knights during the Fall of the Second Republic by a small cadre of nobles, the Brother Battle were originally constituted as protectors of pilgrim travelers. This is a role they have maintained to the present day. In addition to the Omega Gospels, the Brother Battle hold a secret document known as the Rule of Battle close to their faith; only one Patriarch has ever read the complete Rule, and many of the Order's enemies label it heretical sight unseen. Certainly, there have been persistent rumors that the Brothers venerate Battle and bodily perfection, and others of more recent provenance are accusations of Emperor-worship and Mammonism. Due to some clever politics on their part, the Brother Battle have the second-largest bank in the Known Worlds, and this economic power also breeds distrust. At the same time, however, the large Brother Battle presence at the Stigmata Garrison reassures many of the Order's needed purpose. Members of the Brother Battle stand as an independent order, and are subject to the edicts of no Orthodox bishop save the Patriarch himself. This independence is another thing that gives rival churchmen pause and cause to fear the order.

The most recent sect of the Church to be recognized is the Eskatonic Order, which has existed as an outlawed and underground sect for centuries, devoted to study of occult mysteries and a mission of revelation and preaching of the Eskaton, or coming apocalypse. Eskatonic belief holds that each soul has a flame of its own, which must be stoked by good works and study; this runs counter to the Orthodox position that each soul merely reflects the Pancreator's light. The Eskatonics were long declared heretics for this belief and for their open practice of theurgy, which the mainstream Church has sometimes considered suspect. When theurgy proved very effective against the Symbiots, however, the Eskatonics were brought into the fold of Mother Church. They were finally recognized just fifty years ago by a document called the Pentateuch Concordat, which some other heretical sects believe might become a model for future reconciliations.

Organization of the Church

The temporal and spiritual head of the Church is the Patriarch, who rules from his seat in Rio Brasilia on Holy Terra. His direct assistant is the Syneculla, who runs the Church bureaucracy, and he is advised by several bodies of bishops including the College of Ethicals, the day-to-day legislative body of the Church, the Holy Synod, which makes sweeping policy decisions, and the Inquisitorial Synod which issues Inquisitorial warrants and guards the faithful against heresy.

Politically, the Church divides its control of worlds and flocks up in a pyramid-like heirarchy. Beneath the Patriarch are five metropolitans, superior archbishops who rule over groups of planets analagous to the domains of each Royal House. Metropolitans are the major players in Church politics, so much so that they are sometimes called 'Little Patriarchs.' Beneath the metropolitans are archbishops, each of whom guard the faithful of a planet, and beneath the archbishops are the diverse bishops whose dioceses cover each planet's surface. Priests head individual parish churches within each diocese and are assisted by deacons who might run smaller side chapels in a parish.

Several planets are either under direct Patriarchal control - meaning that the archbishops report to the Patriarch in the same fashion that other archbishops report to their metropolitan - or are autocephalus, meaning that the Archbishop of the planet has no direct superior at all. Of course, even autocephalus archbishops and metropolitans look to the Patriarch as their Holy Father, but they enjoy a great deal more independence than their brother archbishops on Patriarchal worlds.

The planet Artemis - the seat of the Amaltheans - is run by the autocephalus Archbishop of Artemis, an Amalthean who serves as the temporal head of the Sanctuary. The spiritual head is the Ketrarch, who is a sort of successor to Saint Amalthea herself. All Amaltheans everywhere are members of the See of Artemis, regardless of their physical location; the only other planet controlled totally by the Sanctuary is Grail, where one of the bishops is called the Little Ketrarch and serves as the de facto archbishop of the planet. Pyre, De Moley and Pentateuch are ruled not by traditional archbishops but by the heads of the sects that base themselves on those planets, but the Orthodoxy still maintains a substantial proportion of the parishes on those worlds - especially on Pentateuch and De Moley, as the Brother Battle and Eskatonics are less given to preaching than the Avesti, Amaltheans and Orthodoxy.

The planetary cathedrals of several other planets are held by sects other than the Urth Orthodoxy, but even then it is the Orthodox structure that controls the planet; it just happens to be that the planetary archbishop of the world is an Avesti, Eskatonic or whatever.

In several cases, the archbishop's cathedral is not actually occupied by a priest who holds the rank of archbishop. This can happen for several reasons. When the planetary see is held by the Brother Battle or Amaltheans, a master (for the Brother Battle) or bishop (for the Amaltheans) holds the cathedral, as each sect has only one archbishop-ranked priest - the Grand Master of the Brother Battle and the Archbishop of Artemis, respectively. Among the Brother Battle, no special title is usually given, though the master in question is sometimes called 'Master of Planet Name' rather than 'Master of Monastery Name.' Amalthean bishops who hold a planetary see might instead take on the title 'Presiding Bishop of Planet Name', a nomenclature borrowed from the Orthodoxy who use it when a bishop holds a planetary see that is for some reason diminished in prestige or when the planetary see has yet to be elevated to a full archbishopric. This is the case at present on Pandemonium; after the death of the last Archbishop of Grange, Bishop Lyander was merely made Presiding Bishop due to the shrunken size of the planet's livable area. The title has also been used to denote the ranking bishop on lost worlds that are controlled mostly by the infidel. The planet Hira was controlled by a presiding bishop for some time, though recently the see was upgraded to be that of an archbishop.

Also scattered throughout the Known Worlds are a selection of monastic communities, most under the control of one of the major sects but also some that are run by hesychast monks. Such communities are generally designated as either priories or abbeys, depending on size, and while the leaders of those monasteries do not generally use Orthodox titles priors are usually considered to be like a priest in dignity and abbots - especially those of the larger and more famous monasteries - to be similar to a bishop in stature.

The Education of a Priest

Orthodox priests are educated either in a parish, under the tutelage of a senior clergyman, in a monastery, or in a large city cathedral. Generally, the Orthodoxy is divided into two orders of clerics, the Red and White Priesthoods. The Red Priesthood is more monastic, scholastic, and political, and are often educated in monasteries or cathedrals. Red Priests swear oaths of celibacy and chastity and are far more likely to reach the heights of Church office. White Priests, on the other hand, may marry, and are most often parish priests who rarely attain high office. Amalheans, on the whole, are very similar to white priests, while Avesti like red priests. The Eskatonics are also more like the Red Priesthood, though that is superficial, as they do not have the conservative outlook of Red Orthodox Priests. Brother Battle are raised in their own fortress-monasteries, their ways closed to outsiders.

Novitiate

All would-be priests begin to serve the Church as novices, usually entering their novitiate during their early teens - though some have entered much later. A parish usually has no more than two or three novitiates who assist the parish priest in preparing for services and perform some of the routine labor on the parish's lands. At the same time, they are taught a smattering of Latin and edcuated in the scriptures by their parish priest. High emphasis is placed on parish novitiates learning to inferface with the people of the parish, so that they will have the communication skills needed when they later come to have a parish of their own.

Novitiates in a monastery live a much stricter life, tending to the monastery gardens and lands, reading Scripture, illuminating manuscripts and laboring under the lessons of full brothers and sisters in the monastery. Novitiates are basically never allowed to leave the monastery, and their studies are rigorous and focused on largely academic questions, something that sometimes leaves them at a lack in social situations but provides them with theological rigor.

Cathedral-educated novitiates are something of a blend of the above categories. Cathedral novitiates are generally resident among the brothers and sisters of the cathedral chapter, and while they are not generally given the freedom of the city they do get the cosmopolitan education of being within the cities that so often surround cathedrals. More than any other novitiate, those educated in a cathedral are in daily proximity to power, so in addition to their studies and the continual work that maintaining all the cathedral's sacred spaces requires clever novitiates recieve a keen political education by watching those around them.

Canon

Once a cleric has undergone his novitiate he is elevated to the rank of canon, so named because it denotes the man or woman as a full participant in the brotherhood of clergy, able to sit in on councils of the monastery or cathedral chapter and have a full vote on the canons (hence the name) of Church law. While novices are also called 'brother' and 'sister', it is at this rank that title really implies.

Canons in parish churches assist the parish priest in the day-to-day running of the parish, handling its finances, supervising its villeins and helping the priest during services. Parish canons are usually of two sorts. Career canons are often married individuals who at first glance wouldn't seem much different than any other townsman - professionals, as it were, who assist in administrating the local church. Other canons are obviously just passing through, and they assist more in religious functions as they study to be ordained to the deaconate.

Monastery and cathedral canons look a bit different. In both cases, the canons make up the bulk of the monastic population, and they spend their time much as monks do - working for the monastery, studying, and contemplating. Some monastic canons recieve additional duties, and they might be distinguished by being called 'Brother Hospitaller' or 'Sister Herbalist' instead of just 'Brother' or 'Sister' - but on the whole, these brothers and sisters are quiet souls devoted to their faith. Those brothers and sisters in cathedrals sometimes seem very much like their monastic brethern, but there is a second class of canon often seen that is obviously politically-minded. These canons are often found serving as secretaries or assistants to influential priests or even bishops, or else are the designated tithe-collectors or envoys of the cathedral chapter.

Deacon

The promotion to deacon is a significant one, as it is at this point that a cleric recieves his first formal ordination and is allowed to perform some of the sacraments, including giving sermons and offering formal blessings and advice to parishoners. Deacons are officially authorized by the Church to counsel the flock on the right course of action, and their advice is considered to contain within it kernels of the Pancreator's wisdom - but they are barred from officially taking confession, as that rite is reserved for priests alone.

Deacons in parishes often assist their parish priest and make rounds among the outlying farms and homesteads, bringing with them news and information from the parish priest. Some deacons also manage small chapels of their own, consecrated places attached to a larger church but without a full priest in residence. A deacon placed in charge of such a chapel is its steward and caretaker, keeping it ready for a usually weekly visit by an itinerant priest who serves a number of similar chapels. In the mean time, the deacon is the Church authority on scene, a sometimes heady responsibility.

In a monastery, deacons are largely indistinguishable from their brethern except during services, when they assist the celebrant in his or her duties and perform other ceremonal roles. Monastic deacons are also often assigned as guides to novitiates or canons who have come to a troubled time in their faith.

Cathedral deacons are caretakers of side chapels within the cathedral just some parish deacons take care of remote chapels, helping those who come to beg advice of a particular saint work through some of their problems with the Pancreator's support. Politically-minded deacons often find service as the counselors or assistants of priests and bishops, sometimes functioning as their emissary even across large distances. Deacons may also find specialized posts within a cathedral, serving as chartophlyax (librarian), head doorkeeper or other such roles. The most important deacon in a cathedral is called the Archdeacon, and he supervises the other deacons within the cathedral as well as having ceremonial duties in the chapter. The archdeacon is often more influential than most priests, despite technically being below them in rank.

Priest

Ordination as a priest is a big deal. Priests are the backbone of the Church, able to perform almost every sacrament of the Church. They preach, take confession, and are entrusted with the safe-keeping of their flocks. If the Church is an army of faith, priests are its officers.

The vast majority of priests are in the countless parishes across the Known Worlds, tending to the needs of the flock there and maintaining the parish church. Parish priesthood is generally the last stop for priests in a parish track, as they are unsuited to further promotion - but it can be a happy stop, and for most is all they desire. Indeed, priests of the White Priesthood can marry, and many of them live happy lives and have many children until their death. Parish priests come in two types. Most commonly, they are the rector of their parish, which is to say that the have complete control of the parish and all its finances. They can be removed by their bishop, but it is uncommon. In other cases, a priest might be made a parish vicar, managing the parish but not being its official priest. Instead, the vicar is the representative of the bishop who oversees the parish. Often, vicars oversee several parishes or have a parish of their own of which they are rector. Vicars with multiple parishes under their care are considered to be of a slightly higher dignity than an ordinary priest, and recieve respect accordingly.

In a monastery, priests are few and far between - the prior or abbot and perhaps an additional confessor. On the whole, monks are not ordained, with only a few of their company having recieved ordination to minister to the others in the community. Priors, like the vicars mentioned above, are thought to have a higher dignity than an ordinary priest, and abbots are superior still. Indeed, many abbots are in fact mitred, ranking with bishops even though they have not technically recieved episcopal ordination.

Cathedral priests help celebrate the almost continual masses being said in most cathedrals - two, three, or more a day - and help take the confessions of the string of urban worshippers who are about at all hours. Some find a place in a Cathedral and stick there, but many are jockeying for political advancement, serving the bishop in a variety of political and diplomatic functions. Like the archdeacon, there is usually a senior priest in the cathedral who is the head of the Cathedral chapter, supervising the rude democracy of the body spiritual. His title varies - sometimes, he is called the cathedral dean, the archpriest, the archimandrite or any of a variety of other honorifics. The dean of the cathedral is elected by the chapter and can sometimes be more powerful than the bishop himself, especially if the bishop is newly raised to the episcopal seat.

Bishop

Bishops are often called princes of the church, and being made a bishop is an initiation into the highest halls of power. There divisions between lesser priests fall away, here - all bishops, by virtue of their rank, reside in a cathedral, with rare exceptions. Elevation to a bishop comes from the planetary archbishop and one other consenting bishop who must be present for the rite, and must be confirmed by the Metropolitan - or the Patriarch, on a Patriarchal world. Autocephalus archbishops do not need their appointments confirmed. According the rites of the Sacrament, it is technically possible to ordain a bishop with any two other bishops, but the granting of a see requires approval and such a 'rogue bishop' would be brought to trial for contravening the strictures of the Church - though even if convicted, he would still be bishop. Episcopal ordination (like all other sorts of ordination) cannot be revoked.

Cathedrals are generally located within cities, usually the centerpieces of earldoms or counties, making them important regional centers of faith. The political power of a bishop's see is substantial, as it becomes one of the few institutions to cross fief lines - the bishop's see will generally encompass the earldom and several neighboring baronies, formalizing the regional unity a marquessate court creates. This also prevents border disputes between those clusters of fiefs, as bishops (understanding that boys will be boys) would far rather direct the aggressive energies of his flock towards a neighboring see, where he might gain more parishes and consequently increase his influence. The planet's bishops are all members of the planetary Bishopric Council, which advises the planetary archbishop, and it is in this council that many of the planetary intrigues of the Church occur.

Within his see, a Bishop is a powerful force. While he can be checked somewhat by his cathedral's chapter, he appoints priests to parishes, ordains new priests, empowers vicars, and controls the see's flow of tithes, save for those portions of the funds guaranteed to priests in their parishes. He also exerts significant influence on seemingly-independent monasteries, missions and the like within his domain.

There are, as mentioned above, a few exceptions to the general place of bishops within cathedral sees. The first applies to mitred abbots, who - apart from ruling from an abbey rather than a cathedral - behave similarly in many ways to a normal bishop. The only real difference is that abbeys are feudal powers in their own rights, with tenants and serfs like a noble lord, and that abbeys do not hold sway over lesser parishes - though they do often appoint priests as stewards of villages on their lands in the manner of a parish priest.

The second is for itinerant bishops, who have no fixed cathedral seat but rather a broader realm of authority. These come in fact in two sorts. The first sort recieves a geographical area as his see, and travels throughout, in effect moving his cathedral seat from town to town. This is done most often when there is no central location to raise a cathedral, to better serve the flock. The second sort is a decidedly more political animal; attached to an archbishop, metropolitan, the Syneculla or the Patriarch himself, this 'Bishop of the Faith Itinerant' is appointed to serve the Church as a whole, with no fixed Cathedral but rather a set of duties. Such bishops are often found as Patriarchal Legates or other powerful emissaries. Occasionally, they may recieve a purely titular see somewhere on Holy Terra for prestige and increased income, but these cathedrals are honorific, and rarely issued to plain bishops. (But see cardinals, below, when discussing archbishops.)

The final exception is for auxiliary or adjunct bishops, who are assigned to assist a bishop or archbishop in the administration of his see. Planetary archbishops almost always have an auxiliary bishop, who administers their actual cathedral and its immediate diocese while the archbishop tends to the spiritual needs of the planet and its politics. Certain powerful bishops are also given an auxiliary bishop, usually because they are called into Church service away from their see (usually of a diplomatic or theological nature, though during the wars certain warrior-bishops were called into more martial service) or because their diocese contains a court of significant stature that their time is required by the local lord.

Archbishop

The penultimate rank within the Church is that of archbishop - above this, only the Patriarch stands higher, though the archbishops are divided amongst themselves in orders of precedence. Archbishops are the stewards of planetary sees, the supreme religious authority on any given planet. They are advised by a bishopric council of all the bishops of the planet (as well as some occaisonal high-ranking priests specially appointed) and stand toe to toe with dukes in their power in the Known Worlds. Archbishops do not have a special ordination - they are merely powerful bishops, in a purely scriptual sense - but they are appointed to their archdiocese by their Metropolitan, or by the Patriarch himself if they oversee a Patriarchal or autocephalus world.

Archbishops come in several flavors, as mentioned above under 'Organization'. Planetary archbishops are elevated as above, by the Metropolitan or Patriarch, and Metropolitans and autocephalus archbishops are directly Patriarchally appointed. Appointment as an archbishop of any sort requires the confirmation of the local synod, be it the bishopric council for a planetary see or the metropolitan council for one of the metropilae.

There exists an additional, special class of archbishops that reside only on Holy Terra - cardinals, the members of the infamous College of Ethicals, which serves as the day-to-day deliberative body of the Church. The College is notorious for its corruption and lust for power, and its cardinals do not in fact have planetary sees but rather token, honorific sees on Holy Terra itself.

The highest-ranking archbishop is the Syneculla, the Patriarch's deputy and the only member of the Church barred from ever becoming Patriarch. He is the head of the Synecullum, the Church's bureacracy and political arm, and his agents - from lowly canons to lofty bishops - advance the political goals of the Church throughout the Known Worlds. Sometimes, they do so quite openly in the guise of diplomatic service, and sometimes their service is far more secret. The Syneculla is appointed by the Patriarch and requires no one's confirmation, though the post is a highly political one and its appointment the source of a great deal of intrigue.

The Patriach

The most powerful clergyman in the Known Worlds is the Patriarch, Hezekiah the Elder, said to be in ailing health. The Patriarch is - in theory - appointed by the Pancreator and confirmed by a special convocation of the Holy Synod, a council of bishops and archbishops who meet only to choose a Patriarch and when grave threats face the Church. Practically, he is chosen by the often-fractured Synod, who often have to wrangle for weeks on end to come to any consensus. With the Patriarch's ill health, discussion has already begun as possible successors - mostly metropolitans, though the autocephalus archbishop of Byzantium Secundus is also mentioned - begin to eye the Patriarch's throne. Theoretically, a member of any sect can become Patriarch, but it is almost always a conservative member of the Urth Orthodoxy.

Special Bodies and Individuals

There are several groups of clerics - or individual clerics - who do not fit in the regular Church structure, usually because they have some special, outside purpose.

The Inquisition, Kalinthi, Synecullum and Sanhedrin

The most well-known of these is the Holy Inquisition, governed by the Inquisitorial Synod. The majority of the Inquisitorial Synod - and consequently, the majority of its members - are Avesti, though the Orthodoxy retains a strong presence. Almost no other sect is represented on the Synod. Members of the Synod are authorized to investigate allegations of heresy and witchcraft, and when issued an occult warrant have almost unrivaled power and authority. If there is anyone in the Known Worlds who can truly said to have the force of law behind their words, it is the Inquisition - though the force of their flameguns, too, is a useful tool.

A far less public order with similar mission to the Inquisition is the Kalinthi, a secretive group of clerics - powerful theurges all - constituted to hunt demons with holy power behind their blows. When in pursuit of antinomy, they, too, possess warrants to supercede almost all temporal authority. Little is publically known about the Kalinthi, but their presence on a world indicates that something is seriously wrong, spiritually - when they can be found, as they always travel incognito. Revelation as Kalinthi is usually the precursor to a messy death at antinomist's hands. Any sect can become Kalinthi.

The Orthodoxy has always had a temporal role in addition to its spiritual presence, and the Synecullum - the secret police of the Church, reporting to the Patriarch's chief councillor - are the strong arm of that political agenda. They are spies and enforcers who advance the Orthodox agenda by any means neccessary, employing whatever means they find neccessary.

Among the Eskatonic Order, the Sanhedrin are first line of defense against those students who in their pursuit of mystery stray too close to the abyss and fall into heresy, antinomy, or dark pursuits. Detective, bounty hunter, marshal and judge by turn, the Sanhedrin deal with internal matters so that the Order's business is kept secret and the Inquisition does not need to be involved. They are identified by others in their order by their black, hooded robes and the golden Staff of Censure they carry.

Hierophants, Chartophylax, and Vicars

Certain individual priests also recieve special titles or designations, usually to indicate extraordinary resposibilities they bear or to designate special areas of expertise or authority they possess.

Especially learned theologians - almost always at least bishops, and often of higher rank - are appointed to the College of Hierophants by Patriarchal decree, indicating that their interpretative commentary on the Omega Gospels is considered official. Metropolitans are hierophants by virtue of their office, but are often thought to not deserve that office, as their rulings upon Gospels (while binding) regularly seem to have a very political slant.

Similarly - though far less distinguished - clergy of the rank of canon or higher can be certified as a chartophylax, indicating that they are an official Church librarian. This appointment can come from no less than a bishop or mitred abbot, as chartophylaxes are entrusted with the safe-keeping of the Church's knowledge - and the safekeeping of knowledge-seekers, which requires a great deal of judgment that the Church is very careful about allowing. While the monastery chartophylax may be a lowly canon, even bishops bear this title - most notably, the Great Chartophlax, presently Bishop Nyana vo Dret, an Obun woman. The Great Chartophylax makes the ultimate decisions about what texts are to be classified and surpressed or allowed, though lesser chartophylaxes make similar decisions about the fitness of those who seek suspect knowledge.

There are several special kinds of vicars appointed by bishops and archbishops. As mentioned above, most vicars are sort of caretakers of a parish, appointed by a bishop to look after it until a permanent rector is appointed. There are several other, more political roles a vicar might also hold.

A vicar-general is appointed by a bishop or archbishop to serve almost as a 'second bishop' within his own see; in that regard, they function a lot like auxiliary bishops, and are thus often created when a bishop finds himself possessed of greater responsibilities such as might make an adjunct bishop helpful but does not as point of fact have such an adjunct. Archbishops and metropolitans sometimes appoint vicar-generals for other reasons - often, to supervise some distant part of their see full-time because of special circumstances that require a firm hand and a close eye. This sometimes happens when a metropolitan is trying to add a new world to their metropolitae - they send a vicar-general to be their representative until such time as there is sufficient ground gained (usually in war) to a full-time bishop - or when some part of a planetary see is in theological rebellion or heresy, and the archbishop wants to have someone there to keep a firm hand.

Vicars-capitular are sort of 'fill-in bishops' when an episcopal see has gone empty. They are appointed by the local archbishop to serve as his personal representative until such time as a bishop is appointed. As technically the appointment of a bishop to an episcopal see requires the approval of the cathedral chapter, unscrupulous archbishops sometimes appoint a vicar-capitular as a way to end run around a troublesome (to the archbishop's mind) Cathedral chapter, in order to keep the chapter's voice silent while the archbishop dilly-dallies around appointing a bishop.

Church Diplomats

Church diplomacy has special titles for its various consuls and ambassadors, indicative generally of the personal rank of the ambassador and also the rank of the See which has dispatched him.

The lowest level of Church diplomat is a 'Prefect Missi', a priest named by a bishop or archbishop as his envoy. Such a priest is considered a vicar, and has all the traditional diplomatic immunities and the like, but ultimately all of his power is derived from the bishop who named him so. When Metropolitans dispatch prefects (which they do rarely, usually relying upon bishops as their ambassadors), such a prefect is called a 'Metropolitan Prefect', but is otherwise identical to a Prefect Missi.

Often, an archbishop or metropolitan will call upon a bishop to serve as their ambassador. Such a prelate is called an 'Envoy Extraordinary,' to indicate that this bishop is empowered beyond the ordinary powers of a bishop in his or her see. Such an ambassador is a heady person indeed, as the extra diplomatic powers are tantamount to being Archbishop.

The Patriarch's envoys go by another name entirely; regardless of rank, they are called Legates, and are specifically deputized by the Patriarch to represent his word. Legates are almost always bishops, and the most important of the legates are archbishops or cardinals. Importantly, legates are the only Church ambassadors whose powers are not delegated; that is, appointment as a legate gives the prelate in his own self ambassadorial power, rather than deriving that from the archbishop who accredited him. All Metropolitans are legates by virtue of their position, and indeed, a legate can deputize prefects and envoys in the same fashion as a Metropolitan.

Confessors and Chaplains

Two additional special classes of clergy remain - confessors and chaplains. Both confessors and chaplains are assigned either to individuals or military units to minister, exercising the normal powers and duties of a priest with his parishoners. They are special because often - especially with smaller units or less-important nobles - they are not in fact priests, but are instead canons or deacons who have recieved special dispensation from their superior, empowering them to serve as proxy priests to their charges. This is especially common with confessors, as almost every noble counts one among his household and it is impractical to 'waste' an ordained priest on some knight and his four retainers.