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Episcopi vagantes (Latin for "wandering bishops") are persons who have been ordained as bishops in some irregular fashion, especially those claiming to have valid Roman Catholic orders although their ordinations were not authorized by the Roman Catholic Church. (The singular form of the phrase is episcopus vagans.)

Many of these claim succession from the see of Utrecht, or from Orthodox or Eastern Rite Catholic churches; others from Roman Catholic bishops that have ordained their own bishops after disputes with the Vatican. Such lines continue to persist because of the more mechanistic understanding of apostolic succession which the Roman Catholic Church has—that is, if a "valid" bishop ordains a man using the proper rituals, then he is "valid" as well, even if neither has any living connection to the Church. The Orthodox understanding, however, necessarily presupposes the impossibility of episcopi that are vagantes, for the ministry of the episcopacy resides only within the Church.


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