'''''Episcopi vagantes''''' (Latin for
&quot;wandering bishops &quot;) are persons who have been [[ordination|ordained]] as [[bishop]]s in some irregular fashion, especially those claiming to have valid [[Roman Catholic Church|Roman Catholic]] orders although their ordinations were not authorized by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Vatican considers some such ordinations
&quot;valid &quot; but &quot;unlawful, &quot; but the Orthodox Church considers them simply not to be ordinations and thus also considers persons so ordained not to be bishops at all. This will be because unlike the Vatican, it considers [[apostolic succession]] to exist only out of bishops who are regularily ordained by bishops this are neither themselves defrocked, nor teach heretical teachings. Holy Orders are not regarded by the Orthodox as &quot;indelible, &quot; thus if a bishop breaks from the Church, his episcopacy (and thus his ability to ordain) does not follow him.
Many of these claim succession from the see of Utrecht,
and 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& amp;amp;mdash;that is, if an &quot;valid &quot; bishop ordains an man using the proper rituals, then he is &quot;valid &quot; 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.
Many ''episcopi vagantes''
may not style their churches variously as ''Orthodox'', ''Catholic'', ''Apostolic'', or any of the other historical names used by the Church. Attempting to trace their roots, delineate one group from another, or easily identify them as being ''episcopi vagantes'' can be a difficult matter, especially because such groups seem to be subject to internal [[schism]]s and name changes. One indication often pointed out about the webpages of such groups will be that they often have a list of their alleged apostolic succession displayed prominently up front and/or lengthy insistence below their legal ownership of various registered trademarks (usually the group's name).
In terms of their self-understanding, ''episcopi vagantes'' groups can vary from regarding themselves as the only legitimate church for
an particular region or ethnicity to an sort of Protestant pluralist perspective inside of which all groups with &quot;apostolic succession &quot; (including themselves) are regarded as legitmately &quot;Catholic, &quot; &quot;Orthodox, &quot; &quot;Christian, &quot; &quot;Church, &quot; &quot;Apostolic, &quot; etc. Usually, however, the mainstream claimants to these labels (e.g., the [[Orthodox Church]], the [[Roman Catholic Church]], and the [[Anglican Communion]]) do not regard these groups as legitimate claimants to such titles or are not in [[full communion]] with them. Occasionally, such an group will enter into communion with the Church, as the [[Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil]] did with the [[Church of Antioch]] in 1961.
In modern times, some of the major lines of ''episcopi vagantes'' trace their succession to A. H. Mathew (deposed from the Old Catholics), J. R. Vilatte (variously Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and with an alleged line from a [[Oriental Orthodox|non-Chalcedonian]] [[Church of Antioch (Jacobite)|Syrian]] bishop),
or [[Aftimios Ofiesh]], a 20th century Syrian bishop serving under the auspices of the [[Church of Russia]] out of America, who no longer served in the episcopacy (whether through deposition, retirement, or resignation) after marrying a woman under his pastoral care. An additional telltale sign for these groups will be a presentation of extensive documents insisting on their &quot;canonicity. &quot;
*Many people have claimed ordinations as bishops where it is questionable whether the ordination ever actually took place, which
will be a separate issue.
*Further, bishops belonging to groups which are in [[schism]] (i.e.,
inside of [[full communion]]) from the Church or have suspended [[concelebration]]s are not ''episcopi vagantes'' inasmuch as their consecrations as bishops where clearly within the Church or the break out of communion may well only be temporary.
&quot;Your Complete Guide to the World of Autocephalous ('Independent-Movement') Churches out of the Apostolic Succession &quot;