Alter Christus

I am working on Catholicism, with an open mind. Can anyone explain how considering the priest an Alter Christus is OK - it seems just not right to me.

Thank you

It is a way of speaking about the participation the priest has in the ministry of Christ, in virtue of the authority He gave the apostles (which was handed on).

Maybe if you tried to describe the trouble you have with it, you could get more helpful answers.

At first reaction it seems just wrong to call anyone another Christ. I have heard of Old Testament people being a type of Christ, but someone actually being another Christ seems wrong.

I may not understand your question correctly, but I think we are all called to be “alter Christus”. Example: Christ is the one mediator, but we all participate in that by also being mediators by prayers, teaching, etc.

What is unique to the priesthood is “Persona Christi”, In the person of Christ. When he forgives sins the priest says “I absolve you…” acting in the person of Christ. He does not say “Jesus absolves you”.

Do you have a problem with “alter Christus” or “persona Christi” or both?

Our Lord Jesus Christ uses priests in a special way to bring His grace to us. I am awed by their vocation and pray for them.

The language is not necessarily the friendliest to all sensibilities, but it is a useful way to sum up what a priest is in a 1 second sound-bite… He acts with Christ’s authority in a number of ways, and in so doing continues His life and ministry on Earth. Another (more charming!) way to say it might be that the priest is a “little Christ.” :thumbsup:

That does come across better.

Hi, Markie!

…many things do not seem right to me… as the wealthy getting more money and opportunities than the rest of us… as gender-fluidity being forced upon society by an imperialist governance under the guise of equality and tolerance… I could go on…

The issue you are having though is not with the Church but with Christ… it was Christ Who Founded the Church; it was Christ Who Delegated His Authority to the Church; it was Christ Who raised the Church to His Body–Status; it was Christ Who raised the Apostles to “alter/persona Christos” (though we can blame the Church for coming up with the various terms and definitions):

20 Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake: because they know not him who sent me. (St. John 15:20-21)

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (St. Luke 10:16)

…Jesus places His Disciples as His Representatives/Ambassadors… they speak for Christ… they are, in effect, acting in* persona Christos*.

Maran atha!


I know the foundation of the Church is respect and love for Jesus. It just seems odd that if Peter didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus, that his successors would be OK with being called “another Christ”.

We are here working for and representing our Lord, and he can work thru us, but when put this way it sounds like we now have multiple Christ’s - not one working thru many.

Hi Markie,
Have you considered this in context of the following verse?

John 14:12 says, ***"[12] “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.”

***[FONT=Georgia]Keep in mind also that Our Lord gave men the power to forgive sins just as He did.[/FONT]

Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest, rather than going directly to God?

 Well, the quick answer is because that's the way God wants us to do  it.  In James 5:16, God, through Sacred Scripture, commands us to  "confess our sins to one another."  Notice, Scripture does not say  confess your sins straight to God and only to says confess your  sins to one another.

In Matthew, chapter 9, verse 6, Jesus tells us that He was given authority on earth to forgive sins. And then Scripture proceeds to tell us, in verse 8, that this authority was given to “men”…plural.

In John 20, verses 21-23, what is the 1st thing Jesus says to the gathered disciples on the night of His resurrection? “Jesus said to them, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’” How did the Father send Jesus? Well, we just saw in Mt 9 that the Father sent Jesus with the authority on earth to forgive sins. Now, Jesus sends out His disciples as the Father has sent Him…so, what authority must Jesus be sending His disciples out with? The authority on earth to forgive sins. And, just in case they didn’t get it, verses 22-23 say this, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”

Why would Jesus give the Apostles the power to forgive or to retain sins if He wasn’t expecting folks to confess their sins to them? And how could they forgive or retain sins if no one was confessing their sins to them?

The Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another. It also tells us that God gave men the authority on Earth to forgive sins. Jesus sends out His disciples with the authority on earth to forgive sins. When Catholics confess our sins to a priest, we are simply following the plan laid down by Jesus Christ. He forgives sins through the priest…it is God’s power, but He exercises that power through the ministry of the priest.

[FONT=Georgia]See here…

It is always Christ working through the ministry of the priest and not the church or the priests ever claiming to be divine.

Thanks again Church Militant! Yes - that fits. I’ll have to think on it (what else is new?) - but it fits and I don’t have that initial reaction against it.

My journey has been challenging - partly due to background, but also not having a strong local parish. My wife and I agreed to start driving farther to a healthier parish.

Working on it! Thanks again!

Good idea.

Don’t be discouraged. You are doing the right thing by challenging everything so that later you have zero doubts. :slight_smile:

Hi, Markie!

…there have been those who claim that they are Christ… this is quite different because they are not saying that they have received a Delegation from Christ to Represent Him; these are actually claiming that *they *are divine.

“Alter/Persona Christo” are terms to determine that that specific individual is Representing Christ and that what he does is in direct obedience to Christ. Every Christian must be ready to accept this relationship since every Christian must represent Christ.

The Office of the Priesthood is specifically obliged to accept this Delegation; not only that, but it is the only Vocation that can fully be an Alter/Persona Christo since it is the Office of the Priesthood that has the Delegation to 1) Bind and Loosen and 2) Minister the Commemoration of the Lord’s Supper.

…you may have a problem understanding the vocabulary of the Church but you should not have any problem understanding the function of the Church.

Maran atha!


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