Catholic view of Priesthood

Hi everyone!

Could someone explain/point to to a resource which explains the Catholic view on Priesthood? Who may be a priest? And how does that relate to the Protestant idea of “priesthood of all believers”? Any scripture references or CCC references would be very nice.

Thank you in advance!

Priesthood is directly tied to ones understanding of the Eucharist.

Hope this helps.

I think you link is broken.

Yes it is. It is missing the colon.

I will try again and apologies.

'First Peter 2 indicates that all Christians are priests—but it does not mention the existence of a ministerial priesthood. Indeed, the ordained ministers of the New Covenant are called apostles (cf. Eph. 4:11), presbyters (cf. Jas 5:14), bishops (cf. 1 Tm 3:1), and deacons (cf. 1 Tm 3:8ff), but never priests (Gk. hiereus).

So how do Catholics demonstrate the existence of a ministerial priesthood distinct from the** universal priesthood**?

First of all, a careful reading of 1 Peter 2, verses 5 and 9 reveals a reference to Exodus 19:6: “. . . and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” This text from Exodus indicates a universal priesthood in the Old Testament.

And yet, in Exodus 19:22, we read, "And also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves . . . " In other words, a universal priesthood in the Old Covenant did not exclude the possibility of a distinct ministerial priesthood as well. It would be natural then to expect the same in the New Covenant. And indeed, that is precisely what we discover’.

f you keep reading in Exodus 19, when you get down to verse 21 & 22, you will find God telling Moses to warn the people and the priests not to come onto the holy mountain, lest the Lord break out against them. So even in the very same chapter God is calling the whole nation a kingdom of priests, there is still a separate, ministerial priesthood.

The Old Testament parallels the Catholic Church today. The same situation exists today. We have Jesus as our great, high priest at the top, and there is the universal priesthood of all New Testament believers at the bottom. But the Bible also indicates there is a middle, ministerial priesthood that is ordained to serve the Church full-time.

To Jimmy Akin’s excellent article I would only add the reference to a Christian “altar” in Heb 13:10 and St Paul’s comparison of the Eucharist to the sacrifices of ancient Israel and the idolatrous sacrifices of pagans in 1 Cor 10:14-22. The expression “cup of the Lord” used in 1 Cor 10:21 is also used in 1 Cor 11:26-27. The expression “table of the Lord” used in 1 Cor 10:21 is also used in Malachi 1:7,12 as a synonym of “altar of the Lord.”

The Catechism on Holy Orders:

Thank you everyone! I shall look over these great answers and get back to you.

1562 "Christ, whom the Father hallowed and sent into the world, has, through his apostles, made their successors, the bishops namely, sharers in his consecration and mission; and these, in their turn, duly entrusted in varying degrees various members of the Church with the office of their ministry."43 "The function of the bishops’ ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfillment of the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to it by Christ."44

1563 "Because it is joined with the episcopal order the office of priests shares in the authority by which Christ himself builds up and sanctifies and rules his Body. Hence the priesthood of priests, while presupposing the sacraments of initiation, is nevertheless conferred by its own particular sacrament. Through that sacrament priests by the anointing of the Holy Spirit are signed with a special character and so are configured to Christ the priest in such a way that they are able to act in the person of Christ the head."45

1564 "Whilst not having the supreme degree of the pontifical office, and notwithstanding the fact that they depend on the bishops in the exercise of their own proper power, the priests are for all that associated with them by reason of their sacerdotal dignity; and in virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, after the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest, they are consecrated in order to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful as well as to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament."46

1565 Through the sacrament of Holy Orders priests share in the universal dimensions of the mission that Christ entrusted to the apostles. The spiritual gift they have received in ordination prepares them, not for a limited and restricted mission, “but for the fullest, in fact the universal mission of salvation 'to the end of the earth,”'47 "prepared in spirit to preach the Gospel everywhere."48

1566 "It is in the Eucharistic cult or in the Eucharistic assembly of the faithful (synaxis) that they exercise in a supreme degree their sacred office; there, acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father."49 From this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength.50

1567 "The priests, prudent cooperators of the episcopal college and its support and instrument, called to the service of the People of God, constitute, together with their bishop, a unique sacerdotal college (presbyterium) dedicated, it is true, to a variety of distinct duties. In each local assembly of the faithful they represent, in a certain sense, the bishop, with whom they are associated in all trust and generosity; in part they take upon themselves his duties and solicitude and in their daily toils discharge them."51 priests can exercise their ministry only in dependence on the bishop and in communion with him. The promise of obedience they make to the bishop at the moment of ordination and the kiss of peace from him at the end of the ordination liturgy mean that the bishop considers them his co-workers, his sons, his brothers and his friends, and that they in return owe him love and obedience.

1568 "All priests, who are constituted in the order of priesthood by the sacrament of Order, are bound together by an intimate sacramental brotherhood, but in a special way they form one priestly body in the diocese to which they are attached under their own bishop. . . ."52 The unity of the presbyterium finds liturgical expression in the custom of the presbyters’ imposing hands, after the bishop, during the rite of ordination.


All the baptized, men and women, infants and adults, are baptized as priests, prophets, and kings. Still, the ministerial priesthood has additional functions that the baptismal priesthood does not. Are you looking for evidence of the ministerial priesthood? Or simply the Catholic understanding of their role?

The Catholic view on both.

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