Comparing LDS and Catholic Priesthood

Well I am obviously still LDS, looking to start RCIA in the fall and I just wondered what differences there are between the Mormon Priesthood and the Catholic Priesthood, Today I suddenly had something enter my thoughts. The LDS priesthood allows all men of certain ages to obtain their priesthood, which I respectfully do not agree with at this point, since i believe the LDS don’t have the true priesthood. On the other hand in the Catholic faith I saw something somewhere about the “Priesthood of all believers” What does that entail? Also I know in the RCC that you have the priests, bishops, archbishops that have their priesthood. I just wanted to know the differences and get some clarification. So far its been great as I have begun my conversion process.


On the other hand in the Catholic faith I saw something somewhere about the “Priesthood of all believers” What does that entail?.
Hope this helps! :slight_smile:

The Laity Share in the Priesthood of Christ
General Audience — December 15, 1993

Under this impulse of the Holy Spirit, the laity come to share in the priesthood of Christ, …

By virtue of this sharing in his priesthood, Christ gives all his members, laity included (cf. LG 34), the capacity of offering in their lives that worship which he himself called “worshipping the Father in Spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23).** By carrying out this worship the faithful, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, share in the incarnate Word’s sacrifice and in his mission as high priest and universal Redeemer.**

This is the laity’s great mission: **“For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne–all these become ‘spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’ Together with the offering of the Lord’s body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. **Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God” (cf. LG 34; CCC 901).

Here I would like to conclude with the well-known words from the First Letter of Peter, which describe the image of the laity as sharers in the Eucharistic-ecclesial mystery: “You too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit, into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5).

In other words, Catholics- each of us is a “priest” as we share in sacrifice and worship to the Father. We do not have a formal priestly vocation. That takes annointing in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We share in the Priesthood of Christ.

For the entire reading:

Also I know in the RCC that you have the priests, bishops, archbishops that have their priesthood.

True. All of our clergy are first priests and each has first been annointed in Holy Orders. Over his career a priest may be “promoted” to ever increasing responsibilities being formally inducted into each role.

As someone looking into Catholicism, you should definitely have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It can be found for free online as well:

This book contains official Catholic doctrines on practically everything. Here are some relevant excerpts for you:

Priesthood of All Believers
1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church "a kingdom, priests for his God and Father."20 The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are "consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood."21

1591 The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the “common priesthood of the faithful.” Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community. *

The Ministerial Priesthood
1555 "Amongst those various offices which have been exercised in the Church from the earliest times the chief place, according to the witness of tradition, is held by the function of those who, through their appointment to the dignity and responsibility of bishop, and in virtue consequently of the unbroken succession going back to the beginning, are regarded as transmitters of the apostolic line."34

1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, "the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration."35

1557 The Second Vatican Council “teaches . . . that the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by episcopal consecration, that fullness namely which, both in the liturgical tradition of the Church and the language of the Fathers of the Church, is called the high priesthood, the acme (summa) of the sacred ministry.”

1560 As Christ’s vicar, each bishop has the pastoral care of the particular Church entrusted to him, but at the same time he bears collegially with all his brothers in the episcopacy the solicitude for all the Churches: “Though each bishop is the lawful pastor only of the portion of the flock entrusted to his care, as a legitimate successor of the apostles he is, by divine institution and precept, responsible with the other bishops for the apostolic mission of the Church.”

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.”

1569 “At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands 'not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry.”'53 At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon’s special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his "diakonia."54

1570 Deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way.55 The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the “deacon” or servant of all.56 Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.57 *

Now I’ll simplify what I just said :):

Catholics believe that there are two ways to participate in the priesthood of Jesus Christ: the common priesthood of the faithful is given to all baptized members of Christ’s Church, causing us to become a royal, priestly people, as the Bible teaches.

In addition, there is the ministerial priesthood. This is the priesthood conferred through the laying on of hands of those that have the authority to confer this priesthood (i.e. bishops), through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. There are three orders of this priesthood: deacon, priest, and bishop. Bishops are regarded as successors of the Apostles, and have their authority. The Church is led by the Bishops (under the authority of Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church), guided by the Holy Spirit. Bishops lead a “diocese” (similar to a stake president leading a stake). Priests are co-workers of the bishops. Priests lead local parish congregations (similar to a bishop leading a ward). They can celebrate all of the sacraments, except Holy Orders. Deacons assist bishops and priests, can assist at Mass, perform baptisms, and witness marriages.

The primary function of the priesthood is celebrating the Mass/Divine Liturgy, which re-presents Jesus Christ’s once and for all sacrifice for us.

Things like “archbishop”, “cardinal”, “pope”, “patriarch”, etc are not priesthood offices that one is ordained to.

Hope that helps. To me, one of the main differences between LDS priesthood and Catholic priesthood is in the understanding of sacrifice. Catholic priesthood is first and foremost a “sacrificial” priesthood, in continuity with ancient Jewish priesthood. No, we aren’t sacrificing animals. Instead, Catholic priests offer Christ’s once and for all sacrifice, in an “unbloody” manner, with the elements of bread and wine, just like Jesus Christ did. Just like Melchizedek, Catholic priests offer a sacrifice of bread and wine (check out this article-The Order of Melchizedek). It really is amazing to me how much continuity there is between ancient Judaism and Catholicism, especially coming from a perspective that taught that there was an apostasy.

Do you have any introductory books to read? Any videos? While you wait for RCIA to start, perhaps you would be interested in the following:

-Catholicism for Dummies
-Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith

Also, I highly recommend the documentary “Catholicism”, by Father Robert Barron, also authority of the above Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith. It gives you a great intro to Catholicism, and really helps you appreciate the beauty and expanse of the Faith. Here’s a trailer:

I already have the CCC on my kindle! So far it is very insightful but thanks for these excerpts :thumbsup:

Excellent answers all!
I would like to add that those in the Priesthood as well as monastic orders have taken life long vows of chastity and obedience, gifting the Priests with the purity to allow them to administer the sacraments.

Living in Utah the LDS Mecca, I just wanted to say that to hear that you are going to be starting RCIA in the fall just makes me so happy! As you go through the process you will discover how rich and massive the history of the Catholic Church is! You could spend the rest of your life studying it and never know it all. Understanding how much LDS people love history, once you see how much and discover that 2000 years from Christ to today is such a beautiful thing. I hope RCIA goes well and oh yes WELCOME HOME!!! :thumbsup:

Welcome home! You are not alone. I left the LDS 18 months ago and was baptized into the Catholic Church at Easter.

Let me clear that up for you a bit.

There are diocesan (or secular) priests, and then there are religious priests who belong to religious orders or congregations.

Diocesan priests only have promises of celibacy and obedience to their bishop.

Religious priests usually have vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

Excellent replies. I’ll add, pay attention to the footnotes of the CCC. Look them up and read further. In addition, read the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, available online at When you see the CCC footnote reference “LG”, it is a reference to Lumen Gentium. It covers very thoroughly the answer to your question.

  1. Christ the Lord, High Priest taken from among men,(100) made the new people “a kingdom and priests to God the Father”.(101) The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, in order that through all those works which are those of the Christian man they may offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the power of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.(102) Therefore all the disciples of Christ, persevering in prayer and praising God,(103) should present themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.(104) Everywhere on earth they must bear witness to Christ and give an answer to those who seek an account of that hope of eternal life which is in them.(105)

Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ.(2*) The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist.(3*) They likewise exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity.

Also, a reference to DV is to the Vatican II document Dei Verbum.

The Vatican II documents have a lot packed into them. Take it slow and study as you read.

As a former BIC LDS, I wish you all the best on your journey home!! It won’t be easy but it is very well worth it :):thumbsup:

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