In Persona Christi

Hey, everybody,

I have a question about the following quote:

Therefore the priest, who acts in persona Christi Capitis and representing the Lord, never acts in the name of someone who is absent but, rather, in the very Person of the Risen Christ, who makes himself present with his truly effective action. He really acts today and brings about what the priest would be incapable of: the consecration of the wine and the bread so that they may really be the Lord’s presence, the absolution of sins. The Lord makes his own action present in the person who carries out these gestures.

Is the priest considered to act in persona Christi only when he is performing the sacraments, or is he always considered to be in persona Christi?

For example, would a priest be considered in persona Christi as he gives advice to the penitent in the confessional? or is he only considered in persona Christi when he gives absolution?

I could be wrong but it is my understanding that, in the sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest only acts in *persona Christi *when he absolves sins. God, if He chose to, could speak even through the mouth of a donkey (Number 22:28) but, ordinarily, any advice a priest may offer to a penitent, good or bad, is all his own.

Yes. Per CCC 1548:

In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis: [sup]23[/sup]

[quote]It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi

). [sup]24[/sup]

Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of
Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ.[sup]25[/sup]

23 Cf. LG 10; 28; SC 33; CD 11; PO 2; 6.
24 Pius XII, encyclical, Mediator Dei: AAS, 39 (1947) 548.
25 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,22,4c.



This presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. The power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister’s sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church. CCC 1550]

Only in pronouncing absolution, since this is the Sacrament.

In what sense does a deacon, who must be a man, sacramentally represent Christ?

Not very much.

The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon. [CCC [URL=“”]1256


This is the only Sacrament in which a deacon may act as minister (in Western theology, the minister of the Sacrament of Matrimony are the bride and the groom who mutually confer the Sacrament upon each other - a deacon may pronounce the blessing of the Church, but that is not Sacramental).

Of course, ANYBODY can validly be a minister of Baptism (man or woman).

And, BTW, the Church has not definitively said that a deacon must be a man. Deacons do not have sacerdotal (priestly) Orders, so the door has not been forever shut to women deacons like it has for women priests. But I would’t look for women deacons anytime soon.

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