I am trying to understand the Catholic faith and one question that I have is why it is necessary to have someone fill the role of priest. Why can’t any Christian believer hear a confession, oversee communion, etc?
Why did Jesus creat Disciples and Apostles? Why did these Apostles create a priesthood in Acts (prebyter is where we got the term, priest)?
In James 5:14, you’ll see where a presbyter is necessary for the annointing of the sick: “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord,”
There are numerous other examples, including the writings of the early Church: St. Clement in 90 A.D. and Ignatius in 110 A.D.
So the early church has always felt it was necessary for a priesthood.
“‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ 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’” (John 20:21–23).
This is said, not to the general crowds, or even all of his disciples, but only to the Apostles. Their authority has been passed on (by the laying on of hands) for two-thousand years through bishops, and extended to priests. It is one of only two times that God breathes on man.
How are they to forgive or retain sins if they aren’t told to them?
Read this: catholic.com/library/Forgiveness_of_Sins.asp
[quote=oilman]I am trying to understand the Catholic faith and one question that I have is why it is necessary to have someone fill the role of priest. Why can’t any Christian believer hear a confession, oversee communion, etc?
It’s an issue of authority. This is what I’ve boiled it down to.
Think of it this way. Does anyone intrinsically have the authority to consecrate the host, or to forgive sins? These aren’t exactly powers that are natural to human beings.
You need to get the authority/power to be able to forgive sins, to consecrate the host, from somewhere. If you didn’t get if from somewhere, then you don’t have it. Period.
That’s what the sacrament of Holy Orders is, it is really the transferring of the authority that Christ gave to the apostles. By the laying on of the hands that authority is passed on.
Christ specifically instructs the apostles to do this in memory of me, he also breathes on them and tells them whose sins you forgive are forgiven. Etc… Hence, who the apostles laid hands on they transferred their authority to, and they laid hands on their successors, and them on their successors. Hence, the distinct ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Do you have a better theory as to how this authority is inherent in Christians?
Note that through Christian history the idea of a priesthood conferred by Holy Orders is the norm.
Also note that Paul passed on this authority by “laying on” with his hands. This is a Tradition that has lasted almost 2000 years.