The priesthood today

2 Responses

  1. SIMISO says:

    This is a very good, informative and balanced article. Now that the Pope has given special permission to Married Anglican Priests and Seminarians to be ordained as catholic priests, how will this affect the theology and practice of the priesthood in general and in South Africa. Does this mean that we may see an increase in number of priests who are married.

  2. Martin Keenan says:

    [Arch]bishop, Brislin reminds us by a judicious use of inverted commas that the Second Vatican Council did not suddenly appropriate the Protestant idea of the priesthood of all believers (the common priesthood as we call it, cf. CCC 1546, 1547). After all, the concept is unambiguously asserted in Sacred Scripture (1Pet.2:5, 9).

    Pope St. Leo the Great (AD 440-461) referred to it specifically with reference to holy chrism and the baptismal dignity in a homily (Sermo IV, 1-2):-

    “In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our community is undivided. There is a common dignity [he quotes 1Pet.2:5,9]. For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood.”

    It may, nevertheless, be thought to have been an idea slumbering until awakened by the Council Fathers (Lumen gentium, n.10). However, it was awake as recently as 1928, as this extract from the Encyclical “Miserentissimus Redemptor” of Pope Pius XI shows:-

    “Nor do those only enjoy a participation in this mystic priesthood and in the office of satisfying and sacrificing, whom our Pontiff Christ Jesus uses as His ministers to offer up the clean oblation to God’s Name . . but the whole Christian people [he quotes 1 Pet.2:9], ought to offer for sins both for itself and for all mankind (Cf. Heb.5:3), in much the same manner as every priest and pontiff ‘taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God’ (Heb.5:1).”

    Further on, Pope Pius XI writes of his own times in terms which make them seem very close to ours:-

    “among the faithful there is a greatly increasing carelessness of ecclesiastical discipline, and of those ancient institutions on which all Christian life rests . . and the sanctity of marriage is safeguarded; the education of children is altogether neglected, or else it is depraved by too indulgent blandishments . . there is a sad forgetfulness of Christian modesty especially in the life and the dress of women; there is an unbridled cupidity of transitory things, a want of moderation in civic affairs, an unbounded ambition of popular favor, a depreciation of legitimate authority, and lastly a contempt for the word of God, whereby faith itself is injured . .”