Reflection & Dialogue: The Church: God’s people, a holy priesthood.

Today’s second reading, from the First Letter of Peter, presents ample material for reflection. It contains well-known passages on the priesthood of all the faithful, and is often used in present-day discussions. One question arising from it is the relationship between this priesthood of all believers and the ministerial priesthood of ministering priests and bishops. The topic has been discussed over centuries, and again in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. A summary of the teaching is given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 1546 and 1547). The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to their own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and king. The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ. While being ordered to one another, they differ essentially. The ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians.

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