Sharing Christ's Priesthood

Gerald O'Collins and Michael Keenan Jones

in Jesus Our Priest

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199576456
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723032 | DOI:
Sharing Christ's Priesthood

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This closing chapter is also built around twelve theses: four opening theses on the priesthood of all the baptized and then eight (sometimes more controversial) theses on the ordained ministry. As regards the priesthood of all the faithful, the chapter argues that ‘the triple office of all the baptized and, in particular, their priesthood, possesses a certain priority over the participation in Christ's triple office by those in the ordained ministry’. No one can receive the ministry of the ordained without being previously baptized. In line with what was said about Christ's own priesthood, the chapter states that the priesthood of all the faithful involves them in becoming ‘vulnerable to persecution and lethal hostility’. The institution of ministerial priesthood did not coincide totally with the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, but also involved an earlier call by Jesus and a post‐resurrection commissioning. The chapter then suggests how a structured, threefold leadership of bishops, presbyters or priests, and deacons emerged in the second century. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ continues to call ordained ministers; they do not derive their ministry merely through delegation from the community of the baptized (Thesis 7). The final thesis builds on a tradition that goes back to Augustine: ‘in the celebration of the Eucharist ordained priests are visible signs of the invisible Christ, Priest and Victim or Offerer and Offering, whose unique and sufficient sacrifice, accomplished once and for all in his life, death, and resurrection, continues to be present and operative on behalf of the whole human race’ (Thesis 12).

Keywords: bishops; community; deacons; Eucharist; Last Supper; ordained ministry; presence; priesthood of the baptized; sacrifice; vulnerability

Chapter.  8266 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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