on the role of the Laity

INSTRUCTION on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest

Sixth Installment: THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES - part two
1. The Common Priesthood of the Faithful and the Ministerial Priesthood

     The characteristics which differentiate the ministerial priesthood of Bishops and Priests from the common priesthood of the faithful and consequently delineate the extent to which other members of the faithful cooperate with this ministry, may be summarized in the following fashion:a) the ministerial priesthood is rooted in the Apostolic Succession, and vested with "potestas sacra"(29) consisting of the faculty and the responsibility of acting in the person of Christ the Head and the Shepherd.(30) b) it is a priesthood which renders its sacred ministers servants of Christ and of the Church by means of authoritative proclamation of the Word of God, the administration of the sacraments and the pastoral direction of the faithful.(31) To base the foundations of the ordained ministry on Apostolic Succession, because this ministry continues the mission received by the Apostles from Christ, is an essential point of Catholic ecclesiological doctrine.(32) The ordained ministry, therefore, is established on the foundation of the Apostles for the upbuilding of the Church: (33) "and is completely at the service of the Church".(34) "Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character of service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly 'servants of Christ' (Rom 1, 1) in the image of him who freely took for us 'the form of a slave' (Phil 2,7). Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all".(35)

NEXT ISSUE: Theological Principles -part three 2. Unity and Diversity of MInisterial Functions

DAILY CATHOLIC      Vicar of Christ Speaks     volume 8, no. 37

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