Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery 387 and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders. In the person of Christ the Head . . . 1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis: 23 It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself ( virtute ac persona ipsius Christi ). 24 Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ. 25 1549 Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in themidst of the community of believers. 26 In the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop is typos tou Patros: he is like the living image of God the Father. 27 1550 ThispresenceofChrist in theminister is not tobeunderstood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. The power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister’s sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church. 1551 This priesthood is ministerial. “That office . . . which the Lord committed to the pastors of his people, is in the strict sense of the term a service. ” 28 It is entirely related to Christ and to men. It 23 Cf. LG 10; 28; SC 33; CD 11; PO 2; 6. 24 Pius XII, encyclical, Mediator Dei : AAS, 39 (1947) 548. 25 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 22, 4c. 26 Cf. LG 21. 27 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall. 3,1: SCh. 10, 96; cf. Ad Magn. 6,1: SCh 10, 82-84. 28 LG 24. 875 792 1142 896 1128 1584 876