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274 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated

the ordinand [man to be ordained] and in the bishop’s specific con-

secratory prayer” (CCC, no. 1573). Ordination confers a permanent

sacramental character.

• Only men may be ordained.

• Normally in the Western Church, ordination to priesthood is con-

ferred only on those men who freely promise lifelong celibacy.

• Only bishops may confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the

three degrees.


Priests should, therefore, occupy their position of leadership

as men who do not seek the things that are their own but the

things that are Jesus Christ’s (cf. 1 Jn

4:1). They should unite

their efforts with those of the lay faithful and conduct them-

selves among them after the example of the Master, who came

. . . “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom

for many” (Mt 20:28). Priests are to be sincere in their appre-

ciation and promotion of lay people’s dignity and of the special

role the laity have to play in the Church’s mission. They should

also have an unfailing respect for the just liberty which belongs

to everyone in civil society. They should be willing to listen to

lay people, give brotherly consideration to their wishes, and rec-

ognize their experience and competence in the different fields of

human activity. In this way they will be able to recognize along

with them the signs of the times. (PO, no. 9)

The ministerial priesthood of bishops and priests and the common

priesthood of all the faithful participate in the one priesthood of Christ,

each in its own proper way. The two priesthoods complement each other

and are ordered to each other while differing essentially. In what sense?

The common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of

baptismal grace through a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life accord-

ing to the Holy Spirit. The ministerial priesthood is at the service of the

common priesthood by unfolding the baptismal grace of all Christians

(cf. CCC, no. 1547).