By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
June 28, 2019
SOMEONE sent me an article
that was proposing for the abolition of the priesthood. The reason
behind are the many clerical scandals that have been plaguing the
Church for years now, mostly in the US and other countries but also
at least a few cases in the local scene.
Of course, my immediate
reaction was that while it is unfortunate to hear about these
scandals, abolishing the priesthood is not the solution at all to
the problem. Rather, it will make things worse.
And that is because
abolishing the priesthood is practically like abolishing the Church,
or worse, abolishing Christ in our life, since the priest, in spite
of his unworthiness, is the sacramental representation of Christ,
head of the Church.
Abolishing the priesthood
is like throwing the baby together with the bath water. Yes, we have
to do something about what is wrong in these scandals. It may be a
long, painful process, but it is all worthwhile. But what we cannot
do is to abolish the priesthood.
The priest, of course,
should be constantly aware of his sacramental identity and try his
best to live up to that dignity. He should be keenly aware that with
his ordination he is conformed to Christ as head of the Church, and
not just a member of the Church capable of participating in the one
sacrifice of Christ to his Father for our salvation.
His priesthood, which is
called ministerial or hierarchical, is different from the common
priesthood of the lay faithful of the Church that is based on his
baptismal status, not only in degree but in essence. The priest acts
in persona Christi capitis, in the person of Christ as head of the
As such, he renews in the
whole course of time till the end the very sacrifice of Christ, and
everything else that is oriented to that sacrifice of Christ. He
makes present the whole redemptive work of Christ.
The lay faithful who have
the common priesthood do not have the power to renew this sacrifice.
What their priesthood empowers them is to offer their whole life as
a sacrifice to God, doing so by uniting their sacrifice with the
sacrifice of Christ as renewed in the Mass that is celebrated by the
Of course, human as we
are, the priest will always have his own share of shortcomings,
weaknesses, and yes, sin. This should not surprise anyone. Even
Christ was not spared of Judas, one of his original apostles. But
like anybody else, and in a sense, even more than anybody else, the
priest should really take extreme care of his spiritual life.
The priest should be
keenly aware that the lay faithful depend on them. How he is somehow
determines how the lay faithful will be. If he is faithful to his
identity as another Christ head of the Church, then the lay faithful
will also most likely be like Christ as they should.
But such state of affairs
should not make the priest feel superior to the lay faithful, but
rather should keenly feel the duty to serve them, as Christ loved
and served all of us by offering his life on the cross. Like Christ,
he should have the attitude of wanting to serve and not to be
served. (cfr. Mt 20,28)
He should never feel
privileged, assuming the mentality of entitlement or falling into
the anomaly called clericalism. Rather he has to assume the mind of
Christ, a servant and a willing sacrificial lamb for all of us.
He has to continually wage
a personal spiritual struggle to keep his priestly identity intact.
For this, he has to continually purify himself and renew his
Of course, it would be
most helpful if the lay faithful will also help in making the priest
a priest through and through, totally living out his sacramental
identity as Christ head of the Church.