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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