A few statements on ministry and the orders of the Church:
1) All orders are appointed to exercise the ministries of Jesus Christ and are therefore rooted in Christ’s priesthood;
2) The laity is an order (anointed by Chrism), or priest, prophet, and king;
3) The ministries of Christ vary, so they are appointed to different orders. Not everyone presides, proclaims, witnesses, teaches, visits. There is some overlap between the ministries, but their diversity is the reason for multiple orders. So, for example, we do not have a rotating schedule of laity presiding at Liturgy each week because presidency belongs to the bishop and presbyter.
4) Difference does not translate into superiority because all ministries are exercises of Christ’s priesthood. Therefore, the presbyter is not superior to the deacon; and the bishop is not superior to the lay person. All share the same Baptism and Chrismation, and eat and drink from the same holy body and blood of Christ.
5) While some orders exercise authority, that authority ultimate belongs to Christ; all are therefore accountable to Christ and to the whole of his body – the Church.
6) The status quo of ordered ministry in the Church views the diaconate as a stepping stone to the presbytery. As an exercise of Christ’s priesthood, the diaconate is a holy order. It is erroneous to describe the diaconate as ‘inferior’ to the presbytery, or the laity as more worldly than the episcopate. The orders are all people in one Church. (Analogies of rank can be quite unhelpful in this regard).
7) Ministries evolve. Presbyters did not always preside at the Eucharist. Teachers, prophets, and exorcists were once visible and crucial ministries. Nostalgia for a particular model from a distant past and stifling evolution to preserve the status quo are not helpful.
8) All ministries that exercise Christ’s priesthood are essential – when those ministries are absent or muted, Christ’s body is weakened. We have every reason to encourage the laity to be Christ’s body in the Church and world, and to act as Christ’s body in everyday life.