Toward a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood

The Vatican has announced a Theological Symposium on vocations, to be held in Rome on February 17-19, 2022.

Entitled “Toward a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood,” this three-day session will be open to the public, but is especially oriented toward bishops and all those — men and women — who are “interested in theology,” according to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Cardinal Ouellet, who will chair the opening session at the symposium, presented the project in a press conference yesterday, along with Fr. Vincent Siret, rector of the French Pontifical Seminary in Rome, and Dr. Michelena Tenace, Professor of Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome.

You can read their full statements here.

Oriented toward a goal of fostering greater synodality in the Church, the conference will explore the relationship between the baptismal priesthood and the ministerial priesthood.

The opening lecture, to be given by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, will address “Faith and the Priesthood Today.”

The first day of the program will be devoted to Tradition and New Horizons. The second day will explore Trinity, Mission, and Sacramentality. The third will focus on Celibacy, Charisms, and Spirituality.

You can view the program here. Registration information can also be found at this site.


  1. “Toward” a theology of the priesthood? As if there isn’t already one? Solving another problem that doesn’t exist.

    1. Actually, the issue is how the theology of the priesthood relates to the priesthood of the baptized. This affirmation has not been studied to the extent that it could and should be, and the organizers who spoke at the press conference made it clear that at this moment in history, it’s a critical issue that could open up fuller cooperation among the various orders and ministries in the church.

      Maybe a reading of what the conference aims to do could help to make it clear why this topic is useful now, and why it hasn’t exactly been all “done and dusted.”

      Also, “fundamental theology” (a technical term) is a category separate from apologetics, so it’s not just aiming at persuading people or evangelizing them, but rather of asking real questions and seeking insight together.

      1. In preparation I would highly encourage the reading (or re-reading) of
        a famous article by Yves Congar, O.P. written in 1966 which I think would be
        extremely helpful for such discussions. It appeared in LA LITURGIE APRES
        VATICAN II [Unam Sanctam #66] in 1967, and has been translated into English
        by Paul Philibert [pp. 15-68] in AT THE HEART OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP:
        PAUL PHILIBERT, Liturgical Press, 2010: “Chapter Two: The ‘Ecclesia’ or
        Christian Community as a Whole Celebrates the Liturgy.”

  2. Part of the determining a fundamental theology of the priesthood should be a clearer understanding of the relationship of the priesthood to that of the Church. The two issues of the return of the Mass ad orientem, and that of the priest being able to celebrate the Mass alone as a right fail to take into account the redefinition of the Church as proposed by the Second Vatican Council. A re-reading of Fr. Patrick Regan’s article “The Change behind the Changes” which appeared in Worship Volume 40 would help a great deal.

  3. One of the challenges faced with discussing a fundamental theology of the priesthood is taking into account the broader context of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This is one sacrament, albeit in three degrees. To omit a discussion on the unity of Holy Orders as it relates to a fundamental theology of the priesthood is like omitting a discussion on the unity of marriage as it relates to a fundamental theology of being a husband or wife. Indeed, just as the theology of marriage gives a contextual framework for what it means to be a husband or wife, so too the unity of Holy Orders provides a similar framework with respect to the priesthood.

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