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Monday, October 17, 2011

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James

I would like to make an important clarification regarding the word “priest” since this topic does come up when one is talking to Protestants. Our English word “priest” and various other European names for priest actually evolved in the various languages from the respectful term “presbyter” (elder) in the Greek form. This can be found in any good dictionary. It is important to note therefore that our Catholic title for clergymen is in fact biblical and a direct linguistic descendent of the biblical word “presbyter” (elder). The term “elder” used in translations to English is really misleading in this matter since a normal reader would never guess that this office indicates the work of a Catholic clergyman. In other words, the biblical title “presbyter” (elder) was simply linguistically corrupted to “priest” in English. Strangely, in English now there is no modern equivalent for “one who offers sacrifice” other than the word “priest,” so we have to use it even to refer to Hindu “priests” etc., although the original word was specifically Christian in this religious usage. The original English (pagan) word for “one who offers sacrifice” has thus been lost and replaced by the corrupted version of the Greek word for elder (priest). This is not true in some other European languages. Thus, the word “sacerdote” in Italian is the modern form of “sacerdos” in Latin, and both words mean one who offers sacrifice (whether Christian or not). Thus Italians use both the word traditional prete (“presbyter”) and “sacerdote” (sacerdos) for Catholic priests. I feel it is important for readers to be aware of this since many Protestants think we invented the idea that our clergymen preside over a sacrifice (the Mass). The truth is that the term “priest” is simply an Apostolic tradition that we have continued till today. How it came to indicate “someone who offers sacrifice” is another question. In conclusion, our word “priest” simply evolved from the original Christian title for their leaders “presbyter” (in its other modern form) which is now translated as “elder” in many bibles -- which is really a misleading translation.

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