Those who are ordained to priestly ministry are called by Christ in the Church and through the Church. Here Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and some other Christians part ways with those who understand ordained ministers to be simply delegates of the community. In this view, ordination to ministry derives its authority and substance by delegation from the priesthood of the baptized. Ministers, in this view, are called by the community and not precisely by Christ. Nowadays, at Catholic and some other ordinations to priestly ministry, the faithful are expected to express their approval of the candidates for priestly ministry through applause and other signs of acceptance. Nevertheless, after someone responsible for their preparation has presented the candidates, the ordaining bishop accepts and calls them. This call is understood as follows: just as God chose and called Jesus to be the High Priest (Letter to the Hebrews), Jesus in turn chose and called his apostolic representatives (the Gospels). They in turn, enlightened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, chose and called overseers/bishops to succeed them. The bishops continue to be responsible, in the name of Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit, for the choice and call of those to be ordained bishops, priests, and deacons. As Ignatius of Antioch expressed matters succinctly in the early second century, bishops do not owe their ministry to the Christian people but to the ‘Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’. In BEM, the Faith and Order Commission wrote similarly: ‘Christ continues through the Holy Spirit to choose and call persons into the ordained ministry.’11
11 ‘Ministry’, 11. A few years later the Commission commented on this passage: ‘for the sake of the ongoing life and mission of the Church there must be persons, called by God, sent by Christ, and assisted by the Holy Spirit and recognized by the people of God, to preach the word, to celebrate the sacraments, to bring together and guide the Christian community in faith, hope and love’ (Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry 1982 1990 (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1990), 121).