Related Frequently Asked Questions
in the Roman Catholic Church

Last updated: May 4, 2005

1. Why is there a pope in the RC Church?
2. What are some of the titles/names of the pope?
3. What are some of the responsibilities of the pope?
4. Why do we call the pope, Holy Father? In the same line, why do we call priests, "father"?
5. Why is the pope also called "The Rock"?
6. What does it mean for the pope to have the keys to God's kingdom in heaven?
7. What is Papal Infallibility?
8. Is the pope, Vicar of Christ, the anti-Christ?
9. Why is the pope unmarried? Why is there a vow of celibacy in the RC Church?
10. Why are there no women priests in the RC Church?
11. Why are the hands/fingers required to be ordained a priest?

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  1. Why is there a pope in the RC Church?

    Before Jesus ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father, Jesus entasked St. Peter, that if he loves Him, "Feed My sheep" - to be a good shepherd to all of us; to love all of us; to take care of all of us. Isn't that similar to the role of a "father"?

    The term pope or papa originated as a term of endearment for bishops and sometimes even priests. It is a form of the word "father". St. Peter was like a spiritual father, "papa", pope to the Church.

    St. Peter, one among the 12 Apostles, was the very first pope. Since Jesus' Church did not end at His death or upon the death of the first pope, the Church has lived on for centuries with a pope being assigned continually throughout these years. Pope John Paul II was the 264th official pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
    The papacy, a "father role", is necessary as supporter and provider to Jesus' Church.

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  2. What are some of the titles/names of the pope?

    Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, His Holiness, Holy Father, The Rock.

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  3. What are some of the responsibilities of the pope?

    The following are general tasks which are just a fraction of the huge responsibilities of the pope:
    • As "the rock" - protector and gatekeeper of the Church so the gates of hell will never prevail in Jesus' Church. Defender and Promulgator of God's Truth, Will and Way to the Church.
    • As "holder to the keys of the kingdom of heaven" - controlled and authorized by God to discern and choose what to bind and unbind for both heaven and earth.
    • As "vicar of Christ" - good and loyal shepherd of Jesus' flock; humble servant, obedient to Jesus' teachings and the will of His Father.
    • As "universal shepherd" - feed Jesus' lamb, tend and feed Jesus' sheep - with God's Love, Care, Truth, Will and Way.
    • As "universal fisher of men" - evangelize the whole world and bring God to all people and all people to God.

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  4. Why do we call the pope, Holy Father? In the same line, why do we call priests, "father"?

    According to Matthew 23:8-12 -
    "But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.".

    Surely, this is not about a prohibition to use the term we call our male parent because "father" is a common name used to refer to such a person in our human life.

    In general, "father" can also mean a male ancestor, a creator, originator or founder of something, or someone who holds a special position in an institution. It is also used as an address or title of respect and veneration. (e.g. Mother Mary; Father Joseph).

    Bible fundamentalists claim that Catholics are going against this teaching of Jesus just because we call our priests, "father", and the pope, "holy father".

    Taking the full context of this Scripture passage, amidst all these different meanings of the term, "father", this teaching is all about being humble in whatever role men or any human takes on in this life. Whether as a rabbi, a teacher or a father, Jesus adviced us to make a very clear distinction between God, the Father in heaven and anyone who is called father here on earth.

    Also discern the distinction between Jesus, The Teacher and other rabbis and teachers as well. He wants to make sure we know the big difference and we do not compare or bring God, the Father's level down to be equal to any worldly level to anybody here on earth. And vice versa, Jesus does not want us to bring anyone, any male human being up to the level of God, the Father in heaven. That's because nobody can be at the same level and distinction as God, the Father in heaven. Jesus emphasized this Truth in that teaching.

    In full context, that is what His teaching is about - to be humble and to avoid exalting ourselves to be at the same level as God in whatever role we acquire or is appointed to us.

    As a priest is a shepherd to a smaller flock such as parishioners or members of a parish, being our caretaker, they have the role of being a father who watches over us and makes sure we don't go astray (a shepherd comes after his lost sheep to bring it back to safety with the rest of the flock).

    Given this role, we address a priest as "father". Not to exalt them to be in the same level as God in heaven but in due respect for their role as spiritual guide and caretaker to us, similar to how a male parent is supposed to care for us.

    Knowing this distinction, addressing the pope, as the "Holy Father" is not equating him to God, the Father either. "Holy" in this regard is simply a sign of deep reverence and respect towards the righteous man as the position and difficult role of the pope who takes care of all of us, the whole Church, while being a humble servant of God. Besides taking care of all of us, Jesus has entasked the pope with many more responsibilities than an ordinary father (e.g. keys to His Kingdom, protector against the gets of hell prevailing in our Church, authority to bind and unbind for both heaven and earth, and more). All these are part of the sacrament of "Holy Orders" - a sacrament of love and service to God. Not to exalt himself but to glorify God in his obedience and services to God as "papa" or "father" to all of us here on earth.

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  5. Why is the pope also called "The Rock"?
    Based on Matthew 16:18 - "And I say also to thee, That thou art Peter (Petros), and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

    Jesus called St. Peter with the "male" version of "petra" (rock, all translated from Greek) upon which Jesus has built His Church.

    Being "Rock", the role assigned to St. Peter is also like a solid foundation, "gatekeeper" and protection to the Church such that evil will not win no matter what. With this "Rock", we are protected against hell. Not by the doings of the person of St. Peter, but by the special role, the Rock, created by Jesus. It is a promise by and from Jesus, implemented upon His Church.

    The pope, as the "Rock" is also the defender and promulgator of God's Truth, Will and Way to the Church and only God's will prevail throughout the Church. This prevents evil, lies and hell from prevailing in the Church. Jesus made it clear how important, necessary and serious this role is as it prevents the gates of hell from prevailing into the Church.

    The pope, as "the Rock", is necessary as "strength", "defender" and "protector" of Jesus' Church.

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  6. What does it mean for the pope to have the keys to God's kingdom in heaven?

    Based on Matthew 16:19 - Jesus continued telling Peter:
    "... I will give you the KEYS of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatever you bind (declare proper and lawful) on earth must be what is already bound in Heaven; and whatever you loose (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in Heaven."(also: Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7-13; Rev. 9:1; 20:1)

    The symbols and uses of a key are: power, authority to open wide, to loosen, plough, carve; appear, break forth, draw (out), let go free, ungird, unstop, have vent, loose, be set open, put off, ...
    Figuratively speaking, the key represents the power and authority to control access to whatever is behind locked doors, gates, compartment, and possibly even secrets and answers to mysteries.

    Given the keys to Jesus' Kingdom, the role of St. Peter, or the papacy as a whole, includes the power and authority to bind (declare is unlawful or bad) and unbind (declare as lawful or moral/good) anything upon both heaven and earth. This means, whatever the pope declares as binding or unbinding should be heeded and followed by everyone in the Church on earth as well as all saints and angels in heaven.

    Furthermore, considering the words in "Our Lord's Prayer" - "...Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven..." - the role of the papacy takes part in promulgating God's kingdom to come upon the earth as how it is in heaven. With the "keys to God's kingdom", the Church Triumphant in heaven and the Church Militant on earth are within reach of each other.

    I take it as the pope holds the keys to the Kingdom in heaven, there easily can be "information sharing, passing and flowing" between heaven and earth. The pope, given the authority from God, with God's blessing and approval, has control over what is allowed to go through from heaven to earth. This includes "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".

    Taking the example of "recognition" of who's who are present in heaven; like beatification and canonization of individuals who have passed on from the earth. Only the pope, with God's guidance, can declare anyone of them, "blessed" or "saint". As they have been recognized as such in heaven, the pope passes this "information" along from heaven to the rest of us here on earth.

    Another example is the dogma of the "Immaculate Conception of Mary". This authority of having the keys to God's kingdom, combined with "Papal Infallibility" (discussed below) is a good example of "information passing" as approved by God to be declared by pope to us here on earth from His Kingdom, "as it is in heaven".

    This provides for "alignment and consistencies" between Jesus' Church on earth and God's Kingdom in heaven.

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  7. What is Papal Infallibility?

    Based on Matthew 16: 15-17, Jesus asked Peter,
    "'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter said in reply, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God'. Jesus said to him in reply, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father'.

    Peter's reply is equivalent to what we call a "good answer!" in contemporary dialogue; and it was a very good answer at that! Simply put, Peter did not come up with that answer by himself. It is a Truth that was given to him by God, the Father in heaven. That was the first infallible (flawless, free of error, truthful, factual) statement that came from the first pope. It is infallible because no matter how you look at it, whatever perspective it is taken from, it is unmistakenly, without any doubt TRUE, through and through. Nobody, no matter how much they try, can ever refute this truth and fact.

    That is where the basic papal infallibility applies. When statements like such are stated by the pope, he is under the influence and control of God and so there is no way he is going to make a mistake. Thus, he enters the situation or state of "papal infallibility". It is not of his own doing. Rather, it is under the influence and doings of God, Himself so no error can becommitted.

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  8. Is the pope, the Vicar of Christ, the anti-Christ?

    In general, vicar means an administrative deputy; one who is appointed to act for and in place of an absent superior; a substitute in the absence of a superior.

    This title of the pope is very much pro-Christ, not anti-Christ. In the full contextual meaning of all the obligations and responsibilities assigned by Jesus to the pope as His Vicar (feed My sheep, love and care for all of us, keys to His kingdom such that the gates of hell will never prevail in the Church, authority to bind and unbind for both heaven and earth), this title is no where near being equivalent to an "anti-Christ". It is pro-Christ, of-Christ, from-Christ, for-Christ, thru-Christ and everything pertaining to being with Christ but never "anti-Christ".

    The erroneous claim by some Bible fundamentalists and Seventh Day Adventists is in their insistence of using the Latin, "Vicarius Filii Dei" (Vicar of the Son of God), as an official title of the pope that is inscribed on the pope's tiara. They like to compute the numerical summation of this UNofficial title which exactly results to the value, "666" - the number of the beast.

    Never be fooled because the Roman Catholic Church only uses "Vicarius Christi" (Vicar of Christ) as an official title of the pope. And these letters sum up only to "214".

    The Adventists claim does not hold any water because their reference of "Vicarius Filii Dei" is from an unreliable, unauthenticated document that is not the Church's and is not approved under Canon Law.

    The full context, context, context of the Scripture passage must be taken into consideration too. It was the name of Caezar that added up to "666" and besides the name, the man himself represented evil doings.

    Now taking the full context of what it means to be a "vicar", what it means to be "Son of God", and the representation of the role of the "Vicar of the Son of God", the the position of papacy, established/founded by Our Lord, there is nothing evil about it especially because it came from Jesus Himself.

    What is beastly and not from God is such defamation of the papacy which Jesus Christ established Himself for His Church. This is blasphemy. It is like what the Pharisees and Sadduccees inferred about Jesus and his works --- that the source of His power was Belzeebul, the devil and that He was of Belzeebul.

    That's practically how ignorant the equation of "666" even to an unofficial title of the pope. Considering the unofficial title includes the Holy Name of God, e.g. "Son of God". Basically, even the name of God ("Dei") was included in the computation of the last digit, 6.

    Preposterous and blasphemous against the Name of God!

    Both are blasphemies. And Jesus reprimanded those who attribute the good works from God to be from the devil. This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit of God. That is the worst insult to God, the Holy Spirit, that can never be forgiven.

    The claim that the pope is "anti-Christ" is exactly in contradiction to Jesus' own words and instructions upon St. Peter, " are rock,....such that the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church".

    That assignment coming from Jesus serves as the assurance that the pope (Petro = male) and papacy (petra = rock) are against hell prevailing in Jesus' Church; against anything and everything that has to do with hell. Both the person (pope) and position (papacy) are definitely anti-hell, anti-beast, anti-satan.

    Definitely not anti-Christ.

    Taking the full context and understanding of the role of the papacy, the name "Rock" assigned to the papacy, that it is actually "gatekeeper/protector of Church" against hell, therefore the claim by Adventists of the name/title "Vicar of the Son of God" or "Vicar of Christ" to be equivalent to the "mark of the beast" or the "anti-Christ" fails and contradicts itself.

    Basically, their lame attempt at "witch-hunting" or "beast-hunting" has all been about twisting and manipulating God's Truth which can very well be another blasphemy against God and His Word and Testament.

    This is like how some people cheat in solving a mathematical problem. e.g. x + y = 666. Knowing the other side of the equation is "666", they went to great extents in making invalid substitutions to "x" and "y" to come up with "666" in order to solve the equation. Afterall, "x" and "y" are variables.

    Even though our God is the Greatest Mathematician, we can not ignore the rest of His Testament to us.

    Regardless of some people's reliance only in "numerology" to interpret the Good News from God, we can not ignore the full context of the rest of His Word and Testament. We must look at the "good fruits" coming from the pope, the person of the pope and the papacy. The full context of "the Word becoming flesh and dwelt amongst us". That Jesus gave to Peter the keys to His kingdom such that the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church.

    We should not and can not ignore the rest of Jesus' teachings about "wolves in sheeps clothings" and "knowing them by their fruits". That a good tree only bears good fruits while a rotten tree bears rotten fruits and can not bear good fruits whatsoever. That those who do not bear good fruits or bear only rotten fruits will be burned into the pool of fire.

    See the pope's good fruits: shepherding us well, promulgating God's love to all people from all walks of life, respect for human life (from conception to natural death), proclaming the Good News to all people around the world, evangelizing the world and drawing people back to God, strengthening their faith in God, giving them hope, and more.

    Looking at all these accomplishments and fruits, these show that the pope, papacy, Vicar of Christ, is from God and of God.

    Moreover, having the keys to Jesus' Kingdom such that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church --- Jesus definitely knew what the papal role is --- definitely anti-hell and anti-satan. Absolutely pro-Christ.

    The pope and the papacy are definitely not anti-Christ.

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  9. Why is the pope unmarried? Why is there a vow of celibacy in the RC Church?

    Celibacy is to remain unmarried. Priests in the Roman Catholic Church profess and accept a vow of celibacy when they received Holy Orders - the sacrament of love and service to God.

    A couple of Scripture passages that supports this vow of celibacy are:
    Matthew 19:11-12 (where Jesus taught about divorce, marriage and those who are not for marriage) - "Jesus replied, 'Not everyone can accept this word (on marriage), but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.

    Matthew 22:30 (after narrating about a woman being married 7 times, Jesus tested His followers to see if they understood what happens after death and resurrection - that the woman is NOT anymore married to any of her 7 husbands) - "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven"

    That's why the only fool-proof way that really ends marriage is death either or both parties. There is no marriage in heaven.

    The Roman Catholic Church upholds these teachings of Jesus regarding remaining celibate or unmarried and implements it in the sacrament of Holy Orders.

    So all ordained men and women and men who enter the religious vocation in the Roman Catholic Church take the vow of celibacy. This way, they have full, undivided attention, and focus in serving God and promulgating His will and teachings to others. Just like the angels in heaven who are unmarried, who constantly love and serve God and only God.

    The vow of celibacy and serving God alone (e.g. Holy Orders) is realistically practical such that the priest, religious brother or sister can easily get their priorities and personal concerns straight and focused majorly on God and His Church. There is a huge responsibility in this vocation in itself towards God and His Church. If there was marriage, the spouse and the family would divide such attention and prioritization which can then take considerable amount away from focus in the services to God and His Church.

    Yes, it is a bit of sacrifice on the part of the celibate individual especially if he/she is not spiritually strong and fervent in his/her desire to serve God alone. Temptation and weakness abound but with God's help and constant prayers for strength, mind and faith rules over matters of weakness of the flesh.

    Nevertheless, there are definitely love and happiness for celibate religious and clergy in the Roman (western) Catholic Church. Afterall, their being unmarried is "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" where everylasting love and joy exist.

    As an aside, with the previous sex-abuse of kids among American priests, marriage is still not the answer or solution to this evil. Afterall, there is such an evil as INCEST (married or parent committing the same crime toward their kids) which God has condemned since the beginning of time. This means even among the married and those who engage in sexual activity, this evil lurks. Thus, lifting celibacy among priests and those in religious vocation is not the moral and valid solution to fight this evil.

    I believe, those men and women in priesthood and religious vocation who commit such crime are either very weak and not focused on God, or they were really not called by God to this vocation, in the first place. That's because, God knows those whom He has called and He helps them be steadfast to His call as long as they keep their focus on Him, in Him, with Him and in serving Him.

    I think the following are viable and fool-proof solutions to this problem:
    • Promote the goodness, advantages, all the positive things about the priesthood and religious vocations, rather than downplaying or defaming it. Someone in the hierarchy, who is charismatic and who is good at "marketing" (too bad, Pope John Paul II is gone), should design or develop a strategy that will uplift and emphasize the attractions to these vocations. Afterall, nothing can top serving our Great God for the rest of their life, even after-life.
    • Develop stricter screening, testing, deliberation of men and women who wants to enter these vocations. Do whatever it takes to be able to "read their minds and hearts" on what their motives, ulterior motives are; and discern if they are indeed being called by God.
    • Pray, pray, pray that more righteous men answer God's call to priesthood and more righteous women answer God's call to nunnery.

    Pope John Paul II's Prayer for Vocation covers all the roles and viable ways to serve God available for both men and women in the Church.

    My own personal prayer for priesthood and religious vocation involves these simple lines:
    Dear God, please always renew the vow of all your ordained and humble servants to always love and serve You and to obey and promulgate Your love, will and teachings to us.
    Lord, please call more men to priesthood and more women to nunnery. And I pray that they promptly answer, yes, to Your call. Amen.

    Given the very good perception and understanding of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Roman Catholic Church has accepted this great gift of celibacy from God. Truly the Kingdom of God is at hand just like it is in heaven (as we always pray in the Lord's Prayer). As God's humble servants (clergy and religious) are celibate and focused on serving God alone in the Roman Catholic Church, it is like the Kingdom of God in heaven where nobody is married and as angels serve God with undivided attention.

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  10. Why are there no women priests in the RC Church?

    Priesthood is God's call to men. It is not human's call to another.

    If one takes all the accounts in both the Old and the New Testaments of God, God's Word, God's Covenant to us, ever since the beginning, God has only ordained men to priesthood. God has always been consistent, from Melchizedek (Genesis 14), to Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 8), and all throughout His Sacred Testimony and Tradition, God only called men and only men have been ordained to priesthood.

    Moreover, as God, the Son is begotten, not made - "Son", being male role - it was no accident that Jesus was born "male".

    I do believe that "maleness" is special considering 2 of the 3 Persons of the Triune God (Father and Son) are distinctively male. This is not saying that femaleness is inferior. Rather, maleness has its own distinct role and assignment just as femaleness has its own separate role and assignments as well. All part of God's "Great Grand Scheme and Design".

    In following His Father's Will and Way, in the Great Grand Scheme, Jesus continued God's Testimony, Covenant and Tradition by choosing only men to be His Apostles.

    The Roman Catholic Church recognizes all of God's Will and respects that God's will should be done upon His Church, His people. In short, we should not expect God to bend-over-backwards to us. We, the Church, should succumb to His Will. Thus, the Roman Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ, obeys and continues this Sacred Covenant and Tradition by ordaining only men to the priesthood.

    At another angle and perspective, the Holy Orders - the sacrament that bestows the priesthood - is modeled after the priesthood of Jesus Christ. In many ways, priests are "alter Christus" (other Christs), especially in speaking the valid words of consecration of the bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In lieu of this view, Jesus is the Bridegroom, the Groom to all of us, the Church, as His Bride.

    John 3:29 -
    "The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, 14 who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete."

    Jesus loves the whole Church just as a bridegroom (male) loves and cares for bride (female). Likewise, priests, as "alter Christus", serve as bridegrooms to all of us.

    This is not saying that Jesus or our male priests are literally or sacramentally married to us. But the role, responsibility and obligation of a Righteous Bridegroom (male only) - love, reverence and care towards his Bride - are all present in the priesthood vocation.

    Thus, just as God has always only chosen men and ordained men to priesthood since the beginning of time, Jesus continued His Father's legacy, testament and Sacred Tradition by choosing only men as Apostles. The Roman Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ, also follows Jesus as He followed His Father's Covenant and Tradition. As Jesus only chose men to be His Apostles and as they have the role of a bridegroom who dearly loves the bride - priests are all men and only men are ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church, to be the bridegrooms to us.

    Knowing about God, the Father and God, the Son which are male personhoods, it is discernable that in God's eyes and His Design, there is clear distinction and difference in functionality between "maleness" and "femaleness". Afterall, our God is a god of great order and design. He clearly manifested this order by choosing only men to priesthood ever since the beginning. And one of the role and function of maleness is as "bridegroom". In God's order and design, there is no tweaking women or female to be a "bridegroom". The male is the bridegroom as the female is the bride.

    Priests, being "alter Christus", are bridegrooms. Thus, only men are ordained to priesthood.

    All in obedience and in following the Sacred Covenant, Testament and Tradition of God in His Great Grand Scheme.

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  11. Why are the hands/fingers required to be ordained a priest?

    As stated above, Holy Orders is a sacrament of service to God.

    In general, 3 of the 7 sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church, bestows the indelible Mark of God upon us. These sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. None of these 3 sacraments should be repeated because once the Mark of God is installed on us, it can never be taken away.

    At Baptism, we are annointed on our forehead - which gives us the indelible mark of God. The forehead, being part of the face, is a symbol of "who we are", "what we are", "what's in our mind and heart", and "who we belong" because this mark is readily seen upfront. Given this mark, God and His angels can pinpoint us from the rest and know we belong to Him and Him alone. (Revelation 22: 3-4: "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.")

    When a man is ordained to priesthood, the bishop annoints his hands. This time, the Mark of God is installed on the hands. Hands symbolize "work", "service", "actions". The right hand is also a symbol of strength (Jesus at the right hand of His Father), of openness, commitment and agreement when extended. This Mark of God on the hands shows that the person is God's instrument of service to others. Priests, being servants of God, have many jobs that involve the use of the hands - consecration, administer sacraments such as Holy Communion, Baptism, Annointing, blessings, sign of the Cross, and of course, to bestow the Mark of God upon us.

    Thus, for priesthood, the hands (at least a hand with the thumb and index finger) are necessary in priesthood because they are the tools, the instrument used by God in passing on and bestowing His Mark and His gifts and graces to us.

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