priesthood…

I regard the contemporary development of a priesthood which combines a ministry of word and sacrament with employment in a secular profession not as a modern fad but as a recovery of something indubitably apostolic and primitive. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that the apostles visited churches which they had founded and appointed and ordained “presbyters” within them. These “presbyters” were the local clergy, the teachers and pastoral and liturgical leaders, the beginning of what later centuries were to know as the second order in the threefold ministry – the order into which I ordain men today. But it is inconceivable that they were ‘paid professionals’ in their office, as the resources for this would have been most unlikely to be there. This is not to say that the change to a professional priesthood was wrong, and a number of aspects of the Church’s nature and mission called for it. But it is to say that what we call our ‘auxiliaries’ (self-supporting clergy) today belong most truly to the apostolic foundation, and we may learn from them of that inward meaning of priesthood which we share with them.

Michael Ramsey, former Archbishop of Canterbury
(in the first edition of ‘The Christian Priest Today’, 1972)