Pope Benedict XVI’s response to the question of why the Catholic church does not view other Christian denominations as legitimate members of the Church of Christ is as follows:
“According to the Catholic doctrine, these Communities [the non-Catholic churches] do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called ‘Churches’ in the proper sense of the word.”
In a nutshell, it is saying that other churches do not have the Catholic priesthood; because they do not have the Catholic priesthood, they do not have the ability to perform the Catholic Eucharist; and because they can not perform the Catholic Eucharist, they are not part of the church. Further up in this document it says that because the other churches do not have these elements, they do not have salvation.
There are several things biblical wrong with this statement. Today we will look briefly at the claim that non-Catholic churches do not have the priesthood.
Revelation 1:5-6 says, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”
Again, 1 Peter 2:4-5 says, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
According to Scripture, all believers are priests. There is no special priesthood that is only attainable by certain members. We are a kingdom of priests to God Almighty. Therefore, to say that the Protestant churches don’t have the priesthood is simply not true.