Q. 1. I am a non-believer, not being associated with any form of belief. I am curious as to the meaning of the word "priest." Is that the same as an elder or a leader? Please summarize your answer as short as possible. I just want an overall definition. Thank you.
A. 1. In summary, a Roman Catholic priest, ranking below a Bishop (to who he promised canonical obedience) and above a deacon, is the ordained person who acts as a mediator between God and man. He is the one who is authorized to performs the Sacred Rites of the Church by administering the Sacraments (to celebrate Mass, to forgive sins, to baptise, etc...). He preaches, give blessings, guides, etc...
The priest can trace his apostolic origin to the twelve Apostles who were appointed by Jesus.
He may or may not be appointed as the Pastor of a Church/parish.
He is educated in religious studies or philosophy, and pursues a graduate degree from a Catholic seminary.