The office corresponds to a presbyter in the early church. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14)
In the absence of a bishop, the priest presides at Mass and at the other Sacraments except Confirmation and Holy Orders. In the Roman Catholic Church, these are Baptism, Matrimony, Reconciliation, and Healing. From the early 4th Century A.D. a discipline of celibacy has been in place for Roman Catholic priests, although it was not made mandatory until the Middle Ages. In recent times the Roman Catholic Church is finding it difficult to replace aging priests but has kept its policy regarding unmarried priests, instead addressing the need for more parish clergy by making greater use of deacons, who may be married men.