From a reader…
I attended the sacerdotal ordination of 5 priests for my diocese last Saturday.
After the bishop imposed hands, other priests participating in the Mass also imposed hands on the candidates. Since priests lack the fullness of the priesthood, what is the purpose and effect of the priests’ imposition of hands on the candidates?
The imposition of hands by the priests present at the ordination symbolizes the bond of ordained priesthood that all the men share.
However, on a related note, it seems that it was once possible for priests to ordain priests. There were a number of ancient references to this and we have documentation from the medieval period. In 1400 Pope Boniface I gave permission to the Abbot of S. Osith in Essex to ordain to the priesthood. The permission was revoked in 1403. The validity of their orders was not questioned. Today, however, the Church affirms that only bishops ordain priests.