The passage informs us that not only Pope Vigilius, but also many clerics of Rome had been deported from the city during the Gothic War.
Some of the exiled clerics were certainly exiled as companions of Vigilius, and later deported also from Constantinople, because of their opposition to the condemnation of the Three Chapters. The loyalty of some Roman clerics in the midst of the wars against the Ostrogoths may also have been questioned. Therefore, after the battle of Taginae (552), the clergy that remained in Rome enlist the support of Narses to plead to the emperor for the return of the exiled. Justinian agreed, but he recalled them firstly to Constantinople, and asked them for a decision on who should be the bishop of Rome: Pope Vigilius or archdeacon Pelagius. Although they opted for Vigilius, they agreed for the succession of Pelagius after his death.
The account is not necessarily true, Justinian probably would not have been seeking consent in this way, and it is not corroborated by other sources. However, it shows that the voice of 'presbyters, deacons and clergy' was still considered important in the process of choosing a new pope.