Faith/Spirituality Forum: The Catholic Church Hierarchy
The Catholic Church Hierarchy QUESTION from Aaron August 8, 2001 + Peace be with you!
I am just wondering what actually is the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? How does a local diocese from a remote part of the world gets linked all the way to the Holy See? I'm also interested to know what exactly is the standard structure of the Catholic community in a country that spans from the laity all the way up to our Holy Father in Rome.
Thank so much and God bless!
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 12, 2001 Dear Mr. Aaron:
The Pope is the president. The Cardinals are the Pope's advisors (like the President's Cabinet), especially those who work in the Curia (sort of like the Executive branch of government). Cardinals are bishops who may govern a diocese or have special tasks in the Curia. Cardinals are also the electors of a new Pope when the Pope dies. Then there are diocesan bishops, then priests, then deacons.
Thus the ranking of the hierarchy is: Pope, bishops, priests, deacons.
All the Churches of the world are centered upon what is called their local ordinary (which is their local bishop). No matter how remote, there is a bishop assigned to govern that diocese.
The priests and deacons report directly to the bishop. The bishop reports directly to the Pope. Every five years all the bishops of the world must visit the Pope in Rome to give him an account of what is happening in their respective diocese and to receive pastoral advice from the Pope.
Of course, when special problems occur that require attention of the Holy See a local bishop may be contacted by a Curial officer or by the Pope himself.
There are also all sorts of other matters on a on-going basis that keep the local diocese, regardless of how remote, in touch with the Holy See.
The laity usally are pastored directly by their parish priests, but the local Church is actually considered the diocese. The bishop is pastor of the local Church, and the local church is divided up in parishes to assist the Bishop. The laity can go directly to the bishop for redress of grievances.
Back to Index Page