Church Hierarchy

Misconception of Catholic Hierarchy

misconception hierarchy

Actual Catholic Hierarchy

actual hierarchy

The Pope (also known as the Patriarch), however due to the Schism in 1054 AD, four out of the 5 Patriarchs who were known as the 4 Patriarchs of the East became the Greek Orthodox Church and the Pope became known as the Patriarchy of the West. The Pope actually holds three positions in the Catholic Church; Parish Priest at St. John Lateran Basilica, Bishop of the Diocese of the city of Rome and the head of the universal Church, also known as Universal Bishop.

The Bishops, also called Archbishop, are next in the hierarchy. There are 2946 ‘Mother churches’ in the Catholic church today. The local church where a Bishop resides is always called a Cathedral. Each of these Mother churches are assigned a geographical area which is called a diocese. There is only one Bishop; however he may have assistance from bishops who rank below him. There is no difference in rank and power between a Bishop and an Archbishop. An archbishop is merely a bishop who controls a larger than average territory or is located in a city of political importance.

The Priests, also called Reverend, Pastor, Priest or Father, are the last clergy members of the Church Hierarchy. There is one Priest for each of the 219,583 Parishes in the Catholic Church. Each Parish has its own geographical area and boundary lines between local churches are well defined. The Priest is in charge of a single parish that is over common Catholics. The priest answers only to two men, his Bishop and the Pope. A bishop from one diocese has no power or control over a Priest from a different diocese.

Cardinals have no power in the Catholic Church. They are not over Bishops or Priests. Cardinals are chosen by the Pope from the 2964 bishops to take on an additional title of Cardinal. Cardinals are just Bishops with additional privileges but do not rank over anyone outside their own diocese. Cardinals act as an advisory panel for the Pope and elect the new pope when the current one dies.

 

Click here for the history of the Catholic Church and click here for the history of religious orders in Swansea.

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