Hierarchy of the Catholic Church | Wikipedia audio article

By | September 5, 2019

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists
of its bishops, priests, and deacons. In the ecclesiological sense of the term,
“hierarchy” strictly means the “holy ordering” of the Church, the Body of Christ, so to respect
the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity. (1 Cor 12)
In canonical and general usage, it refers to those who exercise authority within a Christian
church. In the Catholic Church, authority rests chiefly
with the bishops, while priests and deacons serve as their assistants, co-workers or helpers. Accordingly, “hierarchy of the Catholic Church”
is also used to refer to the bishops alone.As of 31st of December 2014, the Catholic Church
consisted of 2,998 dioceses or equivalent jurisdictions, each overseen by a bishop. Dioceses are divided into individual communities
called parishes, each staffed by one or more priests, deacons, or lay ecclesial ministers. Ordinarily, care of a parish is entrusted
to a priest, though there are exceptions. Approximately 22% of all parishes do not have
a resident pastor, and 3,485 parishes worldwide are entrusted to a deacon or lay ecclesial
minister.All clergy, including deacons, priests, and bishops, may preach, teach, baptize, witness
marriages, and conduct funeral liturgies. Only priests and bishops can celebrate the
sacraments of the Eucharist (though others may be ministers of Holy Communion), Penance
(Reconciliation, Confession), Confirmation (priests may administer this sacrament with
prior ecclesiastical approval), and Anointing of the Sick. Only bishops can administer the sacrament
of Holy Orders, by which men are ordained as bishops, priests or deacons.==Bishop==The bishops, who possess the fullness of orders,
and therefore the fullness of both priesthood and diaconate, are as a body (the College
of Bishops) considered the successors of the Apostles and are “constituted Pastors in the
Church, to be the teachers of doctrine, the priests of sacred worship and the ministers
of governance” and “represent the Church.” In the year 2012, there were 5,133 Catholic
bishops; at the end of 2014, there were 5,237 Catholic bishops. The Pope himself is a bishop (the bishop of
Rome) and traditionally uses the title “Venerable Brother” when writing formally to another
bishop. The typical role of a bishop is to provide
pastoral governance for a diocese. Bishops who fulfill this function are known
as diocesan ordinaries, because they have what canon law calls ordinary (i.e. not delegated)
authority for a diocese. These bishops may be known as hierarchs in
the Eastern Catholic Churches. Other bishops may be appointed to assist ordinaries
(auxiliary bishops and coadjutor bishops) or to carry out a function in a broader field
of service to the Church, such as appointments as papal nuncios or as officials in the Roman
Curia. Bishops of a country or region may form an
episcopal conference and meet periodically to discuss current problems. Decisions in certain fields, notably liturgy,
fall within the exclusive competence of these conferences. The decisions of the conferences are binding
on the individual bishops only if agreed to by at least two-thirds of the membership and
confirmed by the Holy See. Bishops are normally ordained to the episcopate
by at least three other bishops, though for validity only one is needed and a mandatum
from the Holy See is required. Ordination to the episcopate is considered
the completion of the sacrament of Holy Orders; even when a bishop retires from his active
service, he remains a bishop, since the ontological effect of Holy Orders is permanent. On the other hand, titles such as archbishop
or patriarch imply no ontological alteration, and existing bishops who rise to those offices
do not require further ordination. Sacramentally, all bishops are equal. According to jurisdiction, office, and privileges,
however, various ranks are distinguished, as indicated below. All bishops are “vicars of Christ”.===Pope (Bishop of Rome)===The pope is the bishop of Rome. He is also, by virtue of that office: Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince
of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the Latin Church, Primate
of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City
State, Servant of the servants of God.====Offices and titles====
“Pope” is a pronominal honorific, not an office or a title, meaning “Father” (the common honorific
for all clergy). The honorific “pope” was from the early 3rd
century used for any bishop in the West, and is known in Greek as far back as Homer’s Odyssey
(6:57). In the East, “pope” is still a common form
of address for clergy in the Russian Orthodox Church, and is the style of the Bishop of
Alexandria. Pope Marcellinus (d. 304) is the first Bishop of Rome shown in
sources to have had the title “pope” used of him. From the 6th century, the imperial chancery
of Constantinople normally reserved this designation for the Bishop of Rome. From the early 6th century, it began to be
confined in the West to the Bishop of Rome, a practice that was firmly in place by the
11th century, when Pope Gregory VII declared it reserved for the Bishop of Rome.As bishop
of the Church of Rome, he is successor to the co-patrons of that local Church, Saint
Peter and Saint Paul. As such, the Church of Rome, and its bishop,
has always had a prominence in the Catholic communion and at least to some degree primacy
among his peers, the other bishops, as Peter had a certain primacy among his peers, the
other apostles. The exact nature of that primacy is one of
the most significant ecumenical issues of the age, and has developed as a doctrine throughout
the entire history of the Church.The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Second
Vatican Council’s document Lumen gentium, states: “The pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s
successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops
and of the whole company of the faithful.'” Communion with the bishop of Rome has become
such a significant identifier of Catholic identity that at times the Catholic Church
has been known in its entirety as “Roman Catholic,” though this is inaccurate in Catholic theology
(ecclesiology).Three other of the pope’s offices stem directly from his office as bishop of
the Church of Rome. As the Latin Church owes its identity and
development to its origins in the liturgical, juridical, and theological patrimony of Rome,
the bishop of Rome is de facto the patriarch of the Latin Church. According to Pope Benedict XVI, there has
been much ‘confusion’ between the pope’s primacy as patriarch of the western church and his
primacy as first patriarch among equals, that this “failure to distinguish” between the
roles and responsibilities of these two distinct positions leads in time to the “extreme centralization
of the Catholic Church” and the schism between East and West.As the first local Church of
Italy, the bishop of Rome is the Primate of Italy and is empowered to appoint the president
of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. The Church of Rome is also the principal church
of the Province of Rome, so the bishop of Rome is Archbishop and Metropolitan of the
Roman province. As a bishop, the pope is referred to as a
Vicar of Christ. This title was common to all bishops from
the fourth through twelfth centuries, reserved to the bishop of Rome from the twelfth through
early twentieth centuries, and restored to all bishops at the Second Vatican Council.The
pope resides in Vatican City, an independent state within the city of Rome, set up by the
1929 Lateran Pacts between the Holy See and Italy. As popes were sovereigns of the papal states
(754–1870), so do they exercise absolute civil authority in the microstate of Vatican
City since 1929. Ambassadors are accredited not to the Vatican
City State but to the Holy See, which was subject to international law even before the
state was instituted. The body of officials that assist the Pope
in governance of the Church as a whole is known as the Roman curia. The term “Holy See” (i.e. of Rome) is generally
used only of the Pope and the curia, because the Code of Canon Law, which concerns governance
of the Latin Church as a whole and not internal affairs of the see (diocese) of Rome itself,
necessarily uses the term in this technical sense. Finally, the title “Servant of the servants
of God” was an addition of Pope Gregory the Great, a reminder that in Christianity, leadership
is always about service/ministry (diakonia). The style of address for the bishop of Rome
is “His Holiness”.====Election====
The present rules governing the election of a pope are found in the apostolic constitution
Universi Dominici Gregis. This deals with the powers, from the death
of a pope to the announcement of his successor’s election, of the cardinals and the departments
of the Roman curia; with the funeral arrangements for the dead pope; and with the place, time
and manner of voting of the meeting of the cardinal electors, a meeting known as a conclave. This word is derived from Latin com- (together)
and clavis (key) and refers to the locking away of the participants from outside influences,
a measure that was introduced first as a means instead of forcing them to reach a decision. Like all bishops, the pope has the option
of resigning, though unlike other bishops, it is not required. The best known cases are those of Pope Celestine
V in 1294, Pope Gregory XII in 1415 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2013. Approximately 10% of all popes left or were
removed from office before death.===Patriarchs===
The heads of some autonomous (in Latin, sui iuris) particular Churches consisting of several
local Churches (dioceses) have the title of Patriarch.The pope, as patriarch of the Latin
Church, is the head of the only sui iuris Church in the West, leading to the relatively
short-lived title Patriarch of the West (in use 1863–2006). Eastern patriarchs are elected by the synod
of bishops of their particular Church.The Patriarchs who head autonomous particular
Churches are: The Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria
(Coptic Catholic Church) The Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch
(Melkite Greek Catholic Church) The Maronite Patriarch of Antioch (Maronite
Church) The Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch (Syriac
Catholic Church) The Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia
(Armenian Catholic Church) The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylonia
(Chaldean Catholic Church)These have authority not only over the bishops of their particular
Church, including metropolitans, but also directly over all the faithful. Eastern Catholic patriarchs have precedence
over all other bishops, with the exceptions laid down by the Pope. The honorary title prefixed to their names
is “His Beatitude”. There are also titular patriarchs in the Latin
Church, who, for various historical reasons, were granted the title, but never the corresponding
office and responsibilities, of “patriarch”. They include the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem,
the Patriarch of Venice, the Patriarch of Lisbon, and the Patriarch of the East Indies. All of these offices are honorary, and the
patriarchs are not the heads of autonomous particular Churches. The Patriarch of the East Indies is the archbishop
of Goa, while the other patriarchs are the archbishops of the named cities. The title of Patriarch of the West Indies
was in the past granted to some Spanish bishops (not always of the same see), but is long
in abeyance.===Major archbishops===Other autonomous particular Churches are headed
by a major archbishop. The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church uses the
title Catholicos for their major archbishop. With few exceptions, the authority of a major
archbishop in his sui iuris Church is equivalent to that of a patriarch in his Church. This less prestigious office was established
in 1963 for those Eastern Catholic Churches which have developed in size and stability
to allow full self-governance if historical, ecumenical, or political conditions do not
allow their elevation to a patriarchate. At present, there are four major archbishops:===Cardinals===Cardinals are princes of the Church appointed
by the Pope. He generally chooses bishops who head departments
of the Roman Curia or important episcopal sees throughout the world. As a whole, the cardinals compose a College
of Cardinals which advises the Pope, and those cardinals under the age of 80 at the death
or resignation of a Pope elect his successor. Their heraldic achievement is surmounted by
the red galero and tassels as a form of martyred position in the Church. Not all cardinals are bishops. Domenico Bartolucci, Karl Josef Becker, Roberto
Tucci and Albert Vanhoye are examples of 21st-century non-bishop cardinals. The 1917 Code of Canon Law introduced the
requirement that a cardinal must be at least a priest. Previously, they need only be in minor orders
and not even deacons. Teodolfo Mertel, who died in 1899, was the
last non-priest cardinal. In 1962, Pope John XXIII made it a rule that
a man who has been nominated a cardinal is required to be consecrated a bishop, if not
one already, but some ask for and obtain dispensation from this requirement. It is rare that the Pope will appoint Cardinals
who are priests only and not consecrated as a bishop. The 1917 Code of Canon Law, continuing the
tradition observed, for instance, at the First Vatican Council, laid down that cardinals
have precedence over all other prelates, even patriarchs. The 1983 Code of Canon Law did not deal with
questions of precedence. The cardinalate is not an integral part of
the theological structure of the Catholic Church, but largely an honorific distinction
that has its origins in the 1059 assignation of the right of electing the Pope exclusively
to the principal clergy of Rome and the bishops of the seven suburbicarian dioceses. Because of their resulting importance, the
term cardinal (from Latin cardo, meaning “hinge”) was applied to them. In the 12th century the practice of appointing
ecclesiastics from outside Rome as cardinals began. Each cardinal is still assigned a church in
Rome as his “titular church” or is linked with one of the suburbicarian dioceses. Of these sees, the Dean of the College of
Cardinals holds that of Ostia, while keeping his preceding link with one of the other six
sees. Traditionally, only six cardinals held the
rank of Cardinal Bishop, but when Eastern patriarchs are made cardinals, they too hold
the rank of Cardinal Bishop, without being assigned a suburbicarian see. The other cardinals have the rank either of
Cardinal Priest or Cardinal Deacon, the former rank being normally assigned to bishops in
charge of dioceses, and the latter to officials of the Curia and to priests raised to the
The Latin Church title of primate has in some countries been granted to the bishop of a
particular (usually metropolitan) see. It once involved authority over all the other
sees in the country or region, but now only gives a “prerogative of honor” with no power
of governance unless an exception is made in certain matters by a privilege granted
by the Holy See or by an approved custom. The title is usually assigned to the ordinary
of the first diocese or the oldest archdiocese in the country. Thus in Poland, the primate is the archbishop
of the oldest archdiocese (Gniezno, founded in 1000), and not the oldest diocese (Poznań,
founded in 968). Notably, the Archbishop of Baltimore is not
formally considered a primate of the Catholic Church in the United States, but “prerogative
of the place”. The closest equivalent position in Eastern
Orthodoxy is an exarch holding authority over other bishops without being a patriarch. In the Eastern Catholic Churches, exarchs,
whether apostolic or patriarchal, do not hold authority over other bishops (see below, #Equivalents
of diocesan bishops in law).===Metropolitan bishops===A Latin Church Metropolitan is the bishop
of the principal (the “metropolitan”) see of an ecclesiastical province composed of
several dioceses. The metropolitan receives a pallium from the
pope as a symbol of his office. The metropolitan bishop has limited oversight
authority over the suffragan dioceses in their province, including ensuring that the faith
and ecclesiastical discipline are properly observed. He also has the power to name a diocesan administrator
for a vacant suffragan see if the diocesan council of consultors fails to properly elect
one. His diocesan tribunal additionally serves
by default as the ecclesiastical court of appeal for suffragans (court of second instance),
and the metropolitan has the option of judging those appeals personally.Eastern metropolitans
in patriarchal or major archiepiscopal churches have a level of authority similar to that
of Latin metropolitans, subject to the specific laws and customs of their sui iuris church. Eastern metropolitans who head a metropolitan
sui iuris church have much greater authority within their church, although it is less than
that of a major archbishop or patriarch.All metropolitans have the title of Archbishop,
and the metropolitan see is usually referred to as an archdiocese or archeparchy, a title
held not only by the 553 metropolitan sees but also by 77 other sees. An exception is the metropolitan Diocese of
The title of archbishop is held not only by bishops who head metropolitan sees, but also
by those who head archdioceses that are not metropolitan sees (most of these are in Europe
and the Levant). In addition, it is held by certain other bishops,
referred to as “Titular Archbishops” (see “Other Bishops” below) who have been given
no-longer-residential archdioceses as their titular sees—many of these in administrative
or diplomatic posts, for instance as papal nuncios or secretaries of curial congregations. The bishop of a non-archiepiscopal see may
be given the personal title of archbishop without also elevating his see (such a bishop
is known as an archbishop ad personam), though this practice has seen significantly reduced
usage since the Second Vatican Council.===Diocesan bishops===
The bishop or eparch of a see, even if he does not also hold a title such as Archbishop,
Metropolitan, Major Archbishop, Patriarch or Pope, is the centre of unity for his diocese
or eparchy, and, as a member of the College of Bishops, shares in responsibility for governance
of the whole Church (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 886). As each local particular Church is an embodiment
of the whole Catholic Church, not just an administrative subdivision of something larger,
the bishop who is its head is not a delegate of the Pope. Instead, he has of himself primary teaching,
governance and sanctifying responsibility for the see for which he has been ordained
bishop. Within each diocese, even if the Eucharist
is celebrated by another bishop, the necessary communion with the Bishop of the diocese is
signified by the mention of his name. In Eastern eparchies the name of the patriarch,
major archbishop or metropolitan is also mentioned, because these also have direct responsibility
within all the eparchies of the particular Church in question. For the same reason, every Catholic celebration
of the Eucharist has a mention of the Pope by name. Ordination to the episcopate is the fullness
of the priesthood and the completion of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Bishops are considered the successors of the
apostles. Within the Catholic Church the following posts
have similarities to that of a diocesan bishop, but are not necessarily held by a bishop.====Equivalents of diocesan bishops in law
====Canon 368 of the Code of Canon Law lists five
Latin Church jurisdictional areas that are considered equivalent to a diocese. These are headed by: A Territorial Prelate, formerly called a Prelate
nullius dioceseos (of no diocese), in charge of a geographical area that has not yet been
raised to the level of diocese A Territorial Abbot, in charge of an area,
which in mission countries can be quite vast, associated with an abbey
A Vicar Apostolic (normally a bishop of a titular see), in charge of an apostolic vicariate,
usually in a mission country, not yet ready to be made a diocese
A Prefect Apostolic (usually not a bishop), in charge of an apostolic prefecture, not
yet ready to be made an apostolic vicariate A Permanent Apostolic Administrator, in charge
of a geographical area that for serious reasons cannot be made a diocese.To these may be added: An Apostolic Exarch (normally a bishop of
a titular see), in charge of an apostolic exarchate—not yet ready to be made an eparchy—for
the faithful of an Eastern Catholic Church in an area that is situated outside the home
territory of that Eastern Church. A Patriarchal Exarch, a bishop in charge of
a patriarchal exarchate—not yet ready to be made an eparchy—for the faithful of an
Eastern Catholic Church in an area situated within the home territory of that patriarchal
Eastern Church. A Military Ordinary, serving Catholics in
a country’s armed forces A Personal Prelate, in charge of a group of
persons without regard to geography: the only personal prelature existing is that of Opus
Dei. An Apostolic Administrator of a Personal Apostolic
Administration: only one exists, the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary
Vianney An Ordinary of a personal ordinariate for
former Anglicans A Superior of an autonomous missionOf somewhat
similar standing is the Diocesan Administrator (formerly called a Vicar Capitular) elected
to govern a diocese during a vacancy. Apart from certain limitations of nature and
law, he has, on a caretaker basis, the same obligations and powers as a Diocesan Bishop
(canons 427–429 of the Code of Canon Law). Occasionally an Apostolic Administrator is
appointed by the Holy See to run a vacant diocese, or even a diocese whose bishop is
incapacitated or otherwise impeded.===Other bishops===
A Diocesan Bishop may have bishops who assist in his ministry. The Coadjutor Bishop of a see has the right
of succession on the death or resignation of the Diocesan Bishop, and, if the see is
an archdiocese, holds the title of Archbishop. Similarly, a retired Diocesan Bishop keeps
his connection with the see to which he was appointed, and is known as Bishop (or Archbishop)
Emeritus of that see. On the other hand, an Auxiliary Bishop, who
may also hold posts such as vicar general or episcopal vicar, is appointed bishop of
a titular see, a see that in the course of history has ceased to exist as an actual jurisdictional
unit. The titular sees—which may be archiepiscopal
or simply episcopal—assigned to such bishops were once known as sees in partibus infidelium,
because they were situated in areas lost to Christianity as a result of Muslim conquests. Now former sees even in Christian countries
are assigned as titular sees. These sees are also assigned to bishops who
serve in the Roman Curia, as Papal Nuncios, or as equivalents of Diocesan Bishops in law
(see above), such as Vicars Apostolic and Apostolic Exarchs. The term “Titular Bishop” is frequently used
for such bishops, but is, strictly speaking, inaccurate, since they are indeed bishops,
even if they do not serve the see to which they are appointed, and are not merely holders
of an honorary title of bishop. They are members of the College of Bishops
as much as the Diocesan Bishops. In most English-speaking countries, the honorary
title prefixed to the name of a bishop is “The Most Reverend”. However, in the United Kingdom and in those
countries most strongly influenced by English (not Irish) practice, “The Most Reverend”
is reserved for archbishops, and other bishops are called “The Right Reverend”. Important titles or functions usually, but
not necessarily, held by (arch)bishops who are not in charge of a diocese or an equivalent
community include those of Apostolic Delegate, Apostolic Nuncio, Papal Legate, Patriarchal
Vicar, Pontifical Delegate.==Ordinaries and local ordinaries==Local ordinaries are placed over or exercise
ordinary executive power in particular churches or equivalent communities. The Supreme Pontiff (the Pope) is a local
ordinary for the whole Catholic Church. In Eastern Catholic Churches, Patriarchs,
major archbishops, and metropolitans have ordinary power of governance for the whole
territory of their respective autonomous particular churches. Diocesan/eparchial bishops/eparchs
Other prelates who head, even if only temporarily, a particular church or a community equivalent
to it (see above #Equivalents of diocesan bishops in law)
Vicars general and protosyncelliEpiscopal vicars and syncelliMajor superiors of religious
institutes (including abbots) and of societies of apostolic life are ordinaries of their
respective memberships, but not local ordinaries.==Presbyterate=====
In general===Bishops are assisted by priests and deacons. All priests and deacons are incardinated in
a diocese or religious order. Parishes, whether territorial or person-based,
within a diocese are normally in the charge of a priest, known as the parish priest or
the pastor.In the Latin Church, only celibate men, as a rule, are ordained as priests, while
the Eastern Churches, again as a rule, ordain both celibate and married men. Among the Eastern particular Churches, the
Ethiopic Catholic Church ordains only celibate clergy, while also having married priests
who were ordained in the Orthodox Church, while other Eastern Catholic Churches, which
do ordain married men, do not have married priests in certain countries. The Western or Latin Church does sometimes,
though rarely, ordain married men, usually Protestant clergy who have become Catholics. All sui iuris Churches of the Catholic Church
maintain the ancient tradition that, following ordination, marriage is not allowed. Even a married priest whose wife dies may
not then marry again. The Catholic Church and the ancient Christian
Churches see priestly ordination as a sacrament dedicating the person ordained to a permanent
relationship of service, and, like Baptism and Confirmation, having an ontological effect
on the person. It is for this reason that a person may be
ordained to each of the three orders only once. They also consider that ordination can be
conferred only on males.===Priests in service outside their diocese
===Although priests are incardinated into a diocese
or order, they may obtain the permission of their diocesan ordinary or religious superior
to serve outside the normal jurisdiction of the diocese or order. These assignments may be temporary or more
permanent in nature. Temporary assignments may include studying
for an advanced degree at a Pontifical University in Rome. They may also include short-term assignments
to the faculty of a seminary located outside the diocese’s territory. Long-term assignments include serving the
universal church on the staff of a dicastery or tribunal of the Roman Curia or in the diplomatic
corps of the Holy See. They may also be appointed the rector or to
long-term teaching assignments to the faculty of a seminary or Catholic university. Priests may also serve on the staff of their
episcopal conference, as military chaplains in the military ordinariates, or as missionaries.===Positions within a diocese at diocesan
level===The diocesan bishop appoints a vicar general
to assist him in the governance of the diocese. Usually, only one vicar general is appointed;
particularly large dioceses may have more than one vicar general. The vicar general or one of them is usually
appointed moderator of the curia who coordinates the diocesan administrative offices and ministries. A diocesan bishop can also appoint one or
more episcopal vicars for the diocese. They have the same ordinary power as a vicar
general, however, it is limited to a specified division of the diocese, to a specific type
of activity, to the faithful of a particular rite, or to certain groups of people. Vicars general and episcopal vicars must be
priests or bishops. In the Eastern Catholic Churches, they are
called protosyncelli and syncelli (canon 191 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches). Diocesan bishops are required to appoint a
judicial vicar to whom is delegated the bishop’s ordinary power to judge cases (canon 1420
of the Code of Canon Law, canon 191 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches). In the Latin church, the judicial vicar may
also be called officialis. The person holding this post must be a priest,
have earned a doctorate in canon law (or at least a license), be at least thirty years
old, and, unless the smallness of the diocese or the limited number of cases suggests otherwise,
must not be the vicar general. As one of the jobs of the judicial vicar is
to preside over collegiate tribunals, many dioceses have adjutant judicial vicars who
can preside over collegiate tribunals in place of the judicial vicar and must have the same
qualifications. The diocesan bishop appoints a chancellor,
possibly a vice-chancellor, and notaries to the diocesan chancery. These officials maintain the records and archives
of the diocese. They also serve as the secretaries of the
diocesan curia. The bishop also appoints a finance officer
and a finance council to oversee the budget, temporal goods, income, and expenses of the
diocese. The diocesan bishop may appoint priests to
be members of the chapter of his cathedral or of a collegiate church (so called after
their chapter). These priests are given the title of canon. He also appoints six to twelve priests from
the presbyteral council to serve as a college of consultors. They have the responsibility to elect the
diocesan administrator in the event of the vacancy of the see. The bishop appoints priests and other members
of the faithful to various advisory bodies. These include the presbyteral council, the
diocesan synod, and the pastoral council.===Vicars Forane or Deans===
“The Vicar Forane known also as the Dean or the Archpriest or by some other title, is
the priest who is placed in charge of a vicariate forane” (canon 553 of the Code of Canon Law),
namely of a group of parishes within a diocese. Unlike a regional Episcopal Vicar, a Vicar
Forane acts as a help for the Parish Priests and other priests in the vicariate forane,
rather than as an intermediate authority between them and the Diocesan Bishop.===Parish priest/pastor===
This section concerns the priest who in the Code of Canon Law is referred to by the term
parochus, which is some English-speaking countries is rendered as “the parish priest”, in others
as “the pastor”. The English term “pastor” is also used in
a more generic sense corresponding instead to the Latin term pastor: The parish priest is the proper pastor of
the parish entrusted to him. He exercises the pastoral care of the community
entrusted to him under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, whose ministry of Christ
he is called to share, so that for this community he may carry out the offices of teaching,
sanctifying and ruling with the cooperation of other priests or deacons and with the assistance
of lay members of Christ’s faithful, in accordance with the law
—canon 519 of the Code of Canon Law in the English translation by the Canon Law Society
of Great Britain and Ireland, assisted by the Canon Law Society of Australia and New
Zealand and the Canadian Canon Law Society The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor
(pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed
to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has
been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of
teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or
deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the
norm of law —canon 519 of the Code of Canon Law in the
English translation by the Canon Law Society of America).===Assistant priests/parochial vicars===
The parish priest/pastor may be assisted by one or more other priests: Whenever it is necessary or opportune for
the due pastoral care of the parish, one or more assistant priests can be joined with
the parish priest. As cooperators with the parish priest and
sharers in his concern, they are, by common counsel and effort with the parish priest
and under his authority, to labour in the pastoral ministry
—canon 545 of the Code of Canon Law in the English translation by the Canon Law Society
of Great Britain and Ireland, assisted by the Canon Law Society of Australia and New
Zealand and the Canadian Canon Law Society Whenever it is necessary or opportune in order
to carry out the pastoral care of a parish fittingly, one or more parochial vicars can
be associated with the pastor. As co-workers with the pastor and sharers
in his solicitude, they are to offer service in the pastoral ministry by common counsel
and effort with the pastor and under his authority —canon 545 of the Code of Canon Law in the
English translation by the Canon Law Society of America===Honorary titles===
The honorary title of monsignor is conferred by the Pope upon diocesan priests (not members
of religious institutes) in the service of the Holy See, and may be granted by him also
to other diocesan priests at the request of the priest’s bishop. The priest so honored is considered to be
a member of the papal household. The title goes with any of the following three
awards: Chaplain of His Holiness (called Papal Chamberlain
until a 1969 reform), the lowest level, distinguished by purple buttons and trim on the black cassock,
with a purple sash. Honorary Prelate (until 1969 called Domestic
Prelate), the middle level, distinguished by red buttons and trim on the black cassock,
with a purple sash, and by choir dress that includes a purple cassock. Protonotary Apostolic, the highest level,
with the same dress as that of an Honorary Prelate, except that the non-obligatory purple
silk cape known as a ferraiolo may be worn also.In December 2013, Pope Francis decided
to make future grants of the title of Monsignor to priests not in the service of the Holy
See only in the rank of Chaplain of His Holiness and only to priests aged 65 or over.Under
legislation of Pope Pius X, vicars general and vicars capitular (the latter are now called
diocesan administrators) are titular (not actual) Protonotaries durante munere, i.e.,
as long as they hold those offices, and so are entitled to be addressed as Monsignor,
as indicated also by the placing of the abbreviated title “Mons”, before the name of every member
of the secular (diocesan) clergy listed as a vicar general in the Annuario Pontificio. (Honorary titles such as that of “Monsignor”
are not considered appropriate for religious.) Some of the Eastern Catholic Churches of Syriac
tradition use the title Chorbishop, roughly equivalent to the Western title of Monsignor. Other Eastern Catholic Churches bestow the
honorific title of Archimandrite upon unmarried priests as a mark of respect or gratitude
for their services. Married presbyters may be honored with the
position of Archpriest, which has two grades, the higher is “Mitred Archpriest” which permits
the priest to wear a mitre. In the Latin Church titles of Archpriest is
sometimes attached to the pastor of a few number of historic churches including the
major basilicas in Rome. These archpriests are not presbyters, but
bishops or cardinals. Similarly, the title of Archdeacon is sometimes
conferred on presbyters.==Diaconate==
Deacons are ordained ministers of the Church who are co-workers with the bishop alongside
presbyters, but are intended to focus on the ministries of direct service and outreach
to the poor and needy, rather than pastoral leadership. They are usually related to a parish, where
they have a liturgical function as the ordinary minister of the Gospel and the Prayers of
the Faithful, They may preach homilies, and in the Roman Rite may preside at non-Eucharistic
liturgies such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, and adoration/benediction. In the Eastern Catholic Churches, in the absence
of a priest, deacons do not vest and may only lead services as a reader, never presiding
at weddings or funerals. The scriptural basis and description of the
role and qualifications of the deacon can be found in Acts 6:1–9, and in 1 Timothy
3:1–13.They may be seminarians preparing for ordination to the priesthood, “transitional
deacons”, or “permanent deacons” who do not intend to be ordained as priests. To be ordained deacons, the latter must be
at least 25 years old, if unmarried; if married, a prospective deacon must be at least 35 years
old and have the consent of his wife. In the Latin Church, married deacons are permanent
deacons. In most diocese there is a cut-off age for
being accepted into formation for the diaconate. The passage from membership of the laity to
that of the clergy occurs with ordination to the diaconate. Previously, the Latin Church rule was that
one became a cleric on receiving clerical tonsure, which was followed by minor orders
and by the subdiaconate, which was reckoned as one of the major orders. By his motu proprio Ministeria quaedam of
15 August 1972, Pope Paul VI decreed: “The orders hitherto called minor are henceforth
to be spoken of as ‘ministries’.” The same motu proprio also decreed that the
Latin Church would no longer have the major order of subdiaconate, but it permitted any
episcopal conference that so desired to apply the term “subdeacon” to those who hold the
ministry (formerly called the minor order) of “acolyte”. Even in those societies within the Latin Church
that, with the approval of the Holy See, continue to administer the rites of tonsure, minor
orders and subdiaconate, those who receive those rites remain lay people, becoming clerics
only on being ordained as deacons.==Laity==
Most of the people of God are the laity, a term derived from Greek λαὸς Θεοῦ
(Laos Theou), meaning “people of God”. All Christian faithful have the right and
duty to bring the gospel message increasingly to “all people in every age and every land”. They all have a share in the Church’s mission
and have the right to undertake apostolic activity according to their own state and
condition.Lay ministry can take the form of exercising the priesthood of all the baptized,
and more specifically undertaking the work of catechists. serving the Church pastorally, administratively,
and in other ways, including the liturgical services as acolytes, lectors, cantors, and
the like, initiation sponsors, pastoral care ministers, and members of parish and diocesan
consultative bodies.Some lay Catholics carry out full-time professional and vocational
service in the name of the Church, rather than in a secular calling. Though the phenomenon is widespread in North
America and much of Europe, the organization and definition of the ministry is left to
national bishops conferences. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
has adopted the term lay ecclesial ministry for these individuals, as intentionally distinct
from the general apostolate or ministry of the laity described above.The consultative
leadership of the church, in both the diocese and the parish, usually comprises a Pastoral
Council and a Finance Council, as well as several Commissions usually focusing on major
aspects of the church’s life and mission, such as Faith Formation or Christian Education,
Liturgy, Social Justice, Ecumenism, or Stewardship.==Religious==Religious—who can be either lay people or
clergy—are members of religious institutes, societies in which the members take public
vows and live a fraternal life in common. This is a form of consecrated life distinct
from other forms, such as that of secular institutes. It is distinct also from forms that do not
involve membership of an institute, such as that of consecrated hermits, that of consecrated
virgins, and other forms whose approval is reserved to the Holy See.Religious institutes
have historically been subdivided into the categories of orders and congregations.==See also====
External links==Explanations of the hierarchy
Book II: The People of God Liber II. De Populo Dei, Part II: The Hierarchical Constitution
from the Code of Canon Law on the Holy See official website
Catholic Encyclopedia “hierarchy” article Barry, Rev. Msgr. John F (2001). One Faith, One Lord: A Study of Basic Catholic
Belief. Gerard F. Baumbach, Ed.D. ISBN 0-8215-2207-8. Directory of officials
Catholic-Hierarchy.org. This is an online database of bishops and
dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church. It contains geographical, organizational and
address information on each Catholic diocese in the world, including Eastern Catholic Churches
in communion with the Holy See, such as the Maronite Catholic Church or the Syro-Malabar
Church. It also gives biographical information on
current and previous bishops of each diocese, such as dates of birth, ordinations and (when
applicable) death. Not officially sanctioned by the church, the
website is run as a private project by David M. Cheney in Kansas City. For the sources used by Cheney in his compilation,
see http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/sources.html. [self-published]

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