How does the catholic rank structure work?

With all of the drama in the Irish catholic priests and bishops, it leads me to wonder how the catholic(for lack of better words) "rank structure" works. Priests, Bishops, Cardinals... I don't really understand how it all works and I am very curious. Anyways, thanks alot!

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Pretty well.

    The hierarchy of the Catholic Church looks like this.

    1. God

    2. The Church, the People of God love and serve the Lord

    3. Deacons serve God and the People of God

    4. Priests serve God, the People of God, and the deacons

    5. Bishops serve God, the local Church (the diocese, the People of God, the deacons, and the priests)

    6. The Pope serves God and the entire Church (the People of God, the deacons, the priests, and the bishops). This is why the Pope is called the servant of the servants of God.

    Men who become Pope serve in lower and lower roles until they are the servants of everyone.

    The hierarchy of ordained ministers in the Catholic Church mirrors how Jesus and the Apostles set up the original Christian Church. There are three levels of Holy Orders, Deacon, Priest, and Bishop.

    Deacons serve the Church by assisting the bishop and priests in the celebration of the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.

    Priests serve the Church as co-workers of the bishops and can lead a parish. A special title for a priest is monsignor. Priests are called presbyters in the Bible.

    Bishops are the Apostles of today. Each bishop serves the Church by leading a diocese which a group of parishes centered around a large city. Special types of bishop are archbishop, cardinal, and pope (who leads the whole Church).

    For more information, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    With love in Christ.

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  • 1 decade ago

    On the top are God then the laity. Below them are the deacons, then the priests and then the bishops. The pope is on the bottom as the servant of the servants.

    The Cardinals are just bishops with the special privilege of electing the pope.

    Mark 9:35 (King James Version)

    35And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

    God bless!

    In Christ

    Fr. Joseph

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  • Sparky
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I have been going to a Catholic School since preschool, I think I can answer your question.

    The Church is basically like a government, commonly referred to as the Magisterium. I can get into detail, but I'm just going to explain the titles, or "ranks".

    Pope - President

    The pope is like the Barrack of the Church. He makes new laws, vetoes, ratifies, etc. He can be Pope for as long as he wants, even until he dies. He lives in Rome in Vatican City, like how the President has to live in D.C. You still with me?


    These guys do what the pope doesn't have time to, like dealing with the bishops, voting for new popes, and so on.

    Bishops - Senator/ House of Representatives

    There are a few titles given to certain men. Arch Bishops control the diocese, lets say for example, the Arch Diocese of New York. We have an arch bishop in charge of us, kinda like senators. They ordain priests and perform Confirmation. Another title is Cardinal.

    Then there's pastors, priest, brothers, and so on.

    Here's a link to Wikipedia about the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. It can explain this system much greater than I. And plus, it took me about thirty minutes to just quickly explain a few titles. Sorry.

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  • 1 decade ago

    First there are lay people who are allowed to marry and help with the Mass. Then there are deacons, who are men who can be married who offer direct service to the priest. A deacon is allowed to read the gospel and give a homely, but is not allowed to bless the Eucharist. Then there are priests, monks, and nuns. Priests and monks are only male and they are married to God, not to a woman. Nuns are only women and they are also married only to God, not to a man. Priests are given a church to preside over and are meant to lead lay people. Nuns and Monks live in a chosen lifestyle of prayer and service. They do not preside over lay people of a church, but rather go out into the world to do good works. Then there are Bishops, who lead priests of a diocese (geographical area.) They are a manager who maintain that all churches stay on the correct path. Then there are the Arch Bishops who manage the Bishops and priests. They maintain the theology of the church and organize all churches their diocese and are in direct communication with the Vatican. Then there are those who stay in the Vatican. There are the Cardinals who work directly under the Pope. It is their job to lead the Catholic Church as a whole and it is they who decide who the Pope is. Then there is the Bishop of Rome, our Holy See, our Pope. He is believed to be the representation of Christ on Earth, the human leader of Christ's united church.

    Does that answer your question?

    Source(s): Roman Catholic Theologian
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The word is "Hierarchy" to describe "rank structure" in the Catholic clergy. From top to bottom: Pope, Cardinals (who may or may not be Archbishops), Archbishops (who are not Cardinals), bishops & priests. Then come the "lay order" religious vocations such as: Deacons (permanent deacons who won't become priests can be married men), monks & friars & nuns.... some will add "acolytes" but those are like "altar boys" & such.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Pope (1 head)

    Bishops (2,946 diocese, cathedrals)

    Priests (219,583 parishes)

    Catholics (1 Billion members)

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  • 1 decade ago

    Catholic Church Hierarchy is as follows:

    1) Jesus Christ

    2) Pope

    3) Cardinal

    4) Bishops

    5) Priests

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  • 1 decade ago

    called hierarchy

    the Pope is on top on earth as the chief steward of the universal Church on earth

    then bishops in their dioceses

    priest are 'vicars' of the bishop as pastors and ministers

    Cardinals are electors of the pope and help in the Roman Curia to advise the pope and head departments of concern in the Church

    Holy Orders( the sacrament of ordination) are bishop( apostle), priests(presbyters) and deacons

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  • 1 decade ago


    Everyone else

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  • Tyler
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Christian Warrior has it right as how it should be, how the Catholic church has botched it up I do not know.

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