Administrative Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church

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'Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church':

'Hierarchy of Order' is the orderly arrangement of ranks and orders of the clergy in one apostolic body to carry out the sacramental and pastoral ministry of the Church. Comprises: His Holiness, the Pope, Supreme Pastor of the Roman Catholic Church; and the Patriarchs, Archbishops, bishops, priests and deacons. 'Hierarchy of Jurisdiction', consisting of the Pope and bishops by divine law and other Church officials by ecclesiastical institution and mandate; has authority to govern and direct the faithful for spiritual ends. Cardinals, now always bishops, number about 150. They serve as the chief counsellors to the Pope. The Supreme Pastor is further assisted by the Roman Curia -- Curie romaine, which consists of:

(a) Office of the Pope, including the Secretariat of State or the Papal Secretariat, within which is the Section for Relations with States, which replaced the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church. The Council of Cardinals and Bishops - Consiglio di Cardinali e Vescovi, previously part of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, is currently part of the Section for Relations with States.

(b) Office of the Sacred Congregations (9):

(c) Pontifical Councils:

(d) Tribunals (3).

  • Apostolic Penitentiary;
  • Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature;
  • Tribunal of the Rota Romana.

(e) Pontifical Commissions (6):

(f) Other organizations include -

The bishops, some bearing the title of Patriarch or Archbishop, are united with the Supreme Pastor in the government of the whole Church. When assigned to particular sees, they are individually responsible for the teaching, sanctification and governance of their particular jurisdictions of the Church. The Synod of Bishops, directly responsible to the Pope, acts as a system for communicating on questions of importance between the Pope and the bishops and among the bishops themselves.

The Papal territorial possessions are called the State of Vatican City, situated within the city of Rome (Italy) and occupying 108.7 acres. It is the smallest sovereign state in the world. Papal authority is recognized as supreme by virtue of a Concordat reached with the Italian State and ratified 7 Jun 1929. Included in Vatican City are the Vatican Palace, various museums, art galleries, libraries, apartments, offices, a post office and St Peter's Basilica.

The term Holy See stands for the central authority of the Church, which transcends, although includes, the sovereign State of Vatican City. Thus, the Holy See represents a world wide community and not only the citizens of Vatican City. Since the Holy See does not have the political, commercial, strategic interests of other countries, the focus of all its initiatives is always the "human person", its dignity, rights and duties. In keeping with this principle, the Holy See is mainly concerned with issues concerning human rights, justice, religious freedom, development and peace; it attempts to present, always respectfully but without fear, the principles of the Gospel.

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