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The twofold Hierarchy in the Church, that of Order and that of Jurisdiction

This article Hierarchy | New Advent makes this very important distinction, that there is a twofold hierarchy in the Church, that of order and that of jurisdiction1.

The Council of Trent defined that the first three grades2 of the hierarchy of order, i.e. the episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate are of Divine Institution.

Hierarchy of Order

Hierarchy of order

Hierarchy of Jurisdiction

In the hierarchy of jurisdiction, the papacy and the episcopate are of Divine origin; all the other grades are of ecclesiastical institution.

The composition of the hierarchy of jurisdiction in the (Western) Catholic Church by rank:

– The Pope.
– The Cardinals.
– The Patriarchs.
– The Primates.
– The Metropolitans.
– The Archbishops.
– The bishops.
– The Bishop’s Chief Assistant (now known as his vicar-general)
– Finally, at the head of a parish is the Pastor.

Please note that the above list gives a picture but is not exhaustive3 and also grades of ecclesiastical institution, with the exception of course of those of Divine origin,  can come and go.

1. From the article: ‘It is usual to distinguish a twofold hierarchy in the Church, that of order and that of jurisdiction, corresponding to the twofold means of sanctification, grace, which comes to us principally through the sacraments, and good works, which are the fruit of grace. The hierarchy of order exercises its power over the Real Body of Christ in the Eucharist; that of jurisdiction over His Mystical Body, the Church (Catech. Conc. Trid., pt. II, c. vii, n. 6).’
2. As if it was not already confusing, the hierarchy of order has grades of ecclesiastical institution such as subdeacon, acolyte, exorcist, lector, and porter
3. E.g. Prelates (not mentioned in the article), rectors, legates, Vicars Apostolic, etc.

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