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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Hierarchy)

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

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Church Hierarchy / The Laity

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Church Hierarchy

The Laity & The Clergy

 

Category
Quotation

Church Hierarchy

"Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues." (1 Cor. 12:28)

"If any one saith, that, in the Catholic Church there is not a hierarchy by divine ordination instituted, consisting of bishops, priests, and ministers; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"For this will seem to be best and most fitting indeed, if the priests from each and every province refer to the head, that is, to the chair of Peter the apostle." (Council of Serdica, 343-344 A.D.)

"No one may ignore that the Church is an unequal society, in which God has destined some to command and others to obey. The latter are the laity; the former, the Clergy." (Pope Gregory XVI)

"If any one saith, that, besides the priesthood, there are not in the Catholic Church other orders, both greater and minor, by which, as by certain steps, advance is made unto the priesthood; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"If any one saith that bishops are not superior to priests; or that they have not the power of confirming and ordaining; or that the power which they possess is common to them and to priests…let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Presbyters, therefore, are called priests, because they offer [the holy Sacrifice of the Mass], as bishops do, but although they are priests, they have not reached the fullness of the episcopate, for they do not sign on the forehead with chrism, or give the Holy Ghost, which only bishops can do as the Acts of the Apostles plainly indicates." (St. Isidore, Doctor of the Church, 7th century A.D.)

"But to assert that priests nowise differ from bishops is reckoned by Augustine among heretical doctrines (De Haeresibus liii), where he says that the Arians maintained that 'no distinction existed between a priest and a bishop.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Further no priest must lose sight of the solemn recommendation of Leo XIII: 'Let priests hold as sacred the authority of their pastors, let them take it for certain that the sacerdotal ministry, if not exercised under the guidance of the Bishops, can never be either holy, or very fruitful or respectable.'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"To desire supremacy in the Church is neither just nor useful. For what wise man seeks of his own accord to submit to such servitude and peril, as to have to render an account of the whole Church? None save him who fears not God's judgment, and makes a secular abuse of his ecclesiastical authority, by turning it to secular uses." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"All spiritual authority comes from Peter; all comes from the bishop of Rome, in whom Peter will continue to govern the Church to the end of time. Jesus Christ is the founder of the episcopate; it is the Holy Ghost who establishes bishops to rule the Church; but the mission and the institution, which assign the pastor his flock, and the flock its pastor, these are given by Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost through the ministry of Peter and his successors." (Gueranger)

"The priestly power is surpassed by the episcopal power, as by a power of a different kind; but the episcopal is surpassed by the papal power as by a power of the same kind. Hence a bishop can perform every hierarchical act that the Pope can; whereas a priest cannot perform every act that a bishop can in conferring the sacraments. Wherefore as regards matters pertaining to the episcopal Order, all bishops are equal" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Every Pastor whose authority emanates not from the See of Rome is a stranger to us, and an intruder. So likewise, in the order of our Faith, Jesus Christ by Peter, and Peter by his successor, teach us divine doctrine, and how to distinguish truth from error. Every Symbol of Faith, every doctrinal judgement, every teaching, contrary to the Symbol and judgements and teachings of the See of Rome, is of man, and not of God, and must be rejected, hated, and anathematized." (Gueranger)

"If any one saith, that bishops are not superior to priests; or, that they have not the power of confirming and ordaining; or, that the power which they possess is common to them and to priests; or, that orders, conferred by them, without the consent, or vocation of the people, or of the secular power, are invalid; or, that those who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent, by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Remember also that the government and administration of the whole Church rests with the Roman Pontiff to whom, in the words of the Fathers of the Council of Florence, 'the full power of nourishing, ruling, and governing the universal Church was given by Christ the Lord.' It is the duty of individual bishops to cling to the See of Peter faithfully, to guard the faith piously and religiously, and to feed their flock. It behooves priests to be subject to the bishops, whom 'they are to look upon as the parents of their souls,' as Jerome admonishes." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Mirari Vos", 1832)

"[E]ach minister of the Church is, in some respect, a copy of Christ... Yet he is the higher who represents Christ according to a greater perfection. Now a priest represents Christ in that He fulfilled a certain ministry by Himself, whereas a bishop represents Him in that He instituted other ministers and founded the Church. Hence it belongs to a bishop to dedicate a thing to the Divine offices, as establishing the Divine worship after the manner of Christ. For this reason also a bishop is especially called the bridegroom of the Church even as Christ is." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"No one, therefore, unless in communion with Peter can share in his authority, since it is absurd to imagine that he who is outside can command in the Church. Wherefore Optatus of Milevis blamed the Donatists for this reason: 'Against which [the gates of hell] we read that Peter received the saving keys, that is to say, our prince, to whom it was said by Christ: 'To thee will I give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the gates of Hell shall not conquer them.' Whence is it therefore that you strive to obtain for yourselves the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven - you who fight against the chair of Peter?' (Lib. ii., n. 4-5)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"The Church, which our Risen Jesus is organizing during these days (Acts 1:3), and which is to be spread throughout the whole world, is a true and complete society. It must, consequently, have within it the power to govern, and be able, by the obedience of its subjects, to maintain order and peace... [O]ur Savior supplied this want by establishing a shepherd of both sheep and lambs, a Vicar of his own divine authority: yet Peter, after all, is but a man; and however sublime his authority, he cannot exercise it directly and personally over each member of the flock. The new society has need, therefore, of magistrates of a lower rank, who, as Bossuet so well expresses it, 'are to be sheep with regard to Peter, and shepherds with regard to the people.'" (Gueranger)

"Indeed, there can be no genuine priestly ministry except in communion with the supreme pontiff and the episcopal college, especially with one's own diocesan bishop, who deserves that 'filial respect and obedience' promised during the rite of ordination. This 'submission' to those invested with ecclesial authority is in no way a kind of humiliation. It flows instead from the responsible freedom of the priest who accepts not only the demands of an organized and organic ecclesial life, but also that grace of discernment and responsibility in ecclesial decisions which was assured by Jesus to his apostles and their successors for the sake of faithfully safeguarding the mystery of the Church and serving the structure of the Christian community among its common path toward salvation." (Pope John Paul II)

"Also all other things taught, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and ecumenical Councils, and especially by the sacred and holy Synod of Trent, (and by the ecumenical Council of the Vatican, particularly concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching), I without hesitation accept and profess; and at the same time all things contrary thereto, and whatever heresies have been condemned, and rejected, and anathematized by the Church, I likewise condemn, reject, and anathematize. This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, (and) which of my own accord I now profess and truly hold, I, N., do promise, vow, and swear that I will, with the help of God, most faithfully retain and profess the same to the last breath of life as pure and inviolable, and that I will take care as far as lies in my power that it be held, taught, and preached by my subjects or by those over whom by virtue of my office I have charge, so help me God, and these holy Gospels of God." (Profession of Faith of the Council of Trent, From the Bull of Pius IV, "Iniunctum Nobis", 1565 A.D.)

"And whereas the ministry of so holy a priesthood is a divine thing; to the end that it might be exercised in a more worthy manner, and with greater veneration, it was suitable that, in the most well-ordered settlement of the Church, there should be several and diverse orders of ministers, to minister to the priesthood, by virtue of their office; orders so distributed as that those already marked with the clerical tonsure should ascend through the lesser to the greater orders. For the sacred Scriptures make open mention not only of priests, but also of deacons; and teach, in words the most weighty, what things are especially to be attended to in the Ordination thereof; and, from the very beginning of the Church, the names of the following orders, and the ministrations proper to each one of them, are known to have been in use; to wit those of subdeacon, acolyte, exorcist, lector, and door-keeper; though these were not of equal rank: for the subdeaconship is classed amongst the greater orders by the Fathers and sacred Councils, wherein also we very often read of the other inferior orders." (Council of Trent)

"The son of God, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of the human race descended from the height of heaven to the lowest part of the world and underwent a temporal death. But when after his resurrection he was about to ascend to his Father, that he might not leave the flock redeemed by his glorious Blood without a shepherd, he entrusted its care to the blessed apostle Peter, so that by the firmness of his own faith he might strengthen others in the Christian religion and kindle their minds with the ardor of devotion to the works of their salvation. Hence we who by the will of our Lord, though without merit of our own, have been made successors of this apostle and hold on earth, though unworthy, the place of our Redeemer, should always be careful and vigilant in the guarding of that flock and be forced to direct our thoughts continuously to the salvation of souls by removing what is harmful and doing what is profitable. Thus casting off the sleep of negligence and with the eyes of our heart ever vigilant, we may be able to win souls to God with the cooperation of his grace." (First Council of Lyons)

"Bishops have the chief cure of the sheep of their diocese, while parish priests and archdeacons exercise an inferior ministry under the bishops. Hence a gloss on 1 Corinthians 12:28, 'God hath set some in the church... helps, governments, etc.,' says: 'Helps, namely assistants to those who are in authority,' as Titus was to the Apostle, or as archdeacons to the bishop; 'governments, namely persons of lesser authority, such as priests who have to instruct the people': and Dionysius says (De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia v) that 'just as we see the whole hierarchy culminating in Jesus, so each office culminates in its respective godlike hierarch or bishop.' Also it is said (Decretal XVI,Q1, canon Cunctis): 'Priests and deacons must all take care not to do anything without their bishop's permission.' Wherefore it is evident that they stand in relation to their bishop as wardens or mayors to the king; and for this reason, just as in earthly governments the king alone receives a solemn blessing, while others are appointed by simple commission, so too in the Church the episcopal cure is conferred with the solemnity of consecration, while the archdeacon or parish priest receives his cure by simple appointment; although they are consecrated by receiving orders before having a cure." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Christ the Lord, Son of the living God, came that He might save His people from their sins and that all men might be sanctified. Just as He Himself was sent by the Father, so He also sent His Apostles. Therefore, He sanctified them, conferring on them the Holy Spirit, so that they also might glorify the Father upon earth and save men, 'to the building up of the body of Christ' (Eph. 4:12), which is the Church. In this Church of Christ the Roman pontiff, as the successor of Peter, to whom Christ entrusted the feeding of His sheep and lambs, enjoys supreme, full, immediate, and universal authority over the care of souls by divine institution. Therefore, as pastor of all the faithful, he is sent to provide for the common good of the universal Church and for the good of the individual churches. Hence, he holds a primacy of ordinary power over all the churches. The bishops themselves, however...are successors of the Apostles as pastors of souls. Together with the supreme pontiff and under his authority they are sent to continue throughout the ages the work of Christ, the eternal pastor. Christ gave the Apostles and their successors the command and the power to teach all nations, to hallow men in the truth, and to feed them. Bishops, therefore, have been made true and authentic teachers of the faith, pontiffs, and pastors through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to them." (Second Vatican Council)

"Let us attentively and devoutly contemplate the mystic ladder of the hierarchy, established by our Jesus, whereby we might ascend to heaven. At the very summit is the bishop, having in himself the plenitude of Holy Orders and the power to produce other pontiffs, and priests, and deacons. He has the power of offering up the Holy Sacrifice [of the Mass]; he holds the keys whereof our Lord speaks, when he says: Whatsoever ye shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven (Mt. xviii 18), he can administer all the sacraments; the consecration of the Chrism and Holy Oils belongs to his office; he can not only bless, he can consecrate. Next comes the priest, who truly looks upon the bishop as his spiritual father, seeing that he received the dignity and character of the priesthood. The priest, however, does not possess the plentitude of Jesus' priesthood. His hands, though most holy, have not the power to produce other priests; he blesses, but he does not consecrate; he must look to the bishop for holy Chrism, for he himself cannot make it. Notwithstanding this, his dignity is great, for he has power to offer the Holy Sacrifice [of the Mass] and his offering is the same as that of the bishop. He forgives the sins of those whom the bishop has put under his care. The solemn administration of baptism is entrusted to him, when the bishop himself does not perform it: and as to extreme unction, it is essentially a priest's function." (Gueranger)

"[T]he Apostolic mission was not destined to die with the Apostles themselves, or to come to an end in the course of time, since it was intended for the people at large and instituted for the salvation of the human race. For Christ commanded His Apostles to preach the 'Gospel to every creature, to carry His name to nations and kings, and to be witnesses to him to the ends of the earth.' He further promised to assist them in the fulfillment of their high mission, and that, not for a few years or centuries only, but for all time - 'even to the consummation of the world.' Upon which St. Jerome says: 'He who promises to remain with His Disciples to the end of the world declares that they will be for ever victorious, and that He will never depart from those who believe in Him' (In Matt., lib. iv., cap. 28, v. 20). But how could all this be realized in the Apostles alone, placed as they were under the universal law of dissolution by death? It was consequently provided by God that the Magisterium instituted by Jesus Christ should not end with the life of the Apostles, but that it should be perpetuated. We see it in truth propagated, and, as it were, delivered from hand to hand. For the Apostles consecrated bishops, and each one appointed those who were to succeed them immediately 'in the ministry of the word.' Nay more: they likewise required their successors to choose fitting men, to endow them with like authority, and to confide to them the office and mission of teaching. 'Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus: and the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same command to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also' (2 Tim. ii., I-2)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"But, forasmuch as in the sacrament of Order, as also in Baptism and Confirmation, a character is imprinted, which can neither be effaced nor taken away; the holy Synod with reason condemns the opinion of those, who assert that the priests of the New Testament have only a temporary power; and that those who have once been rightly ordained, can again become laymen, if they do not exercise the ministry of the word of God. And if any one affirm, that all Christians indiscriminately are priests of the New Testament, or that they are all mutually endowed with an equal spiritual power, he clearly does nothing but confound the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is as an army set in array; as if, contrary to the doctrine of blessed Paul, all were apostles, all prophets, all evangelists, all pastors, all doctors. Wherefore, the holy Synod declares that, besides the other ecclesiastical degrees, bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles, principally belong to this hierarchical order; that they are placed, as the same apostle says, by the Holy Ghost, to rule the Church of God; that they are superior to priests; administer the sacrament of Confirmation; ordain the ministers of the Church; and that they can perform very many other things; over which functions others of an inferior order have no power. Furthermore, the sacred and holy Synod teaches, that, in the ordination of bishops, priests, and of the other orders, neither the consent, nor vocation, nor authority, whether of the people, or of any civil power or magistrate whatsoever, is required in such wise as that, without this, the ordination is invalid: yea rather doth It decree, that all those who, being only called and instituted by the people, or by the civil power and magistrate, ascend to the exercise of these ministrations, and those who of their own rashness assume them to themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be looked upon as thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door." (Council of Trent) 

"The Church is a society, and as such requires an authority and hierarchy of her own. Though it is true that all the members of the Mystical Body partake of the same blessings and pursue the same objective, they do not all enjoy the same powers, nor are they all qualified to perform the same acts. The divine Redeemer has willed, as a matter of fact, that His Kingdom should be built and solidly supported, as it were, on a holy order, which resembles in some sort the heavenly hierarchy. Only to the apostles, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood, in virtue of which they represent the person of Jesus Christ before their people, acting at the same time as representatives of their people before God. This priesthood is not transmitted by heredity or human descent. It does not emanate from the Christian community. It is not a delegation from the people. Prior to acting as representative of the community before the throne of God, the priest is the ambassador of the divine Redeemer. He is God's vice-regent in the midst of his flock precisely because Jesus Christ is Head of that body of which Christians are the members. The power entrusted to him, therefore, bears no natural resemblance to anything human. It is entirely supernatural. It comes from God. 'As the Father hath sent me, I also send you...he that heareth you heareth me...go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.' That is why the visible, external priesthood of Jesus Christ is not handed down indiscriminately to all members of the Church in general, but is conferred on designated men, through what may be called the spiritual generation of holy orders. This latter, one of the seven sacraments, not only imparts the grace appropriate to the clerical function and state of life, but imparts an indelible 'character' besides, indicating the sacred ministers' conformity to Jesus Christ the Priest and qualifying them to perform those official acts of religion by which men are sanctified and God is duly glorified in keeping with the divine laws and regulations." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Also See: Vatican View Section | Vatican View (Reflections) | Bishops / Episcopate | Priests / Priesthood | Diocese / Parish | The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' | The Priesthood is Not Derived From the Community | The Laity & The Clergy | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests | Pope (Topical Scripture) | Priests (Topical Scripture) | Church (Topical Scripture) | Misc. Priests / Vocations Facts | U.S. Dioceses & Archdioceses

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

Top | Reflections: A-Z | Categ. | Scripture: A-Z | Categ. | Help

The Laity & The Clergy

"[N]o power over ecclesiastical persons is granted to lay people by either divine or human law" (Fifth Lateran Council)

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors: "Lay authority possesses of itself the right of presenting bishops, and may require of them to undertake the administration of the diocese before they receive canonical institution, and the Letters Apostolic from the Holy See." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, This proposition was condemned in the Syllabus of Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 A.D.) 

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors: "And, further, the lay government has the right of deposing bishops from their pastoral functions, and is not bound to obey the Roman pontiff in those things which relate to the institution of bishoprics and the appointment of bishops." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, This proposition was condemned in the Syllabus of Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 A.D.) 

"Furthermore, the sacred and holy Synod teaches, that, in the ordination of bishops, priests, and of the other orders, neither the consent, nor vocation, nor authority, whether of the people, or of any civil power or magistrate whatsoever, is required in such wise as that, without this, the ordination is invalid: yea rather doth It decree, that all those who, being only called and instituted by the people, or by the civil power and magistrate, ascend to the exercise of these ministrations, and those who of their own rashness assume them to themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be looked upon as thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door." (Council of Trent) 

"The Church is a society, and as such requires an authority and hierarchy of her own. Though it is true that all the members of the Mystical Body partake of the same blessings and pursue the same objective, they do not all enjoy the same powers, nor are they all qualified to perform the same acts. The divine Redeemer has willed, as a matter of fact, that His Kingdom should be built and solidly supported, as it were, on a holy order, which resembles in some sort the heavenly hierarchy. Only to the apostles, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood, in virtue of which they represent the person of Jesus Christ before their people, acting at the same time as representatives of their people before God. This priesthood is not transmitted by heredity or human descent. It does not emanate from the Christian community. It is not a delegation from the people. Prior to acting as representative of the community before the throne of God, the priest is the ambassador of the divine Redeemer. He is God's vice-regent in the midst of his flock precisely because Jesus Christ is Head of that body of which Christians are the members. The power entrusted to him, therefore, bears no natural resemblance to anything human. It is entirely supernatural. It comes from God. 'As the Father hath sent me, I also send you...he that heareth you heareth me...go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.' That is why the visible, external priesthood of Jesus Christ is not handed down indiscriminately to all members of the Church in general, but is conferred on designated men, through what may be called the spiritual generation of holy orders. This latter, one of the seven sacraments, not only imparts the grace appropriate to the clerical function and state of life, but imparts an indelible 'character' besides, indicating the sacred ministers' conformity to Jesus Christ the Priest and qualifying them to perform those official acts of religion by which men are sanctified and God is duly glorified in keeping with the divine laws and regulations." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Also See: The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' | The Priesthood is Not Derived From the Community | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests | Laity's Right to Assistance | Duties & Responsibilities of the Faithful Towards Priests | Vatican View Section | Church Hierarchy | Priests / Priesthood | Lay 'Eucharistic Ministers': Why Not? | Proper Role & Behavior of Women  

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

Top | Reflections: A-Z | Categ. | Scripture: A-Z | Categ. | Help


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