Tag Archives: Holy See

The Hierarchy

 

The Church is a closely organized and united society, including the hierarchy and the faithful. All members render loving obedience to the infallible Vicar of Christ. The Pope does not rule as a proud monarch, but as a Father, the representative of God; as a good Shepherd, solicitous for each member of the great flock. The unquestioning obedience of the faithful is responsible for the wonderful unity among the members of the Church throughout the world. There are about four hundred twenty-five million Catholics, all submitting to the hierarchy, at the head of which is the Pope.

 

    What is the hierarchy? –The hierarchy is the organization in successive grades of the ruling powers of the Church. 

  1. The hierarchy is the “teaching Church,” the ruling body composed of the priests with their bishops and the Pope above all. It is an army of leaders having care and control of the holy and sacred things of the Church. Under this army of the “teaching Church” is the “hearing Church–the faithful, the laity. 
  2. The members of the hierarchy differ in two ways: in the power of orders, and in the power of jurisdictionThe power of orders is given by the sacrament of ordination, It is the power to sanctify, a permanent spiritual power that no earthly authority can take away. The power of jurisdiction is given by a superior, to enable a subject to exercise his spiritual authority lawfully. This power may be limited and revoked by legitimate authority.
    How do the members of the hierarchy differ in their power of orders? –The members of the hierarchy are divided into three classes with different power of orders: deacons, priests, and bishops. This order of rank and power has been in force in the Church from the time of the Apostles. These three classes were foreshadowed in the high priest, priests, and Levites of the Old Law. They also had counterparts in Our Lord, the Apostles. and the disciples. Our Lord gave full powers to the twelve Apostles, but only limited power to the disciples. 

  1. Deacons can baptize, preach, and give Holy Communion. The Apostles ordained the first deacons. The deacons were appointed by the Apostles to distribute alms and were consecrated by the laying on of hands accompanied by prayers (Acts 6:6). 
  2. Priests have higher orders than deacons. They can offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and forgive sins in the Sacrament of Penance. They can administer all sacraments except those of Confirmation and Holy Orders. With special faculties they may even administer Confirmation, in the Catholic Eastern Rites priests administer Confirmation immediately after Baptism. Priests were prefigured in the seventy-two diciples of Our Lord. The word “priest” is derived from the Greek presbyter, which means “the elder” a term used by the first converted Jews. 
  3. Bishops have full power of orders; they are the successors of the Apostles. A bishop administers all the sacraments; he alone administers Holy Orders. He consecrates holy oils, churches, chalices, etc.Archbishops, primates, patriarchs, and even the Pope himself have no fuller power of orders than a bishop of a missionary diocese.
    How do the members of the hierarchy differ in the power of jurisdiction? –The members of the hierarchy are divided into many ranks according to the power of jurisdiction, the chief ranks being those of Pope, bishops, and parish priests. These differences of rank and power are necessary for the proper government of the Church just as there are differences of rank and power in the civil government. Without them the Church would be a society without organization. 

  1. In organization the Church is like a vast army; the Pope, its visible head, is commander-in-chief of this army. He has jurisdiction and supreme and sovereign power and authority over the entire Church. He is formally addressed “Your Holiness.”This is how one can easily find the True Church: “Where Peter is, there is the Church.” To show the variety and extent of the interests of the Church, in 1953 at the Vatican there are diplomatic representatives from forty-four nations. 
  2. The Cardinals are the Pope’s advisers and assistants; they are his ministers. He appoints them, and the number is not to exceed seventy. Together they form the Apostolic or Sacred College; it is this body that, in solemn conclave, chooses a new Pope when the See falls vacant. The cardinals form the various congregations or committees in the Papal court, such as the Congregations of the Religious, of Rites, of the Sacraments, etc. In the past many cardinals only had the orders of deacon. The cardinals are distinguished by a red hat and mantle, as a sign that they will be loyal to the Pope at the cost of their blood. A cardinal is addressed “Your Eminence.” 
  3. Nuncios, internuncios, legates, and apostolic delegates are representatives or ambassadors of the Pope to different countries, courts, or occasions. Minor representatives of the Holy See, sent for some special purposes to different places, are termed Apostolic Visitors. In the United States we have an Apostolic Delegate. Besides the ordinary powers he has as Apostolic Delegate, the Holy See has delegated to him extraordinary powers. 
  4. A patriarch is a bishop, successor of the Apostles, who holds the highest rank after the Pope, in jurisdiction. Patriarchs are independent of any ecclesiastical authority save that of the Pope, who is not only Patriarch of Rome, but Sovereign Pontiff, successor of Peter. A patriarch ordains all the bishops of his patriarchate, summons synods, legislates on fasting and abstinence, reception of the sacraments, liturgy and ritual, and other observances. At present there are only five major or Greater Patriarchs; those of Rome, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria. The title “Patriarch” is however given as an honorary title to archbishops of certain places. 
  5. Archbishops, bishops, and vicars-apostolic possess varying jurisdictions. They rule over archdioceses, dioceses, vicariates. An archbishop and bishop are entitled “Most Reverend,” and formally addressed “Your Excellency.” The term Primate is now only an honorary title; formerly a Primate exercised jurisdiction over whole countries or several provinces. Ordinarily an abbot is the superior of an abbey of Benedictines, Cistercians, or other monks. He is elected for life, and has complete authority in the abbey in accordance with the rules of his order.Today the title “abbot” is also granted as a sign of honor; the benefice is some extinct foundation. 
  6. monsignor is one who for some special merit has been raised above the ranks of the ordinary clergy, and thus joins the prelates; the title is honorary. The term Monsignor is often used in addressing different degrees of prelates. But of the Monsignori proper there are several ranks: protonotaries apostolic, domestic prelates, etc. These are addressed “Right Reverend”; lower ranks, “Very Reverend.”

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

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​The Bishop of Rome

 

It is Christ’s will that we should reverence His ministers as Himself. This is why Catholics pay the greatest reverence to Christ’s Vicar, the Pope, their universal Father. On this account the title “His Holiness” is given him. Out of respect for his office, the Holy Father is given privileges not granted to other bishops. As a temporal sovereign he has a Court and guards. He has a standard and sea. He has ambassadors. On solemn occasions he is carried in the papal chair called sedia gestatoria.

 

    Did Christ intend that the special power of chief teacher and ruler of the entire Church should be exercised by Peter alone? –Christ did not intend that the special power of chief teacher and ruler of the entire Church should be exercised by Peter alone, but intended that this power should be passed down to his successor, the Pope, Bishop of Rome, who is the Vicar of Christ on earth, and the visible Head of the Church. 

  1. St. Peter lived for a short time at Antioch; then he went to Rome and there fixed his official residence permanently. It was there, and as Bishop of Rome, that he died as a martyr some twenty years later.The Church was not to die with Peter. Therefore his official rank and dignity and powers were to be handed on to his successors from generation to generation. In the same way, successors to a civil office acquire all the powers attached to the office. 
  2. Thus the Bishop of Rome, the lawful successor of St. Peter, is what Peter was, Vicar of Christ and visible head of the Church. Christ is the true and invisible Head of the Church. But its visible head is the Bishop of Rome, our Holy Father the Pope, because he is the successor of St. Peter.No one but the Bishop of Rome has ever claimed supreme authority over the whole Church. Therefore, either he is St. Peter’s successor, or St. Peter has no successor, and the promise of Christ had failed. 
  3. The supremacy of the Bishop of Rome over all Christendom has been disputed because of the perversity of men and the power of evil. It has been denied by unruly sons. The very fact that it was disputed shows that it existed.In the same way even the authority of God Himself has been questioned; His very existence has been denied. From the beginning, too, parental authority has been defied. The authority of lawful rulers has ever been attacked. The denials, defiance, and attacks have not destroyed the existence of such authority. Does God die because men deny His existence? “The fool said in his heart, There is no God” (Ps. 52).
    Has the Bishop of Rome always been looked upon as the head of the Church? –Yes, the Bishop of Rome has from Apostolic times been looked upon as the universal head of the Church. 

  1. From earliest times the titles “high priest” and “bishop of bishops” have been given to the Bishop of Rome.  Appeals were made to him, and disputes were settled by him.The third successor of St. Peter was Pope St. Clement.  A dispute in the Church at Corinth was referred to him for decision. He wrote letters of remonstrance and admonition to the Corinthians, and they submitted to his correction. At that time, very near Corinth the Apostle John was still living. Why did the Corinthians, instead of appealing to faraway Rome and Clement, not refer their trouble, to the Apostle John, Bishop of Ephesus? Evidently because Rome’s authority was universal, while that of Ephesus was local.There were numerous cases of appeal throughout the long history of the Church; all were referred to Rome.In the fifth century when Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus in the East, was deposed, he appealed to Pope Leo, and the Pope ordered him reinstated. The Pope was everywhere recognized as head of the Church not only in the West, but in the East, up to the great schism of the ninth century. 
  2. With one voice the Fathers of the Church pay homage to the Bishop of Rome as their superior.All of them recognized the Pope as Supreme Head. St. Ambrose said in the fourth century: “Where Peter is, there is the Church.” 
  3. General councils were not held without the presence of the Bishop of Rome or his representative. No council was accepted as universal or general unless its acts received the approval of the Bishop of Rome.At the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451, the Pope’s letter was read to the assemblage of bishops, and they cried with one voice: “Peter has spoken by Leo; let him be anathema who believes otherwise!” As late as the year 1439, in the council of Florence, the Greeks who wished to return to the Church acknowledged the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. 
  4. Every nation converted from paganism has received the faith from missionaries specially sent by the Pope, or by bishops acknowledging the Pope as their Head.St. Patrick was sent by Pope Celestine to Ireland. St. Palladius was sent by the same Pope to Scotland. St. Augustine was sent by Pope Gregory to England. St. Remigius went to France under the protection of the See of Rome. St. Boniface was sent by Pope Gregory II to Germany and Bavaria. And so on. 

     

    PONTIFICAL DECORATIONS

    The Holy See confers various titles, orders, decorations, and other honorson certain persons, usually lay people, who in some special manner have distinguished themselves in furthering the well-being of humanity and of the Church. They, are listed here in the order of importance.

    The Supreme Order of Christ was started by Pope John XXII in 1319. Today it is the supreme pontifical Order of knighthood, conferred only on very rare occasions.

    The Order of the Golden Spur follows the Order of Christ as a pontifical decoration. It has one class of 100 knights, and is awarded only to those who have furthered the cause of the Church by outstanding deeds. It is bestowed also to non-Catholics.

    The Order of Pius IX has three classes, Knights of the Grand Cross, Commanders, and Knights. It is awarded also to non-Catholics.

    The Order of St. Gregory the Great was founded by Pope Gregory XVI in 1831. It has two divisions, civil and military, each of which is divided into three classes: Knights of the Grand Cross, Commanders, and Knights.

    The Order of St. Sylvester, instituted in 1841, like the Order of St. Gregory, has three classes of knights.

    The Order of the Holy Sepulchre is considered one of the oldest of pontifical honors; it is today highly prized in Europe. It has been bestowed on kings and nobles, on heads of republics, on persons outstanding in arts, letters, and sciences, on those who in special manner have served the Church. Unlike other orders, this is bestowed besides on clerics and women.

    The medal “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” was instituted by Leo XIII, that great “Pope of the Workingman” in 1888. It is awarded in recognition of special services to the Church and the Pope. The “Benemerenti” medal was instituted in 1832 by Gregory XVI, of two classes, civil and military, in recognition of outstanding daring or courage.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

The Primacy of Peter

 

 

When Our Lord said to Peter, “And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” He clearly meant: “I will give you supreme authority over My Church. You shall be My representative.” The true test of loyalty to Christ is not only to believe in Him and worship Him, but to honor and obey the representatives He has chosen. Our Lord chose St. Peter as His Vicar. It is rebellion against Christ to say to Him: “I will worship You, but I will not recognize Your representative.” This is what Christians do, who deny the authority of the successor of Peter.

 

    Did Christ give special power in His Church to any one of the Apostles? –Christ gave special power in His Church to Peter, by making him the head of the Apostles and the chief teacher and ruler of the entire Church. 

  1. When Simon, led by his brother Andrew, first met Christ, Our Lord said to him: “Thou art Simon, the son of John; thou shalt be called Cephas” (John 1:42). Christ spoke in Aramaic, and the original Cephas, or “Kepha” means stone or rock, which we interpret Peter. Our Lord must have some special purpose for having Simon’s name changed, particularly as the word Kepha was never used as a proper name then. 
  2. When, at Caesarea Philippi, Peter made the memorable confession of faith in the name of the Apostles: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Christ promised to make Peter the head of His Church (Matt. 16:17-20). In reply Our Lord said: “Blessed. art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven. And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
       

    1. Our Lord changed Simon’s name to Peter, which means Rock. He said that He would make Peter the Rock on which His Church should be founded. As the foundation of a building holds up, supports, and preserves the building, so Peter was to hold the same office for Christ’s Church. 
    2. Our Lord. promised to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. In ancient as well as modern times, keys are a symbol of authority. He who lawfully carries the key to a building has the right himself of entering and of admitting or excluding others. Our Lord said to all the Apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” (John 20:23). But to Peter alone did Our Lord address these words: “I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

     

  3. Christ, after the Resurrection, fulfilled His promise, and appointed Peter head of the Church (John 21:15-17On the Lake of Gennesareth, “Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, dost thou love me more than these do?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A third time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him for the third time, “Dost thou love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee,” He said to him, “Feed my sheep.” By this Christ entrusted to Peter the whole flock, thus making him the head shepherd. The “lambs” (the weak and tender portion of the flock) are the faithful, and the “sheep” (those that nourish the lambs) are the pastors, bishops and priests. The sheep of Christ are those who submit to Him, the Good Shepherd (John 10: 14). Never did Christ say to any other Apostle: Feed My whole flock. As the shepherd is responsible for the flock, he is given authority comparable to his responsibility. 
  4. Christ also conferred on Peter special marks of distinction not conferred on the other Apostles. He gave him a new name. He chose him as a companion on the most solemn occasions. After the Resurrection, He appeared to Peter first, before showing Himself to the other Apostles. The Lord said: “Simon … I have prayed for thee that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32As with every well-regulated society, the Church needed a visible head; Christ appointed St. Peter visible head of the Church. The city has its mayor, the state its governor, the nation its President. At the head of every government is a president or king. Even in the family, the father is the head. Every corporation has a head. The Church is a visible society; that is, it is composed of human beings. It needs a head as well as any other organization. Christ is always its invisible, Head, but it needs a visible head to take His place among men.
    Did Peter actually exercise his primacy? –Yes, Peter actually exercised his primacy, and the other Apostles and the disciples recognized him as the head of the Church. 

  1. Peter’s name always stands first in the lists of Apostles; Iscariot’s is always last. St. Matthew even calls Peter the “first Apostle.” But he was neither first in age nor in election, for Our Lord had called Andrew; his elder brother, before him. He must therefore have been first in honor and authority. 
  2. It was Peter that proposed the election of another to take the place of Judas. In obedience to Peter’s advice, the Apostles put forward two among the disciples to choose from; and after praying, they chose Matthias (Acts 1:21-26). 
  3. It was Peter that preached the first sermon on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Ghost had descended on the Apostles; they spoke so that each person present (and there were many nationalities in the crowd) heard his own language being spoken. The people were amazed; and Peter spoke (Acts 2:14-36). 
  4. It was Peter that admitted the first converts from Judaism (Acts 2:38-41), as well as from paganism (Acts 10:5).“And he (Peter) ordered them (the Gentiles) baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:48). This was a thing unheard of, that the Jews, “of the Faith”, should consort with “heathen”; but Peter broke all bonds. 
  5. Peter worked the first miracleHe gave a man lame from birth the power to walk (Acts 3:6-8). 
  6. Peter meted out the first punishmentAnanias (and later his wife Sapphira) had lied and cheated; and having been rebuked by Peter, fell down dead (Acts 5: 1-6). 
  7. Peter cast out the heretic Simon Magus. This heretic had wanted to purchase the power of the Apostles of bringing down the Holy Ghost on those on whom they laid hands (Acts 8:19-20). 
  8. Peter made the first visitation of the churches (Acts 31-32). 
  9. In the first Council at Jerusalem, there was much disputing, but when Peter spoke, all submitted (Acts 15:7-12).“After a long debate, Peter got up and said, … ‘But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus’ … Then the whole meeting quieted down” (Acts 15:7, 11-12). 
  10. After his conversion, St. Paul presented himself to Peter (Gal. 1: 18) . 
  11. Of the early churches established by the Apostles, the Church of Rome was the highest in rank. It was the See of Peter.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!