The Bishops, priests, and deacons are part of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. Hierarchy strictly stands for “ordering”; in this sense, it means holy ordering of the Catholic Church. In layman’s terms
- Bishops are the chiefs of authority
- Priests and deacons serve as their assistance, right-hand men, co-workers, or helpers
As of reports, on December 31, 2020, the Catholic Church comprised 2,903 jurisdictions, each overseen by a bishop and consisting of a minimum of one priest and deacons. All of these cultural and religious authorities are responsible for performing the following:
- Preaching and teaching the holy bible
- Witnessing marriages
- Conducting funerals; etc
A group of bishops is generally called a ‘College of Bishops’, and they’re the Apostles’ successors. They possess the authority due to their fullness of the diaconate and priesthood.
The primary role of a Bishop in a catholic church is to provide pastoral governance. The bishops who perform this duty diligently are called diocesan ordinaries. Due to their power in the catholic churches, people of the Eastern Catholic churches also respect them. Other bishops, like the auxiliary bishops and coadjutor bishops, carry out a broader service to the church.
All the bishops of a region or a province generally form a conference called an episcopal conference, which is mainly meant to discuss affairs and current events periodically. If at least two-thirds of the members agree to the decisions of the Holy See, then a particular decision is finalized. Even after retirement, the bishop remains in his position since the effect of Holy Orders is permanent. Bishops are also responsible for caring for and concerning the churches’ missions and their union of authority with the Pope, who is considered the head of a college of Bishops. The Pope is also considered the successor of St.Peter.
Priests are like co-workers in a church who are united with the bishops and depend on them to exercise certain pastoral functions and duties. They are also termed as ‘Bishops’ prudent co-workers.‘ The bishop and the priests form a pastoral community for a dedicated parish. Each priest is appointed specific responsibilities by the bishop, which include:
- administration of church events
- Following the Holy Orders
- Anointing of the sick
- Holy Communion
Deacon is translated from the Greek word, which means ‘servant.’ The deacon has a different attachment to the bishop regarding tasks and services offered. The deacon is generally expected to serve the episcopacy and the presbyterate by ordination.
They also receive the Sacrament of all Holy Orders from the bishop through the ministry of service. Some of the responsibilities of the Deacons in the church include:
- Proclaiming the Gospel
- Preaching the sermon
- Helping the bishop and the priest in Eucharist
- Helping with performing marriage ceremonies
- Presiding at the funeral