Hierarchy in the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has a strong emphasis on hierarchy (levels of leadership).

There are seven levels in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, starting with people and finishing with God.There are seven levels in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, starting at the bottom with people and finishing at the top with God.

The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church. He is God’s representative on Earth.

Cardinals are a team of close advisors to the Pope. When the Pope dies or resigns, the next Pope is usually chosen from the cardinals.

Archbishops and bishops normally oversee a number of churches in one area.

Priests are the people in charge of individual churches.

Advantages of a hierarchical structure

It helps to prevent false teaching by having one strong teacher who can impart the right beliefs.

It helps to maintain unity because when the leaders agree the churches tend to agree as well.

It helps to create a strong organisation, meaning the Church is less likely to split.

Disadvantages of a hierarchical structure

All the focus can be on one person, rather that everyone playing their part.

If the main leader makes a wrong decision it can be harder for people to object.

People can tend to feel less involved and engaged in the direction and focus of the Church.