Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.
It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at
DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.
Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.
THE HIERARCHY AND THE SACRED COLLEGE OF CARDINALS
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 a billion Catholics, all submitting to the hierarchy, at the head of which is the Pope.
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.
The members of the hierarchy differ in two ways: in the power of orders, and in the power of jurisdiction. The 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. 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 who are the priests, religious, deacons and laity today. 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. 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.
The Cardinals are the Pope’s advisers and assistants; they are his ministers. He appoints them, and their numbers have increased considerably during the last three pontificates. Their installation comes during what is called a "Consistory." Consistories are assemblies of cardinals presided over by the Pope. There are three kinds: (1) secret, with only the Pope and cardinals present; (2) public, attended by other prelates and lay spectators; and (3) semi-public, attended by bishops and patriarchs. At the secret consistory, the Pope delivers an allocution on religious and moral conditions throughout the world; sometimes seeks the opinion of the cardinals on the creation of new cardinals, gives the cardinal's ring and red-hat, appoints bishops, archbishops and patriarchs, makes ecclesiastical transfers, divides or unites dioceses, and asks for a vote on a proposed canonization. At the public consistory, held every two to four years, the Pope bestows the red hat, hears the causes of beatifications and canonizations. At a semi-public consistory the propriety of a proposed canonization is decided.
Of the current 156 cardinals named in Consistories, two were named by Pope John XXIII, twenty-four by Pope Paul VI in six Consistories, and 132 by Pope John Paul II over seven consistories thus far, the last being February 21, 1998. Cardinals receive the rank of cardinal deacon, cardinal priest, and cardinal bishop depending on length of service and their position.
Those under 80 are eligible to vote for a pontifical successor in the Sacred College of Cardinals in conclave when the Holy See falls vacant. The College is the Senate of the Pope. As principal advisers and helpers, the cardinals assist the Holy Father in the government of the Church. After the Supreme Pontiff, the cardinals have the highest dignity in Holy Mother Church.
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.”
These congregations, offices, prefectures, councils, committees, and commissions compose the Roman Curia which we will cover on Thursday. Tomorrow we will deal with Papal Elections and the responsibilities of the Sacred Conclave. To learn more about the current cardinals, go to COLLEGE OF CARDINALS biographies up through Cardinal Pengo.
Wednesday: Papal Elections by the Sacred Conclave