The hierarchy of the Catholic Church | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church


The supreme pontiff is global leader of the Catholic Church. As apostolic successor to Saint Peter, the Bishop of Rome is based at the Vatican, and is infallible in his definitions of faith and morals. Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio) is the 226th pope. 


These senior leaders are appointed by the pope. They form the College of Cardinals, which advises the pope. Cardinals who have not passed their 80th birthday when the Holy See is vacated are eligible to take part in a papal conclave (election of a new pope). There are 16 U.S. cardinals.


Presiding over major or metropolitan areas, these heads of archdioceses can also be cardinals. There are six cardinal archbishops and 29 other archbishops in the U.S. 


These are ordained ministers to their specific stations. Bishops are priests of sacred worship, ministers of church government, and teachers of church doctrine. There are 162 diocesan and 74 auxiliary bishops in the U.S. David Zubik is the 12th bishop of Pittsburgh.


These ordained ministers can administer baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, matrimony and holy orders. Priests can be committed to a congregation or a religious order. There are around 2,500 priests in Pennsylvania. 

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