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Issue 12 – Assumption 2022

Historia Ecclesiastica

Elect, Create, and Proclaim

On papal nobility.


In the United States, all men are equal before the law. The same is true in most nations around the world today, at least on paper. In the era of republics, democracies, parliaments, and congressional representatives, Christians are living in a world where the Church is an anomaly. For in its internal governance, the Church, for better or for worse, is a rigid hierarchy, an absolute monarchy composed of celibate men who swear an oath of obedience to upholding its order. It may seem unbecoming to point out, but among these men there are stations of rank that sit atop one another—deacon to priest and priest to bishop, and among bishops the honors of archbishoprics and the cardinalate. Then of course there are the rare and niche outliers that still fit within the order: patriarchs, metropolitan archbishops, monsignors, nuncios, and other offices. Every cleric has his place and every proper cleric should know where he fits.

Authority shoots upward to where the beloved Holy Father governs the whole Body as Christ’s vicar on Earth. This is the natural order of the clergy and a structure that largely resists any major change. (While of course every human person is a child of God and equal to every other in dignity and worth, the Church is inarguably ordered in a manufactured system of positions, each of which demands respect in varying degrees.) In phaleristics, scholars call it the “order of precedence.” And yet there are even oddities within this system. To this day, there exists a lay institution within the Catholic Church that runs parallel to the clerical hierarchy.

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About the author

Timothy Nerozzi

Timothy Nerozzi is a reporter for Fox News. He was previously a news editor at the Washington Examiner.

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