Sacramentum Mundi Online

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(1,736 words)

1. Concept. Etymologically hierarchy means holy origin (ἱερά άρχή), holy dominion and, since the time of Denis the Areopagite, it has been used to signify the order given the Church by the Lord. In ecclesiastical legal language the hierarchy is the structure composed of those who, according to the principle of unity of head and body, are called to represent the invisible Lord; more precisely, it is, in the objective sense, the institutional order within this structure, and, in the subjective sense, the totality of those holding sacred authority.

2. Basis. To sum up the teaching on th…

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Klaus Mörsdorf, “Hierarchy”, in: Sacramentum Mundi Online, General Editor Karl Rahner, SJ. Consulted online on 02 October 2023 <>
First published online: 2016

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