The Catholic Church is comprised of 2834 dioceses, which is overseen by bishops. They are further divided into individual communities called as the parishes, each further staffed by one or more priests. All the clergy of the Catholic church hierarchy system witness marriages, baptize, preach, teach and conduct funeral rites at the church. Below given is the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church according to which the organization functions.
- Bishops: The Bishops possess the fullness of the priesthood. They are considered as the successors of the Apostles and are the constituted pastors in the Church, teachers of Doctrine, and priests of sacred worship and ministers of governance. The pope is himself the bishop too. The main role of the bishop is to provide pastoral governance for adiocese. The bishops are also known as Hierarchs in the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Bishops of the country meet regularly and discuss the problems which arise in the administration of the church. Pope Francis is currently the highest ranking Bishop in the Catholic Hierarchy.
- Patriarchs: The patriarchs are heads of the autonomous particular Catholic Churches, consisting of different local churches. The Pope is also called the patriarch in the West. They have a direct authority over all the faithful. The honorary title prefixed to their names is ‘His Beatitude’. They are also names after the cities where they are appointed in order to take care of the administration of the church.
- Major Archbishops: The other autonomous Catholic Churches are headed by a major archbishop. The major archbishops are also called as Catholicos in some areas. The authority of the major archbishop’s is equivalent to the Patriarch of the Church. They have the authority to govern the church and look after the daily activities and functioning of the church.
- Cardinals: The Cardinals are the princes of the church who are directly appointed by the pope. The Cardinals are bishops who are head of the departments of the church. The Cardinals compose of the College of Cardinals who advice the Pope in important matters. Not all Cardinals are Bishops, but they at least require being a priest, if not a bishop. The Cardinalate is not really an important and integral part of the theological structure of the Catholic Church, but instead is an honorific distinction.
- Primates: The Primates are the Bishops of a particular see. It involves authority over all the sees or the country, but no authority to govern directly, except when a privilege is granted by the Holy See or approved by a custom. The title is usually assigned to the ordinary of the first diocese or the oldest diocese. The closest equivalent position to the Primates is the Exarch, who holds authority over other bishops, without being a Patriarch.
- Metropolitans: The Metropolitan is the bishop of the principal of an ecclesiastical province, composing of several dioceses. He receives a pallium from the pope, as a symbol of his office. He has a limited oversight authority over the province. They have a level of authority similar to that of Latin Metropolitans, subject to specific laws and customs of the church.