Christianity Religious Hierarchy

Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of Jesus. According to the Christian belief, Jesus is the son of God. The Christians generally refer to Jesus as Christ or Messiah. The majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of the God of the Sun.

Christianity can be classified into certain groups according to different concepts. Primarily, Christianity is divided into three divisions such as Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. According to another concept, Christianity is divided into eastern Christianity and western Christianity. In this particular article, we will discuss in details about the Christianity religious hierarchy that is prevalent in the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is also known as Roman Catholic Church and is the largest Christian church all over the world. The church hierarchy is led by the Pope. The levels of Christianity religious hierarchy are:

Christianity Religious Hierarchy
Christianity Religious Hierarchy
  • Pope
  • Cardinals
  • Patriarch
  • Major Archbishops
  • Primates
  • Metropolitan bishop
  • Archbishops
  • Diocesan Bishops


The pope is the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. The office of the pope is known as the papacy. The pope also acts as the head of the state of Vatican City. According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, it is believed that the pope is a successor to Saint Peter and Saint Peter was appointed personally by Jesus as the leader of the church. The current holder of the rank is Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope resides in Vatican city, which is an independent state within the city of Rome. The body of officials, which assists the Pope in governing the various activities of the church is known as the Roman curia.


Cardinals are in the second position in the Christianity religious hierarchy, after the Pope. The office of the cardinals is called as the College of Cardinals. The College of Cardinals is responsible for electing a new pope, whenever the seat becomes vacant. Moreover, the Cardinals play a vital role in the various secular affairs.


A patriarch is known as the highest ranking bishop of the Roman Catholic church, above the Major Archbishop and Primate. The patriarchs are the head of some autonomous churches, which consists of several local churches (dioceses). The particular autonomous churches are The Coptic Catholic Church, Syrian Catholic Church, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, Chaldean Catholic Church and Armenian Catholic Church.

The patriarchs have authority over the bishops and metropolitans of their particular church.

Major Archbishops

The major archbishops rank below the patriarchs in the hierarchy of the Catholic church. All the major archbishops attend the annual meeting of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.


The Primates serve the first diocese developed in the country.

Metropolitan bishop

A pallium is considered as the symbol of the office of the metropolitan bishop, which he receives from the pope.


The title of archbishop is held by bishops, who head both the metropolitan sees and the archdioceses.

Diocesan Bishops

The function of the diocesan bishops is to govern the local regions within the church, known as the dioceses. The bishops are collectively known as the College of Bishops.