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Are Equality and Ecclesial Hierarchy Mutually Exclusive?

Americans pride themselves on their “Spirit of Equality.” The belief that all men are created equal is a stable of our society, finding its root in the Declaration of Independence. But that belief – when taken to its extreme – seems to be in opposition to the belief in hierarchy, specifically the hierarchy of the Catholic Priesthood. Is the Pope a better Christian than the woman who attends daily Mass and serves the poor? Why does the bishop have a higher office in the Church than the ordinary lay Catholic? But more crucially, was not Christ against all forms of hierarchy and lording over? He called us all to be like humble children (Matthew 18:3-4). If this is the case, does it even make sense to call Him Lord? That seems to bring hierarchy into the picture. But in regards to the seminary, a good question to ask after considering the former is why donate to an institution that forms men to be priests who, according to their priestly office, have spiritual authority over you, i.e. your reception of the sacraments? If we hold an extreme view of equality, then the Catholic priesthood, the office of bishop and the Pope do not make sense? Mundelein faculty member Dr. Matthew Levering gives an answer to these questions in his book Christ and the Catholic Priesthood. [1]

 

I recommend it to all interested in supporting the seminary. Dr. Levering weaves together the many facets of Christian belief and explains why the Trinity grounds the structure of ecclesial hierarchy.