Catholic Clergy Categories

+7 votes
We are reviewing the Religious Professionals Categories and subcategories and taking the opportunity not only to make them more consistent, but also more useful and informative.  Categories like "Preachers" and "Clergy" are being replaced by "Religious Professionals"  whose subcategories include Methodist Ministers, Jewish Rabbis, and Catholic Priests.

Now, I know how to break Methodist Ministers into some useful subcategories to keep the categories from getting too large.  But Catholic Priests would include profiles from the year 50 to today, and all over the world.  I have some knowledge of the Catholic world, but not enough to make me comfortable undertaking this.  Is there someone on WikiTree who can guide us through the different types and divisions and places of Catholic Clergy who can help us develop some subcategories which are both useful and meanngful?  I'm sure some of the subcategories we already have are just fine, but we need a coherent and comprehensive structure to house them!
in Policy and Style by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (385k points)

1 Answer

+5 votes

The Catholic clergy is organized in a strict, sometimes overlapping hierarchy:

Pope: Head of the church, he is based at the Vatican. The pope is infallible in defining matters of faith and morals.

Cardinal: Appointed by the pope, 178 cardinals worldwide, including 13 in the U.S., make up the College of Cardinals. As a body, it advises the pope and, on his death, elects a new pope.

Archbishop: An archbishop is a bishop of a main or metropolitan diocese, also called an archdiocese. A cardinal can concurrently hold the title. The U.S. has 45 archbishops.

Bishop: A bishop, like a priest, is ordained to this station. He is a teacher of church doctrine, a priest of sacred worship, and a minister of church government. The U.S. has 290 active bishops, 194 head dioceses.

Priest: An ordained minister who can administer most of the sacraments, including the Eucharist, baptism, and marriage. He can be with a particular religious order or committed to serving a congregation.

Deacon: A transitional deacon is a seminarian studying for the priesthood. A permanent deacon can be married and assists a priest by performing some of the sacraments.


Edit: I used to know all that off the top of my head, but  I have lapsed for many years. The orders it mentions for the Priests would be Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans,  Benedictines, etc.

by Jim Tareco G2G6 Mach 3 (31.0k points)
Wow!  You did a very good job in answering this Jim Tareco in a very short period of time.  You pretty well nailed it in your answer!!
Jim, thanks.  This lays out the hierarchy.  Now, we can have one category for Popes, because that's not a huge number, even going back to the first one.  But priests- what's the total number who have ever been ordained?   Too big a category.  So we need subcategories.  194 dioceses in the US, plus others around the world?  What I'm running into is that a lot of profile say that Father Byrne was a Catholic Priest, and maybe in Indiana, so you can guess what Diocese  is there now, but he was a priest in 1870 and then you need to know the Diocese then.  Besides, with 194 Dioceses and 50 states you know some states have several Dioceses.   Where I'm struggling is that if you know the diocese, then you probably know where there are some records involving Father Byrne, and it can help your genealogy, but most profile managers won't have a clue as to how to figure that out.  So if we simply create a subcategory for Catholic Priests in Indiana and use secular geography, have we lost too much?  Or has that become so meaningless we shouldn't even do it.  These are things I'm trying to sort out at the outset.
Now, a fascinating project for people who love genealogy outside the US and don't mind working with profiles of people who aren't supposed to have descendants would be to create profiles for all 266 Popes from St. Peter to St. Francis!
Jack, you & your team may also want to consider that, while the diocese will have info on diocesan priests, when it comes to religious priests (those who belonged to an Order), researchers will often do better contacting the Order.  My g/grandmother had two sisters who were Sisters, and their Order was very generous in sharing information and photos with me.

I say this fully realizing it's adding another can of worms, so to speak.  ;-)

" from St. Peter to St. Francis" ??? -- getting a little ahead of things, Jack?  :-)

What Nan say about the Order. That's where the records would be of who was ordained. People looks and say "He's a Catholic priest.", but those of us who spent any amount of time in Catholic schools know "He's a Franciscan". (As Sister Francetta in her brown habit and robe told me when I was in 1st grade.}

A brother of my great grandfather (biological father) was a priest Carmelite Order.
A great link listing the abbreviations. As a cradle Catholic. I too find myself straining to remember.  The organization breakdown of the priests could also need a notation of  parish or monastic. Another note might be considered for those who received dispensation from the vows and have gone on in the secular life to have a family. There are some married priests which had the family before converting from the Episcopal religion. So many variations.
Nan -- LOL!  I must have been tired.  I swear last night "St." was in front of the names of all 266 Popes!  I checked again this morning and St. was gone from a lot of them.  Somebody did this just to trip me up, of course!

Jim, what a great obituary you found for your great grandfather's brother (2G uncle?).  Not only portrays him with great affection, but is full of information -- and tells us what the obituary writer thought was important, so it almost makes him part of this conversation.  And it's true -- when I think of Catholic priests I know, if they're in an order, it's something I know about them.  So would it be reasonable to add [[Category: Carmelite]] to his profile?  Or would another wording be more correct
And I hadn't thought of those who had received a dispensation from their vows.  Certainly you would want that in the bio, otherwise it would be strange to categorize them as Catholic Priest and then show them with a wife and family.  But you wouldn't want to leave Catholic Priest out because that was an important and accurate part of their life and -- I think my understanding is correct on this -- if circumstances ever changed so that it was agreed by all that they should become active priests again, there might be some process to go through but they would not be re-ordained.  So at some level they are actually still priests, but do not function as priests.  I don't know if there should be an additional category for such persons, but if there were, how would distill that into a few word category?
Jack - I know a priest in our diocese that is married and has a family. He was married episcopal priest and converted to the Catholic religion. He then went through a lengthy process and time in Rome to continue as a priest in the Catholic faith. Sorry to add other category.
That one's relatively simple -- I would categorize the person both as an Episcopal priest AND as a Catholic priest.  There were a number who went the other way during the Reformation!  The tricky part is figuring out what the most appropriate subcategories to put the person in.  If I could get him as "Diocese of X Episcopal Priest" and "Diocese of Y Catholic Priest" then you'd have both geography and affiliation captured in the subcategory and he'd e grouped with others with whom he had some commonality.
I actually know a bit about this. There really is no difference between the Catholic and Episcopal Church. The beliefs are identical. The only difference is where the power lies. Catholic with the Pope in Rome, Episcopal with the Archbishop of Canterbury. After the second Vatican council there was a call from  Episcopal priests in the US for Communion with the Roman Church. In 1980 Pope John Paul II issued the Pastoral Provision. . I know this because a few years back I went to Mass and there was a different priest there. I guess the usual priest was sick and someone made a call to the bullpen for a relief priest who introduced himself and the Right Reverend instead of Father.

Jack - As to my 2nd G Uncle I believe that [[Category: Carmelite]] would be correct.


BTW I find this conversation fascinating
We're favoring plural titles, so it would be Carmelites!  And I would give him a Category: Catholic Priests categorization as well.
What this leave open is how to break up Catholic Clergy into some reasonable groups.  It seems to me that it would be great to split off all the priests in the years 30 to 1054, the schism between East and West -- what would we call that?  And another group between 1054 and the Protestant Reformation.  In England that would be the date of Henry VIII's schism.  Before Henry VIII, Church of England and Catholic Church would be relatively synonymous -- it would be nice to have a category for people in that period.  Then after that you would use Church of England.  There would be other dates for when the Church of Sweden and Church of Scotland broke off.  What I'm trying to do is find a way to split off Catholic Priests of past periods from the larger group in the present periods.   And then find ways -- including orders -- to split up the present period groups.  But all this is in my head at this point!
One reason for these contortions is that changing the names/spelling of upper level categories that have 2-3 subs under them is easy -- you just have to change the2-3 subs.  But changing the category name/spelling of a lower level category with 87 profiles attached to it means changing the category name on all 87 profiles -- so it's the low level ones we really need to figure out and get right the first time!

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