As a rule the word "hierarchy" is taken to mean: power in sacred or religious matters. In this sense one implies the existence of a religious power, regarded as objectively sacred, which is given to the priests of every religion- and which distinguishes them from other men. The inner form of the Catholic Church has from the beginning been the religion of Jesus Christ, whose activity as a Priest, a Teacher and a Shepherd (or Ruler) she is to continue for the helping of all peoples in all times. In accordance with this formative principle, the Church is both a mystical communion as well as a society and an institution. Her origin, her nature and her mission make her a reality both invisible and visible, which is summoned to give the norms and the energies of a world of being that transcends history their places in the realm of the historical. In carrying out these three offices, in administering the Sacraments, in preserving and preaching doctrinal truth, in govern- ing and guiding the Kingdom founded by the Messiah King and destined to take on form inside concrete history, it is necessarily in ac- cordance with this three-fold activity impelled to adopt a constitution and to create an organization comparable to that of a state administra- tion, officials, discipline, etc. The religious, mystical inner reality of the Church is the basis on which its social and institutional side is established, and also the meaning and justification for all that happens as a result.
As a consequence one must distinguish between what is hierarchical according to divine law and what is hierarchical according to the law of the Church. There is an ordained power (hierarchia ordinis) which has passed from Christ to His Apostles, and from them to their successors. The priesthood is the bearer of this power, being or- ganized in the three grades of ordination that constitute the clergy (in contrast with the laity) , namely the episcopacy, the presbytery, (the bearers of which are ordained priests) and the deaconate (on which preparatory Orders have been conferred) . On the other hand there is a hierarchy of governing power (hierarchia jurisdictionis^) , the task of which is to direct the Church as a social institution. This also is arranged in grades, the two highest of which i. e., the primacy