Summa - Supplement 782

Whether boys and those who lack the use of reason can receive Orders?


Objection 1: It would seem that boys and those who lack the use of reason cannot receive Orders. For, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 25), the sacred canons have appointed a certain fixed age in those who receive Orders. But this would not be if boys could receive the sacrament of Orders. Therefore, etc.

Objection 2: Further, the sacrament of Orders ranks above the sacrament of matrimony. Now children and those who lack the use of reason cannot contract matrimony. Neither therefore can they receive Orders.

Objection 3: Further, act and power are in the same subject, according to the Philosopher (De Somn. et Vigil. i). Now the act of Orders requires the use of reason. Therefore the power of Orders does also.

On the contrary, one who is raised to Orders before the age of discretion is sometimes allowed to exercise them without being reordained, as appears from Extra., De Cler. per salt. prom. But this would not be the case if he had not received Orders. Therefore a boy can receive Orders.

Further, boys can receive other sacraments in which a character is imprinted, namely Baptism and Confirmation. Therefore in like manner they can receive Orders.

I answer that, Boyhood and other defects which remove the use of reason occasion an impediment to act. Wherefore the like are unfit to receive all those sacraments which require an act on the part of the recipient of the sacrament, such as Penance, Matrimony, and so forth. But since infused powers like natural powers precede acts---although acquired powers follow acts---and the removal of that which comes after does not entail the removal of what comes first, it follows that children and those who lack the use of reason can receive all the sacraments in which an act on the part of the recipient is not required for the validity of the sacrament, but some spiritual power is conferred from above; with this difference, however, that in the minor orders the age of discretion is required out of respect for the dignity of the sacrament, but not for its lawfulness, nor for its validity. Hence some can without sin be raised to the minor orders before the years of discretion, if there be an urgent reason for it and hope of their proficiency. and they are validly ordained; for although at the time they are not qualified for the offices entrusted to them, they will become qualified by being habituated thereto. For the higher Orders, however, the use of reason is required both out of respect for, and for the lawfulness of the sacrament, not only on account of the vow of continency annexed thereto, but also because the handling of the sacraments is entrusted to them [*See Acts of the Council of Trent: De Reform., Sess. xxii, cap. 4,11,12]. But for the episcopate whereby a man receives power also over the mystical body, the act of accepting the pastoral care of souls is required; wherefore the use of reason is necessary for the validity of episcopal consecration. Some, however, maintain that the use of reason is necessary for the validity of the sacrament in all the Orders. but this statement is not confirmed either by authority or by reason.

Reply to Objection 1: As stated in the Article, not all that is necessary for the lawfulness of a sacrament is required for its validity.

Reply to Objection 2: The cause of matrimony is consent, which cannot be without the use of reason. Whereas in the reception of Orders no act is required on the part of the recipients since no act on their part is expressed in their consecration. Hence there is no comparison.

Reply to Objection 3: Act and power are in the same subject; yet sometimes a power, such as the free-will, precedes its act; and thus it is in the case in point.

Whether the state of slavery is an impediment to receiving Orders?


Objection 1: It would seem that the state of slavery is not an impediment to receiving Orders. For corporal subjection is not incompatible with spiritual authority. But in a slave there is corporal subjection. Therefore he is not hindered from receiving the spiritual authority which is given in orders.

Objection 2: Further, that which is an occasion for humility should not be an impediment to the reception of a sacrament. Now such is slavery, for the Apostle counsels a man, if possible, rather to remain in slavery (
1Co 7,21). Therefore it should not hinder him from being raised to Orders.

Objection 3: Further, it is more disgraceful for a cleric to become a slave than for a slave to be made a cleric. Yet a cleric may lawfully be sold as a slave; for a bishop of Nola, Paulinus, to wit, sold himself as a slave as related by Gregory (Dial. iii). Much more therefore can a slave be made a cleric.

Objection 4: On the contrary, It would seem that it is an impediment to the validity of the sacrament. For a woman, on account of her subjection, cannot receive the sacrament of Orders. But greater still is the subjection in a slave; since woman was not given to man as his handmaid (for which reason she was not made from his feet). Therefore neither can a slave receive this sacrament.

Objection 5: Further, a man, from the fact that he receives an Order, is bound to minister in that Order. But he cannot at the same time serve his carnal master and exercise his spiritual ministry. Therefore it would seem that he cannot receive Orders, since the master must be indemnified.

I answer that, By receiving Orders a man pledges himself to the Divine offices. And since no man can give what is not his, a slave who has not the disposal of himself, cannot be raised to Orders. If, however, he be raised, he receives the Order, because freedom is not required for the validity of the sacrament, although it is requisite for its lawfulness, since it hinders not the power, but the act only. The same reason applies to all who are under an obligation to others, such as those who are in debt and like persons.

Reply to Objection 1: The reception of spiritual power involves also an obligation to certain bodily actions, and consequently it is hindered by bodily subjection.

Reply to Objection 2: A man may take an occasion for humility from many other things which do not prove a hindrance to the exercise of Orders.

Reply to Objection 3: The blessed Paulinus did this out of the abundance of his charity, being led by the spirit of God; as was proved by the result of his action, since by his becoming a slave, many of his flock were freed from slavery. Hence we must not draw a conclusion from this particular instance, since "where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2Co 3,17).

Reply to Objection 4: The sacramental signs signify by reason of their natural likeness. Now a woman is a subject by her nature, whereas a slave is not. Hence the comparison fails.

Reply to Objection 5: If he be ordained, his master knowing and not dissenting, by this very fact he becomes a freedman. But if his master be in ignorance, the bishop and he who presented him are bound to pay the master double the slave's value, if they knew him to be a slave. Otherwise if the slave has possessions of his own, he is bound to buy his freedom, else he would have to return to the bondage of his master, notwithstanding the impossibility of his exercising his Order.

Whether a man should be debarred from receiving Orders on account of homicide?


Objection 1: It would seem that a man ought not to be debarred from receiving Orders on account of homicide. Because our Orders originated with the office of the Levites, as stated in the previous Distinction (Sent. iv, D, 24). But the Levites consecrated their hands by shedding the blood of their brethren (
Ex 32,29). Therefore neither should anyone in the New Testament be debarred from receiving Orders on account of the shedding of blood.

Objection 2: Further, no one should be debarred from a sacrament on account of an act of virtue. Now blood is sometimes shed for justice' sake, for instance by a judge; and he who has the office would sin if he did not shed it. Therefore he is not hindered on that account from receiving Orders.

Objection 3: Further, punishment is not due save for a fault. Now sometimes a person commits homicide without fault, for instance by defending himself, or again by mishap. Therefore he ought not to incur the punishment of irregularity.

On the contrary, Against this there are many canonical statutes [*Cap. Miror; cap. Clericum; cap. De his Cler., dist. 1; cap. Continebatur, De homic. volunt.], as also the custom of the Church.

I answer that, All the Orders bear a relation to the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the sacrament of the peace vouchsafed to us by the shedding of Christ's blood. And since homicide is most opposed to peace, and those who slay are conformed to Christ's slayers rather than to Christ slain, to whom all the ministers of the aforesaid sacrament ought to be conformed, it follows that it is unlawful, although not invalid, for homicides to be raised to Orders.

Reply to Objection 1: The Old Law inflicted the punishment of blood, whereas the New Law does not. Hence the comparison fails between the ministers of the Old Testament and those of the New, which is a sweet yoke and a light burden (Mt 11,30).

Reply to Objection 2: Irregularity is incurred not only on account of sin, but chiefly on account of a person being unfit to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist. Hence the judge and all who take part with him in a cause of blood, are irregular, because the shedding of blood is unbecoming to the ministers of that sacrament.

Reply to Objection 3: No one does a thing without being the cause thereof, and in man this is something voluntary. Hence he who by mishap slays a man without knowing that it is a man, is not called a homicide, nor does he incur irregularity (unless he was occupying himself in some unlawful manner, or failed to take sufficient care, since in this case the slaying becomes somewhat voluntary). But this is not because he is not in fault, since irregularity is incurred even without fault. Wherefore even he who in a particular case slays a man in self-defense without committing a sin, is none the less irregular [*St. Thomas is speaking according to the canon law of his time. This is no longer the case now.].

Whether those of illegitimate birth should be debarred from receiving Orders?


Objection 1: It would seem that those who are of illegitimate birth should not be debarred from receiving Orders. For the son should not bear the iniquity of the father (
Ez 18,20); and yet he would if this were an impediment to his receiving Orders. Therefore, etc.

Objection 2: Further, one's own fault is a greater impediment than the fault of another. Now unlawful intercourse does not always debar a man from receiving Orders. Therefore neither should he be debarred by the unlawful intercourse of his father.

On the contrary, It is written (Dt 23,2): "A mamzer, that is to say, one born of a prostitute, shall not enter into the Church of the Lord until the tenth generation." Much less therefore should he be ordained.

I answer that, Those who are ordained are placed in a position of dignity over others. Hence by a kind of propriety it is requisite that they should be without reproach, not for the validity but for the lawfulness of the sacrament, namely that they should be of good repute, bedecked with a virtuous life, and not publicly penitent. And since a man's good name is bedimmed by a sinful origin, therefore those also who are born of an unlawful union are debarred from receiving orders, unless they receive a dispensation; and this is the more difficult to obtain, according as their origin is more discreditable.

Reply to Objection 1: Irregularity is not a punishment due for sin. Hence it is clear that those who are of illegitimate birth do not bear the iniquity of their father through being irregular.

Reply to Objection 2: What a man does by his own act can be removed by repentance and by a contrary act; not so the things which are from nature. Hence the comparison fails between sinful act and sinful origin.

Whether lack of members should be an impediment?


Objection 1: It would seem that a man ought not to be debarred from receiving Orders on account of a lack of members. For one who is afflicted should not receive additional affliction. Therefore a man ought not to be deprived of the degree of Orders on account of his suffering a bodily defect.

Objection 2: Further, integrity of discretion is more necessary for the act of orders than integrity of body. But some can be ordained before the years of discretion. Therefore they can also be ordained though deficient in body.

On the contrary, The like were debarred from the ministry of the Old Law (
Lv 21,18, seqq.). Much more therefore should they be debarred in the New Law.

We shall speak of bigamy in the treatise on Matrimony (Question [66]).

I answer that, As appears from what we have said above (Articles [3],4,5), a man is disqualified from receiving Orders, either on account of an impediment to the act, or on account of an impediment affecting his personal comeliness. Hence he who suffers from a lack of members is debarred from receiving Orders, if the defect be such as to cause a notable blemish, whereby a man's comeliness is bedimmed (for instance if his nose be cut off) or the exercise of his Order imperilled; otherwise he is not debarred. This integrity, however, is necessary for the lawfulness and not for the validity of the sacrament.

This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.



We must now consider the things that are annexed to the sacrament of Order. Under this head there are seven points of inquiry:

(1) Whether those who are ordained ought to be shaven and tonsured in the form of a crown?

(2) Whether the tonsure is an Order?

(3) Whether by receiving the tonsure one renounces temporal goods?

(4) Whether above the priestly Order there should be an episcopal power?

(5) Whether the episcopate is an Order?

(6) Whether in the Church there can be any power above the episcopate?

(7) Whether the vestments of the ministers are fittingly instituted by the Church?

Whether those who are ordained ought to wear the tonsure?


Objection 1: It would seem that those who are ordained ought not to wear the tonsure in the shape of a crown. For the Lord threatened captivity and dispersion to those who were shaven in this way: "Of the captivity of the bare head of the enemies" (
Dt 32,42), and: "I will scatter into every wind them that have their hair cut round" (Jr 49,32). Now the ministers of Christ should not be captives, but free. Therefore shaving and tonsure in the shape of a crown does not become them.

Objection 2: Further, the truth should correspond to the figure. Now the crown was prefigured in the Old Law by the tonsure of the Nazarenes, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24). Therefore since the Nazarenes were not ordained to the Divine ministry, it would seem that the ministers of the Church should not receive the tonsure or shave the head in the form of a crown. The same would seem to follow from the fact that lay brothers, who are not ministers of the Church, receive a tonsure in the religious Orders.

Objection 3: Further, the hair signifies superabundance, because it grows from that which is superabundant. But the ministers of the Church should cast off all superabundance. Therefore they should shave the head completely and not in the shape of a crown.

On the contrary, According to Gregory, "to serve God is to reign" (Super Ps 101,23). Now a crown is the sign of royalty. Therefore a crown is becoming to those who are devoted to the Divine ministry.

Further, according to 1Co 11,15, hair is given us "for a covering." But the ministers of the altar should have the mind uncovered. Therefore the tonsure is becoming to them.

I answer that, It is becoming for those who apply themselves to the Divine ministry to be shaven or tonsured in the form of a crown by reason of the shape. Because a crown is the sign of royalty; and of perfection, since it is circular; and those who are appointed to the Divine service acquire a royal dignity and ought to be perfect in virtue. It is also becoming to them as it involves the hair being taken both from the higher part of the head by shaving, lest their mind be hindered by temporal occupations from contemplating Divine things, and from the lower part by clipping, lest their senses be entangled in temporal things.

Reply to Objection 1: The Lord threatens those who did this for the worship of demons.

Reply to Objection 2: The things that were done in the Old Testament represent imperfectly the things of the New Testament. Hence things pertaining to the ministers of the New Testament were signified not only by the offices of the Levites, but also by all those persons who professed some degree of perfection. Now the Nazarenes professed a certain perfection by having their hair cut off, thus signifying their contempt of temporal things, although they did not have it cut in the shape of a crown, but cut it off completely, for as yet it was not the time of the royal and perfect priesthood. In like manner lay brothers have their hair cut because they renounce temporalities. but they do not shave the head, because they are not occupied in the Divine ministry, so as to have to contemplate Divine things with the mind.

Reply to Objection 3: Not only the renunciation of temporalities, but also the royal dignity has to be signified by the form of a crown; wherefore the hair should not be cut off entirely. Another reason is that this would be unbecoming.

Whether the tonsure is an Order?


Objection 1: It would seem that the tonsure is an Order. For in the acts of the Church the spiritual corresponds to the corporal. Now the tonsure is a corporal sign employed by the Church. Therefore seemingly there is some interior signification corresponding thereto; so that a person receives a character when he receives the tonsure, and consequently the latter is an Order.

Objection 2: Further, just as Confirmation and the other Orders are given by a bishop alone, so is the tonsure. Now a character is imprinted in Confirmation, and the other Orders. Therefore one is imprinted likewise in receiving the tonsure. Therefore the same conclusion follows.

Objection 3: Further, Order denotes a degree of dignity. Now a cleric by the very fact of being a cleric is placed on a degree above the people. Therefore the tonsure by which he is made a cleric is an Order.

On the contrary, No Order is given except during the celebration of Mass. But the tonsure is given even outside the office of the Mass. Therefore it is not an Order.

Further, in the conferring of every Order mention is made of some power granted, but not in the conferring of the tonsure. Therefore it is not an Order.

I answer that, The ministers of the Church are severed from the people in order that they may give themselves entirely to the Divine worship. Now in the Divine worship are certain actions that have to be exercised by virtue of certain definite powers, and for this purpose the spiritual power of order is given; while other actions are performed by the whole body of ministers in common, for instance the recital of the Divine praises. For such things it is not necessary to have the power of Order, but only to be deputed to such an office; and this is done by the tonsure. Consequently it is not an Order but a preamble to Orders.

Reply to Objection 1: The tonsure has some spiritual thing inwardly corresponding to it, as signate corresponds to sign; but this is not a spiritual power. Wherefore a character is not imprinted in the tonsure as in an Order.

Reply to Objection 2: Although a man does not receive a character in the tonsure, nevertheless he is appointed to the Divine worship. Hence this appointment should be made by the supreme minister, namely the bishop, who moreover blesses the vestments and vessels and whatsoever else is employed in the Divine worship.

Reply to Objection 3: A man through being a cleric is in a higher state than a layman; but as regards power he has not the higher degree that is required for Orders.

Whether by receiving the tonsure a man renounces temporal goods?


Objection 1: It would seem that men renounce temporal goods by receiving the tonsure, for when they are tonsured they say: "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance." But as Jerome says (Ep ad Nepot.), "the Lord disdains to be made a portion together with these temporal things." Therefore he renounces temporalities.

Objection 2: Further, the justice of the ministers of the New Testament ought to abound more than that of the ministers of the Old Testament (
Mt 5,20). But the ministers of the Old Testament, namely the Levites, did not receive a portion of inheritance with their brethren (Dt 10 Dt 18). Therefore neither should the ministers of the New Testament.

Objection 3: Further, Hugh says (De Sacram. ii) that "after a man is made a cleric, he must from thenceforward live on the pay of the Church." But this would not be so were he to retain his patrimony. Therefore he would seem to renounce it by becoming a cleric.

On the contrary, Jeremias was of the priestly order (Jr 1,1). Yet he retained possession of his inheritance (Jr 32,8). Therefore clerics can retain their patrimony.

Further, if this were not so there would seem to be no difference between religious and the secular clergy.

I answer that, Clerics by receiving the tonsure, do not renounce their patrimony or other temporalities; since the possession of earthly things is not contrary to the Divine worship to which clerics are appointed, although excessive care for such things is; for as Gregory says (Moral. x, 30), "it is not wealth but the love of wealth that is sinful."

Reply to Objection 1:: The Lord disdains to be a portion as being loved equally with other things, so that a man place his end in God and the things of the world. He does not, however, disdain to be the portion of those who so possess the things of the world as not to be withdrawn thereby from the Divine worship.

Reply to Objection 2: In the Old Testament the Levites had a right to their paternal inheritance; and the reason why they did not receive a portion with the other tribes was because they were scattered throughout all the tribes, which would have been impossible if, like the other tribes, they had received one fixed portion of the soil.

Reply to Objection 3: Clerics promoted to holy orders, if they be poor, must be provided for by the bishop who ordained them; otherwise he is not so bound. And they are bound to minister to the Church in the Order they have received. The words of Hugh refer to those who have no means of livelihood.

Whether above the priestly Order there ought to be an episcopal power?


Objection 1: It would seem that there ought not to be an episcopal power above the priestly Order. For as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24) "the priestly Order originated from Aaron." Now in the Old Law there was no one above Aaron. Therefore neither in the New Law ought there to be any power above that of the priests.

Objection 2: Further, powers rank according to acts. Now no sacred act can be greater than to consecrate the body of Christ, whereunto the priestly power is directed. Therefore there should not be an episcopal above the priestly power.

Objection 3: Further, the priest, in offering, represents Christ in the Church, Who offered Himself for us to the Father. Now no one is above Christ in the Church, since He is the Head of the Church. Therefore there should not be an episcopal above the priestly power.

On the contrary, A power is so much the higher according as it extends to more things. Now the priestly power, according to Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. v), extends only to cleansing and enlightening, whereas the episcopal power extends both to this and to perfecting. Therefore the episcopal should be above the priestly power.

Further, the Divine ministries should be more orderly than human ministries. Now the order of human ministries requires that in each office there should be one person to preside, just as a general is placed over soldiers. Therefore there should also be appointed over priests one who is the chief priest, and this is the bishop. Therefore the episcopal should be above the priestly power.

I answer that, A priest has two acts: one is the principal, namely to consecrate the body of Christ. the other is secondary, namely to prepare God's people for the reception of this sacrament, as stated above (Question [37], Articles [2],4). As regards the first act, the priest's power does not depend on a higher power save God's; but as to the second, it depends on a higher and that a human power. For every power that cannot exercise its act without certain ordinances, depends on the power that makes those ordinances. Now a priest cannot loose and bind, except we presuppose him to have the jurisdiction of authority, whereby those whom he absolves are subject to him. But he can consecrate any matter determined by Christ, nor is anything else required for the validity of the sacrament; although, on account of a certain congruousness, the act of the bishop is pre-required in the consecration of the altar, vestments, and so forth. Hence it is clear that it behooves the episcopal to be above the priestly power, as regards the priest's secondary act, but not as regards his primary act.

Reply to Objection 1: Aaron was both priest and pontiff, that is chief priest. Accordingly the priestly power originated from him, in so far as he was a priest offering sacrifices, which was lawful even to the lesser priests; but it does not originate from him as pontiff, by which power he was able to do certain things; for instance, to enter once a year the Holy of Holies, which it was unlawful for the other priests to do.

Reply to Objection 2: There is no higher power with regard to this act, but with regard to another, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 3: Just as the perfections of all natural things pre-exist in God as their exemplar, so was Christ the exemplar of all ecclesiastical offices. Wherefore each minister of the Church is, in some respect, a copy of Christ, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24). Yet he is the higher who represents Christ according to a greater perfection. Now a priest represents Christ in that He fulfilled a certain ministry by Himself, whereas a bishop represents Him in that He instituted other ministers and founded the Church. Hence it belongs to a bishop to dedicate a thing to the Divine offices, as establishing the Divine worship after the manner of Christ. For this reason also a bishop is especially called the bridegroom of the Church even as Christ is.

Whether the episcopate is an Order?


Objection 1: It would seem that the episcopate is an Order. First of all, because Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. v) assigns these three orders to the ecclesiastical hierarchy, the bishop, the priest, and the minister. In the text also (Sent. iv, D, 24) it is stated that the episcopal Order is fourfold.

Objection 2: Further, Order is nothing else but a degree of power in the dispensing of spiritual things. Now bishops can dispense certain sacraments which priests cannot dispense, namely Confirmation and Order. Therefore the episcopate is an Order.

Objection 3: Further, in the Church there is no spiritual power other than of Order or jurisdiction. But things pertaining to the episcopal power are not matters of jurisdiction, else they might be committed to one who is not a bishop, which is false. Therefore they belong to the power of Order. Therefore the bishop has an Order which a simple priest has not; and thus the episcopate is an Order.

On the contrary, One Order does not depend on a preceding order as regards the validity of the sacrament. But the episcopal power depends on the priestly power, since no one can receive the episcopal power unless he have previously the priestly power. Therefore the episcopate is not an Order.

Further, the greater Orders are not conferred except on Saturdays [*The four Ember Saturdays]. But the episcopal power is bestowed on Sundays [*Dist. lxxv, can. Ordinationes]. Therefore it is not an Order.

I answer that, Order may be understood in two ways. In one way as a sacrament, and thus, as already stated (Question [37], Articles [2],4), every Order is directed to the sacrament of the Eucharist. Wherefore since the bishop has not a higher power than the priest, in this respect the episcopate is not an Order. In another way Order may be considered as an office in relation to certain sacred actions: and thus since in hierarchical actions a bishop has in relation to the mystical body a higher power than the priest, the episcopate is an Order. It is in this sense that the authorities quoted speak.

Hence the Reply to the First Objection is clear.

Reply to Objection 2: Order considered as a sacrament which imprints a character is specially directed to the sacrament of the Eucharist, in which Christ Himself is contained, because by a character we are made like to Christ Himself [*Cf. TP, Question [63], Article [3]]. Hence although at his promotion a bishop receives a spiritual power in respect of certain sacraments, this power nevertheless has not the nature of a character. For this reason the episcopate is not an Order, in the sense in which an Order is a sacrament.

Reply to Objection 3: The episcopal power is one not only of jurisdiction but also of Order, as stated above, taking Order in the sense in which it is generally understood.

Whether in the Church there can be anyone above the bishops?


Objection 1: It would seem that there cannot be anyone in the Church higher than the bishops. For all the bishops are the successors of the apostles. Now the power so given to one of the apostles, namely Peter (
Mt 16,19), was given to all the apostles (Jn 20,23). Therefore all bishops are equal, and one is not above another.

Objection 2: Further, the rite of the Church ought to be more conformed to the Jewish rite than to that of the Gentiles. Now the distinction of the episcopal dignity and the appointment of one over another, were introduced by the Gentiles. as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24); and there was no such thing in the Old Law. Therefore neither in the Church should one bishop be above another.

Objection 3: Further, a higher power cannot be conferred by a lower, nor equal by equal, because "without all contradiction that which is less is blessed by the greater [Vulg.: 'better']"; hence a priest does not consecrate a bishop or a priest, but a bishop consecrates a priest. But a bishop can consecrate any bishop, since even the bishop of Ostia consecrates the Pope. Therefore the episcopal dignity is equal in all matters, and consequently one bishop should not be subject to another, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24).

On the contrary, We read in the council of Constantinople: "In accordance with the Scriptures and the statutes and definitions of the canons, we venerate the most holy bishop of ancient Rome the first and greatest of bishops, and after him the bishop of Constantinople." Therefore one bishop is above another.

Further, the blessed Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, says: "That we may remain members of our apostolic head, the throne of the Roman Pontiffs, of whom it is our duty to seek what we are to believe and what we are to hold, venerating him, beseeching him above others; for his it is to reprove, to correct, to appoint, to loose, and to bind in place of Him Who set up that very throne, and Who gave the fulness of His own to no other, but to him alone, to whom by divine right all bow the head, and the primates of the world are obedient as to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself." Therefore bishops are subject to someone even by divine right.

I answer that, Wherever there are several authorities directed to one purpose, there must needs be one universal authority over the particular authorities, because in all virtues and acts the order is according to the order of their ends (Ethic. i, 1,2). Now the common good is more Godlike than the particular good. Wherefore above the governing power which aims at a particular good there must be a universal governing power in respect of the common good, otherwise there would be no cohesion towards the one object. Hence since the whole Church is one body, it behooves, if this oneness is to be preserved, that there be a governing power in respect of the whole Church, above the episcopal power whereby each particular Church is governed, and this is the power of the Pope. Consequently those who deny this power are called schismatics as causing a division in the unity of the Church. Again, between a simple bishop and the Pope there are other degrees of rank corresponding to the degrees of union, in respect of which one congregation or community includes another; thus the community of a province includes the community of a city, and the community of a kingdom includes the community of one province, and the community of the whole world includes the community of one kingdom.

Reply to Objection 1: Although the power of binding and loosing was given to all the apostles in common, nevertheless in order to indicate some order in this power, it was given first of all to Peter alone, to show that this power must come down from him to the others. For this reason He said to him in the singular: "Confirm thy brethren" (Lc 22,32), and: "Feed My sheep" (Jn 21,17), i.e. according to Chrysostom: "Be thou the president and head of thy brethren in My stead, that they, putting thee in My place, may preach and confirm thee throughout the world whilst thou sittest on thy throne."

Reply to Objection 2: The Jewish rite was not spread abroad in various kingdoms and provinces, but was confined to one nation; hence there was no need to distinguish various pontiffs under the one who had the chief power. But the rite of the Church, like that of the Gentiles, is spread abroad through various nations; and consequently in this respect it is necessary for the constitution of the Church to be like the rite of the Gentiles rather than that of the Jews.

Reply to Objection 3: The priestly power is surpassed by the episcopal power, as by a power of a different kind; but the episcopal is surpassed by the papal power as by a power of the same kind. Hence a bishop can perform every hierarchical act that the Pope can; whereas a priest cannot perform every act that a bishop can in conferring the sacraments. Wherefore as regards matters pertaining to the episcopal Order, all bishops are equal, and for this reason any bishop can consecrate another bishop.

Summa - Supplement 782