The Special Character of Organized Religion

Richard A. Schoenherr

Edited by David Yamane

in Goodbye Father

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780195082593
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780199834952 | DOI:
The Special Character of Organized Religion

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The chapter begins by trying to show that sacramentalism and sacerdotalism (the necessity for an ordained priesthood) are the primary and essential elements of the Catholic ministry because they represent structural forms whereby Roman Catholicism adapts to the transrational, spiritual elements of human development. It then explains that the explicit recognition of a transcendent domain and development of structures that take it into account are what makes religious organizations different. They are also different in an additional way in that organized religion relies on two kinds of power: relative power (as in other types of organization), of which the social form is hierarchy, and corresponds to sacerdotalism; and absolute power, of which the social form is hierophany, and corresponds to sacramentalism. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the routinization of hierophany and its integration with hierarchy result in sacramental sacerdotalism. The chapter concludes with a descriptive analysis of the routinized hierarchical form of priesthood that characterizes contemporary Catholicism.

Keywords: absolute power; Catholic Church; hierarchy; hierophany; organizations; power; priesthood; relative power; religious organizations; sacerdotalism; sacramentalism; structure; transcendency

Chapter.  7161 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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