Ever parishoner knows their priest --> Every priest knows his bishop --> Every bishop knows the pope . . .
The pope, in turn, knows all the other bishops --> Who in turn know all the priests --> Who know all the parishioners.
I count that as 6 steps removed from every practicing Catholic in the world. Considering we're only 7 steps removed from everyone on earth, I suppose this isn't quite an achievement since people of the same faith have a common association to begin with. But still. It makes the world seem smaller.
What is the point of this? It is a different way to look at the Catholic hierarchy: Instead of the pope as the head honcho, he's the conduit in the middle. Same system, just a different perspective on it.
And of course, you can always cut out the middle man (in a nice way, of course!).
A greater network of bishops who are in college with each other would remove a step or two. Assuming all bishops know all the other bishops (which may be a stretch, but I would assume most of them know a good many of them), then you can bypass the steps that involve the pope in the above example. The world gets even smaller. Suddenly you have:
Parishioner --> priest --> bishop --> bishops --> priests --> parishioners
I envision a Catholic Church where the bishops in college with each other are the movers and the shakers, much like how it was in earlier periods of Christianity. The pope is, of course, just another bishop.
It is amazing how hierarchy separates people, even while more efficiently organizing them.