Certain comic book, dystopian worlds would present a real challenge to people who believe in the importance of apostolic succession. Imagine a real, systematic attack on anyone who took a position of authority; very quickly things would have to go underground, and the faithful would need some way of knowing the next guy showing up to run the diocese was in fact part of the line of succession. I was envisioning some derivative of PGP with which one could verify to a local church he was legitimate.
This made me wonder how well would 'secret' authority work, if one felt the need to employ it. Everybody knows who the Pope is, because we are pretty public about it, and it doesn't take much to learn who the bishop is, or who your local priests are. But what about a world in which we couldn't realistically be public about such things? How would it effect our perceptions? There's a certian dislike about keeping such things private, but if the level of opression were high enough, we'd have to try a secret structure in order for the Church to have any structure at all.
Yes, I am aware that this is very weird, but I enjoyed thinking it anyway.