Pope

Pope

Overview
The Pope is the Bishop
Bishop (Catholic Church)
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith and ruling the Church....

 of Rome
Diocese of Rome
The Diocese of Rome is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy. The bishop of Rome is the Pope, who is the Supreme Pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church...

, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church (which is composed of the Latin Rite and the Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

 with the see
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

 of Rome). In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, the Apostle. The current office-holder is Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, who was elected in a papal conclave
Papal conclave, 2005
The Papal conclave of 2005 was convened as a result of the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005. After his death, the cardinals who were in Rome met and set a date for the beginning of the conclave to elect John Paul's successor. The conclave began on 18 April 2005 and ended on the following...

 on 19 April 2005.

The office of the pope is known as the Papacy.
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Timeline

314   Silvester I begins his reign as Pope of the Catholic Church, succeeding Pope Miltiades.

336   Pope Mark dies, leaving the papacy vacant.

904   Sergius III comes out of retirement to take over the papacy from the deposed antipope Christopher.

1048   Protestantism: The villagers around today's Baden-Baden elect their own priest in defiance of the local bishop. Later, in a move that would not be seen before the Protestant Reformation, he is also elected Pope by acclamatio, just to die that same day. It is rumored that Ildebrando di Soana heard of the acclamatio and used it later to get elected himself as Pope Gregory VII.

1215   King John of England makes an oath to Pope Innocent III as a crusader to gain his support.

1274   In France, the Second Council of Lyons opens to regulate the election of the Pope.

1294   Saint Celestine V resigns the papacy after only five months; Celestine hoped to return to his previous life as an ascetic hermit.

1294   Pope Boniface VIII is elected Pope, replacing St. Celestine V, who had resigned.

1527   Spanish and German troops sack Rome; some consider this the end of the Renaissance. 147 Swiss Guards, including their commander, die fighting the forces of Charles V in order to allow Pope Clement VII to escape into Castel Sant'Angelo.

1590   Pope Urban VII dies 13 days after being chosen as the Pope, making his reign the shortest papacy in history.

 
Encyclopedia
The Pope is the Bishop
Bishop (Catholic Church)
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith and ruling the Church....

 of Rome
Diocese of Rome
The Diocese of Rome is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy. The bishop of Rome is the Pope, who is the Supreme Pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church...

, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church (which is composed of the Latin Rite and the Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

 with the see
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

 of Rome). In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, the Apostle. The current office-holder is Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, who was elected in a papal conclave
Papal conclave, 2005
The Papal conclave of 2005 was convened as a result of the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005. After his death, the cardinals who were in Rome met and set a date for the beginning of the conclave to elect John Paul's successor. The conclave began on 18 April 2005 and ended on the following...

 on 19 April 2005.

The office of the pope is known as the Papacy. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction in its primary sense does not signify jurisdiction over ecclesiastics , but jurisdiction exercised by church leaders over other leaders and over the laity....

 is often called the "Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

" (Sancta Sedes in Latin), or the "Apostolic See
Apostolic See
In Christianity, an apostolic see is any episcopal see whose foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus.Out of the many such sees, five acquired special importance in Chalcedonian Christianity and became classified as the Pentarchy in Eastern Orthodox Christianity...

" based upon the Church tradition that the Apostles Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 and Saint Paul were martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

ed in Rome. The pope is also head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 of Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

, a sovereign city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

 entirely enclaved
Enclave and exclave
In political geography, an enclave is a territory whose geographical boundaries lie entirely within the boundaries of another territory.An exclave, on the other hand, is a territory legally or politically attached to another territory with which it is not physically contiguous.These are two...

 within the city of Rome.

Early popes helped to spread Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and resolve doctrinal disputes. After the conversion
Conversion to Christianity
Conversion to Christianity is the religious conversion of a previously non-Christian person to some form of Christianity. It has been called the foundational experience of Christian life...

 of the rulers of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 (the conversion of the populace was already advanced even before the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

, 313), the Roman emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

s became the popes' secular allies until the 8th century when Pope Stephen II
Pope Stephen II
Pope Stephen II was Pope from 752 to 757, succeeding Pope Zachary following the death of Pope-elect Stephen. Stephen II marks the historical delineation between the Byzantine Papacy and the Frankish Papacy.-Allegiance to Constantinople:...

 was forced to appeal to the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 for help, beginning a period of close interaction with the rulers of the west. For centuries, the Donation of Constantine
Donation of Constantine
The Donation of Constantine is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to...

, later proved to be a forgery, provided support for the papacy's claim of political supremacy over the entire former Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

. In medieval times, popes played powerful roles in Western Europe, often struggling with monarchs for control over the wide-ranging affairs of Church and state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

, crowning emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

s (Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 was the first emperor crowned by a pope), and regulating disputes among secular rulers
Secular state
A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential...

.

Gradually forced to give up temporal power, popes now focus almost exclusively on religious matters. Over the centuries, papal claims of spiritual authority have been ever more clearly expressed, culminating in 1870 with the proclamation of the dogma
Dogma (Roman Catholic)
In the Roman Catholic Church, a dogma is an article of faith revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church presents to be believed. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basic truth from which salvation and life is derived for Christians. Dogmata regulate the language, how the truth of...

 of papal infallibility
Papal infallibility
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when in his official capacity he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals...

 for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra
Ex Cathedra
Ex Cathedra is a British choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, England. It performs choral music spanning the 15th to 21st centuries, and regularly commissions new works....

(literally "from the chair (of St. Peter)") to issue a formal definition of faith
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 or morals. The first (after the proclamation) and so far the last such occasion was in 1950, with the definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary
Assumption of Mary
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life...

.

Title and etymology


The word pope derives from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 πάππας meaning "Father". This title was first assumed by the Patriarchs of Alexandria, long before it was assumed by the Bishops of Rome. In fact, the first to carry the title of pope was the Patriarch of Alexandria, Pope Heracleus (232–49 AD), the 13th Alexandrine Patriarch. Papa has been the specific designation for the Archbishop of Alexandria, Patriarch of Egypt, and the See of Saint Mark, whose ecclessiastic title is "Papa Abba", the Abba stands for the devotion of all monastics, from Pentapolis
Pentapolis
A pentapolis, from the Greek words , "five" and , "city" is a geographic and/or institutional grouping of five cities...

 in the West to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in the East, to his guidance. Abba is the most powerful designation, that for all monks in the East to voluntarily follow his spiritual authority. The first record in history of the term "pope" is assigned to Pope Heraclas of Alexandria in a letter written by the bishop of Rome, Dionysius, to Philemon:
Which translates into:
According to the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

, the earliest recorded use of the title 'pope' in English is in an Old English translation (c. 950) of Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

's Ecclesiastical History of the English People:
In Modern English:
It is difficult to ascertain the identity of the first Bishop of Rome to carry the title Pope of Rome. Some sources suggest that it was Pope Marcellinus
Pope Marcellinus
Pope Saint Marcellinus, according to the Liberian Catalogue, became bishop of Rome on June 30, 296; his predecessor was Pope St CaiusMarcellinus’ pontificate began at a time when Diocletian was Roman Emperor, but had not yet started to persecute the Christians. He left Christianity rather free and...

 (d. 304 AD), while other sources suggest that this did not happen until the 6th century, with Pope John I
Pope John I
Pope Saint John I was Pope from 523 to 526. He was a native of Siena or the Castello di Serena, near Chiusdino. He is the first pope known to have visited Constantinople while in office....

 (523–6 AD) the first to assume this title. Bestowing the title on Rome's Pontiff did not strip it from Alexandria's, and the Roman Catholic Church recognizes this ecclesiastical fact. From the 6th century, the imperial chancery of Constantinople normally reserved this designation for the Bishop of Rome. From the early 6th century, it began to be confined in the West to the Bishop of Rome, a practice that was firmly in place by the 11th century, when Pope Gregory VII declared it reserved for the Bishop of Rome.

Catholics recognize the pope as a successor to Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, whom, according to Roman Catholic teaching, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 named as the "shepherd" and "rock" of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic dogma is the one true Church
One true faith
The concept of a one true faith, one true religion, or one true church, stem from the concept of the One True God asserted by believers in a monotheistic view of God...

 founded by Christ. Peter never bore the title of "pope", which came into use three centuries later, but Catholics traditionally recognize him as the first pope, while official declarations of the Church only speak of the popes as holding within the college of the Bishops a role analogous to that held by Peter within the college of the Apostles, of which the college of the Bishops, a distinct entity, is the successor.

Protestants generally agree that Jesus singled out Peter as the focal point of the first-century church. However, they contend that the New Testament offers no proof that Jesus established the papacy nor even that he established Peter as the first bishop of Rome. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus personally appointed Peter as leader of the Church and in its dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium
Lumen Gentium
Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council. This dogmatic constitution was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964, following approval by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,151 to 5...

makes a clear distinction between apostles and bishops, presenting the latter as the successors of the former, with the pope as successor of Peter in that he is head of the bishops as Peter was head of the apostles. Some historians have argued that the notion that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and founded the episcopal see there can be traced back no earlier than the 3rd century. The writings of the Church Father Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 who wrote around 180 AD reflect a belief that Peter "founded and organised" the Church at Rome. Moreover, Irenaeus was not the first to write of Peter's presence in the early Roman Church. Clement of Rome wrote in a letter to the Corinthians, c. 96 about the persecution of Christians in Rome as the "struggles in our time" and presented to the Corinthians its heroes, "first, the greatest and most just columns, the "good apostles" Peter and Paul. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote shortly after Clement and in his letter from the city of Smyrna to the Romans he said he would not command them as Peter and Paul did. Given this and other evidence, many scholars agree that Peter was martyred in Rome under Nero, although some scholars argue that he may have been martyred in Palestine.

Various Christian communities would have had a group of presbyter-bishops functioning as leaders of their local churches. Gradually, episcopacies were established in metropolitan areas. It has been conjectured that Antioch, where Peter was before he went to Rome, may have been one of the first Christian communities to have adopted such a structure. In Rome there were many who claimed to be the rightful bishop though again Irenaeus stressed the validity of one line of bishops from the time of St. Peter up to his contemporary Pope Victor I
Pope Victor I
Pope Saint Victor I was Pope from 189 to 199 .Pope Victor I was the first bishop of Rome born in the Roman Province of Africa: probably he was born in Leptis Magna . He was later canonized...

 and listed them. Some writers claim that the emergence of a single bishop in Rome probably did not occur until the middle of the 2nd century. In their view, Linus, Cletus and Clement were possibly prominent presbyter-bishops but not necessarily monarchical bishops. This would not affect their authority as popes in Catholic Theology.

The Holy See was accorded prominence in the early Church period in issues related to matters of the whole Catholic Church.

Early Christianity (c. 30–325)


It seems that at first the terms 'episcopos' and 'presbyter' were used interchangeably. The consensus among scholars has been that, at the turn of the 1st and 2nd centuries, local congregations were led by bishops and presbyters whose offices were overlapping or indistinguishable. There was probably no single 'monarchical' bishop in Rome before the middle of the 2nd century ... and likely later." Other scholars and historians disagree, citing the historical records of St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Irenaeus who recorded the linear succession of Bishops of Rome (the popes) up until their own times. They also cite the importance accorded to the popes in the ecumenical councils, including the early ones.

In the early Christian era, Rome and a few other cities had claims on the leadership of worldwide Catholic Church. James the Just
James the Just
James , first Bishop of Jerusalem, who died in 62 AD, was an important figure in Early Christianity...

, known as "the brother of the Lord", served as head of the Jerusalem church, which is still honored as the "Mother Church" in Orthodox tradition. Alexandria had been a center of Jewish learning and became a center of Christian learning. Rome had a large congregation early in the apostolic period whom Paul the Apostle addressed in his Epistle to the Romans
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

, and according to tradition Paul was martyred there.

During the 1st century of the Church (ca. 30–130), the Roman capital became recognized as a Christian center of exceptional importance. Pope Clement I
Pope Clement I
Starting in the 3rd and 4th century, tradition has identified him as the Clement that Paul mentioned in Philippians as a fellow laborer in Christ.While in the mid-19th century it was customary to identify him as a freedman of Titus Flavius Clemens, who was consul with his cousin, the Emperor...

 at the end of the 1st century wrote an epistle to the Church in Corinth intervening in a major dispute, and apologizing for not having taken action earlier. However, there are only a few other references of that time to recognition of the authoritative primacy
Primacy of the Roman Pontiff
The primacy of the Bishop of Rome is an ecclesiastical doctrine held by some branches of Christianity, most notably the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion. The doctrine concerns the respect and authority that is due to the Bishop of Rome from bishops and their...

 of the Roman See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 outside of Rome. In the Ravenna Document of 13 October 2007, theologians chosen by the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches stated: "41. Both sides agree… that Rome, as the Church that 'presides in love' according to the phrase of St Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology...

 (To the Romans, Prologue), occupied the first place in the taxis, and that the bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 of Rome was therefore the protos among the patriarchs. They disagree, however, on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the Bishop of Rome as protos, a matter that was already understood in different ways in the first millennium." In addition, in the last years of the 1st century AD the Church in Rome intervened
Epistles of Clement
The Epistles of Clement are two letters ascribed to Clement of Rome :* First Epistle of Clement;* Second Epistle of Clement, not by the same author;...

 in the affairs of the Christian Church in Corinth to help solve their internal disputes.

Later in the 2nd century AD, there were more manifestations of Roman authority over other churches. In 189 AD, assertion of the primacy of the Church of Rome may be indicated in Irenaeus of Lyons's Against Heresies
On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis
On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis, today also called On the Detection and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called , commonly called Against Heresies , is a five-volume work written by St. Irenaeus in the 2nd century...

(3:3:2): "With [the Church of Rome], because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree... and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition." In 195 AD, Pope Victor I
Pope Victor I
Pope Saint Victor I was Pope from 189 to 199 .Pope Victor I was the first bishop of Rome born in the Roman Province of Africa: probably he was born in Leptis Magna . He was later canonized...

, in what is seen as an exercise of Roman authority over other churches, excommunicated the Quartodecimans for observing Easter on the 14th of Nisan, the date of the Jewish Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

, a tradition handed down by St. John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

 (see Easter controversy
Easter controversy
The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved...

). Celebration of Easter on a Sunday, as insisted on by the pope, is the system that has prevailed (see computus
Computus
Computus is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age....

).

Early popes helped spread Christianity and resolve doctrinal disputes.

Nicaea to East-West Schism (325–1054)


During these seven centuries, the church unified by Emperor Constantine within his empire effectively split first, after the 451 Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

, into Chalcedonian Christianity and Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, and then, after the 1054 East-West Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

, into a Greek East and Latin West. In the West, the pope became independent of the Emperor in the East and became a major force in politics there.

Imperial capitals: Rome and Constantinople


With the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 to Christianity and the Council of Nicea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

, the Christian religion received imperial sanction.

At the time of the Council (325), Rome was still seen as the capital of the empire, although the emperor rarely lived there. With the establishment of a new fixed capital in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 (330), there arose a new center, which quickly grew in prominence, rivaling those in Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, which previously had been the most important centers of Christianity.

Of these, Rome claimed the principal place, as illustrated by Pope Leo the Great
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

's statement, in about 446, that "the care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter's one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head", clearly articulating the expansion of papal authority as doctrine, and promulgating his right to exercise "the full range of apostolic powers that Jesus had first bestowed on the apostle Peter".

The early ecumenical council
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

s, especially the First Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 (381), affirmed the importance of the Bishop of Rome's position, though all the councils in the Church's early history took place in cities in the East, and the pope did not personally attend the council in 381. At the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 in 451, Leo I (through his emissaries) stated that he was "speaking with the voice of Peter". At this same council, the Bishop of Constantinople was given "equal privileges" to those of the Bishop of Rome, because "Constantinople is the New Rome". Pope Leo rejected this decree on the ground that it contravened the sixth canon of Nicaea and infringed the rights of Alexandria and Antioch.

Medieval development



After the fall of Rome, the pope served as a source of authority and continuity. Gregory the Great (c 540–604) administered the church with strict reform. From an ancient senatorial family, Gregory worked with the stern judgment and discipline typical of ancient Roman rule. Theologically, he represents the shift from the classical to the medieval outlook, his popular writings full of dramatic miracles, potent relics, demons, angels, ghosts, and the approaching end of the world.

Gregory's successors were largely dominated by the exarch or the Eastern emperor. These humiliations, the weakening of the Empire in the face of Muslim expansion, and the inability of the Emperor to protect the papal estates made Pope Stephen II turn from the Emperor. Seeking protection against the Lombards and getting no help from Emperor Constantine V, the pope appealed to the Franks to protect his lands. Pepin the Short subdued the Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 and donated Italian land to the Papacy. When Leo III crowned Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 (800), he established the precedent that no man would be emperor without anointment by a pope.

Around 850, a forger, probably from among the French opposers of Hincmar, Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of Reims
Reims
Reims , a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, lies east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire....

 made a collection of church legislation that contained forgeries and genuine documents. At first some attacked it as false, but it was taken as genuine throughout the rest of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

  It is now known as the False Decretals. It was part of a series of falsifications of previous legislation by a party in the Carolingian Empire whose primary aim was to free the church and the bishops from interference by the state and the metropolitan archbishops respectively, and who were concerned for papal supremacy as guaranteeing those rights. The author, a French cleric calling himself Isidore Mercator, created false documents purportedly by early church popes, demonstrating that supremacy of the papacy dated back to the church's oldest traditions. The decretals include the Donation of Constantine
Donation of Constantine
The Donation of Constantine is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to...

, in which Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 grants Pope Sylvester I secular authority over all Western Europe. Thanks to this forgery in the collection, the decretals became one of the most persuasive forgeries in the history of the West. It supported Papal policies for centuries.

Pope Nicholas I
Pope Nicholas I
Pope Nicholas I, , or Saint Nicholas the Great, reigned from April 24, 858 until his death. He is remembered as a consolidator of papal authority and power, exerting decisive influence upon the historical development of the papacy and its position among the Christian nations of Western Europe.He...

 (858–67) asserted that the pope should have suzerain authority over all Christians, even royalty, in matters of faith and morals. Only Photius, bishop of Constantinople, dared gainsay him. After his death, the authority of the papacy was acknowledged more widely than ever before.

The low point of the Papacy was 867–1049. The Papacy came under the control of vying political factions. Popes were variously imprisoned, starved, killed and deposed by force. The family of a certain papal official made and unmade popes for fifty years. The official's great-grandson, Pope John XII
Pope John XII
Pope John XII , born Octavianus, was Pope from December 16, 955, to May 14, 964. The son of Alberic II, Patrician of Rome , and his stepsister Alda of Vienne, he was a seventh generation descendant of Charlemagne on his mother's side.Before his death, Alberic administered an oath to the Roman...

, held orgies of debauchery in the Lateran palace. Emperor Otto I of Germany had John accused in an ecclesiastical court, which deposed him and elected a layman as Pope Leo VIII
Pope Leo VIII
Pope Leo VIII , a Roman by birth, is considered by the Church an Antipope from 963 to 964 and a true Pope from 964 to 965. He held the lay office of protoserinus when he was elected pope by the Roman synod in December 963, when it also invalidly deposed Pope John XII , who was still alive...

. John mutilated the Imperial representatives in Rome and had himself reinstated as pope. Conflict between the Emperor and the papacy continued, and eventually dukes in league with the emperor were buying bishops and popes almost openly.

In 1049, Leo IX became pope, at last a pope with the character to face the papacy's problems. He traveled to the major cities of Europe to deal with the church's moral problems firsthand, notably the sale of church offices or services (simony
Simony
Simony is the act of paying for sacraments and consequently for holy offices or for positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus , who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9-24...

) and clerical marriage and concubinage. With his long journey, he restored the prestige of the Papacy in the north.

East–West Schism to Reformation (1054–1517)



The East and West churches split definitively in 1054. This fracture was caused more by political events than by slight diversities of creed. Popes had galled the emperors by siding with the king of the Franks, crowning a rival Roman emperor, appropriating the Exarchate of Ravenna
Exarchate of Ravenna
The Exarchate of Ravenna or of Italy was a centre of Byzantine power in Italy, from the end of the 6th century to 751, when the last exarch was put to death by the Lombards.-Introduction:...

, and driving into Greek Italy.

In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, popes struggled with monarchs over power.

From 1309 to 1377, the pope resided not in Rome but in Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

. The Avignon Papacy
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

 was notorious for greed and corruption. During this period, the pope was effectively an ally of France, alienating France's enemies, such as England.

The pope was understood to have the power to draw on the "treasury" of merit built up by the saints and by Christ, so that he could grant indulgences, reducing one's time in purgatory
Purgatory
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...

. The concept that a monetary fine or donation accompanied contrition, confession, and prayer eventually gave way to the common assumption that indulgences depended on a simple monetary contribution. The popes condemned misunderstandings and abuses, but were too pressed for income to exercise effective control over indulgences.

Popes also contended with the cardinals, who sometimes attempted to assert the authority of councils over the pope's. Conciliar theory holds that the supreme authority of the church lies with a General Council, not with the pope. Its foundations were laid early in the 13th century, and it culminated in the 15th century. The failure of the conciliar theory to gain broad acceptance after the 15th century is taken as a factor in the Protestant Reformation.

Various anti-popes challenged papal authority, especially during the Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

 (1378–1417). In this schism, the papacy had returned to Rome from Avignon, but an anti-pope was installed in Avignon, as if to extend the papacy there.

The Eastern Church continued to decline with the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, undercutting Constantinople's claim to equality with Rome. Twice an Eastern Emperor tried to force the Eastern Church to reunify with the West. Papal claims of superiority were a sticking point in reunification, which failed in any event. In the 15th century, the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople.

Reformation to present (1517 to today)



Protestant Reformers criticized the Papacy as corrupt and characterized the pope as the antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

.

Popes instituted a Catholic Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 (1560–1648), which addressed challenges of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and instituted internal reforms. Pope Paul III (1534–49) initiated the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 (1545–63), whose definitions of doctrine and whose reforms sealed the triumph of the Papacy over elements in the church that sought conciliation with Protestants and opposed Papal claims.

Gradually forced to give up secular power, popes focused on spiritual issues.

In 1870, the First Vatican Council
First Vatican Council
The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This twentieth ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned...

 proclaimed the dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 of papal infallibility
Papal infallibility
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when in his official capacity he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals...

 for those rare occasions the pope speaks ex cathedra
Ex Cathedra
Ex Cathedra is a British choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, England. It performs choral music spanning the 15th to 21st centuries, and regularly commissions new works....

(literally "from the chair (of Peter)") when issuing a solemn definition of faith
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 or morals.

Later in the same year, Victor Emmanuel II seized Rome
Capture of Rome
The Capture of Rome was the final event of the long process of Italian unification known as the Risorgimento, which finally unified the Italian peninsula under King Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy...

 from the pope's control and substantially completed the unification of Italy. The Papal States that the pope lost had been used to support papal independence.

In 1929, the Lateran Treaty between Italy and Pope Pius XI established the Vatican City State, guaranteeing papal independence from secular rule.

In 1950, the pope defined the Assumption of Mary
Assumption of Mary
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life...

 as dogma, the only time that a pope has spoken ex cathedra since papal infallibility was explicitly declared.

The Petrine Doctrine
Petrine doctrine
The Petrine Doctrine is based upon Catholic tradition, which proclaims the legitimacy and supremacy of the Pope over all other bishops of the Catholic Church. This Doctrine is founded upon the book of Matthew in the Bible. Matthew 16: 18-19 states: "18 And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter,...

 is still controversial as an issue of doctrine that continues to divide the eastern and western churches and separate Protestants from Rome.

Saint Peter and the origin of the office



The dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

s and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 teach that the institution of the papacy was first mandated by interpretations of several Biblical passages, mainly Matthew 16:13–19:Also Isaiah 22:20–22, John 21:15–17, Luke 12:41, and Luke 22:31–32.
Catholics believe that this passage shows Jesus establishing his church on the shoulders of Simon son of John (Peter). The Catholic scholarly community agrees with the church's interpretation that the "rock" Jesus refers to in this passage is Peter. An interpretation that some scholars agree with.

Since the Protestant reformation, Protestant scholars have asserted that the "rock" Jesus referred to was Jesus himself or Peter's faith. The argument follows that, when Jesus says, "You are Peter ((Petros), small stone as a pebble), and upon this rock (petra), a large stone edifice as a cliff or ledge) I will build my Church." Jesus is pointing to something much larger than Peter, based on the clear distinction in the Greek of a small stone and a large rock cliff as well as the Greek grammatical structure, as the basis for His kingdom and not making a pope of Peter as the Papists claim. The truth that Peter affirmed in verse 16 is that Jesus is Christ and faith in Him serves as the foundation of the Church and the whole set of the apostles teaching not solely or even mainly, little pebble, that is Peter. Other's, using Peter's own word's which shows understanding that Christ intended Himself as the foundation of the church and not Peter. Others have argued more thoroughly that the church is indeed built upon Jesus Himself and Faith but also on the disciples as the roots and foundations of the church on the basis of Paul's teaching in Romans and Ephesians, though, not primarily Peter

The reference to the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" here is the basis for the symbolic keys often found in Catholic papal symbolism, such as in the Vatican Coat of Arms (see below).

Election


The pope was originally chosen by those senior clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

men resident in and near Rome. In 1059 the electorate was restricted to the Cardinals
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 of the Holy Roman Church, and the individual votes of all Cardinal Electors were made equal in 1179. Pope Urban VI
Pope Urban VI
Pope Urban VI , born Bartolomeo Prignano, was Pope from 1378 to 1389.-Biography:Born in Itri, he was a devout monk and learned casuist, trained at Avignon. On March 21, 1364, he was consecrated Archbishop of Acerenza in the Kingdom of Naples...

, elected 1378, was the last pope who was not already a cardinal at his election. Canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 requires that if a layman or non-bishop is elected, he receives episcopal consecration from the Dean of the College of Cardinals
Dean of the College of Cardinals
The Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals is the president of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church, and as such always holds the rank of Cardinal Bishop. The Dean is not necessarily the longest-serving member of the whole College...

 before assuming the Pontificate. Under present canon law, the pope is elected by the cardinal electors, comprising those cardinals who are under the age of 80.

The Second Council of Lyons was convened on 7 May 1274, to regulate the election of the pope. This Council decreed that the cardinal electors must meet within ten days of the pope's death, and that they must remain in seclusion until a pope has been elected; this was prompted by the three-year Sede Vacante
Sede vacante
Sede vacante is an expression, used in the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, that refers to the vacancy of the episcopal see of a particular church...

following the death of Pope Clement IV
Pope Clement IV
Pope Clement IV , born Gui Faucoi called in later life le Gros , was elected Pope February 5, 1265, in a conclave held at Perugia that took four months, while cardinals argued over whether to call in Charles of Anjou, the youngest brother of Louis IX of France...

 in 1268. By the mid-16th century, the electoral process had evolved into its present form, allowing for variation in the time between the death of the pope and the meeting of the cardinal electors.

Traditionally, the vote was conducted by acclamation
Acclamation
An acclamation, in its most common sense, is a form of election that does not use a ballot. "Acclamation" or "acclamatio" can also signify a kind of ritual greeting and expression of approval in certain social contexts in ancient Rome.-Voting:...

, by selection (by committee), or by plenary vote. Acclamation was the simplest procedure, consisting entirely of a voice vote, and was last used in 1621. Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 abolished vote by acclamation and by selection by committee, and henceforth all Popes will be elected by full vote of the Sacred College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor...

 by ballot
Ballot
A ballot is a device used to record choices made by voters. Each voter uses one ballot, and ballots are not shared. In the simplest elections, a ballot may be a simple scrap of paper on which each voter writes in the name of a candidate, but governmental elections use pre-printed to protect the...

.


The election of the pope almost always takes place in the Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

, in a sequestered meeting called a "conclave
Papal conclave
A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, who then becomes the Pope during a period of vacancy in the papal office. The Pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church...

" (so called because the cardinal electors are theoretically locked in, cum clave, i.e., with key, until they elect a new pope). Three cardinals are chosen by lot to collect the votes of absent cardinal electors (by reason of illness), three are chosen by lot to count the votes, and three are chosen by lot to review the count of the votes. The ballots are distributed and each cardinal elector writes the name of his choice on it and pledges aloud that he is voting for "one whom under God I think ought to be elected" before folding and depositing his vote on a plate atop a large chalice placed on the altar (in the 2005 conclave, a special urn was used for this purpose instead of a chalice and plate). The plate is then used to drop the ballot into the chalice, making it difficult for electors to insert multiple ballots. Before being read, the ballots are counted while still folded; if the number of ballots does not match the number of electors, the ballots are burned unopened and a new vote is held. Otherwise, each ballot is read aloud by the presiding Cardinal, who pierces the ballot with a needle and thread, stringing all the ballots together and tying the ends of the thread to ensure accuracy and honesty. Balloting continues until a Pope is elected by a two-thirds majority.
One of the most prominent aspects of the papal election process is the means by which the results of a ballot are announced to the world. Once the ballots are counted and bound together, they are burned in a special stove erected in the Sistine Chapel, with the smoke escaping through a small chimney visible from St. Peter's Square. The ballots from an unsuccessful vote are burned along with a chemical compound to create black smoke, or fumata nera. (Traditionally, wet straw was used to produce the black smoke, but this was not completely reliable. The chemical compound is more reliable than the straw.) When a vote is successful, the ballots are burned alone, sending white smoke (fumata bianca) through the chimney and announcing to the world the election of a new pope. At the end of the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, church bells were also rung to signal that a new pope had been chosen.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals then asks two solemn questions of the cardinal who has been elected. First he asks, "Do you freely accept your election?" If he replies with the word "Accepto", his reign as Pope begins at that instant, not at the inauguration ceremony several days afterward. The Dean then asks, "By what name shall you be called?" The new pope then announces the regnal name
Regnal name
A regnal name, or reign name, is a formal name used by some monarchs and popes during their reigns. Since medieval times, monarchs have frequently chosen to use a name different from their own personal name when they inherit a throne....

 he has chosen. (If the Dean is elected pope, the Vice Dean performs this task.)

The new pope is led through the "Door of Tears" to a dressing room where three sets of white papal vestments (immantatio) await: small, medium, and large. Donning the appropriate vestments and reemerging into the Sistine Chapel, the new pope is given the "Fisherman's Ring
Ring of the Fisherman
The Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring, Annulus Piscatoris and the Anello Piscatorio , is an official part of the regalia worn by the Pope, who is head of the Catholic Church and successor of Saint Peter, who was a fisherman by trade...

" by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, whom he first either reconfirms or reappoints. The pope then assumes a place of honor as the rest of the cardinals wait in turn to offer their first "obedience" (adoratio) and to receive his blessing.

The Senior Cardinal Deacon then announces from a balcony over St. Peter's Square the following proclamation
Habemus Papam
Habemus Papam! is the announcement given in Latin by the senior Cardinal Deacon upon the election of a new pope.The announcement is given from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican...

: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum! Habemus Papam! ("I announce to you a great joy! We have a pope!"). He then announces the new pope's Christian name along with his newly chosen regnal name.

Until 1978 the pope's election was followed in a few days by the Papal Coronation
Papal Coronation
A papal coronation was the ceremony of the placing of the Papal Tiara on a newly elected pope. The first recorded papal coronation was that of Pope Celestine II in 1143. Soon after his coronation in 1963, Pope Paul VI abandoned the practice of wearing the tiara. His successors have chosen not to...

. A procession with great pomp and circumstance formed from the Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

 to St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

, with the newly elected pope borne in the sedia gestatoria
Sedia gestatoria
The sedia gestatoria is a portable throne on which Popes were carried until 1978. It consists of a richly adorned, silk-covered armchair, fastened on a suppedaneum, on each side of which are two gilded rings; through these rings pass the long rods with which twelve footmen , in red uniforms, carry...

. There, after a solemn Papal Mass
Papal Mass
A Papal Mass is the Solemn Pontifical High Mass when offered by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.There are numerous special ceremonials which are particular to the pope...

, the new pope was crowned with the triregnum
Papal Tiara
The Papal Tiara, also known incorrectly as the Triple Tiara, or in Latin as the Triregnum, in Italian as the Triregno and as the Trirègne in French, is the three-tiered jewelled papal crown, supposedly of Byzantine and Persian origin, that is a prominent symbol of the papacy...

(papal tiara) and he gave for the first time as pope the famous blessing Urbi et Orbi
Urbi et Orbi
Urbi et Orbi denotes a papal address and Apostolic Blessing that is given to the City of Rome and to the entire world, on certain occasions. It was a standard opening of Ancient Roman proclamations....

("to the City [Rome] and to the World"). Another renowned part of the coronation was the lighting of a bundle of flax
Flax
Flax is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent...

 at the top of a gilded pole, which would flare brightly for a moment and then promptly extinguish, with the admonition Sic transit gloria mundi
Sic transit gloria mundi
Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world". It has been interpreted as "Worldly things are fleeting." It is possibly an adaptation of a phrase in Thomas à Kempis's 1418 work The Imitation of Christ: "O quam cito transit gloria mundi" .The phrase was...

("Thus passes worldly glory"). A similar warning against papal hubris made on this occasion was the traditional exclamation "Annos Petri non videbis", reminding the newly crowned Pope that he would not live to see his rule lasting as long as that of St. Peter, who according to tradition headed the church for 35 years and has thus far been the longest reigning Pope in the history of the Catholic Church.

A traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholics are Roman Catholics who believe that there should be a restoration of many or all of the liturgical forms, public and private devotions and presentations of Catholic teachings which prevailed in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council...

 belief claims the existence of a Papal Oath sworn, at their coronation, by all popes from Pope Agatho
Pope Agatho
-Background and early life:Little is known of Agatho before his papacy. A letter written by St. Gregory the Great to the abbot of St. Hermes in Palermo mentions an Agatho, a Greek born in Sicily to wealthy parents. He wished to give away his inheritance and join a monastery, and in this letter...

 to Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

, but which since the abolition of the coronation ceremony is no longer used. There is no reliable authority for this claim.

The Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 term sede vacante ("while the see is vacant") refers to a papal interregnum
Interregnum
An interregnum is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order...

, the period between the death of a pope and the election of his successor. From this term is derived the term sedevacantism
Sedevacantism
Sedevacantism is the position held by a minority of Traditionalist Catholics who hold that the present occupant of the papal see is not truly Pope and that, for lack of a valid Pope, the see has been vacant since the death of either Pope Pius XII in 1958 or Pope John XXIII in 1963.Sedevacantists...

, which designates a category of dissident Catholics who maintain that there is no canonically and legitimately elected Pope, and that there is therefore a Sede Vacante. One of the most common reasons for holding this belief is the idea that the reforms of the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 and especially the replacement of the Tridentine Mass
Tridentine Mass
The Tridentine Mass is the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962. It was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in December 1969...

 with the Mass of Paul VI
Mass of Paul VI
The Mass of Pope Paul VI is the liturgy of the Catholic Mass of the Roman Rite promulgated by Paul VI in 1969, after the Second Vatican Council...

are heretical, and that those responsible for initiating and maintaining these changes are heretics and not true popes. Sedevacantists are considered to be schismatics by the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.

For centuries, from 1378 on, those elected to the papacy were predominantly Italians. Prior to the election of the Polish cardinal Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II in 1978, the last non-Italian was Pope Adrian VI
Pope Adrian VI
Pope Adrian VI , born Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens, served as Pope from 9 January 1522 until his death some 18 months later...

 of the Netherlands, elected in 1522. John Paul II was followed by the German-born Benedict XVI, leading some to believe that, although Rome is in Italy, Italian domination of the papacy is over.

Death



The current regulations regarding a papal interregnum
Interregnum
An interregnum is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order...

—that is, a sede vacante
Sede vacante
Sede vacante is an expression, used in the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, that refers to the vacancy of the episcopal see of a particular church...

("vacant seat")—were promulgated by John Paul II in his 1996 document Universi Dominici Gregis
Universi Dominici Gregis
Universi Dominici Gregis is an Apostolic Constitution of the Catholic Church issued by Pope John Paul II on February 22, 1996. It superseded Pope Paul VI's 1975 Apostolic Constitution, Romano Pontifici Eligendo....

. During the "Sede Vacante", the Sacred College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor...

, composed of the pope's principal advisors and assistants, is collectively responsible for the government of the Church and of the Vatican itself, under the direction of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church; however, canon law specifically forbids the cardinals from introducing any innovation in the government of the Church during the vacancy of the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

. Any decision that requires the assent of the pope has to wait until the new pope has been elected and accepts office.

In recent centuries it was traditional, when a Pope was judged to have died, for the Cardinal Chamberlain to confirm the death ceremonially by gently tapping the Pope's head thrice with a silver hammer, calling his birth name each time. This custom was not followed at the death of Pope John Paul I and was not revived upon the death of Pope John Paul II. The Cardinal Chamberlain then retrieves the Ring of the Fisherman
Ring of the Fisherman
The Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring, Annulus Piscatoris and the Anello Piscatorio , is an official part of the regalia worn by the Pope, who is head of the Catholic Church and successor of Saint Peter, who was a fisherman by trade...

 and cuts it in two in the presence of the Cardinals. The deceased pope's seals are defaced, to keep them from ever being used again, and his personal apartment is sealed.

The body then lies in state for several days before being interred in the crypt
Crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

 of a leading church or cathedral; the popes of the 20th century were all interred in St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

. A nine-day period of mourning (novendialis) follows the interment of the late Pope.

Resignation



The Code of Canon Law 332 §2 states, "If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone."

Titles



Official list of titles


The official list of titles of the Pope, in the order in which they are given in the Annuario Pontificio
Annuario Pontificio
The Annuario Pontificio is the annual directory of the Holy See. It lists all the popes to date and all officials of the Holy See's departments...

, is: Bishop of Rome
Diocese of Rome
The Diocese of Rome is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy. The bishop of Rome is the Pope, who is the Supreme Pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church...

, Vicar of Jesus Christ
Vicar of Christ
Vicar of Christ is a term used in different ways, with different theological connotations throughout history...

, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate
Primate (religion)
Primate is a title or rank bestowed on some bishops in certain Christian churches. Depending on the particular tradition, it can denote either jurisdictional authority or ceremonial precedence ....

 of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 of the Roman Province
Ecclesiastical Province
An ecclesiastical province is a large jurisdiction of religious government, so named by analogy with a secular province, existing in certain hierarchical Christian churches, especially in the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches and in the Anglican Communion...

, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

, Servant of the Servants of God
Servus Servorum Dei
Servus Servorum Dei is a Latin phrase meaning Servant of the Servants of God. The phrase is one of the titles of the Pope and is used to refer to the Pope in the beginning address of Papal bulls.-History:...

.

The official list of titles does not include all the titles that are officially used.

Pope


The best-known title of the Popes, that of "Pope", does not appear in the official list, but is commonly used in the titles of documents, and appears, in abbreviated form, in their signatures. Thus Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

 signed as "Paulus PP. VI", the "PP." standing for "Papa" ("Pope").

The title "Pope" was from the early 3rd century an honorific designation used for any bishop in the West. In the East it was used only for the Bishop of Alexandria. Pope Marcellinus
Pope Marcellinus
Pope Saint Marcellinus, according to the Liberian Catalogue, became bishop of Rome on June 30, 296; his predecessor was Pope St CaiusMarcellinus’ pontificate began at a time when Diocletian was Roman Emperor, but had not yet started to persecute the Christians. He left Christianity rather free and...

 (d. 304) is the first Bishop of Rome shown in sources to have had the title "Pope" used of him. From the 6th century, the imperial chancery of Constantinople
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 normally reserved this designation for the Bishop of Rome. From the early 6th century, it began to be confined in the West to the Bishop of Rome, a practice that was firmly in place by the 11th century, when Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII
Pope St. Gregory VII , born Hildebrand of Sovana , was Pope from April 22, 1073, until his death. One of the great reforming popes, he is perhaps best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy, his dispute with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor affirming the primacy of the papal...

 declared it reserved for the Bishop of Rome.

In Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

, where the title "pope" is used also of the Bishop of Alexandria, the Bishop of Rome is often referred to as the "Pope of Rome", regardless of whether the speaker or writer is in communion with Rome or not.

Vicar of Jesus Christ


"Vicar of Jesus Christ" (Vicarius Iesu Christi) is one of the official titles of the Pope given in the Annuario Pontificio. It is commonly used in the slightly abbreviated form "Vicar of Christ" (Vicarius Christi). While it is only one of the terms with which the Pope is referred to as "vicar", it is "more expressive of his supreme headship of the Church on earth, which he bears in virtue of the commission of Christ and with vicarial power derived from him", a vicarial power believed to have been conferred on Saint Peter when Christ said to him: "Feed my lambs. . . . Feed my sheep" .

The first record of the application of this title to a Pope appears in a synod of 495 with reference to Pope Gelasius I
Pope Gelasius I
Pope Saint Gelasius I was pope from 492 until his death in 496. He was the third and last bishop of Rome of African origin in the Catholic Church. Gelasius was a prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages...

. But at that time, and down to the 9th century, other bishops too referred to themselves as vicars of Christ, and for another four centuries this description was sometimes used of kings and even judges, as it had been used in the 5th and 6th centuries to refer to the Byzantine emperor. Earlier still, in the 3rd century, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 used "vicar of Christ" to refer to the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 sent by Jesus. Its use specifically for the Pope appears in the 13th century in connection with the reforms of Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni....

, as can be observed already in his 1199 letter to Leo I, King of Armenia. Other historians suggest that this title was already used in this way in association with the pontificate of Pope Eugenius III (1145–1153).

This title "Vicar of Christ" is thus not used of the Pope alone and has been used of all bishops since the early centuries. The Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 referred to all bishops as "vicars and ambassadors of Christ", and this description of the bishops was repeated by Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 in his encyclical Ut unum sint, 95. The difference is that the other bishops are vicars of Christ for their own local churches, the Pope is vicar of Christ for the whole Church.

On at least one occasion the title "Vicar of God" (a reference to Christ as God) was used of the Pope.

The title "Vicar of Peter" (Vicarius Petri) is used only of the Pope, not of other bishops. Variations of it include: "Vicar of the Prince of the Apostles" (Vicarius Principis Apostolorum) and "Vicar of the Apostolic See" (Vicarius Sedis Apostolicae). Saint Boniface
Saint Boniface
Saint Boniface , the Apostle of the Germans, born Winfrid, Wynfrith, or Wynfryth in the kingdom of Wessex, probably at Crediton , was a missionary who propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. He is the patron saint of Germany and the first archbishop of Mainz...

 described Pope Gregory II
Pope Gregory II
Pope Saint Gregory II was pope from May 19, 715 to his death on February 11, 731, succeeding Pope Constantine. Having, it is said, bought off the Lombards for thirty pounds of gold, Charles Martel having refused his call for aid, he used the tranquillity thus obtained for vigorous missionary...

 as vicar of Peter in the oath of fealty that he took in 722. In today's Roman Missal
Roman Missal
The Roman Missal is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.-Situation before the Council of Trent:...

, the description "vicar of Peter" is found also in the collect
Collect
In Christian liturgy, a collect is both a liturgical action and a short, general prayer. In the Middle Ages, the prayer was referred to in Latin as collectio, but in the more ancient sources, as oratio. In English, and in this usage, "collect" is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable...

 of the Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 for a saint who was a pope.

Pontiff



The term "pontiff
Pontiff
A pontiff was, in Roman antiquity, a member of the principal college of priests . The term "pontiff" was later applied to any high or chief priest and, in ecclesiastical usage, to a bishop and more particularly to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope or "Roman Pontiff".-Etymology:The English term derives...

" is derived from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 word pontifex, which literally means "bridge builder" (pons + facere), and which designated a member of the principal college of priests
College of Pontiffs
The College of Pontiffs or Collegium Pontificum was a body of the ancient Roman state whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the polytheistic state religion. The college consisted of the Pontifex Maximus, the Vestal Virgins, the Rex Sacrorum, and the flamines...

 in ancient Rome. The Latin word was translated into ancient Greek variously: as ἱεροδιδάσκαλος, ἱερονόμος, ἱεροφύλαξ, ἱεροφάντης, or ἀρχιερεύς (high priest) The head of the college was known as the Pontifex Maximus
Pontifex Maximus
The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

 (the greatest pontiff).

In Christian use, pontifex appears in the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

 translation of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 to indicate the Jewish high priest (in the original, ἀρχιερεύς). The term came to be applied to any Christian bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, but since the 11th century commonly refers specifically to the Bishop of Rome, who is more strictly called the "Roman Pontiff". The use of the term to refer to bishops in general is reflected in the terms "Roman Pontifical
Roman Pontifical
The Roman Pontifical or Pontifical, also referred to in Latin as the Pontificale or Pontificale Romanum, is the Roman Catholic liturgical book that contains the rites performed by bishops....

" (a book containing rites reserved for bishops, such as confirmation and ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

) and "pontificals" (the insignia of bishops).

The Annuario Pontificio lists as one of the official titles of the Pope that of "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church" (in Latin, Summus Pontifex Ecclesiae Universalis). He is also commonly called the Supreme Pontiff or the Sovereign Pontiff (in Latin, Summus Pontifex).

Pontifex Maximus, similar in meaning to Summus Pontifex, is a title commonly found in inscriptions on buildings, paintings, statues and coins of the Popes, usually abbreviated as "Pont. Max" or "P.M." The office of pontifex maximus
Pontifex Maximus
The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

, or head of the college of pontiffs
College of Pontiffs
The College of Pontiffs or Collegium Pontificum was a body of the ancient Roman state whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the polytheistic state religion. The college consisted of the Pontifex Maximus, the Vestal Virgins, the Rex Sacrorum, and the flamines...

, was held by Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 and thereafter by the Roman emperors until Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers...

 (375-383) relinquished it. Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, when he had become a Montanist, used the title derisively of either the Pope or the Bishop of Carthage. The Popes began to use this title regularly only in the 15th century.

Servant of the Servants of God


The title "Servant of the Servants of God", although used by Church leaders including St. Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 and St. Benedict, was first used by Pope St. Gregory the Great
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

 in his dispute with the Patriarch of Constantinople after the latter assumed the title "Ecumenical Patriarch". It was not reserved for the pope until the 13th century. The documents of the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 reinforced the understanding of this title as a reference to the pope's role as a function of collegial authority, in which the Bishop of Rome serves the world's bishops.

Patriarch of the West


From 1863 until 2005, the Annuario Pontificio included also the title "Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 of the West". This title was first used by Pope Theodore I
Pope Theodore I
Pope Theodore I , who was pope from November 24, 642, to May 14, 649, is considered a Greek, but was born in Jerusalem. He was made a cardinal deacon, and a full cardinal by Pope John IV....

 in 642, and was only used occasionally. Indeed, it did not begin to appear in the pontifical yearbook until 1863. On 22 March 2006, the Vatican released a statement explaining this omission on the grounds of expressing a "historical and theological reality" and of "being useful to ecumenical dialogue". The title Patriarch of the West symbolized the pope's special relationship with, and jurisdiction over, the Latin Church—and the omission of the title neither symbolizes in any way a change in this relationship, nor distorts the relationship between the Holy See and the Eastern Churches, as solemnly proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council.

Other titles


Other titles commonly used are "His Holiness", "Holy Father". In Spanish and Italian, "Beatísimo/Beatissimo Padre" (Most Blessed Father) is often used in preference to "Santísimo/Santissimo Padre" (Most Holy Father). In the medieval period
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, "Dominus Apostolicus" ("the Apostolic
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 Lord") was also used.

Signature


As indicated above, a Pope normally signs documents using the title "Papa" in the abbreviated form "PP." and with the numeral, as in "Benedictus PP. XVI" (Pope Benedict XVI). Exceptions are bulls
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 of canonization and decrees of ecumenical councils, which the Pope signs with the formula, "Ego N. Episcopus Ecclesiae catholicae", without the numeral, as in "Ego Paulus Episcopus Ecclesiae catholicae" (I, Paul, Bishop of the catholic/universal Church). The Pope's signature is followed, in bulls of canonization, by those of all the cardinals resident in Rome, and in decrees of ecumenical councils, by the signatures of the other bishops participating in the council, each signing as Bishop of a particular see.

Papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

s are headed N. Episcopus Servus Servorum Dei
Servus Servorum Dei
Servus Servorum Dei is a Latin phrase meaning Servant of the Servants of God. The phrase is one of the titles of the Pope and is used to refer to the Pope in the beginning address of Papal bulls.-History:...

("Name, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God"). In general, they are not signed by the Pope, but Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 introduced in the mid-1980s the custom by which the Pope signs not only bulls of canonization but also, using his normal signature, such as "Benedictus PP. XVI", bulls of nomination of bishops.

Regalia and insignia


  • "Triregnum
    Papal Tiara
    The Papal Tiara, also known incorrectly as the Triple Tiara, or in Latin as the Triregnum, in Italian as the Triregno and as the Trirègne in French, is the three-tiered jewelled papal crown, supposedly of Byzantine and Persian origin, that is a prominent symbol of the papacy...

    ", also called the "tiara" or "triple crown", represents the pope's three functions as "supreme pastor", "supreme teacher" and "supreme priest". Recent popes have not, however, worn the triregnum, though it remains the symbol of the papacy and has not been abolished. In liturgical ceremonies Popes wear an episcopal mitre
    Mitre
    The mitre , also spelled miter, is a type of headwear now known as the traditional, ceremonial head-dress of bishops and certain abbots in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as in the Anglican Communion, some Lutheran churches, and also bishops and certain other clergy in the Eastern Orthodox...

     (an erect cloth hat).
  • Pastoral Staff topped by a crucifix
    Crucifix
    A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

    , a custom established before the 13th century (see papal cross
    Papal Cross
    The papal cross or ferula is the pastoral staff used by the Pope. This is in contrast to other bishops, who use a crozier.The pastoral staff carried by the popes since Pope Paul VI is a contemporary single-barred cross, designed by the Italian artist Lello Scorzelli and carried in the same manner...

    ).
  • Pallium
    Pallium
    The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context it has always remained unambiguously...

    , or pall, a circular band of fabric worn around the neck over the chasuble
    Chasuble
    The chasuble is the outermost liturgical vestment worn by clergy for the celebration of the Eucharist in Western-tradition Christian Churches that use full vestments, primarily in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches, as well as in some parts of the United Methodist Church...

    . It forms a yoke about the neck, breast and shoulders and has two pendants hanging down in front and behind, and is ornamented with six crosses. Previously, the pallium worn by the pope was identical to those he granted to the primates
    Primate (religion)
    Primate is a title or rank bestowed on some bishops in certain Christian churches. Depending on the particular tradition, it can denote either jurisdictional authority or ceremonial precedence ....

    , but in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI began to use a distinct papal pallium that is larger than the primatial, and was adorned with red crosses instead of black.
  • "Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven", the image of two keys, one gold and one silver. The silver key symbolizes the power to bind and loose on Earth, and the gold key the power to bind and loose in Heaven.
  • Ring of the Fisherman
    Ring of the Fisherman
    The Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring, Annulus Piscatoris and the Anello Piscatorio , is an official part of the regalia worn by the Pope, who is head of the Catholic Church and successor of Saint Peter, who was a fisherman by trade...

    , a gold ring decorated with a depiction of St. Peter in a boat casting his net, with the name of the reigning Pope around it.
  • Umbraculum (better known in the Italian form ombrellino) is a canopy or umbrella consisting of alternating red and gold stripes, which used to be carried above the pope in processions.
  • Sedia gestatoria
    Sedia gestatoria
    The sedia gestatoria is a portable throne on which Popes were carried until 1978. It consists of a richly adorned, silk-covered armchair, fastened on a suppedaneum, on each side of which are two gilded rings; through these rings pass the long rods with which twelve footmen , in red uniforms, carry...

    , a mobile throne carried by twelve footmen (palafrenieri) in red uniforms, accompanied by two attendants bearing flabella (fans made of white ostrich feathers), and sometimes a large canopy
    Baldachin
    A baldachin, or baldaquin , is a canopy of state over an altar or throne. It had its beginnings as a cloth canopy, but in other cases it is a sturdy, permanent architectural feature, particularly over high altars in cathedrals, where such a structure is more correctly called a ciborium when it is...

    , carried by eight attendants. The use of the flabella was discontinued by Pope John Paul I
    Pope John Paul I
    John Paul I , born Albino Luciani, , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and as Sovereign of Vatican City from 26 August 1978 until his death 33 days later. His reign is among the shortest in papal history, resulting in the most recent Year of Three Popes...

    . The use of the sedia gestatoria was discontinued by Pope John Paul II
    Pope John Paul II
    Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

    , being replaced by the so-called Popemobile
    Popemobile
    Popemobile is an informal name for the specially designed motor vehicles used by the pope during outdoor public appearances without having to employ the antiquated and often impractical sedia gestatoria. The Popemobile was designed to allow the pope to be more visible when greeting large crowds...

    .


In heraldry
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

, each pope has his own Papal Coat of Arms
Papal coat of arms
For at least 800 years, each Pope has had his own personal coat of arms that serves as a symbol of his papacy. The first Pope whose arms are known with certainty is Pope Innocent IV . Earlier popes were only attributed arms in the 17th century....

. Though unique for each pope, the arms are always surmounted by the two keys in saltire
Saltire
A saltire, or Saint Andrew's Cross, is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross or letter ex . Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred on such a cross....

 (i.e., crossed over one another so as to form an X) behind the escutcheon (shield) (one silver key and one gold key, tied with a red cord), and above them a silver triregnum with three gold crowns and red infulae (lappet
Lappet
A lappet is a decorative flap or fold in a ceremonial headdress or garment. They were a feature of women's headgear until the early 20th century. They remain strongly associated with religion. A bishop's mitre has two lappets sewn to the back of it. The most famous usage of lappets occurs on the...

s—two strips of fabric hanging from the back of the triregnum which fall over the neck and shoulders when worn). This is blazon
Blazon
In heraldry and heraldic vexillology, a blazon is a formal description of a coat of arms, flag or similar emblem, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image...

ed: "two keys in saltire or and argent, interlacing in the rings or, beneath a tiara argent, crowned or"). With the recent election of Benedict XVI in 2005, his personal coat of arms eliminated the papal tiara; a mitre
Mitre
The mitre , also spelled miter, is a type of headwear now known as the traditional, ceremonial head-dress of bishops and certain abbots in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as in the Anglican Communion, some Lutheran churches, and also bishops and certain other clergy in the Eastern Orthodox...

 with three horizontal lines is used in its place, with the pallium, a papal symbol of authority more ancient than the tiara, the use of which is also granted to metropolitan archbishops as a sign of communion with the See of Rome, was added underneath of the shield. The distinctive feature of the crossed keys behind the shield was maintained. The omission of the tiara in the Pope's personal coat of arms, however, did not mean the disappearance of it from papal heraldry, since the coat of arms of the Holy See was kept unaltered.

The flag
Flag
A flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design that is usually rectangular and used as a symbol, as a signaling device, or decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.The first flags were used to assist...

 most frequently associated with the pope is the yellow and white flag of Vatican City, with the arms of the Holy See (blazoned: "Gules, two keys in saltire or and argent, interlacing in the rings or, beneath a tiara argent, crowned or") on the right-hand side (the "fly") in the white half of the flag (the left-hand side—the "hoist"—is yellow). The pope's escucheon does not appear on the flag. This flag was first adopted in 1808, whereas the previous flag had been red and gold, the traditional colors of the papacy. Although Pope Benedict XVI replaced the triregnum with a mitre on his personal coat of arms, it has been retained on the flag.

Status and authority




First Vatican Council


The status and authority of the Pope in the Catholic Church was dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

tically defined
Dogmatic definition
In Catholicism, a dogmatic definition is an extraordinary infallible statement published by a pope or an ecumenical council concerning a matter of faith or morals, the belief in which the Catholic Church requires of all Christians .The term most often refers to the infallible...

 by the First Vatican Council
First Vatican Council
The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This twentieth ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned...

 on 18 July 1870. In its Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of Christ, the Council established the following canons:

"If anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not established by the Lord Christ as the chief of all the apostles, and the visible head of the whole militant Church, or, that the same received great honour but did not receive from the same our Lord Jesus Christ directly and immediately the primacy in true and proper jurisdiction: let him be anathema
Anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

.

If anyone says that it is not from the institution of Christ the Lord Himself, or by divine right that the blessed Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in the same primacy, let him be anathema.

If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plenitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and individually: let him be anathema.

We, adhering faithfully to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God, our Saviour, the elevation of the Catholic religion and the salvation of Christian peoples, with the approbation of the sacred Council, teach and explain that the dogma has been divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when carrying out the duty of the pastor and teacher of all Christians by his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter, operates with that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished that His church be instructed in defining doctrine on faith and morals; and so such definitions of the Roman Pontiff from himself, but not from the consensus of the Church, are unalterable. But if anyone presumes to contradict this definition of Ours, which may God forbid: let him be anathema."

Second Vatican Council



In its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church
Lumen Gentium
Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council. This dogmatic constitution was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964, following approval by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,151 to 5...

 (1964), the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 declared:

"Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place. For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old, making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown so that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

... this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith. The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith."

Politics of the Holy See


Residence and jurisdiction


The pope's official seat
Cathedra
A cathedra or bishop's throne is the chair or throne of a bishop. It is a symbol of the bishop's teaching authority in the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and has in some sense remained such in the Anglican Communion and in Lutheran churches...

 or cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 is the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

, and his official residence is the Palace of the Vatican. He also possesses a summer residence at Castel Gandolfo
Castel Gandolfo
Castel Gandolfo is a small Italian town or comune in Lazio that occupies a height overlooking Lake Albano about 15 miles south-east of Rome, on the Alban Hills. It is best known as the summer residence of the Pope. It is an Italian town with the population of 8834...

, situated on the site of the ancient city of Alba Longa
Alba Longa
Alba Longa – in Italian sources occasionally written Albalonga – was an ancient city of Latium in central Italy southeast of Rome in the Alban Hills. Founder and head of the Latin League, it was destroyed by Rome around the middle of the 7th century BC. In legend, Romulus and Remus, founders of...

. Until the time of the Avignon Papacy
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

, the residence of the Pope was the Lateran Palace
Lateran Palace
The Lateran Palace , formally the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran , is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main Papal residence....

, donated by the Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Constantine the Great.

The Pope's ecclesiastical jurisdiction (the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

) is distinct from his secular jurisdiction (Vatican City). It is the Holy See that conducts international relations; for hundreds of years, the papal court (the Roman Curia
Roman Curia
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope...

) has functioned as the government of the Catholic Church.

The names "Holy See" and "Apostolic See" are ecclesiastical terminology for the ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome (including the Roman Curia); the pope's various honors, powers, and privileges within the Catholic Church and the international community derive from his Episcopate of Rome in lineal succession from the Apostle Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 (see Apostolic Succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

). Consequently, Rome has traditionally occupied a central position in the Catholic Church, although this is not necessarily so. The pope derives his pontificate from being Bishop of Rome but is not required to live there; according to the Latin formula ubi Papa, ibi Curia, wherever the Pope resides is the central government of the Church, provided that the pope is Bishop of Rome. As such, between 1309 and 1378, the popes lived in Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

, France (see Avignon Papacy
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

), a period often called the Babylonian Captivity
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

 in allusion to the Biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

 of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.

Though the Pope is the diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Rome
Diocese of Rome
The Diocese of Rome is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy. The bishop of Rome is the Pope, who is the Supreme Pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church...

, he delegates most of the day-to-day work of leading the diocese to the Cardinal Vicar
Cardinal Vicar
Cardinal Vicar is a title commonly given to the vicar general of the diocese of Rome for the portion of the diocese within Italy. The official title, as given in the Annuario Pontificio , is "Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome"...

, who assures direct episcopal oversight of the diocese's pastoral needs, not in his own name but in that of the Pope. The current Cardinal Vicar is Agostino Vallini
Agostino Vallini
Agostino Vallini is an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He currently serves as Vicar General of Rome, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2006.-Biography:...

, who was appointed to the office in June 2008.

Political role


Though the progressive Christianisation
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 in the 4th century did not confer upon bishops civil authority within the state, the gradual withdrawal of imperial authority during the 5th century left the pope the senior imperial civilian official in Rome, as bishops were increasingly directing civil affairs in other cities of the Western Empire. This status as a secular and civil ruler was vividly displayed by Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

's confrontation with Attila in 452. The first expansion of papal rule outside of Rome came in 728 with the Donation of Sutri
Donation of Sutri
The Donation of Sutri was an agreement reached at Sutri by Liutprand, King of the Lombards and Pope Gregory II in 728. At Sutri, the two reached an agreement by which the city and some hill towns in Latium were given to the Papacy, "as a gift to the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul" according to...

, which in turn was substantially increased in 754, when the Frankish ruler Pippin the Younger
Pippin the Younger
Pepin , called the Short or the Younger , rarely the Great , was the first King of the Franks of the Carolingian dynasty...

 gave to the pope the land from his conquest of the Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

. The pope may have utilized the forged Donation of Constantine
Donation of Constantine
The Donation of Constantine is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to...

 to gain this land, which formed the core of the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

. This document, accepted as genuine until the 15th century, states that Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 placed the entire Western Empire of Rome under papal rule. In 800 Pope Leo III
Pope Leo III
Pope Saint Leo III was Pope from 795 to his death in 816. Protected by Charlemagne from his enemies in Rome, he subsequently strengthened Charlemagne's position by crowning him as Roman Emperor....

 crowned
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 the Frankish ruler Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 as Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

, a major step toward establishing what later became known as the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

; from that date onward the popes claimed the prerogative to crown the Emperor, though the right fell into disuse after the coronation of Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 in 1530. Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII , born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, was a monk, theologian and bishop, who reigned as Pope from 14 March 1800 to 20 August 1823.-Early life:...

 was present at the coronation of Napoleon I
Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 in 1804, but did not actually perform the crowning. As mentioned above, the pope's sovereignty over the Papal States ended in 1870 with their annexation by Italy.

Popes like Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI , born Roderic Llançol i Borja was Pope from 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, and his Italianized surname—Borgia—became a byword for the debased standards of the Papacy of that era, most notoriously the Banquet...

, an ambitious if spectacularly corrupt politician, and Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II , nicknamed "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope" , born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513...

, a formidable general and statesman, were not afraid to use power to achieve their own ends, which included increasing the power of the papacy. This political and temporal authority was demonstrated through the papal role in the Holy Roman Empire (especially prominent during periods of contention with the Emperors, such as during the Pontificates of Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII
Pope St. Gregory VII , born Hildebrand of Sovana , was Pope from April 22, 1073, until his death. One of the great reforming popes, he is perhaps best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy, his dispute with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor affirming the primacy of the papal...

 and Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III , born Rolando of Siena, was Pope from 1159 to 1181. He is noted in history for laying the foundation stone for the Notre Dame de Paris.-Church career:...

). Papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

s, interdict
Interdict (Roman Catholic Church)
In Roman Catholic canon law, an interdict is an ecclesiastical censure that excludes from certain rites of the Church individuals or groups, who nonetheless do not cease to be members of the Church.-Distinctions in canon law:...

, and excommunication
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 (or the threat thereof) have been used many times to increase papal power. The Bull Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter was a papal bull issued in 1155 by Adrian IV, the only Englishman to serve as Pope, giving the Angevin King Henry II of England the right to assume control over Ireland and apply the Gregorian Reforms in the Irish church...

in 1155 authorized Henry II of England
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

 to invade Ireland. In 1207, Innocent III placed England under interdict until King John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

 made his kingdom a fiefdom
Fiefdom
A fee was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable lands granted under one of several varieties of feudal tenure by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the...

 to the Pope, complete with yearly tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

, saying, "we offer and freely yield...to our lord Pope Innocent III and his catholic successors, the whole kingdom of England and the whole kingdom of Ireland with all their rights and appurtenences for the remission of our sins". The Bull Inter caetera
Inter caetera
Inter caetera was a papal bull issued by Pope Alexander VI on , which granted to Spain all lands to the "west and south" of a pole-to-pole line 100 leagues west and south of any of the islands of the Azores or the Cape Verde Islands.It remains unclear to the present whether the pope was issuing a...

in 1493 led to the Treaty of Tordesillas
Treaty of Tordesillas
The Treaty of Tordesillas , signed at Tordesillas , , divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a meridian 370 leagueswest of the Cape Verde islands...

 in 1494, which divided the world into areas of Spanish and Portuguese rule. The Bull Regnans in Excelsis
Regnans in Excelsis
Regnans in Excelsis was a papal bull issued on 25 February 1570 by Pope Pius V declaring "Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime" to be a heretic and releasing all her subjects from any allegiance to her and excommunicating any that obeyed her orders.The bull, written in...

in 1570 excommunicated Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 and declared that all her subjects were released from all allegiance to her. The Bull Inter Gravissimas
Inter gravissimas
Inter gravissimas was a papal bull issued by Pope Gregory XIII on February 24, 1582. The document reformed the Julian calendar and created a new calendar which came to be called the Gregorian calendar, which is used in most countries today.-Description:...

in 1582 established the Gregorian Calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

.

International position


Under international law, a serving head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 has sovereign immunity
Sovereign immunity
Sovereign immunity, or crown immunity, is a legal doctrine by which the sovereign or state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution....

 from the jurisdiction of the courts of other countries, though not from that of international tribunals. This immunity is sometimes loosely referred to as "diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws...

", which is, strictly speaking, the immunity enjoyed by the diplomatic representatives of a head of state.

International law treats the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

, essentially the central government of the Roman Catholic Church, as the juridical equal of a state. It is distinct from the state of Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

, existing for many centuries before the foundation of the latter. (It is common, however, for publications to use "Holy See", "Vatican/Vatican City", and even "Rome" interchangeably, and incorrectly.) Most countries of the world maintain the same form of diplomatic relations with the Holy See that they entertain with other states. Even countries without those diplomatic relations participate in international organizations of which the Holy See is a full member.

It is as head of the Holy See, not of Vatican City, that the U.S. Justice Department ruled that the Pope enjoys head-of-state immunity. This head-of-state immunity, recognized by the United States, must be distinguished from that envisaged under the United States' Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 is a United States law, codified at Title 28, §§ 1330, 1332, 1391, 1441, and 1602-1611 of the United States Code, that establishes the limitations as to whether a foreign sovereign nation may be sued in U.S. courts—federal or state...

 of 1976, which, while recognizing the basic immunity of foreign governments from being sued in American courts, lays down nine exceptions, including commercial activity and actions in the United States by agents or employees of the foreign governments. It was in relation to the latter that, in November 2008, the United States Court of Appeals
United States court of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

 in Cincinnati decided that a case over sexual abuse by Catholic priests could proceed, provided the plaintiffs could prove that the bishops accused of negligent supervision were acting as employees or agents of the Holy See and were following official Holy See policy.

In April 2010 there was press coverage in Britain concerning a proposed plan by atheist campaigners and a prominent barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 to have Pope Benedict XVI arrested and prosecuted in the UK for alleged offences, dating from several decades before, in failing to take appropriate action regarding Catholic sex abuse cases and concerning their disputing his immunity from prosecution in that country. This was generally dismissed as "unrealistic and spurious". Another barrister said that it was a "matter of embarrassment that a senior British lawyer would want to allow himself to be associated with such a silly idea".

Objections to the papacy


The Pope's claim to authority is either disputed or not recognised at all by other churches. The reasons for these objections differ from denomination to denomination.

Orthodox, Anglican and Old Catholic churches


Other traditional Christian churches (Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, the Oriental Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, the Old Catholic Church
Old Catholic Church
The term Old Catholic Church is commonly used to describe a number of Ultrajectine Christian churches that originated with groups that split from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, most importantly that of Papal Infallibility...

, the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

, the Independent Catholic Churches
Independent Catholic Churches
Independent Catholic churches are Catholic congregations that are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church or any other churches whose sacraments are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church...

, etc.) accept the doctrine of Apostolic Succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 and, to varying extents, papal claims to a primacy of honour while generally rejecting that the pope is the successor to Peter in any unique sense not true of any other bishop. Primacy is regarded as a consequence of the pope's position as bishop of the original capital city of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, a definition explicitly spelled out in the 28th canon
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 of the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

. These churches see no foundation to papal claims of universal immediate jurisdiction, or to claims of papal infallibility
Papal infallibility
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when in his official capacity he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals...

. Several of these churches refer to such claims as ultramontanism
Ultramontanism
Ultramontanism is a religious philosophy within the Roman Catholic community that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the Pope...

.

Protestant denominations



Many Christian denominations reject the claims of Petrine primacy
Primacy of Simon Peter
Most Christians hold that Simon Peter was the most prominent of the Apostles, called the Prince of the Apostles and favored by Jesus of Nazareth. As such, it is argued that Peter held the first place of honor and authority...

 of honor, Petrine primacy of jurisdiction, and papal infallibility. These denominations vary from simply not accepting the Pope's claim to authority as legitimate and valid, to believing that the Pope is the Antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

 from 1 John 2:18, the Man of Sin
Man of Sin
The Man of Sin or Man of Lawlessness is a figure referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, who is usually equated with the Antichrist.-Second Thessalonians, Chapter Two:...

 from 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, and the Beast out of the Earth
The Beast (Bible)
The Beast of Revelation, may refer to two beasts in the apocalyptic visions by John of Patmos, as written in the Book of Revelation. The first beast comes from "out of the sea". The second beast comes from "out of the earth" and directs all peoples of the earth to worship the first. This first...

 from Revelation 13:11-18. The sweeping rejection includes some denominations of Lutherans: Confessional Lutheran
Confessional Lutheran
Confessional Lutheran is a name used by certain Lutheran Christians to designate themselves as those who accept the doctrines taught in the Book of Concord of 1580 in their entirety, because they believe them to be completely faithful to the teachings of the Bible...

s hold that the pope is the Antichrist, stating that this article of faith is part of a quia rather than quatenus subscription to the Book of Concord
Book of Concord
The Book of Concord or Concordia is the historic doctrinal standard of the Lutheran Church, consisting of ten credal documents recognized as authoritative in Lutheranism since the 16th century...

. In 1932, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is a traditional, confessional Lutheran denomination in the United States. With 2.3 million members, it is both the eighth largest Protestant denomination and the second-largest Lutheran body in the U.S. after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Synod...

 (LCMS) adopted A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, which a small number of Lutheran church bodies now hold. Statement 43, Of the Antichrist:


43. As to the Antichrist we teach that the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures concerning the Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2:3-12;1 John 2:18, have been fulfilled in the Pope of Rome and his dominion. All the features of the Antichrist as drawn in these prophecies, including the most abominable and horrible ones, for example, that the Antichrist "as God sitteth in the temple of God", 2 Thess. 2:4; that he anathematizes the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man (Rom. 3:20-28; Gal. 2:16); that he recognizes only those as members of the Christian Church who bow to his authority; and that, like a deluge, he had inundated the whole Church with his antichristian doctrines till God revealed him through the Reformation—these very features are the outstanding characteristics of the Papacy. (Cf. Smalcald Articles, Triglot, p. 515, Paragraphs 39-41; p. 401, Paragraph 45; M. pp. 336, 258.) Hence we subscribe to the statement of our Confessions that the Pope is "the very Antichrist." (Smalcald Articles, Triglot, p. 475, Paragraph 10; M., p. 308.)


The claim of temporal power over all secular governments, including territorial claims in Italy, raises objection. The papacy's complex relationship with secular states such as the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 Empires are also objections. Some disapprove of the autocratic character of the papal office. In Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 these objections both contributed to and are products of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

.

Antipopes



Groups sometimes form around antipope
Antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

s, who claim the Pontificate without being canonically and properly elected to it.

Traditionally, this term was reserved for claimants with a significant following of cardinals or other clergy. The existence of an antipope is usually due either to doctrinal controversy within the Church (heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

) or to confusion as to who is the legitimate pope at the time (see schism). Briefly in the 15th century, three separate lines of Popes claimed authenticity (see Papal Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

). Even Catholics don't all agree whether certain historical figures were Popes or antipopes. Though antipope movements were significant at one time, they are now overwhelmingly minor fringe causes.

Other uses of the title "pope"


In the earlier centuries of Christianity, the title "Pope", meaning "father", had been used by all bishops. Some popes used the term and others didn't. Eventually, the title became associated especially with the Bishop of Rome. In a few cases, the term is used for other Christian clerical authorities.

In the Roman Catholic Church


The "Black Pope" is a name that was popularly, but unofficially, given to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus is the official title of the leader of the Society of Jesus—the Roman Catholic religious order, also known as the Jesuits. He is generally addressed as Father General. The position carries the nickname of Black Pope, after his simple black priest's...

 due to the Jesuits'
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 importance within the Church. This name, based on the black colour of his cassock, was used to suggest a parallel between him and the "White Pope" (since the time of Pope Pius V
Pope Pius V
Pope Saint Pius V , born Antonio Ghislieri , was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman liturgy within the Latin Church...

 the Popes dress in white) and the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome is the congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for missionary work and related activities...

 (formerly called the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), whose red cardinal's cassock gave him the name of the "Red Pope" in view of the authority over all territories that were not considered in some way Catholic. In the present time this cardinal has power over mission territories for Catholicism, essentially the Churches of Africa and Asia, but in the past his competence extended also to all lands where Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 or Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 was dominant. Some remnants of this situation remain, with the result that, for instance, New Zealand is still in the care of this Congregation.

In the Eastern Churches


Since the papacy of Heraclas in the 3rd century, the Bishop of the Alexandria in both the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria
The Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, also known as the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa is an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Orthodox Christianity.Officially, it is called the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria to distinguish it from the...

 continue to be called "Pope", the former being called "Coptic Pope" or, more properly, "Pope and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Orthodox and Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle" and the last called "Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa".

In the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Bulgarian Orthodox Church
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church - Bulgarian Patriarchate is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church with some 6.5 million members in the Republic of Bulgaria and between 1.5 and 2.0 million members in a number of European countries, the Americas and Australia...

, Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 and Serbian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the autocephalous Orthodox Christian churches, ranking sixth in order of seniority after Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Russia...

, it is not unusual for a village priest to be called a "pope" ("поп" pop). However, this should be differentiated from the words used for the head of the Catholic Church (Bulgarian "папа" papa, Russian "папа римский" papa rimskiy).

In New Religious Movements


Some New Religious Movements
New religious movement
A new religious movement is a religious community or ethical, spiritual, or philosophical group of modern origin, which has a peripheral place within the dominant religious culture. NRMs may be novel in origin or they may be part of a wider religion, such as Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, in...

, especially those that have disassociated themselves from the Catholic Church yet retain a Catholic hierarchical framework, will use the designation "Pope" for a movement's founder or current leader. One example in Africa is the Legio Maria Church of Africa
Legio Maria
Legio Maria — also known as Legio Maria of African Church Mission, and Maria Legio — is an African Initiated Church or new religious movement initially among the Luo people of western Kenya which incorporates traditional Luo religious customs into a Catholic Christian framework...

. Another example is Cao Dai
Cao Dai
Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. Đạo Cao Đài is the religion's shortened name, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ...

, a Vietnamese faith that duplicates the Catholic hierarchy, which is declared legitimate by religious authorities in Cao Dai due to the fact that, according to them, God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 created both Catholicism and Cao Dai.

Longest-reigning popes



Although the average reign of the pope from the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 was a decade, a number of those whose reign lengths can be determined from contemporary historical data are the following:
  1. Pius IX
    Pope Pius IX
    Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

     (1846–1878): 31 years, 7 months and 23 days (11,560 days).
  2. John Paul II
    Pope John Paul II
    Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

     (1978–2005): 26 years, 5 months and 18 days (9,665 days).
  3. Leo XIII
    Pope Leo XIII
    Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

     (1878–1903): 25 years, 5 months and 1 day (9,281 days).
  4. Pius VI
    Pope Pius VI
    Pope Pius VI , born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was Pope from 1775 to 1799.-Early years:Braschi was born in Cesena...

     (1775–1799): 24 years, 6 months and 15 days (8,962 days).
  5. Adrian I
    Pope Adrian I
    Pope Adrian was pope from February 1, 772 to December 25, 795. He was the son of Theodore, a Roman nobleman.Shortly after Adrian's accession the territory ruled by the papacy was invaded by Desiderius, king of the Lombards, and Adrian was compelled to seek the assistance of the Frankish king...

     (772–795): 23 years, 10 months and 25 days (8,729 days).
  6. Pius VII
    Pope Pius VII
    Pope Pius VII , born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, was a monk, theologian and bishop, who reigned as Pope from 14 March 1800 to 20 August 1823.-Early life:...

     (1800–1823): 23 years, 5 months and 7 days (8,560 days).
  7. Alexander III
    Pope Alexander III
    Pope Alexander III , born Rolando of Siena, was Pope from 1159 to 1181. He is noted in history for laying the foundation stone for the Notre Dame de Paris.-Church career:...

     (1159–1181): 21 years, 11 months and 24 days (8,029 days).
  8. St. Sylvester I (314–335): 21 years, 11 months and 1 day (8,005 days).
  9. St. Leo I
    Pope Leo I
    Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

     (440–461): 21 years, 1 month, and 13 days. (7,713 days).
  10. Urban VIII
    Pope Urban VIII
    Pope Urban VIII , born Maffeo Barberini, was pope from 1623 to 1644. He was the last pope to expand the papal territory by force of arms, and was a prominent patron of the arts and reformer of Church missions...

     (1623–1644): 20 years, 11 months and 24 days (7,664 days).


Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 is thought to have reigned for over 30 years (AD 29 – 64?/67?), but the exact length is not reliably known.

Shortest-reigning popes



Conversely, there have been a number of popes whose reign lasted less than a month. In the following list the number of calendar days includes partial days. Thus, for example, if a pope's reign commenced on 1 August and he died on 2 August, this would count as having reigned for two calendar days.
  1. Urban VII
    Pope Urban VII
    Pope Urban VII , born Giovanni Battista Castagna, was Pope for thirteen days in September 1590. He was of Genoese origin, although born in Rome. He was created Cardinal-Priest of S. Marcello in 1584...

     (15–27 September 1590): reigned for 13 calendar days, died before coronation
    Coronation
    A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

    .
  2. Boniface VI
    Pope Boniface VI
    Pope Boniface VI, pope, a native of Rome, was elected in April 896 as a result of riots soon after the death of Pope Formosus. Prior to his reign, he had twice incurred a sentence of deprivation of orders, as a subdeacon and as a priest...

     (April 896): reigned for 16 calendar days
  3. Celestine IV
    Pope Celestine IV
    Pope Celestine IV , born Goffredo da Castiglione, was pope from October 25, 1241 to November 10, 1241.Born in Milan, Goffredo or Godfrey is often referred to as son of a sister of Pope Urban III , but this information is without foundation...

     (25 October – 10 November 1241): reigned for 17 calendar days, died before consecration.
  4. Theodore II
    Pope Theodore II
    Pope Theodore II was ordained as a priest by Pope Stephen V; also his brother Theotius was a bishop. He was pope for twenty days during December 897 before he died. He reinstated the clerics who had been forced from office by Pope Stephen VI, recognizing the validity of the ordinations of Pope...

     (December 897): reigned for 20 calendar days
  5. Sisinnius
    Pope Sisinnius
    Pope Sisinnius was Pope for about three weeks in 708.A Syrian by birth, Sisinnius's father's name was John. The paucity of donations to the papacy during his reign indicate that he was probably not from the aristocracy.Sisinnius was selected as...

     (15 January – 4 February 708): reigned for 21 calendar days
  6. Marcellus II
    Pope Marcellus II
    Pope Marcellus II , born Marcello Cervini degli Spannochi, was Pope from 9 April 1555 to 1 May 1555, succeeding Pope Julius III. Before his accession as Pope he had been Cardinal-Priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. He is the most recent Pope to choose to retain his birth name as his regnal name...

     (9 April – 1 May 1555): reigned for 22 calendar days
  7. Damasus II
    Pope Damasus II
    Pope Damasus II , born Poppo, Pope from July 17, 1048 to August 9, 1048, was the second of the German pontiffs nominated by Emperor Henry III . A native of Bavaria, he was the third German to become Pope and had one of the shortest papal reigns...

     (17 July – 9 August 1048): reigned for 24 calendar days
  8. Pius III
    Pope Pius III
    Pope Pius III , born Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, was Pope from September 22 to October 18, 1503.-Career:...

     (22 September – 18 October 1503): reigned for 27 calendar days
  9. Leo XI
    Pope Leo XI
    Pope Leo XI , born Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici, was Pope from 1 April 1605 to 27 April of the same year.-Biography:...

     (1–27 April 1605): reigned for 27 calendar days
  10. Benedict V
    Pope Benedict V
    Pope Benedict V , Pope in 964, was elected by the Romans on the death of Pope John XII . However the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I did not approve of the choice and had him deposed after only a month and the ex-Pope was carried off to Hamburg and was placed under the care of Adaldag, Archbishop of...

     (22 May – 23 June 964): reigned for 33 calendar days
  11. John Paul I
    Pope John Paul I
    John Paul I , born Albino Luciani, , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and as Sovereign of Vatican City from 26 August 1978 until his death 33 days later. His reign is among the shortest in papal history, resulting in the most recent Year of Three Popes...

     (26 August – 28 September 1978): reigned for 33 calendar days.


Stephen
Pope-elect Stephen
Stephen was a priest of Rome elected Pope in March of 752 to succeed Pope Zachary; he died of stroke a few days later, before being ordained a bishop...

 (23–26 March 752), died of apoplexy
Apoplexy
Apoplexy is a medical term, which can be used to describe 'bleeding' in a stroke . Without further specification, it is rather outdated in use. Today it is used only for specific conditions, such as pituitary apoplexy and ovarian apoplexy. In common speech, it is used non-medically to mean a state...

 three days after his election, and before his consecration
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

 as a bishop. He is not recognized as a valid Pope, but was added to the lists of popes in the 15th century as Stephen II, causing difficulties in enumerating later Popes named Stephen. He was removed in 1961 from the Vatican's
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 list.

See also



  • Caesaropapism
    Caesaropapism
    Caesaropapism is the idea of combining the power of secular government with, or making it superior to, the spiritual authority of the Church; especially concerning the connection of the Church with government. The term caesaropapism was coined by Max Weber, who defined it as follows: “a secular,...

  • History of the Papacy
    History of the Papacy
    The history of the papacy, the office held by the Pope as head of the Catholic Church, spans from the time of Saint Peter to present day.During the Early Church, the bishops of Rome enjoyed no temporal power until the time of Constantine...

  • Investiture Controversy
    Investiture Controversy
    The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

  • Leaders of Christianity
  • Legends surrounding the papacy
    Legends surrounding the papacy
    The papacy has been surrounded by numerous legends. Among the most famous are the claims that the Papal Tiara contains the number of the beast inscriptions on the Tiara, that a woman was once elected pope, or that current pope, Benedict XVI, will be the penultimate Pope...

  • List of canonised popes
  • List of popes

  • Papal Coronation
    Papal Coronation
    A papal coronation was the ceremony of the placing of the Papal Tiara on a newly elected pope. The first recorded papal coronation was that of Pope Celestine II in 1143. Soon after his coronation in 1963, Pope Paul VI abandoned the practice of wearing the tiara. His successors have chosen not to...

  • Papal Inauguration
    Papal Inauguration
    The Papal Inauguration is a liturgical service of the Catholic Church within Mass celebrated in the Roman Rite but with elements of Byzantine Rite for the ecclesiastical investiture of the Pope...

  • Papal name
    Papal name
    A papal name is a regnal name taken by popes. Beginning in the sixth century, some popes adopted a new name upon their accession to the papacy; this became customary in the 10th century, and every pope since the 16th century has done so.-History:...

  • Papal regalia and insignia
    Papal regalia and insignia
    Papal regalia and insignia are the official items of attire and decoration proper to the Pope in his capacity as the head of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State.- Regalia :...

  • Papal Slippers
    Papal Slippers
    The Papal Slippers are an historical accoutrement worn by the Bishop of Rome. The papal slippers were a form of episcopal sandals worn by bishops. However, unlike the episcopal sandals, which change with the liturgical colour, the papal slippers were always red...

  • Pontiff
    Pontiff
    A pontiff was, in Roman antiquity, a member of the principal college of priests . The term "pontiff" was later applied to any high or chief priest and, in ecclesiastical usage, to a bishop and more particularly to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope or "Roman Pontiff".-Etymology:The English term derives...

  • Prophecy of the Popes
    Prophecy of the Popes
    The Prophecy of the Popes, attributed to Saint Malachy, is a list of 112 short phrases in Latin. They purport to describe each of the Roman Catholic popes , beginning with Pope Celestine II and concluding with the successor of current pope Benedict XVI, a pope described in the prophecy as "Peter...

  • Sedevacantism
    Sedevacantism
    Sedevacantism is the position held by a minority of Traditionalist Catholics who hold that the present occupant of the papal see is not truly Pope and that, for lack of a valid Pope, the see has been vacant since the death of either Pope Pius XII in 1958 or Pope John XXIII in 1963.Sedevacantists...


Further reading

  • Brusher, Joseph H. Popes Through The Ages. Princeton: D. Van Nostland Company, Inc., 1959.
  • Chamberlin, E.R. The Bad Popes. 1969. Reprint: Barnes and Noble, 1993. ISBN 978-0-88029-116-3.
  • Dollison, John Pope-pourri. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. ISBN 978-0-671-88615-8.
  • Kelly, J.N.D. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford: University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-19-213964-9.
  • Maxwell-Stuart, P.G. Chronicle of the Popes: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Papacy from St. Peter to the Present; with 308 Illustrations, 105 in Color. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997. ISBN 0-500-01798-0.
  • Norwich, John Julius
    John Julius Norwich
    John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich CVO — known as John Julius Norwich — is an English historian, travel writer and television personality.-Early life:...

    . The Popes: a History. Chatto
    Chatto
    Chatto may refer to:* Chatto , Chiricahua Apache chief* Beth Chatto , plantswoman, garden designer and author* Virendranath Chattopadhyaya , prominent Bengali Indian revolutionary...

    , 2011.

External links