The pope (Latin: papa from Greek: πάππας pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff (from Latin pontifex maximus "greatest priest"), is the Bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.
While his office is called the papacy, the episcopal see and ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the Holy See. It is the Holy See that is the sovereign entity of international law headquartered in the distinctively independent Vatican City State, established by the Lateran Treaty in 1929 between Italy and the Holy See to ensure its temporal, diplomatic, and spiritual independence. The primacy of the Bishop of Rome is largely derived from his role as the apostolic successor to Saint Peter, to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus, giving him the Keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the church would be built.
The apostolic see of Rome was founded by Saint Peter and Saint Paul in 1st century, according to Catholic tradition. The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has had a prominent part in world history. In ancient times the popes helped spread Christianity, and intervened to find resolutions in various doctrinal disputes. In the Middle Ages, they played a role of secular importance in Western Europe, often acting as arbitrators between Christian monarchs. Currently, in addition to the expansion of the Christian faith and doctrine, the popes are involved in ecumenism and interfaith dialogue, charitable work, and the defense of human rights.
In some periods of history, the papacy, which originally had no temporal powers, accrued wide secular powers rivaling those of temporal rulers. However, in recent centuries the temporal authority of the papacy has declined and the office is now almost exclusively focused on religious matters. By contrast, papal claims of spiritual authority have been increasingly firmly expressed over time, culminating in 1870 with the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra—literally "from the chair (of Saint Peter)"—to issue a formal definition of faith or morals. Still, the Pope is considered one of the world's most powerful people because of his extensive diplomatic, cultural, and spiritual influence on 1.3 billion Catholics and beyond, as well as the official representative of the Catholic Church being the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world, with a vast international network of charities.
Bishop of Rome
Coat of arms
elected 13 March 2013
|Ecclesiastical province||Ecclesiastical Province of Rome|
|First holder||Saint Peter, according to Catholic tradition|
|Cathedral||Archbasilica of St. John Lateran|
|Bishops emeritus||Pope Benedict XVI|
|Papal styles of|
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
The word pope derives from Greek πάππας meaning "father". In the early centuries of Christianity, this title was applied, especially in the east, to all bishops and other senior clergy, and later became reserved in the west to the Bishop of Rome, a reservation made official only in the 11th century. The earliest record of the use of this title was in regard to the by then deceased Patriarch of Alexandria, Pope Heraclas of Alexandria (232–248). The earliest recorded use of the title "pope" in English dates to the mid-10th century, when it was used in reference to the 7th century Roman Pope Vitalian in an Old English translation of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.
The Catholic Church teaches that the pastoral office, the office of shepherding the Church, that was held by the apostles, as a group or "college" with Saint Peter as their head, is now held by their successors, the bishops, with the bishop of Rome (the pope) as their head. Thus, is derived another title by which the pope is known, that of "Supreme Pontiff".
The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus personally appointed Peter as leader of the Church, and the Catholic Church's dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium 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 argue against the notion that Peter was the first bishop of Rome, noting that the episcopal see in Rome can be traced back no earlier than the 3rd century. The writings of the Church Father Irenaeus who wrote around AD 180 reflect a belief that Peter "founded and organized" 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, such as Emperor Constantine's erection of the "Old St. Peter's Basilica" on the location of St. Peter's tomb, as held and given to him by Rome's Christian community, many scholars agree that Peter was martyred in Rome under Nero, although some scholars argue that he may have been martyred in Palestine.
First-century Christian communities would have had a group of presbyter-bishops functioning as leaders of their local churches. Gradually, episcopacies were established in metropolitan areas. Antioch may have developed such a structure before Rome. 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 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.
Documents of the 1st century and early 2nd century indicate that the bishop of Rome had some kind of pre-eminence and prominence in the Church as a whole, as even a letter from the bishop, or patriarch, of Antioch acknowledged the Bishop of Rome as "a first among equals", though the detail of what this meant is unclear.
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. Some say that 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 (d 107) and St. Irenaeus who recorded the linear succession of Bishops of Rome (the popes) up until their own times. However, it should be noted that 'historical' records written by those wanting to show an unbroken line of popes would naturally do so, and there are no objective substantiating documents. They also cite the importance accorded to the Bishops of Rome 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 Church. James the Just, 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, and according to tradition Paul was martyred there.
During the 1st century of the Church (c. 30–130), the Roman capital became recognized as a Christian center of exceptional importance. Clement I, 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 of the Roman See outside of Rome. In the Ravenna Document of 13 October 2007, theologians chosen by the 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, occupied the first place in the taxis, and that the bishop of Rome was therefore the protos among the patriarchs. Translated into English, the statement means "first among equals". What form that should take is still a matter of disagreement, just as it was when the Catholic and Orthodox Churches split in the Great East-West Schism. They also disagree 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 the late 2nd century AD, there were more manifestations of Roman authority over other churches. In 189, assertion of the primacy of the Church of Rome may be indicated in Irenaeus's Against Heresies (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 AD 195, Pope Victor I, 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, a tradition handed down by John the Evangelist (see Easter controversy). Celebration of Easter on a Sunday, as insisted on by the pope, is the system that has prevailed (see computus).
The Edict of Milan in 313 granted freedom to all religions in the Roman Empire, beginning the Peace of the Church. In 325, the First Council of Nicaea condemned Arianism, declaring trinitarianism dogmatic, and in its sixth canon recognized the special role of the Sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. Great defenders of Trinitarian faith included the popes, especially Pope Liberius, who was exiled to Berea by Constantius II for his Trinitarian faith, Damasus I, and several other bishops.
In 380, the Edict of Thessalonica declared Nicene Christianity to be the state religion of the empire, with the name "Catholic Christians" reserved for those who accepted that faith. While the civil power in the Eastern Roman Empire controlled the church, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the capital, wielded much power, in the Western Roman Empire, the Bishops of Rome were able to consolidate the influence and power they already possessed. After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, barbarian tribes were converted to Arian Christianity or Catholicism; Clovis I, king of the Franks, was the first important barbarian ruler to convert to Catholicism rather than Arianism, allying himself with the papacy. Other tribes, such as the Visigoths, later abandoned Arianism in favour of Catholicism.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the pope served as a source of authority and continuity. Pope Gregory I (c 540–604) administered the church with strict reform. From an ancient senatorial family, Gregory worked with the stern judgement and discipline typical of ancient Roman rule. Theologically, he represents the shift from the classical to the medieval outlook; his popular writings are 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 of Ravenna, the Byzantine emperor's representative in the Italian Peninsula. These humiliations, the weakening of the Byzantine Empire in the face of the Muslim conquests, and the inability of the emperor to protect the papal estates against the Lombards, made Pope Stephen II turn from Emperor Constantine V. He appealed to the Franks to protect his lands. Pepin the Short subdued the Lombards and donated Italian land to the papacy. When Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne (800) as Roman Emperor, he established the precedent that, in Western Europe, no man would be emperor without being crowned by a Pope.
The low point of the papacy was 867–1049. This period includes the Saeculum obscurum, the Crescentii era, and the Tusculan Papacy. 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, held orgies of debauchery in the Lateran Palace. Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor had John accused in an ecclesiastical court, which deposed him and elected a layman as Pope Leo VIII. 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 simony and clerical marriage and concubinage. With his long journey, he restored the prestige of the papacy in Northern Europe.
From the 7th century it became common for European monarchies and nobility to found churches and perform investiture or deposition of clergy in their states and fiefdoms, their personal interests causing corruption among the clergy. This practice had become common because often the prelates and secular rulers were also participants in public life. To combat this and other practices that had corrupted the Church between the years 900 and 1050, centres emerged promoting ecclesiastical reform, the most important being the Abbey of Cluny, which spread its ideals throughout Europe. This reform movement gained strength with the election of Pope Gregory VII in 1073, who adopted a series of measures in the movement known as the Gregorian Reform, in order to fight strongly against simony and the abuse of civil power and try to restore ecclesiastical discipline, including clerical celibacy. The conflict between popes and secular autocratic rulers such as the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and Henry I of England, known as the Investiture controversy, was only resolved in 1122, by the Concordat of Worms, in which Pope Callixtus II decreed that clerics were to be invested by clerical leaders, and temporal rulers by lay investiture. Soon after, Pope Alexander III began reforms that would lead to the establishment of canon law.
Since the beginning of the 7th century, the Caliphate had conquered much of the southern Mediterranean, and represented a threat to Christianity. In 1095, the Byzantine emperor, Alexios I Komnenos, asked for military aid from Pope Urban II in the ongoing Byzantine–Seljuq wars. Urban, at the council of Clermont, called the First Crusade to assist the Byzantine Empire to regain the old Christian territories, especially Jerusalem.
With the East–West Schism, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church split definitively in 1054. This fracture was caused more by political events than by slight divergences of creed. Popes had galled the Byzantine emperors by siding with the king of the Franks, crowning a rival Roman emperor, appropriating the Exarchate of Ravenna, and driving into Greek Italy.
From 1309 to 1377, the pope resided not in Rome but in Avignon. The Avignon Papacy was notorious for greed and corruption. During this period, the pope was effectively an ally of the Kingdom of France, alienating France's enemies, such as the Kingdom of 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. 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 Catholic Ecumenical Councils over the pope's. Conciliarism 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 Conciliarism to gain broad acceptance after the 15th century is taken as a factor in the Protestant Reformation.
Various Antipopes challenged papal authority, especially during the Western Schism (1378–1417). In this schism, the papacy had returned to Rome from Avignon, but an antipope 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. First in the Second Council of Lyon (1272–1274) and secondly in the Council of Florence (1431–1449). Papal claims of superiority were a sticking point in reunification, which failed in any event. In the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire captured Constantinople.
Popes instituted a Catholic Reformation (1560–1648), which addressed the challenges of the Protestant Reformation and instituted internal reforms. Pope Paul III initiated the Council of Trent (1545–1563), 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, the popes focused on spiritual issues.
The Petrine Doctrine is still controversial as an issue of doctrine that continues to divide the eastern and western churches and separate Protestants from Rome.
The Catholic Church teaches that, within the Christian community, the bishops as a body have succeeded to the body of the apostles (apostolic succession) and the Bishop of Rome has succeeded to Saint Peter.
Scriptural texts proposed in support of Peter's special position in relation to the church include:
I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of here shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
The symbolic keys in the Papal coats of arms are a reference to the phrase "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" in the first of these texts. Some Protestant writers have maintained that the "rock" that Jesus speaks of in this text is Jesus himself or the faith expressed by Peter. This idea is undermined by the Biblical usage of "Cephas," which is the masculine form of "rock" in Aramaic, to describe Peter. The Encyclopædia Britannica comments that "the consensus of the great majority of scholars today is that the most obvious and traditional understanding should be construed, namely, that rock refers to the person of Peter".
The pope was originally chosen by those senior clergymen resident in and near Rome. In 1059 the electorate was restricted to the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and the individual votes of all Cardinal Electors were made equal in 1179. The electors are now limited to those who have not reached 80 on the day before the death or resignation of a pope. The pope does not need to be a Cardinal Elector or indeed a Cardinal; however, since the pope is the Bishop of Rome, only those who can be ordained a bishop can be elected, which means that any male baptized Catholic is eligible. The last to be elected when not yet a bishop was Pope Gregory XVI in 1831, and the last to be elected when not even a priest was Pope Leo X in 1513, and the last to be elected when not a cardinal was Pope Urban VI in 1378. If someone who is not a bishop is elected, he must be given episcopal ordination before the election is announced to the people.
The Second Council of Lyon 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 following the death of Pope Clement IV 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, by selection (by committee), or by plenary vote. Acclamation was the simplest procedure, consisting entirely of a voice vote.
The election of the pope almost always takes place in the Sistine Chapel, in a sequestered meeting called a "conclave" (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. For the Papal conclave, 2005, 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 someone 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 Saint 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. Starting with the Papal conclave, 2005, church bells are also rung as a signal that a new pope has been chosen.
The Dean of the College of Cardinals then asks two solemn questions of the man who has been elected. First he asks, "Do you freely accept your election as Supreme Pontiff?" If he replies with the word "Accepto", his reign begins at that instant. If he replies not, his reign begins at the inauguration ceremony several days afterward. The Dean asks next, "By what name shall you be called?" The new pope announces the regnal name he has chosen. If the Dean himself 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" by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, whom he first either reconfirms or reappoints. The pope 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 announces from a balcony over St. Peter's Square the following proclamation: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum! Habemus Papam! ("I announce to you a great joy! We have a pope!"). He 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, which started with a procession with great pomp and circumstance from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter's Basilica, with the newly elected pope borne in the sedia gestatoria. After a solemn Papal Mass, the new pope was crowned with the triregnum (papal tiara) and he gave for the first time as pope the famous blessing Urbi et Orbi ("to the City [Rome] and to the World"). Another renowned part of the coronation was the lighting of a bundle of flax at the top of a gilded pole, which would flare brightly for a moment and then promptly extinguish, as he said, Sic transit gloria mundi ("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. According to tradition, he 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 belief that lacks reliable authority claims that a Papal Oath was sworn, at their coronation, by all popes from Pope Agatho to Pope Paul VI and that it was omitted with the abolition of the coronation ceremony.
The Latin term, sede vacante ("while the see is vacant"), refers to a papal interregnum, the period between the death or resignation of a pope and the election of his successor. From this term is derived the term sedevacantism, 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, and especially the reform of the Tridentine Mass with the Mass of Paul VI, are heretical and that those responsible for initiating and maintaining these changes are heretics and not true popes.
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 of the Netherlands, elected in 1522. John Paul II was followed by election of the German-born Pope Benedict XVI, who was in turn followed by Argentine-born Pope Francis, who is the first non-European after 1272 years and the first Latin American, despite having an Italian ancestry. 
The current regulations regarding a papal interregnum—that is, a sede vacante ("vacant seat")—were promulgated by Pope John Paul II in his 1996 document Universi Dominici Gregis. During the "sede vacante" period, the College of Cardinals 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. 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, when a pope was judged to have died, it was reportedly traditional for the Cardinal Camerlengo to confirm the death ceremonially by gently tapping the pope's head thrice with a silver hammer, calling his birth name each time. This was not done on the deaths of popes John Paul I and John Paul II. The Cardinal Camerlengo retrieves the Ring of the Fisherman and cuts it in two in the presence of the Cardinals. The pope's seals are defaced, to keep them from ever being used again, and his personal apartment is sealed.
The body lies in state for several days before being interred in the crypt of a leading church or cathedral; all popes who have died in the 20th and 21st centuries have been interred in St. Peter's Basilica. A nine-day period of mourning (novendialis) follows the interment.
It is highly unusual for a pope to resign. The 1983 Code of Canon Law 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." Benedict XVI, who vacated the Holy See on 28 February 2013, was the most recent to do so since Gregory XII's resignation in 1415.
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
|Posthumous style||See here|
Popes adopt a new name on their accession, known as papal or pontifical name. Officially, the Pope is given an Italian name by virtue of his Vatican citizenship and a Latin name by virtue of his status as Bishop of the Holy See of Rome. Currently, after a new pope is elected and accepts the election, he is asked "By what name shall you be called?". The new pope chooses the name by which he will be known from that point on. The senior Cardinal Deacon, or Cardinal Protodeacon, then appears on the balcony of Saint Peter's to proclaim the new pope by his birth name, and announce his papal name in Latin. It's customary when referring to popes to translate the regnal name into all local languages. Thus, for example, Papa Franciscus is Papa Francesco in Italian, but he is also known as Papa Francisco in his native Spanish, Pope Francis in English, etc.
The official list of titles of the pope, in the order in which they are given in the Annuario Pontificio, is:
Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God.
The best-known title, 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 signed as "Paulus PP. VI", the "PP." standing for "papa pontifex" ("pope and pontiff").
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 (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 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.
In Eastern Christianity, 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" (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" (John 21:16–17).
The first record of the application of this title to a Bishop of Rome appears in a synod of 495 with reference to Pope Gelasius I. 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 used "vicar of Christ" to refer to the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus. Its use specifically for the pope appears in the 13th century in connection with the reforms of Pope Innocent III, 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 Eugene 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 referred to all bishops as "vicars and ambassadors of Christ", and this description of the bishops was repeated by Pope John Paul II 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 described Pope Gregory II as vicar of Peter in the oath of fealty that he took in 722. In today's Roman Missal, the description "vicar of Peter" is found also in the collect of the Mass for a saint who was a pope.
The term "pontiff" is derived from the Latin: pontifex, which literally means "bridge builder" (pons + facere) and which designated a member of the principal college of priests in ancient Rome. The Latin word was translated into ancient Greek variously: as Ancient Greek: ἱεροδιδάσκαλος, Ancient Greek: ἱερονόμος, Ancient Greek: ἱεροφύλαξ, Ancient Greek: ἱεροφάντης (hierophant), or Ancient Greek: ἀρχιερεύς (archiereus, high priest) The head of the college was known as the Pontifex Maximus (the greatest pontiff).
In Christian use, pontifex appears in the Vulgate translation of the New Testament to indicate the High Priest of Israel (in the original Koine Greek, ἀρχιερεύς). The term came to be applied to any Christian bishop, 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" (a book containing rites reserved for bishops, such as confirmation and ordination), 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" (Latin: Summus Pontifex Ecclesiae Universalis). He is also commonly called the Supreme Pontiff or the Sovereign Pontiff (Latin: Summus Pontifex).
Pontifex Maximus, similar in meaning to Summus Pontifex, is a title commonly found in inscriptions on papal buildings, paintings, statues and coins, usually abbreviated as "Pont. Max" or "P.M." The office of Pontifex Maximus, or head of the College of Pontiffs, was held by Julius Caesar and thereafter, by the Roman emperors, until Gratian (375–383) relinquished it. Tertullian, 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.
Although the description "servant of the servants of God" (Latin: servus servorum Dei) was also used by other Church leaders, including Augustine of Hippo and Benedict of Nursia, it was first used extensively as a papal title by Pope Gregory I, reportedly as a lesson in humility for the Patriarch of Constantinople, John the Faster, who had assumed the title "Ecumenical Patriarch". It became reserved for the pope in the 12th century and is used in papal bulls and similar important papal documents.
From 1863 until 2005, the Annuario Pontificio also included the title "Patriarch of the West". This title was first used by Pope Theodore I 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 commonly used are "His Holiness" (either used alone or as an honorific prefix "His Holiness Pope Francis"; and as "Your Holiness" as a form of address), "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, "Dominus Apostolicus" ("the Apostolic Lord") was also used.
Pope Francis signs some documents with his name alone, either in Latin ("Franciscus", as in an encyclical dated 29 June 2013) or in another language. Other documents he signs in accordance with the tradition of using Latin only and including, in the abbreviated form "PP.", for the Latin Papa Pontifex ("Pope and Pontiff"). Popes who have an ordinal numeral in their name traditionally place the abbreviation "PP." before the ordinal numeral, as in "Benedictus PP. XVI" (Pope Benedict XVI), except in bulls of canonization and decrees of ecumenical councils, which a pope signs with the formula, "Ego N. Episcopus Ecclesiae catholicae", without the numeral, as in "Ego Benedictus Episcopus Ecclesiae catholicae" (I, Benedict, Bishop of the Catholic 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 bulls are headed N. Episcopus Servus Servorum Dei ("Name, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God"). In general, they are not signed by the pope, but Pope John Paul II 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.
In heraldry, each pope has his own personal coat of arms. Though unique for each pope, the arms have for several centuries been traditionally accompanied by two keys in saltire (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 (lappets—two strips of fabric hanging from the back of the triregnum which fall over the neck and shoulders when worn). This is blazoned: "two keys in saltire or and argent, interlacing in the rings or, beneath a tiara argent, crowned or". The 21st century has seen departures from this tradition. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI, while maintaining the crossed keys behind the shield, omitted the papal tiara from his personal coat of arms, replacing it with a mitre with three horizontal lines. Beneath the shield he added 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. Although the tiara was omitted in the pope's personal coat of arms, the coat of arms of the Holy See, which includes the tiara, remained unaltered. In 2013, Pope Francis maintained the mitre that replaced the tiara, but omitted the pallium. He also departed from papal tradition by adding beneath the shield his personal pastoral motto: Miserando atque eligendo.
The flag 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. Although Pope Benedict XVI replaced the triregnum with a mitre on his personal coat of arms, it has been retained on the flag.
Pope Pius V (reigned 1566–1572), is often credited with having originated the custom whereby the pope wears white, by continuing after his election to wear the white habit of the Dominican order. In reality, the basic papal attire was white long before. The earliest document that describes it as such is the Ordo XIII, a book of ceremonies compiled in about 1274. Later books of ceremonies describe the pope as wearing a red mantle, mozzetta, camauro and shoes, and a white cassock and stockings. Many contemporary portraits of 15th and 16th-century predecessors of Pius V show them wearing a white cassock similar to his.
The status and authority of the Pope in the Catholic Church was dogmatically defined by the First Vatican Council 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.
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.
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.
On 11 October 2012, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council 60 prominent theologians, (including Hans Küng), put out a Declaration, stating that the intention of Vatican II to balance authority in the Church has not been realised. "Many of the key insights of Vatican II have not at all, or only partially, been implemented . . . A principal source of present-day stagnation lies in misunderstanding and abuse affecting the exercise of authority in our Church."
The pope's official seat or cathedral is the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, and his official residence is the Apostolic Palace. He also possesses a summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, situated on the site of the ancient city of Alba Longa. Until the time of the Avignon Papacy, the residence of the pope was the Lateran Palace, donated by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great.
The pope's ecclesiastical jurisdiction (the Holy See) 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) 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 (see Apostolic succession). 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, France (see Avignon Papacy), a period often called the Babylonian captivity in allusion to the Biblical narrative of Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah living as captives in Babylonia.
Though the pope is the diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Rome, he delegates most of the day-to-day work of leading the diocese to the Cardinal Vicar, 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, who was appointed to the office in June 2008.
|Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City|
Coat of Arms of the Vatican
|First Sovereign||Pope Pius XI|
|Formation||11 February 1929|
Though the progressive Christianisation of the Roman Empire 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's confrontation with Attila in 452. The first expansion of papal rule outside of Rome came in 728 with the Donation of Sutri, which in turn was substantially increased in 754, when the Frankish ruler Pippin the Younger gave to the pope the land from his conquest of the Lombards. The pope may have utilized the forged Donation of Constantine to gain this land, which formed the core of the Papal States. This document, accepted as genuine until the 15th century, states that Constantine the Great placed the entire Western Empire of Rome under papal rule. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish ruler Charlemagne as Roman Emperor, a major step toward establishing what later became known as the Holy Roman Empire; 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 in 1530. Pope Pius VII was present at the coronation of Napoleon I 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, an ambitious if spectacularly corrupt politician, and Pope Julius II, 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 and Pope Alexander III). Papal bulls, interdict, and excommunication (or the threat thereof) have been used many times to increase papal power. The Bull Laudabiliter in 1155 authorized Henry II of England to invade Ireland. In 1207, Innocent III placed England under interdict until King John made his kingdom a fiefdom to the Pope, complete with yearly tribute, 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 in 1493 led to the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, which divided the world into areas of Spanish and Portuguese rule. The Bull Regnans in Excelsis in 1570 excommunicated Elizabeth I of England and declared that all her subjects were released from all allegiance to her. The Bull, Inter gravissimas, in 1582 established the Gregorian calendar.
Under international law, a serving head of state has sovereign immunity 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", which is, strictly speaking, the immunity enjoyed by the diplomatic representatives of a head of state.
International law treats the Holy See, essentially the central government of the Catholic Church, as the juridical equal of a state. It is distinct from the state of Vatican City, existing for many centuries before the foundation of the latter. (It is common for publications and news media to use "the Vatican", "Vatican City", and even "Rome" as metonyms for the Holy See.) 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 state-equivalent worldwide religious jurisdiction of the Holy See (not of the territory 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 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 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 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".
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.
Other traditional Christian churches (Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Old Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Independent Catholic churches, etc.) accept the doctrine of Apostolic succession and, to varying extents, papal claims to a primacy of honour, while generally rejecting the pope as the successor to Peter in any other sense than that of other bishops. Primacy is regarded as a consequence of the pope's position as bishop of the original capital city of the Roman Empire, a definition explicitly spelled out in the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon. These churches see no foundation to papal claims of universal immediate jurisdiction, or to claims of papal infallibility. Several of these churches refer to such claims as ultramontanism.
Protestant reformers have a very different view of the papacy. They discount the passages in the Gospel that the universal Christian Church used for the first 1500 years of its history to establish the power and legitimacy of the petrine office; examples include Jesus exhortation that Peter's profession of faith was the rock on which His Church would be built; Jesus command to Peter to feed and care for His sheep; and the Angel's command after the resurrection to "get the other Apostles and Peter" which signify special status. Peter's role in addressing the Church after Pentecost, a speech recorded in Acts of the Apostles, where he commands the Church is not viewed as legitimate sources of special authority. Protestant reformers claimed that Jesus made himself, not the profession of Faith of Peter, the rock of the Church, an interpretation that began to appear in the 16th century.
In 1973, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the USA National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation in the official Catholic–Lutheran dialogue included this passage in a larger statement on papal primacy:
In calling the pope the "Antichrist", the early Lutherans stood in a tradition that reached back into the eleventh century. Not only dissidents and heretics but even saints had called the bishop of Rome the "Antichrist" when they wished to castigate his abuse of power. What Lutherans understood as a papal claim to unlimited authority over everything and everyone reminded them of the apocalyptic imagery of Daniel 11, a passage that even prior to the Reformation had been applied to the pope as the Antichrist of the last days.
Protestant denominations of Christianity reject the claims of Petrine primacy 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 from 1 John 2:18, the Man of Sin from 2 Thessalonians 2:3–12, and the Beast out of the Earth from Revelation 13:11–18.
This sweeping rejection is held by, among others, some denominations of Lutherans: Confessional Lutherans hold that the pope is the Antichrist, stating that this article of faith is part of a quia ("because") rather than quatenus ("insofar as") subscription to the Book of Concord. In 1932, one of these Confessional churches, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), adopted A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, which a small number of Lutheran church bodies now hold. The Lutheran Churches of the Reformation, the Concordia Lutheran Conference, the Church of the Lutheran Confession, and the Illinois Lutheran Conference  all hold to the Brief Statement, which the LCMS places on its website. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), another Confessional Lutheran church that declares the Papacy to be the Antichrist, released its own statement, the "Statement on the Antichrist", in 1959. The WELS still holds to this statement.
Historically, Protestants objected to the papacy's claim of temporal power over all secular governments, including territorial claims in Italy, the papacy's complex relationship with secular states such as the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and the autocratic character of the papal office. In Western Christianity these objections both contributed to and are products of the Protestant Reformation.
Groups sometimes form around antipopes, 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) or to confusion as to who is the legitimate pope at the time (schism). Briefly in the 15th century, three separate lines of popes claimed authenticity (see Papal Schism). Even Catholics do not 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.
In the earlier centuries of Christianity, the title "Pope", meaning "father", had been used by all bishops. Some popes used the term and others did not. 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 English, Catholic priests are still addressed as "father", but the term "pope" is reserved for the head of the church hierarchy.
"Black Pope" is a name that was popularly, but unofficially, given to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus due to the Jesuits' 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 the popes dress in white) and the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (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 or Eastern Christianity was dominant. Some remnants of this situation remain, with the result that, for instance, New Zealand is still in the care of this Congregation.
Since the papacy of Heraclas in the 3rd century, the Bishop of Alexandria in both the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria continues 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 latter called "Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa".
In the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church and Serbian Orthodox Church, 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).
Some new religious movements within Christianity, especially those that have disassociated themselves from the Catholic Church yet retain a Catholic hierarchical framework, have used the designation "pope" for a founder or current leader. Examples include the African Legio Maria Church and the European Palmarian Catholic Church in Spain. The Cao Dai, a Vietnamese faith that duplicates the Roman Catholic hierarchy, is similarly headed by a pope.
Although the average reign of the pope from the Middle Ages was a decade, a number of those whose reign lengths can be determined from contemporary historical data are the following:
During the Western Schism, Avignon Pope Benedict XIII (1394–1423) ruled for 28 years, seven months and 12 days, which would place him third in the above list. However, since he is regarded as an anti-pope, he is not mentioned in the list above.
There have been a number of popes whose reign lasted about a month or less. 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.
Stephen (23–26 March 752) died of stroke three days after his election, and before his consecration 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. The Holy See's Annuario Pontificio, in its list of popes and antipopes, attaches a footnote to its mention of Stephen II (III):
On the death of Zachary the Roman priest Stephen was elected; but, since four days later he died, before his consecratio, which according to the canon law of the time was the true commencement of his pontificate, his name is not registered in the Liber Pontificalis nor in other lists of the popes.
Published every year by the Roman Curia, the Annuario Pontificio attaches no consecutive numbers to the popes, stating that it is impossible to decide which side represented at various times the legitimate succession, in particular regarding Pope Leo VIII, Pope Benedict V and some mid-11th-century popes.
[M]any scholars… accept Rome as the location of the martyrdom and the reign of Nero as the time.
It is readily answered by the Papists, that "Peter was the rock." But let them tell me why Matthew used not the same word in Greek, if our Saviour used the same word in Syriac. If he had intimated that the church should be built upon Peter, it had been plainer and more agreeable to be the vulgar idiom to have said, "Thou art Peter, and upon thee I will build my church.
by the rock, is meant, either the confession of faith made by Peter; not the act, nor form, but the matter of it, it containing the prime articles of Christianity, and which are as immoveable as a rock; or rather Christ himself, who points, as it were, with his finger to himself, and whom Peter had made such a glorious confession of; and who was prefigured by the rock the Israelites drank water out of in the wilderness; and is comparable to any rock for height, shelter, strength, firmness, and duration; and is the one and only foundation of his church and people, and on whom their security, salvation, and happiness entirely depend.
On this rock – Alluding to his name, which signifies a rock, namely, the faith which thou hast now professed; I will build my Church – But perhaps when our Lord uttered these words, he pointed to himself, in like manner as when he said, Destroy this temple, John 2:19; meaning the temple of his body. And it is certain, that as he is spoken of in Scripture, as the only foundation of the Church, so this is that which the apostles and evangelists laid in their preaching. It is in respect of laying this, that the names of the twelve apostles (not of St. Peter only) were equally inscribed on the twelve foundations of the city of God, Revelation 21:14. The gates of here – As gates and walls were the strength of cities, and as courts of judicature were held in their gates, this phrase properly signifies the power and policy of Satan and his instruments. Shall not prevail against it – Not against the Church universal, so as to destroy it. And they never did. There hath been a small remnant in all ages.
There is the Greek a play upon the words, "thou art Peter petros-- literally 'a little rock', and upon this rock Petra I will build my church." He does not promise to build His church upon Peter, but upon Himself, as Peter is careful to tell us (1 Peter 2:4–9).
First, Some by this rock understand Peter himself as an apostle, the chief, though not the prince, of the twelve, senior among them, but not superior over them. The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles, Ephesians 2:20. The first stones of that building were laid in and by their ministry; hence their names are said to be written in the foundations of the new Jerusalem, Revelation 21:14...First, Some by this rock understand Peter himself as an apostle, the chief, though not the prince, of the twelve, senior among them, but not superior over them. The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles, Ephesians 2:20. The first stones of that building were laid in and by their ministry; hence their names are said to be written in the foundations of the new Jerusalem, Revelation 21:14. ... Thirdly, Others by this rock understand this confession which Peter made of Christ, and this comes all to one with understanding it of Christ himself. It was a good confession which Peter witnessed, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God; the rest concurred with him in it. "Now", saith Christ, "this is that great truth upon which I will build my church." 1. Take away this truth itself, and the universal church falls to the ground. If Christ be not the Son of God, Christianity is a cheat, and the church is a mere chimera; our preaching is vain, your faith is vain, and you are yet in your sins, 1 Corinthians 15:14–17. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own him are not of the church, but deceivers and deceived. 2. Take away the faith and confession of this truth from any particular church, and it ceases to be a part of Christ's church, and relapses to the state and character of infidelity. This is articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesia—that article, with the admission or the denial of which the church either rises or falls; "the main hinge on which the door of salvation turns;" those who let go this, do not hold the foundation; and though they may call themselves Christians, they give themselves the lie; for the church is a sacred society, incorporated upon the certainty and assurance of this great truth; and great it is, and has prevailed.
Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) was an 18th-century English poet. He is best known for his satirical verse, including Essay on Criticism, The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad, and for his translation of Homer. He is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after Shakespeare.From the age of 12, he suffered numerous health problems including Pott's disease, which deformed his body and stunted his growth. He also suffered from respiratory difficulties, high fevers, inflamed eyes, and abdominal pain. His poor health alienated him from society, and though he had many female friends to whom he wrote witty letters, he never married.
In May, 1709, Pope's Pastorals was published and earned him instant fame. This was followed by An Essay on Criticism in May 1711, which was equally well received. Pope's most famous poem is The Rape of the Lock, first published in 1712. A mock-epic, it satirises a high-society quarrel between Arabella Fermor (the "Belinda" of the poem) and Lord Petre, who had snipped a lock of hair from her head without her permission. The poem brought into focus the onset of acquisitive individualism and conspicuous consumption, where purchased goods assume dominance over moral agency.
He made many enemies throughout his career, with his fierce satire and criticisms of prominent figures, and at one point deemed it necessary to carry pistols while walking his dog. After 1738, Pope wrote little, toyed with the idea of a patriotic epic called Brutus, but only the opening lines survive. He mainly revised and expanded his masterpiece The Dunciad. Book Four appeared in 1742, and a complete revision of the whole poem in the following year. In this version, Pope replaced Lewis Theobald, with the poet laureate Colley Cibber, as "king of dunces". But his real target is the writer and Whig politician Horace Walpole. By now Pope's health was failing, and when told by his physician, on the morning of his death, that he was better, Pope replied: "Here am I, dying of a hundred good symptoms".Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
Catholic theology is based on the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the pope is the successor to Saint Peter upon whom primacy was conferred by Jesus Christ. It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition. The Latin Church, the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches, and institutes such as mendicant orders and enclosed monastic orders reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the church.Of its seven sacraments the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in the Mass. The church teaches that through consecration by a priest the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions. Its teaching includes sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel as well as Catholic social teaching, which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world.The Catholic Church has influenced Western philosophy, culture, art, and science. Catholics live all over the world through missions, diaspora, and conversions. Since the 20th century the majority reside in the southern hemisphere due to secularisation in Europe, and increased persecution in the Middle East.
The Catholic Church shared communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, disputing particularly the authority of the pope, as well as with the Oriental Orthodox churches prior to the Chalcedonian schism in 451 over differences in Christology. The Reformation of the 16th century resulted in Protestants breaking away.
From the late 20th century, the Catholic Church has been criticised for its teaching on sexuality, its refusal to ordain women, as well as the handling of sexual abuse cases involving clergy.Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: San Francesco d'Assisi, Latin: Sanctus Franciscus Assisiensis), born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco (1181/1182 – 3 October 1226), was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16 July 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated Patron saint of Italy. He later became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals. In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the Order. Once his community was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. Francis is also known for his love of the Eucharist. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene. According to Christian tradition, in 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy, which would make him the second person in Christian tradition after St. Paul (Galatians 6:17) to bear the wounds of Christ's Passion. He died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142 (141).Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor (also "German-Roman Emperor", German: Römisch-deutscher Kaiser "Roman-German emperor"; historically Imperator Romanorum, "Emperor of the Romans") was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire (considered by itself to be the successor of the Roman Empire) during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The title was, almost without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany (rex teutonicorum) throughout the 12th to 18th centuries.From an autocracy in Carolingian times (AD 800–924) the title by the 13th century evolved into an elected monarchy chosen by the prince-electors.
Various royal houses of Europe, at different times, became de facto hereditary holders of the title, notably the Ottonians (962–1024) and the Salians (1027–1125). Following the late medieval crisis of government, the Habsburgs kept possession of the title without interruption from 1440–1740. The final emperors were from the House of Lorraine (Habsburg-Lorraine), from 1765–1806. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved by Emperor Francis II, after a devastating defeat to Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz.
The Holy Roman Emperor was widely perceived to rule by divine right, though he often contradicted or rivaled the Pope, most notably during the Investiture controversy.
In theory, the Holy Roman Emperor was primus inter pares (first among equals) among other Catholic monarchs. In practice, a Holy Roman Emperor was only as strong as his army and alliances, including marriage alliances, made him. There was never a Holy Roman Empress regnant, though women such as Theophanu and Maria Theresa of Austria served as de facto Empresses regnant.
Throughout its history, the position was viewed as a defender of the Roman Catholic faith. Until the Reformation, the Emperor elect (imperator electus) was required to be crowned by the Pope before assuming the imperial title. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was the last to be crowned by the Pope in 1530. Even after the Reformation, the elected Emperor always was a Roman Catholic. There were short periods in history when the electoral college was dominated by Protestants, and the electors usually voted in their own political interest.List of popes
This chronological list of popes corresponds to that given in the Annuario Pontificio under the heading "I Sommi Pontefici Romani" (The Supreme Pontiffs of Rome), excluding those that are explicitly indicated as antipopes. Published every year by the Roman Curia, the Annuario Pontificio attaches no consecutive numbers to the popes, stating that it is impossible to decide which side represented at various times the legitimate succession, in particular regarding Pope Leo VIII, Pope Benedict V and some mid-11th-century popes. The 2001 edition of the Annuario Pontificio introduced "almost 200 corrections to its existing biographies of the popes, from St Peter to John Paul II". The corrections concerned dates, especially in the first two centuries, birthplaces and the family name of one pope.The term pope (Latin: papa, lit. 'father') is used in several Churches to denote their high spiritual leaders (for example Coptic Pope). This title in English usage usually refers to the head of the Catholic Church. The Catholic pope uses various titles by tradition, including Summus Pontifex, Pontifex Maximus, and Servus servorum Dei. Each title has been added by unique historical events and unlike other papal prerogatives, is not incapable of modification.Hermannus Contractus may have been the first historian to number the popes continuously. His list ends in 1049 with Pope Leo IX as number 154. Several changes were made to the list during the 20th century. Antipope Christopher was considered legitimate for a long time. Pope-elect Stephen was considered legitimate under the name Stephen II until the 1961 edition, when his name was erased. Although these changes are no longer controversial, a number of modern lists still include this "first Pope Stephen II". It is probable that this is because they are based on the 1913 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain.
A significant number of these popes have been recognized as saints, including 48 out of the first 50 consecutive popes, and others are in the sainthood process. Of the first 31 popes, 28 died as martyrs (see List of murdered popes).Papal States
The Papal States (Italian: Stato Pontificio), officially the State of the Church (Italian: Stato della Chiesa, Italian pronunciation: [ˈstaːto della ˈkjɛːza; ˈkjeː-]; Latin: Status Ecclesiasticus; also Dicio Pontificia), were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the Pope, from the 8th century until 1870. They were among the major states of Italy from roughly the 8th century until the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia unified the Italian Peninsula by conquest in a campaign virtually concluded in 1861 and definitively in 1870. At their zenith, the Papal States covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio (which includes Rome), Marche, Umbria and Romagna, and portions of Emilia. These holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy.
By 1861, much of the Papal States' territory had been conquered by the Kingdom of Italy. Only Lazio, including Rome, remained under the Pope's temporal control. In 1870, the Pope lost Lazio and Rome and had no physical territory at all, except the Basilica of St Peter and the papal residence and related buildings around the Vatican quarter of Rome, which the new Italian state did not occupy militarily. In 1929 the head of the Italian government, at the time the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, ended the crisis between unified Italy and the Holy See by negotiating the Lateran Treaty, signed by the two parties. This recognized the sovereignty of the Holy See over a newly created international territorial entity, the Vatican City State, limited to a token territory.Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo de Borja (Valencian: Roderic Llançol i de Borja [roðeˈɾiɡ ʎanˈsɔl i ðe ˈbɔɾdʒa], Spanish: Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja [roˈðɾiɣo lanˈθol i ðe ˈβoɾxa]; 1 January 1431 – 18 August 1503), was Pope from 11 August 1492 until his death. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, partly because he acknowledged fathering several children by his mistresses. Therefore his Italianized Valencian surname, Borgia, became a byword for libertinism and nepotism, which are traditionally considered as characterizing his pontificate.
Born in the territories of the Crown of Aragon in Spain, his bulls of 1493 confirmed or reconfirmed the rights of the Spanish crown in the New World following the finds of Christopher Columbus in 1492. On the other hand, he sided with France during the second Italian war and supported his son Cesare Borgia as a condottiero for the French King. The scope of his foreign policy was to gain the most advantageous terms for his family.Two of Alexander's successors, Sixtus V and Urban VIII, described him as one of the most outstanding popes since Saint Peter.Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus XVI; Italian: Benedetto XVI; German: Benedikt XVI; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger; German pronunciation: [ˈjoːzɛf ˈalɔʏzi̯ʊs ˈʁatsɪŋɐ]; 16 April 1927), also known as the Pope emeritus, is a retired senior prelate of the Catholic Church who served as head of the Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 2005 until his resignation in 2013. Benedict's election as pope occurred in the 2005 papal conclave that followed the death of Pope John Paul II. Benedict chose to be known by the title "Pope Emeritus" upon his resignation.Ordained as a priest in 1951 in his native Bavaria, Ratzinger had established himself as a highly regarded university theologian by the late 1950s and was appointed a full professor in 1958. After a long career as an academic and professor of theology at several German universities, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and Cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little pastoral experience. In 1981, he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most important dicasteries of the Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals. Prior to becoming Pope, he was "a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century"; he had an influence "second to none when it came to setting church priorities and directions" as one of John Paul II's closest confidants. He has lived in Rome since 1981.
His prolific writings generally defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. He was originally a liberal theologian, but adopted conservative views after 1968. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many Western countries. He views relativism's denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He taught the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God's redemptive love. Pope Benedict also revived a number of traditions, including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position. He strengthened the relationship between the Catholic Church and art, promoted the use of Latin, and reintroduced traditional papal garments, for which reason he was called "the pope of aesthetics". He has been described as "the main intellectual force in the Church" since the mid-1980s.On 11 February 2013, Benedict unexpectedly announced his resignation in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, citing a "lack of strength of mind and body" due to his advanced age. His resignation became effective on 28 February 2013. He is the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so on his own initiative since Celestine V in 1294. As pope emeritus, Benedict retains the style of His Holiness, and the title of pope, and continues to dress in the papal colour of white. He was succeeded by Pope Francis on 13 March 2013, and he moved into the newly renovated monastery Mater Ecclesiae for his retirement on 2 May 2013. In his retirement, Benedict XVI has made occasional public appearances alongside Pope Francis.Pope Francis
Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio; 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first to visit the Arabian Peninsula, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina's provincial superior of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina. The administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, emphasis on God's mercy, international visibility as Pope, concern for the poor and commitment to interfaith dialogue. He is credited with having a less formal approach to the papacy than his predecessors, for instance choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace used by previous popes. He maintains that the Church should be more open and welcoming. He does not support unbridled capitalism, Marxism, or Marxist versions of liberation theology. Francis maintains the traditional views of the Church regarding abortion, marriage, ordination of women, and clerical celibacy. He opposes consumerism and overdevelopment, and supports taking action on climate change, a focus of his papacy with the promulgation of Laudato si'. In international diplomacy, he helped to restore full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and supported the cause of refugees during the European migrant crisis. Since 2016, Francis has faced increasingly open criticism, particularly from theological conservatives, on the question of admitting civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion with the publication of Amoris laetitia and on the question of the alleged cover-up of clergy sexual abuse.Pope John Paul I
Pope John Paul I (Latin: Ioannes Paulus I; Italian: Giovanni Paolo I; born Albino Luciani; Italian: [alˈbiːno luˈtʃaːni]; 17 October 1912 – 28 September 1978) was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City from 26 August 1978 to his death 33 days later. He was the first pope to have been born in the 20th century. His reign is among the shortest in papal history, resulting in the most recent year of three popes, the first to occur since 1605. John Paul I remains the most recent Italian-born pope, the last in a succession of such popes that started with Clement VII in 1523.
He was declared a Servant of God by his successor, John Paul II, on 23 November 2003, the first step on the road to sainthood. Pope Francis confirmed his heroic virtue on 8 November 2017 and named him as Venerable.
Before the papal conclave that elected him, he expressed his desire not to be elected, telling those close to him that he would decline the papacy if elected, but, upon the cardinals electing him, he felt an obligation to say yes. He was the first pontiff to have a double name, choosing "John Paul" in honour of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI. He explained that he was indebted to John XXIII and to Paul VI for naming him a bishop and a cardinal, respectively. Furthermore, he was the first pope to add the regnal number "I", designating himself "the First".
His two immediate successors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, later recalled the warm qualities of the late pontiff in several addresses. In Italy, he is remembered with the appellatives of "Il Papa del Sorriso" (The Smiling Pope) and "Il Sorriso di Dio" (The smile of God). TIME magazine and other publications referred to him as The September Pope. He is also known in Italy as "Papa Luciani". In his town of birth, Canale d'Agordo, there is a museum that has been made and named in his honour that is dedicated to his life and his brief papacy.Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus II; Italian: Giovanni Paolo II; Polish: Jan Paweł II; born Karol Józef Wojtyła [ˈkarɔl ˈjuzɛv vɔjˈtɨwa]; 18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) was the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 to 2005.
He was elected pope by the second Papal conclave of 1978, which was called after Pope John Paul I, who had been elected in August to succeed Pope Paul VI, died after 33 days.
Cardinal Wojtyła was elected on the third day of the conclave and adopted the name of his predecessor in tribute to him. John Paul II is recognised as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. John Paul II significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. He upheld the Church's teachings on such matters as the right to life, artificial contraception, the ordination of women, and a celibate clergy, and although he supported the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, he was seen as generally conservative in their interpretation.He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 and canonised 483 people, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries. By the time of his death, he had named most of the College of Cardinals, consecrated or co-consecrated a large number of the world's bishops, and ordained many priests. A key goal of John Paul's papacy was to transform and reposition the Catholic Church. His wish was "to place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great religious armada".John Paul II was the second longest-serving pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX, who served for nearly 32 years from 1846 to 1878. Born in Poland, John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Pope Adrian VI, who served from 1522 to 1523. John Paul II's cause for canonisation commenced in 2005 one month after his death with the traditional five-year waiting period waived. On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed Venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and was beatified on 1 May 2011 (Divine Mercy Sunday) after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints attributed one miracle to his intercession, the healing of a French nun from Parkinson's disease. A second miracle attributed to John Paul II's intercession was approved on 2 July 2013, and confirmed by Pope Francis two days later (two miracles must be attributed to a person's intercession to be declared a saint). John Paul II was canonised on 27 April 2014 (again Divine Mercy Sunday), together with Pope John XXIII. On 11 September 2014, Pope Francis added these two optional memorials to the worldwide General Roman Calendar of saints, in response to worldwide requests. It is traditional to celebrate saints' feast days on the anniversary of their deaths, but that of John Paul II (22 October) is celebrated on the anniversary of his papal inauguration. Posthumously, he has been referred to by some Catholics as "St. John Paul the Great", although the title has no official recognition.Pope John XXIII
Pope Saint John XXIII (Latin: Ioannes; Italian: Giovanni; born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Italian pronunciation: [ˈandʒelo dʒuˈzɛppe roŋˈkalli]; 25 November 1881 – 3 June 1963) was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 28 October 1958 to his death in 1963; he was canonized on 27 April 2014. Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was one of thirteen children born to a family of sharecroppers who lived in a village in Lombardy. He was ordained to the priesthood on 10 August 1904 and served in a number of posts, as nuncio in France and a delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. In a consistory on 12 January 1953 Pope Pius XII made Roncalli a cardinal as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in addition to naming him as the Patriarch of Venice.
Roncalli was unexpectedly elected pope on 28 October 1958 at age 76 after 11 ballots. Pope John XXIII surprised those who expected him to be a caretaker pope by calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), the first session opening on 11 October 1962. His passionate views on equality were summed up in his statement, "We were all made in God's image, and thus, we are all Godly alike."John XXIII made many passionate speeches during his pontificate. He made a major impact on the Catholic Church, opening it up to dramatic unexpected changes promulgated at the Vatican Council and by his own dealings with other churches and nations. In Italian politics, he prohibited bishops from interfering with local elections, and he helped the Christian Democratic Party to cooperate with the socialists. In international affairs, his "Ostpolitik" engaged in dialogue with the Communist countries of Eastern Europe. He especially reached out to the Eastern Orthodox churches. His overall goal was to modernize the Church by emphasizing its pastoral role, and its necessary involvement with affairs of state. He dropped the traditional rule of 70 cardinals, increasing the size to 85. He used the opportunity to name the first cardinals from Africa, Japan, and the Philippines. He promoted ecumenical movements in cooperation with other Christian faiths. In doctrinal matters, he was a traditionalist, but he ended the practice of automatically formulating social and political policies on the basis of old theological propositions.He did not live to see the Vatican Council to completion. His cause for canonization was opened on 18 November 1965 by his successor, Pope Paul VI, who declared him a Servant of God. On 5 July 2013, Pope Francis – bypassing the traditionally required second miracle – declared John XXIII a saint, based on his virtuous, model lifestyle, and because of the good which had come from his having opened the Second Vatican Council. He was canonised alongside Pope John Paul II on 27 April 2014. John XXIII today is affectionately known as the "Good Pope" and in Italian, "il Papa buono".Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X (11 December 1475 – 1 December 1521), born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was Pope from 9 March 1513 to his death in 1521.Born into the prominent political and banking Medici family of Florence, Giovanni was the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, ruler of the Florentine Republic, he was elevated to the cardinalate in 1489. Following the death of Pope Julius II, Giovanni was elected pope after securing the backing of the younger members of the Sacred College. Early on in his rule he oversaw the closing sessions of the Fifth Council of the Lateran, but struggled to implement the reforms agreed. In 1517 he led a costly war that succeeded in securing his nephew as Duke of Urbino, but which reduced papal finances.
In Protestant circles, Leo is associated with granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica, a practice that was soon challenged by Martin Luther's 95 Theses. He refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the demands of what would become the Protestant Reformation, and his Papal Bull of 1520, Exsurge Domine, condemned Martin Luther's condemnatory stance, rendering ongoing communication difficult. Notwithstanding these divisions, he granted establishment to the Oratory of Divine Love.
He borrowed and spent money without circumspection. A significant patron of the arts, upon election Leo is alleged to have said, "Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it." Under his reign, progress was made on the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica and artists such as Raphael decorated the Vatican rooms. Leo also reorganised the Roman University, and promoted the study of literature, poetry and antiquities. He died in 1521 and is buried in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome. He was the last pope not to have been in priestly orders at the time of his election to the papacy.Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI (Latin: Paulus VI; Italian: Paolo VI; born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanːi baˈtːista enˈriːko anˈtɔːnjo maˈriːa monˈtiːni]); 26 September 1897 – 6 August 1978) was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements. Montini served in the Holy See's Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. While in the Secretariat of State, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential advisors of Pius XII, who in 1954 named him Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese. Montini later became the Secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference. John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.Upon his election to the papacy, Montini took the name Paul VI. He re-convened the Second Vatican Council, which had automatically closed with the death of John XXIII. After the Council had concluded its work, Paul VI took charge of the interpretation and implementation of its mandates, often walking a thin line between the conflicting expectations of various groups within Catholicism. The magnitude and depth of the reforms affecting all fields of Church life during his pontificate exceeded similar reform programmes of his predecessors and successors. Paul VI spoke repeatedly to Marian conventions and mariological meetings, visited Marian shrines and issued three Marian encyclicals. Following Ambrose of Milan, he named Mary as the Mother of the Church during the Second Vatican Council. Paul VI described himself as a humble servant for a suffering humanity and demanded significant changes from the rich in North America and Europe in favour of the poor in the Third World. His positions on birth control, promulgated famously in the 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae, were often contested, especially in Western Europe and North America. The same opposition emerged in reaction to the political aspects of some of his teaching.
Following the standard procedures that lead to sainthood, Pope Benedict XVI declared that the late pontiff had lived a life of heroic virtue and conferred the title of Venerable upon him on 20 December 2012. Pope Francis beatified him on 19 October 2014 after the recognition of a miracle attributed to his intercession. His liturgical feast was celebrated on the date of his birth on 26 September until 2019 when it was changed to the date of his sacerdotal ordination on 29 May. Pope Francis canonised Paul VI on 14 October 2018.Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX (Italian: Pio; 13 May 1792 – 7 February 1878), born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti (Italian: [dʒoˈvan:i maˈri:a masˈtai ferˈret:i]), was head of the Catholic Church from 16 June 1846 to his death on 7 February 1878. He was the longest-reigning elected pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving for over 31 years. During his pontificate, Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council (1869–70), which decreed papal infallibility, but the council was cut short owing to the loss of the Papal States.
Europe, including the Italian peninsula, was in the midst of considerable political ferment when the bishop of Imola, Giovanni Maria Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti, was elected pope. He took the name Pius, after his generous patron and the long-suffering prisoner of Napoleon, Pius VII. He had been elected by the faction of cardinals sympathetic to the political liberalization coursing across Europe, and his initial governance of the Papal States gives evidence of his own moderate sympathies; under his direction various sorts of political prisoners in the Papal States were released. A series of terrorist acts sponsored by Italian liberals and nationalists, which included the assassination of (among others) his Minister of the Interior, Pellegrino Rossi, and which forced Pius himself to briefly flee Rome in 1848, along with widespread revolutions in Europe, led to his growing skepticism towards the liberal, nationalist agenda. Through the 1850s and 1860s, Italian nationalists made military gains against the Papal States, which culminated in the seizure of the city of Rome in 1870 and the dissolution of the Papal States. Thereafter, Pius IX refused to accept the Law of Guarantees from the Italian government, which would have made the Holy See dependent on legislation that the Italian parliament could modify at any time. Pius refused to leave Vatican City, declaring himself a "prisoner of the Vatican". His ecclesiastical policies towards other countries, such as Russia, Germany or France, were not always successful, owing in part to changing secular institutions and internal developments within these countries. However, concordats were concluded with numerous states such as Austria-Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Tuscany, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti.
Pius was a Marian pope, who in his encyclical Ubi primum emphasized Mary's role in salvation. In 1854, he promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, articulating a long-held Catholic belief that Mary, the Mother of God, was conceived without original sin. He conferred the title Our Mother of Perpetual Help on a famous Byzantine icon from Crete entrusted to the Redemptorists. In 1862, he convened 300 bishops to the Vatican for the canonization of Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan.
His 1864 Syllabus of Errors stands as a strong condemnation against liberalism, modernism, moral relativism, secularization, and separation of church and state. Pius definitively reaffirmed Catholic teaching in favor of the establishment of the Catholic faith as the state religion in nations where the majority of the population is Catholic. However, his most important legacy is the First Vatican Council, convened in 1869, which defined the dogma of papal infallibility, but was interrupted as Italian nationalist troops threatened Rome. The council is considered to have contributed to a centralization of the church in the Vatican, while also clearly defining the Pope's doctrinal authority.
Many recent ecclesiastical historians and journalists question his approaches. His appeal for public worldwide support of the Holy See after he became "the prisoner of the Vatican" resulted in the revival and spread to the whole Catholic Church of Peter's Pence, which is used today to enable the Pope "to respond to those who are suffering as a result of war, oppression, natural disaster, and disease". After his death in 1878, his canonization process was opened on 11 February 1907 by Pope Pius X, and it drew considerable controversy over the years. It was closed on several occasions during the pontificates of Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XI. Pope Pius XII re-opened the cause on 7 December 1954, and Pope John Paul II proclaimed him Venerable on 6 July 1985. He was beatified on 3 September 2000 after the recognition of a miracle. Pius IX was assigned the liturgical feast day of 7 February, the date of his death.Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI, (Italian: Pio XI) born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti (Italian: [amˈbrɔ:dʒo daˈmja:no aˈkille ˈratti]; 31 May 1857 – 10 February 1939), was head of the Catholic Church from 6 February 1922 to his death in 1939. He was the first sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929. He took as his papal motto, "Pax Christi in Regno Christi," translated "The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ."
Pius XI issued numerous encyclicals, including Quadragesimo anno on the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's groundbreaking social encyclical Rerum novarum, highlighting the capitalistic greed of international finance, the dangers of socialism/communism, and social justice issues, and Quas primas, establishing the feast of Christ the King in response to anti-clericalism. The encyclical Studiorum ducem, promulgated 29 June 1923, was written on the occasion of the 6th centenary of the canonization of Thomas Aquinas, whose thought is acclaimed as central to Catholic philosophy and theology. The encyclical also singles out the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum as the preeminent institution for the teaching of Aquinas: "ante omnia Pontificium Collegium Angelicum, ubi Thomam tamquam domi suae habitare dixeris" (before all others the Pontifical Angelicum College, where Thomas can be said to dwell).To establish or maintain the position of the Catholic Church, Pius XI concluded a record number of concordats, including the Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany, whose betrayals of which he condemned four years later in the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge ("With Burning Concern"). During his pontificate, the longstanding hostility with the Italian government over the status of the papacy and the Church in Italy was successfully resolved in the Lateran Treaty of 1929. He was unable to stop the persecution of the Church and the killing of clergy in Mexico, Spain and the Soviet Union. He canonized important saints, including Thomas More, Peter Canisius, Bernadette of Lourdes and Don Bosco. He beatified and canonized Thérèse de Lisieux, for whom he held special reverence, and gave equivalent canonization to Albertus Magnus, naming him a Doctor of the Church due to the spiritual power of his writings. He took a strong interest in fostering the participation of lay people throughout the Catholic Church, especially in the Catholic Action movement. The end of his pontificate was dominated by speaking out against Hitler and Mussolini and defending the Catholic Church from intrusions into Catholic life and education.
Pius XI died on 10 February 1939 in the Apostolic Palace and is buried in the Papal Grotto of Saint Peter's Basilica. In the course of excavating space for his tomb, two levels of burial grounds were uncovered which revealed bones now venerated as the bones of St. Peter.Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII (Italian: Pio XII), born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (Italian pronunciation: [euˈdʒɛːnjo maˈriːa dʒuˈzɛppe dʒoˈvanni paˈtʃɛlli]; 2 March 1876 – 9 October 1958), was head of the Catholic Church from 2 March 1939 to his death. Before his election to the papacy, he served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio to Germany, and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany.While the Vatican was officially neutral during World War II, Pius XII maintained links to the German Resistance, used diplomacy to aid the victims of the war and lobby for peace, and spoke out against race-based murders and other atrocities. The Reichskonkordat and his leadership of the Catholic Church during the war remain the subject of controversy—including allegations of public silence and inaction about the fate of the Jews. After the war, he advocated peace and reconciliation, including lenient policies towards former Axis and Axis-satellite nations. He was also a staunch opponent of Communism and of the Italian Communist Party.
During his papacy, the Church issued the Decree against Communism, declaring that Catholics who profess Communist doctrine are to be excommunicated as apostates from the Christian faith. In turn, the Church experienced severe persecution and mass deportations of Catholic clergy in the Eastern Bloc. He explicitly invoked ex cathedra papal infallibility with the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in his Apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus. His magisterium includes almost 1,000 addresses and radio broadcasts. His forty-one encyclicals include Mystici corporis, the Church as the Body of Christ; Mediator Dei on liturgy reform; and Humani generis on the Church's positions on theology and evolution. He eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals in 1946.
After his 1958 death, he was succeeded by Pope John XXIII. In the process toward sainthood, his cause for canonization was opened on 18 November 1965 by Pope Paul VI during the final session of the Second Vatican Council. He was made a Servant of God by Pope John Paul II in 1990 and Pope Benedict XVI declared Pius XII Venerable on 19 December 2009.Saint Peter
Saint Peter (Syriac: ܫܸܡܥܘܿܢ ܟܹ݁ܐܦ݂ܵܐ, Šemʿōn Kēp̄ā; Hebrew: שמעון בר יונה Šimʿōn bar Yōnāh; Greek: Πέτρος, translit. Petros; Coptic: ⲡⲉⲧⲣⲟⲥ, romanized: Petros; Latin: Petrus; r. AD 30; died between AD 64 and 68), also known as Simon Peter, Simeon, Simon (, pronunciation ), or Cephas, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, and the first leader of the early Church.
According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero. He is traditionally counted as the first Bishop of Rome—or pope—and also by Eastern Christian tradition as the first Patriarch of Antioch. The ancient Christian churches all venerate Peter as a major saint and as the founder of the Church of Antioch and the Roman Church, but differ in their attitudes regarding the authority of his present-day successors (the primacy of the Bishop of Rome). According to Catholic teaching, in Matthew 16:18 Jesus promised Peter a special position in the Church.
Two general epistles in the New Testament are ascribed to Peter, but modern scholars generally reject the Petrine authorship of both. The Gospel of Mark was traditionally thought to show the influence of Peter's preaching and eyewitness memories. Several other books bearing his name—the Acts of Peter, Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, and Judgment of Peter—are considered by Christian denominations as apocryphal, and are thus not included in their Bible canons.Second Vatican Council
The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965.
Several changes resulted from the council, including the renewal of consecrated life with a revised charism, ecumenical efforts towards dialogue with other religions, and the universal call to holiness, which according to Pope Paul VI was "the most characteristic and ultimate purpose of the teachings of the Council".According to Pope Benedict XVI, the most important and essential message of the council is "the Paschal Mystery as the center of what it is to be Christian and therefore of the Christian life, the Christian year, the Christian seasons". Other changes which followed the council included the widespread use of vernacular languages in the Mass instead of Latin, the subtle disuse of ornate clerical regalia, the revision of Eucharistic (liturgical) prayers, the abbreviation of the liturgical calendar, the ability to celebrate the Mass versus populum (with the officiant facing the congregation), as well as ad orientem (facing the "East" and the Crucifix), and modern aesthetic changes encompassing contemporary Catholic liturgical music and artwork. Many of these changes remain divisive among the Catholic faithful.Of those who took part in the council's opening session, four have become popes: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, who on succeeding John XXIII took the name Pope Paul VI; Bishop Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I; Bishop Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II; and Joseph Ratzinger, present as a theological consultant, who became Pope Benedict XVI.In the 1950s, theological and biblical studies in the Catholic Church had begun to sway away from the Neo-Scholasticism and biblical literalism which a reaction to Catholic modernism had enforced since the First Vatican Council. This shift could be seen in theologians such as Karl Rahner, Michael Herbert, and John Courtney Murray who looked to integrate modern human experience with church principles based on Jesus Christ, as well as others such as Yves Congar, Joseph Ratzinger and Henri de Lubac, who looked to an accurate understanding of scripture and the early Church Fathers as a source of renewal (ressourcement).
At the same time, the world's bishops faced challenges driven by political, social, economic, and technological change. Some of these bishops sought new ways of addressing those challenges. The First Vatican Council had been held nearly a century before but had been cut short in 1870 when the Italian Army entered the city of Rome at the end of Italian unification. As a result, only deliberations on the role of the papacy and the congruent relationship of faith and reason were completed, with examination of pastoral issues concerning the direction of the Church left unaddressed.Pope John XXIII, however, gave notice of his intention to convene the Council on 25 January 1959, less than three months after his election in October 1958. This sudden announcement, which caught the Curia by surprise, caused little initial official comment from Church insiders. Reaction to the announcement was widespread and largely positive from both religious and secular leaders outside the Catholic Church, and the council was formally summoned by the apostolic constitution Humanae Salutis on 25 December 1961. In various discussions before the Council convened, John XXIII said that it was time to "open the windows [of the Church] and let in some fresh air". He invited other Christians outside the Catholic Church to send observers to the Council. Acceptances came from both the Eastern Orthodox Church and Protestant denominations as internal observers, but these observers did not cast votes in the approbation of the conciliar documents.
Popes of the Catholic Church
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
including under Constantine (312–337)
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
Byzantine Papacy (537–752)
Frankish Papacy (756–857)
Papal selection before 1059
Saeculum obscurum (904–964)
Crescentii era (974–1012)
Tusculan Papacy (1012–1044/1048)
Imperial Papacy (1048–1257)
Avignon Papacy (1309–1378)
Western Schism (1378–1417)
Renaissance Papacy (1417–1534)
Reformation Papacy (1534–1585)
Baroque Papacy (1585–1689)
Age of Enlightenment (c. 1640-1740)
Revolutionary Papacy (1775–1848)
Roman Question (1870–1929)
Vatican City (1929–present)
|History of the papacy|
|Elections and conclaves|
of the Catholic Church
|Latin Church Fathers|
|Early Middle Ages|
|High Middle Ages|
|Late Middle Ages|
of the faithful
Traditional ecclesiastical jurisidictions in Christianity (and denominational claimants), sorted according to earliest legacy
Legend: in bold blue the patriarchs belonging to the Catholic Church, in light blue those belonging to the Eastern Catholic Church, and in green those belonging to Oriental Orthodoxy.
in late Antiquity
Heads of state and government of Europe