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Pope (from Greek πάππας pappas, father)[1] is the primary designation of the official title of each of the primary heads (on earth) of four Christian Churches[2] who exercise patriarchal primacy (from Latin patriarcha, from Greek patriarkhēs head of a family, from patria family, clan, lineage, and archein to rule):[3]

  • The Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch of the Catholic Church and Patriarch of the West
  • The Pope of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of All-Africa (Calcedonian)[4]
  • The Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of All-Africa (non-Calcedonian)[5]
  • The Pope of The Palmarian Catholic Church (in Spain)[6]

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is the leader of Eastern Orthodoxy.

The papacy (patriarch in the case of the Orthodox churches) is based off the rabbi system.

"Father" Matthew 23:9 exegesis

"Pope" simply means "Father". "Patriarch" means "Father head", "Great Father".

The Lord Jesus Christ did not say, "Call no man on earth, 'father' "—because the word "your" is missing (Greek ὑμῶν hymōn).
The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Call no man on the earth your father" Matthew 23:9.
See the interlinear English and Greek text.

Compare multiple versions of Matthew 23:9 and multiple commentaries on Matthew 23:9.
Jesus does not say, "Do not be called 'fathers'."—but in verse 10, he says, "Neither be called masters".

The meaning of this text within the historical and cultural context of first century Judea is that no male parent is to be regarded as the true father of any son or daughter naturally sired by him—as middle eastern cultural tradition taught each child to regard him—with an absolute claim to personal loyalty and obedience, above and apart from any other consideration of affection, respect, duty and reverence they might owe to another, to mother or sibling or spouse or children or friend or comrade-in-arms or teacher or commander or king or country, or even life itself. Tradition demanded absolute allegiance, respect and obedience. See Exodus 20:12 commentaries.

Students who came to regard their teachers and rabbis with reverent affection and loyalty, even awe, for imparting the knowledge of Torah to them, were traditionally encouraged to address them as "my father" and to regard them as their spiritual fathers, to whom they owed everything, honor, reverence, even their lives. The rabbi was also revered as being a figure closer to God than anyone else in the community.[7] Jesus is setting them free of the tradition of unquestioning imitation of those abusers of legitimate Jewish authority, who set aside the substance of the teaching of Moses and the scriptures for the sake of their own self-promoting customs and ritual traditions.

This text in Matthew 23:9 has been cited as condemning any use of the word "father" as an address or title of respect to any man, as if it said, "Call no man on earth, 'father'...". However, this is a defective reading of the meaning of the text, because a word has been removed by such a reading (interpretation) of the text. Against this reading, multiple passages in sacred scripture itself demonstrate that the apostles and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ addressed others as "father" and were themselves called "father".

St. Paul told the Corinthians that though they had many guides, he was their father through the gospel, and he also said he was a father to Timothy. St. Stephen addressed the high priest and members of the council as fathers, and John explicitly addresses the leaders of the Christian community as "fathers". In the same way, for example, no Catholic says to a priest, "my father", but says instead, "Father — (insert name)", as a title of respect. There is a substantial difference in saying "my father" and simply saying "Father". See Acts 7:2, 22:1; 1 John 2:12-14; 1 Corinthians 4:14-15; Philippians 2:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; Hebrews 13:17. Compare multiple commentaries on the divine origin of the title "father" as proper to heads of all families in Ephesians 3:14 and 15. "The Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named."

Most translations of Matthew 23:9 faithfully say "your father"; but others explicitly omit the word ὑμῶν "your" in translation as an anti-Catholic reading (polemic) which has no grammatical basis and cannot be justified according to the New Testament Greek text of Matthew 23:9

9 καὶ πατέρα μὴ καλέσητε ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς· εἷς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ πατήρ ὑμῶν, ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

Omitting to include in translation a word that is present in every extant manuscript of this verse in Matthew is a deliberate act involving substantial alteration of the meaning of the scriptural text, an act which every Bible-believing Christian condemns.
See Jeremiah 8:8 and Revelation 22:18.

Here is a list of some of the more widely published and distributed translations which exclude the word "your" in Matthew 23:9, among their other violations of the Bible:

  • NIV New International Version
  • NLT New Living Translation
  • ISV International Standard Version
  • ABE Aramaic Bible in English

In the early centuries of Christianity, the title of Father (Greek pappas, papa, pape "pap-eh") was applied, especially in the east, to all bishops and other senior clergy,[8] and later became reserved in the west to the Bishop of Rome, a reservation made official only in the 11th century.[9] 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).[10] The earliest recorded use of the title "pope" in English dates to the mid-10th century, when it was used in reference to Pope Vitalian in an Old English translation of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum[11]—however, in the particular case of Vitalian, the term was applied ironically as a form of sarcasm.

Supreme Pontiff

Pope John XII

The Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch of the Catholic Church is the head of the Roman Catholic Church (the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church). Throughout the world "The Pope" (as a title, without specification) is universally understood to designate the Patriarch of the West. His Catholic titles include Bishop of Rome, in which position he is considered by Roman Catholics to be the successor of St. Peter. The Pope is the chief pastor of the whole Church Catholic, the "Vicar of Christ upon earth." [12] The titles Summus pontifex and Pontifex maximus (Supreme Pontiff) are titles of dignity.[13] In ancient Rome pontifex maximus was the title of the chief priest of Rome, the Roman Pontiff.

He appoints all the cardinals and bishops, but otherwise has limited control over them. Catholics consider him infallible in certain (rare) proclamations, and cite the Bible in support of that belief:

Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock (Cepha) I will build my Church. Matthew 16:17-19. Be the shepherd of my sheep. John 21:16.

The Pope's ecclesiastical seat of jurisdictional authority is called the Holy See. Since 1059 The Pope has always been chosen by the Cardinals of the Catholic Church meeting in secret. When they have not reached a decision they burn the ballots and black smoke emerges; when a pope is chosen the smoke is white.


  • Tiara

The pope was once distinguished by the use of the tiara or triple crown at his coronation. No pope has worn an actual triple tiara since Pope Paul VI at the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965.

At what date the custom of crowning the pope was introduced is unknown. It was certainly previous to the forged Donation of Constantine, which dates from the commencement of the ninth century, for mention is there made of the pope's coronation.

The triple crown is of much later origin. (it remains only a symbol)

  • Cross

The pope moreover does not, like ordinary bishops, use the bent pastoral staff, but only the erect cross. This custom was introduced before the reign of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) (cap. un. X de sacra unctione, I, 15).

  • Pallium

He further uses the pallium at all ecclesiastical functions, and not under the same restrictions as do the archbishops on whom he has conferred it. [14]

  • Fisherman's Ring

It is a gold ring decorated with a depiction of St. Peter in a boat casting his net.


His Holiness, Pope Francis.

Today the Pope is Pope Francis, (formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio, born December 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina) who became the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13, 2013. Pope Francis, elected as 266th Roman Catholic pontiff, is the first Jesuit and the first Latin American pope; First non-European pope in 1300 years. He succeeded Pope Benedict XVI, to whom he was reportedly the runner-up in the papal election of 2005.[15]


The Pope is claimed to be infallible in matters of doctrine.[16] The concept of Papal Infallibility (1870) is used to proclaim articles of faith, which are essential for adherents to be truly Catholic. These articles are therefore considered to be a Dogmatic definition. Such pronouncements are rare, and the concept does not mean that Catholics are to believe everything that the Pope says is correct. The last issue was asserting the Assumption of Mary.

The First Vatican Council, of 1870, anathematized all who dispute the Pope's primacy of honor and of jurisdiction (it is lawful to discuss the precise nature of that primacy, provided that such discussion does not violate the terms of the Council's Dogmatic Constitution). The Second Vatican Council of 1965 modified many of the dictates of 1870.

The Scandal of the Bad Popes

Critics of the papacy claim that past popes who claimed successorship to St. Peter, such as Pope Callixtus III and Pope Alexander VI from the Borgia family, were so corrupt as to be unfit to wield power. A just and loving God, they claim, would not have given such people the powers claimed for them by the Catholic Church, if the Holy Spirit were truly in the Catholic Church and infallibly guiding it by His divine power: such men would never have been elected. Opponents of these critics reply that even the worst popes failed to wreck the apostolic traditions of the Church, which have been faithfully handed down and preserved intact and defended and rightly interpreted by the Church's Living Magisterium. They point out that Jesus even knowingly chose Judas Iscariot (one of the Twelve whom Jesus said was "a devil", John 6:70-71), and not even the sin and betrayal of this validly appointed apostle could invalidate his work and teaching.

Professional historians are generally agreed that at least four or five Popes were guilty of serious moral lapses, perhaps more. Some critics of the Church have tried to use this documented factual information to undermine the Catholic teaching on infallibility by confusing infallibility with impeccability. Infallibility is the divinely imposed inability of the Holy Father to teach error when he speaks ex cathedra on a matter of faith and morals which must be finally clearly defined and settled, but impeccability would be a divinely imposed inability of the Holy Father to commit any sin. The Church has never claimed impeccability for any Pope, although many of them have lived lives of extraordinary holiness, because we are all sinners,[17] but it has claimed the unmerited charism of infallibility of teaching for every Pope, because of Christ's promises of the abiding presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth forever, the commandment to "obey your leaders and submit to them",[18] and his promises to be with His Church all days, and that the gates of Hell shall never prevail against it, even if "fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.".[19]

The established fact that some popes were wicked in their private lives is no argument against the truth of the doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Church, no more than proven immoral conduct by an American president is an argument against the goodness of the United States and the validity of the Constitution. This historically documented fact is actually presented as an argument for the reliability of the Church, since it continued during the reign of those unworthy Popes to teach faithfully the truths handed down by Christ and the Apostles and, while wounded by their evident wickedness, suffered no lasting harm from the immoral conduct of a tiny percentage of its more than 265 leaders.[20]

One of the prayer-petitions of the Catholic Mass says, "Look not on our sins, but on the Faith of Your Church..." According to Catholic teaching, a man who professes the Catholic Faith whole and entire, no matter how wicked he may be, remains a member of the Catholic Church and Body of Christ, even if he hates God, even if he commits murder, even if he commits sodomy—but such a man will be condemned to an eternity of suffering in hell if he does not repent before death. Being a baptized member of Christ's Church will not profit such a man, because professing a correct faith alone, without charity (the exercise of goodness and compassion), will not save him.[21] His knowledge of the True Faith will only increase his misery because he will have sinned freely, without any internal or external coercion against his will, with full knowledge of the sinfulness of his deeds against man and God[22] Such a vile man can still be a valid pope and proclaimer of the Catholic Faith, because it is not the commission of sins against morals that invalidates his papacy (and we are all sinners), but the commission of sins against the Faith (the holding and teaching of heresy), or the ultimate act of committing formal apostasy, which is not heresy but the utter renunciation of the entire Christian religion and total rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and Savior: for example the emperor Julian the Apostate.

It is a remarkable fact of history acknowledged by impartial historians of Christianity, whether believer or unbeliever, and documented, that none of the morally corrupt popes officially and formally changed any of the doctrines of the Catholic Church, or renounced Christianity and formally decreed henceforth the worship of a totally different god. This doctrinal stability is unparalleled in the history of any other institution.[23]



Catholic tradition argues that Christ told Peter to found a church, that he built one in Rome, that all Popes descend from him, and that the bishop of Rome has always implicitly had the divine authority to rule over the Church.

Protestants say the Biblical texts are silent concerning any grant of universal leadership, let alone an infallible one. It was asserted centuries after Christ, when eastern bishops began claiming that primacy of rule in the Empire properly belonged to Constantinople. Protestants often insist also that the relationship between Christ and the sinner is interrupted by the imposition of an Earthly intercessor. However, this objection is based on a mistaken belief that "intercessor" and "mediator" are synonyms which always mean exactly the same thing, but this is not accurate (see Intercession of the saints, Mediation, and Intercession).

Indeed, the history of the Reformation is the history of the rejection of the Papacy, while the history of the Counter-Reformation is the history of a reassertion of its power using moral authority, diplomacy, and orders such as the Jesuits.

Biblical texts

Catholics emphasize that Jesus told Simon Peter:

thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.[24]
Feed my lambs...Feed my sheep...Feed my sheep[25]
Textual exegesis

"I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" Matthew 16:19. The Greek word σοι "to you" here is singular, not the plural ὑμῖν "to you", and therefore this declaration was not addressed to the entire immediate group of his assembled disciples, as some would have it, but only to Peter. The structure of Greek grammar in this text clearly permits no other reading.

In the later apparently parallel text of Matthew 18:18 the phrase "keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" does not appear (see verses 15-20). On the principle of sola scriptura, there is no linguistic textual basis for saying that Jesus gave the "keys" to all the apostles on that occasion, but only that he gave them all the collective authority to bind and loose together, an authority which is distinctly different from the authority to open and shut the "Kingdom of Heaven" (see Revelation 1:17-18; 3:7).

Catholics maintain that there is a significant distinction here, and that the previous occasion in Matthew 16:18 is a specific fulfillment of the prophesy of the keys in Isaiah 22:22 pointing to one man, not many.

Other Christians maintain that the "keys" are necessary to bind and to loose, to "open and no man shall shut, and shut and no man opens" (Revelation 3:7), thus equating binding and loosing with opening and shutting, and that this therefore does linguistically imply that all of the apostles were each given the "keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" simultaneously together in Matthew 18:18, so that what he had conferred on Peter is now expanded and conferred on them. However, the exact reading of Matthew 18:18 according to the principle of sola scriptura demonstrates clearly and beyond doubt that here in the context of verses 15-20 of chapter 18 the "keys" are not mentioned by Jesus, and that it does not say that he gives to all of them the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

Old Testament parallels show that God gave to particular men divine authority to act, and that He obeyed their word: Exodus 14:15-16 and Joshua 10:12-14; see also 1 Kings 17:1, 2 Kings 20:9-11, Matthew 9:8, Luke 2:51, and John 9:31 and 20:21-23; Romans 13:1-2, 1 Timothy 1:19-20, Hebrews 13:17, and Revelation 3:7. Compare the Catholic Bible footnotes on these verses with multiple Protestant commentaries. The controversy over divine authority is a key doctrinal issue in the Protestant Reformation. See Apostolic succession.

"...thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church." There is a minor linguistic difference in Matthew 16:18 in the Greek words for "stone" and "rock". Petros Πέτρος is the masculine form, meaning "stone", "boulder" or "large rock", and petra πέτρα is the feminine form, meaning "stone", "boulder" or "massive rock". They essentially mean the same thing. In distinct contrast to petros and petra, the Greek word for "pebble", "small stone" or "(piece of) rock" is λίθος lithos.[26]

Πέτρος, Πέτρου, ὁ (an appellative proper name, signifying 'a stone,' a rock, ledge or cliff).
πέτρα, πέτρας, ἡ, from Homer down; the Septuagint reading for סֶלַע and צוּר; a rock, ledge, cliff.
λίθος, λίθου, ὁ, the Sept. for אֶבֶן (from Homer down); a stone: of small stones.

Protestant Greek scholars like D.A. Carson and Joseph Thayer admit there is no distinction in meaning between petros and petra in the Koine Greek of the New Testament.[27][28] See Strong's numbers 4074 and 4073. Compare 3037. See also 2786.

Κεφας, κεφα, ὁ (Chaldean כֵּיפָא, a rock), Cephas (equivalent to Πέτρος), the surname of Simon the apostle. (Jesus did not give Simon Bar Jonah a feminine name.)

A more literal translation of verse 18 is, "I tell you, you are Rock, and on this Rock I will build my gathering (my assembly)". Linguistically, according to the Greek construction, and Greek grammar, the person indicated by the phrase "on this rock" is Peter, not Jesus.

καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ The emphasis is on ΤΑΎΤῌ ταύτῃ, which points to Peter (not to Jesus, as Augustine would have us suppose), and to be understood thus: on no other than on this rock.

The equivalent Aramaic term in the Syriac Peshitta translation of the New Testament is κεφα Kepa / Cep-ha, simply "rock":

"I tell you, you are Kepha, and on this Kepha I will build my church."

The Greek form of this Aramaic word is "Cephas", pronounced "kepas". This can be seen as a fulfillment of the prophesy of the stone (rock) formed without hands which became a great mountain which filled the whole earth in Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45, and in Isaiah 2:1-5. Catholics point to the fact that the whole Catholic Church "founded by Jesus on Peter the Rock" is worldwide and the largest Christian denomination on earth.

Peter and Paul

Peter (and Paul) did firmly establish and confirm a church founded in Rome in A.D. 42[29][30] and Peter served as the bishop for 25 years until A.D. 67 when he was martyred. Paul's Epistle to the Romans most clearly and plainly is written to an already established Christian community that he himself had never before seen or visited, and is therefore written to a church obviously founded by someone other than himself.[31] However, the primacy of the bishop of Rome as patriarch in the Western Roman Empire, always acknowledged as "first in dignity", was not unequivocally established as having juridical primacy for several centuries, and even then a claim to universal primacy "based on history, reason and scripture"[32] was rejected by eastern bishops who guide the Eastern Orthodox Church under the leadership of the Patriarch of Constantinople[33]

Early history to 350

Catholics recognize the pope as the successor to Saint Peter, whom Jesus designated as the "rock" upon which the Church was to be built.[34][35] Although Peter never bore the title of "pope" (Latin papa), Catholics recognize him as the first pope and Bishop of Rome, because he had the office, but not the title. Official declarations of the Church speak of the popes as holding within the college of the bishops a position analogous to that held by Peter within the college of the Twelve Apostles, namely Prince of the Apostles, of which the college of the Bishops, a distinct entity, is the successor.[36][37][38]

Many popes in the first three centuries of the Christian era are obscure figures. Several suffered martyrdom along with members of their flock in periods of persecution. Most of them engaged in intense theological arguments with other bishops.

See Ante-Nicene Fathers and Biblical Canon#Historical development.

Early Middle Ages: 350-1000

The history of the papacy has been a major factor in European history, especially the Middle Ages.

The Pope officially either directly presided over most of the Ecumenical councils of the Christian Church or he sent his personal representatives called papal legates to act and speak in his name with his authority.

The First Ecumenical Council

First Council of Nicaea 325, called by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great with Pope Saint Sylvester I sitting on the Throne of Peter as the 33rd successor of Saint Peter.

The Second Ecumenical Council

First Council of Constantinople 381 convened by the Roman Emperor of the West Gratian and the Roman Emperor of the East Theodosius I. Neither the Holy Father Pope Saint Damasus I or his papal legates attended because of friction between him and the eastern emperor over authority. Already the split between East and West was manifesting itself. 186 bishops did attend, including Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Cyril of Jerusalem. Canon 3 of this Council states: "Because it is new Rome, the bishop of Constantinople is to enjoy the privileges of honor after the bishop of Rome."[39] Constantinople was second only to Rome. Many eastern bishops disagreed.

The Third Ecumenical Council

Council of Ephesus 431 called by the Roman Emperor of the East Theodosius II, influenced by his saintly sister Saint Pulcheria, in harmony with Pope Saint Celestine I.

The Fourth Ecumenical Council

Council of Chalcedon 451 called by the Roman Emperor of the East Marcian, influenced by his wife Saint Pulcheria, in coordination with Pope Saint Leo the Great.

The Fifth Ecumenical Council

Second Council of Constantinople 553 summoned by The Emperor Justinian and Pope Vigilius. The Roman pontiff refused to take part in the council, because Justinian had summoned bishops in equal numbers from each of the five patriarchal sees, so that there would be many more eastern than western bishops present, and Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople, presided.

The Sixth Ecumenical Council

Third Council of Constantinople 680-681 called by the Emperor Constantine IV in agreement with Pope Saint Agatho, in light of the growing threat of Islamism. The Council was convened with over 200 bishops.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council

Second Council of Nicaea 787 was called by the orthodox catholic Christian Empress Irene, widow of the late Emperor Leo IV and mother of the Emperor Constantine IV, to quell the growing violent unrest against those Eastern Bishops who were spreading the heresy of Iconoclasm supported by Emperor Leo III, who had been fiercely condemned by Pope Hadrian I, as well as by his predecessors Popes Gregory II and Pope Gregory III.

The Eighth Ecumenical Council

Fourth Council of Constantinople 869-870 was called jointly by the Emperor Basil and Pope Hadrian II to deal with the paramount issue of declaring the Patriarch Photius a heretic for openly criticizing clerical celibacy, for challenging Pope Saint Leo III's crowning of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas of 800, and for questioning the Filioque of the Apostles' Creed. This Council is not recognized as legitimate by those churches of the east not in communion with Rome.

Late Middle Ages: 1000-1500

The 14th century was the scene of dramatic humiliations that reduced the secular power and religious prestige of the papacy. The French king made his man Pope and moved the papal court to Avignon in France, 1309-1377. During the "Babylonian Captivity" of the papacy, seven French popes were seen as mere tools of France. Avignon was not a holy city, like Rome, and the men there were scarcely concerned with holiness; the papal entourage demanded bribes and fees to deal with terns of thousands of petitions that flooded in. As the paperwork and expenses multiplied and the prestige of the Papacy slipped.[40] The return to Rome in 1378 was followed by an even greater catastrophe. A split between French and Italian factions in the Curia resulted in the "Great Schism" of 1378-1417, during which Rome and Avignon each had their own series of popes, who claimed legitimacy and authority over the church. After enormous confusion the decision was made to appeal to a church council. The Council of Constance healed the schism in 1415.

The Council issued the decree Sacrosancta, (April 1415) asserting that in matters touching the faith and the unification and reform of the Church, a general council stood above all other authority, including papal. Another decree Frequens, (October 1417) tried to set controls on the pope and cardinals and proposed that a new council meet within five years and be convened regularly every ten years thereafter. The Church was on the verge of a constritutional revolution that would have shifted power from the pope to the bishops. However the papal forces fought back and by defeating the Council of Basel (1431-1449) regained control.

It took years to rebuild the neglected infrastructure of the city of Rome. The papacy never regained the secular power it had lost, and the loosened religious authority allowed an opening for radical reformers such as John Wycliffe and the Hussites.

Reformation and Counter-Reformation: 1500-1700

Frommel (1986) shows the popes did not provide a coordinated policy for Roman urban development. Rather, they had their own building agendas, driven by an egocentric spontaneity to outdo predecessors and eternalize family glory. Their agendas did reflect papal prominence in the city and created an imperial aura.


The Pope confronted Gallicanism in France, which reduced the Pope's power over the bishops. The Gallican argument was that the pope was supreme in spiritual matters, but that temporal affairs were the province of the government. The main issue was the selection of bishops, who had powerful temporal roles in terms of ownership of lands and churches. "Royal Gallicanism" emphasized the powers of the king. "Ecclesiatical Gallicanism" emphasized the powers of the bishops vis-a-vis the pope.

French Revolution

Much worse was the French Revolution in the 1790s, which disestablished the Church, forced many priests and bishops into exile, and seized vast landholdings.


Religion had been a major issue during the French Revolution, and Napoleon resolved most of the outstanding problems. Thereby he moved the clergy and large numbers of devout Catholics from hostility to the government to support for him. The Catholic system was reestablished by the Concordat of 1801 (signed with Pope Pius VII), so that church life returned to normal; the church lands were not restored, but the Jesuits were allowed back in and the bitter fights between the government and Church ended. Protestants and atheists were tolerated.[41]

1815 to 1914

Pius VII

Pius VII (1800–23) was stripped of powers by Napoleon but made a striking comeback after Napoleon's fall in 1815. Pius VII was a deeply religious Benedictine, and a theologian; he lived simply and avoided nepotism. His unusually able Secretary of State Cardinal Consalvi won the restoration to the Pope of most of the territories in Italy which Napoleon had seized. He reinvigorated numerous monastic orders and helped create new societies for men and women, especially those engaged in teaching and missionary work. Most important was the restoration of the Jesuits in 1814; they had been suppressed in most countries. They grew larger and even more influential in the 19th century.


After 1800 the Papacy became the center of conservatism in Europe in reaction against the liberalism of the French Revolution and its admirers. The Papacy recognized that throughout Europe millions of peasants and poor folk were devoted to the saints and traditions of the Church; the Popes responded energetically by promoting new Marian devotions (such as the rosary). Rome had fallen into disrepair and Pius VII began the restoration of the city's artistic glories, an enterprise that continues into the 21st century.[42] Much like other heads of state, popes can have political leanings, which tend to be conservative, especially on issues of abortion. However, on some issues popes have been known to hold more liberal opinions; for example, Pope John Paul II was against Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Ultramontane vs Gallican

The "ultramontane" tendency in the Church centralized more power and authority in the Papacy. It was opposed by the "Gallican" tendency, especially in France, to give national churches more control over their affairs. The ultramontine forces generally won out, especially with the declaration of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council in 1870. The ultramontane forces cited the old doctrines of Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) and Francisco de Suárez (1548-1617) to bolster the papal claim to absolute power in spiritual matters.

Gallicanism in France was damaged by the rise of ultramontanism in the 1850s and the devotional revolution that shifted piety to devotions sponsored by Rome. Gallicanism was officially suppressed by the First Vatican Council in 1870, which established the paramount authority of the pope as a matter of dogma. However informal manifestations of Gallicanism continue in some countries, especially China. In Canada, the Irish clergy fought for ultramontanism against the French clergy, who were Gallican. The Irish won out with the support of the Vatican.

After Vatican II, 1962–65, the multiple and often confused controversy over papal authority and infallibility ended quietly.

Facing Modernity

Despite dire predictions, the Church adapted to modernity in its own way and increased its role in people's lives in the 19th century. The Church escaped irrelevance by using the same means as did emerging nation-states; establishing more administrative and doctrinal centralization in Rome; establishing a homogeneous culture, aided especially by universal use of Latin; promoting new rites and folk devotions, especially those focused on Mary and other favored saints; promoting pilgrimages to holy sites; encouraging clergy to endorse and lead regional nationalist movements that focused on historic languages and cultures; creating many new teaching orders and establishing Catholic schools and colleges; supporting intellectuals and publishing houses; enhancing papal power; and cultivating an image of both theologiocal canonical and moral superiority. Of special importance was the missionary activity, based especially in Germany, that was in competition with Protestant missions in China, India, Africa and other non-Christian lands. The Jesuits proved highly adept at promoting the Papal cause. The Pope thereby became less symbolic and more powerful. There was internal dissent among some Catholic intellectuals, such as historian Lord Acton in Britain and theologian Ignaz von Döllinger in Germany, who opposed the declaration of the dogma of papal infallibility.

Facing Liberalism

Burns (1990) takes a sociological perspective on the Papacy's long battle with liberalism. He shows how the papacy, in reaction to the rise of the liberal states of the 19th and 20th centuries, gradually reformulated Catholic ideology within the limited autonomy they possessed and carefully subordinated social and political issues to more purely religious and moral issues as they constructed an ideological opposition to liberalism.

In Germany in the 1840s the ultramontane movement used mass meetings and pilgrimages to combat the growth of liberalism and modernism. However the abnti-clerical liberal press attacked these mass meetings, and in response a large number of Catholic newspapers emerged in Germany starting in the 1840s. To ensure their own survival, these newspapers championed the liberal idea of press freedom. In addition, local clubs were established to mobilize the Catholic working class. These clubs tried to end discrimination against ordinary Catholics by working to establish freedom of religion and freedom of thought and by entering the electoral process. With the unification of Germany in 1870, the new nation faced the problems of consolidation, one of which was secularization. The laws dealing with secularization opened a political battle between Bismark and the Protestants and liberals on one side, and the Catholics on the other, called the "Kulturkampf." The Catholics organized their own political parties and protected their interests by voting as a bloc into the 1930s, when the Nazis closed down all other parties.

Syllabus of Errors

The Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX in 1864 rejected the liberal doctrines of the modern world.[43] It denounced pantheism, naturalism, nationalism, indifferentism, socialism, communism, freemasonry, and other modern views. The Pope claimed for the Catholic Church total control over science and culture. The liberals viewed this as a declaration of war by the Church on modern civilization. Its repercussions within France, the U.S., Britain and other countries were resounding, nearly destroying the liberal Catholic movement and furnishing a powerful weapon to the anticlerical faction, or (in the U.S.) to anti-Catholic Protestants. Opponents stressed the Papacy had become intolerant and medieval and largely political in nature.[44]


In many countries the Church faced off against the Freemasons, a secret society that was politically active in numerous countries. The Papacy coordinated a counterattack. For example, in Brazil, the religious question in the 1870s centered on the Masonic controversy and the struggle between regalist and ultramontane forces. One method of counterattack was to found Catholic universities. Thus Mgr. Ignace Bourget, second bishop of Montreal, Canada, founded Laval University, as a Catholic reaction to a liberal and secularist outburst in Quebec. Bourget said the university would be the principal instrument for "wresting the elite from the clutches of liberalism."


Camp (1990) traces the treatment of women. In the late 19th century the papacy began to revise its public teachings about the proper role of women in the Church and society. From Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) to Pope John Paul II (1978-2005), papal social pronouncements reveal an evolution in attitudes toward a woman's proper "place" from the view that women are passive subordinates to men in all spheres of life to the current teaching that lay and clerical women are equal but complementary partners with men in religious, political, economic, and social endeavors. However, the papacy has remained firm in the conviction that ordination to the priesthood is for men only.

Since 1914

Student and youth groups were formed in major countries, with Papal blessing. For example, the French Federation of Catholic Students (FFEC) was formed in 1922 to keep college graduates within the orbit of the Church, shield them from hostile ideological and political influences, and deepen their spiritual experience. It was a conservative movement, ultramontane in outlook; and boasted 16,000 members in 1939. During the Vichy years 1940-42 it was politically active at first in support of Vichy before being won over by nationalist ideology at the instigation of spiritual leaders and joining the underground resistance movement.

John XXIII (1958–63) enjoyed uniformly favorable, if sometimes puzzled, treatment from the English-language media. Initially, the focus was on his wit and warm personality. His unexpected calling of Vatican Council II and his major encyclicals - Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris - transformed his image into that of a bold innovator. In the end, it was his concern for world peace at the height of the Cold War and his effort to reach beyond Catholics to address all people of good will that won Pope John XXIII universal praise and affection.

Holocaust issues

Coppa (2005) reassesses the attitudes and policies toward Nazi racism of Pope Pius XI (1922-1939). Although Pius XI accepted and practiced religious anti-Judaism, he consistently opposed racial anti-Semitism on theological grounds throughout his papacy. As a result, he resisted the course of accommodation and conciliation favored by others within the Catholic Church, including Eugenio Pacelli (1876-1958), who served as papal secretary of state from 1930 prior to succeeding Pius XI as Pope Pius XII in 1939. Between 1933 and 1939 Pius XI waged a campaign against Nazi and Fascist racism and anti-Semitism that included public speeches and published condemnations denouncing the division of humanity on the basis of race as well as the commission of a "secret" encyclical on the incompatibility of racism and Catholicism that remained unpublished until 1995. His confrontational stance therefore sharply contrasted with the silence of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.

General summary of history

The Pope has been the head of the Roman Catholic Church for over 1600 years. The Eastern Orthodox churches reject his claims to primacy. Even more vigorously the Protestant Reformation rejected both Papal claims to primacy and the authority of the Patriarchs of the East. As secular leaders the Popes controlled Rome and the Papal States in central Italy until 1870, and especially in the 16th century were notable patrons of the arts, turning St. Peter's Church in Rome into an architectural wonder, especially notable for the artwork in its Sistine Chapel.[45]

Since 1929 the Pope controls only the small Vatican City-state (located inside Rome), but has diplomatic relations with most nations. The Pope's power comes from his appointment of all the bishops in the Catholic Church (which includes the Roman Catholic Church), and from his ability (since 1870) to proclaim a theological doctrine infallibly. The history of the Popes is interwoven with the history of the Catholic Church and the history of Europe. The 262 Popes were saints and sinners[46] who ranged very widely indeed in terms of personalities and morality. In recent centuries most popes have been holy men and in recent decades they have been linguists able to speak to Catholics in many languages. In recent centuries most Popes have been scions of Italian nobility; notable exceptions are Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) the first Polish Pope, Benedict XVI (2005-2013) the first German since 1523 and Pope Francis (2013- ) from Argentina the first Pope from either of the American continents.

The papacy has become a major factor in world history by promoting the Christian message globally through more extensive missionary work, ecumenical dialogue and increasingly active use of worldwide publishing and broadcast audio/visual media such as the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

Continuous, unbroken witness in history

History itself bears undeniable and irrefutable documented witness, attested even among the most hostile enemies of the Catholic Church, that the entire line of the popes, and the office of the papacy to the present day, has never refused to publicly proclaim the doctrine and dogma that Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God and Lord and Savior of all mankind who has come in the flesh, suffered, died and rose again, ascended into heaven, who has sent the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth forever, that Jesus is with us to the end of time, and that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. The pope has never proclaimed the name of any other god as Lord, but only the name of the one God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.[47]

See also

External links



  • Catholic Encyclopedia, "The Pope" (1913) online edition many articles on related topics
  • Coppa, Frank J., ed. Encyclopedia of the Vatican and Papacy. Greenwood, 1998. 473 pp.
  • Duffy, Eamon. Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, (3rd ed 2006), 496pp; Yale University Press; heavily illustrated history by leading Catholic scholar
  • LaDue, William J. The Chair of Saint Peter: A History of the Papacy. Orbis Books, 1999. 374 pp.
  • Levillain, Philippe, ed. The Papacy: An Encyclopedia. Routledge, 2001. 1780 pp.
  • New Catholic 'Encyclopedia (1967), numerous articles
  • Steimer, Bruno and Parker, Michael G., ed. Dictionary of Popes and the Papacy. Crossroad, 2001. 278 pp.

Specialized studies

  • Baumgartner, Frederic J. Behind Locked Doors: A History of the Papal Elections. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. 272 pp.
  • Brown, Peter. The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity 200-1000 AD (2002), 640pp
  • Ralph J. Capio; "The Papacy: A Case Study in Organizational Longevity," Journal of European Studies, Vol. 26, 1996. online edition
  • Carlen, Claudia. ed. Papal Pronouncements, a Guide, 1740-1978: Vol. 1: Benedict XIV to Paul VI. and Papal Pronouncements, a Guide, 1740-1978: Vol. 2: Paul VI to John Paul I. Pierian, 1990.
  • Chadwick, Owen. The Popes and European Revolution. Oxford U. Press, 1981. 646 pp.
  • Daniel-Rops, Henri. The Church in the Eighteenth Century (1964)
  • Daniel-Rops, Henri. The Church in an Age of Revolution (1965).
  • Frommel, Christoph L. "Papal Policy: The Planning Of Rome During The Renaissance." Journal Of Interdisciplinary History, 1986 17(1): 39-65. Issn: 0022-1953 Fulltext: in Jstor
  • Hales, E. E. Y. Revolution and Papacy, 1769-1846, (1960)
  • Logan, F. Donald. A History of the Church in the Middle Ages. 2002. online edition
  • Mullett, Michael A. The Catholic Reformation, (1999), online edition
  • Pastor, Ludwig von. History of the Popes From the Close of the Middle Ages, (1894-1930), 16 vol, older Catholic history online from books.google.com
  • Ullmann, Walter. A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages, (2002), 393pp, online edition
  • Wright, A. D. The Early Modern Papacy: From the Council of Trent to the French Revolution 1564-1789. Longman, 2000. 335 pp.

Specific Popes

  • Catholic Encyclopedia, "The Pope" (1913) online edition many articles on all the Popes and related topics
  • Collins, Jeffrey. Papacy and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Rome: Pius VI and the Arts. Cambridge U. Press, 2004. 355 pp.
  • Coppa, Frank J., ed. Great Popes through History: An Encyclopedia. Greenwood, 2002. 600 pp.
  • Gouwens, Kenneth and Reiss, Sheryl E., ed. The Pontificate of Clement VII: History, Politics, Culture. Ashgate, 2005. 437 pp.
  • Kelly, J.N.D. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1988). 349pp; scholarly short biographies; online edition

Since 1815

  • Burns, Gene. "The Politics of Ideology: The Papal Struggle with Liberalism." American Journal of Sociology, 1990 95(5): 1123-1152. Issn: 0002-9602 fulltext: in Jstor and Ebsco
  • Camp, Richard L. "From Passive Subordination To Complementary Partnership: The Papal Conception of a Woman's Place in Church and Society since 1878." Catholic Historical Review, 1990 76(3): 506-525. Issn: 0008-8080 Fulltext: in Ebsco
  • Chadwick, Owen. A History of the Popes, 1830-1914. (1998), 616pp; a standard recent history. online edition,
  • Coppa, Frank J. The Modern Papacy since 1789. Longman, 1998. 296 pp.
  • Coppa, Frank J. "Between Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism, Pius XI's Response to the Nazi Persecution of the Jews: Precursor to Pius XII's "Silence"?" Journal of Church and State 2005 47(1): 63-89. Issn: 0021-969x Fulltext: in Ebsco
  • Gillis, Chester, ed. The Political Papacy: John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Their Influence. Paradigm, 2006. 208 pp.
  • Holland, Joe. Modern Catholic Social Teaching: The Popes Confront the Industrial Age 1740-1958. Paulist Press, 2003. 404 pp.
  • Latourette, Kenneth Scott. Christianity in a Revolutionary Age: A History of Christianity in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 5 Vol (1958), a detailed history of Chritianity 1800-1950 by a fair-minded Protestant scholar. vol 1 online edition
  • Packard, Jerrold M. Peter's Kingdom: Inside the Papal City. Scribner's, 1985. 352 pp.
  • Pollard, John F. Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: Financing the Vatican, 1850-1950. Cambridge U. Press, 2005. 265 pp.
  • Rittner, Carol and Roth, John K., ed. Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. Leicester U. Press, 2002. 291 pp.


  1. pope: American Heritage Dictionary
  2. How Many Popes Are There? (quora.com)
  3. patriarch: American Heritage Dictionary
  4. Church of Alexandria (orthodoxwiki.org)
  5. Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria (britannica.com)
  6. Palmarian Church (traditionalcatholic.info)
  7. Jewish Concepts: Rabbi (jewishvirtuallibrary.org)
  8. "Pope", Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3
  9. See the following five sources:
    • Elwell, Walter A. (2001). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Baker Academic. p. 888. ISBN 9780801020759.
    • Greer, Thomas H.; Gavin Lewis (2004). A Brief History of the Western World. Cengage Learning. p. 172. ISBN 9780534642365.
    • Mazza, Enrico (2004). The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite. Liturgical Press. p. 63. ISBN 9780814660782.
    • O'Malley, John W. (2009). A History of the Popes. Government Institutes. p. xv. ISBN 9781580512275.
    • Schatz, Klaus (1996). Papal Primacy. Liturgical Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9780814655221.
  10. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica Book VII, chapter 7.7
  11. "pope, n.1". OED Online. September 2011. Oxford University Press. 21 November 2011
  12. Until 1870 he also was the secular ruler of an independent country in central Italy, the Papal States. Since 1929 the Pope rules Vatican City, an independent country inside the city of Rome.
  13. Pontifex Maximus - Roman Catholic Use of The Title (liquisearch.com)
  14. The Pope Catholic Encyclopedia
  15. Reuters article: Argentina's pope a modest man focused on the poor (reuters.com)
  16. See Dictatus Papae. Medieval Sourcebook: Gregory VII: Dictatus Papae 1090
  17. Romans 3:23-26; 1 Timothy 1:16.
  18. Hebrews 13:17
  19. Acts 20:29-30
  20. "tiny percentage". Less than 3 percent = at most 10 popes. See External links, below. Estimates range from 5 to 10 truly corrupt popes in the entire history of the Church.
  21. James 2:14-26
  22. Catholic doctrine distinguishes between mortal and venial sins according to 1 John 5:16-17 and John 19:11. Three elements must be present for a sin to be deadly: Serious Matter, Full Knowledge of its evil, and Complete Consent (freely acting without any compulsion).
  23. Critics of Catholicism charge that the Catholic Church, having "fallen away" from the truth, teaches "a different gospel", "a different Jesus", Galatians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 11:4. Catholic apologists respond by pointing to the consistency of documented Catholic Christian teachings from the Apostolic Fathers through the Ante-Nicene Fathers and down through history to the Documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Encyclicals of the popes into the 21st century as being fully consistent with Apostolic Tradition and Sacred Scripture. See Great Apostasy.
  24. Gospel of Matthew: Chapter 16, Verse 18; see also 1 Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:5–6, and Revelation 21:14.
  25. John 21:15, 16, 17. See commentaries on 15, commentaries on 16, commentaries on 17.
  26. The KJV translation of John 1:42 says, "...when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone." The entries under "stone" in Strong's Concordance for almost all of the New Testament verses are keyed to numbers 3034 λίθος lithos, 3035 λιθάζω lithazo, 3036 λίθινος lithinos. 3037 λίθος lithos. In contrast, John 1:42 KJV "A stone" is keyed to number 4074 Πέτρος rock, larger than 3037 lithos. The King James translators chose to not render the Greek word in this passage as Rock. Had they done so the entry for this word in John 1:42 would have appeared in Strong's Concordance included under "rock" with all of the other 13 verses the KJV translators had consistently and unequivocally rendered as "rock", all of them keyed to number 4073 πέτρα petra: Mt 7:24, 25; Mt 16:18; Mt 27:60; Mk 15:46; Lu 6:48 (twice); Lu 8:6, 13; Ro 9:33; 1Co 10:4 (twice); 1Pe 2:8. See other translations of John 1:42 and commentaries.
  27. Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 507; D.A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), vol. 8, 368.
  28. Bam! Bam! The "Pebbles" Argument Goes Down, Patrick Madrid (patrickmadrid.com). Compare Falsehood.
  29. Archaeological evidence cited:
  30. Paul was not the original founder of the church in Rome. See Romans 1:8-15.
  31. See Romans 1:11-13; 15:22-24. Writers who assert that the Apostle Paul is actually the one who founded the church in Rome are either ignorant of scripture, or they are lying. If they have in fact actually read the Bible, especially Romans, but still insist beyond any doubt that Paul himself by the Holy Spirit originally founded the church in Rome, and they are not lying, but only unknowingly repeating a falsehood, then they are blinded by a false doctrine which teaches that Paul was the real founder of the Christian community of believers in Rome, a doctrine in opposition to the clear teaching of the Bible. Writers and denominations that teach this false doctrine should be avoided, but if they are unavoidable, then they should be calmly and gently corrected by simply pointing out and emphasizing these passages in Romans. See Titus 3:10-11; James 5:19-20; 2 Peter 3:15-18.
    Compare Falsehood, Lie and Deceit.
    See also Proof text.
    See the following articles:
    The argument of the author of the above article promoting Paul as sole founder of the church in Rome utterly ignores the clear teaching in the Bible itself that Peter was chosen to give the Gospel to the Gentiles, as can be plainly seen in Acts 11:12-18 and 15:7 in which Peter testifies "that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe." KJV. Any reader of the Bible can see this. Besides the constant witness of apostolic tradition, this scripture is the primary basis for the assertion that Peter preached the Gospel to the uncircumcised Gentiles as well as to the circumcised Jews (see sola scriptura). Compare 2 Peter 1:1, in which Peter universally addresses "them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ." (KJV) — "to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ." (RSV). While the First Epistle of Peter explicitly addresses the Christian Jews of the diaspora, "the dispersion", if he was not addressing together as one persecuted people those Gentile and Jewish Christians who were both alike scattered abroad because of the persecution of the church (Acts 8:1; 9:31; 11:19-26), here in the Second Epistle of Peter he does not exclude the Gentiles, but addresses all Christians without any distinction whatever. This emphatically affirms the statement in Acts 11:18 "then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life"—"a like precious faith"—and reaffirms the teaching that Peter preached to the Gentiles. Acts 11:19-26 shows that after Peter had begun preaching that to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto salvation, some men of Cyprus and Cyrene, when they came to Antioch now began speaking the Gospel of the Lord Jesus to the Greeks; and when news of this came to Jerusalem, Barnabas was sent to Antioch, and a large company of people was added to the Lord; and only then did Barabas go to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch, and then for a whole year they met with the church and taught a large company of people. Up to that point the Bible says that Paul had been preaching only to the Jews. Acts 9:20-30; 11:25-26. Greg MaGee points out in the article above, Origins of the Church at Rome, that Peter need not have been always residing in Rome to be the chief bishop or pastor, and may well have been traveling around to the other Christian communities ("in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia") when Paul was imprisoned there.
  32. First Vatican Council of 1870
  33. Primacy and Unity in Orthodox Ecclesiology (orthodoxwiki.org)
  34. The Hierarchical Constitution of the Church, §881
  35. Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 21 Jul. 2014
  36. Second Vatican Council.
  37. Veritatis Splendor 3, John Paul II, October 6, 1992.
  38. Avery Dulles (1987). The Catholicity of the Church. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-826695-2. 
  39. Canon iii
  40. Ullmann (2002) p. 287
  41. Donald Sutherland. The French Revolution and Empire: The Quest for a Civic Order (2003) ch 11
  42. Kelly (1999); Duffy (2006); Latourette (1958) vol 1.
  43. see text at
  44. Latourette (1958) vol 1 ch. 6
  45. Famous patrons of the arts include Sixtus IV (1471-1484), Julius II (1503-1513), and Clement VII (1523-1534)
  46. They were all men. The 15th century story of "Pope Joan" who disguised herself as a man and became Pope sometime between A.D. 850 and 1050 was exposed as a false myth in 1650, but still circulates. Kelly (1998) 331-32.
  47. John 14:16-17; John 16:13; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2:38-39; Acts 4:11-12. See Creed and Catholic Church; also Church Councils.

List of Popes

Following the name of each Pope is the year of their accession.

Pope Francis
  1. Saint Peter (30?)
  2. Pope Linus (67)
  3. Pope Anacletus (76)
  4. Pope Clement I (88)
  5. Pope Evaristus (97)
  6. Pope Alexander I (105)
  7. Pope Sixtus I (115)
  8. Pope Telesphorus (125)
  9. Pope Hyginus (136)
  10. Pope Pius I (140)
  11. Pope Anicetus (155)
  12. Pope Soter (166)
  13. Pope Eleuterus (175)
  14. Pope Victor I (189)
  15. Pope Zephyrinus (199)
  16. Pope Callixtus I (217)
  17. Pope Urban I (222)
  18. Pope Pontian (230)
  19. Pope Anterus (235)
  20. Pope Fabian (236)
  21. Pope Cornelius (251)
  22. Pope Lucius I (253)
  23. Pope Stephen I (254)
  24. Pope Sixtus II (257)
  25. Pope Dionysius (259)
  26. Pope Felix I (269)
  27. Pope Eutychian (275)
  28. Pope Caius (283)
  29. Pope Marcellinus(296)
  30. Pope Marcellus I (308)
  31. Pope Eusebius (309)
  32. Pope Miltiades (311)
  33. Pope Sylvester I (314)
  34. Pope Mark (336)
  35. Pope Julius I (337)
  36. Pope Liberius (352)
  37. Pope Damasus I (366)
  38. Pope Siricius (384)
  39. Pope Anastasius I (399)
  40. Pope Innocent I (401)
  41. Pope Zosimus (417)
  42. Pope Boniface I (418)
  43. Pope Celestine I (422)
  44. Pope Sixtus III (432)
  45. Pope Leo I (440)
  46. Pope Hilarius (461)
  47. Pope Simplicius (468)
  48. Pope Felix III (483)
  49. Pope Gelasius I (492)
  50. Pope Anastasius II (496)
  51. Pope Symmachus (498)
  52. Pope Hormisdas (514)
  53. Pope John I, Martyr (523)
  54. Pope Felix IV (526)
  55. Pope Boniface II (530)
  56. Pope John II (533)
  57. Pope Agapetus I (535)
  58. Pope Silverius, Marytr (536)
  59. Pope Vigilius (537)
  60. Pope Pelagius I (556)
  61. Pope John III (561)
  62. Pope Benedict I (575)
  63. Pope Pelagius II (579)
  64. Pope Gregory I (590)
  65. Pope Sabinian (604)
  66. Pope Boniface III (607)
  67. Pope Boniface IV (608)
  68. Pope Adeodatus I (615)
  69. Pope Boniface V (619)
  70. Pope Honorius I (625)
  71. Pope Severinus (640)
  72. Pope John IV (640)
  73. Pope Theodore I (642)
  74. Pope Martin I, Marytr (649)
  75. Pope Eugene I (654)
  76. Pope Vitalian (657)
  77. Pope Adeodatus II (672)
  78. Pope Donus (676)
  79. Pope Agatho (678)
  80. Pope Leo II (682)
  81. Pope Benedict II (684)
  82. Pope John V (685)
  83. Pope Conon (686)
  84. Pope Sergius I (687)
  85. Pope John VI (701)
  86. Pope John VII (705)
  87. Pope Sisinnius (706)
  88. Pope Constantine (708)
  89. Pope Gregory II (715)
  90. Pope Gregory III (731)
  91. Pope Zachary (741)
  92. Pope Stephen II (752)
  93. Pope Paul I (757)
  94. Pope Stephen III (768)
  95. Pope Adrian I (772)
  96. Pope Leo III (795)
  97. Pope Stephen IV (816)
  98. Pope Paschal I (817)
  99. Pope Eugene II (824)
  100. Pope Valentine (827)
  101. Pope Gregory IV (827)
  102. Pope Sergius II (844)
  103. Pope Leo IV (847)
  104. Pope Benedict III (855)
  105. Pope Nicholas I (858)
  106. Pope Adrian II (867)
  107. Pope John VIII (872)
  108. Pope Marinus I (882)
  109. Pope Adrian III (884)
  110. Pope Stephen V (885)
  111. Pope Formosus (891)
  112. Pope Boniface VI (896)
  113. Pope Stephen VI (896)
  114. Pope Romanus (897)
  115. Pope Theodore II (897)
  116. Pope John IX (898)
  117. Pope Benedict IV (900)
  118. Pope Leo V (903)
  119. Pope Sergius III (904)
  120. Pope Anastasius III (911)
  121. Pope Landus (914)
  122. Pope John X (914)
  123. Pope Leo VI (928)
  124. Pope Stephen VII (928)
  125. Pope John XI (931)
  126. Pope Leo VII (936)
  127. Pope Stephen VIII (939)
  128. Pope Marinus II (942)
  129. Pope Agapetus II (946)
  130. Pope John XII (955)
  131. Pope Leo VIII (963)
  132. Pope Benedict V (964)
  133. Pope John XIII (965)
  134. Pope Benedict VI (973)
  135. Pope Benedict VII (974)
  136. Pope John XIV (983)
  137. Pope John XV (985)
  138. Pope Gregory V (996)
  139. Pope Sylvester II (999)
  140. Pope John XVII (1003)
  141. Pope John XVIII (1004)
  142. Pope Sergius IV (1009)
  143. Pope Benedict VIII (1012)
  144. Pope John XIX (1024)
  145. Pope Benedict IX (1032)
  146. Pope Sylvester III (1045)
  147. Pope Benedict IX (1045)
  148. Pope Gregory VI (1045)
  149. Pope Clement II (1046)
  150. Pope Benedict IX (1047)
  151. Pope Damasus II (1048)
  152. Pope Leo IX (1049)
  153. Pope Victor II (1055)
  154. Pope Stephen IX (1057)
  155. Pope Nicholas II (1059)
  156. Pope Alexander II (1061)
  157. Pope Gregory VII (1073)
  158. Pope Victor III (1086)
  159. Pope Urban II (1088)
  160. Pope Paschal II (1099)
  161. Pope Gelasius II (1118)
  162. Pope Callixtus II (1119)
  163. Pope Honorius II (1124)
  164. Pope Innocent II (1130)
  165. Pope Celestine II (1143)
  166. Pope Lucius II (1144)
  167. Pope Eugene III (1145)
  168. Pope Anastasius IV (1153)
  169. Pope Adrian IV (1154)
  170. Pope Alexander III (1159)
  171. Pope Lucius III (1181)
  172. Pope Urban III (1185)
  173. Pope Gregory VIII (1187)
  174. Pope Clement III (1187)
  175. Pope Celestine III (1191)
  176. Pope Innocent III (1198)
  177. Pope Honorius III (1216)
  178. Pope Gregory IX (1227)
  179. Pope Celestine IV (1241)
  180. Pope Innocent IV (1243)
  181. Pope Alexander IV (1254)
  182. Pope Urban IV (1261)
  183. Pope Clement IV (1265)
  184. Pope Gregory X (1271)
  185. Pope Innocent V (1276)
  186. Pope Adrian V (1276)
  187. Pope John XXI (1276)
  188. Pope Nicholas III (1277)
  189. Pope Martin IV (1281)
  190. Pope Honorius IV (1285)
  191. Pope Nicholas IV (1288)
  192. Pope Celestine V (1294)
  193. Pope Boniface VIII (1294)
  194. Pope Benedict XI (1303)
  195. Pope Clement V (1305)
  196. Pope John XXII (1316)
  197. Pope Benedict XII (1334)
  198. Pope Clement VI (1342)
  199. Pope Innocent VI (1352)
  200. Pope Urban V (1362)
  201. Pope Gregory XI (1370)
  202. Pope Urban VI (1378)
  203. Pope Boniface IX (1389)
  204. Pope Innocent VII (1404)
  205. Pope Gregory XII (1406)
  206. Pope Martin V (1417)
  207. Pope Eugene IV (1431)
  208. Pope Nicholas V (1447)
  209. Pope Callixtus III (1455)
  210. Pope Pius II (1458)
  211. Pope Paul II (1464)
  212. Pope Sixtus IV (1471)
  213. Pope Innocent VIII (1484)
  214. Pope Alexander VI (1492)
  215. Pope Pius III (1503)
  216. Pope Julius II (1503)
  217. Pope Leo X (1513)
  218. Pope Adrian VI (1522)
  219. Pope Clement VII (1523)
  220. Pope Paul III (1534)
  221. Pope Julius III (1550)
  222. Pope Marcellus II (1555)
  223. Pope Paul IV (1555)
  224. Pope Pius IV (1559)
  225. Pope Pius V (1566)
  226. Pope Gregory XIII (1572)
  227. Pope Sixtus V (1572)
  228. Pope Urban VII (1585)
  229. Pope Gregory XIV (1590)
  230. Pope Innocent IX (1591)
  231. Pope Clement VIII (1592)
  232. Pope Leo XI (1602)
  233. Pope Paul V (1605)
  234. Pope Gregory XV (1621)
  235. Pope Urban VIII (1623)
  236. Pope Innocent X (1644)
  237. Pope Alexander VII (1655)
  238. Pope Clement IX (1667)
  239. Pope Clement X (1670)
  240. Pope Innocent XI (1676)
  241. Pope Alexander VIII (1689)
  242. Pope Innocent XII (1691)
  243. Pope Clement XI (1700)
  244. Pope Innocent XIII (1721)
  245. Pope Benedict XIII (1724)
  246. Pope Clement XII (1730)
  247. Pope Benedict XIV (1740)
  248. Pope Clement XIII (1758)
  249. Pope Clement XIV (1769)
  250. Pope Pius VI (1775)
  251. Pope Pius VII (1800)
  252. Pope Leo XII (1823)
  253. Pope Pius VIII (1829)
  254. Pope Gregory XVI (1831)
  255. Pope Pius IX (1846)
  256. Pope Leo XIII (1878)
  257. Pope Pius X (1903)
  258. Pope Benedict XV (1914)
  259. Pope Pius XI (1922)
  260. Pope Pius XII (1939)
  261. Pope John XXIII (1958)
  262. Pope Paul VI (1963)
  263. Pope John Paul I (1978)
  264. Pope John Paul II (1978)
  265. Pope Benedict XVI (2007)
  266. Pope Francis (2013)