Bishop of Rome

Pontifex maximus

Pope Francis in 2021
Coats of arms of the Holy See and Vatican City
Holy See (Emblem)
since 13 March 2013
StyleHis Holiness
Ecclesiastical provinceEcclesiastical Province of Rome
HeadquartersApostolic Palace, Vatican City
First holderSaint Peter[1]
DenominationCatholic Church
Established1st century
CathedralArchbasilica of Saint John Lateran
GovernanceHoly See
Holy Father
Papal styles of
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father

The pope (Latin: papa, from Ancient Greek: πάππας, romanizedpáppas, lit.'father'),[2][3] also known as the supreme pontiff,[a] Roman pontiff[b] or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome (or historically the patriarch of Rome),[2] visible head of the worldwide Catholic Church, and has also served as the head of state or sovereign of the Papal States and later the Vatican City State since the eighth century.[4][3] From a Catholic viewpoint, 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, who gave Peter the Keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the Church would be built. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013.[5]

While his office is called the papacy, the jurisdiction of the episcopal see is called the Holy See.[6] It is the Holy See that is the sovereign entity by international law headquartered in the distinctively independent Vatican City State, a city-state which forms a geographical enclave within the conurbation of Rome, established by the Lateran Treaty in 1929 between Italy and the Holy See to ensure its temporal and spiritual independence. The Holy See is recognized by its adherence at various levels to international organizations and by means of its diplomatic relations and political accords with many independent states.

According to Catholic tradition, the apostolic see of Rome was founded by Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the first century. The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has had a prominent part in human history.[7] In ancient times, the popes helped spread Christianity and intervened to find resolutions in various doctrinal disputes.[8] In the Middle Ages, they played a role of secular importance in Western Europe, often acting as arbitrators between Christian monarchs.[9][10][c] In addition to the expansion of Christian faith and doctrine, modern popes are involved in ecumenism and interfaith dialogue, charitable work, and the defence of human rights.[11]

Over time, the papacy accrued broad secular and political influence, eventually rivalling those of territorial rulers. In recent centuries, the temporal authority of the papacy has declined and the office is now largely focused on religious matters.[8] 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.[8] The pope is considered one of the world's most powerful people due to the extensive diplomatic, cultural, and spiritual influence of his position on both 1.3 billion Catholics and those outside the Catholic faith,[12][13][14][15] and because he heads the world's largest non-government provider of education and health care,[16] with a vast network of charities.

  1. ^ Wilken, p. 281, quote: "Some (Christian communities) had been founded by Peter, the disciple Jesus designated as the founder of his church. [...] Once the position was institutionalized, historians looked back and recognized Peter as the first Pope of the Christian church in Rome"
  2. ^ a b "Rome, Patriarchate of | Encyclopedia.com". encyclopedia.com. Archived from the original on 5 March 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b "In Biden's visit with the pope, a page from Reagan's playbook?". theconversation.com. 27 October 2021. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  4. ^ "Christ's Faithful – Hierarchy, Laity, Consecrated Life: The episcopal college and its head, the pope". Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 1993. Archived from the original on 3 March 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  5. ^ "News from The Associated Press". Archived from the original on 15 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Definition of Holy See". Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  7. ^ Collins, Roger. Keepers of the keys of heaven: a history of the papacy. Introduction (One of the most enduring and influential of all human institutions, [...] No one who seeks to make sense of modern issues within Christendom – or, indeed, world history – can neglect the vital shaping role of the popes.) Basic Books. 2009. ISBN 978-0-465-01195-7.
  8. ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference World History was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ Faus, José Ignacio Gonzáles. "Autoridade da Verdade – Momentos Obscuros do Magistério Eclesiástico". Chapter 8: Os papas repartem terras, pp. 64–65 and chapter 6: O papa tem poder temporal absoluto, pp. 49–55. Edições Loyola. ISBN 85-15-01750-4. Although Faus is deeply critical of the temporal power of the popes ("Once again this highlights one of the greatest drawbacks of the political status of Peter's successors" – p. 64), he also admits a positive secular role on the part of the popes ("We cannot deny that papal interventions of this kind prevented more than one war in Europe" – p. 65).
  10. ^ Jarrett, Bede (1913). "Papal Arbitration" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  11. ^ História das Religiões. Crenças e práticas religiosas do século XII aos nossos dias. Grandes Livros da Religião. Editora Folio. 2008. pp. 89, 156–157. ISBN 978-84-413-2489-3
  12. ^ "The Role of the Vatican in the Modern World". Archived from the original on 4 May 2005.
  13. ^ "The World's Most Powerful People". Forbes. November 2014. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  14. ^ "The World's Most Powerful People". Forbes. January 2013. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  15. ^ "The World's Most Powerful People". Forbes. Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  16. ^ Agnew, John (12 February 2010). "Deus Vult: The Geopolitics of Catholic Church". Geopolitics. 15 (1): 39–61. doi:10.1080/14650040903420388. S2CID 144793259.

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