Why is the Pope called Pope


The leadership that Jesus transferred to Peter has since passed from one Pope to the next. To this day, all popes are at the same time head of the Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome, and they bear the title of "Representative of Christ on earth".

Primacy of the Bishop of Rome

The great persecution of Christians in the early Christian period ended in 311 with the Edict of Tolerance of Milan under the Roman emperor Constantine.

In 380, Emperor Theodosius declared Christianity the state religion. Now the Christian religion could also develop institutionally.

In the 5th century, several bishoprics emerged, headed by bishops as chief priests, the so-called patriarchs. Five patriarchates stood out: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem formed the top of the universal Church.

After the imperial seat was moved from Rome to Constantinople, the Bishop of Rome, supported by the Roman nobility and clergy, gained increasing secular and spiritual power. He became the most powerful church prince in the West.

Pope Leo the Great (440 to 461) finally enforced primacy - the claim to sole representation of the Roman patriarchate - by defining the Pope as Peter's deputy.

At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, however, the Patriarch of Constantinople was also given primacy. The Eastern Church began to alienate itself from the Western Roman Church. The alienation culminated in the Oriental Schism (church split) of 1054, which sealed the separation of the Roman Catholic from the Orthodox Church.

The Pope becomes emperor-maker

After Rome was threatened by the Lombards, Pope Stephen II sought protection from a strong ally. He found this in the Frankish King Pippin, who defeated the Lombards in 754 and 756.

Pippin gave the Pope a large area in central Italy, which became the basis of the papal state. In return, the Pope legitimized the claim to power of the new Franconian family, which was preparing to replace the Merovingians.

In the next generation, Charlemagne, son and successor of Pippin, confirmed the "Pippin gift" and took the decisive steps towards the Christianization of Europe. On December 25, 800, Charlemagne was appointed by Pope Leo III. anointed Roman emperor in Rome. Since this connection between the highest dignitaries - emperor and pope - it was reserved exclusively for the pope to crown the Roman emperor.

Schism and Investiture Controversy

In the 11th century there was a memorable trial of strength between the emperor and the pope. The so-called investiture dispute - the dispute over the right to appoint and appoint bishops - escalated between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV and ended with the emperor's excommunication.

The Pope triumphed and forced Emperor Heinrich IV to humiliate the "Walk from Canossa", the pilgrimage in a penitent shirt in front of the papal throne in 1077.

In the 13th century, Pope Innocent III. (1198 to 1216) claimed the title of "representative of Christ". In the Roman papal state, the papal administrative authorities (curia) were systematically expanded, as was the supreme ecclesiastical judicial authority (inquisition).

The Pope in exile

Under Innocent III. the papacy reached the height of its secular power. The Pontifex Maximus was able to assert himself against the emperor after heavy fighting.

Pope Boniface VIII tried in 1302 to write down this new papal claim to power in his bull (papal document) "Unam sanctam". He wanted the spiritual papal power to prevail over all secular rule.

But it turned out differently. In the 14th century the papacy plunged into its greatest crisis. After serious political rifts broke out in Italy and Germany, the rise of a new power in Europe began: France expanded its supremacy.

Boniface VIII wanted to stand in the way of the French king and excommunicated him. Thereupon French troops besieged the papal palace and took the pontiff prisoner.

Under the selfish patronage of the French King Philip IV, the "Babylonian captivity" of the Church began in 1309: the exile of the Popes in Avignon. Coming under the complete dependence of the French crown, the popes resided in France for almost 70 years and became servants of the French kings. France systematically filled the college of cardinals with French candidates.

Only the German King Charles IV was supposed to persuade the Pope to return to Italy. The time of exile was now replaced by the time of the great schism: the great schism in the church, which was to last for 30 years. Because now three candidates were fighting for the papal dignity.

It was not until the Council of Constance (1414 to 1418) that the schism was settled. It was the largest congress of the 15th century. The Council participants came from all over the world: clerics, cardinals, bishops, abbots, scientists from all European universities. Secular princes and rulers also took part.

The council saw itself as a God-given authority that was supposed to preserve the unity of the church and therefore opposed the pope's claim to absoluteness: for the time of the council, therefore, spiritual power emanated from the council itself and no longer from the pope.

Endowed with this authority, the council appointed the three anti-popes John XXIII, Gregory XII. and Benedict XIII. and appointed Martin V as the new Pope to the chair of Peter. Although the great schism was settled at the Council of Constance, the papacy had lost a lot of respect.

Papacy in the Age of Reformation

The most important weakening of the Catholic Church and the papacy to this day came from German soil. In the 16th century, the age of the Reformation, the Christian Church split into the Catholic and Protestant camps.

Martin Luther condemned the secularization of the papacy in the Renaissance and the brutalization of morals in the Catholic Church. The papacy finally lost its universal validity in the West after the Thirty Years War (1618 to 1648).

From the Papal States to Vatican City

In the 19th century, Pope Pius IX. at the First Vatican Council in 1870 the dogma of the Pope's infallibility.

As a result of the establishment of a national state in Italy, the papal state was forcibly incorporated into the new country of Italy. Pope Pius IX stylized himself furiously. to the "Prisoner of the Vatican", an area of ​​only 40 hectares around St. Peter's Church.

It was not until 1929 that the disputes were settled and the sovereignty of the new state "Vatican City" and the "Holy See" were confirmed by the Lateran Treaties with the Pope as head of state.