Pope

The pope (from Latin: papa; from Greek: πάππας (pappas), a child's word for father) is the Bishop of Rome and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle. The current office-holder is Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected in a papal conclave on 19 April 2005.

The office of the pope is known as the papacy. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction is often called the "Holy See" (Sancta Sedes in Latin), or the "Apostolic See" based upon the Church tradition that the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul were martyred in Rome. The pope is also head of state of Vatican City, a sovereign city-state entirely enclaved within the city of Rome.

The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has had a prominent part in human history. The Popes in ancient times helped in the spread of Christianity and the resolution of various doctrinal disputes. In the Middle Ages they played a role of secular importance in Western Europe, often acting as arbitrators between Christian monarchs, and averting several wars. Currently, in addition to the expansion of the Christian faith and doctrine, the popes are dedicated to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, charitable work, and the defense of human rights.

Popes have gradually been forced to give up temporal power, and papal authority is now almost exclusively restricted to matters of religion. Over the centuries, papal claims of spiritual authority have been ever more firmly expressed, 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 St. Peter)"—to issue a formal definition of faith or morals. The first explicit such occasion (after the proclamation), and so far the last, was the definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in 1950.

Read more about PopeHistory, Saint Peter and The Origin of The Office, Titles, Regalia and Insignia, Politics of The Holy See, Objections To The Papacy, Antipopes, Other Uses of The Title "pope"

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