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The Pope

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The Pope
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

The Pope (Bishop of Rome or Vicar of Jesus Christ) is the bishop and patriarch of Rome, the supreme spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Rite Catholic churches, which collectively comprise the Catholic -- that is, Universal -- Church.
In addition to his spiritual role, the Pope is also sovereign of the independent state of Vatican City, entirely surrounded by Rome.
Prior to 1870, the Pope as a secular leader ruled over a large section of the centre of Italy known as the Papal States.
His office and jurisdiction is known as the Papacy or Holy See.

Among the honours belonging to the Pope are the style "Your Holiness" and "the Holy Father", and the titles "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the State of the Vatican City".

The Pope resides in the Palace of the Vatican, within Vatican City, and according to tradition the Pope has resided in Rome since the first century AD.
Still, according to the Latin formula ubi Papa, ubi Curia, the Pope's seat of power is by default the place of government of the Church.
As such, between 1309 to 1378 the seat of the Pope was not in Rome but in Avignon, a period often called the Babylonian Captivity, as an allusion to the Biblical exile of Israel.

It is the orthodox belief of the Catholic Church that Jesus Christ founded the Church (a word which means the community of disciples) on St. Peter when he said, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona!
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18).
This passage is significant because in the original Greek text, and the Aramaic in which Jesus would have said it, the words for Peter and rock would be identical, and the literal translation would be "You are a rock and on this rock..."

Further, it is Catholic doctrine that Jesus gave Peter the "keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 16:19: "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." See also Luke 22:31: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers").

Peter is considered by Catholics to be the first visible head of the Christian church and the first pope.
His authority, and by extension that of his lawful successors, is universal and immediate, with power to "bind and loose", and to govern the Universal Church (the community of all believers).
He is the leader of the College of Bishops, and is responsible for guiding them just as they are responsible for guiding their own flocks.

The First Vatican Council (1869-1870) defined the dogma of papal infallibility whereby the pope, when he speaks ex cathedra, does not have the possibility of error on any matter of faith or morals.
There are rigorous requirements for such a statement, and there are only a very few.
Ordinarily, the Pope exercises infallibility through the College of Bishops and in union with Ecumenical Councils of the Universal Church.

The term antipope refers to individuals who have claimed to be popes, but who were not canonically or lawfully elected.
Their stories often reflect tumultuous periods in church history; only one antipope has been canonised, or declared a saint.

Death and Election
Currently when the pope dies the rule of the papacy passes to the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, a cardinal appointed by the Pope.
The Camerlengo removes the Ring of the Fisherman from the pope's right hand; it is later broken at the meeting to decide the new pope.
The body rests in state for a number of days before being placed in a special coffin and interred in the crypt in some leading church or cathedral.
All twentieth century popes have been buried in St. Peter's Basilica.
It is expected however that when the current pope, John Paul II dies, he will be buried in his native Poland.
There follows a nine day period of mourning, novemdialis.

Currently the pope is elected for life by a vote of those cardinals who are under the age of 80.
Initially the pope was chosen by those senior clergy residing near Rome.
In 1059 the election was restricted to cardinals and in 1179 the individual votes of all electors were equalised.
However the potential choice is considerable, almost anyone - even lay persons - can be elected, although Urban VI was the last non-Cardinal elected.
If a lay person or other non-bishop is elected, then the Dean of the College of Cardinals ordains him a bishop before he assumes office.

In France the Second Council of Lyons opened on May 7, 1274 to regulate the election of the pope.
Two additional conditions were introduced; the cardinals had to meet within ten days of the pope's death, and they had to remain in seclusion until a new pope was chosen.
This was prompted by the three year wait to replace Clement IV who died in 1268.
By the mid 1500s the electoral process was roughly equivalent to the current one.
The time between the death and the election has been changed; it must occur within twenty days, but must begin not less than fifteen days after the death.

The actual vote used to take place by one of three methods: acclamation, committee or plenary vote.
The simplest was a unanimous voice vote called acclamation (last occurred in 1621).
There was also an option of the selection of a smaller committee to make a decision.
The third-most common is by a plenary vote of all cardinals entitled to vote, by means of a ballot.
However in a major revision of the code of procedure, Pope John II abolished the option of selection by committee or by acclamation.
Thus all subsequent popes can only be elected by full vote of the College of Cardinals.

The meeting of cardinals, the conclave, is called by the Sacred College of Cardinals and almost always takes place in the Vatican, in the Sistine Chapel.
The conclave is so named because once the twenty-day limit is reached all the present eligible electors are theoretically locked away from the rest of the world (cum clavi).
By lot three cardinals are assigned to collect the votes of non-attendees (through illness), three more are assigned to count the votes and a further three to review the count.
The ballot papers (usually marked "Eligo in summum Pontificem Rev.mum D. Meum D. Card...") are distributed; each cardinal writes his choice upon the paper, pledges aloud he is electing "one whom under God I think ought to be elected" and deposits his ballot into a container.
If there is no overall winner the cardinals vote again immediately, and then possibly again and again until there is a clear choice.
Until 1996 the required majority was two-thirds; now if the meeting is still deadlocked after twelve days a simple majority rule can be invoked.
To communicate some of the process to the waiting world the ballots, once counted, are burned: black smoke (sfumata, created using straw) indicates the vote was not decisive, and white smoke indicates a new pope has been chosen.

When the pope has been chosen he is asked by the Dean of the College of Cardinals to confirm his acceptance, and then the name he chooses is announced.
Since 535 up to and including Pope John Paul II the pope has had the opportunity to be called by a name other than that given at birth and the practice has become standard.
The selection is then announced from a balcony over St. Peter's Square, initially with the words "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam."

The election process was last altered in 1996 by John Paul II in Universi Dominici Gregis.

The Latin term sede vacante (empty seat) is normally applied to the period between the death of one pope and the election of his successor.
This term has been adapted to identify a group of modern schismatics.

The Title
The word pope (post-classical Latin papa, father), is an ecclesiastical title now used to designate the head of the Roman Catholic Church and several Patriarchs of eastern Orthodoxy, such as the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
In the 4th and 5th centuries it was frequently used in the west of any bishop, but in the Catholic church it gradually came to be reserved to the bishop of Rome, becoming his official title.
In the East, on the other hand, the Patriarch of Alexandria uses it as as his historical title.
As a popular term it was applied to priests, and at the present day, in the Greek Church and in Russia all the priests are called pappas, which is also translated "pope".
Even in the case of the sovereign pontiff the word pope is officially only used as a less solemn style: though the ordinary signature and heading of briefs is, e.g. "Pius PP. X", the signature of bulls is Pius episcopus ecclesiae catholicae, and the heading, Pius episcopus, servus servorum Dei, this latter formula going back to the time of Saint Gregory the Great.
Other styles met with in official documents are Pontifex Maximus, Summus pontifex, Romanus pontifex, Sanctissimus, Sanctissimus pater, Sanctissimus dominus noster, Sanctitas sua, Beatissimus pater, Beatitude sue; while the pope is addressed in speaking as Sanctitas vestra, or Beatissime pater.
In the middle ages is also found Dominus apostolicus (cf. still, in the litanies of the saints), or simply Apostolicus.

See also:

External link

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

This information correct in December 2003. E. & O.E.

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