|This article forms part of the series|
|Bishop - Priest - Deacon|
|Subdeacon - Reader|
Cantor - Acolyte
|Chorepiscopos - Exorcist|
Doorkeeper - Deaconess
|Pope - Patriarch - Cardinal - Catholicos|
Archbishop - Metropolitan
Auxiliary bishop -
|Archimandrite - Protopresbyter|
Archpriest - Protosyngellos
|Archdeacon - Protodeacon - Hierodeacon|
|Abbot - Igumen|
|Ordination - Vestments|
Presbeia - Honorifics
Clergy awards - Exarch
Proistamenos - Vicar
The pope (from Latin: "papa" or "father" from Greek , pappas) is the Bishop of Rome and as such, is leader of the worldwide Catholic Church (that is, both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Roman Pontiff). The current office-holder is Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected in papal conclave on 19 April 2005.
The office of the pope is called the Papacy, and his ecclesiastical jurisdiction the "Holy See" (Sancta Sedes in Latin) or "Apostolic See" (the latter on the basis that both St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred at Rome). The pope is also head of state of Vatican City, a sovereign city-state entirely enclaved by Rome.
Early popes helped to spread Christianity and resolve doctrinal disputes. After the conversion of the rulers of the Roman Empire (the conversion of the populace was already advanced even before the Edict of Milan, 313), the Roman emperors became the popes' secular allies until, with the loss of the emperors' power in the west, Pope Stephen II was forced in the 8th century to appeal to the Franks for help, beginning a period of close interaction with the rulers of the west. For centuries, the forged Donation of Constantine also provided the basis for the papacy's claim of political supremacy over the entire former Western Roman Empire. In medieval times, popes played powerful roles in Western Europe, often struggling with monarchs for power over wide-ranging affairs of church and state, crowning emperors (Charlemagne was the first emperor crowned by a pope) and regulating disputes among secular rulers.
Gradually forced to give up secular power, popes now focus almost exclusively on spiritual matters. Over the centuries, popes' claims of spiritual authority have been ever more clearly expressed, culminating in the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra (literally "from the chair (of Peter)") to issue a solemn definition of faith or morals. The first (after the proclamation) and so far the last such occasion was in 1950, with the definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary.
- Brusher, Joseph H. Popes Through The Ages. Princeton: D. Van Nostland Company, Inc., 1959.
- Chamberlin, E.R. The Bad Popes. 1969. Reprint: Barnes and Noble, 1993. ISBN 9780880291163.
- Dollison, John Pope-pourri. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. ISBN 9780671886158.
- Kelly, J.N.D. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford: University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-19-213964-9.
- Maxwell-Stuart, P.G. Chronicle of the Popes: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Papacy from St. Peter to the Present; with 308 Illustrations, 105 in Color. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997. ISBN 0-500-01798-0.
- "papacy." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 12 Nov. 2009.
- The Holy See - The Holy Father—website for the past and present Holy Fathers (since Leo XIII)
- The Holy Father's 2008 Prayer Intentions
- Catholic Encyclopedia entry
- Pope Endurance League - Sortable list of Popes
- Scholarly articles on the Roman Catholic Papacy from the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Library
- Data Base of more than 23,000 documents of the Popes in latin and modern languages