This article treats of the development of the papacy (papatus ) and the office of pope in five historical divisions: (1) the early period, to 590, (2) the medieval period, (3) the Renaissance and early modern period, (4) the modern period (1789–1958), and (5) the contemporary period (1958–2001).
1. Early Period.
At the earliest stage of the papacy's development, two elements will be discussed: its Biblical foundations and its juristic complexion.
Biblical Foundations. The title deed of the papacy as an institution in its claim to universality in the spiritual sphere of government is found in two crucial passages of the New Testament. The one is the text of St. Matthew
(Mt 16.18–19), which traditional exegesis understands to have been a promise made by Christ to St. Peter; the other is the fulfillment of the promise contained in Christ's words to Peter: "Feed my sheep" (Jn 21.17). Both passages gave rise to the claim of two kinds of primacy (primatus ) in the Roman Church: a magisterial and a jurisdictional primacy; the former is concerned with the final definition of doctrine and teaching; the latter, with government in the sense of a final decision. This article deals mainly with the jurisdictional aspect of the Roman Church, for it is in this function that the popes themselves saw the true nature and character of the papacy, and from the outset they considered that it was part of their duty to direct the path of organized Christianity. The essential point, which was invariably stressed by the papacy, was that in the Biblical passages, notably in the Matthean verses, Christ founded a new society, namely, the Church, and provided a government for the Church by conferring on Peter a fullness of power. It was a unique, creative act of Christ Himself. Further, since the Church was never, from the papal point of view, a merely spiritual or sacramental body, but an organized, visible, juristic, and corporate society that needed constant guidance for the realization of its aims, the conferment of governmental powers on Peter implicitly and necessarily contained the provision for a succession into these powers, specifically bestowed as they were on the Prince of the Apostles. In the consideration, therefore, of the governmental work of the papacy, the character of the body over which government was to be exercised and the divine establishment of that government must always be given due attention.
Juristic Complexion. That in the primitive Christian period the Roman Church was credited with an authority superior to that of any other patriarchal see, can be gathered from the letter written by Pope clement i (c. 92) to the Corinthians in which he made important statements
concerning the nature of the Church and laid down principles that in embryonic form contained maxims of government. That in view of its location, the Roman Church was in actual fact credited with preeminence over other sees is a matter of history. Perhaps the most telling witness to this preeminence is Irenaeus (c. 180), who clearly stated that the Roman Church possessed potentior principalitas and that special importance attaches to the apostolicity of that Church. Numerous testimonies could be cited to prove the factual preeminence of the Roman Church. It is similarly a matter of history that in the early centuries of the Christian era there was no doctrinal elaboration of the jurisdictional position of the Roman Church. Its function as the supreme jurisdictional authority, though operative, did not become the subject of reflective thought before the end of the 4th century; at least there is no evidence to suggest the contrary. Actual proof of the function of the Roman Church as the institution charged with making Christian doctrine part of the social fabric is contained in the first extant decretal letter of a pope—that of Siricius, dispatched in 385 to Spain—which is an important legal document. It may be said that the period between Siricius and leo i (440–461) was the period of gestation in the conceptual development of the Roman primacy. The juristic complexion of the papacy as an institution of government similarly finds a ready explanation in the location of the Roman Church. The form in which government was exercised was Roman, i.e., the Roman law and constitution served as models on which to formulate governmental principles and to transact governmental affairs. The matter was Biblical, i.e., the substance of the papal government principles and measures was derived from the Bible. It is therefore noteworthy that at exactly the time when Jerome took on the enormous task of rendering the Hebrew text of the Bible into Latin, the Roman Church had begun the process of entering fully into the life of contemporary society. Moreover, it was the legislation of theodosius the Great that made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. There was a steady accumulation of papal decrees in the early fifth century; there was also a rapid development of concept and actions that, under Leo I, gave shape to a system culminating in the properly juristic function of the pope as successor of Peter. Nor should one underestimate in this historical process the factual, primatial position of the Roman Church, endorsed by the Roman synod of 380, which clearly stated the "double apostolicity" of this Church, i.e., the one Church that had been founded by the two Apostles, Peter and Paul. The Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon confirmed this development. Leo I's supreme mastery of Roman law enabled him to construct the thesis of Peter's function, and therefore that of the pope, in so satisfactory a way that it stood the test of time. The Roman Church had by right the primacy (principatus ) because, according to Leo, the head of this Church was, though personally unworthy, the heir of St. Peter (indignus haeres beati Petri ). In these two terms, coined by Leo, the whole papal program is epitomized. It was the merit of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, to have recognized Christ at Caesarea Philippi, and because of this recognition Christ had distinguished him by conferring plenary powers on him. This was a special merit that belonged to Peter, personally, which meant that it could not be transmitted or conveyed to anyone else. But the functions, i.e., the powers given by Christ, were purely objective, and could be transmitted.
To explain this theme Leo utilized the Roman law of inheritance according to which the heir inherits all the deceased person's assets and liabilities, though not his personal qualifications, distinctions, and merits. The powers given by Christ to Peter constituted an office that was indeed capable of being inherited. Hence, although the pope was heir to the full Petrine powers—the office of Peter as builder of the Church—he was unworthy as a person to wield the powers contained in that office. Leo's doctrine therefore clearly distinguished between the person of the pope and the office itself—a distinction with far-reaching consequences. What mattered for purposes of government was the office, and not the personal character of the individual pope. He may personally have been a saint, a mediocrity, or even a scoundrel; all this was of no interest, as many popes pointed out. The essential point was that the pope succeeded into the powers of Peter, and the totality of powers constituted, according to Leo, a fullness of power—plenitudo potestatis. Consequently, there was, as far as the scope and extent of powers went, identity between Peter and the pope. This identity placed a great burden of responsibility upon the pope, because his verdicts, judgments, and pronouncements took effect in this world as well as in the next; hence the frequently stated gravissimum pondus of responsibility upon papal shoulders. The so-called automatism of papal plenitude of power, as conceived by Leo, was to be a hallmark of papal thought throughout the Middle Ages. There was no tribunal and no higher court that could subject papal rulings to a revision; nor did an appeal lie from a papal decision to any other authority or court. This explains the later emergence of the view that the decrees of general councils acquire their validity through papal sanction, either in the convocation of the council or in posterior approval. It explains also why in the Middle Ages an appeal from the papacy's judgment to a general council was branded as a sign of heresy. In short, the pope was the point of intersection between heaven and earth. There is no intermediary between pope and Peter: no pope qua pope succeeds his predecessor, but succeeds Peter directly, again a principle of the papacy that has stood the test of time.
The Leonine thesis brings into clear relief the properly conceived monarchic institution of the papacy according to which the sum total of powers is in the hands of the pope. Therefore, one can speak of a vertical or descending concept of government, because whatever power is found in the Church, in the congregation of the faithful, is conceptually derived from the pope: hence the early pictorial representation of the Roman Church as the source of a river. This theme has particular relevance for episcopal power, which only later was formally held to have been dependent on the pope for its exercise of jurisdiction. In other words, the bishop was called upon to participate in the papal solicitude for all Christians, but not in the papal plenitude of power. The principatus Romanae ecclesiae was the usual designation for this monarchic conception. The exercise of this papal principatus had, however, exclusive reference to government, i.e., to jurisdiction, the final verdict arrived at by the law and exhibiting effects solely by means of the law. Correctly understood, the pope as monarchic governor (gubernator ), and in his function as pope, stands outside and above the Church that was entrusted to him, and this idea was expressed by the maxim papa a nemine judicatur. Although this statement was made at the beginning
of the sixth century in a spurious document, the idea itself was considerably older, as is proved by a similar statement of Pope zosimus. In modern terminology this concept is called absolute sovereignty (superioritas ), a notion that can likewise be found in the medieval concept of kingship. Further, because the pope in his official capacity is identical with Peter, the principle of the infallibility of certain papal pronouncements finds its ready explanation. As heir to Petrine powers, a pope cannot pronounce erroneously in matters of faith and morals. Therefore, no pope could or did say that any of his predecessors had erred in doctrine, because the consequence would have been that Peter himself had been the victim of error. A further consequence of the fundamental Leonine position was that the pope claimed, by virtue of his function, to be endowed with an auctoritas sacrata, i.e., a supreme and final authority, in which concept a number of charismatic qualities are discernible. The secular power, on the other hand, possessed a regal power (potestas regalis ). As a result of the spread of Christianity amongst the barbarian nations, the papacy thus became the primary instrument in propagating the idea that civilized government could be conducted solely by means of law. In other words, the papacy, itself the heir of the ancient Roman principle of the superiority of law, utilized this idea in the interests of the whole Christian community while pursuing its evangelical mission. In this lies one of the great historic achievements of the papacy.
In order to understand the full import of the terms auctoritas and potestas, adapted to ecclesiastical usage by Leo I, then by gelasius i, one should realize that the second half of the fifth century witnessed an acceleration of the monarchic program by the imperial government at constantinople. At the same time the papacy, as a result of Leo's clear exposition of the Petrine function of the pope, acquired the means, i.e., the legal principles with which to combat the ever-increasing claims of the imperial government. The papacy was now faced with the necessity of challenging the validity and legality of imperial measures that, in its opinion, fell outside the scope of imperial functions. In so doing, the papacy was forced to declare itself on certain vital governmental points; and throughout its long and checkered history in the Middle Ages it never deviated from them. The imperial government had gone so far as to decree the faith and doctrine of Christians and to intervene drastically in the ecclesiastical organism by appointing and dismissing prelates. Armed with the primatial doctrine of Leo, the papacy issued its serious challenge to the imperial government and raised the question whether the emperor was suitably qualified to direct the body under his control in the manner in which he did, and by what authority he did so. Although the emperors acted in the belief that it was their duty as divinely appointed rulers to direct the Empire in all its vital aspects, the papacy maintained that the direction of the body of Christians, i.e., the Church, must be in the hands of those who were specially qualified to carry out this function. The definition of dogma, fixing the purpose and aim of Christian life, and the organization of the Church were the right and duty of the papacy, and not of the imperial government. The papal position, arrived at in the late fifth century and adhered to throughout subsequent centuries, was that the overall direction, the final authority in matters that affected the vital interests and the structural fabric of the Church—in short the auctoritas sacrata —belonged by virtue of his function solely to the pope. He was instituted as the "builder of the Church" and had to lead the faithful to their end, and the means to this was the law. The emperor, though clearly also instituted by God, had different functions in Christian society, and as a Christian actually belonged to the body entrusted by Christ to Peter's successor. He had a potestas regalis, i.e., power to act within the framework of his divine trust, or as Gelasius I said, the emperor's duty was to learn (discere ), not to teach (docere ), in the religious sphere. What the papacy here laid down was nothing less than the principle of division of labor and of respective spheres of power. This Leonine-Gelasian program received precision in the subsequent development, notably through isidore of seville and above all through gregory vii, according to whom the potestas regalis existed to supplement the word of the sacerdotium by regal power so as to eradicate evil. But since evil (sin) was prompted by the devil, God Himself had instituted secular government for the purpose of exterminating evil. It is thus clear that from the fifth century onward the papacy adhered to a teleologically conceived system of government.
The firm stand taken by felix iii and Gelasius I in the matter of the imperially imposed henoticon, dealing with a doctrinal matter, led to the first serious schism between East and West (see acacian schism), lasting some 30 years. A settlement was reached between the Emperor justin i and Pope hormisdas in 519.
Subsequent development was to show that the theory of government in Constantinople culminated in the concept of the emperor as priest and king, the former admittedly only in an external sense, yet in a manner that seriously infringed the exercise of papal primatial rights. This was especially true during the reign of justinian i, which brought so-called caesaropapism to its apogee. The position of the papacy was difficult: the city of Rome and the whole of Italy were parts of the Empire and the popes themselves civil subjects of the emperor. Though fundamentally Constantinople recognized the primacy of the pope, the imperial government left no doubt about the final direction of the Christian body politic. The dilemma was most serious: if the popes remonstrated against the regal-sacerdotal decrees of the imperial government and insisted upon the exercise of Roman primacy, they ran the risk of committing the crimen laesae majestatis against the emperor. If they acquiesced, they became unfaithful to their own vocation and duty. (In this connection see vigilius, pope.) It is at this juncture in the late sixth century that the truly historic significance of gregory i emerges.
2. Medieval Period
The medieval papacy logically built on the premises inherited from its immediate past.
Gregory I to Gregory VII. Gregory I had been papal representative (apocrisiarius ) to the imperial court for a number of years before his election to the papacy. While at Constantinople he reached the conclusion that the regal-sacerdotal idea of government was so firmly entrenched there that, however regrettable this state of affairs, it would be futile and dangerous to press the Roman primatial claim against the East. As long as the popes were subjects of the Empire, they were exposed to serious charges if they insisted upon the exercise of their primatial rights because in their civil capacity they were under the emperor. But if they were to act as popes in regions where the imperial writ did not run, they could press the primatial claim to its fullest extent. In this realization lies Gregory I's historic importance: he never acquiesced in or approved of the imperial theory, but accepted reality and, with the history of the sixth century before his eyes, logically concluded that the future held no promise for the papacy in the East. Gregory I opened up the West to the papacy by his missions to Gaul and England. In these areas, from the outset, papal jurisdiction was exercised without reference to Constantinople. It was, in actual fact, from the farthest corner of medieval Europe, the British Isles, that the historic conversion of the Germans took place. Anglo-Saxon missionaries not only established close relations between England and the papacy, but they also were instrumental in forging the strong links between the franks and the papacy, links that were to give medieval Europe its specific character. It cannot be said that the papacy in the seventh century inherited Gregory's vision and appreciation of the historical situation, since it was difficult for the popes in this century to break with established traditions. Of these none was stronger than the ubiquity of Romanitas: Rome was Roman, the papacy was Roman, and the Empire was Roman. And yet the imperial government advanced more and more on the road that had so alarmed the papacy. The period was indeed a heroic age of the papacy, which suffered for its principles in the face of imperial encroachment upon religious and ecclesiastical policy. When after the turn of the century the imperial government promoted iconoclasm by legislation, gregory ii openly challenged Constantinople. Indeed, if the papacy wished to live up to its vocation, two alternatives were open. The pope would have to remove himself physically from Rome and reside among "the barbarians," or the city of Rome with its surrounding districts would have to be withdrawn from imperial control. The first alternative was certainly in the mind of Gregory II when he issued in 729 his challenge to the Emperor leo iii. But it was abandoned for excellent reasons. As later events were to show, the papacy, deprived of its historic and natural surroundings, would become the pawn of contending territorial factions. There remained the other alternative that was adopted by stephen ii (iii). When Rome was threatened by the Lombards, he appealed to pepin, King of the Franks. The background of this crucial step was the sanction given by Pope zachary to the deposition of the last Merovingian king, Childeric III. The papal sanction was based on the principle that only he should be effective king who was useful—and about the uselessness of Childeric there was no doubt. Later gregory vii was to utilize this principle fully. Stephen's appeal culminated in his journey to Ponthion in Gaul (Epiphany 754) where he made clear to Pepin that the Lombards had conquered and stolen territory that by right belonged to St. Peter and hence to the pope. The document that was to support this papal claim of ownership was the donation of constantine. Although the ostensible reason for this appeal was the restitution of stolen property, a real motive was the establishment of a territorial entity in central Italy, independent of Constantinople. In two campaigns (754 and 756) Pepin drove the lombards out and made over the territories to the pope. The document was deposited at the Confession of St. Peter and established the states of the church (Patrimonium beati Petri ), which were to last until 1870. A most powerful link was forged between the new and virile Frankish dynasty and the papacy, a link that was to endure through the Middle Ages and beyond. The emergence of the papacy as an independent entity gave rise to a number of institutional changes: the regulation of papal elections (769), confining this function to the Roman clergy; notice of the elections was no longer to be sent to Constantinople, but to the Frankish court; papal coins were now struck; and the popes abandoned the dating of their documents according to imperial years.
The papacy had won freedom of action and was, so to speak, master in its house. The last chapter in the direct relations between Constantinople and the papacy in the eighth century was the coronation of Pepin's son, charlemagne, upon whom Pope leo iii conferred the imperial crown, making him thereby emperor of the Romans.
This coronation had far-reaching results. It set a precedent for the papacy insofar as no pope had ever crowned an emperor in Rome; the title deed for the pope's action was at least implied in the Donation of Constantine. And as there could not be two emperors of the Romans, the Eastern emperor was degraded to a mere "king of the Greeks" whose orthodoxy was in any case rather suspect; the Roman imperial crown was where the pope wished it to be. Although Charlemagne himself had reservations regarding this papal notion, it subsequently came to be accepted in the West, though never in the East. What is remarkable and what explains the eventual victory of the papacy is the dynamic initiative that the papacy in the earlier Middle Ages had firmly kept in its hands. Throughout the ninth century small but significant elements were added, e.g., the combination of coronation and anointing in one ceremony when stephen iv
crowned Louis I emperor of the Romans at Reims in 816; and the subsequent coronation in 823, which was performed in St. Peter's basilica, henceforth the rightful place for imperial coronations, and at which for the first time a sword was conferred on the emperor as part of the coronation ceremonial. It was in the ninth century that the pope appeared as the constituent organ of Roman emperorship, a function that enormously added to the prestige of the papacy. Other factors not of its own making, but nevertheless potently assisting the papacy in its growth, were the troubles of succession during Louis I's reign, the false decretals, the brisk conciliar activity in the Frankish domains, and the general unrest in the Frankish empire—all of which likewise served to make the papacy the rallying point of Christian civilization in the ninth century. The papacy was in a position to state or to restate and define its fundamental principles in numerous letters and decrees, notably those of nicholas i and john viii. The papacy's relations with the East, especially as a result of photius' attitude, worsened considerably when Nicholas I had opportunity to elaborate the primatial function of the papacy vis-à-vis the recalcitrant Eastern patriarch. But precisely because the papacy had established closest links with the Frankish dynasty, the collapse of that power had repercussions on the papal institution itself. The history of the papacy in the tenth century proves that it was still partly in the hands of the Roman nobility and partly in the hands of the newly risen Saxon dynasty in Germany. otto i, though humbly supplicating for the imperial crown, treated the Roman Church as if it were a German proprietary church. The essence of this system was lay patronage exercised to a degree that violated basic principles of Church government, above all, those relating to the conferment of the ecclesiastical office itself. Otto I applied this even to the papacy itself in his so-called Ottonianum (963) and imposed severe restrictions on the freedom of the papal electors, with equal severity circumscribing the governmental activity of the papacy. At the same time, however, the personalities and lives of the popes in the tenth century inspired little reverence and still less respect for the successors of Peter. Nevertheless, the papacy, despite the low moral standard of individual popes, kept the program alive. In this period the coronation rites were greatly improved and embodied the traditional papal theme of the emperor as the organ of government specifically created on a universal scale and charged with specific tasks mentioned in the ceremony. However low the virtues of the popes, the papacy as an institution was none the worse for it; it continued to develop internally and to promote its principles, at least programmatically. Perhaps at no other time in its long history has the papacy so much profited from the Leonine distinction between person and office.
Hildebrandine Era. The overbearing power of the Saxon and early Salian emperors had prevented the papacy from translating its principles into reality. During this period popes were made and unmade by the emperors, who, inspired as they were by the cluniac reform, certainly were convinced that they acted in the interests of Christendom and of the papacy. The premature death of henry iii (1056) and the minority of his son, henry iv, provided the papacy with the long-sought opportunity for implementing basic principles of government. The Papal curia was assisted in this process by the influx of a number of outstanding men from beyond the Alps, who were mainly responsible for the cosmopolitan outlook characteristic of the papacy in the eleventh century. Perhaps nothing reflects better the new attitude of the papacy than the numerous institutional measures initiated, developed, or modified in the second half of the eleventh century. One of the first measures was the passing of the papalelection decree in April 1059. The significance of this decree lies partly in its adoption and refinement of the procedure envisaged in 769 and partly in the abolition of the obnoxious Ottonianum. With this decree the college of cardinals came into being as the advisory body of the pope. The same year witnessed the first coronation of the pope (nicholas ii), which, though not an essential element in his assumption of power, was nevertheless a symbolic means of presenting the pope in his monarchic status, and was readily understood by contemporaries. The wide-flung policy of the pre-Gregorian papacy necessitated the institution of the legatine system, since the legates functioned as the prolonged arms of the pope and could be in constant touch with faraway bishops, princes, and governments. The legates were also a guarantee that papal instructions were carried out. Because of the papacy's wide European connections a number of new departments came into being, and old ones were adapted to the exigencies of the time. Of these departments, none was more important than the chancery, which became the very nerve center of the Christian body politic. The residence of the pope, the Lateran, was reconstituted and here a number of new departments came to be greatly developed, especially the financial and judicial. From this time onward the papacy also began to harness feudalism to its governmental scheme. The enfeoffment of the Normans in 1059 started the long line of papal feudal contracts, so that by the end of the following century the Papal Curia had more feudal vassals than any other European court. In strictest theory the feudal lord was not the pope, but St. Peter himself, on whose behalf the pope acted. Some of the feudal services could be rendered by money payment (feodum censuale ) in the place of the usual military service. The governmental scheme of the papacy was above all in need of a law. Hitherto there was no single law of the Church, and it was the acute realization of Gregory VII, when he was still Archdeacon Hildebrand, that the Roman Church as a governmental institution needed a legal code that was specifically related to the papacy. His impetuous demand to some of his colleagues in the Curia resulted in a spate of canonical collections of which the common feature was the emphasis on the primatial position of the Roman Church. This was the beginning of the legal development that culminated in the Decretum of Gratian in the twelfth century. It should be pointed out, however, that all these collections of Canon Law were private efforts and did not receive official papal sanction.
The pontificate of Gregory VII demonstrated for the first time the practical application of papal principles of government: the papacy had now entered upon the path of effective rulership by means of the law. Although there was at first not much tangible success for the papacy, a number of important principles were clearly reformulated and restated and came to be subsequently the pillars of the papal government: the exaction of the episcopal oath of obedience, the enforcement of episcopal visits to Rome (visitatio liminum apostolorum ), stern prohibition of simony and lay investiture, the enforcement of celibacy, and appeals to the Roman Curia. In the exercise of its governmental functions the papacy made known and acted upon the principle that the life of a Christian on earth determined his life in the other world, i.e., obedience to papal law was an indispensable condition for salvation, and that the material things of this world had merely auxiliary value insofar as they assisted the realization of the Christian's true aim—salvation. Resting upon this basic principle, amply supported as it was by the Bible, patristic lore, and earlier papal doctrine, the papacy could not and did not attribute inherent value to matter (the temporal) as such, but merely recognized its function as a means to an end. From this arose the claim, again pursued and acted upon by the papacy, that the end determined the use of material things—from the Christian teleological standpoint a perfectly understandable thesis. Precisely because the papacy was the divinely instituted government of the Christian world, its opponents, especially kings and emperors, could make little headway against it; they had little with which to answer the papal arguments of governing a Christian world. For the papal principles of government were basically rooted in the concept of the Church as the congregation of the faithful, entrusted by Christ to the pope through St. Peter and ruled by Peter's successor. Its end was otherworldly, and none other than the holder of the keys of the kingdom of heaven knew by virtue of his special qualification how to achieve this end. Kings and emperors were indubitably members of the Church and as such were subject to papal jurisdiction. They had, moreover, as their title "king by the grace of God" made clear, received their kingdom as a trust from God for the sake of actualizing Christian principles. Who else but the pope was the proper organ to watch over the discharge of this trust? From the medieval-historical point of view these papal principles of government exhibited extraordinary consistency and logical coherence. Nonetheless, censorious criticism has often been directed against both the principles themselves and their application by contemporaries as well as by modern critics. Their observations culminate in the assertion that the papacy, by dealing with temporal matters, became oblivious of its primary function as a spiritual organ. The point, however, to which insufficient attention and importance is attached by the critics of the papal government at work, is that the Church was an earthly society held together by faith in Christ as well as a society that by virtue of the same faith pursued otherworldly aims. This dual nature of the Church—an organic, visible, and juristic body, as well as a sacramental society—makes understandable the exercise of governing powers by the papacy. But there is no statement or action by any medieval pope that justified papal jurisdiction solely on grounds that were or could be considered purely temporal. What the medieval papacy at all times insisted upon was the application of the teleological principle. No criterion has ever been formulated according to which the spiritual could be separated from the temporal. Indeed, in a Christocentric society this separation could not conceptually come about: the categorization of human activities into religious, moral, or political is of post-medieval origin, while in the Middle Ages the Christian was viewed from no other standpoint than that of Christianity.
The schism between East and West (see easternschism) had already moved Gregory VII to issue an appeal for a crusade. urban ii succeeded in bringing about the crusade, in itself a major undertaking, which released the first large-scale mass movement in the Middle Ages. The resistance to Islam and the liberation of the holy places from Seljuk oppressions were most pressing and urgent motives. Meanwhile the problem of lay investiture by king or emperor was settled on a somewhat pragmatic basis, first in France, shortly followed by the compromise reached with England, and lastly with the German Emperor in the Concordat of worms (1122). The principles for which Gregory VII had fought gradually received recognition: the subsequent period saw the highest ascendancy of the medieval papacy. The socalled First lateran council of 1123 is counted as the first general council of the Middle Ages, soon to be followed by the second in 1139 and the third in 1179. Each was held under the presidency of the pope and issued numerous and fundamental decrees regulating virtually all aspects of public and social life. Now that canonistic scholarship also had come into being at the University of bologna, the papacy was in a position to call upon welltrained jurists for all its essential departments, and with alexander iii the long and distinguished line of juristpopes began. The outstanding features of the twelfth-century papacy were its considerable legal output in decretals and its successful fight against the new and overbearing Staufen dynasty in Germany as well as against other kings, notably henry ii of England, who resisted the full implementation of papal principles of government. Another feature of the twelfth century was the stand taken against emerging heresies, notably those of the Waldenses and the Cathari, who showed a keen spirit of resistance to papal law and order. These successes of the papacy are all the more remarkable as a considerable period of Alexander III's pontificate was marred by a pernicious schism, engineered and sustained by the Staufen Frederick I. The work of the papacy in the twelfth century also entailed institutional changes: the systematization of the legatine machinery, the chancery, and appellate jurisdiction; the emergence of new papal documents to cope with the increased output; the regulation of the papal election procedure and the introduction of the two-thirds majority for a valid election; the introduction of regular meetings of pope and cardinals (the consistory) in which fundamental questions were discussed and decided; the reorganization of the financial departments of the Curia by outstanding chamberlains.
Zenith of the Medieval Papacy . With the accession of innocent iii in 1198, the papacy entered upon its most splendid period. A man of great learning and vision, a first-class jurist with an enormous working capacity, he reconstituted the papal state and clarified the vital relations between the papacy and Sicily. His dealings with the disputed succession in Germany are a model of astute diplomacy; he made kingdoms (such as Bulgaria, England, and Portugal) fiefs of the papacy; he was highly successful in bringing back to the fold a number of heretical sects; he witnessed the fall of Constantinople in 1204 and became instrumental in establishing a Latin ecclesiastical organization in the Near East; in the regular consistory meetings his legal acumen shone forth; he prevented tension between the episcopacy and the papacy from deteriorating into rebellion. Almost all the papal registers of his pontificate have been preserved. The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 under his presidency marked the zenith of papal power in the Middle Ages. More than 1,200 participants attended this assembly, and its legislation was to exercise an influence beyond the medieval period. During this pontificate, the first official collection of canon law was published by Innocent himself (1209). In short, the papacy had reached the status of a universal power, not only in name but also in fact, taking an active part in every department of public life.
In many respects the history of the papacy in the thirteenth century is an appendix to the Innocentian pontificate. Under honorius iii the new mendicant orders were established and emerged as great civilizing and pastoral agencies in medieval Europe and beyond. In this pontificate the Staufen king, frederick ii, was crowned emperor (November 1220), and on this occasion Frederick issued a number of laws dealing with the menace of heresy. Throughout the thirteenth century the papacy refined and expanded its principles and institutions. New institutions developed in this period had a significant bearing upon the making of modern international law, e.g., the protection of legates and their safe conduct; the sanctity of treaties; proper treatment of hostages, prisoners, and exiles. As a universal power the papacy was in a position to command kings and other secular princes to take steps against heretics, to allot territory to a victorious belligerent party, to depose rulers and establish others in their place, and to take (especially in Eastern Europe) effective steps in organizing diocesan structures. The papacy, now ruled by some of its ablest lawyer-popes, such as innocent iv, had to face the full rigor of the conflict with Frederick II. In the First Council of lyons (1245) Innocent excommunicated and deposed the emperor; this step resulted in an anarchic interregnum in Germany, lasting some 30 years. The same Council also promulgated disciplinary decrees that remained in force until 1918. The Second Council of Lyons (1274) under gregory x witnessed the temporary union between the Eastern and the Latin Churches (see ecumenical movement), and among other decrees issued an important one on papal elections: the practice hitherto observed in holding elections in conclave was turned into law. Among the institutional measures developed in the 13th century were those concerned with papal provisions, reservations, expectancies, collations, and the regularization of papal taxation. In its attempt to combat heresy, the papacy under gregory ix instituted the inquisition, a special tribunal directly subordinated to the pope. There are many explanations for the increase of heresy throughout Europe, but as far as the papacy itself was concerned, one measure that seems to have engendered most opposition was the ready exercise of papal plenitude of power through ecclesiastical censures, which, though not misused nor abused, was certainly over used and thus became blunted. The theme of papal plenitude of power was not a problem of theology or law, but one concerned with handling power wisely and prudently.
The papacy was at all times, if not the begetter, at any rate a strong supporter of the universities. Toulouse and Rome saw the establishment of seats of learning by the papacy, which had always entertained amicable relations with the older universities, such as Bologna and Paris, and with the more recent foundations as well. Nevertheless, the spirit of inquiry promoted in the universities released forces that in their full maturity contributed to the diminution of papal authority in the following decades. Above all, the rediscovery of aristotle and of his corpus of thought and the awakening of a national spirit in the individual kingdoms, notably in France, brought about a considerable estrangement between the papacy and the faithful in general. By virtue of its commanding governing position in Europe, the papacy had perforce to deal with a number of issues that were not always properly explained nor adequately understood by the faithful. Unwittingly thereby the papacy aroused antagonism and resistance in quarters that were basically by no means antipapal. Moreover, in the conflict between the papacy under boniface viii and the French king, Philip IV, the former had failed to realize the strength and influence of the new forces. Instead, he relied for his arguments almost exclusively on traditional (Roman) doctrine which was largely conceived within the framework of the imperial government, but which made little impression on national kingdoms, such as France. That the papacy suffered defeat in this conflict was not the fault of Boniface VIII (who brought forth no argument that had not been advanced before), but arose partly from the loss of dynamic initiative by the papacy throughout the second half of the thirteenth century and partly from its underestimating the power and strength of "mere" kings. Precisely because the papacy concentrated so much on the Empire, European kings had been able to strengthen their position, virtually unimpeded by the papacy. It would be erroneous, nevertheless, to say that the papacy after Boniface became virtually a French satellite because it took up residence at Avignon for the following 70 years (see avignon papacy). That the papacy under clement v assisted in the suppression of the templars in France was due to papal timidity and to a number of circumstances over which the papacy had no control.
Decline of Papal Authority . It is worth pointing out that by the middle of the thirteenth century the papacy had reached its apogee of authority, influence, and prestige in Europe. There can be no doubt that the secret of its success had been an unyielding adherence to its program and the pursuit of dynamic and constructive policies that contributed to the welding of Europe into one more or less coherent whole. Apart from the factors already mentioned as contributing to the papacy's decline, there were others, such as opportunism; the ad hoc adjustment of some vital principles to emerging situations; the frequently questionable conferment of benefices by way of reservation, collation, and postulation; the incidence of very high taxation; the underestimation of new forces; and the blunting of papal censures through overuse. More and more Europe disintegrated into its national component parts, and the role of the papacy as a supraregal governmental organ was considerably modified: what came to count more and more was the law of the national kingdoms and less and less the law of the papacy. The development of political thought proper—one of the byproducts of the renewed study of Aristotle and of the revival of Roman law—also must be reckoned as a contributory factor in the decline of papal authority. For this development led to the conceptual elaboration of a dualism of public bodies, i.e., the State as a product of nature and the Church as a supranatural product. This dualism found its reflection in the view—advocated particularly by marsilius of padua—that only the laws of the State were true, enforceable laws, while the laws of the Church were not, strictly speaking, laws, but statements to which a merely persuasive force could be attributed. Law was, according to this thesis, the expression of the will of the people, and because the pope was said to be the head of a divinely instituted society, his decrees could assume the character of law only if the people (or the State) so willed it. The Avignon papacy was very much overshadowed by these and similar doctrines, which to some extent influenced even the Curia itself; the monarchic function of the pope came to be questioned, with the consequence that the college of cardinals assumed greater powers. Electoral capitulations were a clear symptom of the tension between pope and cardinals. Similarly, the western schism was a symptom of unresolved constitutional conflicts resulting in the emergence of conciliarism, which saw its victory in the Council of Constance.
Eve of the Reformation . The election of martin v meant not only the end of the schism, but also the beginning of an era in which the papacy was to recoup a good deal of its lost prestige. The reestablishment of the papal state, which had sunk into anarchy, was taken in hand, and so was the fight against the hussites. As all traces of conciliarism had not been wiped out, Martin, in implementing the decrees of Constance, convoked a new synod at Pavia for April 1423, but shortly afterward transferred it to Siena. This council produced none of the necessary reform decrees, and a new council was summoned to basel in 1431. Meanwhile the new pope, eugene iv, showed little taste for bowing to conciliarism. The much desired reformatio in capite as well as the reforms of the clergy, of papal taxation, elections, reservations, etc., brought about such serious tension that an open breach resulted. One part of the council was transferred to Ferrara in 1437, while the other remained at Basel. The Council of Ferrara was recognized as the legitimate continuation of the original Council of Basel and counts as the seventeenth general council of the Church. Its great success, however temporary, was the union between the Latin and Greek Churches, eventually achieved at florence in 1439. The papacy also provided a great stimulus to the revival of Greek studies and thus in a way assisted in the birth of the renaissance. A great preoccupation of the fifteenth-century papacy was the threat to the West by the advance of the Turks, who, since the fall of Constantinople in 1453, were justifiably considered a menace to Christianity. In the second half of the century, the papacy became very active in the promotion of a crusade against Islam, though circumstances were no longer propitious for its execution. A further notable achievement was the arrangement of concordats with secular governments; in fact, since the fifteenth century, this form of treaty came to be the modus by which the relations between the papacy and states were regulated on an international scale. A good part of the city of Rome was rebuilt during this century under the aegis of the papacy, and above all, plans of rebuilding St. Peter's, the papal library, and the Vatican were actively taken in hand, though the moving spirit behind these plans, nicholas v, did not live to see the fruit of his planning. The vision of the papacy had nevertheless become restricted: it was Rome and to a certain extent Italy that almost exclusively preoccupied papal interest, and far less the universal tasks in which the papacy traditionally saw its foremost mission. Moreover, the personal character of some of these popes was far from approaching the customary bearing of St. Peter's successors, and it is understandable that the institution of the papacy should have suffered from them, although the cataclysm into which Europe was thrown after the turn of the century was due only to a very small degree, if at all, to the personal bearing of these popes. What they made abundantly clear on an objective level was that the office of the supreme pontiff must be separated from his personality, as indeed Leo I had proclaimed exactly a millennium earlier. It was on this distinction between office and person that the papacy had actively entered the historic scene in that age, and it was on that distinction that the papacy as an institution successfully recovered from the depth into which it had been plunged by the popes of the late fifteenth century.
Bibliography: h. von schubert, Geschichte der christlichen Kirche im Frühmittelalter (Tübingen 1921). l. nina, Le finanze pontificie nel medioevo, 3 v. (Milan 1929–32). h. k. mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages from 590 to 1304, 18v. (London 102–32). e. caspar, Geschichte de Papsttums von den anfängen bis zur höhe der Weltherrschaft, 2 v. (Tübingen 1930–33). w. e. lunt, ed. and tr., Papal Revenues in the Middle Ages, 2 v. (New York 1934). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 1907–53) 13.1:1111–1345. v. martin, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15v. (Paris 1903–50) 11.2:1877–1944. g. glez, ibid. 13.1:247–344. f. coppa, ed. Encyclopedia of the Vatican and Papacy (London 1999). e. eichmann, Die Kaiserkrönung im Abendland, 2 v. (Würzburg 1942); Weihe und Krönung des Papstes im Mittelalter (Munich 1951). r. eno, The Rise of the Papacy (Wilmington, Delaware 1990). a. fortescue, The Early Papacy: To the Synod of Chalcedon in 451, 3rd ed. by s. reid (Southampton 1997). j. gaudemet, La Formation du droit séculier et du droit de l'église aux IV e et V e siècles (Paris 1957). p. grelot, "Pierre et Paul, fondateurs de la ’primaute' romaine," Istina 27 (1982) 228–68. l. hertling, Communio: Church and Papacy in Early Christianity (Chicago 1972). p. johnson, The Papacy (New York 1997). w. ladue, The Chair of St. Peter: A History of the Papacy (New York 1999). j. lortz, Geschichte der Kirche in ideengeschichtlicher Betrachtung (21st ed. Münster 1962–) v.1. h. rahner, Kirche und Staat im frühen Christentum: Dokumente aus acht Jahrhunderten und ihre Deutung (Munich 1961). b. schimmelpfennig, The Papacy (New York 1992). w. ullmann, Principles of Government and Politics in the Middle Ages (New York 1961); The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages (2d ed. New York 1962); Gelasius I: (492–496). Das Papsttum an der Wende der Spatantike zum Mittelalter (Stuttgart 1981). h. barion, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 1957–65) 5:44–47. k. aland et al., ibid. 5:51–71. g. schwaiger and k. rahner, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 8:36–48. h. e. a. feine, Kirchliche Rechtsgeschichte (4th ed. Cologne 1964–). j. canning, A History of Medieval Political Thought 300–1450 (London-New York 1996). c. morris, The Papal Monarchy: The Western Church from 1050 to 1250: Oxford History of the Christian Church (Oxford Press 1989). a. paravicini-bagliani, The Pope's Body, tr. d. s. peterson (Chicago and London 2000). k. pennington, Pope and Bishops: The Papal Monarchy in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (Philadelphia 1984). b. tierney, Origins of Papal Infallibility 1150–1350: A Study on the Concepts of Infallibility, Sovereignty and Tradition in the Middle Ages (Studies in the History of Christian Thought 6; Leiden 1972).
3. Renaissance and Early Modern Period
This section of the history of the papacy extends from the period of cultural transition known as the renaissance (c. 1450) to the great political, social, and religious upheaval of the french revolution (1789).
The Renaissance Papacy. The bitter conciliar quarrels of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had shown that the most dangerous crisis of the Church of the late Middle Ages was a constitutional one: its background was the impassioned demand for a reform "in capite et membris. " Attempts for a stronger democratization of the Church had failed with the fateful ending of the Council of Basel, although the conciliar ideas reaffirmed there remained powerful for centuries. After the experience of Constance and Basel, the strengthened papacy resisted the summoning of a general council, thereby abandoning its most powerful court for proposing reform measures. As the needed self-reform did not come about, the multicolored "autumn of the Middle Ages" was the forerunner of a religious revolution in the Church. With the highly cultured Nicholas V (1447–55), under whom the last antipope, felix v, resigned there began that close connection between the papacy, humanism, and the Renaissance which would endure well into the sixteenth century. After the evident decline of the political power of the Holy See, Nicholas and many of his successors aimed at regaining esteem for the papacy and Church by making them the leading centers of culture. Renaissance Rome became a focal point of arts and sciences, while at the same time the religious character of the papacy declined. With a few exceptions, the Renaissance popes became embroiled in secular affairs, wars, money-making, nepotism, and sensual passion. Nicholas V, the first and most high-minded pope of this epoch, concluded with the German King Frederick III, as ruler of the realm, the Vienna Concordat, which remained in force till the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1803. But since the "gravamina of the German nation" was not heeded, the anticurial opposition in the Empire grew. In 1452 Frederick III was crowned emperor in St. Peter's; it represented the last imperial coronation ceremony in Rome. In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Turks—not without the fault of the popes and of the Occident, neither of whom had given efficient aid.
The pontificates of the Spaniard callistus iii (1455–58) and of the cultured humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini, pius ii (1458–64), were dominated by the thought of a crusade against the Turks. But everywhere in Europe national interest prevailed, so that notwithstanding all papal efforts, a common undertaking did not come about. The sense of spiritual responsibility increasingly receded during the pontificate of Sixtus IV (1471–84), under whom the Spanish Inquistion was expanded; innocent viii (1484–92), who issued the fateful "Witches Bull" (Summis desiderantes, Dec. 5, 1484), was gravely compromised by his role as guardian of the Turkish Prince Dschem; finally, under the impetuous Borgia (Borja), alexander vi (1492–1503), the papacy further declined. Unrestricted nepotism and unscrupulous money-making involved the popes more and more in unseemly political quarrels. While Alexander VI showed political foresight in drawing a demarcation line between the Spanish and Portuguese empires of the New World, his anti-French policy in Italy and his plans for making the papal state a permanent fief of the Borgias came to naught. His successor was the high-minded pius iii (1503), whose reign lasted less than a month. The bitter foe of the Borgias, julius ii (1503–13), physically and intellectually a powerful character ("il terrible"), was one of the most capable popes, though far more an Italian Renaissance prince and general than a priest. Using diplomatic and military means he sought to establish a strong, independent papacy in an Italy free from foreign domination; the League of Cambrai (1509) and the Holy League (1511) were formed to serve this purpose. A schism in France was prevented only with difficulty when King Louis XII reinforced the pragmatic sanction and, with the aid of several cardinals, caused a general Church council to convene at Pisa in 1511. Julius II countered the move by calling together the Fifth Lateran Council (1512–17). Under his princely protection, Rome became the center of the Italian High Renaissance, where Bramante, Micheangelo, and Rafael created masterpieces to the glorification of Church and papacy. His successor of the house of Medici, leo x (1513–21), greatly disappointed the expectations of reformists. His secular, extravagant mode of life, as well as his whole manner of Church government, indicated a lack of spiritual responsibility.
With the inglorious end of the Fifth Lateran Council vanished the last possibility of an internal reform (see lateran councils). Thus, when, in 1517, Martin luther launched his open challenge, a catastrophe for papacy and Church was at hand. The occasion was given by the promulgation of an indulgence stipulating a money offering in connection with the building of the new basilica of St. Peter. Neither Pope nor Curia was aware of the religious motives of Luther, nor did they foresee the weighty consequences of his action. They also underestimated the anti-Roman state of mind of much of Europe. Thus, in a short time large sections of central and eastern Europe, as well as the whole Germanic North (England, Scotland, Scandanavia), went over to protestantism. After 1520, Luther looked upon the pope as an Antichrist. John calvin opened up an even deeper chasm with the papacy. Although the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century represented an attempt to restore the purity of an original Christianity, the resultant split in Christendom became the greatest misfortune in Church history.
In 1516 Leo X and Francis I of France signed a concordat in which, in exchange for the abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction, the Pope had to recognize a nearly complete supremacy of State over Church. The pious and moral Netherlander adrian vi (1522–23), the last German and last non-Italian pope prior to John Paul II initiated the reform of the Church in capite. At the Imperial Diet at Nuremberg (1522) he had the legate Francesco Chiergati pronounce the papal acknowledgment of guilt and assert the Pope's firm intention to achieve Church reform. The Pope's early death ended these hopes. The Medici pope clement vii (1522–34) followed the old ways. Besides, he allowed himself to come into fateful opposition to Emperor Charles V (1519–56), whose lifelong efforts to restore the unity of faith were rather hindered than supported by papal policy. Under Clement VII the great defection from papacy and Church advanced rapidly, especially in Germany and in the Nordic kingdoms. England separated from the papacy following the marriage scandals of King henry viii. And from the 1530s on, a militant calvinism spread from Geneva to France, the Netherlands, Scotland, Hungary, and Poland, and became with lutheranism and anglicanism the third main branch of a reformed Christendom (see reformed churches).
Catholic Reform and Counter Reformation. The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century curbed the power of the papacy. Yet, the immense shock at last caused the Curia to join the movement of reform that had been growing for decades in Spain and in small circles of Italy. After the early failure of Adrian VI, the pontificate of paul iii (1534–49) signified a turn of events. Though his way of life still followed wholly the traditions of the Renaissance popes, his wide education and political sense convinced him that the real strength of papal policy lay in following spiritual and ecclesiastical principles. But he seems to have had no clear ideas about the extent of necessary measures, and since he shrank from radial steps, his pontificate is characterized by hesitation. Of great importance for the Catholic reform was the thorough renewal of the college of cardinals, the appointment of the commission for Church reform in 1536 (Consilium de emendanda ecclesia ), the promotion of new orders (theatrines, barnabites, somaschi), especially the approval of the Society of Jesus in 1540, the renewal of the Roman Inquisition (Sanctum Officium, 1542), and most of all the Council of trent in session with interruptions from 1545 to 1563. The council could not restore the lost unity of faith, but it laid the broad basis for a thorough internal renewal by determining the most important articles of faith and by issuing sweeping decrees of reform. Notwithstanding the episcopalian tendencies, especially from the Spaniards and French, the popes remained masters of the council. Although showing serious weaknesses, julius iii (1550–55) had a pronounced sense of his spiritual office. paul iv (1555–59) tried with passionate energy to hurry the reform without the council, thereby involving himself in a series of catastrophes through political ineptitude and uncompromising severity. Under pius iv (1559–65) the Council of Trent completed its labors, having successfully overcome several threatening crises. A whole series of unfinished topics (the Roman Catechism, Missal, and Breviary, the edition of the Vulgate) were expressly entrusted to the Pope. The new edition of liturgical books, appearing for the most part under pius v (1566–72), resulted in the acceptance of the Roman rite by nearly the whole Church. The Council of Trent and active new religious orders, such as the jesuits, were among the most important factors in strengthening the Church.
Since the defection of nearly all the Germanic nations, post-Tridentine Catholicism has been characterized by a preponderance of Romanic nations. The radical attacks on the papacy by Protestant reformers made the Catholic reaction stress the importance of the priestly office in the Church, especially in the office of the pope. Their pitiless judgements, however, also made even well meaning and necessary criticism in the Church difficult. All attempts at reunion with Protestants, the aim of some of the most generous minds on both sides, proved unsuccessful. The most difficult problem, then as now, proved to be the position of the pope in the Church. Although the mentality and character of some post-Tridentine popes showed serious defects, there can be no further question of "unworthy" popes. The great popes Pius V, gregory xiii (1572–85), and sixtus v (1585–90) energetically and successfully assumed leadership of Catholic reform. In 1570 Pius V declared elizabeth i of England excommunicated and deposed—the last and unsuccessful papal deposition of an important ruler. The naval victory at lepanto over the Turks (1571) also was caused by his efforts. Gregory XIII supported Counter-Reformation forces, especially in Germany, France, England, Poland, and Sweden, although these were sometimes ill advised. Existing diplomatic representatives of the Holy See at Vienna, Paris, Madrid, and Lisbon were expanded by permanent nunciatures at Lucerne in Switzerland, at Graz in Inner Austria, at Cologne for Lower Germany, and at Brussels. These nunciatures assumed an important ecclesiastical and political role in preventing innovations, giving effect to the Tridentine reform, supervising bishops and the Church organization, and promoting Counter-Reformation forces.
Conflicts with state power and with the individual metropolitans and bishops developed, especially in the eighteenth century. The Jesuits, besides gaining leadership in a rapidly developing new educational system, became the most important helpers of a strengthened papacy. Sixtus V, combining a tremendous capacity for work with political wisdom, continued the reconstruction of the Church. His reorganization of the Curia and of the general government of the Church by setting up 15 Cardinal Congregations in 1588 and limiting the number of cardinals to 70, a number that remained unchanged until the twentieth century. He made Rome a baroque city and—less felicitously—ordered a new edition of the Vulgate. This period clearly demonstrated the trend toward greater centralization in Church government around papacy and Curia. It also reveals that the restrengthened papacy's most significant Protestant adversary was well-organized Calvinism, while Lutheranism and Anglicanism had noticeably declined as foes, the former by splitting up into numerous national churches, the latter though its isolation.
Catholic reform and the reconquest of lost territory, once started, were continued by clement viii (1592–1605), paul v (1605–21), gregory xv (1621–23), and, to a lesser degree, urban viii (1623–44). They found the strongest political backing for their plans from the Spanish and Austrian Hapsburgs and the Bavarian Wittelsbachs. France at last found peace when, after the end of the destructive wars with huguenots, the Bourbon King henry iv turned Roman Catholic in 1593. In the seventeenth century France rapidly advanced to the position of a great European power, thanks to the statesmanship of richelieu. Paul V attempted to revive medieval claims of a supremacy of the Church in political matters, although everywhere, even in the Catholic national states, a tendency toward national churches was acquiring new strength, especially in the gallicanism expressed by Edmond richer. His policy led to serious political conflicts and failures in particular with the republic of Venice (1605–07, excommunication of the Senate, interdict over the Republic) and with England (prohibition of the loyalty oath of Catholics to the king after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605). In the Thirty Years' War Paul V and Gregory XV supported Emperor Ferdinand II and the Catholic League under Maxmillian I of Bavaria. The reintroduction of Catholicism into Bohemia after the victory of 1620 and in the Upper Palatinate was greeted in Rome with joy. The transfer of the electoral office to Maximilian of Bavaria was vigorously supported by the papal diplomacy in order to safeguard the election of a Catholic emperor.
The establishment of the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith in 1622 indicated that the papacy intended to take over the leadership of the expanding world missionary movement. Under the Baberini Pope Urban VIII, a patron of arts, stately baroque buildings were erected in Rome. As in the Renaissance period, this building was accompanied by the destruction of many monuments of antiquity and the Middle Ages. Nepotism, never quite extinct, flared up again in Urban's pontificate. The Pope, deceived by Richelieu, leaned, toward the French's side during the Thirty Years' War, thereby harming indirectly the Catholic party in Germany, although he strove sincerely for peace. The Peace of westphalia, which caused great damage to the Catholic Church, was concluded in 1648 under innocent x (1644–55) after long negotiations. During the war and at the time of the peace the political weakness of the papacy had become painfully apparent. It was noted that often political thought and action were determined by simple reasons of state rather than by religious and ethical principles.
From the Peace of Westphalia to the French Revolution. In this period princely absolutism became firmly established in nearly all European states. The progressive secularization of the West forced the papacy, now internally strengthened and of high moral caliber, to accept not only the increasing loss of political influence but even the control of its internal affairs. It had to fight absolutism, an Enlightenment that too often was anti-papal and anti-ecclesiastical, jansenism, Gallicanism in France, Episcopalianism (febronianism) in Germany, and josephinism in the Hapsburg lands. All these phenomena were evident to a greater or lesser degree in all Catholic countries. Probably wishing to avoid political conflicts, the cardinals in this period elected honest but undistinguished popes; none were strong personalities, with the exception of Innocent XI and benedict xiv.
The greatest political difficulties for the Holy See arose from France. Through the labors of Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin and during the long reign of Louis XIV (1643–1715) that country had its "great century" when it stood at the top of its political power and spread its cultural influence over the whole Europeanized world. After a painful confrontation during the pontificate of the peaceable and restrained alexander vii (1655–67), the incorruptible and deeply religious innocent xi (1676–89) lived to see bitter quarrels with the unscrupulous absolutism of Louis XIV regarding the régale, rights of diplomatic immunity of the French ambassador in Rome, and papal condemnation of the four Gallican articles of 1682 (see regalia; assemblies of french clergy). An open schism was prevented probably only by the intervention of François fÉnelon and the change of government in England brought on by the Glorious revolution of 1688.
In international politics, also, Innocent XI found the King of France his greatest opponent, a fact especially fateful in view of the mortal Turkish danger. Considerable aid from the Pope made possible the decisive victory at Vienna in 1683 that relieved Europe from Turkish pressure on its eastern boundaries. Purity of aims and means gained Innocent XI high repute even with non Catholics. Under Innocent XII (1691–1700) the quarrel with France could finally be settled in view of the imminent extinction of the Spanish Hapsburgs because of the death on Nov. 1, 1700, of Charles II, King of Spain, without a son. A long war for the rich Spanish inheritance was not settled until the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) recognized Phillip of Anjou as Phillip V of Spain. Fearing a Hapsburg hegemony, clement xi (1700–21) took the side of the French Bourbons, which led to a short war with Emperor Joseph I in 1708.
The teachings of Luther, Calvin, and their followers on grace and justification led Catholic theologians to focus on the doctrine of the original state of man in paradise, to the Fall, and to the relation of divine grace and man's freedom. The Council of Trent had left the central problem of cooperation grace and free will undecided. As in late antiquity, this gave rise to long and violent debates, in which the papacy repeatedly intervened. The old distinction between the theological schools of Thomists and Scotists emerged vividly in a modern form. In 1567 Pius V rejected 79 theses of Michel de Bay, professor at Louvain, and his adherents (see baius and baianism). The aftermath of this quarrel was seen in the discussion about the doctrine of grace of the Jesuit Leonard lessius. Sixtus V forbade both parties to censure each other. At the end of the sixteenth century another severe conflict broke out between Dominicans and Jesuits (Domingo bÁÑez, OP; Luis de molina, SJ). After long deliberations of the papal commission of inquiry (see congregatio de auxilis), neither Clement VIII nor Paul V gave a decision. A similar situation existed in the 200-year dispute over systems of moral theology. Both extremes were condemned: laxism by alexander vii (1665–66) and Innocent XI (1679), rigorism by alexander viii (1690). Theological contention came to a pitch in the century-long quarrel over the interpretation of the augustinus, written by bishop Cornelius jansen and printed posthumously (1640). Jansenism, which started in Louvain, soon took hold of France and influenced the Catholic lands of Europe. Jansenistic doctrines were first condemned by Urban VIII (1642), later by Innocent X (1653); after the inheritance of Alexander VII (1644), the charitable clement ix brought about a temporary truce in 1669 (Clementine peace). The hostile activity of Louis XIV made the quarrel in France flare up again c. 1700 and occasioned Clement XI's two great bulls of condemnation, Vineam Domini (1705) and unigenitus (1715). In the end the bishops of France submitted, but not so in the Netherlands, where Utrecht became the seat of the schism (1723). The papal condemnation of Jansenism made the latter movement often an ally of the opponents of Roman centralization, as in the Gallican and Josephinist movements and the Synod of pistoia (1786). Quietism also received papal condemnation, first by Innocent XI, who after long hesitation proscribed propositions found in the Guía espiritual of Miguel de molinos (1687), then by Innocent XII, who was pressured by the French crown to censure the Explication des Maximes des Saints of Fénelon (1699).
The enlightenment period brought a great turning away from the acknowledgement of Christianity as revealed religion. The Catholic Church and the papacy especially were mercilessly attacked by many enlightened philosophers in France, Portugal, Spain, and Naples-Sicily. Increasing difficulties were overcome for the time being by the capable and learned Benedict XIV (1740–58), whose measures for internal reform of the Church and whose wise and timely policy of compromise in external affairs testify to his deliberate moderation, prudent compliance, and sincere love of peace, without surrender of essential rights of the Church. The pontificates of clement xiii (1758–69) and clement xiv (1769–74) were completely overshadowed by discussion about the dissolution of the Society of Jesus. Long demanded by the Bourbon states, which unilaterally had already effected it in their respective dominions, the suppression of the order was decreed in 1773 by Clement XIV, after deep reflection. The long antecedents of this affair, the brutal states, and also the unsuccessful petitionary journey of pius vi (1775–99) to Emperor Joseph II in Vienna (1782), revealed the political impotence of the papacy in the period of Enlightenment. The end of the eighteenth century witnessed the deepest humiliation of the modern papacy in the wake of the french revolution.
Bibliography: For extensive sources and literature see: l. pastor, The History of Popes From the Close of the Middle Ages, 40 v. (London 1938–61). f. x. seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste von den Anfängen biz zur Mitte des 20.Jh., v.4–5 (Leipzig 1931–41). k. bihlmeyer and h. tÜchle, Kirchengeschichte, 3 v. (17th ed. Paderborn 1962). a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935–). p. paschini and v. monachino, eds., I papi nella storia, 2 v. (Rome 1961). j. w. o'malley, ed. Catholicism in Early Modern History (St. Louis, Missouri 1988). a. d. wright, The Early Modern Papacy: >From the Council of Trent to the French Revolution 1564–1789 (London 2000). j. a. f. thomson, Popes and Princes, 1417–1517 (London 1980). h. m. vaughn, The Medici Popes (Port Washington, New York 1971). p. partner, Renaissance Rome, 1500–1559 (Berkeley 1976). r. bireley, The Refashioning of Catholicism: A Reassment of the Counter-Reformation (Washington, D.C. 1999). m. r. o'connell, The Counter-Reformation, 1559–1610 (New York 1974). r. po-chia hsia, The World of Catholic Renewal, 1540–1700 (New York 1996). j. dulumeau, Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire (London 1977). w. j. callahan and d. higgs, eds., Church and State in Catholic Europe of the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge 1979). h. daniel-rops, The Church in the Eighteenth Century (Garden City, New York 1966). h. gross, Rome in the Age of Enlightenment (Cambridge 1990).
4. The Modern Period (1789–1958)
The history of the papacy in this period extends from the tumultuous impact of the French Revolution of 1789 upon the Church and its leadership through the papacy's involvement in the early Cold War.
The main lines of historical development in the institution of the papacy during the period 1789 to 1958 are clear-cut. The quarter century between the outbreak of the French Revolution and Napoleon's downfall witnessed determined and violent assaults against the papal spiritual and temporal power that seriously menaced the very existence of the office; yet it also registered gains of long-term significance. Then followed a reversal of fortune almost unparalleled in suddenness and importance. Since 1815 the prestige and effective spiritual powers of succeeding popes have continued to mount, even after 1870. More than ever Rome became the vital center of the Church throughout the world. Particularly since mid-nineteenth century, ecclesiastical administration has been centralized in the Eternal City to an unprecedented degree. Clergy and laity have become accustomed to turn to the popes for doctrinal and pastoral guidance regularly, not merely in periods of crisis; and they have entertained for recent pontiffs a personal reverence that earlier centuries rarely knew. Papal temporal power nevertheless suffered mounting difficulties from its restoration in 1815 to its disappearance in 1870; its revival in 1929 was on a very limited scale.
From 1789 to 1815. Events in France gave direction to the history of the Church and of the papacy during these years.
Losses. From the beginning of his pontificate, Pius VI, like his predecessors, had to contend with Catholic governments imbued with the tenets of monarchical absolutism and regalism that viewed with suspicion or hostility any exercise of papal authority within their borders and defied or disregarded Rome save when it suited their interests to do otherwise. These states utilized the exequatur and placet, the appeal as from an abuse, and the menace of schism as standard devices to maintain as much national spiritual autonomy as possible within a universal Church. Gallicanism, allied with Jansenism, continued to oppose the full hierarchical supremacy of the papacy. In Germanic lands Febronianism and Josephinism, with similar aims, reached their peak during this pontificate. All four of these antipapal tendencies converged close to Rome at the synod of Pistoia (1784), convoked by Bishop Scipione de' ricci, whose decrees merited the solemn papal condemnation, Auctorem fidei (1794). Protestant rulers preserved their antipapal traditions and displayed more intolerance toward Rome than toward their Catholic subjects. After engineering the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, the more radical champions of the Enlightenment envisioned the abolition of the papal office.
As the French Revolution (1789–99) progressed, leaders intent on de-Christianizing France gained control. Their antipapal predispositions were intensified by Pius VI's opposition to the principles of 1789, and still more by his condemnation of the civil constitution of the clergy and the oaths of civil disobedience demanded of the clergy, and by his aversion to the whole body of ecclesiastical legislation of the French Assembly. When the Pope supported the first coalition of European powers arrayed against France, the revolutionaries retaliated by annexing papal territories in southern France, invading Italy, seizing the States of the Church, and establishing a republic in Rome. After stripping Pius VI of his temporal power, the French deprived him of his liberty. His death while a prisoner marked a low point in the papacy's fortune and gave rise to a prophecy that the apostolic succession had come to a close with the demise of "Pius the Last."
The next pope's humiliation surpassed those of his predecessor. After election at a conclave which convened in Venice, pius vii (1800–23) quickly revealed his independence by spurning Austrian enticements to reside in Vienna and by returning to his own capital. The first part of his pontificate was linked with the career of Napoleon I. As Bonaparte's military prowess extended his political sway and religious system over most of western Europe, including Italy, danger mounted that the Holy See would become a French vassal, the Pope an imperial chaplain, and Paris the center of the Church. Pius VII could not decline an invitation to attend the coronation in Paris, where he sat among the onlookers as Napoleon crowned himself emperor (1804). When the Pope refused to ally with France in the Continental Blockade, Napoleon seized Rome, deprived Pius VII of his temporal power, and held him prisoner in Savonna and Fontainbleau (1809–14). So close was the Pope's confinement that he could scarcely function even in his spiritual capacity.
Gains. An audit confined to adversities would be incomplete and misleading. The revolutionary era brought gains for the papacy that at least balanced the losses and prepared the way unwittingly for still greater advances. Badly as the two popes fared, their traditional foes fared worse. In the collapse of the monarchy and ancien régime, Gallicanism, particularly Political Gallicanism, received a serious wound from which it never fully recovered. Parlement, long a stronghold of Gallicanism, did not survive the Revolution. Although the Civil Constitution of Clergy started a schism in France, it caused also a noticeable rift in the façade of ecclesiastical Gallicanism. After the Constituent Assembly, without consulting the Church, passed (July 12, 1790) and promulgated this law (August 24), it prevented the French hierarchy from meeting in a national synod to chart a course through the crisis. Thereupon 30 of the 32 bishops among the Assembly's delegates drew up an Exposition des principes sur la Constitution civile (October 30) and with the almost unanimous approval of their fellow bishops submitted it to Pius VI seeking his guidance in applying the Civil Constitution. In the Exposition the Gallican bishops referred to the "successor of St. Peter, placed in the center of Catholic unity, who must be the interpreter and organ of the will of the universal Church." Pius VI delayed his formal condemnation of the law until the following March.
The concordat of 1801, arranged between Napoleon and Pius VII without the concurrence of the French hierarchy, dealt a blow to the ecclesiastical Gallicanism, It was a recognition by the First Consul that the Pope held the key to restoring religious peace to France. In redrawing the ecclesiastical map of France and reducing the number of dioceses from 85 to 60, the Concordat permitted an unprecedented exercise of papal power requiring that the entire French hierarchy, whether Constitutional prelates or ordinaries in office previous to 1789, resign their sees. The 45 bishops who refused to resign were summarily removed from office. Twelve Constitutional bishops were named to the new sees, but they had to sign a submission to papal decisions concerning French religious affairs. Thereby they implicitly retracted their adherence to the Civil Constitution.
Napoleon's secularization of ecclesiastical principalities in Germany served to impoverish a group of wealthy, powerful, traditionally anti-Roman Rhenish bishops, weakened their Febronianism, and forced them and German Catholics in general to look to Rome for support.
From 1815 to 1878. Waterloo proved helpful for the noncombatant papacy. After Napoleon's downfall it became a principle beneficiary of the widespread disillusionment with the bloodshed and political and social upheaval in France, where democracy had quickly given way to military dictatorship. The statesmen who assembled at the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) sought a restoration of the ancien régime as far as possible. In their plans to stabilize a conservative, monarchical, legitimist system of law and order throughout Europe, they recognized the altar as the sturdiest support of thrones. The allied powers that had displayed slight concern for the Pope's welfare when he was despoiled of his territories and his liberty, returned to him the States of the Church, save for the land in France. For the future of the papacy it was significant that no other ecclesiastic regained his confiscated principality. Governments that had expelled the Jesuits in the third quarter of the previous century and browbeaten the popes until the order was completely suppressed did not object when in 1814 Pius VII restored the Society of Jesus worldwide, proving strong support for the papacy as it had previous to 1773.
Reorganization of the Church. The second part of Pius VII's pontificate stands in marked contrast to the first. Events since 1789 had disorganized religious as well as secular society throughout Europe. Pius VII utilized his newly won influence and assumed leadership in rebuilding the Church. States that in the previous century had insisted on controlling internal religious affairs were eager to cooperate in arranging with Rome concordats or less formal agreements. The Holy See's policy in Germany took advantage of the fact that this region emerged from the Congress of Vienna as a loose confederation of political units. Dalberg, Wessenberg, and others favored a single German concordat in the hope of unifying the Church there with minimal dependence on Rome. Pius VII forestalled them by making separate arrangements with individual rulers, notably the Protestant King of Prussia, who found this an advantageous way of keeping formerly independent prelates civilly obedient. Succeeding decades witnessed the Cologne mixed marriage dispute and other Church-State disagreements that caused extended vacancies in several German sees, placed Catholics on the defensive, and nurtured the growth of ultramontanism.
New Political Developments. Following the French Revolution there emerged a trend toward constitutional governments, secular in aim, officially indifferent or hostile toward religion, unwilling to favor one creed over another or to help any creed. Many states have followed the United States in separating Church and State. The material support, privileges, social and political status that the clergy enjoyed under the ancien régime greatly diminished or disappeared. The ties that once bound the clergy to so closely to the civil power and kept alive Gallicanism and other forms of ecclesiastical particularism no longer held. Political factors were very important in diverting the clergy en masse toward Rome as the one source willing and able to help them. The best example is France, particularly after 1830. What had long been the main center of Catholic opposition to the papacy assumed the lead in ultramontanism. Secular nationalism swelled to excessive proportions throughout the world during the nineteenth century, but ecclesiastical nationalism greatly declined.
The increasing menace of secularism, laicism, anti-clericalism, materialism, and communism on an international scale also impelled Catholics to solidify their own ranks under the common leadership that Rome alone could provide.
Ultramontanism. Doctrinal and, even more, practical considerations promoted a remarkable growth of ultra-montanism, which began early in the nineteenth century and developed into a well-organized, aggressive, and irresistible movement by mid-century. Ultramontanism was a complex movement, but in general it favored an authoritarian, highly centralized ecclesiastical government with the pope exerting his primacy of jurisdiction in all domains of the entire Church. This, the ultramontanes were convinced, was essential for the effectiveness of the Church and even for the salvation of society. Ultramontanism advocated also freeing the Church from all State tutelage and unifying liturgy, discipline, devotion, and customs according to the Roman model. Like most important movements in the life of the Church, this one grew from humble origins and won wide popular support among the lower clergy and laity. Until mid-century the popes remained somewhat aloof from it, partly because of its connection with Hugues Félicité de Lamennais and partly from a papal fear of alienating the French government. However, Pius IX favored it and placed himself at its head. The three most prominent literary champions of ultramontanism were not theologians but publicists and apologists: Joseph de maistre, lamennais, and Louis veuillot. Ultramontanism won followers in many countries, but chiefly in France, Germany, and Belgium. It proved a major force in preparing the way for the solemn definition of papal prerogatives in 1870 and in undermining the vestiges of Gallicanism, Febronianism, and Josephinism. Some ultramontanes allowed their enthusiastic adulation for the papacy to carry them to theologically unsound extremes, but this was not characteristic of the movement as a whole.
Action of the Popes (1823–46). leo xii (1823–29) and pius viii (1829–30) continued the centralizing tendencies of Pius VII. Most important in this regard was gregory xvi (1831–46). As pope he retained his keen interest in theology and in the missions. His principle theological work, Il trionfo della Santa Sede e della Chiesa (1799), strongly upheld the Church's independence of the civil power and papal primacy and infallibility, and it foretold the ultimate triumph of the Holy See and the Church. Gregory XVI put his teachings into effect by withstanding the secularizing aims of several governments and their encroachments on the spiritual power in Prussia and elsewhere. He was insistent on Rome's right to name bishops, particularly in Latin America, where he came into conflict with some of the newly independent republics. Despite growing unrest in the States of the Church, he determined to retain his temporal power. As a teacher he took the lead in condemning the doctrines of Lamennais and hermes.
The papal control of Catholic missions throughout the world dates from this pontificate. Civil rulers, with little counsel from Rome, had often been responsible for spreading Christianity during the Middle Ages. The great missionary expansion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries after the era of geographical discoveries was accomplished largely by the Spanish and Portuguese governments, which interpreted the patronato real and padroado in such a way as to monopolize control of the missions in their far-flung colonies. A combination of factors made the eighteenth century one of such precipitous decline that scarcely 300 missionaries were active by 1800. Penury of personnel and other reasons did not allow this situation to improve much during the following three decades. Circumstances became more favorable under the Gregory XVI, whose preoccupation with evangelization won him a reputation as the mission pope of his century. Since Spain and Portugal had by then ceased to be major powers and were unable to supply their former material support, they could not effectively resume their old patronato and padroado pretensions. Gradually Rome gained exclusive control. The Congregation for the propagation of the faith (Propaganda), which Napoleon I had abolished in 1808, was reorganized in 1817. Barolomeo Capellari acted as its prefect from 1826 until his election as Pope Gregory XVI in 1831. The Propaganda soon played the important role designed for it at its foundation in 1622. Its jurisdiction included Asia, Africa, Oceania, Australia, and the entire Western Hemisphere, as well as Prussia, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and the British Isles. Acting through the Congregation, Gregory XVI assigned mission territories to religious institutes, decided the status of all missions, and appointed, promoted, and transferred the vicars and prefects who headed them. The Pope worked out the guiding principles and methods for the missioners. Gregory XVI and his successors took the lead in trying to eliminate colonialism and nationalism, particularly European nationalism, from the missions and in developing native clergies. Gone were the interminable negotiations among the Propaganda, the patronato powers, and religious orders with a quasimonopoly in certain areas. Save for very limited territories remaining under the patronato real and padroado, all missions depended directly on the Propaganda, except for those under the Congregation for the Oriental Church since 1917 and the few subjected to the Consistorial Congregation.
The extraordinary mission development after 1831 received slight financial support from governments. Gregory XVI and later popes have promoted the organizations to raise by private charity the huge sums needed; they have exhorted the faithful to contribute and in the twentieth century brought the headquarters of many of these societies to Rome.demonstrate its intent to keep them under its personal direction and to obtain firsthand information about them.
Pius IX (1846–78). In the development of the papacy one of the most important pontificates in modern times is that of pius ix. He was the first pope to assume active leadership of ultramontanism, which he helped build almost into a "party." To undermine Gallicanism still further, the Pope placed several well-known works on the Index. Some of them had been textbooks in French seminaries, and one by them, by Louis Bailly, had been taught at Maynooth. Pius IX also promoted liturgical unification by substituting Roman practices for a variety of local liturgies, particularly French ones. A concentrated effort was made to standardize ecclesiastical usages according to norms established in Rome. Even before 1870, centralization of authority and administration made such strides that it stands out as one of the most notable features of this pontificate. The Roman Curia emerged as the Church's administrative nerve center. Its functionaries served the Pope in ever more effective exercise of his jurisdictional primacy throughout the world. Accompanying this growth in the Roman Congregations was a marked improvement in the spiritual earnestness, intellectual caliber, professional competence, and industry of their staffs. But they did not always have a thorough grasp of contemporary needs and trends. Although the Curial cardinals were of high quality, Pius IX reduced their spiritual and temporal influence and consulted them rarely on broader issues, save for antonelli and a few others.
Individual bishops came into more direct contact with papal authority. More so than his predecessors, Pius IX named bishops himself, regardless of local prefer ences, and in doing so revealed his inclination for ultramontanes. (By 1869 only 81 bishops chosen by Gregory XVI remained in a total of 739). Papal initiative was responsible for an increasing number of national seminaries in Rome, where promising future priests and bishops received ultramontane training and a preference for Roman usages. ad limina visits became more frequent. Refractory bishops were beckoned to Rome. Appeals to the Curia from diocesan decisions, even in minor matters, were countenanced. The Holy See frowned on national synods but approved provincial councils. The large number of these provincial gatherings between 1846 and 1869 demonstrated the progress of ultramontanism among the bishops. The same trend was evident in the large episcopal assemblages in Rome in 1854, 1862, and 1867. Papal nuncios were more active than before in the internal affairs of local churches; they intervened regularly between Rome and bishops and between bishops and local clegy. The work of Fornari in Paris provides the most memorable example of a nuncio utilizing every circumstance to promote ultramontnaism.
As a teacher for the entire Church Pius IX was more active than his predecessor. It is especially noteworthy in the present context that the solemn definition of the immaculate conception, pronounced by Pius IX (Dec. 8,1854) in the presence of a great international gathering of his bishops, made no mention of episcopal approbation, although this had been sought and received. The manner of defining this doctrine was intended as a practical demonstration of papal infallibility. The bishops attended the ceremony as spectators. It was during this pontificate above all that the Catholic world developed a strong personal devotion to each incumbent in the chair of St. Peter. Pius IX's winning personality and his conduct during very troubled years won him immense popularity.
vatican council i marked the climax of this pontificate with a solemn definition of papal infallibility and primacy of jurisdiction. It brought to completion centuries of doctrinal development and removed permanently from serious consideration conciliarist or episcopalist arguments about the pope's position in the Church. When the final decision came, there was no energetic opposition from governments. Within the Council the minority based its case mainly on the inopportuneness of defining these matters at this time. Most of the Catholic world rejoiced in the definitions. Those irreconcilables who started the schism of the old catholics represented the insignificant minority.
Temporal Power. If alterations in society benefited the papal spiritual position, they weakened and finally destroyed the temporal power. Economic backwardness made the States of the Church a financial burden instead of a source of income for the Holy See. As the forces unleashed by the French Revolution permeated Italy, the Papal States ceased to provide independence for the popes, who were compelled to rely on military aid from France and Austria to restrain domestic unrest that was fomented by the drive to unify the Italian peninsula politically. Almost simultaneously in 1870 Vatican Council I established the pope permanently at the pinnacle of spiritual power, and an invading Italian army ended the papal temporal power. Rome feared that the loss of the States of the Church would eventually entail the sacrifice of papal spiritual independence; but matters turned out otherwise. Pius IX and his successors until Pius XI retired behind the walls of the Vatican as voluntary prisoners protesting against the seizure of their state and against the Law of guarantees and awaited the solution of the roman question. Meanwhile the papacy's international diplomatic standing remained intact and its spiritual power continued to increase.
1878 to 1958. leo xiii (1878–1903), pius x (1903–14), benedict xv (1914–22), pius xi (1922–39), and pius xii (1939–58) were all zealous men of high spiritual and intellectual caliber and both esteemed and influential. In 1917 the promulgation by Benedict XV of the Code of canon law terminated a long process of growth in ecclesiastical law and exalted the position of the papacy in the Church's legal structure, just as Vatican Council I did in a doctrinal way. To Heiler the Code marked "the victory of papalism, the completion of centralization, the conclusion of centuries of development of the primacy of jurisdiction." Never was the papal magisterial power more in evidence than after 1878. As teachers in matters of faith and morals these five popes were prodigiously active. Heterodox doctrines were rare in Catholic ranks; but when they appeared, they served to reveal the enormous influence of the papal magisterium. Thus modernism subsided quickly after Pius X's condemnation. Pius XII's humani generis nipped in the bud several novel doctrines. The contrast is striking between the effectiveness of those pronouncements and those issued by seventeenth-and eighteenth-century popes during the Jansenist disputes. For topical variety and volume of teachings, the writings, allocutions, and broadcasts of Pius XII surpassed anything in papal history. This extremely conscientious and industrious supreme pontiff kept in the closest possible touch with all sections of the Church, familiarized himself with current problems, and considered it his duty to provide solutions for all of them. It is doubtful that any pope made more extensive use of his position as spiritual monarch. After Cardinal Maglione's death in 1944, for example, Pius XII dispensed with even a secretary of state.
Administrative centralization in Rome continued to increase, although this is not a necessary corollary of the definitions in 1870. Primacy of jurisdiction does not require limitless centralization of administration any more than it compels the absorption of all episcopal jurisdiction. Burgeoning bureaucracy and its effects roused criticisms in the ranks of the hierarchy and elsewhere. Doctrinally the popes remained within their rights. In the practical order each pope must endeavor to conciliate his powers and obligations with those of the bishops, according to changing circumstances. The tendency toward centralization and uniformity was not the same everywhere. Thus the Eastern Churches in union with Rome long enjoyed autonomy in their liturgy, law, and discipline. After Pius IX, this autonomy was considerably reduced, notably in disciplinary matters, but not to the same extent as in the West.
Papal relations with bishops were harmonious and close. Detailed quinquennial reports, which had to be sent to Rome from all dioceses, enabled twentieth-century popes to maintain over all episcopal administrations careful surveillance and methodical control. Vatican Council I did not pronounce on the relationship between the pope and the bishops, but this was addressed during the course of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).
Bibliography: h. marc-bonnet, La Papauté contemporaine, 1878–1945 (Paris 1946). p. brezzi, The Papacy: Its Origins and Historical Evolution, tr. h. j. yannone (Westminister, Maryland 1958). w. bertrams, The Papacy, the Episcopacy, and Collegiality tr. p. t. brannan (Westminister, Maryland 1964). h. c. koenig, ed., Principles for Peace: Selections from Papal Documents from Leo XIII to Pius XII (Washington, D.C. 1943) r. aubert, The Church in a Secularized Society (New York 1978). f. j. coppa, The Modern Papacy Since 1789 (London 1998). e. e. y. hales, The Catholic Church in the Modern World (Garden City, New York 1958). m. giacomo, La Chiesa nell' eta del liberalismo (Brescia 1978). Church and Society: Catholic Social and Political Thoughts and Movements, 1789–1950, ed. j. n. moody et. al. 21–92. (New York 1953). o. chadwick, A History of the Popes, 1830–1914 (Oxford 1998). e. e. y. hales, Revolution and Papacy, 1769–1816 (Notre Dame, Indiana 1966). j. mcmanners, The French Revolution and the Church (New York 1970). m. m. o'dwyer, The Papacy in the Age of Napoleon and the Restoration, Pius VII, 1800–1823 (New York 1985). n. blakiston, ed. Extracts from the Dispatches of Odo Russel from Rome 1858–1870 (London 1962). c. butler, The Vatican Council: The Story Told From Inside in Bishop Ulathorne's Letters (New York 1930). f. j. coppa, Pope Pius IX: Crusader in Secular Age (Boston 1979). m. giacomo, Pio IX (1846–1850) (Rome 1974). f. j. coppa, Pio IX (1851–1866) (Rome 1986). f. j. coppa, Pio IX (1867–1878) (Rome 1990). i. giordani, Pius X: A Country Priest tr. t. j. tobin (Milwaukee 1954). g. p. fogarty, The Vatican and the Americanist Crisis: Denis J.O'Connell, American Agent in Rome, 1885–1903 (Rome 1974). p. granfield, The Papacy in Transition (New York 1980). j. f. pollard, The Unknown Pope: Benedict XV (1914–1922) and the Pursuit of Peace (London and New York 1999). r. anderson, Between Two Wars: The Story of Pope Pius XI (Achille Ratti) 1922–1939 (Chicago 1977). g. passelecq, and b. suchecky, The Hidden Encyclical of Pius XI (New York 1998). p. blet, Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of Vatican (New York 1999). f. j. coppa, ed., Controversial Concordats: The Vatican's Relations with Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler (Washington, D.C. 1999). a. rhodes, The Vatican in the Age of Dictators, 1922–1945 (New York 1973). r. rychlak, Hitler, the War, and the Pope (Huntington, Indiana 2000).
[j. f. broderick/eds.]
5. The Contemporary Papacy (1958–2001)
This section of the history of the papacy extends from the election of john xxiii (1958) to the opening of the third millennium.
Following the death of Pius XII, 51 Cardinals entered the conclave on Oct 25, 1958, to select a successor. Some considered the age of the 77-year-old Angelo Roncalli an advantage, convinced that the Church needed a transitional pope who would not have time to introduce innovations. He was elected on October 28. Immediately, John XXIII recognized the need for some updating or aggiornamento of the Church as well as an aperturismo or opening up of the institution as he sought an accommodation with the contemporary world.
John referred to aggiornamento in November 1957, and it was to become his trademark. Early on, he conceived of calling a Council, the twenty-first of the Church, announcing his intention in January 1959. He perceived it as the Church's response to modernity. On Oct. 11, 1962, the Council officially opened.
Among the themes of his pontificate was a concern for the persecuted Church where pastors could not perform their duties in freedom, encouraging the so-called Ostpolitik or opening to the eastern bloc and particularly Moscow.
Rather than continuing Piux XII's anticommunist crusade, John was prepared to adopt a pragmatic approach to the communist regimes, letting Moscow know that the Vatican sought improved relations. He utilized Agostino casaroli, his new secretary of state, to reach accommodation with a series of communist governments, securing the liberation of a number of ecclesiastics from eastern Europe and enabling him to fill vacant bishoprics there. Assured the Council would not condemn communism, Khruschev gave permission for Russian Orthodox observers to attend and allowed some 90 bishops from the communist countries of Eastern Europe to participate.
John did not neglect the social question. On May 15, 1961, he issued mater et magistra, on the Church as mother and teacher of all nations, stressing the role of Christianity and social progress. John claimed that Leo's rerum novarum initiated a process by which the Church made itself the champion of the rights of the working class. John concurred with Leo that private property was a right that entailed social obligations, adding that the state could not remain aloof from economic matters. He decried the sums squandered on ill-conceived national prestige and armaments to the detriment of workers.
Like Pius XI, who issued quadragesimo anno, John believed that the relationship between wages and profits must take into consideration the common good. John, too, was not prepared to accept communism or socialism, whose objectives did not transcend material-well being. However, he argued that that common good required that the public authority broaden its scope, keeping in mind that the world's goods were intended for the support of the entire human race. John's Mater et magistra accepted the welfare state as an expression of the common good. His call for social and international peace was repeated in his last encyclical pacem in terris (On Universal Peace) of April 11, 1963. In it, the papacy came to terms with individual rights introduced by the revolutionary movement, but within a Christian context.
In November 1959, Pope John issued Princeps pastorum on the missions and the native clergy. The pope warned that the missionary contribution must be carefully attuned to local needs, expressing the hope that the local clergy would be able to select from among its ranks those capable of governing, forming, and educating their own seminarians.
When John closed the first session of the Council on Dec. 8, 1962, the expectations aroused had not been fulfilled. During its two crowded months no decrees had been approved. John, who had cancer, would not be able to see the Council to its conclusion. John's popularity stemmed from his personal warmth and his willingness to take risks.
The conclave of June 19, 1963, elected as pope the 65-year-old Giovanni Battista Montini, the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, who was considered John's choice. He assumed the name paul vi. Following his election to the papacy, Paul announced that the Council would reopen on Sept. 29, 1963. Aggiornamento remained one of his goals, as well as the need to revise the canon law and reform the curia, while he continued the commitment to social justice enunciated in his predecessor's encyclicals. Paul outlined new directives for the Council, including the admission of lay Catholics, the extension of invitations to non-Catholic observers, and the appointment cardinal moderators. At the opening of this second session he called for renewal, Christian unity, and dialogue with the contemporary world. Paul wanted to the bishops to exercise their rights to govern the Church with him, while seeking conditions for ecumenical encounters with non Catholics.
In December 1963, Paul announced his pilgrimage to the Holy Land the next year. The first pope to fly in an airplane, and first to visit the Holy Land, Paul met the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople there, as well as the Armenian Patriarch and the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem. As Paul prepared for the third session of the Council scheduled to convene in mid-September 1964, he stressed the need for unity, which had moved him to visit the Holy Land. In August he issued the first encyclical letter ecclesiam suam which continued the dialogue within the Church, with non-Catholic Christians, with non-Christians, and even non-believers. Indeed, it called for a dialogue with the entire, contemporary world. In September 1964, Paul prepared for the opening of the third session of the Council, making provisions to have some women attend as auditors without the right to speak or vote during the debates.
At year's end, Pope Paul ventured to Bombay, India, where he expressed his desire to narrow the gap between the world's Christians and non-Christians. Returning to Rome, Paul planned for the fourth and final session of the Council. In January 1965, he revealed his decision to name 27 new cardinals, stressing the need to make the college more universal and appointing the four major Eastern patriarchs to it. In June 1965, when Paul addressed the College of Cardinals, he surveyed the problems confronting the Church, including collegiality, the reform of canon law, mixed marriages, birth control, world peace, and the Council. Pope Paul also addressed the problems confronting the global community. He supported the United Nations quest for disarmament and fight against hunger, addressing it on the twentieth anniversary of its organization. His message was "no more war, war never again." The pope's plan had four major elements. First, relations between states should be governed by reason, justice, law and negotiation rather than by fear, violence, deceit or war. This, in turn, required disarmament. The money saved from the stockpiling of weapons should be utilized to assist the developing nations and solving the problems of hunger and poverty. Finally, the Pope saw the need to protect fundamental human rights, and above all, religious liberty.
As the council came to a close on December 7, a joint declaration by Paul VI and Patriarch athenogoras i, read at Rome and Istanbul simultaneously, nullified the Catholic-Orthodox exchange of excommunications issued in 1054. On Dec. 8, 1965, Pope Paul declared the Council closed.
The decade following the Council was dominated by a continuing discussion of the need to implement its decisions. Paul established commissions to continue its work, as well as yearly meetings in Rome to further the dialogue. His social encyclical on the development of peoples, populorum progressio, was issued on March 26, 1967. Deemed by some the magna carta for justice and peace, Paul showed his concern for those attempting to escape the ravages of hunger, poverty, endemic disease, and ignorance as he made a plea for social justice and fundamental improvement for the impoverished masses of the third world. Citing Leo's Rerum novarum, Pius XI's Quadragesimo anno, John XXIII's Mater et magistra and Pacem in terris, as well as his own trips to Latin America (1960) and Africa (1962), he addressed the perplexing problems of these continents. In August 1968, Pope Paul flew to Bogota and Medellín, Columbia, the first visit of a pope to Latin America. Here Populorum progressio was appreciated for its support of the third world, as was the condemnation of the unequal distribution of the world's goods cataloged in Humanae vitae.
Paul pursued a via media, encouraging the Extraordinary Synod at the end of 1969 to explore the relationship between papal primacy and episcopal collegiality. In 1970, he ruled that bishops should submit their resignation when they reached 75, and that cardinals after their eightieth year could no longer participate in a conclave. Some suggested that the Pope himself should retire, but Paul continued to preside over the Church and travel on behalf of peace and social justice. In 1969, he visited Africa, again the first Pope to do so, while in 1970 he visited the Philippines where the Bolivian painter Benjamin Mendoza made an attempt against his life in Manila. Undaunted, the Pope continued his Ostpolitik by seeking a reconciliation with the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, establishing diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia in 1971 and improving relations with Hungary.
Paul continued to inject the Vatican in international affairs, supporting peace in Vietnam, and upholding the cause of the United Nations. In July 1972, the Holy See participated in the Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe at Helsinki as a participant and not simply as an observer, marking the first full participation in an international conference since the Congress of Vienna of 1815. Casaroli, who was at Helsinki, followed this by a visit to Moscow in 1972, the first Vatican official to travel there in an official capacity. Subsequently, he traveled to Castro's Cuba. In 1973 Paul established a "Study Commission on the Role of Women in Church and Society." On Aug. 6, 1978, Paul died at Castel Gandolfo, following a heart attack.
Among his achievements, he brought John's Council to a successful conclusion and continued his work of aggiornamento and reconciliation with the contemporary world. He dismantled the papal court and reformed the Roman curia without alienating either, and introduced collegiality in the Church without undermining papal primacy. He internationalized the Vatican and visited the Holy Land, India, Turkey, the United Nations in New York, Latin America, the Philippines, Australia and Portugal among other places. He helped to make the Church in Africa an African Church, and implemented the use of modern languages in the liturgy. For conservatives he had gone too far, for liberals his reformism remained incomplete.
Cardinal Albino Luciani, the Patriarch of Venice, was elected pope at the end of August 1978 under the name john paul. Determined to continue the work of his two predecessors, he did not have time to do so, dying some 33 days following his election—one of the shortest pontificates in modern times.
On October 16, 1978, during the second conclave of that year, Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, archbishop of Kraków, was elected and took the name john paul ii. He was the first Slav pope and the first non-Italian since Hadrian VI of Utrecht in 1522. Only 58, Wojtyła, the 264th pope, was the youngest since Pius IX in 1846. The new pope quickly embarked on a series of travels that covered more territory than those of all of his predecessors combined. The most significant of the early travels was to Poland (June 2-10, 1979), the first of three visits there before the opening of Eastern Europe. The triumphant papal tour altered the mentality of fear that prevailed in Poland and much of the Eastern bloc. On display even at this early stage were two factors that marked John Paul II's pontificate: his personal popularity, which heightened public perception of the pope as the voice of the Church; and a new engagement of the Church in the world.
The themes for John Paul II's pontificate were set forth in his first encyclical, redemptor hominis (1979): Christian unity, the preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, evangelization and mission. Most notable was the pope's emphasis on the Church's message to the world, based on Gaudium et spes 22, "The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light" (cited in RH 8). Christian personalism, seeing the human person in the light of revelation, emerged as the basis for much of John Paul II's teaching. The engagement with the world proposed here had been prepared by the fate of the papacy since the loss of the States of the Church. As noted in the previous section of this article, the teaching authority of the papacy grew immensely concurrently with the papacy's loss of temporal power. Nor was this teaching confined to inner-Church matters, as can be seen, for example, in the rise of papal social teaching. Yet the Church's proclamations on matters of concern to all men were often based in a conception of the social order (society being under the direction of a legislator/governor obedient to the natural law) that was not shared by those countries whose constitutions emerged from the age of revolution. Vatican II had attempted to speak the truth of Christ to the world in a language that it could understand; John Paul II's personalism developed this further. The dignity of the person—the calling of each person to eternal union with God in Christ, and what is necessary to foster that vocation—became the basis for papal teaching on the evils of socialism's subordination of the person to the State (laborem exercens), of consumerism (centesimus annus), of the denigration of women (Mulieris dignitatem ), and of all assaults on human life (evangelium vitae). It also grounded the pope's teaching that moral theology ought to be concerned primarily with the call of every person to beatitude (veritatis splendor); that human reason, rightly understood, is an indispensable part of the Christian life (fides et ratio); and that Christians are called to manifest to the world the transformative power of suffering in love (Salvifici doloris ; dives in misericordia).
In 1983, in an address to the Latin American bishops assembled in Haiti, the pope called for a new evangelization, "new in its ardor, its methods, and its expression," in keeping with a recognition of the dignity and ultimate destiny of the human person. Thus, for example, this evangelization emphasizes dialogue and respect for existing cultures, at the same time as it calls for a transformation of all cultures. The missionary work of the Church at the end of the twentieth century, hampered in part by declining numbers in missionary religious orders, received a great boost from the pope himself. In his travels, from Poland to the Philippines, from Nicaragua to the United States, he routinely drew huge, enthusiastic crowds, receptive to his personal, pastoral presence. Especially noteworthy in this regard were the world youth days, celebrated every other year, beginning in 1987.
The implementation of Vatican II required not only the renewal of the Church's mission to the world, but also the practical implementation of the council's vision of the Church as communio. The relationship of the bishops to the pope and the role of the Roman Curia in the governance of the Church were two decisive issues. The synod of bishops, established by Paul VI in 1965, had met approximately every three years in general assemblies. They continued to do so under John Paul II, treating themes of the Christian family (1980), reconciliation and penance (1983), laity (1987), priests (1990), consecrated life (1994), and the role of the bishop (2001). An extraordinary assembly was called in 1985 to reflect on the Second Vatican Council, twenty years later. In 1991 the pope began calling special assemblies of the synod, gathering bishops of distinct areas of the world (Europe, Asia, the Americas, Oceania, Africa, Lebanon). A consistent theme of these assemblies was evangelization.
Despite the prominence given to the bishops through the assemblies of the Synod and the development of national episcopal conferences, the Roman Curia remained the administrative nerve center of the Church. This was evident in the question of the authority of episcopal conferences, a matter of some dispute following the council. The apostolic letter Apostolos suos, issued motu proprio by John Paul II in 1998, clarified that a doctrinal declaration of a conference is binding only if the members approve it unanimously or it receives a recognitio from the Apostolic See after receiving the approval of at least twothirds of the conference. The authority of Rome was emphasized also by the promulgation of several key documents for the universal Church: e.g., a revised Code of Canon Law; the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches ; the Catechism of the Catholic Church ; the General Directory for Catechesis ; and the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism. The Curia took a proactive role in teaching and governing the universal Church. Preeminent in this respect was the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, under the direction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Disciplinary action was taken against several theologians and prelates. Most significant of these was Archbishop Marcel lefeb vre, who had denounced the changes in the Church arising from Vatican II. Lefebvre was excommunicated in 1988 after he ordained four bishops without papal permission. A papal commission, Ecclesia Dei, was established to facilitate the reconciliation of the members of Lefebvre's movement with the Church.
Though the administration of the Church continued to be centralized, the composition of that administration was changing substantially. In 1988 the pope reorganized the Curia via the apostolic letter Pastor bonus. More importantly, the internationalization of the college of cardinals (and indirectly of the Curia) begun by Paul VI was expanded greatly by John Paul II. In 2001, only one of the nine curial congregations and one of the eleven pontifical councils was headed by an Italian; most were headed by non-European cardinals.
One congregation whose importance increased greatly during this time was the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. By the year 2000, John Paul II had celebrated over 300 canonizations and almost 1000 beatifications. His twentieth-century predecessors had, all together, celebrated 98 and 79, respectively. The theme of the "universal call to holiness" of the Second Vatican Council thus received extraordinary emphasis. Previously, local impetus toward canonization had been met by a cautious attitude from Rome; now, it was evident that Rome encouraged local churches to recognize models of holiness in their midst.
The role of the papacy on the world political stage was most obvious in Eastern Europe and the fall of communism. It was also evident in various interventions with the United Nations (Cairo Conference on Population; Beijing Conference on the Status of Women) in support of the Christian understanding of human rights and especially the good of the family. The Vatican criticized the "contraceptive imperialism" of the modernized world vis-avis the third world. Vatican diplomacy played a key role in shifting the focus of the Cairo conference from controlling population through birth control to an emphasis on increased education, job opportunities, and full civil rights for women. Another striking development was the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel in 1993. Pope John Paul was a credible spokesman against anti-Semitism, having suffered under Nazi occupation in his youth in Poland and having been active in protecting Jews at that time. He repeatedly denounced the outbursts of anti-Semitism in Europe. In 1998 a Vatican document entitled "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah" recognized that anti-Judaism among Christians facilitated the genocidal anti-Semitism of the Nazis. Regret for anti-Judaism was repeated by the pope during his March 2000 visit to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
The ecumenical efforts begun by a variety of movements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were taken up by the council and grew throughout the late twentieth century. John Paul II issued an encyclical on the subject (ut unum sint) and promoted extensive ecumenical discussions with Protestant and Anglican communions as well as numerous Orthodox Churches. No visible union arose from these efforts, but the principle of ecumenical dialogue as a normative part of the Church's mission was enshrined. Particularly difficult for the papacy was the approach to take to the Orthodox Churches. After the fall of communism and the restoration of much religious liberty in Eastern Europe, old feuds between Orthodox Churches and Eastern Churches in union with Rome flared up again, the former refusing to recognize the latter, the latter appealing to Rome to support their rights. The pope's wish to make a fraternal visit to the patriarch of Moscow was frustrated time and again. Interreligious dialogue achieved greater success. In Redemptor hominis, the pope laid down the principle that the Church must be attentive to the work of the Spirit in followers of non-Christian religions (RH 6). Dialogue with the great cultures and religions of the world thus became a part of papal ministry to a degree that it never had been before. The pope himself met with a variety of religious leaders, most famously the Dalai Lama, and personally overrode some objections from the Curia in order to call for a World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986. More than sixty religious leaders, most of them non-Christian, joined the pope in Assisi to pray in the presence of one another.
A century and more of popes of exemplary character, fine intelligence, and, frequently, enormous popular appeal had raised the prestige of the papacy to an exalted height. Entering the third millennium, the pope had become the world's most significant, internationally recognized moral authority.
Bibliography: l. accatoli, Man of the Millennium: John Paul II (Boston 2000). a. alexiev, "The Kremlin and the Vatican" Orbis (Fall 1983) 554–65. r. aubert, The Church in a Secularized Society (New York 1978). f. j. coppa, The Modern Papacy 1789, The Longman History of the Papacy (London 1988). a. flannery, ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Grand Rapids, Michigan 1992). m. e. de franciscus, Italy and the Vatican: The 1984 Concordat Between Church and State, Studies in Modern European History, ed. f. j. coppa (New York 1989). a. frossard, Be Not Afraid: Pope John Paul Speaks Out on his Life, his Beliefs, and his Inspiring Vision for Humanity, tr. j. r. foster (New York 1984). v. gorresio, The New Mission of Pope John XXIII, tr. c. l. markmann (New York 1969). m. habiger, Papal Teaching on Private Property, 1891–1981 (Lanham, Maryland 1990). p. hebblethwaite, Pope John XXIII: Shepherd of the Modern World (Garden City, New York 1985). p. hebblethwaite, Paul VI: The First Modern Pope (New York 1993). d. j. holmes, The Papacy in the Modern World, 1914–1978 (New York 1981). m. malinski, Pope John Paul II: The Life of Karol Wojityla, tr. p. s. fall (New York 1979). m. malachi, The Keys of this Blood: The Struggle for World Dominion Between Pope John Paul II, Mikail Gorbachev, and the Capitalist West (New York 1990). m. b. melady, The Rhetoric of Pope John Paul II (Westport, Connecticut 1999). m. miller, ed., The Encyclicals of John Paul II (Huntington, Indiana 1999). j. e. smith, Humanae Vitae, A Generation Later (Washington D.C. 1991). h. stehle, Eastern Politics of the Vatican, tr. s. smith (Athens, Ohio 1981). t. szulc, John Paul II: The Biography (New York 1995). g. weigel, ed., A New Wordly Order: John Paul II and Human Freedom (Lanham, Maryland 1992).
[f. j. coppa/eds.]
PAPACY . The papacy is the central governing institution of the Roman Catholic church under the leadership of the pope, the bishop of Rome. The word papacy (Lat., papatus ) is medieval in origin and derives from the Latin papa, an affectionate term for "father."
The Early Period
This era, extending from the biblical origins of Christianity to the fifth century, was marked by the ever-increasing power and prestige of the bishop of Rome within the universal church and the Roman empire.
Traditional Roman Catholic teaching holds that Jesus Christ directly bestowed upon the apostle Peter the fullness of ruling and teaching authority. He made Peter the first holder of supreme power in the universal church, a power passed on to his successors, the bishops of Rome. (See table 1.) Two biblical texts are cited to substantiate this claim. In Matthew 16:18 there is the promise of Jesus: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." In John 21:15–16, this promise is fulfilled in the admonition of Jesus to Peter: "Feed my lambs.… Look after my sheep." Modern Roman Catholic biblical scholars affirm the genuine authority of Peter among the Twelve but make the following observations: there is no New Testament evidence that Peter was ever a bishop or local administrator of any church (including Rome and Antioch); there is no direct biblical proof that Jesus established the papacy as a permanent office within the church; but there is other cogent evidence that Peter arrived in Rome late in his life and was martyred and buried there.
Catholic scholars insist, however, that even though the idea of an abiding Petrine ministry is not explicitly found in scripture, it is not contrary to the biblical tradition and indeed is implicitly rooted in it. Peter had a preeminent role in the New Testament, where he is described as the most prominent apostolic witness and missionary among the Twelve. He is the model of the shepherd-pastor, the receiver of a special revelation, and the teacher of the true faith. Gradually Christians, through the providential direction of the Holy Spirit, recognized the papacy, the office of headship in the church, to be the continuation of that ministry given by Christ to Peter and exercised through the historic Roman episcopate. Although other Christian scholars would accept many of these conclusions, they would generally deny the Roman Catholic belief that the papacy is an absolutely essential element of the church.
First three centuries
The early Christian churches were not organized internationally. Yet Rome, almost from the beginning, was accorded a unique position, and understandably so: Rome was the only apostolic see in the West; it was the place where Peter and Paul were martyred; and it was the capital of the empire. Ignatius of Antioch, in his letter to the Romans (c. 110), called the Roman church the church "presiding in love" (4.3), and Irenaeus, in his Against Heresies (c. 180), referred to its "more imposing foundation" (3.3.2). Although these controverted texts may not be a proof of Roman primacy, they at least indicate the lofty stature of the see of Rome.
The exact structure of the very early Roman church is not known, but it seems that by the middle of the second century monepiscopacy (the rule of one bishop) was well established. The memory of Peter was kept alive in Rome, and its bishops were often involved in the affairs of churches outside their own area. Clement I (c. 90–c. 99), for example, sent a letter from the church of Rome to the church of Corinth to settle a dispute over the removal of several church officials. Victor I (c. 189–c. 198) sought, under threat of excommunication, to impose on the churches of Asia Minor the Roman custom for the celebration of Easter. Finally, Stephen I (254–257) reinstated two Spanish bishops who had been deposed by their colleagues and also decided, contrary to the custom in Syria and North Africa, that repentant heretics did not have to be rebaptized. Although Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (d. 258), objected to Stephen's decisions, he was able to call Rome the "principal church" (letter 59, addressed to Cornelius, bishop of Rome) and to insist that for bishops to be legitimate they must be in communion with Rome.
The bishops of Rome in the third century claimed a universal primacy, even though it would be another 150 years before this idea was doctrinally formulated. Rome attracted both orthodox and heterodox teachers—some to have their views heard, others to seek confirmation. More and more, the bishop of Rome, either on his own initiative or by request, settled doctrinal and disciplinary disputes in other churches. Roman influence was felt as far away as Spain, Gaul, North Africa, and Asia Minor. The see of Peter was looked upon as the guarantor of doctrinal purity even by those who found fault with its leadership.
Fourth and fifth centuries
With the Edict of Milan (313) the empire granted toleration of all religions and allowed Christians to worship freely. This policy ended the era of persecution, increased the number of Christians, and shaped the institutional development of the papacy. Once Emperor Constantine decided to move the seat of the empire to Constantinople in 324, the papacy began to play a larger role in the West. By the time Christianity became the official religion of the empire in 381, several popes were already affirming papal primatial authority. The critical period in the doctrinal systematization of Roman primacy took place in the years between Damasus I (366–384) and Leo I (440–461). In that period, the popes explicitly claimed that the bishop of Rome was the head of the entire church and that his authority derived from Peter.
Damasus I, the first pope to call Rome the apostolic see, made Latin the principal liturgical language in Rome and commissioned Jerome to revise the old Latin version of the New Testament. At the Council of Rome (382), he declared that the primacy of the bishop of Rome is based on continuity with Peter. He deposed several Arian bishops. His successor, Siricius (384–399), whose decretal letters are the earliest extant, promoted Rome's primatial position and imposed his decisions on many bishops outside Italy.
It was Leo I, the first of three popes to be called the Great, who laid the theoretical foundation of papal primacy. Leo took the title Pontifex Maximus, which the emperors no longer used, and claimed to possess the fullness of power (plenitudo potestatis). Governing the church through a tumultuous period of barbarian invasions and internal disputes, he relentlessly defended the rights of the Roman see. He rejected Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon (451), which gave the bishop of New Rome (Constantinople) privileges equal to those of the bishop of Old Rome and a rank second only to that of the pope. A favorite theme for Leo was the relationship between Peter and the pope. This idea had been advanced by earlier popes, but Leo elaborated it, in his sermons calling himself "Peter in Peter's see" (2.2) and his "unworthy heir" (3.4). Thus, as he noted, a particular pope may be sinful, but the papacy as such still retains its Petrine character. The Leonine distinction between person and office has proved to be of immense value and has helped the papacy survive unsuitable popes. Leo believed that Peter's successors have "the care of all the churches" (Sermons 3.4), and he exercised his authority over Christian churches in Italy, Africa, and Gaul. The Western Roman empire ended in 476. The successors of Leo, especially Felix III (483–492) and Gelasius I (492–496), applied his principles, but the imperial government in Constantinople exerted continual pressure on the papacy.
For centuries the popes did not change their names. The first name change occurred when a Roman called Mercury, having been elected pope, chose the more suitable appellation of John II (533–535). From the time of Sergius IV (1009–1012)—his name had been Peter Buccaporca (Peter Pigmouth)—the taking of a new name has continued to the present, with two exceptions: Adrian VI (1522–1523) and Marcellus II (1555). The most popular papal names have been John, Gregory, Benedict, Clement, Innocent, Leo, and Pius. There has never been a Peter II or a John XX. John Paul I was the first pope to select a double name. The legend that a woman pope—Pope Joan—reigned between Leo IV (847–855) and Benedict III (855–858) has long been rejected by historians.
The accompanying list is based generally on the catalog of popes given in the Annuario pontificio, the official Vatican yearbook, with some changes dictated by recent scholarly research. It should be noted that the legitimacy of certain popes—for example, Dioscorus (530), Leo VIII (963–965), Benedict V (964), Gregory VI (1045–1046), and Clement II (1046–1047)—is still controverted. Although Stephen (752) is mentioned in the list, he died three days after his election without being consecrated a bishop.
The Medieval Papacy
The eventful period from the sixth to the fifteenth century demonstrated the unusual adaptability of the papal office. Successive popes opposed imperial control, attempted to reform the papacy and the church, and brought papal authority to its peak in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. A severe decline followed.
The struggle for independence
The popes of the sixth and seventh centuries resisted excessive encroachments but were still subservient to the power of the emperor. The most notable pope at this time was Gregory I, the Great (590–604), a deeply spiritual man who called himself "the servant of the servants of God." A skilled negotiator, he was able to conclude a peace treaty with the Lombards, who threatened Rome; the people of Rome and the adjacent regions considered him their protector. Gregory was respectful of the rights of individual bishops, but he insisted, nevertheless, that all churches, including Constantinople, were subject to the apostolic see of Rome. He realized that direct confrontation with the emperor would be futile, and so he concentrated on developing the church in territories outside imperial jurisdiction. He established links with the Frankish monarchs that proved to be of great significance in the later Middle Ages; he also sent forty missionaries to Britain. The break with the East began when Gregory II (715–731) condemned the iconoclastic decrees of Emperor Leo I, who had prohibited the use of images in liturgical ceremonies. The gap widened when Stephen II (752–757), the first pope to cross the Alps, met with Pépin, king of the Franks. Pépin agreed to defend the pope against the invading Lombards and apparently promised him sovereignty over large areas in central Italy. The Donation of Pépin was an epoch-making event; it marked the beginning of the Papal States, in existence until 1870. Stephen became the first of a long line of popes to claim temporal rule. Through his alliance with the Frankish kingdom, Stephen was virtually able to free the papacy from the domination of Constantinople. The last step in the division of Rome from the Eastern Empire was when Pope Leo III (795–816) crowned Charlemagne emperor of the West at Saint Peter's Basilica in 800. As a result of their new status, the popes minted their own coins, and they no longer dated papal documents according to imperial years. The primatial prominence of Rome increased when the Muslim conquests destroyed the church in North Africa and ended the strong influence of Rome's great rivals: the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. By the middle of the ninth century, Nicholas I, the Great (858–867), was able to act as the supreme judge and lawmaker for the entire church. He resisted Carolingian interference and dealt severely with recalcitrant archbishops, deposing several and overruling the decisions of others. In his relations with the Byzantine church he was less successful because he failed to resolve adequately the dispute with Photios, the patriarch of Constantinople. The assertion of primatial claims by John VIII (872–882) also met Byzantine opposition. The tenth century was a bleak one for the papacy. After the Carolingian rulers lost power, the papacy was scandalously dominated, first by the Roman nobility and then by the German emperors Otto I and his successors. The so-called Ottonian privilege restricted the freedom of papal electors and allowed the emperor the right of ratification. There were some two dozen popes and antipopes during this period, many of low moral caliber. Depositions and impositions of popes became commonplace. Clearly, then, by the beginning of the eleventh century, the need for radical reform was urgent.
The reform movement
Advocates of reform found a dedicated leader in Leo IX (1049–1054). He traveled extensively throughout Italy, France, and Germany, presiding over synods that issued strong decrees dealing with clerical marriage, simony, and episcopal elections. Only six months of his entire pontificate were spent in Rome. Further reforms
|St. Anacletus (Cletus)||79?-90/2|
|St. Clement I||90/2-99/101|
|St. Alexander I||107?-116?|
|St. Sixtus I||116?-125?|
|St. Pius I||140/2-154/5|
|St. Victor I||189?-198?|
|St. Callistus I||217?-222|
|St. Urban||I 222-230|
|St. Pontian||21 Jul. 230-28 Sep. 235|
|St. Anterus||21 Nov. 235-3 Jan. 236|
|St. Fabian||10 Jan. 236-20 Jan. 250|
|St. Cornelius||Mar. 251-Jun. 253|
|St. Lucius I||25 Jun. 253-5 Mar. 254|
|St. Stephen I||12 May 254-2 Aug. 257|
|St. Sixtus II||30 Aug. 257-6 Aug. 258|
|St. Dionysius||22 Jul. 259-26 Dec. 268|
|St. Felix I||5 Jan. 269-30 Dec. 274|
|St. Eutychian||4 Jan. 275-7 Dec. 283|
|St. Gaius (Caius)||17 Dec. 283-22 Apr. 296|
|St. Marcellinus||30 Jun. 296-25 Oct. 304|
|St. Marcellus I||27 May 308-16 Jan. 309|
|St. Eusebius||18 Apr.-17 Aug. 309|
|St. Miltiades 2||Jul. 311-11 Jan. 314|
|St. Sylvester I||31 Jan. 314-31 Dec. 335|
|St. Mark||18 Jan.-7 Oct. 336|
|St. Julius I||6 Feb. 337-12 Apr. 352|
|Liberius||17 May 352-24 Sep. 366|
|[Felix II]||[355-22 Nov. 365]|
|St. Damasus I||1 Oct. 366-11 Dec. 384|
|St. Siricius||15 Dec. 384-26 Nov. 399|
|St. Anastasius I||27 Nov. 399-19 Dec. 401|
|St. Innocent I||22 Dec. 401-12 Mar. 417|
|St. Zosimus||18 Mar. 417-26 Dec. 418|
|St. Boniface I||28 Dec. 418-4 Sep. 422|
|[Eulalius]||[27 Dec. 418-419]|
|St. Celestine I||10 Sep. 422-27 Jul. 432|
|St. Sixtus III||31 Jul. 432-19 Aug. 440|
|St. Leo I, the Great||29 Sep. 440-10 Nov. 461|
|St. Hilary||19 Nov. 461-29 Feb. 468|
|St. Simplicius||3 Mar. 468-10 Mar. 483|
|St. Felix III (II)||13 Mar. 483-1 Mar. 492|
|St. Gelasius I||1 Mar. 492-21 Nov. 496|
|Anastasius II||24 Nov. 496-19 Nov. 498|
|St. Symmachus||22 Nov. 498-19 Jul. 514|
|St. Hormisdas||20 Jul. 514-6 Aug. 523|
|St. John I||13 Aug. 523-18 May 526|
|St. Felix IV (III)||12 Jul. 526-22 Sep. 530|
|Boniface II||22 Sep. 530-17 Oct. 532|
|[Dioscorus]||[22 Sep.-14 Oct. 530]|
|John II||2 Jan. 533-8 May 535|
|St. Agapitus I||13 May 535-22 Apr. 536|
|St. Silverius||1 Jun. 536-11 Nov. 537|
|Vigilius||29 Mar. 537-7 Jun. 555|
|Pelagius I||16 Apt. 556-4 Mar. 561|
|John III||17 Jul. 561-13 Jul. 574|
|Benedict I||2 Jun. 575-30 Jul. 579|
|Pelagius II||26 Nov. 579-7 Feb. 590|
|St. Gregory I, the Great||3 Sep. 590-12 Mar. 604|
|Sabinian||13 Sep. 604-22 Feb. 606|
|Boniface III||19 Feb.-12 Nov. 607|
|St. Boniface IV||25 Aug. 608-8 May 615|
|St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I)||19 Oct. 615-8 Nov. 618|
|Boniface V||23 Dec. 619-25 Oct. 625|
|Honorius I||27 Oct. 625-12 Oct. 638|
|Severinus||28 May-7 Aug. 640|
|John IV||24 Dec. 640-12 Oct. 642|
|Theodore I||24 Nov. 642-14 May 649|
|St. Martin I||July 649-16 Sep. 655|
|St. Eugene I||10 Aug. 654-2 Jun. 657|
|St. Vitalian||30 Jul. 657-27 Jan. 672|
|Adeodatus II||11 Apr. 672-17 Jun. 676|
|Donus||2 Nov. 676-11 Apr. 678|
|St. Agatho||27 Jun. 678-10 Jan. 681|
|St. Leo II||17 Aug. 682-3 Jul. 683|
|St. Benedict II||26 Jun. 684-8 May 685|
|John V||23 Jul. 685-2 Aug. 686|
|Conon||21 Oct. 686-21 Sep. 687|
|St. Sergius I||15 Dec. 687-8 Sep. 701|
|John VI||30 Oct. 701-11 Jan. 705|
|John VII||1 Mar. 705-18 Oct. 707|
|Sisinnius||15 Jan.-4 Feb. 708|
|Constantine||25 Mar. 708-9 Apr. 715|
|St. Gregory II||19 May 715-11 Feb. 731|
|St. Gregory III||18 Mar. 731-Nov. 741|
|St. Zachary||10 Dec. 741-22 Mar. 752|
|Stephen (II)||23-25 Mar. 752|
|Stephen II (III)||26 Mar. 752-26 Apt. 757|
|St. Paul I||29 May 757-28 Jun. 767|
|[Constantine II]||[28 Jun. 767-769]|
|[Philip]||[31 Jul. 768]|
|Stephen III||(IV) 7 Aug. 768-24 Jan. 772|
|Adrian I||1 Feb. 772-25 Dec. 795|
|St. Leo III||26 Dec. 795-12 Jun. 816|
|Stephen IV||(V) 22 Jun. 816-24 Jan. 817|
|St. Paschal I||25 Jan. 817-11 Feb. 824|
|Eugene II||Feb. 824-Aug. 827|
|Gregory IV||827-Jan. 844|
|Sergius II||Jan. 844-27 Jan. 847|
|St. Leo IV||Jan. 847-17 Jul. 855|
|Benedict III||Jul. 855-17 Apr. 858|
|St. Nicholas I, the Great||24 Apt. 858-13 Nov. 867|
|Adrian II||14 Dec. 867-14 Dec. 872|
|John VIII||14 Dec. 872-16 Dec. 882|
|Marinus I||16 Dec. 882-15 May 884|
|St. Adrian IIl||17 May 884-Sep. 885|
|Stephen V (VI)||Sep. 885-14 Sep. 891|
|Formosus 6||Oct. 891-4 Apr. 896|
|Boniface VI||Apr. 896|
|Stephen VI (VII)||May 896-Aug. 897|
|Theodore II||Dec. 897|
|John IX||Jan. 898-Jan. 900|
|Benedict IV||Jan. 900-Jul. 903|
|Leo V||Jul.-Sep. 903|
|[Christopher]||[Jul. 903-Jan. 904]|
|Sergius III||29 Jan. 904-14 Apr. 911|
|Anastasius III||Apt. 911-Jun. 913|
|Lando||Jul. 913-Feb. 914|
|John X||Mar. 914-May 928|
|Leo VI||May-Dec. 928|
|Stephen VII (VIII)||Dec. 928-Feb. 931|
|John XI||Feb. 931-Dec. 935|
|Leo VII 3||an. 936-13 Jul. 939|
|Stephen VIII (IX)||14 Jul. 939-Oct. 942|
|Marinus II||30 Oct. 942-May 946|
|Agapetus II||10 May 946-Dec. 955|
|John XII||16 Dec. 955-14 May 964|
|Leo VIII||4 Dec. 963-1 Mar. 965|
|Benedict V||22 May-23 Jun. 964|
|John XIII||1 Oct. 965-6 Sep. 972|
|Benedict VI||19 Jan. 973-Jun. 974|
|[Boniface VII]||[Jun.-Jul. 974; Aug. 984-Jul. 985]|
|Benedict VII||Oct. 974-10 Jul. 983|
|John XIV||Dec. 983-20 Aug.'984|
|John XV||Aug. 985-Mar. 996|
|Gregory V||3 May 996-18 Feb. 999|
|[John XVI]||[Apr. 997-Feb. 998]|
|Sylvester II||2 Apr. 999-12 May 1003|
|John XVII||Jun.-Dec. 1003|
|John XVIII||Jan. 1004-Jul. 1009|
|Sergius IV||31 Jul. 1009-12 May 1012|
|Benedict VIII||18 May 1012-9 Apr. 1024|
|John XIX||Apt. 1024-1032|
|Benedict IX||(first time) 1032-1044|
|Sylvester IIl||20 Jan.-10 Feb. 1045|
|Benedict IX||(second time) 10 Apt.-1 May 1045|
|Gregory VI||May 1045-20 Dec. 1046|
|Clement II||24 Dec. 1046-9 Oct. 1047|
|Benedict IX||(third time) 8 Nov. 1047-17 Jul. 1048|
|Damasus II||17 Jul.-9 Aug. 1048|
|St. Leo IX||12 Feb. 1049-19 Apr. 1054|
|Victor II||16 Apt. 1055-28 Jul. 1057|
|Stephen IX (X)||3 Aug. 1057-29 Mar. 1058|
|[Benedict X]||[5 Apt. 1058-24 Jan. 1059]|
|Nicholas II||24 Jan. 1059-27 Jul. 1061|
|Alexander II||1 Oct. 1061-21 Apr. 1073|
|[Honorius II]||[28 Oct. 1061-1072]|
|St. Gregory VII||22 Apt. 1073-25 May 1085|
|[Clement III]||[26 Jun. 1080-8 Sep. 1100]|
|Bl. Victor III||24 May 1086-16 Sep. 1087|
|Bl. Urban II||12 Mar. 1088-29 Jul. 1099|
|Paschal II||13 Aug. 1099-21 Jan. 1118|
|[Sylvester IV]||[18 Nov. 1105-1111]|
|Gelasius II||24 Jan. 1118-28 Jan. 1119|
|[Gregory VIII]||[8 Mar. 1118-1121]|
|Callistus II||2 Feb. 1119-13 Dec. 1124|
|Honorius II||5 Dec. 1124-13 Feb. 1130|
|[Celestine II]||[Dec. 1124]|
|Innocent II||14 Feb. 1130-24 Sep. 1143|
|[Anacletus II]||[14 Feb. 1130-25 Jan. 1138]|
|[Victor IV]||[Mar.-29 May 1138]|
|Celestine II||26 Sep. 1143-8 Mar. 1144|
|Lucius II||2 Mar. 1144-15 Feb. 1145|
|Bl. Eugene III||15 Feb. 1145-8 Jul. 1153|
|Anastasius IV||12 Jul. 1153-3 Dec. 1154|
|Adrian IV||4 Dec. 1154-1 Sep. 1159|
|Alexander III||7 Sep. 1159-30 Aug. 1181|
|[Victor IV]||[7 Sep. 1159-20 Apt. 1164]|
|[Paschal III]||[26 Apt. 1164-20 Sep. 1168]|
|[Callistus III]||[Sep. 1168-29 Aug. 1178]|
|[Innocent III]||[29 Sep. 1179-1180]|
|Lucius III||1 Sep. 1181-25 Sep. 1185|
|Urban III||25 Nov. 1185-20 Oct. 1187|
|Gregory VIII||21 Oct.-17 Dec. 1187|
|Clement III||19 Dec. 1187-Mar. 1191|
|Celestine III||30 Mar. 1191-8 Jan. 1198|
|Innocent III||8 Jan. 1198-16 Jul. 1216|
|Honorius III||18 Jul. 1216-18 Mar. 1227|
|Gregory IX||19 Mar. 1227-22 Aug. 1241|
|Celestine IV||25 Oct.-10 Nov. 1241|
|Innocent IV||25 Jun. 1243-7 Dec. 1254|
|Alexander IV||12 Dec. 1254-25 May 1261|
|Urban IV||29 Aug. 1261-2 Oct. 1264|
|Clement IV||5 Feb. 1265-29 Nov. 1268|
|Bl. Gregory X||1 Sep. 1271-10 Jan. 1276|
|Bl. Innocent V||21 Jan.-22 Jun. 1276|
|Adrian V||11 Jul.-18 Aug. 1276|
|John XXI||8 Sep. 1276-20 May 1277|
|Nicholas III||25 Nov. 1277-22 Aug. 1280|
|Martin IV||22 Feb. 1281-28 Mar. 1285|
|Honorius IV||2 Apt. 1285-3 Apt. 1287|
|Nicholas IV||22 Feb. 1288-4 Apt. 1292|
|St. Celestine V||5 Jul.-13 Dec. 1294|
|Boniface VIII||24 Dec. 1294-11 Oct. 1303|
|Bl. Benedict XI||22 Oct. 1303-7 Jul. 1304|
|Clement V||5 Jun. 1305-20 Apr. 1314|
|John XXII||7 Aug. 1316-4 Dec. 1334|
|[Nicholas V]||[12 May 1328-25 Aug. 1330]|
|Benedict XII||20 Dec. 1334-25 Apt. 1342|
|Clement VI||7 May 1342-6 Dec. 1352|
|Innocent VI||18 Dec. 1352-12 Sep. 1362|
|Bl. Urban V||28 Sep. 1362-19 Dec. 1370|
|Gregory XI||30 Dec. 1370-26 Mar. 1378|
|Urban VI||8 Apt. 1378-15 Oct. 1389|
|Boniface IX||2 Nov. 1389-1 Oct. 1404|
|Innocent VII||17 Oct. 1404-6 Nov. 1406|
|Gregory XII||30 Nov. 1406-4 Jul. 1415|
|[Clement VII, Avignon]||[20 Sep. 1378-16 Sep. 1394]|
|[Benedict XIII, Avignon]||[28 Sep. 1394-23 May 1423]|
|[Clement VIII, Avignon]||[10 Jun. 1423-26 Jul. 1429]|
|[Benedict XIV, Avignon]||[12 Nov. 1425-1430]|
|[Alexander V, Pisa]||[26 Jun. 1409-3 May 1410]|
|[John XXIII, Pisa]||[17 May 1410-29 May 1415]|
|Martin V||11 Nov. 1417-20 Feb. 1431|
|Eugene IV||3 Mar. 1431-23 Feb. 1447|
|[Felix V]||[5 Nov. 1439-7 Apr. 1449]|
|Nicholas V||6 Mar. 1447-24 Mar. 1455|
|Callistus III||8 Apt. 1455-6 Aug. 1458|
|Plus II||19 Aug. 1458-15 Aug. 1464|
|Paul II||30 Aug. 1464-26 Jul. 1471|
|Sixtus IV||9 Aug. 1471-12 Aug. 1484|
|Innocent VIII||29 Aug. 1484-25 Jul. 1492|
|Alexander VI||11 Aug. 1492-18 Aug. 1503|
|Pius III||22 Sep.-18 Oct. 1503|
|Julius II||31 Oct. 1503-21 Feb. 1513|
|Leo X||9 Mar. 1513-1 Dec. 1521|
|Adrian VI||9 Jan. 1522-14 Sep. 1523|
|Clement VII||19 Nov. 1523-25 Sep. 1534|
|Paul III||13 Oct. 1534-10 Nov. 1549|
|Julius III||7 Feb. 1550-23 Mar. 1555|
|Marcellus II||9 Apt.-1 May 1555|
|Paul IV||23 May 1555-18 Aug. 1559|
|Plus IV||25 Dec. 1559-9 Dec. 1565|
|St. Pius V||7 Jan. 1566-1 May 1572|
|Gregory XIII||13 May 1572-10 Apr. 1585|
|Sixtus V||24 Apr. 1585-27 Aug. 1590|
|Urban VII||15 Sep.-27 Sep. 1590|
|Gregory XIV||5 Dec. 1590-16 Oct. 1591|
|Innocent IX||29 Oct.-30 Dec. 1591|
|Clement VIII||30 Jan. 1592-3 Mar. 1605|
|Leo XI||1 Apt.-27 Apt. 1605|
|Paul V||16 May 1605-28 Jan. 1621|
|Gregory XV||9 Feb. 1621-8 Jul. 1623|
|Urban VIII||6 Aug. 1623-29 Jul. 1644|
|Innocent X||15 Sep. 1644-7 Jan. 1655|
|Alexander VII||7 Apt. 1655-22 May 1667|
|Clement IX||20 Jun. 1667-9 Dec. 1669|
|Clement X||29 Apt. 1670-22 Jul. 1676|
|Bl. Innocent XI||21 Sep. 1676-12 Aug. 1689|
|Alexander VIII||6 Oct. 1689-1 Feb. 1691|
|Innocent XII||12 Jul. 1691-27 Sep. 1700|
|Clement XI||23 Nov. 1700-19 Mar. 1721|
|Innocent XIII||8 May 1721-7 Mar. 1724|
|Benedict XIII||29 May 1724-21 Feb. 1730|
|Clement XII||12 Jul. 1730-6 Feb. 1740|
|Benedict XIV||17 Aug. 1740-3 May 1758|
|Clement XIII||6 Jul. 1758-2 Feb. 1769|
|Clement XIV||19 May 1769-22 Sep. 1774|
|Pius VI||15 Feb. 1775-29 Aug. 1799|
|Pius VII||14 Mar. 1800-20 Aug. 1823|
|Leo XII||28 Sep. 1823-10 Feb. 1829|
|Pius VIII||31 Mar. 1829-30 Nov. 1830|
|Gregory XVI||2 Feb. 1831-1 Jun. 1846|
|Pius IX||16 Jun. 1846-7 Feb. 1878|
|Leo XIII||20 Feb. 1878-20 Jul. 1903|
|St. Pius X||4 Aug. 1903-20 Aug. 1914|
|Benedict XV||3 Sep. 1914-22 Jan. 1922|
|Pius XI||6 Feb. 1922-10 Feb. 1939|
|Pius XII||2 Mar. 1939-9 Oct. 1958|
|John XXIII||28 Oct. 1958-3 Jun. 1963|
|Paul VI||21 Jun. 1963-6 Aug. 1978|
|John Paul I||26 Aug.-28 Sep. 1978|
|John Paul II||16 Oct. 1978-|
were made under Nicholas II (1059–1061), whose coronation, perhaps the first ever, was rich in monarchical symbolism. His decree on papal elections (1059), which made cardinal bishops the sole electors, had a twofold purpose: to safeguard the reformed papacy through free and peaceful elections and to eliminate coercion by the empire or the aristocracy. By not granting the emperor the right of confirmation, he directly opposed the Ottonian privilege. Nicholas also introduced feudalism into the papacy when he enfeoffed the Normans; the papacy invested them with the lands they had conquered and received the oath of fealty. This feudal contract—actually made to the apostle Peter through the pope—was the first of many. By the twelfth century, the papacy had more feudal vassals than any other European power.
The most famous of the reform popes was Gregory VII (1073–1085), surnamed Hildebrand. Endowed with great gifts, he had learned much about the papacy from his years of service under Leo IX, Nicholas II, and Alexander II (1061–1073). His ambitious program of reform focused on three areas. The first task was to restore prestige to the papacy, to resurrect it from the sorry state to which it had descended in the previous two centuries. In his letters and especially in his Dictates of the Pope, Gregory, like Leo I before him, identified himself with Peter; claimed universal authority over bishops, clerics, and councils; and asserted his right to make law, to render judgments that allow no appeal, and even to depose emperors. The second area of reform was directed against clerical corruption, particularly simony and incontinence. The third area concerned lay investiture—a practice whereby feudal lords, princes, and emperors bestowed spiritual office through the selection of pastors, abbots, and bishops. Gregory's determination to root out this evil brought him into direct conflict with Emperor Henry IV, whom he consequently excommunicated (and later absolved in the famous winter scene at Canossa in 1077). The Gregorian reform movement met fierce resistance and achieved only limited success, but it was an important milestone in papal history. For the first time the extensive theoretical principles of papal power were tested in practice. Henceforth, the papacy exercised a new style of leadership: The pope emerged not only as the undisputed head of the church but also as the unifying force in medieval western Europe.
The height of papal authority
The papacy reached its zenith in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Six general councils between 1123 and 1274 issued many doctrinal and disciplinary decrees aimed at reform and left no doubt that the popes were firmly in control of church policy. During the pontificate of Innocent III (1198–1216), one of the most brilliant of all the popes, the papacy reached the summit of its universal power and supervised the religious, social, and political life of the West. Some of the greatest popes at this time were canonists who proclaimed a pontifical world hegemony. Under Innocent III, the first official collection of canon law was published (1209), and the kingdoms of Bulgaria, Portugal, and England were made papal fiefs. Honorius III (1216–1227) further centralized papal administration and finances and approved the establishment of the Franciscan and Dominican orders. In theory, papal authority extended also to non-Christians. Innocent IV (1243–1254) believed that every creature is subject to the pope—even infidels, Christ's sheep by creation though not members of the church. This idea of a world theocracy under the popes was to be part of the theological and political justification for the Crusades.
The medieval popes took stringent action against such heretics as the Waldensians and the Cathari. Gregory IX (1227–1241) made the Inquisition a permanent tribunal to combat heresy, selecting Dominicans and Franciscans to serve as inquisitors, or judges. Heresy was considered not only a grave sin but also a crime against the state. Thus Innocent IV approved the use of torture by the state to force heretics to confess.
Two significant changes were made in the procedures for papal elections. At the Third Lateran Council (1179), Alexander III (1159–1181) decreed that all cardinals—not just cardinal bishops—could vote and that a two-thirds majority was required. The Second Council of Lyons (1274), under Gregory X (1271–1276), established the law of the conclave, whereby the cardinal electors had to assemble in the papal palace and remain in a locked room until the election was completed.
Decline of the papacy
The death of Boniface VIII (1294–1303) marked the end of the grandiose idea of a theocratic world order with all power, spiritual and temporal, emanating from the pope. Several factors contributed to the decline of the papacy: high taxation, the inappropriate conferral and control of benefices, corruption in the Roman bureaucracy, and, above all, the failure of the popes to foresee the effect of nationalism on church-state relations. The effort to construct a Christian commonwealth under papal leadership was unsuccessful, but it must be judged in context. The popes struggled to protect the independence of the church, but their temporal involvements complicated the situation. Europe at that time was a mosaic of feudal territories; nations, as they are known today, were only in the process of formation. It was a turbulent time. Yet in the Middle Ages, the papacy was the only institution in the West with the authority and stability to provide law and order. At times it went to excess, but medieval Europe owed it a considerable debt.
In 1308, Clement V (1305–1314) moved the papal residence to Avignon, which then belonged to the king of Naples, a vassal of the pope. Several factors prompted this decision: the upcoming general council of Vienne (1311–1312); the tension between the pope and the king of France; and the unsafe and chaotic political situation in Rome and Italy. The popes remained in Avignon for seventy years. During their so-called Babylonian Captivity, the popes were French, but the papacy was not a puppet of the French rulers. Centralization and administrative complexity increased, especially under John XXII (1316–1334). The cardinals assumed greater power that at times bordered on oligarchy. They introduced the practice of capitulation—an agreement made by electors of the pope to limit the authority of the person chosen to be pope—and thus tried to restrict papal primacy. The Avignon popes worked to reform the clergy and religious orders; they also promoted missionary activity in China, India, and Persia.
No sooner had Gregory XI (1370–1378) returned to Rome in 1377 than the papacy faced another crisis, the great Western schism. The election of Urban VI (1378–1389) was later disputed by some of the cardinals, who claimed coercion. Five months after Urban's election, they rejected him and elected Clement VII (1378–1394), who went back to Avignon. The two popes had their own cardinals, curial staffs, and adherents among the faithful. A council was held at Pisa in 1409 to resolve the problem, but instead still another pope was elected, Alexander V, who in less than a year was succeeded by John XXIII (1410–1415). The general council of Constance (1414–1418) confronted the scandal of three would-be popes and pledged to reform the church in head and members. Unity was restored with the election of Martin V (1417–1431). The council deposed both Benedict XIII (1394–1423) of Avignon and John XXIII of Pisa; Gregory XII (1406–1415) of the Roman line abdicated. What makes the Council of Constance important in the history of the papacy is the theological principle that dictated its actions, namely conciliarism, enunciated in the council's decree Haec sancta, the dogmatic validity of which is still debated. The theory of conciliarism, that a general council is the supreme organ of government in the church, was later condemned by several popes, but it did not die. It resurfaced again in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the form of Gallicanism and Febronianism.
From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Papal authority was severely challenged between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. It had to face the massive religious and societal repercussions brought about by the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Enlightenment.
Martin V tried to fulfill the provisions of the decree Frequens (1417) that emanated from the Council of Constance, which mandated that a general council should be held in five years, another seven years later, and then one regularly every ten years. He convened a council at Siena that later moved to Pavia (1423–1424), but the plague forced its dissolution. Seven years later another council was held, meeting first at Basel and later at Ferrara and Florence (1431–1445), under Eugene IV (1431–1447). Greek and Latin prelates attended, and they were able to agree on several thorny doctrinal issues including the primacy of the pope. The decree Laetentur caeli (1439), the first dogmatic definition of papal primacy by a council, stated: "We define that the holy apostolic see and the Roman Pontiff have primacy over the whole world, and that the same Roman Pontiff is the successor of Saint Peter, prince of the Apostles, the true vicar of Christ, the head of the church." Unfortunately, the union between the Greeks and Rome was short-lived.
Nicholas V (1447–1455) and his successors made Rome a center of the arts and scholarship. Humanistic concerns and involvement in Italian politics dominated their pontificates. Pius II (1458–1464), one of the most notable examples of papal humanism, in the bull Exsecrabilis (1460) prohibited any appeals to future general councils, thus striking at conciliarism. The same oligarchic spirit of the earlier Avignon cardinals appeared again at the election of Paul II (1464–1471). The cardinals drew up a capitulation requiring consultation with them before any major papal appointment, but after his election Paul promptly rejected this limitation. Sixtus IV (1471–1484) concerned himself mostly with the restoration of Rome and the expansion of the Papal States; he is responsible for building the magnificent Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The Borgian pope, Alexander VI (1492–1503), has gone down in history as one of the most notorious of the Renaissance popes although his exploits have been exaggerated. The papacy, moreover, was engaged in almost continual warfare. The most famous of the warrior popes was Julius II (1503–1513), known as Il Terribile. A capable and energetic leader, Julius became the patron of Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bramante; he commissioned the construction of the new basilica of Saint Peter's. Adrian VI (1522–1523) was an exception among the Renaissance popes; in his short pontificate he tried to introduce reform measures, but these met persistent opposition from both civil rulers and highly placed ecclesiastics. In sum, the Renaissance popes were generally more interested in politics, the arts, and the ostentatious display of wealth than in providing genuine religious leadership. Their artistic achievements were outstanding, their neglect of spiritual concerns tragic.
The Reformation and Counter-Reformation
By the beginning of the sixteenth century the papacy was severely weakened by internal decay and a loss of supernatural vision. The faithful throughout Europe were asked to contribute alms to the extravagant building projects in Rome. These factors, coupled with deep-seated religious, social, and economic unrest in Europe, set the stage for the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther's challenge in 1517 caught the papacy unprepared. Leo X (1513–1521) and his successors badly underestimated the extent and intensity of antipapal sentiment in Europe. The popes neither adequately comprehended the religious intentions of Luther nor understood the appeal that the reformers' ideas had for many who were outraged at both the policies and the conduct of church leaders. What began in the Reformation as a movement to restore genuine apostolic integrity to the church of Rome ended with the creation of a separate church. Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli eventually repudiated all papal claims. By the time of Clement VII (1523–1534), millions of Catholics in Germany, Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Switzerland, and Britain had departed from the Roman communion. A new era in church history had dawned.
The rapid rise of Protestantism had a sobering effect on the papacy: It forced the popes to concentrate on church affairs. Paul III (1534–1549), for example, appointed competent cardinals to administrative posts, authorized the establishment of the Society of Jesus (1540), and reformed the Roman Inquisition (1542). The church's most wide-ranging answer to the Protestant Reformation was the Council of Trent (1545–1563), convoked by Paul III and concluded by Pius IV (1559–1565). In its twenty-five sessions, the council discussed the authority of scripture and of tradition, original sin and justification, the sacraments, and specific reform legislation. It did not, strangely enough, treat explicitly the theology of the church or the papacy. The council refused to accept demands for a married clergy, Communion under both species, and a vernacular liturgy. The principles of conciliarism did not affect the Council of Trent, at which the reigning popes were in control of the proceedings.
One of the effects of the Tridentine reform was a reorganization of the church's central administrative system. The Curia Romana, which had existed, at least functionally, since the first century, was plagued by nepotism, greed, and abuse of authority. Sixtus V (1585–1590), who was committed to a reform of the Curia, established fifteen congregations of cardinals to carry out church administration. The popes endeavored to consider moral character and ability in selecting cardinals, whose number was set at seventy in 1588. Under Gregory XIII (1572–1585), papal nuncios to Catholic countries proved most valuable in implementing the ideals of Trent and in supervising the activities of the local bishops. For forty years after Trent, zealous popes strengthened papal authority and prestige. They increased centralization, mandated uniformity in liturgical ritual, and renewed priestly life and seminary training. The bishops of dioceses, who now had to submit regular reports to Rome and visit it at specified intervals, became much less independent. The success of the Counter-Reformation resulted from sound papal governance and the extraordinary contributions of the Jesuits and other religious orders. Yet union with the Protestants was not accomplished; the Christian church in the West had a divided membership.
Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
The papacy had to face new problems caused by radical shifts in the political and intellectual climate of Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Skepticism, rationalism, and secularism became pervasive during the Enlightenment, and many intellectuals were violently opposed to the Catholic church and the papacy. As a result, the popes were often on the defensive. In actions reminiscent of the medieval papacy, Paul V (1605–1621) in 1605, in the wake of the Gunpowder Plot, forbade Catholics to take a loyalty oath to the king of England, and in 1607 he put Venice under interdict—a penalty largely ignored. The lengthy and often acrimonious debate between Dominicans and Jesuits over grace and free will, a question not settled at Trent, was terminated during Paul's reign. In 1597 Clement VIII (1592–1605) had established a special papal commission (the Congregatio de Auxiliis) to examine the orthodoxy of the two views. Paul received the final report, and in 1607 he declared that both orders could defend their positions, that neither side should censure the opposite opinion, and that all should await the final decision of the Holy See. This decision has not yet been made.
The Thirty Years War (1618–1648), a series of religious and dynastic wars that involved most of Europe, embroiled the papacy in conflict. Paul V and Gregory XV (1621–1623) had little influence on the conduct of Catholic rulers. Innocent X (1644–1655) protested, albeit futilely, against the Peace of Westphalia (1648), because he felt that Catholics were treated unjustly. This war and its aftermath showed how ineffective the papacy had become in European politics. The spirit of patriotism contributed to the problem. Furthermore, conciliarism revived in France in the form of Gallicanism, in Germany in the form of Febronianism, and in Austria in the form of Josephism. Although each of these movements had its own particular characteristics, all had two things in common: a strong nationalistic feeling and an antipapal bias. All reflected resentment of Roman centralism, urged greater autonomy for national churches, and advocated state control of ecclesiastical matters. The Holy See had also to contend with the absolutist ambitions of Louis XIV of France. Innocent XI (1676–1689) engaged in a protracted struggle with Louis over the king's claim to the right of revenues from vacant benefices (the régale ) and over royal support of Gallicanism. Innocent's major achievement was his diplomatic role in preventing the fall of Vienna to the Turks in 1683, thus halting Muslim expansion into Europe.
During the following decades the popes were active in many areas. Innocent XII (1691–1700) forbade nepotism and Clement XII (1730–1740) condemned Freemasonry. Benedict XIV (1740–1758) finally ended the so-called Chinese and Malabar rites controversy, which had lasted nearly two centuries. Jesuit missionaries in China and South India had adapted certain indigenous customs and rites to Christianity. Benedict XIV condemned this practice and required the missionaries to take an oath rejecting the rites. The oath remained in force until the pontificate of Pius XII (1939–1958).
In the theological area, Innocent X repudiated five propositions on the theology of grace found in the writings of the Flemish bishop Cornelis Jansen; Alexander VII (1655–1667) rejected laxism as a moral system; and Alexander VIII (1689–1691) acted similarly against rigorism. The spiritual teaching of Quietism also received papal disapproval, when Innocent XII proscribed the views of Miguel de Molinos. The most dramatic papal action of the eighteenth century occurred when Clement XIV (1769–1774), bending to pressure from the Bourbon monarchies and fearing possible schism in France and Spain, suppressed the Society of Jesus in 1773.
The Modern Period
Dramatic shifts in the prestige and authority of the papacy have occurred between the era of the French Revolution and the twentieth century. The popes of this period, faced with the demanding challenges of a new age, have attempted to restore their spiritual authority.
Revolution and restoration
The French Revolution, which began in 1789, and the subsequent actions of Napoleon created a new political order in Europe that adversely affected the Roman Catholic church. With nationalistic fervor, France's new revolutionary government became an instrument of dechristianization, secularization, and anticlericalism. Pius VI (1775–1799), who had little sympathy with the ideals of the revolution, was unable to deal effectively with such vehement defiance of the Holy See and such massive threats to the very existence of religion. At times it seemed as if the papacy itself would be destroyed. The octogenarian and infirm Pius was taken prisoner by Napoleon and died in exile on his way to Paris. Resistance to Napoleonic aggression continued during the pontificate of Pius VII (1800–1823). The Concordat of 1801 with Napoleon, which for over a century regulated the relationship between France and the church, revealed that Pius was willing to make concessions for the sake of peace. Yet in 1809 Napoleon captured Rome, annexed the Papal States, and arrested the pope and held him prisoner until 1814. The Catholic restoration began after the defeat of Napoleon: the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) returned most of the papal territory to the church, and in 1814 Pius restored the Society of Jesus.
The fall of the monarchy in France and its impact on the rest of Europe weakened Gallicanism, Febronianism, and Josephism. Ultramontanism—a propapal movement that began early in the nineteenth century—advocated greater centralization of church government and a vigorous exercise of papal primacy. It gained strength under Gregory XVI (1831–1846), who opposed all revolutionary movements and defended papal primacy, infallibility, and the independence of the church from the state. A great missionary pope, Gregory fully controlled Catholic mission work.
The thirty-two-year pontificate of Pius IX (1846–1878), the longest in history, was significant. Initially hailed as a liberal, he soon showed his advocacy of ultramontanism. Pius believed that rationalism and secularism eroded both the faith and human society, and he considered a constitutional government for the Papal States to be a threat to the independence of the Holy See. Although many of his ideas isolated the church from the world, he gave the Roman Catholic faithful, with whom he was immensely popular, a new sense of spiritual identity. He restored the Catholic hierarchies of England (1850) and the Netherlands (1853), began a renewal of Marian devotion by his definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (1854), and supported extensive missionary activity. His greatest disappointment was the loss of the Papal States in 1870, which ended a millennium of temporal sovereignty. The popes became voluntary prisoners in the Vatican for the next sixty years. Pius's greatest triumph was the First Vatican Council (1869–1870), which ended abruptly when Italian troops occupied Rome. It produced two constitutions: Dei filius, a reaffirmation of the centrality of revelation, and Pastor aeternus, a definition of papal primacy and infallibility.
Vatican I and modernity
The most formal and detailed exposition of papal prerogatives is found in Pastor aeternus. In regard to primacy it taught that Jesus conferred upon Peter a primacy of both honor and jurisdiction; that by divine right Peter has perpetual successors in primacy over the universal church; that the Roman pontiff is the successor of Peter and has supreme, ordinary (not delegated), and immediate power and jurisdiction over the church and its members; and that the Roman pontiff is the supreme judge who is not subject to review by anyone. In regard to infallibility, Vatican I taught that by divine assistance the pope is immune from error when he speaks ex cathedra —that is, when "by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal church." Such definitions are "irreformable of themselves and not from the consent of the church." This last phrase is directed against Gallicanism, even though by 1870 it was no longer a major problem. The formidable conception of the papacy at Vatican I was a victory for ultramontanism. Using juridical and monarchical language, it asserted the universal spiritual authority of the pope. The council, however, did not, because of its premature termination, present the papacy within the full context of the theology of the church, and it failed to discuss the relationship between the pope and the bishops.
The popes between Vatican I and Vatican II, individuals of superior quality, had much in common. First, they were all committed to the spiritual restoration of Catholicism, using their magisterial and jurisdictional authority to that end. A profusion of encyclical letters, addresses, and disciplinary decrees helped shape Catholic thought. Second, the popes continued to centralize church administration in Rome by increasing the power of the Roman Curia and the diplomatic corps. The movement toward uniformity in theology, liturgy, and law discouraged particularism. Third, the papal office actively promoted missionary endeavors; newly converted Catholics and immigrants to North America displayed great loyalty to the Holy See. Fourth, the popes, at times reluctantly and unsuccessfully, tried to respond to the demands of a changing world. They sought amicable relations with secular governments, especially through concordats, and worked devotedly for social justice and peace.
The popes of this period continued the ultramontanist policies of the nineteenth century, but with a difference. Leo XIII (1878–1903), for example, was more open to the positive aspects of modernity. Although he denied the validity of Anglican priestly orders in 1896, he was a pioneer in ecumenism. He supported the revival of Thomism (Aeterni patris, 1879), encouraged Catholic biblical studies (Providentissimus Deus, 1893), and presented the church's position on labor (Rerum novarum, 1891). His successor, Pius X (1903–1914), desired to renew the interior life of the church, as is shown by his teachings on the Eucharist, the liturgy, and seminary education. The most serious crisis he faced was modernism—a complex movement supported by Catholic thinkers in France, England, Germany, and Italy who sought to adapt Catholic doctrine to contemporary intellectual trends. Calling modernism "the synthesis of all heresies," Pius condemned it in Pascendi (1907). During World War I, the complete impartiality of Benedict XV (1914–1922) brought criticism from all sides. In 1917 he promulgated the first Code of Canon Law. The pope of the interwar years was Pius XI (1922–1939), noted for his encyclicals on marriage (Casti connubii, 1930) and social thought (Quadragesimo anno, 1931), for his promotion of missionary work, and most importantly, for concluding the Lateran Pacts (1929). Under these pacts Italy recognized the temporal sovereignty of the pope over Vatican City. Finally, Pius XII (1939–1958), a trained diplomat with broad interests, addressed almost every aspect of church life, and in a prodigious number of pronouncements applied Catholic doctrine to contemporary problems. In Humani generis (1950), Pius XII gave a wide-ranging critique of the theology that followed World War II. Although he encouraged theological speculation, he reaffirmed, for example, the traditional Catholic interpretation of creation, original sin, and transubstantiation and warned against the relativizing of dogma, the neglect of the teaching authority of the church (magisterium), and scriptural exegesis that ignored the tradition of the church. Under Pius, the modern papacy reached an unprecedented level of respect.
Vatican II and postconciliar developments
John XXIII (1958–1963), elected when he was nearly seventy-seven, began a new era for Roman Catholicism. His open style of papal leadership, enhanced by his appealing personality, was warmly welcomed by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Although he is well known for his efforts in promoting ecumenism and world peace (Pacem in terris, 1963), the pope's greatest accomplishment was the unexpected convocation of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). John designed the council to foster reform and reunion, believing that a contemporary reformulation of the Christian tradition would revitalize the Catholic church and ultimately benefit all humankind. Paul VI (1963–1978) skillfully maintained the council's pastoral orientation. To implement its program, he established the Synod of Bishops, internationalized and increased the number of cardinals, reformed the Curia, and promoted liturgical reform. He made nine trips outside Italy.
Vatican II supplied what was lacking in Vatican I. Its doctrine of collegiality described the relationship between the pope and the bishops. The Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium ) stated: "Together with its head, the Roman Pontiff, and never without this head, the episcopal order is the subject of supreme and full power in relation to the universal church. But this power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff" (Article 22). The college of bishops, then, exists only under the leadership of the pope, himself a bishop. The pope is not the executor of the bishops' wishes (Gallicanism), nor are the bishops vicars of the pope (papal absolutism). Both the papacy and the episcopacy have their own legitimate authority, and the purpose of collegiality is to unite the bishops with the pope. Yet there remains the difficult theological problem of reconciling papal primacy with episcopal authority. Many theologians argue that there is only one subject of supreme authority in the church—the college of bishops—and that it can operate in two ways: through a collegial action or through a personal act of the pope as head of the college. Thus every primatial action of the pope is always collegial. The council did not establish any legal norms that would require the pope to consult with the bishops, but nevertheless it posed the moral ideal of cooperation and collaboration that should govern the relationship between the pope and the bishops.
The theory of collegiality has altered the style of papal leadership, making it far less monarchical. The closer relationship between the pope and the bishops is best exemplified by the Synod of Bishops, a consultative body that meets once every three years. Collegiality has made the papacy less objectionable to other Christians since it fosters the idea of authority as service and not domination. This aspect has been noted in the fifth dialogue of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic discussions (1974) and in the Final Report of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (1982). Both groups recognized the value of a universal Petrine ministry of unity in the Christian church and foresaw the possibility of the bishop of Rome exercising that function for all Christians in the future.
Vatican II significantly changed the Catholic Church. Along with progressive reforms, however, there were also reactions that resulted in doctrinal and disciplinary confusion. Thousands of priests and nuns left the active ministry, and some misguided experiments occurred. Dissent over Paul VI's prohibition against artificial birth control in Humanae vitae (1968) caused acute pastoral problems and raised serious questions about the credibility of the papal office.
In 1978 two popes died and two were elected. The pontificate of John Paul I, the successor of Paul VI, lasted only thirty-three days. Breaking a tradition that had endured for more than nine hundred years, John Paul I was not installed by a rite of coronation or enthronement. He rejected the obvious symbols of temporal and monarchical authority and was inaugurated at a solemn mass. Instead of the tiara, he was given the pallium, a white woolen stole symbolizing his spiritual and pastoral ministry. His successor, John Paul II, became the first non-Italian pope in 456 years, the first Polish pope, and the first pope from a Communist country. The most-traveled pope in history, John Paul II earned huge popular appeal with his international pastoral visits. As of May 2003, he had made ninty-nine trips outside of Italy. He personalized the papal office to an extent never before attempted. He had also written fourteen encyclicals, three of which were devoted to social justice and peace, major themes in his teaching: Laboren exercens (1981); Sollicitudo rei socialis (1987), and Centesimus annus (1991). One of the main goals of his pontificate has been the restoration of traditional Roman Catholicism and the promotion of Christian unity. Uneasy with theological dissent (he has censured some theologians), moral laxity, and arbitraty innovations, John Paul II has taken forceful steps to invigorate the Catholic Church. In 1983 he promulgated the revised Code of Canon Law. In an effort to encourage collegiality, he has presided over twenty-one international Synods of Bishops. In October 2003 at the age of eighty-three he celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his election to the papacy. He has survived two assasination attempts and has become severly affected by Parkinson's disease. John Paul II will undoubtably be judged as one of the most illustrious holders of the Chair of Peter.
The papacy has had a complex but intriguing history. For nearly two millennia, showing remarkable resiliency, it has continued through times of growth and decline, glory and shame, internal and external conflicts, and radical social upheavals. In an age of widespread unbelief and unsettling technological change, the papacy can work to rekindle the spiritual aspirations of humanity.
Canon; Church; Councils, article on Christian Councils; Crusades, article on Christian Perspective; Ecumenical Movement; Gallicanism; Inquisition, The; Modernism, article on Christian Modernism; Reformation; Schism, article on Christian Schism; Trent, Council of; Ultramontanism; Vatican Councils.
Two standard works on papal history are Johannes Haller's Das Papsttum : Idee und Wirklichkeit, 5 vols. (1950–1953; reprint, Esslingen am Neckar, 1962), and Franz Xaver Seppelt's Geschichte der Päpste von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, 5 vols. (Munich, 1954–1959). Dated in some respects but still very useful are two monumental studies: Horace K. Mann's The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, 18 vols. in 19, 2d ed. (London, 1925–1969), which covers the period from 590 to 1304; and Ludwig von Pastor's The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, 40 vols. (London, 1891–1953), which concerns the years from 1305 to 1799. Walter Ullmann's A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages (London, 1972) and Guillaume Mollat's The Popes at Avignon, 1305–1378, translated from the 9th French edition by Janet Love (London, 1963), can be recommended. The papacy in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries is discussed in Owen Chadwick's The Popes and European Revolution (Oxford, 1981); Roger Aubert's Le pontificat de Pie IX, 1846–1878, 2d ed. (Paris, 1964); and J. Derek Holmes's The Papacy in the Modern World, 1914–1978 (New York, 1981). More recent histories of the papacy and of the popes include: J. N. D. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (Oxford, N.Y., 1986); Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (New Haven, Conn., 1997); Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to John Paul II (New York, 1997); and Bruno Steiner and Michael G. Parkers, eds., Dictionary of Popes and the Papcy (New York, 2001). General histories of the church contain much information on the papal office. One of the most comprehensive and reliable is Histoire de l'Église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours, 21 vols. (Paris, 1934–1964), edited by Augustin Fliche et al. There is valuable material on papal documentation in Carl Mirbt's Quellen zur Geschichte des Papsttums und des Rö-mischen Katholizismus, 5th ed. (1895; reprint, Tübingen, 1934), and James T. Shotwell and Louise R. Loomis's The See of Peter (New York, 1927).
An analysis of the biblical evidence is found in Raymond E. Brown et al., Peter in the New Testament (Minneapolis, 1973). For a detailed study of the theology of the papacy see my two works, The Papacy in Transition (Garden City, N. Y., 1980), and The Church Limits of the Papacy: Authority and Autonomy in the Church (New York, 1987). Both books contain full bibliographies. Various theological points are discussed in Papal Primacy in the Church, Concilium, vol. 64 (New York, 1971), edited by Hans Küng; in Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger's The Episcopate and the Primacy (New York, 1962); in Gustave Thils's La primauté pontificale (Gembloux, 1972); and in Jean-Marie R. Tillard's The Bishop of Rome (Wilmington, Del., 1983). For a discussion of the ecumenical dimension of the papacy, see Das Papstamt: Dienst oder Hindernis für die Ökumene? (Regensburg, 1985), by Vasilios von Aristi et al. Excellent articles on the same topic are contained in the following: Papal Primacy and the Universal Church (Minneapolis, 1974), edited by Paul C. Empie and T. Austin Murphy; Teaching Authority and Infallibility in the Church (Minneapolis, 1980), edited by Paul C. Empie et al.; The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission : The Final Report, Windsor, Sept. 1981 (London, 1982); and John Meyendorff et al., The Primacy of Peter (London, 1963).
Patrick Granfield (1987 and 2005)
PAPACYfrench revolution and napoleonic imperium
the restoration era
revolutions of 1830 and 1848
pius ix's conservative crusade
turn of the century
The nine popes from Pius VI (r. 1775–1799) to Benedict XV (r. 1914–1922)—more than half of whom chose the name Pius—had to confront the innumerable crises that rocked their world for more than a century. These figures were constrained to react to the French Revolution and the Napoleonic imperium, the upheavals troubling Europe from 1820 to 1848, industrialization, urbanization, and increased secularization, as well as liberal Catholicism, Italian and German unification, and the Kulturkampf. Four of these popes—Pius VI, Pius VII (r. 1800–1823), Pius IX (r. 1846–1878), and Leo XIII (r. 1878–1903)—pontificated for more than two decades, providing one third of the list of the twelve longest-reigning popes in the institution's two thousand–year history. They utilized their time to confront the ideological currents that challenged the spiritual authority of the papacy, even as political events threatened their temporal power. The effort only succeeded in part, for 1870 witnessed the collapse of the Papal State. The loss of the temporal power during the course of the Risorgimento, the movement for Italian unification, did not silence Rome's enemies.
Throughout much of the nineteenth century some loudly decried papal primacy and centralization in the Vatican, which seemed to increase as its political power was challenged. In response, the papacy remained neither silent nor passive, mounting an energetic counteroffensive. As early as 1775, Giovanni Angelo Braschi (Pius VI) condemned attacks on orthodoxy by the "monstrous desire of innovation." Despite these papal protests, dechristianization and secularization proceeded apace in the political arena and the broader society.
The revolt of the American colonies from 1775 to 1781, justified by the broad precepts of the Enlightenment, did not threaten the Catholic Church or its head. The consequences of the French Revolution, however, proved far more dangerous for the papacy. Beginning with the confiscation of church property in 1789, followed by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy shortly thereafter (1790), the ensuing years witnessed a determined, often violent assault against the temporal and spiritual authority of the papacy, culminating with the spiriting of Pius VI from the eternal city and the proclamation of a republic in Rome. The worship of reason and the cult of the supreme being were proclaimed in France as alternatives to the traditional faith. Napoleon, who became first consul in 1799, questioned the prudence of this policy and sought some reconciliation with Rome. In 1801 he concluded with the Holy See a concordat that recognized Catholicism as the religion of the majority in France, provided for the reestablishment of public worship there, and ended the prospect of schism. The agreement did not prevent the emperor from occupying the Papal States in 1808, nor from annexing the territory in 1809.
Barnaba Gregorio Chiaramonti (Pius VII), like his predecessor, was dragged into exile by the French. As Napoleon's domination spread throughout Europe, the papacy once again appeared to be on the verge of collapse. Although Napoleon deemed the papal institution an important moral force whose military equivalence he compared to a "corps of 200,000 men," during these years Rome found itself politically and ideologically on the defensive. The threat posed by the French only dissipated with the dissolution of Napoleon's legions in Russia and the emperor's exile to St. Helena. Unlike Pius VI, Pius VII did not die in exile but, assisted by his secretary of state cardinal Ercole Consalvi, survived the Napoleonic ordeal and returned to Rome as spiritual ruler of the church and sovereign of his state.
The settlement of 1815 witnessed a reconstitution of the Papal State, the restoration of the Jesuits, the return of the Inquisition in Rome and Spain, and a renewed appreciation of the union of throne and altar in conservative circles. The monarchs who adhered to the principles of the "Holy Alliance," the product of the religious fervor of Tsar Alexander I of Russia (r. 1801–1825), promised to conduct their foreign relations in accordance with the precepts of holy religion. Writers such as Edmund Burke (1729–1797), Joseph-Marie de Maistre (1753–1821), Louis de Bonald (1754–1840), and Father Gioacchino Ventura (1792–1861), who borrowed freely from them, saw a close nexus between religion and society. While Pius VII sought to adopt his secretary of state Consalvi's reformism in his 1816 program, which incorporated many French innovations, his moderation was counterbalanced by the intransigent zelanti (conservative intransigents) in the curia and by the traditionalists abroad who called for papal absolutism and shunned constitutionalism.
His successor, Annibale Francesco Clemente Melchiore Girolamo Nicola della Genga (Leo XII), who followed the zelanti agenda, dismissed Consalvi and issued decrees against liberalism and Freemasonry while restricting the Jews once again to the Roman ghetto. Francesco Saverio Castiglione, who followed as Pius VIII (r. 1829–1830), sought to overturn the more reactionary features of Leo's regime, but the opposition of the zelanti, combined with the shortness of his pontificate, aborted most of his reformist attempts. Thus, there was considerable discontent in the Papal State as Europe witnessed a new outburst of revolutionary upheaval in 1830. Not surprisingly, the revolutions of 1830, like those of 1848, were directed against the religious order that critics charged bolstered the prevailing power structure. The Camalolese monk Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, who became Pope Gregory XVI (r. 1831–1846), had to confront the revolutionary upheaval in Europe and in his own state, as well as the new ideological currents emerging not only in liberal circles, but in the Catholic camp.
The revolutions of 1830, especially those in France and Belgium, encouraged the appearance of a liberal Catholic movement that sought to disassociate the church and the papacy from the moribund monarchical structure, giving rise to Hughes-Félicité-Robert de Lamennais's Avenir movement, which invoked a separation of church and state. At the same time the outbreak of revolution in the Papal State, suppressed only by Austrian intervention, prompted the drafting of a Memorandum of the Powers (1831) urging the pope to introduce reforms in his government, including the laicization of its administration. Pope Gregory XVI, who questioned Lamennais's support of the revolutions in Poland and Belgium, and his attempts to modernize the church, condemned the Avenir movement in his Mirari vos (1832). Resenting foreign interference in his state, Gregory shelved the reformist suggestions of the powers. Indeed, he continued to adhere to the position he had earlier outlined in his "Triumph of the Holy See and Church against the Assaults of Innovators" (1799). Critics charged that this pope virtually ignored the social and economic dislocation caused by the Industrial Revolution, as he focused on the religious and political consequences it provoked.
The thirty-two-year pontificate of Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti (Pius IX or Pio Nono), the longest to date, opened on an optimistic note as the new pope, who was known to associate with liberals and called for a reform of the administration of the Papal State, was hailed as the figure who would reconcile liberty and Catholicism, and unite the Italian peninsula. Reformers and liberals applauded his political amnesty, the establishment of a consultative chamber and a constitution for the Papal State, and the prospect of his leadership in the national movement. This reformist image was shattered by his refusal to declare war against Catholic Austria, which provoked riot and rebellion toward the end of 1848. Subsequently, Pius IX concluded that the revolutionaries made demands to which he could not concede and that endangered the church he was elected to guide. Advised by Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli, he fled from his state and subjects, and from his exile in the Kingdom of Naples witnessed the toppling of the Papal State and its replacement by a Roman republic guided by Giuseppe Mazzini and defended by Giuseppe Garibaldi. The pope, who was restored to power in 1849 by the Catholic powers Austria, France, Spain, and Naples, judged that his position as supreme pontiff had been jeopardized by his brief flirtation with constitutionalism. Following his return to Rome (1850), Pius focused on his position as head of the faith, leaving the execution of political matters in the hands of his astute secretary of state, Antonelli.
Within the church, Pope Pius IX favored centralization by imposing the Roman liturgy seeking to reduce the autonomy of the bishops of the eastern churches united with Rome, while extending the scope of Roman jurisdiction, by prompting the bishops to make periodic or ad limina visits to Rome. Devoted to Mary, the mother of Jesus, Pius proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854), which stipulated that she was born without the stain of original sin. Politically, Pius refused to reconcile himself to the loss of the bulk of his territory to the Kingdom of Italy (1861), which he refused to recognize. Following a Franco-Italian agreement (1864) to withdraw French troops from the remaining papal territory, which included Rome and its surroundings, Pius IX responded by issuing the encyclical Quanta cura, to which was appended a "Syllabus of Errors." First and fore-most a denunciation of religious liberalism and the growing secularism of the age, it condemned naturalism, indifferentism (the belief that all religions beliefs were equally acceptable), and absolute rationalism, upsetting moderate and liberal Catholics. Even greater consternation was caused by his attack on liberalism, nationalism, and the separation of church and state. Critics charged the "Syllabus" reiterated the stance of Leo XII and Gregory XVI, putting the papacy in conflict with the modern world.
Pius was not deterred by the criticism and continued his crusade against the dangers he perceived in modern civilization. Mobilizing the forces of the church to bolster the position of the papacy, he convoked the Vatican Council in 1869, which in the following year proclaimed the primacy and infallibility of the pope. Opponents such as the Bavarian theologian Ignaz von Doellinger, among others, refused to recognize its validity, and his public opposition led to his excommunication by the bishop of Munich in 1871. He was not silenced, nor was the pope. The combative Pius refused to sanction the loss of Rome during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), which ended the oldest sovereignty in Europe, nor would he accept the conditions imposed by the Italians in their Law of Papal Guarantees of 13 May 1871, thus provoking the Roman Question, which persisted until 1929. Pius IX was no more accommodating or willing to submit to the Kulturkampf in Otto von Bismarck's Germany or the Los von Rom movement in Austria, which sought freedom from Rome. Critics such as the archbishop of Rheims cited the need for some accommodation with the
modern world. Pius, a crusader in a secular age, was not prepared to comply; his successor would make an attempt.
At the turn of the century, Gioacchino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi Pecci (Leo XIII) proved somewhat more diplomatic than his predecessor and sought to heal the rift between Rome and democratic governments such as existed in Republican France (the Ralliement) and to diffuse the Kulturkampf with Bismarck's Germany. He also showed himself to be more concerned about the tribulations of the working classes in the industrial age, citing the weaknesses of laissez-faire social indifferentism on the one hand, but condemning Marxism as a cure worse than the disease (Rerum Novarum, 15 May 1891). In Graves de Communi (18 January 1901) Leo expressed his position on Christian democracy, emphasizing its moral rather than its political role. His diplomatic initiatives led him to arbitrate the dispute between Spain and Germany over the Caroline Islands, to reestablish relations with Spain, Mexico, and Colombia, and to secure the opening of a Russian embassy to the Vatican, while instituting diplomatic relations with imperial Japan. Leo's pontificate was perceived by some as a movement away from the intransigence of Gregory XVI and Pius IX, marking the first attempt of the papacy to reach an accommodation of sorts with the modern world. Nonetheless, Leo declared Anglican ordination invalid (1896) and would not condone Americanism.
Leo's successor, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (Pius X, r. 1903–1914), proved to be more of a pastoral than a diplomatic pope. He denounced the modernist attempt to harmonize Catholic thought and theology with modern scientific and critical historical scholarship. In his decree Lamentabili of 1907, reinforced by his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis of the same year, he denounced the attempt to alter Catholic doctrine to render it more palatable to the contemporary age. Furthermore, his intransigent defense of conservative causes and papal prerogatives contributed to the separation of church and state in France in 1905, and in Portugal in 1911, while neglecting the diplomatic role of the universal church. The next pope, Giacomo della Chiesa (Benedict XV), belonged to the diplomatic school of Leo rather than the pastoral one championed by his immediate predecessor, although he continued the missionary efforts of his predecessor. Much of Benedict's effort was directed to bringing the World War to a speedy conclusion and providing for a just peace.
Since the late nineteenth century scholars have denounced popes Leo XII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, and Pius X for their alleged rejection of liberty, equality, and fraternity, and for supposedly fighting a rear-guard action against the contemporary world. Other scholars have focused on the reformism of Leo XIII and Ben-edict XV. Despite the continuing controversy and varied assessments of the papacy during this period, most concur that during these years, the Holy See had to face internal and external opposition, including the undermining of traditional forms of authority in the church as well as the society at large, and responded accordingly. All nine popes of this period rejected the ethics of a secular society including the collectivism of socialism and the selfish individualism of economic liberalism. In its place the Vatican pursued its own via media or third path in pursuit of social justice.
Atti del sommo pontefice Pio Nono felicemente regnante. Rome, 1857.
The Great Encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII. Edited by John J. Wynne. New York, 1903.
Romana beatificationis et canonisationis servi dei Pii Pape X. Rome, 1950.
Chadwick, Owen. A History of the Popes, 1830–1914. Oxford, U.K., 1998.
Coppa, Frank J. The Modern Papacy since 1789. London and New York, 1998.
Hales, Edward Elton Young. Pio Nono: A Study in European Politics and Religion in the Nineteenth Century. London, 1954.
O'Dwyer, Margaret M. The Papacy in the Age of Napoleon and the Restoration: Pius VII, 1800–23. Lanham, Md., 1985.
Pollard, John. The Unknown Pope: Benedict XV (1914–1922) and the Pursuit of Peace. London, 1999.
Reinerman, Alan J. Austria and the Papacy in the Age of Metternich. Washington, D.C., 1979.
Rinieri, Ilario. La diplomazia pontificia nel XIX secolo. 5 vols. Turin, 1901–1906.
Wallace, Lillian Parker. Leo XIII and the Rise of Socialism. Durham, N.C., 1966.
Frank J. Coppa
The papacy is the office of the bishop of Rome as successor of the Apostle Peter and visible head (under Christ) of the Roman Catholic Church. The origins of the Roman primacy are historically unclear, but from the earliest days of Christianity Roman bishops such as Clement assumed that they had the right and the duty to intervene or mediate in the disputes that rent other local churches, and their intervention was accepted. By the patristic age the church at Rome had acquired a reputation for orthodoxy, which gave special weight to its voice at ecumenical councils and in theological controversies. In the Middle Ages developments such as the temporal power and the growth and systematization of canon law added a political dimension to the authority of the bishop of Rome, and the cultural and ecclesial separation of the Eastern churches, which left Rome as the only apostolic see and the only patriarchate in the West, also contributed to the growing prestige and power of Rome among the Western peoples.
The Gregorian reform and the struggles between the church and the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages led to an extremely high level of papal power, which culminated in the period from Innocent III (1198–1216) to Boniface VIII (1294–1303). The fourteenth century saw a reaction to this, as secular governments reaffirmed their rights, and the French domination of the papacy led to a seventy-year "Babylonian captivity" at Avignon. This was followed by the Great Western Schism, which divided Western Christendom between two (later three) claimants to the papacy. This traumatic split was only solved by claiming that an ecumenical council could depose all three claimants, including the legitimate one, but this solution resulted in a century-long struggle by the popes to reaffirm their supremacy against the claims of the conciliarists. The conciliar movement had raised hopes of reform, which were frustrated by the success of the renaissance popes in evading the dangers of conciliarism—both to the papal primacy and to the more worldly convenience of the popes and their court. The failure of the popes to address reform was a major cause of the Protestant Reformation. Even after the Reformation, the popes continued to combine resistance to heresy with resistance to the reform of ingrained abuses, until the situation rendered the convoking of a reforming council at Trent unavoidable.
By the time the Council of Trent met, the emerging Protestant movement had come to believe that the development of papal authority over the previous fifteen centuries was both unwarranted and anti-evangelical; many of them identified the pope with Antichrist, and all were adamant that the papal office was unacceptable in a reformed Christianity. The council mandated sweeping reforms in Catholicism but also strengthened the Catholic position on those issues the Reformers had rejected. As a result of this sixteenth-century experience, Catholics came to feel that loyalty to the concept of the papacy was essential to the preservation of Catholicism; separation from Rome became inconceivable even for groups such as the eighteenth-century Gallicans, who disputed papal jurisdiction at the local level.
The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars ushered in an age of hardships for the papacy; revolutionary France tried to impose a schismatic constitution on the clergy and persecuted those priests who remained loyal to Rome, and with Napoleon's victories in Italy, two successive popes were dragged into captivity in France. While the Papal States were restored at the Congress of Vienna, Italian aspirations toward national unity led to the unpopularity of the papal government and to the gradual despoliation of the papacy's temporal power, which culminated in the fall of Rome to the Italian Army in 1870.
These developments, however, actually worked to the advantage of the papacy as a moral force. Catholics throughout the world came to see Pius VI and Pius VII as brave men who, with no weapons but their moral fortitude, stood up to the most powerful man in Europe, and later saw Pius IX as a holy old man abused and bullied by secularist power but never losing his dignity. At this time Catholics began to develop a dangerous tendency toward a personality cult of the reigning pope. Indeed, it was in 1870, as the last bastion of papal temporal power was about to crumble, that the First Vatican Council proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility—the belief that when the Pope speaks ex cathedra on an issue of faith or morals, he is protected from error by the grace of the Holy Spirit. In spite of some opposition among bishops and intellectuals, this dogma was extremely popular among the rank and file of the church in all regions, and most of the bishops voted for it enthusiastically.
Attitudes toward the papacy in the newly independent United States were affected by all these developments. The Thirteen Colonies were, with one or two exceptions, heirs to the anti-Catholicism of British Protestantism, where the pope was burned in effigy every year on Guy Fawkes Day. The coming of independence brought religious freedom but also brought the feeling that papal power, even in purely religious matters, was incompatible with democracy, and that loyalty to the pope constituted "allegiance to a European prince"—which he was, at the time—and was in conflict with American patriotism. American Catholics had to walk a mental tightrope, insisting on their democratic spirit and on the compatibility of Catholicism with democracy while also remaining loyal to papal supremacy. Under pressure from the widespread Protestant version of medieval and Reformation history, they had to insist that they did not recognize any papal right to order Catholic Americans how to vote, or to interfere in their political life, while also insisting that there was no danger of such a thing occurring. At the same time, loyalty to the pope became all the more a sign of true Catholicism in that Catholics felt like a beleaguered minority that had to rally around the focal point of Catholic unity while insisting on their unimpeachable American patriotism. Mainstream Americans, however, remained deeply suspicious of the genuine Americanism of their Catholic fellow citizens, and these suspicions became especially odious in the 1928 presidential campaign, when Democratic candidate Alfred E. Smith's potential subordination to papal authority on political issues was hotly debated and contributed to his defeat by Herbert Hoover. The same fears were raised again in the campaign of 1960, but in the papacy of John XXIII they carried significantly less credibility and could not keep John F. Kennedy from the White House.
The Roman authorities in turn were ambivalent toward the American ethos. On the one hand, the new nation's religious freedom allowed the church to grow unimpeded, while the old Catholic nations of Europe often followed anticlerical policies and hindered papal governance of the local churches. Because of this, the beleaguered popes of the nineteenth century often expressed a sense of consolation at the sight of the American church when compared to the situation of the church in Europe. On the other hand, the democratic ideas prevalent in the United States could not but create discomfort in a Roman milieu that was still that of a princely court, and separation of church and state was a principle that Rome could tolerate in practice but could not—as more and more American Catholics were coming to do—accept as an ideal. A book that presented the American situation as a model to be imitated by Catholics under the French Republic caused such a scandal among conservative monarchists that Leo XIII felt the need to issue the apostolic letter Testem Benevolentiae (1899), which warned against a number of tendencies in American Catholicism. The discomfort surfaced again in Rome during the 1940s when John Courtney Murray, S.J., published studies on church-and-state issues that presented the American experience as ideal rather than tolerable. Murray was silenced by the Holy Office in 1954 but was later brought by Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York as a peritus (expert) to the Second Vatican Council, where he wrote the draft for the Decree on Religious Freedom.
Mainstream American attitudes toward the papacy improved significantly after World War II, when the ascetic and imposing figure of Pius XII came to be seen as a bulwark against communism and thus a major moral force allied to the American effort to save the "free world" from atheistic Marxism. American Catholics, too, were enthusiastic about him, since he was conservative enough to be in tune with the spirit of the 1950s but had made a number of changes in liturgy and discipline that gave hope to the liberals and that in fact prepared the way for the Second Vatican Council.
The pontificate of John XXIII, however, was a watershed in the liberalizing of Catholicism. The new pope's personality charmed both Catholics and Protestants, and his encouragement of ecumenism, as well as his social encyclicals Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris, created a totally new climate in relations between Catholicism and other religions. The obvious freedom of debate that the non-Catholic observers discovered at the Second Vatican Council also eroded the centuries-old distrust of a monolithic papal church. Catholics, too, were excited by the heady new climate in which loyalty to the pope suddenly was equated with freedom to present bold new insights on belief and practice. If Pius XII had been in harmony with the spirit of the 1950s, John XXIII was one of the creators of the spirit of the 1960s. At his death in 1962 both Catholics and Protestants felt equally bereaved.
Initially Paul VI inherited the goodwill that John had elicited, since Paul was openly committed to continuing the process of the council and its reforms. But Paul's personality could not catch the imagination of the world as John's had, and events showed that Paul was of two minds about the brave new world that progressive Catholics had expected from the council. When, after convoking a blue-ribbon panel of experts to advise him, he ignored their almost unanimous counsel and reaffirmed the prohibition of artificial birth control in the encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968), he became extremely unpopular among American Catholics, who began to explore the legitimacy of dissent from the noninfallible magisterium (teaching authority of the church). The changes in the liturgy managed to displease both conservatives and progressives, vocations to the priesthood and religious life decreased drastically, and priests resigned from the ministry in unprecedented numbers. These developments cast a pall of gloom over the last years of Paul's pontificate.
After the brief pontificate of John Paul I, the cardinals broke precedent by electing a Polish cardinal, who took the name of John Paul II. He has combined great personal dynamism and charm with positions even more conservative than those of his Paul's last years, thus producing the anomaly of a pope who is personally extremely popular though his policies are widely questioned, opposed, or ignored. It is significant, however, that even in the circles that most oppose his theological and disciplinary positions, American Catholics still are not willing to consider any kind of separation from the papacy, only a redefinition of what constitutes due loyalty and permissible dissent.
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Jaime R. Vidal
Since the time of the early Roman Empire, when the Christian faith was banned, the bishops of Rome exercised a wide-ranging authority over Christian believers, based on the establishment of the Roman church by the apostle Peter. After the fall of the western empire in the fifth century, the city of Constantinople became the seat of power of the eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperors, and the Christian bishops of that city challenged the authority of Rome. The popes of Rome sent missionaries to northern Europe to convert pagans to the new faith, a process that took five centuries through the early Middle Ages. In the meantime, the Eastern and Western Christian churches contended for centuries over doctrine and their respective authority in Europe, with a Great Schism occurring between the two in 1054. In the meantime, the popes of Rome were fighting the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire for control of Italy, with the popes wielding the power of excommunication over the emperors, who had large, multinational armies and allied Italian cities and states on their side.
The medieval Papacy was torn by its own inner conflicts and rivalries, leading to the “Babylonian Captivity” in which the popes moved from Rome to a palace in the city of Avignon in southern France. The schism within the Papacy, which at times was claimed to be led by three different men, and the worldliness of the church inspired a movement for reform and defiance of the pope's authority. Under the leadership of Jan Hus, Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin, the Protestant Reformation sought a return to the early simplicity and purity of the Christian faith, and an end to the worldly power and wealth claimed by the popes and their representatives. In Rome, the papal court became a leading center for the patronage of artists, sculptors, scholars, and architects, and the Papacy grew wealthy from the system of tithing and the selling of indulgences—the pardoning of sins.
A Counter-Reformation began in the late Renaissance after several meetings of the Council of Trent, which set down new doctrine to be enforced by the members of the church. Making alliances with Catholic rulers, such as the Emperor Charles V, the popes sought to return Protestant lands to Catholicism, with mixed results. The popes claimed civic as well as religious authority in several principalities of central Italy, known as the Papal States. During the sixteenth century, the Papacy conquered many important cities of Italy and imposed direct rule over them. The power of the Papacy over even Catholic rulers declined after the Renaissance, until the Papal States were finally dissolved in the nineteenth century and the Papacy became a purely religious institution.
pa·pa·cy / ˈpāpəsē/ • n. (pl. -cies) (usu. the papacy) the office or authority of the pope. ∎ the tenure of office of a pope: during the papacy of Pope John.