Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012 Litany Lane Blog: Tenacious, Jeremiah, 7:1-11, Matthew 13:24-30, St Innocent I, Pope and the Papacy

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Tenacious, Jeremiah, 7:1-11, Matthew 13:24-30, St Innocent I, Pope and the Papacy

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens or Pray Until Seeds Harvest). Mt 13:18-32. It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...Remember the Mustard Seed.......God's always available 24/7.

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012

Today's Word:  tenacious    te·na·cious  [tuh-ney-shuhs]

Origin:  1600–10; tenaci(ty)  + -ous

1. holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold (often followed by of ): a tenacious grip on my arm; tenacious of old habits.
2. highly retentive: a tenacious memory.
3. pertinacious, persistent, stubborn, or obstinate.
4. adhesive or sticky; viscous or glutinous.
5. holding together; cohesive; not easily pulled asunder; tough.

Today's Old Testament Reading Jeremiah 7:1-11

The Temple Sermon. 

Jeremiah Preaching 1500, Dore
1The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2Stand at the gate of the house of the LORD and proclaim this message there: Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD! 3Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Reform your ways and your deeds so that I may dwell with you in this place. 4Do not put your trust in these deceptive words: “The temple of the LORD! The temple of the LORD! The temple of the LORD!”5Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with your neighbor; 6if you no longer oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place or follow after other gods to your own harm, 7only then will I let you continue to dwell in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors long ago and forever. 8But look at you! You put your trust in deceptive words to your own loss! 9Do you think you can steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, sacrifice to Baal, follow other gods that you do not know,10and then come and stand in my presence in this house, which bears my name, and say: “We are safe! We can commit all these abominations again!”?11Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves? I have seen it for myself!—oracle of the LORD

Today's Gospel - Matthew 13: 24-30

Gospel - Matthew 13:24-30

Parable Harvest of Vineyard 1769, Brand
24He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 26When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 27The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.

• Today’s Gospel speaks to us about the parable of the seed. Whether in society or in the community or in our family and personal life, there is a mixture of good qualities and of incoherencies, limitations and errors. Persons of diverse origins, each one with her own story, with her own lived experience, her own opinion, her own yearnings, her own differences, meet in community There are some persons who do not know how to live with differences. They want to be the judges of others. They think that they are the only ones who are right, and that others are in error. The parable of the seed and the darnel helps us not to fall into the temptation of excluding from the community those who do not think like us.

•The background of the parable of the seed and the darnel. During centuries, because of the observance of the laws of purity, the Jews lived separated from other nations. This isolation had marked them. Even after being converted, some continued to follow this observance which separated them from others. They wanted total purity! Any sign of impurity had to be eradicated in the name of God. “Sin cannot be tolerated” some would say. But others, as for example Paul, taught that the new law which Jesus asked them to observe said the contrary! “Sin cannot be tolerated, but it is necessary to be tolerant with the  sinner!”

• Matthews 13,24-26: The situation: the darnel and the wheat grain grow together. The Word of God causes communities to be formed and this is good seed, but within the communities there are always things which are contrary to the Word of God. From where do these come? This was the discussion, or mystery which led to keep the parable of the darnel and the wheat.

• Matthew 13, 27-28a: The origin of the mixture which exists in life. The labourers asked the owner, the sower: “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” The owner responded: Some enemy has done this. Who is this enemy? The enemy, the adversary, Satan or the Devil (Mt 13,39), is the one who divides, who takes away from the right path. The tendency to division exists in the community and in each one of us. The desire to dominate, to take advantage of the community in order to be more important and so many other interested desires divide, they are the enemy which sleeps in each one of us.

• Matthew 13,28b-30: The diverse reaction before ambiguity. In the face of this mixture of good and of evil, the labourers want to eliminate the darnel. They thought: "If we leave everything in the community, we lose our reason for being! We lose our identity!” They wanted to send away those whom they thought were diverse. But this is not the decision of the owner of the land. He says: “Let both the darnel and the wheat grow together till the harvest!” What is decisive is not what each one says, but that which each one lives and does. God will judge us according to the fruit which we will produce (Mt 12,33). The force and the dynamism of the Kingdom will manifest themselves in the community. Even if it is small and full of contradictions, it is a sign of the Kingdom. But it is not the master or the owner of the Kingdom, neither can it consider itself totally just. The parable of the seed and of the darnel explains the way in which the force of the Kingdom acts in history. It is necessary to make a clear option for the justice of the Kingdom, and at the same time, together fight for justice, have patience and learn to live and to dialogue with differences and with contradictions. When harvest comes then there will be the division, the separation.

The teaching in Parables. The parable is a pedagogical instrument which uses the daily life to indicate that life speaks to us of God. It becomes a reality and renders the look of people contemplative. A parable tends towards the things of life, and because of this it is an open teaching, because we all have some experience of things of life. The teaching in parables makes the person start from the experience that she has: seed, light, sheep, flowers, birds, father, net, little children, fish, etc. In this way daily life becomes transparent, revealing the presence and the action of God. Jesus did not usually explain the parables. He left the sense open, he did not determine it. This was a sign that he believed in the capacity of the people to discover the sense of the parable beginning from the experience of life. Some times, at the request from the disciples, he would explain the sense (Mt 13,10.36). For example, this is what he did with the parable of the seed and the darnel (Mt 13,36-43).

Personal questions
• How is the mixture between the seed and the darnel manifested in our community? Which are the consequences of this for our life?
• Looking into the mirror of the parable, with whom do I feel more in agreement: with the labourers who want to cut away the darnel, or with the owner of the field who orders to wait until the time of the harvest?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,

Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane

Saint of the Day:  St. Innocent I

Feast Day: July 28
Died: 417
Patron Saint of : none

Date of birth unknown; died 12 March, 417. Before his elevation to the Chair of Peter, very little is known concerning the life of this energetic pope, so zealous for the welfare of the whole Church. According to the "Liber Pontificalis" he was a native of Albano; his father was called Innocentius. He grew up among the Roman clergy and in the service of the Roman Church. After the death of Anastasius (Dec., 401) he was unanimously chosen Bishop of Rome by the clergy and people. Not much has come down to us concerning his ecclesiastical activities in Rome. Nevertheless one or two instances of his zeal for the purity of the Catholic Faith and for church discipline are well attested. He took several churches in Rome from the Novatians (Socrates, Church History VII.2) and caused the Photinian Marcus to be banished from the city. A drastic decree, which the Emperor Honorius issued from Rome (22 Feb., 407) against the Manicheans, the Montanists, and the Priscillianists (Codex Theodosianus, XVI, 5, 40), was very probably not issued without his concurrence. Through the munificence of Vestina, a rich Roman matron, Innocent was enabled to build and richly endow a church dedicated to Sts. Gervasius and Protasius; this was the old Titulus Vestin&#aelig; which still stands under the name of San Vitale. The siege and capture of Rome by the Goths under Alaric (408-10) occurred in his pontificate. When, at the time of the first siege, the barbarian leader had declared that he would withdraw only on condition that the Romans should arrange a peace favourable to him, an embassy of the Romans went to Honorius, at Ravenna, to try, if possible, to make peace between him and the Goths. Pope Innocent also joined this embassy. But all his endeavours to bring about peace failed. The Goths then recommenced the siege of Rome, so that the pope and the envoys were not able to return to the city, which was taken and sacked in 410. From the beginning of his pontificate, Innocent often acted as head of the whole Church, both East and West.

In his letter to Archbishop Anysius of Thessalonica, in which he informed the latter of his own election to the See of Rome, he also confirmed the privileges which had been bestowed upon the archbishop by previous popes. When Eastern Illyria fell to the Eastern Empire (379) Pope Damasus had asserted and preserved the ancient rights of the papacy in those parts, and his successor Siricius had bestowed on the Archbishop of Thessalonica the privilege of confirming and consecrating the bishops of Eastern Illyria. These prerogatives were renewed by Innocent (Ep. i), and by a later letter (Ep. xiii, 17 June, 412) the pope entrusted the supreme administration of the dioceses of Eastern Illyria to Archbishop Rufus of Thessalonica, as representative of the Holy See. By this means the papal vicariate of Illyria was put on a sound basis, and the archbishops of Thessalonica became vicars of the popes. On 15 Feb., 404, Innocent sent an important decretal to Bishop Victricius of Rouen (Ep. ii), who had laid before the pope a list of disciplinary matters for decision. The points at issue concerned the consecration of bishops, admissions into the ranks of the clergy, the disputes of clerics, whereby important matters (caus&#aelig; majores) were to be brought from the episcopal tribunal to the Apostolic See, also the ordinations of the clergy, celibacy, the reception of converted Novatians or Donatists into the Church, monks, and nuns. In general, the pope indicated the discipline of the Roman Church as being the norm for the other bishops to follow. Innocent directed a similar decretal to the Spanish bishops (Ep. iii) among whom difficulties had arisen, especially regarding the Priscillianist bishops. The pope regulated this matter and at the same time settled other questions of ecclesiastical discipline.

Similar letters, disciplinary in content, or decisions of important cases, were sent to Bishop Exuperius of Toulouse (Ep. vi), to the bishops of Macedonia (Ep. xvii), to Decentius, Bishop of Gubbio (Ep. xxv), to Felix, Bishop of Nocera (Ep. xxxviii). Innocent also addressed shorter letters to several other bishops, among them a letter to two British bishops, Maximus and Severus, in which he decided that those priests who, while priests, had begotten children should be dismissed from their sacred office (Ep. xxxix). Envoys were sent by the Synod of Carthage (404) to the Bishop of Rome, or the bishop of the city where the emperor was staying, in order to provide for severer treatment of the Montanists. The envoys came to Rome, and Pope Innocent obtained from the Emperor Honorius a strong decree against those African sectaries, by which many adherents of Montanism were induced to be reconciled with the Church. The Christian East also claimed a share of the pope's energy. St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, who was persecuted by the Empress Eudoxia and the Alexandrian patriarch Theophilus, threw himself on the protection of Innocent. Theophilus had already informed the latter of the deposition of John, following on the illegal Synod of the Oak (ad quercum). But the pope did not recognize the sentence of the synod, summoned Theophilus to a new synod at Rome, consoled the exiled Patriarch of Byzantium, and wrote a letter to the clergy and people of Constantinople in which he animadverted severely on their conduct towards their bishop (John), and announced his intention of calling a general synod, at which the matter would be sifted and decided. Thessalonica was suggested as the place of assembly. The pope informed Honorius, Emperor of the West, of these proceedings, whereupon the latter wrote three letters to his brother, the Eastern Emperor Arcadius, and besought Arcadius to summon the Eastern bishops to a synod at Thessalonica, before which the Patriarch Theophilus was to appear. The messengers who brought these three letters were ill received, Arcadius being quite favourable to Theophilus. In spite of the efforts of the pope and the Western emperor, the synod never took place. Innocent remained in correspondence with the exiled John; when, from his place of banishment the latter thanked him for his kind solicitude, the pope answered with another comforting letter, which the exiled bishop received only a short time before his death (407) (Epp. xi, xii). The pope did not recognize Arsacius and Atticus, who had been raised to the See of Constantinople instead of the unlawfully deposed John.

After John's death, Innocent desired that the name of the deceased patriarch should be restored to the diptychs, but it was not until after Theophilus was dead (412) that Atticus yielded. The pope obtained from many other Eastern bishops a similar recognition of the wrong done to St. John Chrysostom. The schism at Antioch, dating from the Arian conflicts, was finally settled in Innocent's time. Alexander, Patriarch of Antioch, succeeded, about 413-15, in gaining over to his cause the adherents of the former Bishop Eustathius; he also received into the ranks of his clergy the followers of Paulinus, who had fled to Italy and had been ordained there. Innocent informed Alexander of these proceedings, and as Alexander restored the name of John Chrysostom to the diptychs, the pope entered into communion with the Antiochene patriarch, and wrote him two letters, one in the name of a Roman synod of twenty Italian bishops, and one in his own name (Epp. xix and xx). Acacius, Bishop of Beraeliga, one of the most zealous opponents of Chrysostom, had sought to obtain re-admittance to communion with the Roman Church through the aforesaid Alexander of Antioch. The pope informed him, though Alexander, of the conditions under which he would resume communion with him (Ep. xxi). In a later letter Innocent decided several questions of church discipline (Ep. xxiv).

The pope also informed the Macedonian bishop Maximian and the priest Bonifatius, who had interceded with him for the recognition of Atticus, Patriarch of Constantinople, of the conditions, which were similar to those required of the above-mentioned Patriarch of Antioch (Epp. xxii and xxiii). In the Origenist and Pelagian controversies, also, the pope's authority was invoked from several quarters. St. Jerome and the nuns of Bethlehem were attacked in their convents by brutal followers of Pelagius, a deacon was killed, and a part of the buildings was set on fire. John, Bishop of Jerusalem, who was on bad terms with Jerome, owing to the Origenist controversy, did nothing to prevent these outrages. Through Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage, Innocent sent St. Jerome a letter of condolence, in which he informed him that he would employ the influence of the Holy See to repress such crimes; and if Jerome would give the names of the guilty ones, he would proceed further in the matter. The pope at once wrote an earnest letter of exhortation to the Bishop of Jerusalem, and reproached him with negligence of his pastoral duty. The pope was also compelled to take part in the Pelagian controversy. In 415, on the proposal of Orosius, the Synod of Jerusalem brought the matter of the orthodoxy of Pelagius before the Holy See. The synod of Eastern bishops held at Diospolis (Dec., 415), which had been deceived by Pelagius with regard to his actual teaching and had acquitted him, approached Innocent on behalf of the heretic. On the report of Orosius concerning the proceedings at Diospolis, the African bishops assembled in synod at Carthage, in 416, and confirmed the condemnation which had been pronounced in 411 against Clestius, who shared the views of Pelagius. The bishops of Numidia did likewise in the same year in the Synod of Mileve. Both synods reported their transactions to the pope and asked him to confirm their decisions. Soon after this, five African bishops, among them St. Augustine, wrote a personal letter to Innocent regarding their own position in the matter of Pelagianism. Innocent in his reply praised the African bishops, because, mindful of the authority of the Apostolic See, they had appealed to the Chair of Peter; he rejected the teachings of Pelagius and confirmed the decisions drawn up by the African Synods (Epp. xxvii-xxxiii). The decisions of the Synod of Diospolis were rejected by the pope. Pelagius now sent a confession of faith to Innocent, which, however, was only delivered to his successor, for Innocent died before the document reached the Holy See. He was buried in a basilica above the catacomb of Pontianus, and was venerated as a saint. He was a very energetic and active man, and a highly gifted ruler, who fulfilled admirably the duties of his office.

References: Courtesy the Catholic Encyclopedia

  • Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Pope Innocent I." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Jul. 2012 <>.

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Today's Snippet:  Pope and the Papacy

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

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

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

Popes have gradually been forced to give up temporal power, and papal authority is now almost exclusively restricted to matters of religion. Over the centuries, papal claims of spiritual authority have been ever more firmly expressed, culminating in 1870 with the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra—literally "from the chair (of St. Peter)"—to issue a formal definition of faith or morals. The first explicit such occasion (after the proclamation), and so far the last, was the definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in 1950.

Title and etymology

The word pope derives from Greek πάππας meaning "Father". In the early centuries of Christianity, this title was applied, especially in the east, to all bishops and other senior clergy, and later became reserved in the west to the Bishop of Rome, a reservation made official only in the 11th century. The earliest record of the use of this title was in regard to the by then deceased Patriarch of Alexandria, Pope Heraclas of Alexandria (232–248). The earliest recorded use of the title "pope" in English dates to the mid-10th century, when it was used in reference to Pope Vitalian in an Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

The title was from the early 3rd century a general term used to refer to all bishops. From the 6th century the title began to be used particularly of the Bishop of Rome, and in the late 11th century Pope Gregory VII issued a declaration that has been widely interpreted as stating this by then established Western convention. By the same 6th century this was also the normal practice of the imperial chancery of Constantinople.

Monarchical episcopate

Catholics recognize the pope as a successor to Saint Peter, whom, according to Roman Catholic teaching, Jesus named as the "shepherd" and "rock" of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic dogma is the one true Church founded by Christ. Peter never bore the title of "pope", which came into use three centuries later, but Catholics traditionally recognize him as the first pope, while official declarations of the Church only speak of the popes as holding within the college of the Bishops a role analogous to that held by Peter within the college of the Apostles, of which the college of the Bishops, a distinct entity, is the successor.

The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus personally appointed Peter as leader of the Church and in its dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium makes a clear distinction between apostles and bishops, presenting the latter as the successors of the former, with the pope as successor of Peter in that he is head of the bishops as Peter was head of the apostles. Some historians have argued that the notion that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and founded the episcopal see there can be traced back no earlier than the 3rd century. The writings of the Church Father Irenaeus who wrote around AD 180 reflect a belief that Peter "founded and organised" the Church at Rome. Moreover, Irenaeus was not the first to write of Peter's presence in the early Roman Church. Clement of Rome wrote in a letter to the Corinthians, c. 96  about the persecution of Christians in Rome as the "struggles in our time" and presented to the Corinthians its heroes, "first, the greatest and most just columns", the "good apostles" Peter and Paul. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote shortly after Clement and in his letter from the city of Smyrna to the Romans he said he would not command them as Peter and Paul did. Given this and other evidence, many scholars agree that Peter was martyred in Rome under Nero, although some scholars argue that he may have been martyred in Palestine.

Some Protestants generally agree that Jesus singled out Peter as the focal point of the 1st century church. However, they contend that the New Testament offers no proof that Jesus established the papacy nor even that he established Peter as the first bishop of Rome.  Others, using Peter's own words, argue that Christ intended himself as the foundation of the church and not Peter.  Others have argued that the church is indeed built upon Jesus and faith, but also on the disciples as the roots and foundations of the church on the basis of Paul's teaching in Romans and Ephesians, though not primarily Peter.

First-century Christian communities would have had a group of presbyter-bishops functioning as leaders of their local churches. Gradually, episcopacies were established in metropolitan areas.  Antioch may have developed such a structure before Rome. In Rome there were many who claimed to be the rightful bishop though again Irenaeus stressed the validity of one line of bishops from the time of St. Peter up to his contemporary Pope Victor I and listed them. Some writers claim that the emergence of a single bishop in Rome probably did not occur until the middle of the 2nd century. In their view, Linus, Cletus and Clement were possibly prominent presbyter-bishops but not necessarily monarchical bishops. In the 1st century and early 2nd century the Holy See had pre-eminence and prominence in the Church as a whole.

Brief History of Papacy

The history of the papacy, the office held by the pope as head of the Catholic Church, spans from the time of Saint Peter to present day.

During the Early Church, the bishops of Rome enjoyed no temporal power until the time of Constantine. After the fall of Rome (the "Middle Ages"), the papacy was influenced by the temporal rulers of and surrounding the Italian Peninsula; these periods are known as the Ostrogothic Papacy, Byzantine Papacy, and Frankish Papacy. Over time, the papacy consolidated its territorial claims to a portion of the peninsula known as the Papal States. Thereafter, the role of neighboring sovereigns was replaced by powerful Roman families during the saeculum obscurum, the Crescentii era, and the Tusculan Papacy.

From 1048 to 1257, the papacy experienced increasing conflict with the leaders and churches of the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. The latter culminated in the East-West Schism, dividing the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. From 1257–1377, the pope, though the bishop of Rome, resided in Viterbo, Orvieto, and Perugia, and then Avignon. The return of the popes to Rome after the Avignon Papacy was followed by the Western Schism: the division of the western church between two, and for a time three, competing papal claimants.

The Renaissance Papacy is known for its artistic and architectural patronage, forays into European power politics, and theological challenges to papal authority. After the start of the Protestant Reformation, the Reformation Papacy and Baroque Papacy led the Catholic Church through the Counter Reformation. The popes during the Age of Revolution witnessed the largest expropriation of wealth in the church's history, during the French Revolution and those that followed throughout Europe. The Roman Question, arising from Italian unification, resulted in the loss of the Papal States and the creation of Vatican City.

Saint Peter and the origin of the office

The Catholic Church teaches that, within the Christian community, the bishops as a body have succeeded to the body of the apostles and the Bishop of Rome has succeeded to Saint Peter.

Scriptural texts proposed in support of Peter's special position in relation to the church include the words of Jesus to him:
I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
Feed my sheep.
The symbolic keys in the papal coat of arms are a reference to the phrase "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" in the first of these texts. Protestant writers have maintained that the "rock" that Jesus speaks of in this text is Jesus himself or the faith expressed by Peter. The Encyclopaedia Britannica comments that "the consensus of the great majority of scholars today is that the most obvious and traditional understanding should be construed, namely, that rock refers to the person of Peter".

Status and authority

First Vatican Council

The status and authority of the Pope in the Catholic Church was dogmatically defined by the First Vatican Council on 18 July 1870. In its Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of Christ, the Council established the following canons:

"If anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not established by the Lord Christ as the chief of all the apostles, and the visible head of the whole militant Church, or, that the same received great honour but did not receive from the same our Lord Jesus Christ directly and immediately the primacy in true and proper jurisdiction: let him be anathema. If anyone says that it is not from the institution of Christ the Lord Himself, or by divine right that the blessed Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in the same primacy, let him be anathema.

If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plenitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and individually: let him be anathema.

We, adhering faithfully to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God, our Saviour, the elevation of the Catholic religion and the salvation of Christian peoples, with the approbation of the sacred Council, teach and explain that the dogma has been divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when carrying out the duty of the pastor and teacher of all Christians by his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter, operates with that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished that His church be instructed in defining doctrine on faith and morals; and so such definitions of the Roman Pontiff from himself, but not from the consensus of the Church, are unalterable. But if anyone presumes to contradict this definition of Ours, which may God forbid: let him be anathema."

Second Vatican Council

In its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964), the Second Vatican Council declared:

"Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place. For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old, making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown so that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

... this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith. The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith."

Election, death and resignation


The pope was originally chosen by those senior clergymen resident in and near Rome. In 1059 the electorate was restricted to the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and the individual votes of all Cardinal Electors were made equal in 1179. Pope Urban VI, elected 1378, was the last pope who was not already a cardinal at his election. Canon law requires that if a layman or non-bishop is elected, he receives episcopal consecration from the Dean of the College of Cardinals before assuming the Pontificate. Under present canon law, the pope is elected by the cardinal electors, comprising those cardinals who are under the age of 80. The Second Council of Lyons was convened on 7 May 1274, to regulate the election of the pope. This Council decreed that the cardinal electors must meet within ten days of the pope's death, and that they must remain in seclusion until a pope has been elected; this was prompted by the three-year Sede Vacante following the death of Pope Clement IV in 1268. By the mid-16th century, the electoral process had evolved into its present form, allowing for variation in the time between the death of the pope and the meeting of the cardinal electors. Traditionally, the vote was conducted by acclamation, by selection (by committee), or by plenary vote. Acclamation was the simplest procedure, consisting entirely of a voice vote, and was last used in 1621. Pope John Paul II abolished vote by acclamation and by selection by committee, and henceforth election will be by full vote by ballot of the Sacred College of Cardinals.

The election of the pope almost always takes place in the Sistine Chapel, in a sequestered meeting called a "conclave" (so called because the cardinal electors are theoretically locked in, cum clave, i.e., with key, until they elect a new pope). Three cardinals are chosen by lot to collect the votes of absent cardinal electors (by reason of illness), three are chosen by lot to count the votes, and three are chosen by lot to review the count of the votes. The ballots are distributed and each cardinal elector writes the name of his choice on it and pledges aloud that he is voting for "one whom under God I think ought to be elected" before folding and depositing his vote on a plate atop a large chalice placed on the altar (in the 2005 conclave, a special urn was used for this purpose instead of a chalice and plate). The plate is then used to drop the ballot into the chalice, making it difficult for electors to insert multiple ballots. Before being read, the ballots are counted while still folded; if the number of ballots does not match the number of electors, the ballots are burned unopened and a new vote is held. Otherwise, each ballot is read aloud by the presiding Cardinal, who pierces the ballot with a needle and thread, stringing all the ballots together and tying the ends of the thread to ensure accuracy and honesty. Balloting continues until someone is elected by a two-thirds majority.

The formal declaration of "Habemus Papam" after the election of Pope Martin V
One of the most prominent aspects of the papal election process is the means by which the results of a ballot are announced to the world. Once the ballots are counted and bound together, they are burned in a special stove erected in the Sistine Chapel, with the smoke escaping through a small chimney visible from St. Peter's Square. The ballots from an unsuccessful vote are burned along with a chemical compound to create black smoke, or fumata nera. (Traditionally, wet straw was used to produce the black smoke, but this was not completely reliable. The chemical compound is more reliable than the straw.) When a vote is successful, the ballots are burned alone, sending white smoke (fumata bianca) through the chimney and announcing to the world the election of a new pope. At the end of the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, church bells were also rung to signal that a new pope had been chosen. The Dean of the College of Cardinals then asks two solemn questions of the cardinal who has been elected. First he asks, "Do you freely accept your election?" If he replies with the word "Accepto", his reign begins at that instant, not at the inauguration ceremony several days afterward. The Dean then asks, "By what name shall you be called?" The new pope then announces the regnal name he has chosen. (If the Dean is elected pope, the Vice Dean performs this task.)

The new pope is led through the "Door of Tears" to a dressing room where three sets of white papal vestments (immantatio) await: small, medium, and large. Donning the appropriate vestments and reemerging into the Sistine Chapel, the new pope is given the "Fisherman's Ring" by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, whom he first either reconfirms or reappoints. The pope then assumes a place of honor as the rest of the cardinals wait in turn to offer their first "obedience" (adoratio) and to receive his blessing. The Senior Cardinal Deacon then announces from a balcony over St. Peter's Square the following proclamation: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum! Habemus Papam! ("I announce to you a great joy! We have a pope!"). He then announces the new pope's Christian name along with his newly chosen regnal name.

Until 1978 the pope's election was followed in a few days by the Papal Coronation. A procession with great pomp and circumstance formed from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter's Basilica, with the newly elected pope borne in the sedia gestatoria. There, after a solemn Papal Mass, the new pope was crowned with the triregnum (papal tiara) and he gave for the first time as pope the famous blessing Urbi et Orbi ("to the City [Rome] and to the World"). Another renowned part of the coronation was the lighting of a bundle of flax at the top of a gilded pole, which would flare brightly for a moment and then promptly extinguish, with the admonition Sic transit gloria mundi ("Thus passes worldly glory"). A similar warning against papal hubris made on this occasion was the traditional exclamation "Annos Petri non videbis", reminding the newly crowned pope that he would not live to see his rule lasting as long as that of St. Peter, who according to tradition headed the church for 35 years and has thus far been the longest reigning pope in the history of the Catholic Church. A traditionalist Catholic belief claims the existence of a Papal Oath sworn, at their coronation, by all popes from Pope Agatho to Pope Paul VI, but which since the abolition of the coronation ceremony is no longer used. There is no reliable authority for this claim.

The Latin term sede vacante ("while the see is vacant") refers to a papal interregnum, the period between the death of a pope and the election of his successor. From this term is derived the term sedevacantism, which designates a category of dissident Catholics who maintain that there is no canonically and legitimately elected pope, and that there is therefore a Sede Vacante. One of the most common reasons for holding this belief is the idea that the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and especially the replacement of the Tridentine Mass with the Mass of Paul VI are heretical, and that those responsible for initiating and maintaining these changes are heretics and not true popes. Sedevacantists are considered to be schismatics by the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.For centuries, from 1378 on, those elected to the papacy were predominantly Italians. Prior to the election of the Polish cardinal Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II in 1978, the last non-Italian was Pope Adrian VI of the Netherlands, elected in 1522. John Paul II was followed by the German-born Benedict XVI, leading some to believe that, although Rome is in Italy, Italian domination of the papacy is over.


Funeral of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 2005, presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI
The current regulations regarding a papal interregnum—that is, a sede vacante ("vacant seat")—were promulgated by John Paul II in his 1996 document Universi Dominici Gregis. During the "Sede Vacante", the Sacred College of Cardinals, composed of the pope's principal advisors and assistants, is collectively responsible for the government of the Church and of the Vatican itself, under the direction of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church; however, canon law specifically forbids the cardinals from introducing any innovation in the government of the Church during the vacancy of the Holy See. Any decision that requires the assent of the pope has to wait until the new pope has been elected and accepts office. In recent centuries it was traditional, when a pope was judged to have died, for the Cardinal Chamberlain to confirm the death ceremonially by gently tapping the pope's head thrice with a silver hammer, calling his birth name each time. This custom was not followed at the death of Pope John Paul I and was not revived upon the death of Pope John Paul II. The Cardinal Chamberlain then retrieves the Ring of the Fisherman and cuts it in two in the presence of the Cardinals. The Pope's seals are defaced, to keep them from ever being used again, and his personal apartment is sealed. The body then lies in state for several days before being interred in the crypt of a leading church or cathedral; all who have died in the 20th and 21st centuries have been interred in St. Peter's Basilica. A nine-day period of mourning (novendialis) follows the interment.


The Code of Canon Law 332 §2 states, "If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone."


Official list of titles The official list of titles of the Pope, in the order in which they are given in the Annuario Pontificio, is: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God. The official list of titles does not include all the titles that are officially used.


The best-known title, that of "Pope", does not appear in the official list, but is commonly used in the titles of documents, and appears, in abbreviated form, in their signatures. Thus Pope Paul VI signed as "Paulus PP. VI", the "PP." standing for "Papa" ("Pope"). The title "Pope" was from the early 3rd century an honorific designation used for any bishop in the West. In the East it was used only for the Bishop of Alexandria. Pope Marcellinus (d. 304) is the first Bishop of Rome shown in sources to have had the title "Pope" used of him. From the 6th century, the imperial chancery of Constantinople normally reserved this designation for the Bishop of Rome. From the early 6th century, it began to be confined in the West to the Bishop of Rome, a practice that was firmly in place by the 11th century, when Pope Gregory VII declared it reserved for the Bishop of Rome. In Eastern Christianity, where the title "Pope" is used also of the Bishop of Alexandria, the Bishop of Rome is often referred to as the "Pope of Rome", regardless of whether the speaker or writer is in communion with Rome or not.

Vicar of Jesus Christ

"Vicar of Jesus Christ" (Vicarius Iesu Christi) is one of the official titles of the Pope given in the Annuario Pontificio. It is commonly used in the slightly abbreviated form "Vicar of Christ" (Vicarius Christi). While it is only one of the terms with which the Pope is referred to as "Vicar", it is "more expressive of his supreme headship of the Church on earth, which he bears in virtue of the commission of Christ and with vicarial power derived from him", a vicarial power believed to have been conferred on Saint Peter when Christ said to him: "Feed my lambs...Feed my sheep" (John 21:16-17).[94] The first record of the application of this title to a Bishop of Rome appears in a synod of 495 with reference to Pope Gelasius I. But at that time, and down to the 9th century, other bishops too referred to themselves as vicars of Christ, and for another four centuries this description was sometimes used of kings and even judges, as it had been used in the 5th and 6th centuries to refer to the Byzantine emperor. Earlier still, in the 3rd century, Tertullian used "vicar of Christ" to refer to the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus. Its use specifically for the Pope appears in the 13th century in connection with the reforms of Pope Innocent III, as can be observed already in his 1199 letter to Leo I, King of Armenia. Other historians suggest that this title was already used in this way in association with the pontificate of Pope Eugenius III (1145–1153). This title "Vicar of Christ" is thus not used of the Pope alone and has been used of all bishops since the early centuries. The Second Vatican Council referred to all bishops as "vicars and ambassadors of Christ", and this description of the bishops was repeated by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Ut unum sint, 95. The difference is that the other bishops are vicars of Christ for their own local churches, the Pope is vicar of Christ for the whole Church.[On at least one occasion the title "Vicar of God" (a reference to Christ as God) was used of the pope. The title "Vicar of Peter" (Vicarius Petri) is used only of the Pope, not of other bishops. Variations of it include: "Vicar of the Prince of the Apostles" (Vicarius Principis Apostolorum) and "Vicar of the Apostolic See" (Vicarius Sedis Apostolicae). Saint Boniface described Pope Gregory II as vicar of Peter in the oath of fealty that he took in 722. In today's Roman Missal, the description "vicar of Peter" is found also in the collect of the Mass for a saint who was a pope.


The term "pontiff" is derived from the Latin word pontifex, which literally means "bridge builder" (pons + facere), and which designated a member of the principal college of priests in ancient Rome. The Latin word was translated into ancient Greek variously: as ἱεροδιδάσκαλος, ἱερονόμος, ἱεροφύλαξ, ἱεροφάντης, or ἀρχιερεύς (high priest) The head of the college was known as the Pontifex Maximus (the greatest pontiff).
In Christian use, pontifex appears in the Vulgate translation of the New Testament to indicate the Jewish high priest (in the original, ἀρχιερεύς). The term came to be applied to any Christian bishop, but since the 11th century commonly refers specifically to the Bishop of Rome, who is more strictly called the "Roman Pontiff". The use of the term to refer to bishops in general is reflected in the terms "Roman Pontifical" (a book containing rites reserved for bishops, such as confirmation and ordination) and "pontificals" (the insignia of bishops). The Annuario Pontificio lists as one of the official titles of the pope that of "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church" (in Latin, Summus Pontifex Ecclesiae Universalis). He is also commonly called the Supreme Pontiff or the Sovereign Pontiff (in Latin, Summus Pontifex).

Pontifex Maximus, similar in meaning to Summus Pontifex, is a title commonly found in inscriptions on papal buildings, paintings, statues and coins, usually abbreviated as "Pont. Max" or "P.M." The office of pontifex maximus, or head of the college of pontiffs, was held by Julius Caesar and thereafter by the Roman emperors until Gratian (375-383) relinquished it. Tertullian, when he had become a Montanist, used the title derisively of either the Pope or the Bishop of Carthage. The Popes began to use this title regularly only in the 15th century.

Servant of the Servants of God

The title "Servant of the Servants of God", although used by Church leaders including St. Augustine and St. Benedict, was first used by Pope St. Gregory the Great in his dispute with the Patriarch of Constantinople after the latter assumed the title "Ecumenical Patriarch". It was not reserved for the pope until the 13th century. The documents of the Second Vatican Council reinforced the understanding of this title as a reference to the pope's role as a function of collegial authority, in which the Bishop of Rome serves the world's bishops.

Patriarch of the West

From 1863 until 2005, the Annuario Pontificio included also the title "Patriarch of the West". This title was first used by Pope Theodore I in 642, and was only used occasionally. Indeed, it did not begin to appear in the pontifical yearbook until 1863. On 22 March 2006, the Vatican released a statement explaining this omission on the grounds of expressing a "historical and theological reality" and of "being useful to ecumenical dialogue". The title Patriarch of the West symbolized the pope's special relationship with, and jurisdiction over, the Latin Church—and the omission of the title neither symbolizes in any way a change in this relationship, nor distorts the relationship between the Holy See and the Eastern Churches, as solemnly proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council.

Other titles

Other titles commonly used are "His Holiness" (either used alone or as an honorific prefix "His Holiness Pope Lando"; and as "Your Holiness" as a form of address)), "Holy Father". In Spanish and Italian, "Beatísimo/Beatissimo Padre" (Most Blessed Father) is often used in preference to "Santísimo/Santissimo Padre" (Most Holy Father). In the medieval period, "Dominus Apostolicus" ("the Apostolic Lord") was also used.

Politics of the Holy See

Residence and jurisdiction

The pope's official seat or cathedral is the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, and his official residence is the Palace of the Vatican. He also possesses a summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, situated on the site of the ancient city of Alba Longa. Until the time of the Avignon Papacy, the residence of the Pope was the Lateran Palace, donated by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. The Pope's ecclesiastical jurisdiction  is distinct from his secular jurisdiction (Vatican City). It is the Holy See that conducts international relations; for hundreds of years, the papal court (the Roman Curia) has functioned as the government of the Catholic Church.

The names "Holy See" and "Apostolic See" are ecclesiastical terminology for the ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome (including the Roman Curia); the pope's various honors, powers, and privileges within the Catholic Church and the international community derive from his Episcopate of Rome in lineal succession from the Apostle Saint Peter Consequently, Rome has traditionally occupied a central position in the Catholic Church, although this is not necessarily so. The Pope derives his pontificate from being Bishop of Rome but is not required to live there; according to the Latin formula ubi Papa, ibi Curia, wherever the Pope resides is the central government of the Church, provided that the pope is Bishop of Rome. As such, between 1309 and 1378, the popes lived in Avignon, France , a period often called the Babylonian Captivity in allusion to the Biblical exile of Israel.

Though the Pope is the diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Rome, he delegates most of the day-to-day work of leading the diocese to the Cardinal Vicar, who assures direct episcopal oversight of the diocese's pastoral needs, not in his own name but in that of the Pope. The current Cardinal Vicar is Agostino Vallini, who was appointed to the office in June 2008.

Political role

Though the progressive Christianisation of the Roman Empire in the 4th century did not confer upon bishops civil authority within the state, the gradual withdrawal of imperial authority during the 5th century left the pope the senior imperial civilian official in Rome, as bishops were increasingly directing civil affairs in other cities of the Western Empire. This status as a secular and civil ruler was vividly displayed by Pope Leo I's confrontation with Attila in 452. The first expansion of papal rule outside of Rome came in 728 with the Donation of Sutri, which in turn was substantially increased in 754, when the Frankish ruler Pippin the Younger gave to the pope the land from his conquest of the Lombards. The pope may have utilized the forged Donation of Constantine to gain this land, which formed the core of the Papal States. This document, accepted as genuine until the 15th century, states that Constantine I placed the entire Western Empire of Rome under papal rule. In 800 Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish ruler Charlemagne as Roman Emperor, a major step toward establishing what later became known as the Holy Roman Empire; from that date onward the popes claimed the prerogative to crown the Emperor, though the right fell into disuse after the coronation of Charles V in 1530. Pope Pius VII was present at the coronation of Napoleon I in 1804, but did not actually perform the crowning. As mentioned above, the pope's sovereignty over the Papal States ended in 1870 with their annexation by Italy.

Popes like Alexander VI, an ambitious if spectacularly corrupt politician, and Pope Julius II, a formidable general and statesman, were not afraid to use power to achieve their own ends, which included increasing the power of the papacy. This political and temporal authority was demonstrated through the papal role in the Holy Roman Empire (especially prominent during periods of contention with the Emperors, such as during the Pontificates of Pope Gregory VII and Pope Alexander III). Papal bulls, interdict, and excommunication (or the threat thereof) have been used many times to increase papal power. The Bull Laudabiliter in 1155 authorized Henry II of England to invade Ireland. In 1207, Innocent III placed England under interdict until King John made his kingdom a fiefdom to the Pope, complete with yearly tribute, saying, "we offer and freely our lord Pope Innocent III and his catholic successors, the whole kingdom of England and the whole kingdom of Ireland with all their rights and appurtenences for the remission of our sins". The Bull Inter caetera in 1493 led to the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, which divided the world into areas of Spanish and Portuguese rule. The Bull Regnans in Excelsis in 1570 excommunicated Elizabeth I of England and declared that all her subjects were released from all allegiance to her. The Bull Inter Gravissimas in 1582 established the Gregorian Calendar.

International position

Under international law, a serving head of state has sovereign immunity from the jurisdiction of the courts of other countries, though not from that of international tribunals. This immunity is sometimes loosely referred to as "diplomatic immunity", which is, strictly speaking, the immunity enjoyed by the diplomatic representatives of a head of state.

International law treats the Holy See, essentially the central government of the Roman Catholic Church, as the juridical equal of a state. It is distinct from the state of Vatican City, existing for many centuries before the foundation of the latter. (It is common, however, for publications to use "Holy See", "Vatican/Vatican City", and even "Rome" interchangeably, and incorrectly.) Most countries of the world maintain the same form of diplomatic relations with the Holy See that they entertain with other states. Even countries without those diplomatic relations participate in international organizations of which the Holy See is a full member.

It is as head of the Holy See, not of Vatican City, that the U.S. Justice Department ruled that the Pope enjoys head-of-state immunity. This head-of-state immunity, recognized by the United States, must be distinguished from that envisaged under the United States' Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, which, while recognizing the basic immunity of foreign governments from being sued in American courts, lays down nine exceptions, including commercial activity and actions in the United States by agents or employees of the foreign governments. It was in relation to the latter that, in November 2008, the United States Court of Appeals in Cincinnati decided that a case over sexual abuse by Catholic priests could proceed, provided the plaintiffs could prove that the bishops accused of negligent supervision were acting as employees or agents of the Holy See and were following official Holy See policy.

In April 2010 there was press coverage in Britain concerning a proposed plan by atheist campaigners and a prominent barrister to have Pope Benedict XVI arrested and prosecuted in the UK for alleged offences, dating from several decades before, in failing to take appropriate action regarding Catholic sex abuse cases and concerning their disputing his immunity from prosecution in that country. This was generally dismissed as "unrealistic and spurious". Another barrister said that it was a "matter of embarrassment that a senior British lawyer would want to allow himself to be associated with such a silly idea".

References:  Courtesy of Wikipedia,

  • "Vatican City State - State and Government". Retrieved 2012-07-27.