I. Development of the Papacy: (§ 1). Roman Catholic Theory of the Papacy. Pope (Gk., pappas, "father") designates the bishop of Rome in his position as supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church. According to the doctrine of that church, when Christ founded the Church as a visible institution, he assigned to the Apostle Peter the precedency over the other apostles--making Peter his vicar, and constituting him center of the Church in that he conveyed to him alike the supreme priestly authority (see KEYS, POWER OF THE), the supreme doctrinal authority, and the supreme direction of the Church (Matt. xvi. 18, 19; Luke xxii. 32; John xxi. 15-17). But since the Church is a perpetual institution, Peter must needs have a successor, and the ecclesiastical succession is to be secured in that position for all futurity. On account of Peter's connection with the bishopric of Rome, which he is held to have established, this succession, with its derivative rights and titular primacy, is permanently attached to the Roman see; though not, perforce, to its local site in the city of Rome. The succession devolves upon the actual bishop of Rome; and so Peter as vicar of Christ lives on in the Roman bishops, the popes. The doctrines thus outlined are dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church; and therefore they become immutable and fundamental principles of its formal constitution.

(§ 2). Papacy in Pre-Carolingian Times. But in the light of objective historical contemplation, the pope's primacy appears to be solely the product of evolutionary centuries. It is not to be denied that even from the second century and in the third century the Roman congregation and the Roman episcopal see enjoyed a significant and positive esteem in the West. The Roman church not only stood accepted as founded by the Apostle Peter, but was also the sole church in the West which could boast of apostolic establishment, let alone the fact that its site was the pivot of the ancient world, and thus facilitated a vast range of communication with the other churches and congregations. Yet though even so early as in the third century the peculiar distinction and the precedency of the Roman church were based in Rome upon succession to the rights of Peter; nevertheless, not even the Council of Nicæa knows of a Roman primacy over the whole Church. But what really proved of decisive influence in winning legal prerogatives for the Roman bishop were the issues of the dogmatic controversies that agitated the Church from the fourth century forward; since in these controversies the position of the bishop of Rome was of determining weight for the very reason of the high respect enjoyed by his church, because Rome supported the due maintenance of orthodox doctrine. The Synod of Sardica (343) permitted a bishop who had been deposed by the metropolitan synod to appeal to the bishop of Rome. Just as this implied a right of supreme jurisdiction on the part of that dignitary to uphold which appeal could soon be made to the Council of Nicæa, because the decrees of Sardica became consolidated with the canons of that council, so did Innocent I. (404) lay claim to a supreme right of adjudication in all "the more grave and momentous cases"; and about the same time, he claimed the right of issuing obligatory regulations for the several districts of the Church. At the outset, however, these were mere assumptions; nor could the bishops of Rome bring them to practical effect beyond Italy or in such countries as Illyria and southern Gaul, where the local situation happened to be favorable, and where there happened to be voluntary overtures in behalf of close connection with Rome. As a matter of fact, in the year 445, Leo I. obtained of Valentinian III. by an imperial law (Novellœ Valentiniani, iii., tit. 16), recognition of primacy, in particular that of the supreme judicial and legislative right of the Roman see. However, this law was binding only on the West; and it involved neither a renunciation of the emperor's right of exercising the imperial prerogative to legislate in ecclesiastical affairs, nor any abolishment of the rights of councils convened under imperial authority. It was not by legislation, but principally by interfering in this or that special, important concern that, both before and after this law, the Roman bishop was able to substantiate his assumed supreme control of the Church, and even in the fifth century to play a deciding hand in affairs of the East. Still more significant becomes the status of the Roman bishop from the close of that century, when the Germans found separate kingdoms in Italy. But, at the same time, his local sphere of power became narrowed by the establishment of the Germans in Gaul, Spain, and England; a condition that arrested the progress of the centralizing process already started in those countries.

(§ 3). In Merovingian and Carolingian Periods. Especially in the most notable of these new states, in Merovingian "France," the direct control of ecclesiastical affairs through the Roman bishop was legally debarred. Anything of that kind could come about only subject to royal approbation, al- though the pope was acknowledged to be the first bishop in Christendom, and the preservation of communion in the faith with him was accounted indispensable. But the king alone possessed the deciding authority respecting the law of the Church, jointly with the royal or national synod by him convened, the decrees of which could become binding on the state only by the king's approbation. A change in this respect did not set in till in course of the eighth century; when the Carolingian major- domos, closely allied as they were with Boniface, endeavored to cooperate in his project of reorganizing and effectually reforming the secularized Frankish church. The same situation persisted under Charlemagne. In the universal Christian commonwealth, such as his empire came to be regarded, he exercised not only the chief temporal sovereignty but also the control of ecclesiastical affairs, though he evinced even greater zeal than his predecessors in assimilating the order of the Frankish church to the Roman canons and praxis. For Charlemagne, the pope ranks merely as the first bishop of Christendom and of the emperor's dominion, who possesses certain prerogatives above the other bishops, and is especially called, in view of his station, to watch over the spiritual side of the Church and over the proper maintenance of its canons and doctrine; yet who may not assume, independently of the emperor, any right of control over the church of the Frankish realm. Several things conspired to bring about a transformation of the earlier situation. These were the weakness of Charlemagne's successors; the political complications provoked through the struggles in the family of Louis the Frank; and the strifes among the Frankish bishops. The imperial and royal power was no longer in a position to preserve intact its ecclesiastical leadership, while the essentially moral influence exercised hitherto by the pope, merged into an encroachment upon ecclesiastical and political ground in proportion as he became repeatedly invoked by the wrangling parties themselves to decide the issue, while they sought to strengthen themselves through his authority. Above all, it was Nicholas I. (858-867) who contrived to employ all these conditions to the furtherance of his policy of subordinating princely and temporal power to the Church, of quashing autonomy of the ecclesiastical primary courts in the various countries, and of vesting deciding control in the bishop of Rome. Pope Nicholas I. found material support for his efforts in the opportunely originated Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals (q.v.) just then coming to the front.

(§ 4). Tendency to Absolutism Checked. But the dissolution of the Carolingian empire and the resulting confusion which involved even Italy, together with the comparative decline of the papacy, soon hindered the prosecution of that policy. To raise the papacy out of its degradation, there needed nothing less than the renovation of the German empire under Otto I. Indeed, the empire, even as late as the eleventh century, did wield its own sovereignty over the pope and the Church, and at the same time endeavored to reform the Church internally, being supported in this by the bishops whom it had independently invested, who were therefore subservient to the imperial will. The dynasty of Otto did not, indeed, reassert the maxim of the Carolingian civil code, that the supreme authority or power in ecclesiastical matters, especially in legislation, belonged exclusively to the emperor. On the contrary, the house of Otto took practical cognizance of the theory then already established, that just as the universal State had its apex in the German emperor, so the universal Church had its center in the pope. In fine, the emperors disposed of momentous measures in Church administration, such as the creation of new bishoprics, the revival of earlier canon laws, and the execution of reforms in accord with the pope, largely through synods that were held with the pope conjointly. By this policy the emperors cooperated in speeding the way to the general recognition of the pope's primacy in the Church, and to that course of events which began to prevail shortly after the middle of the eleventh century.

(§ 5). Spiritual and Temporal Supremacy Claimed. About that time there loomed up in Rome the domination of a party in the Church which sought to free it from the influence hitherto exercised by the temporal power; not only to place the guidance of the Church in the hands of the pope, but also to subject the temporal rulers, above all, the German emperor, to the papacy as being the directive secular force, the definitive world power. This party's principal exponent, Hildebrand (see GREGORY VII.), assumed as a privilege of the pope to be subject to no judge, and even claimed the right to depose emperors, to bear the imperial insignia, to decree new laws, to hold general councils, to erect new bishoprics, to divide and combine the same, to depose bishops, translate them, consecrate clerics of all churches, receive appeals in all cases, and to have sole decision in all weighty matters of every Church. Under Gregory's leadership of the Curia, and his subsequent pontificate, the influence of the Roman nobility and people upon the papal election became debarred; the imperial right of nomination, with attendant right of confirmation, was abolished; while ecclesiastical reform was accomplished through successive synods convened by the pope alone, and composed of his own loyal supporters. These synods acted as a papal senate, and did away with the imperial synods. Gregory also repeatedly decreed the deposition of bishops, and ultimately annulled the emperor's antecedent right of appointment or investiture to the episcopal sees, over which the conflict issued between the German empire and the papacy (see INVESTITURE), and this terminated in the emancipation of the papacy from the imperial overlordship. So the papacy became the court of last resort in the concerns of the Church, and also strove to win authoritative and leading power in the contemporary civil fabric of Europe. This was achieved under Innocent III.; though at the same time and by the same process the independence or autonomy of the local church tribunals, in particular the episcopal, was broken. Yet the bishops themselves had, for the most part, promoted the policy inaugurated by the Curia in the middle of the eleventh century, although with the undermining of the imperial and princely power they forfeited the essential support of their own freedom in relation to the papacy. The pope, who thereafter was regarded as the vicar of God, or of Christ, and from the time of Innocent III. designates himself as such, laid claim to the supreme sovereignty over the Church and the world alike, though the temporal rule is committed for practical execution to the emperor and other princes subject to the pope's control. In the Church the pope alone commands the supreme and summary power which exalts him above all accountability before any human judge and above and before a general council. This was claimed not in virtue of the ancient canons, but solely through the dogma of divine right. The pope claimed a general right of dispensation and absolution; he alone could translate and remove bishops; whereas the archbishops and such titular bishops as he consecrated were required to render an oath of obedience patterned after the vassal's oath of allegiance. He heard cases of appeal from all quarters of the Church, and even decided primary cases. He reserved benefices for his own disposal; he assessed particular churches and the clergy for general ecclesiastical objects; and he sent abroad his delegates to all parts of the contemporary Roman Catholic world to carry out his rightful behest, overruling the ordinary local church tribunals. These theories reach their high tide at the beginning of the fourteenth century, are collectively termed the "papal system," and found their classic expression in the much-quoted bull of Bonifacius VIII., Unam sanctam ecclesiam (q.v.; text in Reich, Documents, pp. 193-195; Eng. transl. in Thatcher and McNeal, Source Book, pp. 314-317). At the same period, and primarily in France, the temporal power began to react against the excessive stretch of papal power, and its encroachments upon the temporal jurisdiction, while toward the close of the same century, evoked by the great schism (see SCHISM) which began in 1378, there cropped out a new trend, the so-called "episcopal" system, canceling or denying the "papal," which was dogmatically rejected by the Vatican Council of 1869-70, and that deliverance has been accepted by the Roman Catholic Church as complete and final.

(§ 6). Primacy of Jurisdiction. The present canon law doctrine distinguishes the pope's rights under two heads, "primacy of jurisdiction" and "primacy of honor." In virtue of the primacy of jurisdiction, there accrues to him the supreme power over the Church in government and leadership; and in the execution of his charge he is bound only by dogma and the divine right. As touching any other law that has force in the Church, he is to respect the same so long as it exists. The most important rights involved in the primacy are the supreme right of legislation; the supreme direction and final decision of matters affecting ecclesiastical offices; the supreme judicial competency in cases of dispute, correction, discipline; regulation of the various religious institutions, particularly the orders and congregations; the supreme control of the ecclesiastical exchequer and assets of property; the right to uphold unity in the liturgy, as also in the administration of the sacraments and use of sacramentals; to direct the festivals in the Church at large; the right of beatification and canonization; the right of according indulgences and regulating fasts; and that of reserving for himself the absolution from sins pertaining to the sphere of conscience. Furthermore, the primacy carries with it the supreme doctrinal authority. And when the pope voices his decisions in this respect, speaking or publishing ex cathedra; when in virtue of his apostolic authority as pastor and teacher of all Christians he defines a proposition affecting faith or morals in the interests of the whole Church, his pronouncements are then informed with infallibility by reason of divine assistance, without need of any further assent on the part of the Church, as in a general council (in the Constitutio Vaticana of July 18, 1870, the bull Pastor Šternus, iv.). It is in virtue of this doctrinal authority that he can issue spiritual decrees in the cause of enlarging the dogma, and of defining questionable dogmatic subjects; that he can condemn errors of doctrine, institute and direct missions, found educational establishments, and watch over the instruction therein dispensed. According to this "Vatican Constitution" the pope is not only empowered to exercise all these rights which his primacy conveys, in the manner of a supreme court, but he is also, by virtue of the same primacy, the universal bishop in all the Church. That is, he has an immediate, complete and canonical episcopal power over all churches, dioceses, and believers. For although it is an exaggerated statement to say, as do the Old Catholics, that under this Vatican dogma the bishops have become legally dwarfed into mere vicars or attorneys of the pope, yet the Ultramontanists may deny that any change whatever has been brought about in the status of the bishops by force of the Vaticanum. While the Vatican Council by no means put aside the episcopal office as a distinct, or "independent" office, yet the bishops are in fact reduced to the same position as the vicars dependent on the pope directly. Owing to his supreme directive authority over the Church, the pope also represents the Church abroad, particularly in relation to civil governments, and this with a standing recognized in international law. But this is not to imply that, even in the states where Roman Catholics are in the majority, he enjoys a sovereignty over Roman Catholic citizens on like terms with the civil power; nor that his position in respect to civil governments is to be deemed equivalent to that between two independent sovereigns and states.

(§ 7). Primacy of Honor. The pope's "primacy of honor" finds expression as follows: (1) In certain specified designations, titles, and forms of address appertaining to him alone: such as papa, pontifex maximus, or summus pontifex; vicarius Petri, vicarius Dei or Christi; servus servorum Dei; and in the forms of address, Sanctitas tua, or vestra, or sanctissime pater. (2) In the insignia of the papal dignity: the tiara, a headdress evolved from the combination of miter and crown, with three golden bands about the miter; the pedum rectum (straight pastoral staff); and the pallium, which, in distinction from the archbishops, he wears at all times and places, when officiating at mass. (3) The pope is entitled to the so-called adoratio, the homage due to him by the faithful in genuflection and kissing the papal foot, now restricted solely to ceremonious audiences and formal acts of homage; while with ruling princes, it consists merely in kissing his hand. Apart from his position as leader of all the Church, the pope is coincidently bishop of Rome, also archbishop of the church province of Rome, primate of Italy, and patriarch of the West. Finally, the pope was also temporal sovereign of the Papal States (q.v.), while they existed, and as such he occupied, in view of international law, the highest rank among Roman Catholic princes.

II. Election of the Pope: (§ 1). Development of Present Method. In early times the bishop of Rome, like the diocesan of any other see, was chosen by the local clergy and people, assisted by neighboring bishops. Later the Roman emperors and the Ostrogothic kings exercised an influence, particularly in deciding disputed elections. After the fall of the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy, vacancy of the see of Rome was formally announced to the exarch at Ravenna, and a new pope was elected, usually on the third day after the burial of the former pontiff, by the clergy, the nobles, and the people of Rome. The exarch, after receiving the official report of the election, secured the approbation of the emperor, whereupon the newly elected pope was duly consecrated. During the decline of Lombard power in Italy, secular rulers exercised no supervision over papal elections, and at the Lateran synod of 769 the laity were restricted to mere acclamation of an election made by the clergy and to confirming the protocol. While the story that Adrian I. conferred on Charlemagne the privilege of filling the papal throne is now acknowledged to be untrue, it is still a moot question whether the Frankish kings and emperors were merely informed by a new pontiff of his election and consecration, or could confirm the election and require an oath of fealty. It is certain, however, that after 824 a new pope was usually consecrated only after taking the oath of allegiance to the emperor, while the Roman council of 898 enacted that a pontiff should be consecrated only in the presence of imperial envoys.

With the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire (q.v.) by Otto I. the Romans were obliged to promise that no pope should be elected or consecrated without the approval of himself or his son, thus giving the emperors an influence on papal elections which was hitherto unprecedented. Though the old forms were preserved, the election became a mere form of choosing the candidate designated by the emperor, this power being held, despite all efforts of the Roman nobility, until the death of Henry III. in 1056. At the Roman Synod of 1059, however, Nicholas II. issued a decree which placed the election in the hands of the cardinal bishops, aided by the other cardinals, while the remaining clergy and the laity were allowed only the privilege of acclamation. The king, on the other hand, received from Nicholas the right of confirming subsequent elections, or at least of vetoing undesirable candidates before election. This arrangement proved impracticable, however, and at the third Lateran council, in 1179, Alexander III., tacitly presupposing in the abrogation of imperial prerogatives the absence of any share of clergy and laity in papal elections, enacted that the vote of two-thirds of all the college of cardinals was necessary for the lawful election of a pope. This forms the basis of the present laws governing papal elections, the principal supplements and modifications being enactments of the second council of Lyons (1274) and Clement V. (1311?), and the "constitutions of Clement VI. (1351), Julius II. (1505), Pius IV. (1562), Gregory XV. (Æterni patris of 1621, and the Cœremoniale in electione Romani pontificis observandum of the same year), Urban VIII. (1626), and Clement XII. (1732).

(§ 2). The Conclave. Until the most recent regulations under Pius X. (q.v.), after the pope's death, the next ten days are devoted to preparations for the funeral ceremony and to preliminaries of the election; especially to the institution of the conclave. This interim serves at the same time to enable cardinals at a distance to reach Rome for participation in the election. The conclave, an apartment in which the cardinals must proceed with the election guarded and excluded from the outer world (which they are not allowed to leave before the election is completed), is made ready in the Vatican, and comprises a chapel (for the elective transaction), together with a suite of halls in which cells are fitted up for the cardinals and the conclavists' lodgings. The conclavists are persons who have to attend the cardinals in the conclave; such as their servants, two physicians, a sacrist, two masons and carpenters, and others. The cardinals and conclavists occupy this apartment on the eleventh day, after a solemn high office. Hereupon the constitutions on papal election are read forth, and sworn to by the cardinals, and the conclavists are sworn in. At evening, all unauthorized persons must leave the conclave; and now the entrances are all walled shut except one, through which food for the persons in the conclave is daily introduced; and this one entrance is strictly guarded.

(§ 3). The Election. For participation in the election, only those cardinals are of qualified authority who have received consecration to the diaconate. Neither is such a one debarred by excommunication, suspension, or interdict. Absentees can deliver their vote neither by letter nor by substitute. Theoretically every Catholic male Christian, even a layman, who has not lapsed into heresy, is eligible. But since Urban VI. (1378-89), previously archbishop of Bari, none but a cardinal has been elected (cf. G. Berthelet, Muss der Papst ein Italiener sein? Leipsic, 1894). The states of Austria, France, and Spain have the right, for each state as affecting one candidate, of declaring a cardinal passively ineligible; but the election of an "excluded" candidate can not be challenged. In regard to the election itself, it is forbidden, under penalty of forfeited vote, to engage in "electioneering." Every cardinal present is bound, under pain of excommunication, to take part in the business of election, which is in order twice a day, forenoon and afternoon, till the result be achieved. Where voters are sick and unable to leave their cells, their vote is of necessity sent for, and this by the hand of cardinals expressly selected for the purpose by lot. The only admissible kinds of election are (a), the electio quasi per inspirationem, election by acclamation; (b) the electio per compromissum, in which the cardinals, instead of electing the pope in a body, unanimously transfer the elective prerogative to a specified quorum of their colleagues (two at least), and then instruct them in detail as to the steps next to be observed in the matter: for instance, whether unanimity or simply majority shall be required; save that no unlawful forms, e.g., election by lot, are allowed to be adopted; (c) the electio per scrutinium, or by ballot. In this case all the electors must write the name of their candidate on one of the specially prepared voting tickets, containing printed directions and to be folded; which ballots they must deposit in order in a chalice upon the altar, within view of the three appointed scrutineers. Next follows the counting of the ballots. Should their number fail to tally with that of the cardinals present, the balloting must be stopped, and the votes are burned. Otherwise the result of the voting is reckoned up, and the election is ended--provided a candidate has received more than the requisite two-thirds majority. Should it so happen, however, that he has received only just that majority, it is ascertained by opening his ballot whether he has not cast his vote for himself; which is against the rules and nullifies the election. Ballots containing the names of several candidates are void. Where the balloting fails to yield the prescribed majority for some one of the candidates, a special procedure is still in order, the so-called accessus, with the object of testing whether a contingent of the voters will not surrender their candidates and declare themselves for one of the others. This amounts to a supplementary balloting to the first ballot: in other words, the votes already cast stand effectual, and the accessit votes are counted with them. In order that a result may be reached by this process, and yet that the vote of the individual voter shall not be twice counted for his candidate, the following regulations are in force with the accessit balloting. No one is allowed to repeat his vote in the accessit, in favor of the candidate whom he has already named in the ballot, but he can retain his choice by writing on his ticket, Accedo nemini. Nor can any one receive a vote of accessit who has not yet been nominated in the original balloting. If the accessit yields no result, the whole act of election stops, and the balloting must be begun anew at the next elective session. More than one accessit is inadmissible.

Pius X., who was elected in consequence of employment of the exclusiva (see EXCLUSION, RIGHT OF), through the constitution Commissum nobis of Jan. 20, 1904, prohibited the cardinals, under penalty of excommunication, to allow in the future the veto of any government, even though expressed merely in the form of a wish. Thus the exclusiva is abolished: It is not yet known what attitude the affected states wi1l take in the matter. Through the constitution Vacante sede apostolica of Dec. 25, 1904, this pope regulated the entire course of papal election and at the same time introduced the following innovations: the funeral rites for a deceased pope are to last nine days, after which the cardinals shall enter the conclave. But on the day after the death of the pope the first session of the Holy College is to be held, the rules for papal election in the conclave are to be read, and the oath of the cardinals and conclavists is taken. If the balloting leads to no result, there takes place no accessory meeting, but a second balloting, under the same conditions as the first. Simony no longer nullifies election. Directions concerning the feeding of conclavists are wanting, hence the rule of Leo XIII. concerning the erection of kitchens within the conclave chambers remains unchanged. Secrecy after the end of the conclave in respect to official affairs is specially enjoined.

(§ 4). Procedure after Election. The elected candidate, upon confirmation of the result of the election, is solemnly asked by the subdean whether he accepts the election. With the acceptance, he receives the papal office. At the same time, and in accordance with a custom constantly in effect since the eleventh century, he announces what name he will bear as pope. Thereupon the elected candidate is robed with the papal vestments, and now begins their first adoration on the part of the cardinals. Meanwhile the sealing of the conclave has been canceled, and the first cardinal deacon forthwith proclaims to the people the proper name and papal name of the new pope. In the afternoon of the same day there ensues first in the Sistine Chapel and then in Saint Peter's the second and third adoration on the cardinals' part, this time in public. If the pope elect is not as yet dignified with the episcopal consecration, but only with one of the lower grades of consecration, he receives the orders which are still owing to him inclusive of the priestly consecration, by the office of one of the cardinal bishops. The episcopal consecration, which in former times was performed coincidently with the coronation, is now usually appointed on a Sunday or festival preceding. It is consummated by the dean of the college of cardinals. If the pope elect was of episcopal rank already, then a benediction takes the place of consecration. After the consecration or benediction, there follows the coronation by the dean of the cardinal deacons with the triple crown in Saint Peter's, and on some subsequent day the formal occupancy of the Vatican.

Incumbency of the papal chair by any other process than that of election by the cardinals is not recognized by the present positive canon of the Roman Catholic Church; and in particular it is held to be unlawful for the ruling pope to appoint his own successor; although attempts of that kind repeatedly came about in former centuries, and although the competency of the pope to alter the prevalent law in this respect can hardly be doubted.


According to the claim of the Roman Catholic Church the Apostle Peter was the first pope and reigned from 41 to 67.