The Significance of the Pope

625 Words3 Pages
Among the institutions established throughout the span of human history intended to govern the lives of men, perhaps none have been more lasting or have exerted more influence on the course of history than that of the papacy. As the recognized successor to St. Peter, who was ordained by Jesus Christ as the bishop of Rome and the leader of the universal church, the pope represents the spiritual authority of Christendom and stands as a symbol of union within the Catholic Church. The continual succession, from as early as 32 AD until present day, has seen a total of 265 popes (The List of Popes) hold the title of "Vicar of Christ," and this unbroken chain of leadership stands as a testament to the enduring significance of the papacy throughout the development of western civilization. Long based in the Roman enclave now known as Vatican City, the papacy has been both a transformative political power on the world stage, and a religious body transformed by the inexorable pull of progress. With more than 77 million individuals identifying themselves as Catholics around the world as of 2011, the pope holds authority over a church with a larger population than France, the United Kingdom or Italy (CARA Catholic Poll). The current pope, Benedict XVI, was elected in 2005 and has assumed the roles associated with the modern papacy, namely the appointment of bishops and cardinals, the management of the Church's administrative affairs, convening ecumenical councils to arbitrate
Open Document