The Papacy

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The papacy is part of the Magisterium, not the whole of it.

The pope (literally, "papa," daddy, abba) may, under certain circumstances, exercise the infallibility of the Church, teaching infallibly about matters of faith and morals.

The Pope cannot teach infallibly by accident. He must deliberately speak "ex cathedra," that is, "from the chair" of St. Peter. A cathedra is a judgment seat. Every bishop is the High Priest of his diocese and has a cathedra in his "cathedral."

The concept of papal infallibility does not imply papal impeccability. Someone who is infallible renders true judgments, without error. Someone who is impeccable commits no sins.

It is not the teaching of the Church that becoming Pope renders a man incapable of committing sins. The history of bad popes shows this quite clearly.

Besides having the ability to teach doctrines about faith and morals without error, the Pope also has primacy over the whole Church. He's the boss. The buck stops there. He is the visible head of the Church, under the sovereign headship of Jesus.

These two doctrines, papal infallibility and papal primacy, make the Catholic Church unique in the whole world of Christendom. All who have left the Church directly or indirectly contradict these two doctrines.

Jesus is the Head of the Church

Colossians 1:16-18

16 For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.

17 He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.

18 He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.

The power of the papacy comes from, represents, and is for Jesus, who is the living Head of the Church. Jesus uses the papacy as an instrument to achieve His purposes for His Body.

Recent Popes

256 1846-1878 Blessed Pius IX
257 1878-1903 Leo XIII
258 1903-1914 St. Pius X
259 1914-1922 Benedict XV
260 1922-1939 Pius XI
261 1939-1958 Pius XII
262 1958-1963 Blessed John XXIII
263 1963-1978 Paul VI
264 1978 John Paul I
265 1978-2005 Blessed John Paul II
266 2005 .. Benedict XVI

Other Ancient Sees

Official Titles of the Pope

Wikipedia, "Official list of titles."
  • 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.[91]
"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.[97] In the East it was used only for the Bishop of Alexandria.[97] 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.[97] 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,[97] 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.
The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church to him. The bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is "head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth" (CIC, can. 331).
The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, "supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls" (CD 2).