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The development of the Papacy - Essay Example

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Development of the Papacy Today the Papacy is an indelible part of religious culture. Millions of American and people around the world regularly regard the Pope as having direct access to God. Subsequently the Pope’s perspective on morals greatly influences these people’s own decision-making…
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Download file to see previous pages Following this recognition, this essay examines the development of the papacy. While the contemporary office of the Pope constitutes a single individual this was not always historically true. During the early era of the Catholic Church, there were a number of popes, as the term referred to specific church leaders (Bokenkotter, p. 49). During the beginning of the Christian Church, there is the recognition that there was not a need for religious leaders, as the size of the religion was minimal. At this time there were only local leaders or bishops that organized many church gatherings and promoted the religion among the surrounding regions. During the first century, Rome was only emerging as a Christian center and as such, the extensive papal development would only gradually take hold. Towards the end of the second century, Rome became solidified as this Christian center. At this time, the Church of Rome was designated as the primary church to which all others should answer. In this way there is the recognition of the office of the Pope as originating from structural developments of church organization, rather than the innate religious nature of the office or individual (Bokenkotter, p. 111). According to the Catholic Church, the office of the Pope functions as a direct lineage of leadership leading back to the Apostle Saint Paul. This perspective positions the office as something that is intrinsic to the Christian faith and subsequently a natural extension of the word of God. To an extent then the Pope can be viewed as possessing a relationship with God that would position him as the most important person in the universe. In many ways the Pope’s social and political power would reflect this recognition. By the third century, following the Council of Nicaea, the papacy assumed the form it contains today. The Pope’s power continued to grow through the third and four centuries. With the fifth century, the world experienced the fall of the Roman Empire to invading German armies. Following the fall of Rome, the papacy gained increased power as many people turned to the Pope for continuity of leadership. The following Medieval Period would find the Pope at an all-time high of personal power. Following the ascension of Constantine as the Roman Emperor, he established the decree that all future Roman Emperors would require the approval of the Pope (Orlandis 1993, p. 34). The increasing connection between the Pope and political authorities would greatly expand the power and reach of the papacy. Subsequently, this period witnessed a significant amount of developments in the papacy. In 1073, Pope Gregory VII instituted the Gregorian Reforms (Orlandis 1993, p. 40). These rules raised the standards for leaders within the Catholic Church, notably encouraging celibacy among members. Perhaps the ultimately display of the Pope’s power, however, occurred during the Crusades. During this period Alexius, I even had to go to Pope Urban II to gain military support to guard against Muslim invasions. For the papacy, this demonstrates the significant political power the Pope had attained during the Medieval Period. From the 11th century onward, the papacy would experience a declining amount of influence. Because of the Pope’s involvement in many earlier conflicts, a schism emerged in the Church that divided the East and West. The onset of the Protestant Reformation in the ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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