1. Beginnings of the papacy are obscure; growth was gradual.
2. The ch. at Rome, the world's capital, became prominent early on as the oldest ch. in the West; Irenaeus* mentions its preeminence (Adversus haereses, III, iii, 2). As it and its bps. grew in honorary preeminence in the first 3 cents., its bps. began with increasing success to claim, though not without widespread dissent, supremacy of right, as successors of Peter. But the 325 Council of Nicaea* mentioned the bp. of Rome only incidentally; neither it nor the immediately following councils were convened by the bp. of Rome, nor did he or his legates preside. Despite protest of the bp. of Rome, the Council of Chalcedon (451) declared the patriarch of Constantinople his official equal.
3. The fall of the W Roman Empire 476 (when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustulus), enabled Roman bps. to increase their power and enlarge the area of their spiritual sway, including superiority over earthly rulers (see also Church and State, 5). Monasticism became a useful tool. Gregory I (see Popes, 4) is a bridge bet. the ancient and medieval world. The spread of Islam put E rivals of the bp. of Rome into eclipse. Missionaries inculcated obedience to Rome among Germanic peoples. In return for papal favors Pepin* the Short and Charlemagne* laid the foundation of papal temporal power.
4. There followed a period of decline. Attempts were made to undergird the papacy with the Donation* of Constantine and the Pseudo-Isidorean* Decretals. It was a time of moral degradation, including rival popes. The emp. intervened 1046 and secured the election of a pope who crowned the emp., who gained the right to appoint popes. Gregory VII (see Popes, 7) raised the papacy to its peak. It rode the crest of this wave ca. 1073ca. 1303 (see Popes, 712). See also Crusades. Then decline set in, with Fr. and Eng. esp. in revolt against the papacy (see also Babylonian Captivity, 2; England, A 34; France, 3; Schism, 8.
5. The Council of Constance* ended the papal schism, but instead of meeting demands for true and complete reform it burned the reformer J. Hus.* By the end of the 15th c. the papacy had recovered much of its power. But through the Luth. Reformation its power was again reduced and it has not regained its former stature. In some countries nationalism opposes papal claims. Papal temporal power ended 1870, was restored 1929.
See also Antichrist, 58; Popes; States of the Church; Vatican Councils.
B. J. Kidd, The Roman Primacy to AD 461 (London, 1936); W. d'Ormesson, The Papacy, tr. M. Derrick (New York, 1959); F. Gontard, The Chair of Peter, tr. A. J. and E. F. Peeler (New York, 1964).
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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