Talk:History of the papacy

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Old stuff[edit]

Copied from the Talk page on Popes.

The status of Italy can be roughly divided into eras:

  • Imperial era 42-395,
  • Western Imperial Era 395-476,
  • Herulian era 476-491,
  • Ostrogothic era 491-553,
  • Byzantine Era 553-751,
  • Lombard Era 751-756,
  • 1st Era of the Papal States 756-1309 (vacant 1268-71),
  • Avignon Era (the "Babylonian Captivity") 1309-1377,
  • 2nd Era of the Papal States 1377-1798,
  • Napoleonic interruptions 1798-1814,
  • 3rd Era of the Papal States 1814-1870,
  • Savoyard Era 1870-1929,
  • Vatican Era 1929-.

Retrieved from ""

I know it is a very bald stub at the moment - but my knowledge of the subject is limited. Jackiespeel 16:50, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

If the text becomes sufficiently long, the various sections could be separated out, with Avignon Papacy and History of the Vatican City as subpages. Jackiespeel 16:13, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

To me, it doesn't make sense that this article redirects to History of the Vatican City. Perhaps that article should be linked from here, but not redirected. The history of the papacy is way bigger than the Vatican era, as you can see from above. I hope no one is offended when I remove this redirect. D. F. Schmidt 22:06, 24 April 2006 (UTC)


I have begun improving the article, starting with a bit about Simon Peter. Now is not the best time to be working on Wikipedia, however, so I expect to be developing this article more tomorrow. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday! MESSEDROCKER 03:26, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Areas of this article which need further expansion[edit]

I have embarked on a major expansion of the this article which was just a stub before I started working on it yesterday. I have attempted to keep the focus of the article on the history of the Papacy and NOT on the history of the Catholic church. This is, of course, a very difficult distinction to maintain since the histories of the Papacy and the Church are so closely intertwined. What I've been trying to do is to leave out anything that is more about the Church but not really that relevant to the Papacy. It seems to me, for example, that the work of most missionaries is an important part of the Church's history but not as important a part of the history of the Papacy. For this reason, I have left those out.

I seek your help in making these kinds of distinctions. I have, for the time being, left out the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Reformation. I am trying to decide how relevant these are to the history of the Papacy. They are, obviously, very important to the history of the Church. What should be said about these topics in this article? Your thoughts on this question would be much appreciated.

I have also left out most of the 20th century because I ran out of steam. I plan to write something about the relationship of Pius XII to Hitler and Mussolini. The role of John XXIII in convening Vatican II is also important. I also plan to write something about the relationship of John Paul II to the Polish Communist government and his role in helping bring an end to Communist domination of Eastern Europe. His role in reversing the modernist trend in the church is also important to document. Have I left anything out?

--Richard 17:45, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

There is a (formal) historical gap in the information presented from 1848 to 1870. There is information about that period in the background section of Vatican during the Savoyard Era 1870–1929, but I am not sure how to add this to the article.
--Cgbraschi (talk) 12:00, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Donation of Constantine[edit]

I think there are some points for us to consider here. My understanding is that the text was forged by a cleric who thought that it would help the papacy in establishing temporal authority against emperors. I don't think there is any evidence that it was actually commissioned by the papacy (which found out it was a forgery when everyone else did), and in some ways it was rather unwanted, or at the least it was a two edged sword. On the one hand, it established legal grounds for the pope's temporal domains. However, the papacy wanted to content that its authority came from God and St. Peter. However, if temporal authority instead derived from an emperor, then it meant that a subsequent emperor could possibly have the jurisdiction to take it away, or at the least it further imperial claims that the emperor was hieratically above the pope (at least temporally). So it was a more problematic document than the current text explains, if (of course) my understanding is correct. Lostcaesar 19:54, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Proposal for a task force on the History of Christianity[edit]

I have proposed a History task force on Wikipedia:WikiProject Christianity/General which would cover this article among others. Please read the proposal, comment on it and consider joining. --Richard 17:31, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

'Christianity, Astrology And Myth', Wright, Larry, (further reading)[edit]

Ref. 'Further Reading'.The book in question is essentially the text of my MA thesis entitled, 'Pagan Ritual And Myth, In The Early Christian Church'. It does indeed cover many aspects of the Jesus Myth, Christian festival et al...As an example, the first eight chapters are headed: (1)Rebirth of a Myth, (2)Christianity And The Sun God, (3)The Dying And Resurrected Saviour God,(4)Stars And Their Portents, (5)The Virgin Mother Of The World, (6)The Cave And Stable Myth, (7)Slaughter Of The Innocents, (8)Miracles...................etc. There are 16 chapters, 230pp, inc' Bibliography, and Index.Larry Wright, 28/03/07

Leo the Great[edit]

This section consists essentially of cut and pastes with minor changes from the following url: The use of this material should be acknowledged. I am a novice here so don't know the etiquette. Should this be corrected by the original author?

Here's the language from the original source of the material for comparison:

"The first pope to indicate the real potential of the papacy is Leo I . . .With the collapse of imperial authority in the western empire, as Visigoths, Vandals and Huns move around almost at will, the papacy finds itself well placed to take a lead in temporal affairs. Ambrose in Milan has already demonstrated how a bishop can exert spiritual authority over an emperor. During Leo's pontificate Rome is threatened by Attila the Hun (in 452) and Gaiseric the Vandal (455). He negotiates with both, and is traditionally credited with persuading Attila to turn back short of Rome and with convincing Gaiseric that the city should not be utterly destroyed. Whatever the exact truth of his achievement, his actions predict a broader role for the papacy." Rickrack (talk) 21:17, 6 May 2008 (UTC)Rickrack

The section should be rewritten to present the relevant information without infringing on copyright. I don't have the time to do it right now so I've removed the offending copyright violation. --Richard (talk) 16:41, 7 May 2008 (UTC)


A added some pictures of recent popes. I tried to add some missing aspects. The important postwar years and the persecution of the Church during that time, the substantive liberal opposition after Vatican II, the pontificate of Benedict XVI, and the accomplishments of John Paul II in the area of Church doctrines. I cut back very long repetitive descriptions of the Sedisvcantist, who in the context of theis article on 2000 year papal history, should not be overrepresented, especially in light of the main article which repeats everything again. I hope not to step on anybody with these additions. I am a little familiar with the topicas I worked extensively on Pius XII and to a minor degree on Pius IX, Pius X, Pius XI and Paul VI, who all need much more TLC. -:))

--Ambrosius007 (talk) 18:54, 14 June 2008 (UTC)

Spiritual vs. Temporal Power of the Papacy[edit]

Hi Lima,

I was reviewing the archives of Talk:Roman Catholic Church to see what was discussed about "Naming" and stumbled across a discussion in Talk:Roman Catholic Church/Archive 10 (see section #5 "Introduction to the History of the Papacy article") that you and I had about the introduction to History of the Papacy. You commented that the introduction was really talking about the "History of the temporal power of the Papacy" and not the "History of the spiritual power of the Papacy".

Now that I've had a chance to re-read and reflect on your comments, I am seeing more validity in them although I don't draw the same conclusions about actions to be taken. Here's what I see: there is the history of the Catholic Church which is bigger than the history of the Papacy because, despite the importance of the Pope, the church and the Papacy are not synonymous. A way to look at this is that we could detail the history of all the acts of the Presidents of the United States and still not cover the history of the United States.

This is the argument for having a separate article on History of the Papacy. However, after re-reading your comment, I realize that this article does, in fact, cover primarily the temporal power of the Papacy and does not cover, as you pointed out, the spiritual power of the Papacy which is, as you said, the primary role of the Pope with temporal power being a secondary role, even if some Popes seem to have forgotten or disdained that primary role.

You suggested that, as currently written, the article would be more properly named "History of the temporal power of the Papacy" which I sloughed off at the time because it sounded like an overly long, stilted title. I wasn't interested at the time in creating a new article titled "History of the spiritual power of the Papacy". Both of these titles sound awful to me but, on reflection, I see that there is a huge hole in Wikipedia's coverage of the Papacy in missing this second topic.

I see the possibility to write quite a bit about the spiritual influence of the Pope over the last two millennia. At a very minimum, we could identify key Papal bulls and encyclicals which have had an influence on the spiritual journey of the Catholic Church. But this is only a piece of the picture. We can discuss the influence of the Popes who convened Vatican I and Vatican II. We can include the enormous influence of John Paul II in the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and the Warsaw Pact.

I seek your help and the help of other editors in thinking through the question of whether to try and add this spiritual aspect of the Papacy to this article (thus mixing the discussion of the temporal and spiritual histories of the Papacy) or to create a new article which would raise the question of what that article should be named and what this article should be named.

--Richard (talk) 18:18, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

I certainly agree that both should be covered, and here, but I don't think the balance is currently quite as bad as you suggest. It could easily be argued that the diplomatic efforts of the Papacy, which combined both aspects, but really more the spiritual, is very badly covered at present, and in fact there is next to nothing on the political and military history of the Papal States - perhaps there should not be. The trouble is it is a huge and complex subject, and one does not want to dive into too much detail. I'm sure much could be improved by more linking to other articles. Johnbod (talk) 18:32, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes. I think the chief benefit of the WP, non-paper format is that areas such as this can be gone into in much more depth. At the moment the article is heavily biased towards the political acts of the popes, particularly their battles with secular rulers in Italy and elsewhere, leaving the spiritual side barely covered. I'm not sure whether it would be better to greatly expand this already long article or add another linked one.
Points in favour of separate articles on Spiritual and Temporal aspects:
  • It would be clearer for readers interested in one particular aspect, and make those aspects stand out.
  • Structuring and balancing a double length article would be very difficult, it would become very episodic.
  • A single expanded article could be too long and unwieldy.
Points for greatly expanding the united article:
  • Having everything in one place. A complete picture.
  • Issues like the Great Schism and the Reformation, cover both aspects. Dicvision would mean repetition.
  • The proposed names for the split articles, "History of the temporal power of the Papacy" and "History of the spiritual power of the Papacy", are ugly.
On naming: "History of the Papacy - Political," and "History of the Papacy - Spiritual." are possible alternatives.
The other option would be to retain a united article under "History of the Papacy,", but to expand into two articles, divided vertically. Perhaps; "History of the Papacy to 1200 Ad", and "History of the Papacy 1200 AD to the present." On the whole, I think I lean more toward the Spiritual and Political division. Xandar 19:22, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
I have had a look at the History of the Papacy, as it is now. It seems well-balanced. I have no objection to it. For the spiritual power there already is the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff article, and for the temporal power there is Papal States. I see no need for anything more. Lima (talk) 19:45, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
But the spiritual aspect is more than just papal Primacy. Xandar 22:55, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Indeed. However the political diplomacy was often spritually motivated, and the political claims spiritually based, so I'm not clear how the two can be split, at least until the Early Modern period. Division by time-period might be better. Johnbod (talk) 15:22, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Neutrality Problems[edit]

1. It is abundantly clear that this entire article was written from a pro-Romanist point of view.

2. Claims of "wide acceptance" of certain historical facts are stated without citation or source.

3. The "protestant scholar" cited is a Mormon, not a Protestant Christian.

4. The wide use of "Catholic Church" in this article needs to be changed to "Roman Catholic Church" since only the Roman Catholic Church believes itself to be truly catholic.

5. The section entitled "Primacy of Rome" states as fact assertions that no Protestant would agree with. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dw3456 (talkcontribs) 03:28, 4 July 2009 (UTC) Comment deleted for being Fascist. unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:50, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Please ignore the inappropriate response of
Re point #2: Can you be more specific about which historical facts are not widely accepted or need citations?
Re point #3: It's a long article and I'm not in the mood to re-read the whole thing looking for the Mormon scholar you are referring to; can you be more specific?
Re point #4: This is a long discussion which has largely been decided in favor of "Catholic Church" over at Talk:Catholic Church. I don't dispute your point that other churches consider themselves "catholic"; nonetheless, the name of the church headed by the Bishop of Rome is the Catholic Church.
Re point #5: Once again, which assertions are not likely to be accepted as fact by Protestants?
--Richard (talk) 14:57, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

An important, but low quality article[edit]

It is important to have an article about the history of the papacy, as opposed to the history of the Catholic Church. However, this is still a rather large and unwieldy topic. I think that the overall structure of this article will improve if further daughter articles are written so that this article can be more of a top-level summary. For example, I think that when all is said and done, many individual popes will not even be worthy of mention in this article, but it will be easy for readers to zoom in on articles about particular historical periods which will have such a level of detail. Savidan 03:15, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I have moved a great deal of content about the debates of the Primacy of Saint Peter to here. I suspect that this material has already been reproduced in those articles, but have left it on a separate page so that others can review it to see if some of that information is relevant to the history of the papacy as a whole (at a degree of emphasis appropriate for the broad nature of this topic) independent of that particular issue. This article is not the place for a verbose discussion papal supremacy and various Christian denominations. Savidan 03:34, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Savidan, while we have not interacted directly very much, you have a strong reputation as a respected editor so your help on this article is much appreciated. I don't quite understand what your intent is wrt History of the Papacy/Primacy of Saint Peter. I believe WP:MOS frowns on this kind of "subarticle" (i.e. titles with "/" in them). Moreover, there are articles on Primacy of the Roman Pontiff and Primacy of Saint Peter. This article should only have a summary of those subsidiary articles with main article links to the detailed articles. Could you explain what you have in mind wrt to History of the Papacy/Primacy of Saint Peter? Thanx. --Richard S (talk) 04:46, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
I have moved it out of the article space. I think that should resolve any MoS issues. I personally do not think this content will prove very useful, as there is already voluminous coverage of the issue in the appropriate articles. My intent is only to preserve this work product if someone else wishes to go through it in the future. Savidan 05:26, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Once each section has been cut and pasted for a separate article, a succinct summary of each will need to be replaced here, so that Wikipedia retains an article History of the Papacy.--Wetman (talk) 12:16, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm working on it! Savidan 16:13, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Without question the majority of popes need not be mentioned, yet some clearly must be discussed because of their imprtance. For instance, there needs to be information given about Peter, Damasus, Gregory the Great, Pius V, and Pius IX. Without information about these popes, it would be impossible to provide a summary of the papacy. Several of these people are missing; I think sections about them should be added.
Applechair (talk) 20:39, 7 May 2010 (UTC)-

If you want to add something about these popes, great. If its high-quality and cited, even better. However, I would caution against sections for individual popes. Savidan 00:16, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

Agreed, in most cases. Johnbod (talk) 01:16, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

Recent edits reverted[edit]

These changes—introduced by User:Resolver-Aphelion, and re-introduced almost certainly by the same user under the IP addresses: and—are unsourced, point-of-view pushing, or otherwise dis-improvements.

  • The new picture is worse than the old. The old one depicts the handing off of the keys, and important event in the doctrinal account. The new one is just a statute.
  • "Pope" and "church" should not be capitalized every time they are used. Pope should only be capitalized when it starts a sentence or refers to a specific pope. Church should only be capitalized when it refers to the Catholic church, not the generic Christian church.
  • Blatant point of view pushing has been introduced. For example, the insertion of "(that is, pretenders who were not truly Popes)" after antipope or indulgences described as "donation money" instead of "sale."
  • The account of the Western Schism has been re-written from a papal-centric point of view. Hence, "re-affirming" used to describe novel changes and the description of the Eastern churches as having "broke communion," as if they had ever acknowledged the primacy of the papacy.
  • This user also seems to be grammar challenged (e.g. "... now there was three men ...").
  • The weasel word mashup about "many catholics called for" in regards to the Renaissance papacy. This is taken from the more prosaic, and less factual portions of the Catholic Encyclopedia.

I invite this editor to cite sources and write from a neutral point of view, rather than just finding new IP addresses to push all of these changes from. This article does not need any more unsourced content, especially unsourced content designed to push a POV. Savidan 23:37, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Boticelli image and Augustine Quote[edit]

I have removed this. This article is a top-level overview of the history of the Catholic Church. It should be a readable summary of 2,000 years of history of a global organization. When you include an image with a block quotation as a caption of that size, you are in effect saying to the reader: this is possibly the single most important sentence you should read in attempting to gain a top-level summary of this enormous topic. In fact, it is likely that there is no such quote that is worthy of that much emphasis in this article. This article should consist almost entirely of secondary sources summarizing large-scale trends and putting important events in context. There simply is not room for large quotations from primary sources, and even if there were, they need not be given such overemphasis. The quote in question says nothing about the any pope. This is only tangentially relevant to this article, to the extent that it is probative of what one early Christian writer thought about the importance of scripture. You have to extrapolate from that scripture is more important than the pope, and then that tangentially relates to the dispute over papal infallibility/supremacy, which is not even the primary topic of this article. Is this quote absolutely essential to the 2-3 sentence summary of that topic within this article? Nearly all reasonable editors would conclude: "no." If you are terribly enamored with this quote, find a home for it in a more specific article of a smaller scope. See Wikipedia:Summary style and WP:PRIMARY. Savidan 16:42, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

  • Savidan, here's why I think the Augustine quote ought to remain:
    Of central importance to any history of the Catholic Church is the Church’s fundamental teaching of the divine origin of the papacy. Historian Walter Prescott Webb understood this when he wrote: “The fundamental tenet of the Catholic Church is that it is a divine institution, created by God and not to be tampered with by man. It has never yielded this position, this inner core which has given it the strength to stand up under the shocks of the ages.” - The Great Frontier, p. 93. [3] The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “In the hierarchy of jurisdiction the episcopate and the papacy are of Divine origin; all the other grades are of ecclesiastical institution.” [4] Every official teaching of the Church is predicated on this idea, and thus it ought to be clearly stated at the outset of this article.
    Further, this article ought to include at least the most important Patristic testimony to this teaching. At a minimum, the witness of Augustine, of all the Fathers, ought to be made known, and for these reasons:
  1. Augustine is considered by many to be the greatest of the Church doctors and fathers. [5] [6] Even Martin Luther said of him: “Holy Christendom has, in my judgment, no better teacher after the apostles than St. Augustine.” "Es hat die heilige Christenheit nach den Aposteln keinen besseren Lehrer (meines Verstandes) denn St. Augustin". In Dass diese Worte Christi 'das ist mein Leib' noch fest stehen, wider die Schwarmgeister. 1527 (That These Words of Christ "This is My Body etc." Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics). See Weimar vol. 23, p. 214. [7] English translation in Luther's Works, ISBN 0800603370 vol. 37:107 [8]
  2. Augustine explicitly taught that “the Catholic Church alone is the body of Christ” (Letter 185). [9]
  3. He equated this "Catholic Church" and the Catholic faith with the Apostolic See at Rome, and held that to disregard that See’s legitimate and authoritative decisions be be tantamount to a sin (Latin, nefas). See his letter to Saint Optatus, where Augustine, speaking of the decisions of Pope Zosimus, says: “In these words of the Apostolic See the Catholic faith stands out as so ancient and so firmly established, so certain and so clear, that it would be wrong for a Christian to doubt it.” (Epistle 190:23) (see p. 286) here. The Latin reads: “In his verbis apostolicae Sedis tam antiqua atque fundata, tam certa et clara est catholica fides, ut nefas sit de illa dubitare Christiano.” [10] Closer to the actual Latin meaning of nefas (nefarious) are these translations, where nefas is variously translated as, “impius”, “criminal”, “grievous sin”.
  4. Finally, Augustine has been called “the founder of Roman Catholicism in the west”. [11] And so for these reasons, I believe that the Augustine quote ought to appear somewhere in the article. Delta x (talk) 00:17, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Nothing you have said explains why this article is appropriate. Nor does your response come to grips with Wikipedia's policies on primary sources or summary style. This article is a summary of a very large topic, and you have only show (which I do not dispute) that this quote is probative of a few subtopics. "Popes vs. scripture" is a subset of papal supremacy/papal infallibility which is a subset of theology, which is further divided by historical period. This article is about so much more than theology, over such a long time-frame. Supremacy/infallibility should be summarized probably in one paragraph. It is not entirely obvious to me that the topic of pope vs. scripture is even critical to that summary. But, it is entirely obvious that lengthy quotes from primary source materials will inevitably overemphasis that topic. Savidan 12:09, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

  • Undoubtedly the Augustine quote could be used in any number of other related articles - Pope, Papal infallibility, Saint Peter, Holy See etc. I'm using it here to illustrate an extremely important Patristic witness to the Church's claim of a divinely ordained Petrine ministry ("the Papacy").
    I agree the article is a summary of a very large topic. However, everyone will note that, in the opening paragraphs, there IS mention of opposition to the Papacy by the Eastern churches and by the Protestant Reformers. Yet no mention whatsoever of the reason for that opposition, namely, the Catholic Church's insistence that the Papacy is indeed a divine institution! To remedy this rather glaring oversight, and as a compromise on the Augustine quote, I propose inserting the following two simple sentences (with footnotes) after the first paragraph of the article:
    "An indispensable and fundamental teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Papacy is a divine institution. This teaching, expressed variously among many early Church Fathers, is perhaps most explicitly taught by St. Augustine, considered one of the greatest of the Fathers."
    Now this is (very) short, to the point, logically placed, historically relevant to the article, and, I believe, well withing Wikipedia guidelines. Any objections? Delta x (talk) 04:50, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

The first sentence would be fine, as long as you can support with secondary sources. I don't think the second is appropriate for the intro. Augustine is important to Christianity, but not the only writer on this topic. I should clarify that I'm not opposed to mentioning St. Augustine in the body of the article, but I think you should consider who you would sum up his importance in the topic, and who his peers were. Again, secondary sources, not primary, should be the focus. Savidan 16:03, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

  • Since there's no objection, I'll go ahead and add the first sentence to the article. As for the second sentence ... Again, I can only emphasize that, while Augustine is not the only Father who could be cited, he is certainly one of the most important witnesses to Petrine office in that he explicitly says the Pope's authority is derived from the authority of the Bible. This is a pretty dramatic thing to say! Even more so when one considers he is saying it in concert with sixty other bishops!
    Now I'm certain you are acting in good faith here, and I do appreciate our discussion. But I simply cannot understand why you believe that such an explicit testimony by so an eminent a Father should not be mentioned in an article on the history of the Papacy. As for primary vs. secondary sources, I see no problem with the way I originally sourced the quote: I gave Augustine's words, followed by commentary from a reputable secondary source, which served to show that it was not my, but a scholarly interpretation being place on Augustine. This is perfectly in accord with Wikipedia guidelines which read:
    "Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published secondary sources and, to a lesser extent, on tertiary sources. Secondary or tertiary sources are needed to establish the topic's notability and to avoid novel interpretations of primary sources, though primary sources are permitted if used carefully. All interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims about primary sources must be referenced to a secondary source, rather than original analysis of the primary-source material by Wikipedia editors." See this
    These guidelines I tried to follow very carefully by the referencing the primary source (Augustine's words) [12] to a secondary source for scholarly interpretation. [13] (you'll recall I quoted more extensively from Dole's work in the footnote I provided). In any event, depending on the situation, quoting an individual may be done without even citing a secondary source, as is done for example in the article on Augustine himself. Augustine of Hippo#Christian conversion. Delta x (talk) 06:16, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Savidan, what about doing it this way?:
An indispensable and fundamental teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Papacy is a divine institution.[1] [2]
  1. ^ “In the hierarchy of jurisdiction the episcopate and the papacy are of Divine origin; all the other grades are of ecclesiastical institution.” – Catholic Encyclopedia, Hierarchy [1].
  2. ^ This teaching, variously expressed among many early Church Fathers, is explicitly taught by St. Augustine and the council of Milevis who, in writing to Pope Innocent I, state that his authority was "derived from the authority of the holy scriptures." Letter 176:5 Patristics scholar Daniel E. Doyle O.S.A., comments: “Thus, we have an explicit affirmation by a regional council of bishops in the early fifth century that Petrine ministry is grounded on no less than the authority of Sacred Scripture. Once again, Hofmann, tends to downplay the significance of this by stating that all African bishops essentially trace their authority back to Sacred Scripture. He insists that we not isolate the phrase but see in it the context of the African tradition. Nonetheless, I believe that we are here dealing with a more precise recognition on the part of the African bishops of a special role enjoyed by the bishop of Rome as Peter’s successor.” The Bishop as Disciplinarian in the Letters of St. Augustine, D. E. Doyle, Peter Lang, 2003, ISBN 082046130X ISBN 978-0820461304, pp. 208-209. [2]
Delta x (talk) 20:36, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

This article is about the history of the papacy, not the theology of the papacy. If you have high-quality secondary sources that trace the history of the doctrine that the papacy is a divine institution, that is one thing to consider. Otherwise, the fit with this topic is not great enough. Consider adding it to papal supremacy or primacy of the Roman pontiff, or, if you think those articles are too specific, starting a Theology of the Papacy article. Savidan 18:07, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

The history of the papacy and the theology of the papacy necessarily overlap. One can hardly appreciate the former without at least some inkling as to the later. The Papacy's claim to divine origin, grounded in Scripture, is essential information to this article. I've provided that information for the reader. We agreed on that. Now I simply wish to cite the most important Patristic testimony to this teaching - not to the body of the article mind you, but only in a footnote! Yet you seem averse even to that. Why? Also, I've asked another editor to have a look at this. I think I'll ask more. I'd like to get this resolved soon. Delta x (talk) 20:35, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Looking back at the image and the text, I agree that neither should be in the article. The image doesn't add anything to the many more images in the article and the quote, to me, doesn't seem to quite fit there. What do you think of this?
1. First, take out the text "An indispensable and fundamental teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Papacy is a divine institution," which, where it is, breaks the natural flow of the introduction.
2. Add to the first paragraph the following: "The History of the Papacy spans almost 2,000 years from the time of Saint Peter to present day. The Papacy is the office occupied by the Pope, the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, whose authority derives from the authority of the holy scriptures. As Peter's successor, he is also the bishop of Rome, and, since the creation of the Vatican City-State in 1929, he is its Head of State. The list of popes includes 265 men, in 267 terms, plus several claimants currently regarded as antipopes.
3. The reference could be: ref-Letter from St. Augustine, in union with sixty fellow bishops at the council of Milevis, to Pope Innocent I (416 A.D.), found as Letter 176:5 in The Works of Saint Augustine, Letters 156-210, Boniface Ramsey, ed., New City Press, (2004) ISBN 156548200X ISBN 9781565482005 pp. 139-140.-/ref
The wording could be change to make it NPOV, but that's the idea.--Coquidragon (talk) 22:45, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for dropping by, Coquidragon, I think you've given a possible good compromise. But I'll wait a while before making any changes; I'd like to see if Savidan agrees with this latest proposed change. If not, well, I'm sure we'll work something out. I want to work with others, not against them! Again, thanks for your input. Delta x (talk) 20:44, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Hello. I have just seen this discussion and taken a look at the lede and the sub-section "Early Christianity" (the latter of which is under active review). I have a problem with aspects of the first para. of the lede, and with the whole sub-section just mentioned. In addition, it is not at all clear to me in what respects this article is to be distinguished from the article Pope. Section 2.6 of the instant article, for instance, is entitled "Wandering Popes", and the treatment from 1962 onwards (section 3.6) is structured as obituaries of Paul VI and John Paul II. The principal theme appears to be the temporal power of the papacy with only scattered references to spiritual authority, as to which the Council of Constance (noticed, but not in this regard) is crucial for the later development of, e.g., Gallicanism (a major theme not addressed at all). Nothing about Henry VIII or Josephinism either, and the lack of any reference to (among other topics) the evolution of the Roman Curia, papal infallibility and the First Vatican Council is also odd, as is the failure to discuss the greatly enlarged diplomatic role of the papacy under John Paul II. On the other hand, section 8 of the article Papacy is entitled "Objections to the papacy"(!!) and deals with the First Vatican Council (at section 6.1). As for the terminology "Avignon papacy" and similar, the implication is that these sub-sets are somehow qualitatively distinct from the Papacy, whereas they are merely episodes in the history of it. Savidan, who opened this particular discussion by his edit on 2 March, wrote (no doubt in the heat of the moment) that the article "is a top-level overview of the history of the Catholic Church. It should be a readable summary of 2,000 years of history of a global organization". This was later corrected, but, in all the circumstances, arguments about what is or is not appropriate for inclusion in the instant article seem to me to assume it has a greater coherence than it currently possesses (in other words, I consider that Delta x makes a reasonable case as matters stand - nor do I follow the argument against introducing the Catholic understanding that the papacy is of Divine origin). Focussing on what can be done in the context of the existing discussion, the opening para. of the lede currently reads:

The Papacy is the office occupied by the Pope, as the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, the bishop of Rome and (since 1929) as the Head of State of the Vatican City.

I suggest that a clearer distinction needs to be made between the spiritual and temporal offices, for the former is intrinsic whereas the latter is accidental. Also, the logical and conceptual relationship between the various offices, and the purpose of the article needs to be clarified. Thus, I propose this by way of alternative to the current lede (I can't fit the reference into the blockquote, so I attach it here):[1]

The Papacy is an institution fundamental to the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church and it is inseparable from the Apostolic See of Rome in as much as the bishop of Rome unites in his person various roles and exercises various offices and functions. By virtue of his role as bishop of Rome and vicar of Jesus Christ, the Pope claims spiritual authority from Jesus Christ as successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, and claims a temporal jurisdiction as Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City (a role defined in 1929).The purpose of this article is to describe the development and vicissitudes of the spiritual and temporal jurisdictions of the popes throughout history.

Coquidragon's proposal has the unfortunate effect of seeming to invert the true relationship between "successor of Peter" and "bishop of Rome": it is the man who is elected pope who becomes, by that fact, successor of Peter (not vice versa). Thus, if a bishop is elected pope, he receives full power from the moment he accepts that office, but if someone not a bishop is elected, his powers only date from when he receives episcopal ordination (CCL, can. 332 §1). Nor is it sufficiently precise to say that the pope's authority "derives from the authority of the holy scriptures". The Petrine office is attested by Sacred Scripture (e.g. Mt.16:17-19; Lk.22:31f.; Jn.21:15-17), but it derives from Jesus Christ. Although this topic leads directly into section 1.1, I leave over for now my comments on that, save to say (1) that the relationship between the pope and the college of bishops is not correctly stated and (2) that if (as is surely the case) "Many popes in the first three centuries of the Christian era are obscure figures", then nothing useful can be asserted about "most of them" (as, per impossibile, the article proceeds to do). Ridiculus mus (talk) 22:18, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

  1. ^ See Annuario Pontificio, {p.1}, and Code of Canon Law, canons 330-335.
The above poster seems to have a certain agenda to push, just like the one before. That aside, I do agree that the two intro sentences are not needed here, if for different reasons. This article is about the history of the papacy. Therefore, I am amenable also to removing much of the content in the last few sections (about recent years). I hesitated to do so the last time I rewrote this article because it would require sifting through that text to preserve an adequate summary here and to transfer whatever is salvageable to other articles. Savidan 04:54, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
If I am to be accused of pushing an agenda, it would be a courtesy for those who believe that to be the case to indicate what it might be. It is hard to cooperate when one has to work under a shadow of suspicion. What I am hoping for is input on the revised lede I proposed. I certainly wasn't agreeing to shave the lede down to the knuckle. As for the current lede, there remains confusion about what the papacy is. We start with the premiss that it is an institution, but "an institution surrounding the pope of the Catholic Church"? What is that trying to tell us? The first problem lies in the implication that pope isn't sufficiently precise in itself - which is not the case, as that wiki-link demonstrates. Next, if the article is the history of an institution, the corporate self-understanding of successive holders of the office as to what it entails cannot be wished away as the "agenda" of various editors. Successive popes have made claims as to the nature of their office(s), and the history of the papacy can only be the tracing of the development of those claims (and the resulting vicissitudes) over time. This has been the primary determining factor in the evolution of the papacy as an institution. Is this disputed? If so, what is the alternative rationale behind this article? If it has none, maybe the content should just be dis-assembled and redistributed among other existing articles.
The continuing lack of a clear sense of what the papacy is can only spell more trouble in developing the article. Mention of "the papacy" doing this or that ("consolidat[ing] its territorial claims") indicates a continued blurring of the distinction between "popes" and "the papacy". Institutions don't consolidate things - holders of offices do that (in the name of the institution). Just try thinking what an article on "the history of the British monarchy" might (and might not) cover. Since it is a purely political institution gradually brought under the rule of law, it would cover (a) the territorial extension of the holder of the office of king throughout history as well as (b) the self-understanding of successive monarchs as to the extent of their political power and (c) the rise of political and social reaction against it (which resulted in its curtailment in 1215, 1688 etc.). As I see it, the instant article is nowhere near identifying its theme, and the place for that is in the lede, surely. Ridiculus mus (talk) 07:51, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't entirely disagree with the concerns you have raised, but I do not think they are properly calibrated for this article. This article does not require as much precision as you demand. It is not necessarily about "what the papacy is." It would come closer to the mark to say that the article is about "what the papacy was." There might be questions at the margins, for example, over whether certain "antipopes" ought really be regarded as popes (even though most mainstream historians have no problem referring to disputed claimants as "popes" or "antipopes" based on the current church's list). For the purpose of this article, it is not necessary to definitively resolve such claims (as if those were the type of things Wikipedia should be definitively resolving). The acts of certain antipopes, for example, might be relevant to the history of the papacy, whether or not they were legitimate (whatever that means). The papacy does not mean merely the popes, just as a history of the U.S. presidency would be more than just a string of biographies of presidents: it would include the institution that surrounds them (cabinet appointees, etc.). Savidan 19:08, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm not demanding anything (although I am waiting to hear what "agenda" I am said to be pushing). I have asked how this article differentiates itself from the article pope. A history of the papacy article cannot avoid the basic premiss that the papacy is an institution within, and fundamental to the hierarchical structure of, the Catholic Church which (and I expand on my previous presentation) has three aspects, each of which has an historical extension deriving from an origin:- (a) spiritual (including the papal magisterium), (b) ecclesiastical (the pope's role as supreme lawgiver and chief executive within the Catholic Church), and (c) temporal (sovereign of the Vatican City State). Discussion of (a) cannot be omitted on the grounds it belongs in a theology article: that seemed to be the objection to Delta x's point, and it is not valid. The problem is not anti-popes, it is the lede. The papacy (the papal office) inheres in the Bishop of Rome, and auxiliary bodies (principally the Roman Curia) and even other institutions (such as the IOR) facilitate its functioning, but that doesn't make the papacy "the institution surrounding the Pope of the Catholic Church". The monarchy isn't an institution "surrounding" the Queen of England, nor does the Presidency "surround" a President (and no, the cabinet isn't an institution, it's an organ of government). Also, "Pope of the Catholic Church" is a solecism. Ridiculus mus (talk) 20:26, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

By "agenda" I refer only to the habit of insisting on the inclusion of more content of a specific tinge in summary style articles with inadequate appreciation of the scope and specificity of the article or any holistic approach to write such an article. It is pointless to respond (repetitively, at this point) to your general musings unless and until they are connected with more concrete suggestions. Savidan 22:51, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

The lede[edit]

In my first post I made a specific suggestion for the lede which was dissed as agenda-pushing: a quite baseless, high-handed and unwelcoming response contrary to the spirit of wikipedia. The lede was then promptly re-written ignoring my suggested version, as well as those of other editors. This arbitrary re-write centres on an awkward and ill-expressed sentence which I have criticised for its use of a faulty and even incoherent phrase "institution surrounding/ the pope of the Catholic Church". I have already explained the problem with it: the papacy is not an institution surrounding anything or anyone. As for the solecism "pope of the Catholic Church" that is, I imagine, an old argument settled long ago – see the talk page in pope, and observe that pope of the Catholic Church re-directs to pope. It should be blindingly obvious that I have made concrete suggestions and castigating my remarks as "general musings" is inappropriate and uncalled-for. Meanwhile I propose amending "pope of the Catholic Church" to "pope" as a first step to addressing the manifest defects of the lede. As for the "inadequate appreciation of the scope and specificity of the article or any holistic approach to write such an article" which I am accused of, I shall only observe that Savidan wrote in here on 2 March:-

This article is a top-level overview of the history of the Catholic Church. It should be a readable summary of 2,000 years of history of a global organization.

If that delineates the "scope and specificity of the article", no wonder my comments make no sense to him (or her). Ridiculus mus (talk) 11:20, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm not the only one that thinks the papacy is an institution. See Psuedo-Richard below. The lead should summarize the article, and that was the main thrust behind my recent changes. There is a little "solecism" in "pope of the catholic church" but not much. There are other bishops who call themselves pope today, and more that have done so historically. Plus, both articles are high value links to get put early on. Also see my comments below. I should have said "papacy", not "catholic church." Savidan 22:33, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
For crying out loud, I am NOT objecting to reference to the papacy as an institution. See my proposed lede above (again, and again, and again). As for other "popes", there is no possibility of a disambiguation issue in an article on the History of the Papacy. "Catholic" gets its link in the change I have already made to the lede. Ridiculus mus (talk) 00:20, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Scope of this article[edit]

While I did not create this article, I am responsible for the first major expansion taking the article from this revision on January 7, 2007 to this revision on February 7, 2007. Now, I recognize that no one can claim to own a Wikipedia article and so I have no more right than Savidan to dictate what the scope of this article is. Still, I'd like to share the vision I had when I expanded the article back in 2007. In brief, I think Savidan has the wrong vision when he says "This article is a top-level overview of the history of the Catholic Church. It should be a readable summary of 2,000 years of history of a global organization." That description describes the scope of the article History of the Catholic Church.

If you compare this article against History of the Catholic Church, it should be obvious that there are two perspectives being presented about the same period of time. History of the Catholic Church takes a broad view of the Catholic Church. For example, it discusses persecution by the Romans, missionaries, anti-clericalism, liberation theology. Of course, the Pope is a prominent figure in this story but the story is about the whole Church worldwide and the Pope is just the leading character.

This article, on the other hand, focuses on the institution called the Papacy. We can debate how to define what the "Papacy" is but the point here is that the Papacy is an institution in the sense that it is an office which is greater than any one Pope and that continues to be transferred to each successive Pope even if it has evolved over the centuries. A major part of the story presented by this article is how this institution was created and how it has evolved over the centuries. Another part of the story is how the Papacy has influenced the Church. Thus, while History of the Catholic Church might include a section on the sexual abuse scandals of the last few decades, such a section would not be appropriate in this article.

--Pseudo-Richard (talk) 16:50, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

I agree I mis-spoke when I said catholic church instead of papacy. When one is forced to repeat oneself over and over again, that is bound to happen. To my mind, the history of the catholic church includes many details that relate only to the church as it exists nationally or locally, and not to the pope specifically. I also agree that the papacy is an "institution" and have tried to keep that in mind with my contributions and comments. I haven't edited this article much for the last few hundred years; I think it's harder to keep the appropriate perspective as we get closer to the present. While I agree that many details of the sex abuse scandal are relevant only to the church, not the papacy, it might be true that the scandal has had an impact on the relationship of the pope to the church. Savidan 22:30, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I judge Savidan to be exculpating himself at my (or another's) expense. I shall raise it on his talk page. Ridiculus mus (talk) 01:36, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
Pseudo-Richard's February 2007 revision embodies what I and others have been arguing for - a clear statement in the lede of the spiritual and temporal aspects of the papacy over the last two millennia:- "The history of the Papacy, then, is the history of both the spiritual role and the temporal role over a timespan of almost 2000 years." My initial comments and proposed re-write were incomprehensibly perceived as agenda-pushing, but consider too the lede in the article "Papacy" in the Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edn., 1911):-

. . the name most commonly applied to the office and position of the bishop or pope of Rome, in respect both of the ecclesiastical and temporal authority claimed by him, i.e. as successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ, over the Catholic Church, and as sovereign of [the Vatican City State].

This broadly judicious treatment recognises that what is under examination is [1] the office and position of [2] the Bishop of Rome, in respect of [3] the areas in and over which the holder of that office claims to (and does) exercise authority outside his own See. Acknowledgment in the lede of papal claims to be the "successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ" was not a problem in 1911 at any rate. I have yet to read a sensible argument in here as to why such an acknowledgment offends against the principles of building an encyclopedia article a century later, or why the suggested re-writes of the lede (offered by me and others) were ignored. Blank refusal to discuss the article's scope (not to mention insulting those who attempt to engage in this indispensable process) is not a sensible manner of proceeding.Ridiculus mus (talk) 19:43, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I think its possible that "theological history of the papacy" or "geographic history of the papal states" could be legitimate topics. But this article need not be organized along those lines necessarily. I think the Britannica lead isn't that bad. But notice that the article's title is "papacy" not "history of the papacy". Again, and again, and again, it seems your comments have overlooked the difference between such topics. A article about the papacy is going to be primarily about the papacy as it exists today, with history included only as relevant. In a history article that lead would be suboptimal for a number of reasons. "successor of peter" wouldn't apply to peter himself. "vicar of christ" is just one of the many titles; different titles were added and fell out of style in different periods. the "vatican city state" was only created in 1929. etc., etc. Those are just examples of how it obfuscates history. That says nothing of the fact that that lead tells the reader nothing about the historical development of any of the things it mentions. Savidan 22:24, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Less of the weary schoolmaster tone, please. First, there is no magic in the title of an article and you draw the wrong conclusion from the title of the EB article which in fact treats of the topic historically by reference to six time periods. Periods (i) to (v) extend over pages 687-720 of vol.20, and period (vi), which covers 1900-1910, covers less than 3 columns on pp.720-722. We can agree on this much, I hope: the EB article is on all fours with the instant wiki-article. Next, stop assuming I have over-looked differences when it is clear to me you haven't given proper or any attention to what I have actually written (see just about everything you have posted in response to my comments). Finally, let's get to business:- the current intro to the wiki-article is primarily about the temporal power; but unless the spiritual claims of the papacy are recognized as central to any treatment of the history of that institution/office, discussion will get nowhere. The spiritual claims are long prior to any temporal claims, as you surely know. The Catholic Church claims that Jesus Christ conferred powers, authority and responsibility on Peter which have been transmitted through his successors. That is the point from which the history of the papacy must start and that starting point is exclusively spiritual and ecclesiastical. Temporal power wasn't even an issue until the 4th c. The lede cannot credibly ignore this reality. Also, your observation about "successor of Peter" is singularly unconvincing for the point you are trying to make. If a title fits 264 holders of an office over a time-frame of 1,978 years, the fact that it doesn't fit the first holder of the office during his 33 year tenure is hardly the basis of a credible argument against its use in the lede of a history article - especially since it is the foundational title. Let me put it this way: the papacy is the Petrine Office, held by Peter and his successors. Does that help you to grasp the issue? If you would move beyond trying to score points and address instead some of the specific criticisms and suggestions I and others have made, we might get somewhere. Ridiculus mus (talk) 01:05, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Frankish Influence to German Influence[edit]

This article must be edited to include the German influence of the Papacy following the Frankish influence. The death of Charlemagne and the subsequent division of the Frankish Empire led to the rise of a new European power, Germany (also referred to as the Empire, or the "Holy Roman Empire"). The establishment of the German state was achieved in the early 9th century, most likely in 825 or 827, when Louis the German received authority to rule Bavaria in 825, and when he married Emma of Altdorf, whose familial possessions ranged from Alsace to Bavaria, in 827. The Papacy, itself, was not given to this new country of Germany until some years later. Indeed, it would not be until 855 or 858 that the Papacy fell under German influence, essentially becoming a mouthpiece of the infantile nation of Germany, when, in 855, "Anti-Pope" Anastasius III, also known as Anastasius Bibliothecarius, was supported by the new German Empire to be pope, displacing Pope Benedict III. If the matter was not settled in 855, it was certainly settled in 858, when Pope Nicolas I was elected with Imperial support, enjoying Imperial presence in Rome before, during, and after the duration of the election of this pope. The German influence of the Papacy is something which continues unto and through this very day in which we live. It is notable that a Pope Benedict XVI, of Germany, reigns now, for Pope Benedict III was the first pope to reign over the Papacy as German influence became dominant. And now, behold, a German pope reigns again, and it is unveiled that the Papacy is, essentially, a German tool.

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