Pope

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The bishop and patriarch of Rome, supreme spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. He is also the head of the Vatican state. His office and jurisdiction is known as the Papacy. The pope is elected for life by a secret vote of those cardinals who are under the age of 80.

Jesus' disciple Peter is considered by Roman Catholics to be the founder of the Christian church and the first pope. However Protestants claim that documentation of this is very weak, and that in the first few centuries of Christianity, the Bishop of Rome didn't have any special privileges.

The Vatican Council 1869-1870 defined the dogma of papal infallibility whereby the pope, when he speaks ex cathedra, does not have the possibility of error on any matter of faith and dogma. All other Christian churches, and many Catholics, reject the doctrine of papal infallibility. Although it may be unrelated, Pope Paul VI has stated that he will never speak ex cathedra.

See also antipope, sedevacantism.

List of all popes:

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