Since the 12th century, the popes systematically expanded the papal institutions as the highest administrative authorities (Roman Curia) and highest ecclesiastical judicial authority (Inquisition). The papacy of the 12th and 13th centuries is characterized by the fight against the heretical movements in the West (Cathars, Waldensians) and the crusades with the aim of recapturing territories lost to Islam (especially in Palestine), but especially by its conflicts with the Staufer Friedrich I in the 12th century and Friedrich II. However, after the papacy under Innocent (Innocent III) had reached the height of its secular power, both to the weakening of the Empire and the papacy, and as a result had the extensive dependence of the papacy on the French kingship as a consequence. In contrast to the unrestricted priority of spiritual over secular power, which Boniface VIII in the bull Unam sanctam (1302) claimed unreservedly, Philip IV demonstrated (among other things in the dispute over the Templars) the complete autonomy of the state and enforced that Clement V 1309 the papal residence from Rome to Avignon misplaced. The “exile” of the Popes in France, which lasted until 1376, was characterized by sophisticated financial management (granting of benefits), lavish patronage, which reached its peak in Rome during the Renaissance, and politically influenced papal elections. Although Rome became the seat of the Pope again in 1376/77, the Avignon line continued, so that since 1378 two popes rivaled each other for legality. The resulting occidental schism (since 1409 with three competing popes) was not ended until 1417 with the election of Martin V by the Council of Constance. The 14th and 15th centuries were characterized by numerous internal church reform efforts (reform councils), which however did not lead to overcoming the crisis of the papacy. The most serious consequence of this was the breakup of the Western church unity in the wake of the Reformation, whereby the overstretching of the political claim to power by the Renaissance popes and the associated neglect of their spiritual office as well as the financial practices of the church (especially the indulgence trade) were the main points of attack of the reformers.

It was not until the Council of Trent (Tridentinum), which was carried out in contrast to the positions of the Reformation, that an internal renewal of the papacy resulted. The Renaissance popes (especially Julius II) made lasting historical merits as patrons of the arts. Under the pontificate of Sixtus V. began the expansion of the Roman Curia to the central administrative organ of the universal church, by means of which the Church v. a. in the 17th and 18th centuries in the spirit of strict papal centralism and absolutism. The ecclesiastical disputes of the late 18th and 19th centuries had three main directions on the part of the papacy: politically against liberalism; ecclesiastical politics against various national church efforts (Gallicanism, Febronianism, Josephinism); theologically against modernism. Within the church, neo-scholasticism and ultramontanism were decisive. Gregory XVI. (Encyclical “Mirari vos”, 1832) and Pius IX. (Syllabus and encyclical »Quanta cura«, 1864) branded numerous developments in politics, culture and science as »time errors«. The papalist movement reached its climax at the 1st Vatican Council (1869–70) with the dogmatization of the primacy of jurisdiction and the infallibility of the Pope, but suffered a major defeat in 1870 with the loss of the Papal State. Pope Leo XIII was the first to address the social problems of the industrial age . with the encyclical Rerum novarum (1891). Significant events in the history of the papacy in the 20th century were the formation of the sovereign state of Vatican City (1929; Lateran Treaties) and the convening of the 2nd Vatican Council (Vatican Councils) by John XXIII.

According to usprivateschoolsfinder, the council initiated a fundamental reform of the Catholic Church (aggiornamento), its (cautious) “opening” to the world, ecumenical dialogue (ecumenism) and dialogue with the world religions. In the spirit and positions of the 2nd Vatican Council, all successors to John XXIII. held. John Paul I placed his pontificate – one of the shortest in church history – under the guiding principle of pastoral care and the social work of the church.

The pontificate of John Paul II  - the second longest in church history (1978–2005; after Pius IX., 1846–78) – shaped on the one hand the emphasis on papal authority and “Roman centralism”, in which different sides inside and outside the Catholic Church saw what had been achieved by the 2nd Vatican Council at risk in parts, but on the other hand the Pope’s desire for a new quality of the ecumenical fellowship of the Christian churches, for which numerous ecumenical initiatives (particularly the ecumenical encyclical Ut unum sint, 1995) and those with the holy year 2000 connected spiritual-ecumenical intention of the Pope. Lasting significance for the Catholic Christians gained the pontificate by that of John Paul II.Catholic in his pastoral visits, Cardinal appointments and Causes of Saints in a unique way done shaping and anchoring of church identity as the consciousness of the times overarching and people of very different peoples, cultures, Languages, nations and states unite the universal Church .

Benedict XVI In his first sermon as head of the church (delivered on April 20, 2005, the day after his election) at the 2nd Vatican Council, he declared himself to be a guide for the shaping of the Catholic Church in the beginning of the 3rd millennium, but also took steps during his pontificate for the re-integration of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X. into the church community. His term of office was overshadowed by scandals surrounding cases of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and the so-called Vatileaks affair. Benedict XVI achieved historical importance . through his voluntary resignation in early 2013.

His successor Francis is the first Latin American and also the first Jesuit to lead the Catholic Church. The choice of name points programmatically to a “Church of the Poor” as the goal of his reform efforts.


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