When the papacy was first established, Catholics held on to the belief that the pope would perform as the interim leader as they awaited the return of the Davidic King. As the pope carried the title of royal steward, “he bore the authority and government of the Davidic King” (The Pope as the King’s Steward). Because the papacy can be attached to an exchange between Jesus and Peter before Jesus’s final departure, Christians legitimized the authority of the pope as divine right. If the Lord incarnate ordained one of his disciples to remain as a vessel for his will, it was in the best interest of the people to recognize this individual and any succeeding popes as significant figures of authority. Until the return of Christ, those of the Catholic faith have the pope to look to in matters regarding their way of life.
In earlier instances of history, the authority of the pope was elevated beyond that of sovereigns. During the medieval era in particular, the duty of the pope entailed “spiritual responsibilities [that] gave them an authority greater than that of secular...
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...he power of the pope, the encompassed several possibilities concerning how it could distribute its power. Especially because the pope acted as a vessel for God’s will in place of the Davidic King, Christians felt that it was their obligation to adhere to his commands. During the middle ages, the popes brought Christians through the crusades, deposed and excommunicated kings, and held inquisitions. These occurrences were not without their faults, and the addition of the Bubonic Plague, the Great Schism, and increased nationalism reduced the power of the pope to what the world is familiar with now. Although the pope is still well-received, his power will never amount to that of Pope Innocent III’s. Although the papacy has lost power in almost every sphere, Christianity itself still exerts a surprising amount of pressure on the way western nations conduct their affairs.
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