Papal Conclave

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Roman Catholic Church and the Papal Conclave

On 11 February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI choose for the first time in almost six centuries to resign the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church instead of passing the responsibility on in death. The last Pope to resign his papacy was Gregory XII in 1415. This paper will discuss the history of the Roman Catholic Church’s belief in and use of the modern day “Papal Conclave”. Throughout this essay, there will be several terms used that may be unfamiliar and are key to audience understanding. Those terms are:

* Pope- “the bishop (father) of Rome as head of the Roman Catholic Church” (House) * Papal- “of or pertaining to the pope or the papacy or pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church”- (House) * Papacy-“the office, dignity, or jurisdiction of the pope”-(House) * Conclave- “the assembly or meeting of the cardinals for the election of a pope”- (House) * Catholicism-“the faith, system, and practice of the Catholic Church, especially the Roman Catholic Church”- (House)

To understand why the Roman Catholic Church holds a papal conclave to elect a new Pope whenever the current holder dies or steps down we must first understand what the position is and the importance of the role it plays in Catholicism. The position of the Pope is based on four step principle found in the Roman Catholic teachings: 1) Peter was made the leader or head of the apostles and the church by Jesus Christ. This is based on Mathew 16: 18-19; “and I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Christ, Jesus). This ability of Peter to speak on behalf of Christ in regards to the church gave them a leader that was without reproach. 2) Peter was then elected as the first bishop of Rome. Catholicism teaches...
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