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The Roman Catholic Religion and its dual authorities

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest organized body of any world religion and the largest Christian Church. According to statistics it comprises around one in six of the world’s population. The Pope is the spiritual leader of the Church and is considered by Catholics to have “supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church, and he can always freely exercise this power”.(3,p.134) Such absolute authority of the Pope over the life of all faithful is determined by the dogma of papal infallibility, that is the Pope is preserved from even a probability of an error.
The Pope’s power, hence the power of the Catholic Church, spreads not only on religious life of people but on their secular life as well. Today the Pope exercises also the supreme legislative, executive and judicial power over the State of Vatican City and the Holy See, the governing body of the Roman Catholic Church. Such present position of the Pope became possible due to the long history of the popedom, during which the Roman Catholic Church acquired dual authority. It began in the fifth century that bishops started more and more directing civil affaires in cities of the Roman Empire. The Pope himself gradually began to play more significant role in political sphere. In 754 the Frankish leader Pippin the Younger gave the Pope a parcel of land which formed the main part of the Papal States. Since 800 the Pope got the prerogative to crown the Emperor or any monarch. From this point onwards the Pope was not only the spiritual head of the Church and the territorial ruler but also a political leader. Such Popes of the Renaissance as Pope Alexander VI and Pope Julius II were especially active politicians. In order to highlight immense political influence of the Roman Catholic Church it’s necessary to cite several examples of the Pope’s decisions. Throughout several centuries the Pope was the author of bulls which had great aftermath. Thus due to such bulls in 1155 Henry II of England was authorized to invade Ireland, in 1494 the Treaty of Tordesillas which divided the world into regions of Portuguese and Spanish rule was signed, in 1570 Elizabeth I of England was excommunicated and at last in 1582 the Gregorian calendar was established.
Today the brightest example of dual authority of Roman Catholic Church is the Vatican City, where the smallest independent nation in the world lives. The Pope, Benedict XVI, is the Head of the Vatican City, which appeared in 1929 as a part of the mentioned above Papal States. In modern Europe it is the only case of absolute non-hereditary elected monarchy. Concerning Vatican City the Pope’s official title is Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City. The Pope is chosen for a life term by cardinals under the age of 80. All his main subject governmental officials also belong to the Catholic Church. They are Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone; the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and the Governor of Vatican City, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.
The Governor fulfils the same duties as a mayor and is occupied with questions concerning the local security, the state’s territory, except of foreign relations. It is the Holy See that is responsible for foreign policy and receives and sends diplomatic representatives. Legislative power is exercised by the cardinals, members of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State who are appointed by the Pope every five years. The legal system of the state is based on the canon law. The Vatican City has the population of 558 citizens, which comprises only two groups: the Swiss Guard and the clergy working as officials of the state. So actually the Roman Catholic Religion forms an essential part not only of spiritual life of people but of their everyday life as well. In spite of the miniature size the Vatican City is a very influential state in the world.
It is evident that the temporal authority of the Catholic Church does not spread only on the Vatican City but also embraces the political, economical, social spheres of life of the Catholics all over the world. The Pope takes part in international congresses, conferences, meetings, expressing the opinion of the Roman Catholic Religion on particular situations in the world, concerning topics from the euthanasia to the rural life of people. For example, participating in the conference “Values and Perspectives for Europe’s Future”, the Pope expressed an idea that “the European continent is losing confidence in its future… and seems to be on a path that might lead to its twilight in history.”(1) The Pope also said: “A community that is built without respect for the authentic dignity of human beings, that forgets that each person is created in God’s image, ends up not doing any one any good.”(1)
Thus it is obvious that today the Roman Catholic Church embraces almost every sphere of human life and is an active participant of present-day developing of the world. Having researching the subject I learned that it was not recently that the Church acquired such authority. The dual authority of the Catholic Religion was conditioned by hundreds of years, since the fifth century the clergy has been playing a significant role in politics, economics, spheres which seem to be rather distant from the Church canons. Nevertheless the influence of the Church, and of the Pope in particular, on the developing of some international conflicts, solving the problems within the Catholic world is immense. Earlier I did not know the inner organization of the Vatican City in details and so for me it was rather surprising to learn that there the Pope rules all three branches of power and in general the clergy fulfils all the duties of officials. Having read some of the Pope’s speeches I have learned more particularly the views of the Roman Catholic Church on some important political and social issues and have realized that the role that the Church plays in the modern Catholic world can be equal to the role of the prominent politicians and leaders.
Bibliography:
1. Europe headed into twilight of history, Pope warns, retrieved from <http://www.cwnews.com>
2. Grisar Hartmann, History of Rome and the Popes in the Middle Ages, AMS Press; Reprint edition (1912).
3. Reese J. Thomas, Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University P

 
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