The pope has also traditionally been regarded as patriarch of the West, with the great majority, although not all, of the Christians recognizing his authority as pope also under his authority as patriarch. This question of areas of authority is practical only with regard to some of the Eastern-rite patriarchs in communion with the pope who may, for example, appoint bishops without papal confirmation. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI dropped patriach of the West from among his official titles in an ecumenical gesture toward the Orthodox Eastern churches; the title had been assumed by Pope Theodore I in 642. The pope generally lives in Rome, of which a portion (Vatican City) is politically independent and under his rule; the pope is thus head of a state and owes no political allegiance (see Vatican City; cardinal; papal election).
For a chronological list of popes and antipopes see the table entitled Popes of the Roman Catholic Church. For the ecclesiastical framework, the teaching, the history, and the geographical distribution of the church, see Roman Catholic Church. See also Christianity.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.