by Simon
Lien-yueh Wei




The Development of the Election of Pope





The main reason of the tension for the election of the Pope between the church and the state is because both of its leaders want to control the election.  

Two opposing theories

(1) The theory of the church:
Christ gave the highest power to Peter and Peter give it to his successor. As the successors of Peter, bishops were higher than the king so that bishops can choose the pope. Moreover, the church gives power to king for ruling the affairs of the state (Two Words Theory). The election of pope is the affairs of the church, not of the state. Hence, the church can choose the Pope by itself.

(2) The theory of the king:
Church was supported by lands, and Bishop received lands from the king as his vassal. Humans were made as social beings. The king obtained his power from God through the assignment of people. As a ruler, the king was exercising the power to represent the people including Christian. Moreover, there was the king long before there was the bishop or church in humans’ history. Thus, the king was higher than the bishop and has power to choose Pope.


The development and events of the election of the Pope

3th-10th Century
The church control basically the election of the pope.

11th Century
1. Henry III
He discovered that there were three persons claiming as the Pope. He deposed all three and nominated a series of reforming Pope. The king controls the election of Pope.

2. Leo IX
There were forty cardinals, including bishops, priest, and deacons. They had responsibility of electing the pope.

3. Nicholas II : Only the bishops had a vote.

4. Gregory VII
There was a conflict between Gregory VII and Henry IV regarding the election of the pope. Although Henry used military force to make Gregory VII run away from Roman, he did not succeed to control the election.

12th Century
1. Synod of Worms
The cardinals elected the pope. Then the king approved the candidate.

2. Revision of procedure
One vote for each cardinal. Two-thirds elects and makes a pope.

15th Century
The pope controls the cardinals and the election of the pope. (Conciliarism) The settling council of bishops tried to control the election and removal of Pope, but it failed. Pope still controls the cardinals and the election. 



Burns, Patout, Lectures of “The Formation of Christian Tradition” in Vanderbilt Divinity school, 2004 Fall.



Home Page