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The Development of the Papacy

Instructor: James Korthals

The pope may be the most visible and famous symbol of the Catholic Church. It is the office of the papacy and its assumed link back to the original apostles that differentiates Roman Catholicism from other Christian denominations. The papacy is said to be the oldest continuously functioning institution in the world. This course deals with papal history which is, in fact, four histories. Papal history is, first of all, the history of an idea – the idea of the Petrine Office. Second, it is the history of an institution. The Catholic Church has had one officially recognized pope at a time, but the papacy is an institution that transcends time. We need to distinguish between popes and the papacy. Third, papal history is the serial biography of 266 men, some holy, some wicked, some brilliant, and some incompetent. There were also more than 30 antipopes from 217 to 1447. Fourth, the history of the popes and the papacy is a mirror of Western civilization. At important points in history, the popes were participants, promoters, and/or critics of problems within Christendom. We would also want to look at the impact of the most recent popes on Christianity, the Roman Church, and the world.

Area of Study: Church History
Tuition: $400
Course Number: CH5091
Course Credits 1.0
Dates Term Location