In Roman Catholic Church, the Papacy is not only an office or a position, but a sacred dignity which entitles the Pope to be the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, Archbishop and Metropolitan Area of the Roman Province. He is also the Primate of Italy, Patriarch of the West. Pope has been historically elected by Roman cardinals, who then helped the Pope to exercise his ministry; when the cardinals died or reached the age of 80, the Pope would appoint new ones. The Pope governs the Church along with a number of various congregations, secretariats and tribunals. The most important of them is the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (previously called the Holy Chamber), responsible for the purity of Catholic doctrine and Christian morality. The most important tribunal is the Holy Roman Rota, which hears cases related to marriage and divorce. Since 1929, the Pope is the head of the Vatican—the tiny sovereign state located on the territory of Italy.
Back in history, The Great Schism, which took place in between 1378 and 1417 during the Hundred Years War and almost led to a split of the Catholic Church, had shown that the papacy became an instrument of political intrigues for powerful centralized states. The decline of the papacy in the late Middle Ages led to the establishment of a king subordinate structure in national churches in a number of countries, including England and France.
Yet, even during the times when papacy seemed to be at the top of its power, theocratic popes faced a progressive course of historical development. The gradual folding of the West centralized feudal monarchies doomed theocratic popes to fail. The enormous wealth of the Catholic Church aroused lust secular feudal monarchy and the papacy came into inevitable collision with the royal authority. The royal power continued to fully support the papacy in its struggle against the popular movements, but at the same time became an interference of the Popes in the internal affairs of state. Roman Church had to only convey the functions it was expected to. The first decisive blow to the papacy was delivered from France.
To combat the heretical movements and to suppress freedom, papacy created the inquisition. Yet, the inquisition had been existing long before that as a secret court of Roman Catholic Church.
In Roman Catholic Church, the Papacy is not only an office or a position, but a sacred dignity which entitles the Pope to be the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, Archbishop and Metropolitan Area of the Roman Province. He is also the Primate of Italy, Patriarch of the West.