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The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the absolute monarch of Vatican City. He is believed by Catholics to fulfill this role as the Successor of Saint Peter, also making him Vicar of Christ and the Vicar of the Prince of the Apostles. The office of the Pope is called the Papacy; his ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the Holy See (Sancta Sedes in Latin) or Apostolic See (this latter, on the basis that both St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred at Rome). Early bishops occupying the See of Rome were designated Vicar of Peter; for later Popes the more authoritative Vicar of Christ was substituted; this designation was first used by the Roman Synod of 495 to refer to Pope Gelasius I, an advocate of papal supremacy among the patriarchs. Marcellinus (d. 304) is the first Bishop of Rome whom sources show used the title of Pope. In the 11th century, after the East-West Schism, Gregory VII declared the term "Pope" to be reserved for the Bishop of Rome. The current (265th) Pope is Pope Benedict XVI of Bavaria, elected April 19, 2005 in papal conclave.
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The First Crusade was launched in 1095 by Pope Urban II with the dual goals of liberating the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslims and freeing the Eastern Christians from Muslim rule. What started as an appeal by Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos for western mercenaries to fight the Turks in Anatolia quickly turned into a wholesale Western migration and conquest of territory outside of Europe. Both knights and peasants from many nations of Western Europe travelled over land and by sea towards Jerusalem and captured the city in July 1099, establishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and other Crusader states. Although these gains lasted for less than two hundred years, the First Crusade was a major turning point in the expansion of Western power, as well as the first major step towards reopening international trade in the West since the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
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John Paul II as a priest in Niegowić, Poland, 1948

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Angelo Sodano (born 23 November 1927) is the Dean of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church. He was the Cardinal Secretary of State in the Roman Curia from 1991 to 2006, now holding the title of Cardinal Secretary Emeritus of State. Sodano was first appointed Secretary of State by Pope John Paul II and then reappointed by Pope Benedict XVI. In April 2005 he succeeded Benedict as Dean of the College of Cardinals. He was the first person to serve simultaneously as Dean and Secretary of State since 1828.

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  • "War should belong to the tragic past, to history: it should find no place on humanity's agenda for the future." Pope John Paul II
  • "Justice requires that to lawfully constituted Authority there be given that respect and obedience which is its due; that the laws which are made shall be in wise conformity with the common good; and that, as a matter of conscience all men shall render obedience to these laws. " Pope Pius XI
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  • ...Pius IX has had the longest reign as Pope?
  • ...That Antipope Felix V was the last historically significant Antipope?
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