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And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The head of the Catholic Church. His official list of titles is, "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God." Not quite infallible. Wears a very Nice Hat. And Red Shoes. Has the best job security of anyone on the planet (not to mention some of the best physical security, in the form of the bulletproof Popemobile and the Swiss Guards). These days, anyway; things were very different in the Middle Ages.
However, the infallibility thing is generally misunderstood. It doesn't mean that the Pope is incapable of being wrong about anything, or even that he cannot sin - just that he cannot be wrong about anything regarding The Church , and even then, only when specifically stated as a official doctrine of the church. It's not so much "the Pope's word is law and he is perfect" as "God will stop the Pope saying anything too wrong, because he would lead lots of innocent people astray if he did." He is also infallible when adding Saints to the Canon, but that isn't really what most people (Catholics included) think of when talking about infallibility.
Elected via an unusual process that involves smoke from chimneys (the colour is indicative of whether an agreement is reached or not). The history of the position is tumultuous, to put it mildly, because of the fact that the Pope was historically the secular ruler of a chunk of central Italy in addition to his spiritual duties. As such, he was fully involved in the cutthroat world of Italian politics, which tended to involve a certain amount of ruthless wheeler-dealing. Some Popes acted more like powerful kings than religious leaders.
Catholic tradition holds that Saint Peter was the first Pope; of course, there are many theories among historians and the different Christian denominations about how the succession started. The other wiki's article on the subject is a better place to search for details.
Famous Popes (sorted in reverse chronological order):
- Francis (2013-) Former name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The current one, who's "the first" on LOTS of areas: First Pope of the Americas (hailing from Argentina; he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires before being chosen), first Jesuit pope, first Pope in centuries to succeed a living one, first non-European Pope in a millenia, etc. Known for being humble and very austere, his commitment to social justice, and trying to be a bridge between different sectors. Chose his name after Saint Francis of Assisi. Seems to be quite well-loved among Catholics, and somewhat less conservative than his predecessors: while not completely accepting of LGBT identities, he has said that LGBT people deserve respect and kindness from their peers, that they were created by God like everyone else, and that God loves them all the same. Also quite critical of neoliberalism and pure capitalism.
- Benedict XVI (2005-2013): Former name Joseph Ratzinger. He hails from Germany (and yes, he was recruited by the Hitler Youth as a kid; forcibly, as it was The Law) and was Archbishop of Munich and Freising. Was very well-known as an intellectual before his ascension. Conservative and not very good with getting the media to accurately express his views. He's tabooed condoms, and reconciled (de-excommunicated) four traditionalist Bishops who were illicitly ordained. Among them was Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier, for lack of a Google search. Looks just like Emperor Palpatine according to some, this being the source of one too many Memetic Mutations, and the accusation is not helped by the fact that his previous job was the the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (previously known as the Holy Office, or more importantly, the Roman Inquisition); his infamous nicknames "God's Rottweiler" and "Panzerkardinal" also don't help, nor does the aforementioned Hitler Youth membership. He reinstated the Tridentine Mass (traditional Latin ritual), to the glee of some Catholics and the dismay of others, and the new translation was implemented under his watch. Again, some Catholics rejoiced, some despaired, most (churchgoing ones at least) simply resolved to read the new responses until they were memorized (and in practics, . Ultimately Abdicated the Throne (in a way) in 2012 due to old age and frail health.
- Bl. (Blessed) John Paul II (1978-2005, beatified May 1, 2011, sanctified April 2014): The one before him, real name Karol Jozef Wojtyła. Polish (was the Archbishop of Krakow before being chosen), and the first non-Italian in the job for centuries. Also known, especially after his death, as Pope John Paul the Great. Unusually young (at least in recent history) when chosen (he was fifty-eight years old), partly out of a desire not to have to hold another conclave for a decade (they managed almost three). Had the second-longest papal reign in history -- a little over 26 years. Staunchly conservative, had great publicity and charisma as well as a very large presence and did travel through the whole world (hence his nickname "The Pilgrim Pope"). One trip to the Philippines saw the largest crowd in history gathered to see him. Said to have been important in the fall of the various Communist governments. Famously almost assassinated then forgave and visited his assassin in prison. Humor-minded history teachers have likened him to James Bond (without the sex, of course). Also re-invented as a super-hero, The Incredible Popeman.
- Because of the unusual longevity of his papacy, for the last two decades of the twentieth century, he was simply THE POPE. He effectively redefined the institution. When he died, there were people up to thirty years old who couldn't remember another person being Pope.
- In one example of his publicity, he had a music video on MTV as one way to reach out to youth, one of the things he was known for.
- It's not every Holy Father who gets a song about him written by Frank Zappa.
- In an interesting bit of trivia, one of the people beatified in his final years was the man he was named after: Karl Josef von Habsburg, the last Emperor of Austria-Hungary. "Karol Jozef" happened to be the Polish version of that name, given by his patriotic father. It's been said that he did so as a sign of gratitude to his namesake. (Though then again, Karl Josef DID deserve it)
- His beatification on May 1, 2011 (last step to canonization--whereupon he will be declared a saint), makes him the latest pope to be beatified. At his funeral, young people chanted "Santo subito!" (saint immediately) and Benny put his predecessor on the fast track by waiving the traditional 5-year wait before official sainthood inquiries begin. On the flip side of the coin, JPII consecrated and beatified more people than every pope in the last 5 centuries combined. (The Onion had their own theory as to why.) He was finally canonized in April 2014.
- He was also good friends with the Dalai Lama.
- Saint John Paul I (1978): The one before him, real name Albino Luciani. Former Patriarch of Venice. The first Pope who chose a composite name. Threw out tradition right and left: refused to wear jewel-encrusted tiara or be carried around in a chair, insisted on an installation instead of a coronation, wouldn't use royal "we". Taught that God was both Mother and Father. Threatened to expose (actual) Church corruption related to Vatican Bank. Lasted just 34 days. Assassination conspiracy theories abound. Nicknamed "The Smiling Pope" for his sweet and cheerful personality.
- Paul VI (1963-78): His predecessor, real name Giovanni Battista Montini, former Bishop of Milan. An intellectual type, he oversaw the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II for short), which introduced numerous sweeping reforms to Church practices. Also famous for being the first Pope in centuries to travel outside the Vatican more or less regularly. He's also famous for releasing the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reiterated the Church's opposition to birth control (or birth control that's not NFP, the rhythm method, or total abstinence). It was widely accepted, noncontroversial, and obeyed by nearly all Catholics.
- Saint John XXIII (1958-63): His predecessor, real name Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. Considered more liberal and progressive in his time, compared to his immediate predecessors. 76 years old when elected, he was expected to rule for only a short, uneventful term, but revolutionized the office by his warm down-to-earth approach to the job. He called the Vatican II Council, which would end up renewing Catholicism as a whole, and was finished by his succesor Paul VI. Generally known as "The Good Pope" for his easy smile and gentleness. Was canonized in 2014 with his fellow PopeSaint John Paul II.
- Pius XII (1939-1958): His predecessor, real name Eugenio Maria Pacelli, member of a very high class Roman family. Elected pope in 1939, he reigned during World War II. A competent, well-read, stoic, and popular pope, but accusations, made by some historians, that he did not not do enough to save the Jews during the Holocaust have made him a controversial figure after his death. However, several sources, including Israeli scholars, estimate that as many as 860,000 European Jews were saved from death through concealment in Church facilities, issuance of fake Baptismal certificates, public appeals and other methods he ordered: this means, he didn't speak up in public a lot but did work like crazy behind the scenes. Made plans for the Vatican II Council, but died before he could call it. While he was dying, he repeatedly attempted to get up and say Mass, bless pilgrims (in their original languages), and feed his favorite bird that lived near the estate.
- Benedict XV (1914-1922) Real name Giacomo della Chiesa, Only Sane Man during much of World War One, repeatedly calling for peace and doing all he could to help the conditions of the prisoners of war and other refugees.
- St. Pius X (1903-1914): Real name, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto. Chosen pope when the Austrian Emperor exercised his right of veto (as Holy Roman Emperor) against the winner of the previous conclave. The latest pope to have been canonized so far. Extremely conservative, he condemned the Modernist heresy, and like Pius IX he could be a blunt Jerkass at his worst; on the other hand, he also was known for his almost unlimited charity, as when he let the refugees from the Messina earthquake stay around the Vatican until they got official government help. He was also a reform-machine, issuing a new Catechism, giving new guidelines on liturgy and encouraging frequent reception of the Eucharist. Was actually a Country Mouse, coming from a small village where his dad was the local post office worker; his legend says that he'd rather walk barefoot to school than have his parents buying him new shoes needlessly.
- Leo XIII (1878-1903), real name Count Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci. The oldest Pope, he died at age 93 and had the third longest pontificate. A big devotee of the Virgin Mary, his nickname was "the Rosary Pope". Very concerned for social welfare and justice, his best known encyclical is Rerum Novarum, in which he strongly defends the rights of workers.
- Pius IX (1846-78): Born Giovanni Mastai-Feretti Longest ruling pope ever (32 years) and the last pope to be secular ruler over Rome and its surroundings. Real name, Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti. Often known as "Pio Nono," even by non-Italian speakers. Called the First Vatican council, which confirmed the Pope's supremacy over the Church and Papal infallibility. He officially declared the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception, based on the Lourdes apparitions. Often accused of being quite the Hot-Blooded Jerkass in person. Like John XXIII, he is also a Blessed.
- Pius VII (1800-1823): Born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti. Perhaps most famous for presiding over Napoleon's self-coronation, and subsequently being imprisoned by the Emperor of the French. His dignity of bearing during his imprisonment convinced the Congress of Vienna to restore the papal estates which had been seized by Napoleon Bonaparte. Remarkably tolerant of the idea of Democracy, and once remarked that the United States "had done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages."
- Urban VIII (1623-44): Real name, Maffeo Barberini. Pope during the height of the Baroque period in art and patron of famous architects Bernini and Borromini. His name and crest can be seen on numerous monuments in Rome today, including the decorations on St. Peter's Basilica. Member of the powerful Barberini family, whose house is now the Italian National Gallery of Art. Personal friend of Galileo, until there was a falling out over the astronomer's Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo.
- Gregory XIII (1572-85): Real name, Ugo Boncompagni. Promulgated the calendar used in the western world to this day and worked hard to put into practice the principles of the Council of Trent.
- St. Pius V (1566-72): Real name, Antonio Ghislieri. Standardised the Mass for about four centuries in the Council of Trent and excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I. Presided over the great naval victory over the Muslims at Lepanto. Probably one of the most Badass Popes due his part in assembling the Christian coalition against the Turks, and that the battle greatly revived the prestige of the politically faltering Church. His nickname was the Hound of God.
- His nickname is also a play on his order--St. Pius V was a Dominican. Domini Canes, a play on that term, means "Hounds of the Lord."
- Adrian VI (1522-23): Born in Utrecht, he was the last non-Italian pope until John Paul II was chosen 475 years later. Launched the Counter-Reformation. One of only two popes (along with Marcellus II 32 years later) to keep their birth name as their papal name.
- Leo X (1513-21): Real name, Giovanni de' Medici. The son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, mainly remembered for promoting the sale of indulgences for money to such an extent that it sparked the Lutheran reformation in the 16th century. Famously called the Reformation "some quarrel of monks". Patronized art and literature in Rome to an extraordinary extent, establishing a papal court that was the envy of Renaissance Italy.
- Julius II (1503-1513): Real name, Giuliano della Rovere. The Warrior Pope, famous for commanding troops at the front, wearing armor and directing siege works. Bitter enemy of Alexander VI. Also famous for overseeing Michelangelo when the artist painted the ceiling to the Sistine Chapel. Played by Rex Harrison in The Agony and the Ecstasy, opposite Charlton Heston as Michelangelo.
- Alexander VI (1492-1503): Formerly Rodrigo Borgia (or Borja), he was from Spain. Bought the vote and appointed a lot of relatives to Church jobs. He let Rome fall into a state of decay, and had a little party called the Banquet of Chestnuts (which, to borrow the words of Stephen Fry, revolved around a night of naked prostitute racing in the Vatican). His son Cesare's transformation of the Romagna district into a tyrannical, yet ordered state inspired a writer by the name of Niccolo Machiavelli. Also fathered a daughter, Lucrezia, widely (but wrongly) rumored to have poisoned her husbands and several lovers (she would've had a much better life had the rumors been true). He was not that far from the norm in those days, to be fair. Also, he handed King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile the Inter Caethera documents that let them start colonizing America. He was subject to a Historical Villain Upgrade for ~Assassin's Creed II~ and ~Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood~, with Cesare joining him for the latter in said upgrade. In The Borgias, he's played by Jeremy Irons.
- Alexander's descendants include most of the noble and royal families of Catholic Europe. One of his descendants was a Jesuit named St. Francis Borgia; another is actress Brooke Shields, whose paternal grandmother was an Italian princess.
- Clement V (1305-14): Real name, Raymond Bertrand de Got. The French pope who had The Knights Templar condemned for heresy, mainly as a favor to the French king, Philip the Fair, and they both died within the year (allegedly, he and the King were cursed by the last Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, while was burning at the stake). Moved the Papal court away from Rome and eventually settled in Avignon, where the Papacy would stay until 1403.
- Boniface VIII (1294-1303): Real name, Benedetto Caetani. Remembered as the Pope who started the tradition of jubilees, special years of remission of sins and universal pardon, in the year 1300. A strong supporter of the idea that the Pope held supremacy over all Christian monarchs. Said monarchs disagreed strongly, and he was dramatically taken captive by the Chief Minister of the French king shortly before the end of his life. A political enemy of Dante Aligheri, who included a few take thats against Boniface, regarding his post mortem destination, in his Divine Comedy.
- Innocent III (1198-1216): Real name, Lotario de'Conti. His papacy was the height of the Popes' temporal power. He was the last Pope who could give orders to any king in Europe and expect to be obeyed without question. Only thirty-seven years old when he (reluctantly) accepted the decision of the College of Cardinals, he was a highly intelligent and dynamic man who played Medieval Europe like a chessboard. He convoked the Fourth Lateran Council; confirmed the foundation of the Dominican and Franciscan orders; excommunicated King Philip Augustus and laid France under Interdict for rejecting for Philip's rejection of his wife Ingeborg; received England as a Papal fief from King John; excommunicated the entire crusading army of the Fourth Crusade when it sacked Constantinople. Played by Alec Guinness in Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Available as an Action Figure.
- Adrian IV (1154-1159): Real name, Nicholas Breakspear. To date the only English pope, he may or may not have issued the possible papal bull Laudabiliter which might have given the okay for Henry II to invade Ireland.
- Urban II (1088-99): Started the First Crusade at Clermont in France, inspiring his audience to pronounce the words "Deus vult!" ("God wills it!"). (There is a report, much beloved by Larry Gonick, that the two Orthodox priests the Byzantine Emperor had sent to watch the proceedings fainted on the spot from so much air coming out of the unwashed mouths of the Franks).
- St. Gregory VII (1073-1085): Real name, Hildebrand of Sovana. A well-known scholar from the famous Order of Cluny, he was involved in the Investiture Controversy with Emperor Henry IV of Germany, dealing him a spectacular Humiliation Conga by excommunicating the whole Empire along with him and forcing Henry to wait for forgiveness barefoot and almost naked by the palace gates at Canossa, where the Pope was staying. Later double-crossed by Henry and died in exile.
- Benedict IX (1032-1048): Real name, Theophylactus of Tusculum. Possibly the youngest Pope, he served three terms, beginning from the age of about 18. His main qualification was being connected to an extremely powerful family. Once installed as Pope, he used his power to satisfy his reportedly insatiable and depraved carnal desires; contemporary reports accuse him of adultery, rape, and bestiality. His first term ended in 1044 when he was forced out of Rome. He returned briefly, only to sell the office of Pope to his godfather. He returned for a third term until finally deposed for good and excommunicated for good measure.
- Sylvester II (999-1003): Real name, Gerbert d'Aurillac. He had studied science with Arabic scholars, spoke Arabic and introduced a lot of Arabic knowledge in Europe, including, some say, the Arabic numerals (0-9), which replaced the Roman ones (I, II, III, etc.). This gave him a reputation of being a sorcerer in league with the Devil. It is said that the rattling of his bones in his grave in St. John Lateran heralds the ruling pope's imminent demise. He developed the first clock. The day 31-st December is named after him. The tradition of playing and firing fireworks that day was initiated after the End of the World had not came in the year 1000 and the pope appeared in his window as usual (the belief that the World would End that year was not propagated officially by church, but most people believed it anyway).
- Lando (913-914): The last Pope prior to John Paul I to adopt an original name, and the only pope since to not have his regnal name reused by a subsequent pope.
- Lando was his birth name, not an adopted name.
- Stephen VI (896-97): Real name: also Stephen. Largely infamous for the Cadaver Synod, where he put his predecessor Pope Formosus on trial for a number of crimes... despite the fact that Formosus had been dead for about a year. He was later incarcerated and soon found dead by strangulation.
- St. Gregory I the Great (590-604): One of the four great Latin Fathers of the Church (along with St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome). Thoroughly reformed and strengthened the church. Started missions in England to convert the pagan Anglo-Saxons, whom he famously called "non Angli, sed Angeli" ("not Angles, but Angels"). He also reformed Catholic liturgy and the music to be used during Masses. "Gregorian chanting" is named after him (although it is a later invention).
- John II (533-535): Worth a mention for being the guy who started the tradition of Popes taking a new name upon getting the job since he thought his birth name (Mercurius, the Roman god Mercury) would be inappropriate.
- Zosimus (417-418): Alphabetically the last of the popes.
- St. Linus (c.67-76): The second Pope. Not nearly as famous as his predecessor...
- St. Peter (c.30-67): An Apostle of Jesus and traditionally the first pope. Originally named Šimʕōn (Simon), was nicknamed Kêfâ ("rock") by Jesus, translated into Greek as Petros, hence "Peter". Said to have fled Nero's Rome, but saw a vision of Christ and asked, "Domine, quo vadis?"("Lord, where are you going?") and was answered, "I am going to be crucified again." Immediately returned to the City; and was crucified upside down, according to his legend. However, its YMMV if he was really the first pope.
Popes Who Never Existed
- Due to numbering errors, mistakes on the part of the historians of the times and in one case the pope-elect himself, there are some papal names (and numbers) assigned to people who never existed, or are simply wrong names for popes.
- The most famous of these is probably John XX. Pope John XXI thought he was being clever by skipping a number to acknowledge a short-reigning Pope John XIV (who supposedly shared the number with the previous Pope). As it turns out, the history book was writing about two periods of time in the same pope's reign.
- The others are Popes Donus II, and Martin II and III. The Popes Stephen have some odd numbering issues, but no nonexistent popes.
- Pope Joan (see below).
The Pope In Fiction
- The Agony and the Ecstasy: As already mentioned, Rex Harrison plays Julius II as he supervises Michaelangelo (Charlton Heston) painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
- Battle Pope!
- Angels and Demons revolves around the election of a new Pope and an attempt to blow the Conclave with an anti-matter bomb. As well as abducting and killing the four leading candidates in symbolic ways. Of course, it's written by Dan Brown. The novel gives the dead pope's name as Celestine IX, and the film shows the papal ring bearing the name Pius XVI. In the book, the new Pope takes the name "Mark".
- Another religious thriller, The Third Secret, features Clement XV, elected after a presumably short-lived successor to John Paul II.
- Family Guy
Cardinal: Pope?...Pope! Is time to get up and put on your hat.
- And there was this other time when Peter kidnapped the Pope in an attempt to solve some father issues. Upon meeting Francis Griffin, His Holiness declares that Peter has the patience of a saint.
- Irregular Webcomic features Popes Paul V, Urban VIII, and Pius XI. See also the "not infallible" link above.
- All these popes are portrayed by the same LEGO minifigure. The author notes that "[This Pope's] resemblance to any earlier or later Popes is purely coincidental."
- The Robbie Coltrane movie The Pope Must Die (in some countries renamed The Pope Must Diet)
- In an episode of The Pretender, Jarod meets an old man who wants to meet the Pope before he dies, which with Jarod's help he does (the Pope is seen only briefly and from behind, in the final scene of the episode).
- In Seven Days, the main character's Applied Phlebotinum misfires and he winds up in the body of the Pope. He winds up beating the crap out of a guy who tried to shoot him while being allowed in the interrogation room. Once it's set right, the real Pope tries again... and gets the guy to confess all by just being that holy and good.
- The Shoes of the Fishermen by Morris West, published in 1963, describes the election and early part of the reign of the first non-Italian pope (Kiril I, hailing from Ukraine) in centuries. Fifteen years later, the first real-life non-Italian pope in centuries turned out to have several striking attributes in common with the fictional one.
- Trinity Blood - the Pope is a Cute Shotaro Boy.
- The Pope becomes a relatively major character in Twentieth Century Boys and the subject of a plot to assassinate him (actually an Evil Plan by the bad guys to take credit for saving him) becomes one of the major driving forces of the latter half of the story.
- Popes of various stripes show up in Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos:
- Father Paul Dure becomes Pope Teilhard I at the end of The Fall of Hyperion
- Father Lenar Hoyt is the evil Popes Julius ??-?? (I forget which) and Pope Urban XIII (I think; and don't ask how he can be so many Popes!) in the second two novels (Endymion and The Rise of Endymion). He is very important, but mostly off-camera, since under him, the Church has come to rule most of humanity...and become quite corrupt while it was at it.
- Pope Joan, a legendary female pope who supposedly reigned in the 850s. Oddly enough there were no references to her of any kind until the 13th century.
- The Big Bad of ~Assassin's Creed~ II is Rodrigo Borgia, who is the leader of the Templars in-game. The final confrontation against him occurs after he becomes Pope Alexander VI.
- Perhaps it is worth noting that, in the boss battle against him, you get to fistfight the freakin' Pope.
- The first part is probably fictional: The Prophecy of the Popes claims to predict the Popes from the 12th century to the present, although the list didn't show up until the 16th century and everything prior to then is unusually accurate (TOW says it was a forgery to help get someone elected pope, but it didn't work). Nonetheless, it's fascinating to see the coincidences pile up; it's also interesting Paranoia Fuel: Benedict XVI seems to be the penultimate pope, and the last one will guide the church through The End of the World as We Know It (live long and prosper Benedict... please).
- Technically, it only says it'd be the end of Rome as we know it. But let's face it, if any world city such as Rome were to "end" or be outright destroyed, it probably wouldn't mean anything good.
- Bennedict appears as the Big Good mentor figure in The Legend of Koizumi, organizing a Five-Man Band of mahjong-master world leaders to combat the moon-based fourth Reich. He seems to have a personal grudge against them, possibly as a reference to his having grown up in the third reich.
- Several dead Popes appear in Dante's Divine Comedy, both in Heaven and Hell.
- Sylvester appears in a short story by Richard Garnett called "The Demon Pope". The story posits that he made a Deal with the Devil as a student in order to become Pope, but manages to frame the bargain so he comes out on top and avoids losing his soul. The story also focuses on his great secular knowledge and contrasts him with the rest of the Vatican, which is portrayed as venal and ignorant.
- Hadrian VII by Frederick Rolfe is a novel about an English priest who unexpectedly becomes pope. Because the so far only English pope was an Adrian or Hadrian, that name was a natural choice for the fictional pope.
- Julius II is the subject of the posthumous 1514 fantasy Take That Julius Exclusus ("Julius Excluded from Heaven") usually credited Desiderius Erasmus, where the late Pope tries to persuade St. Peter to let him into heaven. Erasmus was specifically annoyed at his wine supplies being disrupted by the War of the League of Cambrai.
- Benedict XVI has shown up in South Park. In the South Park universe, the position of Pope was intended to be held by a rabbit, but it was stolen by power-hungry humans (which is why Jesus did not want a human Pope and chose the Incorruptible Pure Pureness of rabbits instead). This explains why the Nice Hat is so tall (to accommodate a rabbit's ears), and why rabbits are associated with Easter. Oh, and St. Peter was the first Pope. Peter Rabbit.
- The closing segment of the 1974 Porn with Plot film Contes Immoraux (Immoral Tales) portrays a fictionalized Alexander VI, his daughter Lucrezia and his son Cesare (all of the notorious Borgia family) engaging in an incestuous threesome that parodies the Roman Catholic liturgy.
- A Canticle for Leibowitz features a number of post-apocalyptic Popes over the centuries. None of them are particularly warlike.
- The Pope is a game mechanic in Medieval II: Total War, and you will hate him. If you're Catholic, he will nag you to convert more of your population to the One True Faith, tell you to build churches when you'd really like to be setting up defenses, or declare a random crusade to Backwateropolis. He will also get upset if you're fighting another Catholic nation (even if you weren't the aggressor), and will demand a ceasefire just when you're ready to launch your counter-invasion. And if you displease him, he will send Inquisitors to try your royal family members and generals for heresy, or excommunicate your faction, sending your public approval tumbling and making you fair game for your neighbors. And if you try to escape the Pope's badgering by playing an Orthodox, Pagan, or Muslim faction, you have the ever-present threat of crusades being called on you. The only upsides are 1) getting your own Cardinal elected Pope and 2) if the Pope becomes too annoying, you can order him assassinated.
- The Tudors has Peter O'Toole as the Pope (Paul III) in the second season. He's shown as being involved in the plot to assassinate Anne Boleyn so that Henry VIII will give up on his Great Matter.
- Jeremy Irons plays another pope in another Showtime series: Alexander VI in The Borgias.
- After Rome is captured by the Seljuks in the Chaos Timeline, he moves to France. Then, in the 18th century, when France becomes a secular republic, he has to flee to Spain, then to Britain when France conquers Spain... and finally to Antipodia (our Australia) when Britain becomes Socialist.
- The Black Adder parodies the ... complex religious politics of the medieval period, by having Edmund excommunicated by "all three Popes".
- This is actually a Historical In-Joke. At one point there were actually two people claiming to be Pope. They both "officially" excommunicated each other, among other things. After a while the rest of the church leadership got fed up with it and elected a third man as "official" pope, who excommunicated the other two, and managed to make it stick.
- In Blackadder II we're told that a horse has become Pope in undisclosed circumstances, and in Blackadder The Third that a previous Pope, somewhat unexpectedly, married a milkmaid and became Amy Hardwood's Uncle Isaiah.
- In Babylon 5, the Pope is referred to as "her". In Crusade, she is given the name Bernadette.
- In Transhuman Space the Pope is Zachary II, a Filipino who is sensitive to pan-sapien rights, while very conservative about transhumanism. There's also the more liberal Catholic Church (Reformed), led by Pope Martha from the Reformed Papal Seat in Chicago.
- In Armageddon: The Musical by Robert Rankin, Pope Joan is one of the three religious leaders who control the world through television. The others are Dalai Dan and L. Ron Hubbard the 23rd.
- Futurama has the reptilian Space Pope, Crocodylus Pontifex.
- The Dragon Age series has the Pope-in-all-but-name of the Chantry dubbed "the Divine". In a twist, though, all Divines are female. There is also the "Black Divine" (Does This Remind You of Anything?) of the Imperial Chantry.
- An automobile version of the Pope can be seen in the Italy scenes from the Pixar film Cars 2, complete with an anthoropomorphic Popemobile.
- "Is the Popemobile Catholic?"
- The short-lived animated series Popetown features a Pope bordering on Psychopathic Manchild and Father Nicholas, the priest who has to watch the Pope and keep him out of trouble. It got banned in some parts of Latin America, specially in Chile (with a high-class lawyer who looks hilariously like Yoda as the main promoter of the Chilean ban.)
- Surprisingly enough, considering the role of the Roman Catholic Church as a primary antagonist during much of To Aru Majutsu no Index, the Pope himself is actually somewhat of a Reasonable Authority Figure. When he learns of Fiamma of the Right's plans to plunge the world into war to obtain the Holy Right, he tries but fails to stop him. Later on, he retakes control of the Catholic Church from God's Right Seat and cooperates with the Anglican and Russian churches to bring down the Star of Bethlehem, knowing full well that Fiamma's defeat would signal the end of God's Right Seat and the era of Catholic supremacy over Christianity.
- Pope John Paul II briefly appears as The Faceless in Father Ted. Bishop Brennan has an audience with him and is catatonic up until the moment he is introduced to the Pope, where he exclaims "He did kick me up the arse!" and knocks the Pope over before screaming into a mobile phone, "Get my on the first plane back to Ireland! NOW, GOD DAMN IT!"
- The short story "Habemus Papam" by Desmond Warzel takes place in the Sistine Chapel during a papal election.
- In Kim Newman's Dark Future novels, Nelson Mandela was elected Pope in 1970.
- Which simply means she was born without Original Sin, i.e. she was a Purity Sue, if you will. It is not the same as the birth of Christ to her while a Virgin; that is called the Virgin Birth
- While John II was the first pope to change his name, it was not until John XIV in the late 10th Century that this became a recurring theme of the papacy. Before that, only three people had changed their name upon becoming pope, all to "John".