Papal supremacy

Papal supremacy is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, the visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful, and as pastor of the entire Catholic Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered:[1] that, in brief, "the Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls."[2]

Pius IX opening the First Vatican Council, illustration. It is during this council that papal supremacy was proclaimed a dogma.

The doctrine had the most significance in the relationship between the church and the temporal state, in matters such as ecclesiastic privileges, the actions of monarchs and even successions.