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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first head of the Catholic Church, technically, was St. Peter.  When Jesus passed the keys of the kingdom to Peter, he became the first Pope, even though the title of Pope did not yet exist. 

But, according to Catholic teaching, all Popes are successors of St. Peter, the foundation of the Church as so declared by Jesus.

"In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus states: " And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  (Catholic Bible)

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no good answer to this question. If you ask some people, they will tell you that the first pope was Peter, but Peter never stated this. It seems that the concept of the pope only gradually emerged. At first Christianity had many sees. This means that there were certain cities that had prominent bishops. For example, there was a see in Jerusalem, Antioch and Rome. Eventually the see in Rome became more and more dominant, even though all the see started out as equals. When this continued to happen, Rome became the center, in a sense, of  the Christian church, at least from a western perspective. In the light of this, perhaps Leo in the fifth century was the first pope? Again, there are no great answers.

katemschultz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simon Peter, later known as St. Peter, one of Jesus' apostles, was the first Pope.

kinghawke | Student

According to the Roman Catholic Church, the Apostle Peter was the first Pope. although, the office of Pope cannot be found in the Bible if you use the Bible in context and using the rule of Definition.

lit24 | Student

The Pope is the head of the Roman Catholic  church.

Doctrinally the pope is regarded as the spiritual successor of the apostle St.Peter the first pope: In Matthew 16: 18-19 Jesus says "and I say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church." However it took  more than a thousand years for papacy as we know it today to be formally institutionalised. 

Historically speaking pope Pius I (142-155) was the first single bishop presiding over the diocese of Rome.

Gradually the power and the influence of the  of the pope increased as the later popes  involved themselves in temporal and political matters: In 452 AD it was pope Leo I who went outside Rome and met Atilla the Hun and convinced him to withdraw his forces. In 800 AD pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as the first Holy Roman Emperor.

But it was only under pope Gregory VII who was elected in 1073 that the pope virtually became a monarch. Historians treat the period of pope Gregory's rule as the apex of the papacy.

Needless to say, the instituion of papacy and the role of the pope is constantly changing and evolving, for in history only change is constant.

revolution | Student

The apostle St. Peter was technically the first Pope of the Catholic Church in Rome, but when you read through the holy scriptures, it does not really give a clear heading whether or not St. Peter was the official First Pope. Thus, there is some ambiguous issues lying in this problem.

spralph | Student

St. Peter the appostle

teachpinellas | Student

No need to make this answer more complicated than it is.

Both Western and Eastern Christianity claim the Apostle Peter as the first main leader of Christianity.  So he would be the first "Pope" if you will.  Most would also agree that the Apostle Paul would be the second leader or "Pope" even though he served concurrently.

When the emphasis is on "who was first?"  it's always going to be Peter.

Hope this helps.

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