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tv   Pope The Most Powerful Man in History  CNN  March 30, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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lies within every facet of the modern church. with all progress comes sacrifice. despite the corruption of fallible men, the papacy remains divine. >> one of the most powerful men on earth holds a position that has existed for nearly 2,000 years. as the world changes and faith evolves, his authority remains. what began with one apostle, has become 1.2 billion followers under one man. he is the head of the catholic church, the pope. and this is his path to power.
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in this episode, never before seen artifacts from the earliest days of christianity show how a small group of rebels turn an illegal movement into the largest religion on the planet. and how, against all odds, the papacy endures. ♪
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>> this is something that has never happened before. the vatican this morning publicly displayed what's believed to be bone fragments from st. peter an apostle of jesus christ and the world's first pope. >> pope francis is the 200th -- the 266th leader of the catholic church. for the past 200 years, despite an ever changing world, catholics look to the pope for faith, morality and divine guidance. but who is this figure that means so much to so many, and how did he become one of the
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most powerful men on earth? >> people look to the pope to have something to say on almost everything. >> he transcends the catholic church. >> i don't think there's any other religious figure that people recognize as much as they recognize the pope. >> but before the pope had the ear of 1.4 billion followers worldwide, he was a philosopher, a leader of an underground movement, and an outlaw. peter was one of the 12 apostle. he used to walk with jesus, essentially. so he's an important figure for is that reason alone. >> in the gospels, when the apostles go fishing in galilee, peter is told he is peter, which
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means rock, and i will build my church upon this walk and i will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. >> and peter said, you're the christ, you're the son of god. so he became the authenticating voice. >> peter himself as the one who voiced the confession, becomes a symbol of the unwavering faith that jesus is the son of god which is the unwavering -- >> the foundation of the sacred office is entwined in peter's legacy. >> the pope saw if you like the inheriters of the apostolic generation. it's this idea of the papacy being the rock. a sense of performance in an age of anxiety that people know is steady. >> peter preaches that jesus
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christ died for the sins of man. and that is the key to salvation. others teach different variations of that message, but regardless of interpretation, in the first century, any follower of christ is seen as a threat to the roman empire and hunted for his beliefs. >> when you think about the beginning of the christian movement, it's astonishing that this movement went anywhere, people are being arrested, they're being tortured, they're being killed in public. you see competition between different disciples, different versions of the message of jesus. >> all of christ's followers spread throughout the mediterranean preaching his message. but the apolsles follow him. >> there were all these different cities that had
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healthy christian churches in them. but the only one that had an apostle at the center was in rome which was where peter was centered. >> roam is an empire. if you're christian, you say you believe in a man, jesus, as the king of all kings, and not the roman king, you put yourself at odds with the roman empire. that becomes a dangerous situation for christians. >> despite the dangers facing christians in rome, peter holds gatherings where he preaches is gospel of jesus christ. >> women are slaves, they can e bought and sold, and they can be whipped and raped. and then there's a person that's saying you're a person of dignity and you are a child of god, so that makes you worthwhile. that's part of the power of this movement. >> peter's meetings become more and more popular.
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inevitably, he catches the eye of one of the cruelest and most sadistic rulers in roman history, emperor niero. in the summer of 64 a.d., a raging fire burns rome for six days, destroying two-thirds of the city. >> people say that emperor niero started the fire so he could advance his own building projects. >> some of rome needed to catch on fire so that he could build the kind of temples and things that he wanted to honor himself. >> rumors that niero started the fire himself begin to fly, and he needs a skcapegoat.
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>> people started questioning his sanity, and his capacity to rule. he looks around for people that other people don't like. >> the most convenient people to blame it on are the christians. >> niero says these are the people who are the problem. they're the ones who set the place on fire. let's do terrible things to them. >> niero orders his soldiers to gather up asy chians as they can find. >> they are tied to poles and burned alive in his garden. >> he had some of them torn up by wild animals. >> it isn't long before peter is swept up in the raids. he's convicted of insurrection and sentenced to die on the cross. >> he is crucified upside down, which is a really horrible way to die. he says that he does not want to die the same way that his lord
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and savior dies, he wants to die upside down because he's not worthy to die in the same way that jesus died. >> peter's death is a devastating loss to the early christian community. but dying in the name of his god, makes him a martyr and secures his legacy as the first true leader of the church, that will one day become the most powerful force on the planet. history names peter the first pope.
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christians realized they must organize their movement if they had any hope of survival in the face of roman tyranny. >> they thought like the american revolutionaries, they said we all have to stay together or we'll all hang separately. >> they had an agreement with a set of rules. >> deep within the private library of the great patriarch in jerusalem, lives the 2,000-year-old document that outlines the first cohesive guidelines of christianity. it's called the ddk. >> this document actually represents the formation of the
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church in its primitive state. >> this sacred text was lost until 1883, when a greek translation from the 11th century was found. out of fear of theft or desecration, it has never before been seen on camera until now. >> you didn't have a bible back then. how do you transmit the faith? how do you tell them how to behave? how do you tell them what to do in a service? this does all of that for you. >> but outlining the rules is only the first step. christians also need an infrastructure to enforce those behaviors. >> we tend to think about christianity as being all these basilicas around the world. but before that what you had were basically house churches. and if you had a series of small house churches, you needed somebody to be over there. >> christians were trying to set up an organized community, so that people would recognize who
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the members of that church were, a kind of hierarchy, sort of modelled on the roman army. >> bishops were the most senior church members in that particular city. >> because rome was the capital and the center of the empire, the bishop of rome becomes the leader of the other bishops, a position that will eventually become known as pope. for 200 years after peter's crucifixion, christians roman emperors. persecuted by until an unlikely hero emerges. >> constantine was a great military commander. and when it was his turn to become a junior emperor, he decided to fight his competition. >> constantine, the pagan commander of rome's western army, declares war on the
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commander of the east to decide who will be sole emperor of rome. and the day before the battle, he has a startling vision. >> he looks up and he sees the sign of the cross. >> and he thought it was a promise from jesus that he would win the battle. >> konstantin -- constantine does win the battle. and the new emperor is forever changed by his vision. >> he decides he's going to be a christian. >> one of his first official acts as the first christian emperor of rome is to issue the edict of milan. this not only makes
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christianity legal but favored. >> this is a big one. this is the first time a roman emperor decided to ally with the church. so that means the whole known world was at the disposal of the church. >> as nstantine moves christianity from outlawed to exalted, church and state become intertwined. >> constantine saw in the empire, a new ideology that would give everybody the same god, the same moral values. >> constantine opened up the space where the bishop of rome could become the spiritual fixture on the scene. >> what constantine did is take the bishops who had been previously persecuted and make them his agents. he treated them like members of his administration. now he would take the bishop of egypt, the bishop of jerusalem, the bishop of athens and state power would go through them.
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>> bishops become important people in the local community. if people have disputes with each other, they were likely to go to a bishop to get it worked out. >> you had to go to him to get the food supply. that made him enormously wealthy and influential. >> he gives christians tax breaks and makes churches tax exempt. >> constantine is the reason why churches are now in the u.s. tax free entities. constantine is the reason why churches have this special status. >> from the time of constantine, the church became the ally of rulers, as rulers became christian. there was no feeling that there should be a separation between church and state. church and state work together. >> to honor his newfound faith, constantine commissioned spectacular building projects in
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christ's name throughout the empire. among the most famous of them, the church of the holy accept la -- seplacure in jerusalem. among the most famous of them, the church of the holy the hole in the floor is the place where they say jesus was originally buried. >> but they begin fighting with each other. >> the biggest problem during this time was doctrine. in some people's eyes, jesus was born of a woman, he can't be divine, there's big questions is jesus human, is he divine? is he both? >> you would think this is hair splitting doctrine here, but some people were willing to
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kill you for that. christians willing to kill other christians for those differences. >> to unite the empire, constantine must organize his bishops under one roof or risk having the christian empire he's built come crashing down. your sleep number setting. does your bed do that? it's the last chance for clearance savings up to $800 on our most popular beds. ends saturday. visit for a store near you. ♪ ♪
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gone from an outlawed sect to the ruling force of the western world. >> constantine was the head of the state and the head of the church. he was still a roman, and in the old roman religion, the emperor was also the chief priest. constantine definitely took that approach to his faith, rather than what we would now think of as more of a separation of powers. >> but despite christianity's new political advantage, after centuries of being persecuted for not believing in the roman gods, christians are now killing each other over disputes in church doctrine. >> constantine needed a way to bind this empire together. he concurred it, but it was crumbling. he was angry, and he said, look, these things you're quarrelling about are just trivial. i stopped the persecutions, you should be grateful. so he called a council to unify
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the church. >> the council, as i see it, is the first time they bring all the bishops together to talk to each other. >> the council marks the first of the church's leaders. the foundation of the pope's cardinals today. >> the bishops were commissioned to write what a christian should believe. >> constantine manages to get the bishops to agree on one singular statement of faith, still used to unify christians today. the creed. >> the creed says we believe in jesus christ as god almighty. and the council decides that jesus is human and fully divine. >> constantine says if you sign it, you're a christian, you're one of us. if you don't, you're out and you're probably going to go to
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hell. so this became the battle cry for christians throughout the world. >> with the church unified after nysea, constantine looks to further stabilize the religious foundation of his empire. he establishes a second hub of church power in the east. he names the new capital after himself and calls it constantanoble. >> there's a bit of back and forth between roam and sk the christians in the et tend to look at the christians in the east as just barbarians. they would say the catholics in the west baptized their children in wolf saliva. the west erners look at the east as being not strong. >> the hierarchy of clergy under
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bishops who reported to the bishop of rome had been working well. but now with constantnoble acting as a second, there was another who believed he should be in charge. >> there were disputes between the bishops of rome, and the bishop of constantnoble. each one saw himself as a powerful leader, and each one was competing with the others for authority. >> despite constantine's best efforts to unify his empire under one church, the east and west remain at odds. seven years after the counsel of nisea, constantine dies, leaving the church still divided and rome without a strong military leader. for over 100 years following constantine's death, rome is under attack from pagan
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barbarians to the north. after a series of invasions and bloody clashes, the barbarians overthrow the last emperor of rome. the eternal city, once home to 2 million people, is reduced to less than 30,000. once the political and spiritual center of the empire, rome is now almost abandoned and stays that way for nearly 200 years. >> rome in the sixth century was muddier, and messier, and perhaps less efficiently governed than it had been in the time of constantine. >> rome is not a good place to live. it's very dangerous, the standard of living is very low. >> rome was virtually gone.
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the church's center was in constantnoble. >> as rome falls, and constantnoble flourishes, much of the church's terminology becomes greek instead of latin. the bishop of rome begins to be referred to as the greek word for father, papas, or pope. during this period of barbarian invasions, there is no centralized government left in rome. the church is the only institution capable of addressing the needs of its suffering country. >> the people of rome were enormously dependent on the church as a state. not as a state that oversaw things between god and man, but a church that oversaw food, water and safety. >> but powerful pagan families looking to control the fallen
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city, see an opportunity. with no official means of protection, the papacy is about to come under direct attack.
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by 795, pagan barbarian
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families have been battling for control of rome for almost two centurys, and the papacy is all that stands in their way. >> the lombards are one of the barbarian invaders of the italian peninsula. they seek to conquer rome and take over the territory that's being ruled by the papacy. >> during an easter procession, the lombards viciously attack pope leo iii. >> their faction wrestles him to the ground and cut off his tongue, but he lives through it. >> pope leo iii realizes that he needs protection and with no army of his own, he must make an alliance. he chooses the most powerful king in the western empire,
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charles the great of france, better known as charlamane. on christmas day in the year 800, pope leo iii calls charlamane where he calls him the roman emperor. >> that moment is really important. what it does, it puts the church together with the empire. if you have the pope crowning a king, that means the pope is giving that earthly king temporal and divine power. >> pope leo iii's decision to crown charlamane as the first roman emperor marks the change.
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>> the relationship had not been good for a while. >> charlamane in h view was the only christian emperor left. he developed a very stand off issue with the ruler of constantinople. >> in the two centuries after charlamane reunite under the papacy of rome, the eastern part of the empire breaks off and begins to call itself the greek orthodox church. >> the word catholic meant universal. until the 11th century, it was just the one church. it wasn't until the church at constantnoble broke off from its
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allegiance to the pope that we begin to see the reference to the roman catholic church as being the center, but the church that is centered at rome. >> 200 years after the historic alliance between charlamane and pope leo, the patriarch reigns in the east under constantinople, until constantinople finds itself facing an innate threat. >> islam is the powerful religion of the period. if i was betting at the time, i would have certainly bet that islam and the islamic empire was the wave of the future. >> muslim armies have been steadily making their way through the arabian peninsula, concurri new lands and uniting
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them under islam. >> islam had swept through what we now say is modern turkey and were getting fairly close to constantinople itself. >> when you can see muslims across the water, it's time to find which christians are left to help you. >> emperor aleki i of constantinople writes to the bishop of rome for help. >> he's asking 200 knights to help defend his city. what he gets is something entirely different. he's in part responding to an appeal from alexis. as the leader of the church, he's looking to improve the spiritual well-being of his people, but he's also a
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politician. >> seeing an opportunity to unite eastern and western christians and solidify his place as a leader he calls a gathering together of christians, knights, and townspeop townspeople. >> they were told about the plight of the christians in the east who had had their lands concurred, horrible mutilations of nuns, clergy and pilgrims because of their faith. what urban did, which was very clever, rather than asking them to go and fight for the east, he also asked them to go all the way to jerusalem, to restore the land that had been taken by muslims. >> the response is amazing. people shout, god wills it. this is the moment that crusading begins across western europe. >> pope urban was an example of
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a new kind of pope, austere, half a personality and the papacy is rallying, purifying, inspiring force, calling on people to do something extraordinary for god, and it had enormous imaginative power. >> for the first time, the pope, a religious leader, once at the mercy of barbarians and dependent upon kings for protection, raises an army and commands a war.
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narrator: join parents and experts at a free online resource about learning and attention issues to help your child thrive. in 1094, the eastern church calls upon the pope in the west to help them fight off the incoming muslim armies. the pope sees this as an opportunity to reunite christians and restore the reign of the catholic church. >> there's a tribal aspect to it, that our tribe is being attacked, just as we still do today, you know, 9/11, somebody attacks the united states, people are lined up at induction
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centers to go off and fight. >> when he calls for the first crusade, pope urban ii soldifies himself as a world power. the pope is no longer just a spiritual guide, but a commander at the head of an army. a zealous swell of 30,000 follow him to jerusalem. >> the crusades were first and foremost, an act of piety. the crusades are the only case i know of in human history, where you have thousands of warriors, marching thousands of miles, deep into enemy territory, for no good strategic reason. >> the warriors begin their crusade through the rinneland and what will become modern day germany. the destruction in the name of christ is waged against all nonbelievers in their past.
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>> one of the terrible things that this group does is they attack the jews of the rhineland, and they decide that the jews are responsible for the killing of christ, and if they are going to attack the enemies of the church, they will do so at home before they do so abroad. >> the rhineland massacres were a religious war at the command of the pope. >> once the army gets into asia minor, it's into muslim hell territory. the crusade has managed to capture the town of nicea, and then they battle against muslims and they capture antioch. >> emboldened by their string of unlikely victories, the creators
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are convinced beyond all doubt that god is on their side. so they begin to return the christianity back to jerusalem. >> their lord, jesus christ had had his lands taken, and it was the crusaders' responsibility, therefore as his servants to come to his aid to restore those lands. >> the crusaders were extremely violent, they would attack people in their homes. there were mass rapes, killing of children, they would set fire to entire residential neighborhoods, it was horrible. >> they have succeeded in liberating the city of jerusalem from the hands of the muslims. >> and this for generations will be hailed and recognized. >> after 400 years as a muslim temple, the crusaders replaced
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the crescent atop the sacred dome of the rock and turn it into a church. >> partly motivated by religious zeal and motivated by conquest. the crusaders were exclusionary. muslims were not allowed to live in christian areas. >> jerusalem remains in christian hands until 1187, when the hero of islam draws together the muslim nearest to recover the holy land. >> as the muslims close in on jerusalem once again, pope urban iii realizes that in his predecessor's quest to defend christianity, he may have invited its demise. it's time for the 'sleep number spring clearance event'. the dual adjustability of the sleep number bed allows each of you to adjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support... your sleep number setting... for your best. sleep. ever.
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the pope really has to walk a tightwire when he comes through the holy land. you have judaism, christianity and islam. massive faiths basically living on top of each other here. >> in 2014, pope francis attempts to unify three major religions in spite of the sanctuaries of holy war that has divided them.
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pope urban ii called for violen in the me of one world unr one catholic church. pope francis is still working to heal the wounds his predecessor inflicted almost 1,000 years earlier. >> religion produces such varied emotions. there's tragedy, there are crimes. it's a story of 2,000 years of such things. and the popes have been part of that story right from the start. >> in 1187, after only 88 years under christian rule, salladi's muslim army defeats the crew y
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crusader's. >> some of his people suggest they should destroy the holy sepulchre. it is christ's tomb. and he says, no, let's let it survive. saladin is a man very much aware of the power of mercy. >> his rule was very different from that of the crusaders. >> he was motivated by the belief that christians, muslims and jews can live together peacefully. >> he entrusts the key of the church to the holy sepulchre to a muslim family. even today it's a muslim's responsibility to let christian worshipers in and out of the holiest church in christendom. pope urban iii is forced to surrender the notion that christianity must rule the world and negotiate new relationships with other faiths. >> the recognition that it's a christian space that has to be protected by its muslim rulers
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not in the sense of actually preventing people from coming in, but protecting christians' rights to worship. >> opening and closing the doors to the holiest christian site in jerusalem has been the responsibility of the alasini man for centuries. >> we are protecting the church. since 1027 until now. >> saladin's gesture has come to symbolize much of what the modern papacy represents. divine leadership in face of warring religions. >> when i came every morning to opening the church, standing in front of the gate, i see my father and i see my grandfather and i also see saladin ayyudi waiting to open the church.
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this is an honor. there's no word to explain how it's -- it's amazing. >> today, over a thousand years after the first crusade, the temple mount area of the old city of jerusalem is still one of the most contested places on earth. a fragile peace holds. and the site seeks to become a shining example of three different belief systems' ability to coexist. >> it is the holy place for everyone. you have the dome of the rock and the wailing wall and the holy sepulchre church. we are looking for peace. we want to live together here like brothers.
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>> throughout history, the pope has played an integral role in the ongoing clash of the devout. thousands of years passed, millions of lives lost. but calls to battle and prayers for peace still endure. >> human beings constantly face a challenge of trying to live in peace and harmony with people different from them. we've seen this throughout history. >> the worlds of urban ii and francis are very different, but their plight remains the same. both men are tasked with leading the faithful in a world dominated by conflicting beliefs. >> the tremendous weight of taking on this shepherding of the great tradition and retranslating it for our time, it's an impossible burden to imagine, but isn't that also the beauty and simplicity of the church?
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>> people look to him because he's a voice of conscience, and it's a voice that has an authenticity to it because it doesn't speak for a political party. it doesn't speak for a national interest. it's a voice of integrity, and he calls us to be the best we can be. >> in march of 2000, pope john paul ii apologizes for the crusades and the violent campaigns of his predecessors. >> translator: we are asking forgiveness for the use of violence in the name of truth and for the attitudes of indifference and hostility taken towards other religions. >> modern popes choose to follow the example of saladin and preach coexistence unlike pope urban ii who chose war. >> the pope is where you look towards for an example to how to live your life as a catholic. >> but despite being a religious
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leader, the pope's reach extends far beyond spiritual faith. >> the pope survives because it continues to speak to the deepest needs that people have. they need to know that someone is looking out for them. and all earthly institutions are flawed. but to have an institution which is dedicated to looking out in a fatherly manner for people who are lost and astray and suffering, that need will never go away. >> jesus said to peter, you are the rock and upon this rock i will build my church. the rock doesn't move. it's permanent. so for faithful catholics, there seems to be a mysterious yet real depth of appreciation for the stability and permanency of this ideal of the papacy. >> against all odds, in the face of all that has threatened his
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reign, 2,000 years after the death of st. peter, the pope remains at the head of one of the most powerful institutions on earth. . one of the most powerful men on earth holds a position that has existed for nearly 2,000 years. as the world changes and faith evolves, his authority remains. what began with one apostle has become 1.2 billion followers under one man. he is the head of the catholic church, the pope. and this is his path to power.


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