How Long do Catholics keep a Pope?

Pope john paul IIPope John Paul II

Today I talked to someone who commented on how much he had liked Pope John Paul II but wondered why we had him so long. When I said he was one of the longest reigning Popes ever, the guy said he thought the Pope was elected every four years, just like the President of the US.

I informed him that we keep the Pope until he dies, like the Supreme Court Justices but didn’t think to mention that he lives in our hearts forever.

And chose not to mention that in some cases, we keep them longer.

PopeGregoryVIITombPope St. Gregory VII


6 Responses to How Long do Catholics keep a Pope?

  1. Robert says:


    That was kinda trippy. What’s the point?


  2. thefrenchchick says:

    Maybe that they didn’t have cameras in 1085 when Pope St. Gregory VII died?

  3. Nan says:

    Frenchchick, I think there was a comment that has been deleted.

    I wasn’t thinking of cameras; though in the early days of photography, post-mortem photos were common. Travel wasn’t fast, easy and cheap at the time and people sent photos to loved ones in far away places. If you see photos from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s showing children sleeping? They’re sleeping with Christ.

    I was astonished when I learned that not all Catholics realize that Popes are forever. The guy doesn’t like Pope Benedict and thought there should be another election soon. Um, no. I want Pope Benedict to remain healthy and lead the church for a good, long time.

  4. thefrenchchick says:

    Thanks, I wondered about that. I was also assuming that Pope St. Gregory was one of the incorruptibles and that the photo above was of his actual corpse, so the photo, to me, would have been “trippy” in a sense.

    It is amazing that some Catholics don’t realize Popes are forever. And I wholeheartedly agree that it will be good for the Church to have Pope Benedict XVI leading for a good, long time.

  5. Nan says:

    I assume that the wax effigy was created from his corpse and carried around; he actually consecrated the cathedral in which both he and St. Matthew are interred.

    I’m old enough to remember the year of three popes.

  6. thefrenchchick says:

    That was when John Paul II was elected, I remember it too.

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