Over the centuries, papal claims of spiritual authority have been ever more firmly expressed, culminating in 1870 with the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra—literally "from the chair (of Saint Peter)"—to issue a formal definition of faith or morals.
The earliest recorded use of the title "pope" in English dates to the mid-10th century, when it was used in reference to Pope Vitalian in an Old English translation of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.
The primacy of the Roman bishop is largely derived from his role as the traditional successor to Saint Peter, to whom Jesus is supposed to have given the keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the church would be built.
Popes, who originally had no temporal powers, in some periods of history accrued wide powers similar to those of temporal rulers.
In recent centuries, popes were gradually forced to give up temporal power, and papal authority is now once again almost exclusively restricted to matters of religion.
Other scholars and historians disagree, citing the historical records of St. Irenaeus who recorded the linear succession of Bishops of Rome (the popes) up until their own times.
They also cite the importance accorded to the Bishops of Rome in the ecumenical councils, including the early ones.
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