pa·​pa·​cy | \ ˈpā-pə-sē How to pronounce papacy (audio) \
plural papacies

Definition of papacy

1 : the office of pope
2 : a succession or line of popes
3 : the term of a pope's reign
4 capitalized : the system of government of the Roman Catholic Church of which the pope is the supreme head

Examples of papacy in a Sentence

He was selected by the cardinals for the papacy.

Recent Examples on the Web

Romero is one of 892 people canonized by Francis during his papacy (granted, most of these comprised more than 800 martyrs from the 15th century who were killed by invading Ottomans). Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Oscar Romero, a martyr for social justice and the newest Catholic saint, explained," 15 Oct. 2018 All are conservative or ultraconservative media that have been highly critical of Francis’ mercy-over-morals papacy. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "Journalist who helped pen pope bombshell says author wept," 28 Aug. 2018 The abuse scandal, which erupted in Ireland in the 1990s and subsequently Australia and the U.S., now threatens Francis' own papacy since a former Vatican ambassador accused him of rehabilitating an American cardinal who slept with seminarians. Fox News, "Pope Francis says church needs to 'change' as sexual abuse scandals driving people away," 26 Sep. 2018 The abuse scandal, which erupted in Ireland in the 1990s and subsequently in Australia and the U.S., now threatens Francis’ own papacy since his record as cardinal and pope has proven uneven. Jari Tanner, The Seattle Times, "Pope: Priestly abuse scandals driving Catholic faithful away," 25 Sep. 2018 The public back-and-forth also highlights the opposition Francis has faced for years from some clergy in the U.S., which has been a hub of resistance throughout his papacy. Ian Lovett, WSJ, "U.S. Bishops Are Divided in a Way Rarely Seen in Public," 2 Sep. 2018 Sir Thomas More, Wolsey’s successor as Lord Chancellor, remained loyal to the papacy. Allan Massie, WSJ, "‘Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life’ Review: The King’s Fixer," 2 Nov. 2018 Five years into Pope Francis’s papacy, the summer has been rocked by scandal for the Catholic Church. Vox, "Catholic Church faces ongoing sex abuse crisis," 26 Aug. 2018 Francis has made the Holy Thursday ritual a hallmark of his papacy, part of his insistence that the Catholic Church must go to the margins of society to serve. Fox News, "Pope to perform Holy Thursday foot-wash rite at Rome prison," 20 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'papacy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of papacy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for papacy

Middle English papacie, from Medieval Latin papatia, from Late Latin papa pope — more at pope

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Last Updated

23 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for papacy

The first known use of papacy was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of papacy

: the office or position of the pope
: the time when a particular pope is in power

More from Merriam-Webster on papacy Encyclopedia article about papacy

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to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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