Caesaropapism

A term used to designate the policy of kingly or civil supremacy in church affairs. In the pagan Roman Empire, the emperors were not only the civil heads of the state but also the religious heads, holding the office of Pontifex Maximus. Some Christian emperors and kings, as well as states, have endeavored to meddle in the purely ecclesiastical affairs of the Church, thus unconsciously emulating the pagan priest-emperors. Any such endeavor to encroach upon the powers of the Church, especially the executive and doctrinal powers, has come to be designated as Caesaropapism.

New Catholic Dictionary

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