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|Appointer||The Austenasian Emperor|
The Pontifex Maximus of Austenasia, formerly known as Pope of the Divine Church of the Parva-Religions and the Pope of the Proto-Cults, is appointed by the Austenasian Throne "to produce works of theology and philosophy, to record oral traditions which may otherwise be lost, to write commentaries on and guides to sacred texts and works of philosophy, and to assess in accordance with their own views different ideas and traditions". The position can be said to function as a sort of "philosopher/theologian-laureate", although works produced by the Pontifex Maximus do not define the views or position of the Austenasian government.
The position can trace its history back to the Papacy of the Proto-Cults, a Wilcslandian institution which eventually became entirely nominal before making itself independent as the Divine Church of the Parva-Religions in June 2013. This was again reformed into the current institution of a Pontifex Maximus aligned with Austenasia in January 2015.
The Papacy of the Proto-Cults was founded in 2004 in the Kingdom of Atlantis (predecessor state of Wilcsland) by King Declan I. The Pope was intended to serve as a spiritual advisor to the king and to provide spiritual leadership to the Tree Cult and the Cult of the Black Cat. However, the monarchy and papacy quickly turned into rivals, with two of the popes (Alexander I & Marcus I) plotting to seize the throne. The First Papacy existed until 2009, when it was abolished by the king after a plot by Pope Marcus I to usurp the throne was uncovered. During the time of the First Papacy, the cults died out, leaving the post as a sort of cultural minister. The brief Second Papacy was created later that year, after King Declan I allowed Marcus I to return to the kingdom. Marcus was once more deposed in June 2010, after causing a riot amongst citizens by making lewd comments about the king. The duties of the papacy were thereafter acknowledged as being unofficially performed by a citizen named Kimberly, but she was only formally recognised as having been a Pope retrospectively several years later in a decree by Pope Euclid I.
The Third Papacy was created on 1 January 2011 (by which time Atlantis had become part of Wilcsland), when Declan I gave the office of Pope as a purely honorary title to the then Crown Prince Jonathan of Austenasia, who took the papal name of Alexander II. On 2 January 2012, Declan I decided that papal terms would last for three months, and that Popes would henceforth be appointed from the Orlian College of Cardinals, linking the two institutions together mere days before he announced a political union of Wilcsland and Orly known as New Wessex.
The sixth successor of Alexander II was Pope Declan III, appointed in February 2013. Although the popes of the Third Papacy had been intended to head the creative and cultural ideas of the populations of New Wessex, all in practice had been ceremonial figures, with the holders of the title having simply been foreign leaders granted the office as an honour. In June 2013, Declan I announced that he planned to change the title of Pope to "Parensiarch", which he considered a gender-neutral form of "patriarch". Despite this being unpopular with the cardinals, the king asserted that he held total authority over the institution as absolute monarch of New Wessex. On 24 June, Orly was liberated from Wilcslandian rule, cutting the link between the Orlian College of Cardinals and the Wilcslandian Papacy of the Proto-Cults. The following day, after an argument between the cardinals and the king, Pope Declan III changed his papal name to Ezekiel I and agreed with the cardinals (led by the former Pope Alexander III) to dissolve the Orlian College (which now had no real link to Orly) and found a new institution, the Divine Church of the Parva-Religions, forming the Fourth Papacy. After several more months in the role, Ezekiel I resigned on 1 January 2014, and was succeeded later that month by Alexander IV, who assumed the office with the support of former Popes Alexander II and III and several other cardinals.
The Divine Church of the Parva-Religions aimed to defend micronational religions, but the scarcity of such phenomena and the even scarcer opportunities for them to be "defended" left the new institution with very little to do, other than to occasionally debate whether or not to establish a Vatican-like physical presence.
With the Divine Church falling into inactivity, on 25 January an Imperial Edict was passed by Emperor Jonathan I (former Pope Alexander II) of Austenasia at the suggestion of Alexander IV, abolishing the Divine Church and renaming the office of Pope to that of Pontifex Maximus (although the style of Pope for holders of the office was retained), transforming the Papacy into an Austenasian institution intended to create works of theology and philosophy. In July 2015, Alexander IV resigned, and the former Alexander III was appointed to a second term. He served until March 2017, when he resigned in favour of Euclid I, predecessor to the incumbent Queranus I.
Titles and selection
The Pontifex Maximus continues to hold the title of Pope - the incumbent is titled Pope Queranus I, Pontifex Maximus. Since 9 April 2015, the Pontifex Maximus has held the style of Eminence; historically, the Popes had held the style of Excellency or (after Pope Djehuti I) Holiness.
The Pontifex Maximus is appointed by the Emperor from the College of Pontiffs - the successor to the Orlian College of Cardinals, comprised of advisors to the Pontifex Maximus - and serves until death, resignation, or dismissal. The Pontifex Maximus can only be dismissed by a vote from the College, with the consent of the Emperor.
List of Popes and Pontifices Maximi
|#||Picture||Papal name||Nationality||Appointed||Left Office||Notes|
|1||Pope Maxine I||Atlantean||2004||October 2005||The first Pope. The spiritual leader of the Cult of the Black Cat and the Tree Cult. Replaced after failing to migrate with the other Atlanteans to the Kingdom of the Taklamacan.|
|2||Pope Alexander I||Taklamacanian||October 2005||October 2005||Held office for a mere five days before being forced to abdicate after plotting to usurp the royal throne.|
|3||Pope Marcus I||Taklamacanian||October 2005||2009||Longest reigning Pope to date. Deposed when it was discovered that he intended to overthrow the King.|
|3||Pope Marcus I
|Taklamacanian/Moylurgian||2009||June 2010||Permitted to return to the papal throne after appealing to the King. However, he was deposed after causing a riot by speaking disrespectfully about the King.|
|4||Pope Kimberley I||Moylurgian/Wilcslandian||June 2010||1 January 2011||Unofficially carried out the duties of the office during this period of time. Retrospectively added to the official list of Popes by a decree of Euclid I on 11 July 2017.|
|5||Pope Alexander II||Austenasian||1 January 2011||2 January 2012||Appointed to the Papacy mainly as a ceremonial title. Held the title for a year before it was decided that Popes would be selected out of the Orlian College of Cardinals.|
|6||Pope Marcus II||Draegan||2 January 2012||11 April 2012||Held office as a ceremonial title. First Pope to be appointed from the Orlian College of Cardinals. Also known as "Marco II" before his papal name was retrospectively standardized by a decree of Euclid I on 11 July 2017.|
|7||80px||Pope Declan I||British (formely Midget)||11 April 2012||20 July 2012||Held office as a ceremonial title. Appointed from the Orlian College of Cardinals. Also known as "Daeglan I" before his papal name was retrospectively standardized by a decree of Euclid I on 11 July 2017.|
|8||Pope Djehuti I||Rhenish||20 July 2012||10 October 2012||Held office as a ceremonial title. Appointed from the Orlian College of Cardinals. Assumed the style of Holiness, the style of the Popes having previously been Excellency.|
|9||Pope Declan II||Erephisian||10 October 2012||7 January 2013||Held office as a ceremonial title. Appointed from the Orlian College of Cardinals.|
|10||Pope Alexander III||Wyvernian||7 January 2013||10 February 2013||Appointed from the Orlian College of Cardinals, to which he was appointed earlier that day for the sole reason of being eligible to become Pope. Was deposed after being interpreted as trying to use his position as Pope to recognise monarchs.|
|11||Pope Ezekiel I||Burnhamite||10 February 2013||1 January 2014||Appointed from the Orlian College of Cardinals, originally holding the papal name of Declan III. Broke the Papacy and College of Cardinals away from Wessaxon control on 25 June 2013 to create the Divine Church of the Parva-Religions at the instigation of the former Alexander III and several other cardinals, changing his papal name to Ezekiel I and resigning after several more months in the position.|
|12||Pope Alexander IV||Austenasian||18 January 2014||1 July 2015||Assumed the position with the support of former Popes Alexander II and Alexander III after an interregnum. Abolished the Divine Church of the Parva-Religions and reformed the Papacy into the Austenasian institution of the Pontifex Maximus on 25 January 2015. Changed the style of the office to Eminence, and resigned to allow the appointment of a successor more suited to the new duties of the position.|
|13||Pope Alexander III
|Wyvernian||3 July 2015||5 March 2017||Appointed from the College of Pontiffs, the first time since Marcus I in 2009 that a former holder of the office has reassumed the position. Resigned to allow a more active successor to take the position.|
Published the encyclicals Qui sine peccato on 29 July and Tempus iterum est on 25 December 2015.
|14||Pope Euclid I||Austenasian||5 March 2017||5 March 2019||Appointed from the College of Pontiffs. Passed decrees regulating disputed points in the history of the institution (e.g., whether or not Kimberley I should be considered to have officially held the position). Resigned after an otherwise mostly uneventful term.|
|15||Pope Queranus I||Rudnan||5 March 2019||Incumbent||Appointed from the College of Pontiffs. Incumbent.|