The papacy came under the control of vying political factions.

Popes were variously imprisoned, starved, killed, and deposed by force.

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However, there are only a few other references of that time to recognition of the authoritative primacy of the Roman See outside of Rome.

In the Ravenna Document of 13 October 2007, theologians chosen by the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches stated: "41. that Rome, as the Church that 'presides in love' according to the phrase of St Ignatius of Antioch, occupied the first place in the taxis, and that the bishop of Rome was therefore the protos among the patriarchs.

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.

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 Edict of Milan in 313 granted freedom to all religions in the Roman Empire, beginning the Peace of the Church.

In 325, the First Council of Nicaea condemned Arianism, declaring trinitarianism dogmatic, and in its sixth canon recognized the special role of the sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.James the Just, known as "the brother of the Lord", served as head of the Jerusalem church, which is still honored as the "Mother Church" in Orthodox tradition.Alexandria had been a center of Jewish learning and became a center of Christian learning.and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition." In AD 195, Pope Victor I, in what is seen as an exercise of Roman authority over other churches, excommunicated the Quartodecimans for observing Easter on the 14th of Nisan, the date of the Jewish Passover, a tradition handed down by John the Evangelist (see Easter controversy).Celebration of Easter on a Sunday, as insisted on by the pope, is the system that has prevailed (see computus).The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus personally appointed Peter as leader of the Church, and the Catholic Church's dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium makes a clear distinction between apostles and bishops, presenting the latter as the successors of the former, with the pope as successor of Peter, in that he is head of the bishops as Peter was head of the apostles.