Papal Approval

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The papal approbation is the Pope's confirmation of an act that requires approval. This concerns, for example , the election of a bishop , the confirmation of a legal act, the binding nature of a canonical collection or the confirmation of a spiritual order . In the framework of councils , the Pope appears as the voting bishop and confirms the decisions in his function as head of the Catholic Church.

Approval of the king's choice

A special case in Medieval Studies is the confirmation of the election of a medieval Roman-German king by the Pope, which is dealt with below.

The papal license to practice medicine in relation to the Roman-German election of the king was fed primarily by the translation theory , according to which the Roman empire in the west was vacant in the period after 476 , although the Roman empire continued to exist formally through Byzantium in the east. According to a curial view, the western empire was transferred to the Franks and finally to the "Germans" by the Pope in the early Middle Ages . The Roman-German kingship and the papacy were thus closely interlinked: until the late Middle Ages, the Roman-German king was the only conceivable candidate for the western empire, whose coronation the pope had to undertake. Especially the popes of the 13th and 14th centuries from Innocent III. insisted on confirming the newly elected Roman-German king in his office. Only then would he be in full power of office (so-called "Approbation theory").

But since this meant that the Pope could exert influence on the occupation of the German kingship, this papal license to practice medicine was vehemently contested by several Roman-German kings. Some Roman-German kings announced their choice to the Pope, but did not ask for confirmation. Other kings (such as Albrecht I ) made enormous concessions in order to obtain the license to practice medicine and thus to secure their position in the empire. The dispute over papal approbation became particularly sharp in the time of Ludwig IV (see also Kurverein von Rhense 1338). In the Golden Bull in 1356 it was finally stipulated that the election of the king by the electors was the only authoritative legitimation. The license to practice medicine then lost more and more weight, so that from the 16th century the coronation of emperors by the Pope was no longer regarded as mandatory.



  1. Georg May: Approval. In: Lexicon for Theology and Church. Volume 1. 3rd completely revised edition. Freiburg (Breisgau) et al. 1993, here Sp. 888.
  2. See introductory Jürgen Miethke : Approval of the German royal election. In: Lexicon for Theology and Church. Volume 1. 3rd completely revised edition. Freiburg (Breisgau) et al. 1993, Sp. 888-891 (with further literature).
  3. ^ See MGH Constitutiones et acta publica imperatorum et regum. Vol. 2. Hannover 1896, No. 398.