Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
The rule of the Church in earthly possessions and the authority of the Pope over civil territories belonging to the Church, as in the Papal States. This power is in addition to his dominion in spiritual matters and becomes necessary if freedom from civil power is to be assured. It is presently exercised in relation to Vatican City or State since the Lateran Treaty of 1929. The term may also refer to the exercise of political influence by the bishops formerly through landed estates and currently through financial and other means.