The Popes are traced back to the apostle Peter and are therefore linked to those who were close to Jesus. It is this lineage that is said to grant the Pope special authority as the leader of the Church. The Pope is considered incapable of making errors concerning key points of faith. The Roman Catholic Popes wielded extreme power both in the Church and in the political arena. In fact, the Roman emperor wrote the law that the Pope’s authority was absolute and should be recognized by all Christians. Those who did not adhere to the Pope’s rules were excommunicated from the Church, thereby rendering them unredeemable by God (Fisher, 2005).
The churches of the east did not fall in line with the Pope’s claim to overall church authority and other practices. This eventually led to the official break in the early second century, and even the Crusaders, whose mission was to take back lands from Muslims, ransacked Constantinople by destroying a sacred altar and the Holy Church of Wisdom. This act left the east and west permanently separated, though each remained powerful in their respective areas of the world.  .
By the 16th century, the Catholic Church was very rich, but the people were displeased at the politics and subsequent wars in which the Church seemed to be involved. This led to another split in Christianity and a new branch of faith, Protestantism. The Reformation, led by John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Jan Hus, believed that the Word of God held more authority than the church and true believers did not need popes, bishops or the rest of the Hierarchy to come to God. They further believed that membership in the Roman Catholic Church was not the way to salvation: faith was. In response, the Catholic Church started changing by deploying more missionaries around the world. The Jesuits, for instance, spread Catholicism to South America and Asia (Fisher, 2005). .