When Pope Benedict XVI retires on February 28, he will be the first pontiff in 600 years to leave his post by choice.
The pontiff makes a heartfelt appeal for peace in Gaza, Iraq, Syria ... but is anyone listening?
With more threats than ever on the Vatican, is the pontiff making a dangerous mistake?
c.1600, "high priest," from French pontif (early 16c.), from Latin pontifex, title of a Roman high priest (see pontifex). Used for "bishop" in Church Latin, but not recorded in that sense in English until 1670s, specifically "the bishop of Rome," the pope. Pontifical, however, is used with this sense from mid-15c.