Known by the name Popes, the Catholic Church claims authority over the world. The Holy Father is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Known as pontiffs or supreme pontiffs, he is considered to be the highest authority in the church. The current Pope is Benedict XVI, who was elected by the College of Cardinals. He is the 12th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
The papacy is hereditary and has several levels, depending on how high a relative can climb to the position of the pontiff. The first papal commission was issued by the Roman Catholic Church after the deposition of Innocent III in the thirteenth century. The current popes are Benedict XVI, who was elected by the College of Cardinals, and Pope John Paul II. The current Pope is acting as the absolute ruler of all the Roman Catholic Church in the Vatican City State.
There are three different levels of pontiffs in the Catholic Church. First, there is the Pope who is considered the general pontiff. This individual makes all important decisions pertaining to the entire flock of Christians, acting in place of the Pope who is normally present in the Vatican.
Second, there is the Pope who is recognized as a resident of the Vatican City State, while still residing in the town of Rome. A Pope who travels to other points in the world is called a papal delegate. The third position is called a cardinal, which is equivalent to a bishop in the Catholic Church. A cardinal is not a member of the Vatican but can vote at most major papal meetings.
Currently, the three most senior popes are Benedict XVI, John Paul II and Pope Francis. Of these three, Benedict XVI is the current Pope, has served two terms. The current vacancy on the papacy is being filled by someone who is either a doctor or an academician of theology. The current vacant positions on the papacy also have their own qualifications.
To become a papal delegate, a person needs to be a student of religion and be over 18 years of age. After this requirement is met, you will then need to pass a number of tests and interviews before becoming officially accepted into the college or university that you wish to enter after your ordination. In short, becoming a cardinal is much more difficult than becoming a bishop or a priest and there is more work involved after you are ordained.