Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Papist is a derisive term meaning "Roman Catholic". It was used during the English Reformation to indicate one who believed in Papal supremacy over the Anglican Church. Over time, as the political nature of the struggle between Protestants and Catholics became heated, it became a pejorative for Roman Catholics. The word ultimately derives from Latin papa, meaning "Pope". "Popish" is an adjective for Roman Catholic used much in the same vein.
While considered offensive in contemporary speech, it was a word in ordinary use until the mid-nineteenth century; it occurs frequently in Macaulay's History of England from the Accession of James II, and in other historical or controversial works from that period. It is also a legal term that defines ineligibility for the throne under the current law of the United Kingdom. Under the Act of Settlement enacted in 1701, no "Papist", nor anyone who marries a "Papist", may succeed to the throne of the United Kingdom.
A derivative perjorative term Apist is used to describe Anglo-Catholics who ape or copy the practices of the Roman Catholics.
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