The Grand Pope is usually chosen among the most virtuous and stronger Saints, often he is a Gold Saint but not necessarily. Being Athena's right hand, he should be wise and well respected because his duty is to watch over Sanctuary. He also leads the Saints as its military expert and strategist. As the religious leader, he is often the only one who is allowed to comunicate with Athena, expecially before the reincarnation of the Goddess, an event that the Grand Pope should foresee reading the movements of the stars. He is the only one who is also allowed to go to Star Hill, a hidden location in Sanctuary that is hard to reach for even Saints. Besides his strength, authority and wisdom, the Grand Pope has also some divine items at his disposition, gifts from Athena herself or inherited from the Mythological Ages. The next Pope is often chosen by Athena at the end of the Holy War and remains in charge until the next era, but if he feels he is becoming too old. The Pope can choose a successor among the strongest and most righteous Saints of the new era. The power of the Great Pope comes also from his great knowledge, because he has access to the old books kept in the Sanctuary library and also at Star Hill observatory.
After the death of Gemini Saga, who had been posing as Grand Pope Ares, the nonexistant brother of the recently "deceased" Pope and former Gold Saint Aries Shion, a new Pope has yet to have been appointed, with Athena's current incarnation, Saori Kido, instead handling matters in the Sanctuary directly.
Saint Seiya Omega
Despite the fact Saori Kido had gone into seclusion following the battles with Mars and her subsequent Darkness wound limiting her ability to use her cosmoenergy, there was still no pope elected as a representative of the Sanctuary. It is unknown who managed the Sanctuary and Saints in Saori's thirteen-year absence, although she returned to reign over the Sanctuary following Abzu's defeat at the hands of her foster son Pegasus Kōga. Mars later assumed the rank, renaming it Grand Pope.