I'm playing as the HRE and got to the late period by now. The papacy hates me, naturally, despite my attempts at staying on the good side of the Holy Father.
I noticed that I have no cardinals, and that other factions get priests, with less piety than some of mine, elected into the office instead.
So, is it because I have so low standing with the papacy that they disregard my pious priests?
Causing a vicious cycle where I will never have good standing because I have no cardinals, leading to bad standing, leading to no cardinals?
Or is something else at work here - maybe a hardcoded loss of pope-goodwill based on amount of provinces I control, a bit like how the senate eventually turns against the player in Rome:TW?