Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Road to Avignon

The period from 1054 to 1305, basically after the Eastern Orthodox Church divorced itself from the west, the Roman Bishop began to assert his absolute authority.  I've already established that my protestant tradition still comes from the Roman western church, and I repudiate eastern Orthodoxy.  At the same time, I only look to Christ as the ultimate authority for both church and state.  He may be represented by bishops, elders, and deacons, but they are answerable to Christ who never spoke in secret.

It started with Hilderbrand/GregoryVII.  Leo IX gave him an office in the group of Bishops who lived near Rome, called the Cardinal Bishops.  Hilderbrand governed the finances for Rome and also became a Cardinal.  During Nicholas II, Hilderbrand helped pass legislation.  The populace no longer elected the pope, only the Roman Bishops.  He was tired of the corrupt Holy Roman Emperors interfering in appointing bishops.  Hilderbrand and Humbert counseled Nicholas to put an end to imperial influence on the papacy at the Lateran Council of 1059.  Now the College of Cardinals elect the pope.

This group of Cardinals elected Hilderbrand to be pope, who renamed himself Gregory VII.  He believed that the Roman church should control all civil power in the land, and his ideas were developed in the Dictatus Papae.  I'll have to quote from Earle Cairns:

    It averred that the Roman church owed its foundation to "God alone"; tht its pontiff was "alone to be called universal"; that he had full power over all bishops; that only his feet should be kissed by "all princes"; that he could "depose emperors"; and that he might absolve subjects of evil temporal rulers "from their allegiance".

Gregory developed this dogma at a time when states such as France and England began to assert their own authority.  Rulers of France, England, and Germany became excommunicated during his leadership for trying to create leadership apart from the Roman pontiff.  Gregory also opposed lay investiture, the act of civil rulers investing clergymen with their office.  He set the standard for all the popes after him.

Innocent III was the next pope.  He called himself "the vicar of Christ," asserting his supreme authority on earth.  I do agree that Christ made Peter the first pope after building the church on what Peter said, that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God.  Peter himself would tell you that Christ has no vicar on earth, only representatives.  This is the first major divider between Roman Catholic and Protestantism.  Please correct me if this is otherwise.

Innocent placed interdicts, or ecclesiastical censures, on certain countries.  France had a king who divorced a woman and married another.  Innocent made him remarry the first woman.  He defeated John of England over choosing the archbishop of Canterbury.  I'm going to assume this with the hideous John who appears in Robin Hood and in Braveheart, but I won't look it up for now.  Innocent was very right to call these men to accountability, the same way the Church today needs to hold leaders accountable when they destroy the sanctity of life and force people to call what isn't love or marriage love and marriage.  Historians call Innocent's reign the zenith of the papacy.

Innocent also headed the Fourth Crusade to recover Palestine and stopped a sect called the Cathari.  They claimed basing beliefs on the Bible, and he banned the Bible from possession by lay people.  He also made confession mandatory for laymen and the idea of transubstantiation dogma.

Boniface VIII was the next pope.  He was a weak leader.  the previous crusade had incurred debt, so France and England wanted to tax the clergy for their debts.  Boniface, in the Clericis Laicos, forbad clergy to pay taxes to the temporal rulers without papal consent.  Edward of England then outlawed the clergy.  Philip of France refused to export money to Italy.  Those years between 1294 and 1304 saw Boniface issue the Unam Sanctum, declaring no salvation outside the Roman Church.  Submission to the pope is necessary for salvation.  He had no army to back him up, so Philip made him a prisoner.

Clement V became the next pope, and he decided to transfer the pontificate to Avignon in France, starting the era called the Babylonian Captivity of the papacy.  From 1309 to 1377, the French rulers influenced the church, causing much discouragement among the lay people who paid attention to current events.  This was a first wave in people wanting to reform the church and bring leadership back to Christ.

As today, I love the Roman church's activism in politics and morality.  We have a new pope now and I pray that the Lord takes over his life and uses him for God's glory.  Eras like this, however, remind me that church and state really should be separated.  Christ should rule over both, but they are separate entities.  When the state gets too much power, people in the church must obey the state.  When the church leaders proclaim their place in Christ's seat as "vicars",  rulers cannot rule their people, and sometimes the popes have to move to Avignon.  This feud for power rendered lay people without a Bible and the church with emphasis on human leadership over what Christ instituted.  Christ himself was forgotten, making their society a shambles.  I wish all denominations of the true Church would unite under Christ as the head, and not some charismatic people.  There truly is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, the church with Jesus as her Lord and

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