Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Origin of Roman Catholic Church - 53

Continued from previous post –

Martin Luther's advent
Martin Luther, a man both solemn and passionate, is an Augustinian friar teaching theology at the university recently founded in Wittenberg by Frederick the Wise, the elector of Saxony. Obsessed by his own unworthiness, he decides finally, that no amount of virtue or good behavior can be the basis of salvation (as proposed in the doctrine known as justification by works). If the Christian life is not to be meaningless, he argues, a sinner's faith must be the only merit for which God's grace might be granted. This doctrine was based on St. Paul's teachings. Martin Luther developed sizable follower-ships amongst his companions in the Church and out side. They began to protest against the claims made by prevalent authority that Popes have ecclesiastical powers over people. Later on, that group was called Protestants. These Protestants tend to deny that Peter and those claimed to be his immediate successors had universally recognized supreme authority over all the early churches. The same Protestants said that Rome's prominence may be seen as only moral, and political not ecclesiastical, and that emergence of the Roman pontiff to supreme power and prominence happened by natural (man made) circumstance rather than divine appointment.
Luther therefore becomes a passionate believer in an alternative doctrine, justification by faith, for which he finds evidence in the writings of St Paul. In a way, Martin Luther encouraged devotion against intelligent method for salvation, the doctrine that proposes justification of work. This doctrine says, virtue and good behavior or righteousness is responsible for salvation. St. Paul had recommended that devotion for Jesus is more important than righteousness. This he recommended in time when they were interested in collecting as many people around Jesus as possible by way of a market strategy to promote creed of Jesus; that helped them in garnering maximum support for his Christianity. Eventually religion of Christianity grew phenomenally in Europe. Actually, this was a total deviation from the real teachings of Jesus but nobody bothered about it as nobody was really, interested in Jesus and his teachings. Everybody in the Church was interested in business of religion. Therefore, Martin Luther got big support from interested parties such as king of England particularly because that king had a grudge against the papal authority, which had put him to task on the matter of his marrying many women and not because that king has anything to do with what Martin had in his plans.

Nothing could be farther from the concept of justification by faith than Tetzel's impudent selling of God's grace. Luther has often argued against the sale of indulgences in his sermons. Now he takes a more public stand. He writes out ninety-five propositions about the nature of faith and contemporary church practice. Both Tetzel and Luther were far away from Jesus and his teachings but now they being against each other a fight of propaganda began amongst them. The tone of these 'theses', as they come to be known, is academic. However, the underlying effect, apart from overt criticism of indulgences is that, truth is to be sought in scripture rather than in the teaching of the church. By nailing his theses to the door of All Saints' in Wittenberg, as Luther does on 31 October 1517, he is merely proposing them as subjects for debate.

This raised tremendous turmoil in Europe as three ideologies (Indulgence of Tetzel, devotion to scriptures of Luther and original philosophy of Jesus, righteousness) conflicting with each other began to confuse common European faithful and it continues to create conflicting in that continent for many centuries. Instead of launching a debate in Wittenberg, the ninety-five theses spark off a European conflagration of unparalleled violence. The Reformation ravages western Christendom for more than a century, bringing violent intolerance and hatred, which lasts in some Christian communities down to the present day. No sectarian dispute in any other religion has matched the destructive force, the brutality and the bitterness, which begins in Wittenberg in 1517. Church stoutly stood by the Indulgence of Tetzel and intellectuals in favor of Martin Luther.

Luther is as surprised as anyone else is by the eruption, which now engulfs him - slowly at first but with accelerating pace after a year or two. Its violence derives from several unusual elements. The papacy is determined to suppress this disrespect for papal authority. Luther's writings are burnt in Rome in 1520; his excommunication follows in 1521. This is the predictable part; the unexpected elements are the groundswell of support in Germany, nourished by a deep resentment of papal interference; and the effect of the relatively new craft of printing. Printing technique was developed during this time. The Europeans had copied the idea of printing paper from Chinese; only difference was that they in Germany had mechanized the whole process so that multiple copies of the same print became possible. A new market for books developed simultaneously and people were interested in reading the new material. There was not much to read and so whatever little was printed became popular in literate people. In that, Luther's ninety-five theses attracted their attention and as a result, his thoughts spread like wild fire in all Germany. A fierce debate develops, with pamphlets pouring from the presses - many of them from Luther's pen. Within six years, by 1523, Europe's printers produce 1300 different editions of his tracts. In these circumstances, it was impossible for the issue to be swept under the carpet. Any action taken against Luther in person is certain to provoke a crisis - though in the early years his safety depends heavily on the protection of Frederick the Wise, proud of his university and reluctant to hand over to Rome its famous theologian, however controversial he was. Now in the new situation Pope has to answer more public than what was in early days. The number of owlish persons had increased tremendously due to printing. Facing them all was not so easy.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Origin of Roman Catholic Church - 52

Continues from the previous post –


Rome's development and the 15th century Renaissance - continues
The temporal schemes of Julius II designed to serve Rome's best interest within the turmoil of Italy. By the time of his death, in 1513, that seems to have been largely achieved. Papal land has been recovered from the Venetians. The French have been driven from northern Italy. Nevertheless, a more lasting threat to the papacy is about to emerge in Germany prompted, ironically, by Julius's ambitious scheme for the rebuilding of St Peter's.

Present construction of St. Peter was designed by architect, Bramante, and that began in 1506. This construction continues until 1590 until his death; after Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, and several others succeeded him. Today this building is viewed as symbol of papal authority. Meanwhile the need for funds for the vast new project, together with the unscrupulous manner in which Renaissance popes are willing to raise those funds, provokes the great central crisis of Europe in the 16th century - the Reformation. The flash point proves to be Germany as usual.

To complete prestigious project of St. Peter, Popes broke all limits of morality and indulgence in most objectionable methods. Notable amongst them are those used by Albert, archbishop of Mainz and one of the seven imperial electors. Pope Leo makes it possible for Albert to recover his costs by granting him the concession for the sale of indulgences towards the building of St Peter's. Half the money for each indulgence will go to Rome; the other half will help to pay off Albert's debts (he has borrowed the money for the original donation from the Fuggers of Augsburg). Indulgence is a false promise that bishop gives to gullible faithful and in return collect some money or donations by way of compensation. This secret arrangement might distress the faithful if they knew of its falsity. However, more immediately shocking to some is the behavior of the friar Johann Tetzel, whom Albert employs to sell the indulgences.

Indulgence is remission from a punishment (probably by God) given to somebody for wrong or sinful acts. Church was collecting funds on that account!

Tetzel was a showman; when preaching to gullible crowds in German towns he goes far beyond the official doctrine of indulgences. He promises the immediate release of loved ones from the pain of Purgatory as soon as a purchase is made. He even has a catchy jingle to make the point, for example:
'As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from Purgatory springs.'
In October 1517, some parishioners return to Wittenberg with indulgences, which they have bought from Tetzel - indulgences so powerful, some have been led to believe, that they could pardon a man who had raped the Virgin Mary. News of this travesty reaches the ears of a professor at the University of Wittenberg.

The Renaissance Papacy is known for its artistic and architectural patronage, forays into European power politics, and theological challenges to papal authority. After the start of the Protestant Reformation, the Reformation Papacy and Baroque Papacy led the Catholic Church through the Counter-Reformation.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Origin of Roman Catholic Church - 51

Continues from the previous post –

Rome's development and the 15th century Renaissance

Martin V takes three years on the journey south to Rome, moving cautiously between warring principalities and armies of
condottieri. This is the Italy in which, unscrupulous men are beginning to establish courts of glittering brilliance. The pope newly crowned at Constance looked as a tentative figure among such dangers, but over the following decades, the papacy adjusts to the realities of Renaissance Italy. By the beginning of the next century, unscrupulous popes have made Rome the most brilliant court of all. The pope who begins the transformation of Rome, in the mid-15th century, has none of the offensive characteristics associated with the pontiffs of half a century later. He is Nicholas V, a scholarly man who founds the Vatican library, employing hundreds of scholars and copyists to provide the basis of a great collection of manuscripts.
The familiar image of a Renaissance pope begins a little later, with the election of Sixtus IV in 1471. His patronage of the arts is evident in the Sistine chapel and the Sistine choir, both named after him. Nevertheless, his lavish patronage goes hand in hand with a very worldly conduct of the Vatican's affairs.
Sixtus, a Franciscan friar from a poor family in the region of Genoa, brings the papal practice of favoritism to new heights. While greatly enriching his nephews (seven of whom he makes cardinals), he also uses them as his agents in the power politics of rival Italian states. Women were introduced to Cardinals and other officers of the papal office for various types of favors. These Cardinals and Bishops were more married than any ordinary person was. However, in temporal terms they were supposed to be unmarried. Many abortions were made by then medical men and in that, one of his nephews was involved resulting in murder of one doctor of the Medici in the cathedral at Florence during High Mass. Many girls were killed when they threatened to give in confession their relations with these Cardinals. Their dead bodies and along with that many dead bodies of aborted fetus were thrown in the dungeons under the Palace of Vatican. Corrupt maids were bringing innocent small girls to the Palace for the pleasure of these Cardinals; they would generally never go back to their houses! They would probably end up in those dungeons. Another nephew learns this trade so well with Sixtus that he easily outdoes his uncle, both in politics and patronage, when he is elected to the papacy as Julius II. During this period Papal order had reached the other end of immorality, all the same these unscrupulous men continued to talk of Jesus and his righteousness in the Church while giving their usual sermons on Sundays.
Between the pontificate of Sixtus IV and of Julius II comes the most notorious of the Renaissance popes, Alexander VI. He manipulates Italian politics not with the help of nephews but through his son, Cesare Borgia.
Alexander's successor Julius II is even more a man of his time. He is a Pope who rides out in person to direct military campaigns, but he also commissions work from Raphael and Michelangelo. The frescoes of the Vatican and the Sistine chapel created among the abuses, which prompt the Reformation.

Erasmus is in Italy in 1506 when Julius II scores his first military success with the capture of Bologna. Erasmus is so shocked that he writes a play satirizing this militant pope. Entitled "Julius Exclusus", and published anonymously, it depicts a furious Julius, after death, arriving in armor at the gates of heaven and finding them locked against him. The barbed comments of St Peter as the gatekeeper of heaven, in conversation with the excluded pope Julius II, reflects hostility to the Renaissance papacy that would soon find violent expression in the Reformation. Erasmus became known for those comments.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Origin of Roman Catholic Church - 50

Continues from the previous post –
The Council of Constance: 1414-1417
The council deals with the matter of heresy more speedily than it succeeds in reducing three popes to one. The ideas of Wycliffe and Huss are discussed and rapidly condemned. Huss is burnt at the stake in July 1415. By that time Jerome of Prague has with equal courage traveled to Constance to defend his master. He too is arrested. In May 1416 he is burnt on the same patch of ground as Huss. To ensure that there are no relics of heresy, the council has Huss's ashes scattered in the Rhine. And it orders that Wycliffe's body be dug up, burnt and consigned to an English river.

The issue of the popes comes closer to farce than tragedy. In March 1415 the Pisan pope, John XXIII, flees from Constance in disguise; he is brought back a prisoner and is deposed in May. The Roman pope, Gregory XII, resigns voluntarily in July.

The Avignon Pope, Benedict XIII, refuses to come to Constance. In spite of a personal visit in France from the emperor Sigismund, he will hear nothing of resignation. The council finally deposes him in July 1417. Denying their right to do so, he withdraws to an impregnable castle on the coast of Spain. Here he continues to act as Pope, creating new cardinals and issuing decrees, until his death in 1423.

The council in Constance, having finally achieved a clean slate in July 1417, elects a new Pope in November. The vote is unanimous for a cardinal who is not an ordained priest (less unusual then than it sounds now), he was from a totally different back ground, that of a Franciscan friars, so on almost successive days he is rushed through the necessary stages. Ordained as deacon, then as priest, consecrated as bishop and enthroned as Pope, he emerges as Martin V; after him we see that more and more of Franciscan and Dominicans were favored by the council of Cardinals while selecting a new Pope. These were persons having little interest in pomp and exuberance for wealth and so they preferred to concentrate on things more devoted to the cause of religion and in that to art. Vatican had all the wealth they needed to indulge in that and so here we experience Renaissance in Art. To add to that Italy had the best of artists to accomplish what they desired. The popes during the Age of Revolution witnessed the largest expropriation of wealth in the church's history, during the French Revolution and those that followed throughout Europe. The Roman Question, arising from Italian unification, resulted in the loss of the Papal States and the creation of Vatican City.

The new Pope makes his way gradually south to Rome, a city crumbling into ruin after a century and more of neglect. The popes of the next hundred years will not solve the corruption in the papacy, which cries out for reform. However, they will dramatically improve the face of Rome. While all this political turmoil was going on in Europe, the process of inquisition simultaneously continued in other parts of the world through Dominicans and Franciscans groups converting millions of people from other world to Church. By this Church's coffer was growing alarmingly.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Origin of Roman Catholic Church - 49

Continues from the previous post –
After a preliminary return to Rome for three years, from 1367, the final move back from Avignon takes place in 1377.

After seventy years in France, the papal curia is French in its methods and largely in its staff. Back in Rome, some degree of tension between French and Italian factions is inevitable.

It is brought to an abrupt head by the death of the French pope Gregory IX within a year of his return to Rome. The Roman crowd, said to be in threatening mood, demand a Roman pope or at least an Italian one. In 1378, the conclave elects an Italian from Naples, Urban VI. His intransigence in office soon alienates the French cardinals. In addition, the behavior of the Roman crowd enables them to declare, in retrospect, that his election was invalid, voted under duress. The French cardinals withdraw to a group of their own, where they elect one of their numbers, Robert of Geneva. He takes the name Clement VII. By 1379, he is back in the palace of popes in Avignon, while Urban pontificates in Rome. This tussle for Rome amongst Europeans shows that a person who could be a Pope has to be from European nations and anybody other than that, just cannot even dream of becoming Pope. Europeans have monopolized Seat of Pope for good. Even though, as we know original Peter was from Jerusalem. In Europeans, also, there was choice and that was of Italian first choice, second choice would be French and then Spanish, Portuguese followed. We do not see any Pope from Germany and other Northern States of Europe like Danish, Norwegian or Russian. In much later period however, we do see some changes in this pattern of choice in selecting person for position as Pope. We also notice that Popes of Vatican had some misgivings about Germany and their animosity with that country is obvious. Reason for that is not clear but some historians are suggesting that Popes were attached to their motherlands and that often decided their decisions about selecting their staff in curiae. They specially avoided having anybody from Northern States of Europe. Europe as it were divided on this point in Northern European countries and Southern European countries while selecting New Pope. Catholic Cardinals of any other country such as from Africa, Latin America and Asia were conspicuously absent while selecting new Pope. European politics becomes very vividly visible on such occasions.

The Great Schism has begun. Since now, there were two equal authorities of Pope in Europe and it was possible that there will be more Popes in the world if this type of strife continues in future. None having key to heaven from Jesus; makes them all invalid bishops of Christianity. We by now know that this "key to heaven from Jesus", is what makes Popes from Vatican so much important. When this key is lost, Popes are of no value at all. However, this concept is often sidelined by ordinary faithful while looking to this office of papal authority.

The Great Schism: 1378-1417
For nearly forty years, Europe has two papal curiae (the central administration governing the Roman Catholic Church) and two sets of cardinals, each electing a new pope for Rome or Avignon when death brings a vacancy. Each pope lobbies for support. Kings and princes play them off against each other, changing allegiance when advantage offers.

In 1409, a council is convened at Pisa to resolve the issue. The council declares both existing popes to be schismatic (Gregory XII from Rome, Benedict XIII from Avignon) and appoints a new one, Alexander V. Nevertheless, nobody has persuaded the other two to resign. Therefore, the church now has three popes. Another council is convened, in 1414, at Constance. It will also consider the radical notions of John Wycliffe and John Huss.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Origin of Roman Catholic Church - 48

Continues from the previous post –

Continues from previous post –
By the end of the century the relationship is even more intense, but it has turned sour. In 1296, Boniface VIII, is involved in a struggle with Philip IV of France about whether the king has the right to tax and punish clergy in his own realm without the pope's permission. This struggle for temporal power between church and state prolongs, in another form, the earlier tussle of the investiture controversy. Pope's over indulgence with royalties of Europe began to have other effects and they turned against the interest of Pope. In 1302, Philip enlists the estates general in Paris in support of his cause. Then, claiming that there were irregularities in the election of Boniface, he sends an envoy to Italy with instructions to stir up rebellion against the pope.

Hearing in 1303 that Boniface is about to issue a police action to excommunicate his royal master, Philip's envoy (Guillaume de Nogaret) takes a bold step. He raises a small armed force and surprises Boniface at his birthplace, Anagni. He arrests the pope and holds him prisoner for two days. This shows Pope's over indulgence in methods such as excommunications had turned against him. The prestige of the papacy is severely dented by this episode, while Philip IV's power seems enhanced. A few years later he even contrives to destroy the great order of the Templars (a knight of a religious military order established in 1118 to protect pilgrims and the Holy Sepulcher), forcing a French pope, Clement V, to comply with his wishes. This was repetition of what had happened with Henry of Germany, this time it was a French king. Such events were gradually reducing prestige of this august seat of religion. Over indulgence in field where Pope is not concerned was proved to be harmful to Pope's authority dignity.

For much of the 14th century France appears to have the papacy in its pocket, almost literally. Clement V is the first of seven French popes in an unbroken succession spanning seventy-three years, to 1378. From 1309 these Popes are based not in Rome but on French soil, at Avignon. Clement moves his headquarters to Avignon in 1309 to prepare for a council which he has called in central France, at Vienne, to discuss the king of France's charges against the Templars. The town is friendly, for it belongs to a papal protégé - the Angevin dynasty of Naples. When major extensions to the bishop's palace are undertaken, from 1316, it becomes evident that the papal residence in Avignon is to be a long one. Thus, French born Popes began to shift their quarters from Italy, Rome, to France. A Pope is generally expected to be above such attachments but this proved that these Popes were not worth becoming Popes to represent heritage of Jesus, they were ordinary businessmen and not key holders of Jesus' authority.

The popes at Avignon: 1309-1379
In many ways the move to Avignon has a rational justification. This city is close to the main power of the time, France, but it is in another kingdom - that of Naples. It is also the center of western Europe in a way which Rome could never be. Lines drawn from Britain to Italy and from Germany to Spain would cross close to Avignon.

In addition, this place is much more secure than Rome. Italy is in a state of anarchy, dominated by warring aristocratic families and companies of condottieri. At Avignon the French popes have the opportunity to create an efficient papal bureaucracy. Papal dignity is powerfully expressed in the great palace of the popes, constructed from 1334. There was one other intention in shifting the seat of Pope to Avignon; French Popes wanted to have this seat of Pope to be held by only French persons in future and for that it was obviously convenient to have that seat near France and not far away to Rome in Italy.

Yet the prestige of the Popes derives from Rome, the Seat of St Peter. Moreover, their territorial base, the Papal States, is Italian. Moreover, there are hopes at this time that some form of reconciliation may be possible with the Greek Orthodox church of Constantinople. In terms of both history and geography, Rome rather than Avignon would be the natural setting for such a desirable development.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Origin of Roman Catholic Church - 47

Continues from the previous post –

Continues from previous post –

Sicily, linked politically to the southern region of Italy, is an area of profound concern to the papacy - this kingdom is Rome's southern neighbor. Rome therefore takes seriously the vacancy on the Sicilian throne in 1254, caused by the death of Frederick II's son Conrad IV. Admittedly, there are claimants from Frederick's Hohenstaufen line. There is his illegitimate son Manfred. And there is the legitimate heir, Conrad IV's son Conradin. But Conradin is only two years old. Conrad's family belonged to German heritage and so Germany was interested in the matter. Pope having anxiety of German rulers wanted to get rid of that linage. However, Pope could not openly show that for obvious reasons.

In the circumstances the papacy feels it right to intervene. The kingdom of Sicily is a
vassal of the Holy See, and a sympathetic ruler needs to be found. The crown is first offered in 1255 to one of the sons of Henry III, king of England.

The English knowing the smart trick of Pope showed little interest in that offer. Meanwhile, in 1258, Manfred arranges for his own coronation in Sicily. This move leads to prolonged negotiations with Rome which finally break down in 1263. The pope then offers the crown of Sicily and Naples to Charles of Anjou - a younger brother of Louis IX, the king of France. In 1263 it is a French pope, Urban IV, who selects Louis' younger brother Charles of Anjou to rule the kingdom of Naples and Sicily. This is an example that shows how Pope's emotional attachment to his links with his heritage was influencing his decisions.

Charles brings a French army to Italy and kills Manfred in battle near Benevento in 1266. Two years later the 15 year-old Conradin is captured and handed over to Charles, who has him executed in a public ceremony in Naples. Thus, finally German linage to throne is removed permanently. This touches German power and they become sensitive of Pope and French act of Charles.

Sicily and southern Italy are now in French hands, to the satisfaction of Rome. The French and the papacy share a profound hostility to the German empire - a rivalry expressed in Italian terms in the opposition of the papal party of the Guelphs to the Ghibellines, the supporters of the empire. The Popes are therefore delighted to have enemies of the Germans as their southern neighbors.

The Sicilians, however, are less enchanted by the arrival of French nobles (to whom large tracts of Sicilian land are distributed as feudal territories) and by high taxes imposed on them to pay for the military campaigns of Charles of Anjou; with consent of Pope.

The resentment against Angevin rule erupts in the Sicilian Vespers of 1282. Southern Italy enters two centuries of turmoil. The opponents are the French Angevin and the papacy on one side and the Spanish Aragonese, with frequent support from the German empire, on the other.

The Popes are often on the losing side. Even more harmful perhaps is a new perception resulting from all this military activity. Popes come to seem almost indistinguishable from temporal princes, taking sides (usually with France) in Italy and Europe's patchwork canvas of warfare. The resulting loss of Vatican's spiritual authority and creditability is a feature of the next two centuries. Pope continued to indulge in every political activity. Jesus became less important and Popes became more important for Roman Catholic Church. We observe that Lord Jesus seems to have no place at all in any of the papal activities.

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