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.

Continues in the next post –

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