Sunday, 18 August 2013

On the origins of the Doctrine of Papal Supremacy

The reforms within the Roman Catholic religion, concurrent with the matters under discussion in this blog, which led to the adoption of an extreme belief in the Doctrine of Papal Supremacy began around 1054, the year of the Great Schism between the Latin and Eastern orthodox churches, under pope Leo IX. Prior to this time popes like Gregory the Great thought it was entirely arrogant, indeed blasphemous and quite uncatholic for the pope to claim any kind of supremacy over and above his fellow bishops, and anyone calling himself the universal priest augured the coming of the Antichrist. Prior the bishop of Rome had the great distinction,of being "primus inter pares" ("first among equals"), without necessarily having effective power over other churches. Under Gregory VII the thinking was that the Pope and the Church should take the lead. Pope Cregory VII [Hildebrand] wanted to establish  a papal theocracy.

Prior to this programme of reform church thinking was Gelasian: the Two Swords theory of Church-State relations, where the church and secular wings in a given territory were to share responsibility, one the spiritual, and the other temporal, but that the temporal authority should allow those in charge of the spiritual to govern spritual affairs.

Pope Leo IX's programme included sweeping away corruption, including the condemnation of simony and enforcing the formal election of bishops according to canonical law. Later the Doctrine of Papal Supremacy culminated and became formally defined under pope Gregory VII, in the Dictatus Papae of around 1075, a list of 27 statements of the religious powers presumed by the pope, principles by which the church and its relations with secular states were to be governed.

That the Roman church was founded by God alone.
That the Roman pontiff alone can with right be called universal.
That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops.
That, in a council his legate, even if a lower grade, is above all bishops, and can pass sentence of deposition against them.
That the pope may depose the absent.
That, among other things, we ought not to remain in the same house with those excommunicated by him.
That for him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to make an abbey of a canonry; and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor ones.
That he alone may use the imperial insignia.
That of the pope alone all princes shall kiss the feet.
That his name alone shall be spoken in the churches.
That this title [Pope] is unique in the world.
That it may be permitted to him to depose emperors.
That he may be permitted to transfer bishops if need be.
That he has power to ordain a clerk of any church he may wish.
That he who is ordained by him may preside over another church, but may not hold a subordinate position; and that such a one may not receive a higher grade from any bishop.
That no synod shall be called a general one without his order.
That no chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his authority.
That a sentence passed by him may be retracted by no one; and that he himself, alone of all, may retract it.
That he himself may be judged by no one.
That no one shall dare to condemn one who appeals to the apostolic chair.
That to the latter should be referred the more important cases of every church.
That the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err to all eternity, the Scripture bearing witness.
That the Roman pontiff, if he have been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter; St. Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, bearing witness, and many holy fathers agreeing with him. As is contained in the decrees of St. Symmachus the pope.
That, by his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to bring accusations.
That he may depose and reinstate bishops without assembling a synod.
That he who is not at peace with the Roman church shall not be considered catholic.
That he may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.

It is of little wonder that the secular rulers largely refused to be subject to this programme of reform, and that this subsequently led to the many struggles in the 11th and 12th centuries and beyond between Church and State (Sacerdotium and Imperium), of which the Becket trouble was but one example. For in northern Europe, including England, the kings and emperors of those lands took for granted they they were the rulers of those lands and that it was their right to nominate and appoint bishops, and to oversee the church in their territories.

Although the Dictatus Papae were not widely circulated outside the papal curia, they permeated the thinking of the clerics of the times. And in order to enforce this doctrine the scholars of the Roman Catholic Church set about researching for full documentary evidence in support of this programme. They found it in the Donation of Constantine and amongst the False Decretals [Canon Law] of Pesudo Isidore, both essentially forgeries. And it was these documents were copied and widely circulated, and taught.

The reformed papacy needed a new systematic code of canon law. The purpose of the False Decretals was to bring about a situation where the pope in Rome, could wield complete universal (catholic) authority over the whole of the church and more. They argue that popes had always had this supreme authority since the beginning.   As was clear from the Dictatus Papae pope Gregory VII presumed without question the superiority of church over state as a fact which admitted of no discussion and of which he never doubted. Ecclesiastical government was to be centralized in Rome.

Anselm was the advocate for Papal Supremacy in England, and as a consequence ran into trouble with both the kings of his time, William Rufus and Henry 1st.

The Papacy: Its History, Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects 
by the Rev. J. A. Wylie, LL.D. (1852, London)

Constitutions of Clarendon: Papal Supremacy.

Ian Stuart Robinson (1990). The Papacy, 1073-1198: Continuity and Innovation. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-521-31922-5.
The History and the Lives of the Popes

John William Bowden (1845). Life and Pontificate of Gregory the Seventh. Dunham

Hauke Brunkhorst (2014). Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions: Evolutionary Perspectives. Chapter 3: Legal Revolutions: Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 83–. ISBN 978-1-4411-0249-2.

Inventing the Individual The Origins of Western Liberalism
Publication Date: October 2014, Pages: 416
Published by: Harvard University Press
eISBN: 978-0-674-73624-5


J. H. Burns; James Henderson Burns (1988). The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought C.350-c.1450. II Church and Papacy: Cambridge University Press. pp. 252–. ISBN 978-0-521-42388-5.

J. T. Gilchrist (1962). Canon Law Aspects of the Eleventh Century Gregorian Reform Programme. The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 13, pp 21-38.

Vol. 20 (1964), pp. 179-317
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Walter Ullmann (2013). The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages (Routledge Library Editions: Political Science Volume 35). ISBN 978-1-135-02630-1.
Church and State in Christian History
David Knowles
Journal of Contemporary History
Vol. 2, No. 4, Church and Politics (Oct., 1967), pp. 3-15
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.

Libertas Ecclesia and Papal Supremacy

Images and ideas in the Middle Ages: selected studies in history and art (Reform and Tradition in Mediaeval Christendom ed.). Ed. di Storia e Letteratura. 1983. pp. 533–

Jeffrey Burton Russell (2005). Dissent and Order in the Middle Ages: The Search for Legitimate Authority. Christianitas and Papal Supremacy: Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-1-59752-102-4.

Extract from
The Bull "Laudabiliter": A Problem in Medieval Diplomatique and History
Author(s): Maurice P. Sheehy
Source: Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol. 29, No. 3/4 (1961), pp.
Published by: Galway Archaeological & Historical Society

This can be understood only in the context of the all-embracing Christianitas  which formed medieval society. That God created man to undergo the trials of this life before taking him unto Himself and that He founded His Church for the purpose of leading man to this supernatural end was the most basic, and fundamentally unquestioned, reality in the human polity of the Middle Ages. The Church therefore was the most important society to which man belonged and its visible head, the Pope Vicarius Christi was the human being with the highest authority of all. The structure of this society was formed as a result of the apparent triumph of the Augustinian idea of the City of God, whereby the dualism that is ever-present in man, the age-old contest of nature and spirit, is harmonised by a reliance on an unearthly providence to guide and give purpose to the earthly motions of man as he struggles towards an unearthly object. St. Augustine's City of God is not identical with the hierarchical Church, which is the visible custodian of Christian truth. It is rather a transcendental reality co-extensive with eternity, and therefore timeless, which gives meaning to the unassimilated events of human life.
The orderly running of temporal affairs was a necessary corollary to man's final destiny. This task was entrusted to Caesar. But since all power was divine in origin, the authority of the temporal ruler must also have come from God. Within the medieval polity, therefore, there existed two societies, one with a higher and spiritual end, the other with a temporal and lesser aim. Both existed side by side and functioned as two aspects of the one Christianitas, which was above them both and encompassed the whole of humanity. As this Christian society developed the Pope began to receive and assume, both in theory and in practice, a unique position of pre-eminence. Was he not the visible head of that higher society, the Church, which was the custodian of the truth? Had he not been appointed Vicarius Christi? Was he not therefore the real head of the Christian world? The success and vigour of the Cluniac and Gregorian revival aided substantially in this development. The papacy, and subsequently the episcopal office, from a position of subservience to temporal rulers and worldly endeavour, arose to assume a moral leadership which found ample justification in the common Christian philosophy and religion. In the affairs of men the voice of God through His Church took on an ever more important role. The Pope and to a lesser degree the bishops became the protectors of the religious and the monks, they condemned and censured the unjust and compelled practical recognition of the divine law, both natural and positive. In the medieval world, therefore, the leaders of the Church were deeply involved in the political issues of the day. The tenth and eleventh-century spiritual renovation was much more a reform of the medieval Christianitas than just an ecclesiastical re -organisation within the Ecclesia.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo); trans Marcus Dods (1871). The City of God, Volume 1. T. & T. Clark.

Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo); trans Marcus Dods (1871). The City of God, Volume 2. T. & T. Clark.

St Anselm of Lucca

Advocate that Church should be purged of lay influence.

Islamic Ideas

Abdallah Laroui; Maxime Rodinson (1967). Abdallah Laroui. L'Idéologie arabe contemporaine: essai critique. Préfáce de Maxime Rodinson. F. Maspero.
Jean Jacques Waardenburg (2002). Islam: Historical, Social, and Political Perspectives. Abdallah Laroui: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-3-11-017178-5.

Images and ideas in the Middle Ages: selected studies in history and art. Ed. di Storia e Letteratura. 1983. pp. 533–.

No comments:

Post a Comment