Skip to comments.The papacy 1,000 years ago
Posted on 06/22/2009 7:28:34 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
History is the great debunker of pre-conceived ideas that are rooted in ideology and false piety rather than in reality.
Without a grasp of history, and of the history of the papacy in particular, many Catholics are led to believe that the papacy must always have been as they have known it, and most popes have been just like the popes of the 20th and 21st centuries: Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.
The pontificates of a thousand years ago, however, were very different from any that we have experienced in our lifetimes.
First of all, we do not even know how the pontificate of John XVIII ended in 1009. Did the pope abdicate before his death and, if so, was it under duress?
If he did abdicate, what did he do after he left the papacy? No living Catholic has ever seen that happen. Indeed, for those who tend to look upon popes as quasi-divine figures, papal resignation is simply unthinkable. Once a pope, always a pope -- until death. No?
According to some historical sources, Pope John XVIII most likely did abdicate, or resign, the papacy shortly before his death, and then became a monk at the basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome, where he is buried.
Otherwise, little is known of his pontificate. We do know that during this period of church history, from 1003 to 1012, one of the powerful Roman families, the Crescentiis, ruled the city and dominated the papacy itself.
From 999 to 1003 the first French pope, Sylvester II, was seated on the Chair of Peter. A dedicated reformer, he denounced simony (the buying and selling of spiritual goods and church offices), nepotism (favoring members of one's own family for appointment to church offices), and violations of clerical celibacy. He also insisted on the free election of abbots by monks.
But in February of 1001 the Roman citizenry revolted against foreign domination. The French pope and his German friend and ally, Emperor Otto III, were forced to leave the city.
Otto died the following year, before he could reestablish his authority in Rome. The new head of the Crescentii family, John Crescentius II, allowed the French pope to return, but only on condition that he limit himself to spiritual functions. The pope died less than a year later.
A relative of the dominant Crescentii family succeeded Sylvester II in an election that was undoubtedly engineered by the family's leader. What was also remarkable, besides the decisive influence of a layman on a papal election, is the fact that the new pope, John XVII, had been married before ordination to the priesthood and was the father of three sons.
The pope's only notable recorded papal act was his authorizing of Polish missionaries to work among the Slavs. It is not even known how he died or how old he was at the time of death.
Although John XVII was pope for less than six months, his pontificate was not among the shortest in history. For purposes of comparison, Pope John Paul I was in office for just 33 days in 1978, yet his was only the 11th briefest pontificate in history.
John XVIII was cardinal-priest of St. Peter's Basilica when elected to the papacy on Christmas Day 1003 (the Vatican's official list begins his pontificate in January 1004). None of his accomplishments as pope have had any lasting historical significance beyond certain locales.
Thus, he restored the diocese of Merseburg in Germany, which Pope Benedict VII had sup-pressed and divided at the request of Emperor Otto II, and John XVIII also approved the establishment of the diocese of Bamberg in Bavaria.
He summoned the bishops of Sens and Orleans to Rome under pain of excommunication because of their threats to the papal privileges granted to the abbey of Fleury.
There is some evidence that relations between Rome and Constantinople improved during John XVIII's pontificate, probably because of the pro-Byzantine sympathies of the Crescentii family. The pope's name was restored to the list of those to be prayed for at Mass in Constantinople.
However, the thaw was relatively brief. Less than 50 years later, the formal schism between East and West began, and remains in effect to this day.
John XVIII was probably forced to resign in late June or early July, 1009 -- almost exactly one thousand years ago.
His successor was Sergius IV who, because his baptismal name was Peter, changed it upon election. Taking a new papal name was still not the custom.
Alas, Sergius IV was murdered.
....From 999 to 1003 the first French pope, Sylvester II, was seated on the Chair of Peter. A dedicated reformer, he denounced simony (the buying and selling of spiritual goods and church offices), nepotism (favoring members of one's own family for appointment to church offices), and violations of clerical celibacy. He also insisted on the free election of abbots by monks. But in February of 1001 the Roman citizenry revolted against foreign domination. The French pope and his German friend and ally, Emperor Otto III, were forced to leave the city....
....A relative of the dominant Crescentii family succeeded Sylvester II in an election that was undoubtedly engineered by the family's leader. What was also remarkable, besides the decisive influence of a layman on a papal election, is the fact that the new pope, John XVII, had been married before ordination to the priesthood and was the father of three sons....John XVIII was cardinal-priest of St. Peter's Basilica when elected to the papacy on Christmas Day 1003 (the Vatican's official list begins his pontificate in January 1004). None of his accomplishments as pope have had any lasting historical significance beyond certain locales....John XVIII was probably forced to resign in late June or early July, 1009 -- almost exactly one thousand years ago.
Fr. McBrien is the Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.
Shall we count the minutes until this thread is declared off limits to Roman Catholics?
I wouldn't believe a word this man says. He may still sport "father" before his name, but he's a heretic who is not worthy of the collar. No Catholic in their right mind has any use for him.
Fr. McBrien lives openly with a concubine just off campus at Notre Dame. It is a fact that cannot possibly be unknown to the local bishop.
MARKETING FAIL! Unless conversion to the Faith isn't what he's marketing.
Posting ANYTHING from the National Catholic Reporter (notoriously liberal rag hell-bent on destroying Tradition), let alone by Richard McBrien of all people is like waving a red cape in front of a pasture full of bulls without Picadoros wearing them out first.
Since well-informed Catholics DON’T think of the Pope as a “quasi-divine” figure, the purpose of Fr. McBrien’s column is clear: Not to inform and enlighten, but only to vent his poisonous hatred of the Catholic Church, by dredging up some of the worse Popes in history, and perhaps upset some pious people.
Follow the money.
He may well be a scoundral, alright.
However, Christ Himself was quite hostile to . . .
bureaucratic, political, pontifical religionists 2,000 years ago.
Fr. Richard McBrien
Claims that a future Pope must overturn the infallible document disallowing women "priests" (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis).
Fr. Richard McBrien
Says, among other things, that Jesus did not establish the Catholic Church, and calls into question the virginal conception of Jesus and the perpetual virginity of Our Lady, and promotes dissent.
Maybe he has some other references for me to look at.
Ahhhhh . . .
However, hereon . . .
so is anything which challenges to the least degree any hint of idolatrous sensibilities toward persons, images, traditions, offices, customs, RELIGIOUS ASSUMPTIONS, structures etc. etc. etc.
Though, interestingly, The Bible doesn’t seem to ‘earn’ such fierce protective rants from the ‘faithful.’
Welllll . . . at least he got one right . . . that Mary was not a perpetual virgin.
I don’t care if Billy Graham testifies to the perpetual virginity of Mary. She was married to Joseph and she bore other children. This does not reflect badly on her or the Lord. She was a normal person but was given an extraordinary role.
McBrien would not approve of being on FreeRepublic. Let’s allow the LIBS to monopolize his writings.
McBrien is a “modernist.” If you call yourself a “Christian.” know that he is not on your side.
“It is a fact that cannot possibly be unknown to the local bishop.”
The local bishop has no say over anything McBrien does really. McBrien is an order priest, if I recall correctly.
A lot of the comments in this article are to the effect that we don’t have a lot of details about history which occurred over 1000 years ago! What a shock!
he is paid by Notre Dame, n’est pas?
And that Jesus did’t found the Catholic church...
He pays himself. Yes, he also receives a university salary, but he is a prolific author and probably makes much more money from that.
Such notions must be corrected.
Though, interestingly, The Bible doesnt seem to earn such fierce protective rants from the faithful.
We hold it as Sacred and necessary, but it's not the only source of teaching. It is one of three pillars of the Faith along with Sacred Tradition (which is regularly maligned) and the Magisterium - and in the form of a closed canon, is the newest of the three. Scripture is. Several of the basic Catholic prayers are direct quotes, mostly from the Gospel according to Luke.
I would venture to say that INTERPRETATIONS of various readings spur just as many arguments as various teachings on the use of religious art.
Who said the RC’s had a corner on
Biblical or Theological silliness?
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
Which is clear and plain Bible truth!
I got that impression! LOL.
You are getting the wrong information from somewhere.
How could the Angel Gabriel address her “Hail, Mary, full of grace,”
if she were not holy enough to be a tablernacle, in fact, the Ark of the New Covenant, for Jesus Christ in her womb?
She was very HOLY. Did not even Elizabeth address her:
“Blessed art thou among women.” ??
“And blessed is the fruit of your womb.”??
To Elizabeth’s last statement, Catholics add the word, “Jesus” when we say the Hail Mary.
Please don’t rely on your falsehood sources. Read Luke again and again and pray about it.
Though I should probably end my recreational tweaking!
She was a normal person, but she was not a middle-class American, nor was she like the orthodox Jews of later times, the Jews of the Talmudic period. However, like Jews of all times, she belonged to an extended family, and probably was related to almost all the people of Nazareth. Which would give special poignancy to the rejection of Jesus by the people of his town.
I think he's diocesan, but not from that diocese. But, yes, the local bishop has no control over him. And, of course, dissent sells.
I was just speaking as an observer . . . a very trained psychological/ sociological observer
of the differences in fierceness and emotional intensity of the relative posts re:
etc. etc. etc.
similar re the Bible.
Quite a difference.
How do you explain it to the person in your mirror?
the RUBBER DICTIONARY strikes again! LOL.
Doesn’t matter. All priests in South Bend must have faculties from the bishop of South Bend, and are under his authority in other ways as well.
And a cleric living in concubinage is in violation of canon law. The only thing protecting McBrien from laicization is the absence of testosterone in the bloodstreams of the relevant authorities.
McBrien is a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, IIRC. Which is an indictment of the bishop of Bridgeport, as well as the bishop of South Bend.
“...should contact him as soon as possible about one of the ancestors who was a Cardinal (1400s France ~ a common occurrence in those days in that place).”
Common occurence? There were only about 18 cardinals in 1386 and about two-thirds of those were French. In 1417 there were 23 cardinals. There were never many.
Common in the sense of Cardinals having descendants.
Where is the evidence that Mary was not a perpetual virgin?
In the New Testament.
Rubber dictionaries do not negate it.
Well, now THAT's interesting.
BTW, it's MAGISTERIUM, not Magisterical (as Des does her best Hermoine from Harry Potter impression).
Well, jeez, I don't think any of us have ever attacked or denigrated the Bible. We just think of it differently. Christ is the center of life and it is part of Sacred Tradition and His teaching. We take it as a whole and the various instructions are taught in digestible chunks at Mass. We don't take an exacto knife and pull out verses and make them suit our purposes, though. I do wish we would stick to the Douay-Rheims translation, though. The others are so bad.
Strange that you didn't include the theology of church architecture in that list.
“Doesnt matter. All priests in South Bend must have faculties from the bishop of South Bend, and are under his authority in other ways as well.”
You still don’t see the simple point. I check and McBrien is not a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. He also, however, is not a diocesan priest. At least he’s not a diocesan priest in Indiana! He’s incardinated in CT, not IN. Even if the Indiana ordinary denied him faculties, that would not stop him from teaching because he is from another diocese. Anything of any seriousness would be appealed to Rome and might take years to resolve.
“And a cleric living in concubinage is in violation of canon law.”
Agreed. Now prove that that is the case - that he is living in concubinage. Who’s going to do that?
“The only thing protecting McBrien from laicization is the absence of testosterone in the bloodstreams of the relevant authorities.”
No. No bishop in Indiana can do that by canon law. They could only request that and only after a long, long legal process.
“McBrien is a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, IIRC.”
“Which is an indictment of the bishop of Bridgeport, as well as the bishop of South Bend.”
Maybe, but he’s even further removed from the scene and even less able to prove anything.
“Common in the sense of Cardinals having descendants.”
No, actually that isn’t all that common either.
People do things for reasons.
There are REASONS
folks in a certain group are
MUCH MORE INTENSELY, MUCH MORE EMOTIONALLY, MUCH MORE STRIDENTLY
DEFENSIVE ABOUT, FIERCE ABOUT, DECLARATIVE ABOUT . . .
and the rest of the list above
their asserting themselves in behalf of The Bible—GOD’S WORD.
What do you think the reasons are?
What do I think the reason is? Love. The Sacredness of Scripture isn’t in question and hasn’t been insulted.
She had other children.
All in the Bible, my dear.
**the RUBBER DICTIONARY strikes again!**
That was TOO close! I had just swallowed the last of my before bedtime brownie & milk before reading that! L O L !
Doesn’t wash, with me.
The only explanation I can think of that fits the observations is
a marked difference in levels of adoration for one vs the other.
And, in fact, RC’s seemingly minimalist perspective on Scripture has been spoken of many times, hereon.
The emotions then generated are about as excited as those from watching paint peel.
Quite different from merely asserting, quite Biblically, that Mary was not a perpetual virgin—that according to Scripture, she had other children.
THEN the emotions flare intensely.
Only in Rubber Bibles.
I’d apologize but it would be disingenuous.
I am glad you spared your keyboard.