Posted: 12/15/2005 7:37:15 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/15/2005 7:39:52 AM EDT by Dramborleg]
Very Interesting writing, of which I have posted a few sections before. Read and discuss.
THE HISTORY OF THE ROMAN CHURCH
THE ORIGIN OF THE PAPACY
OF all the fictions which still shelter from the storm of modern criticism under the leaky umbrella of "Catholic Truth," the legend of the divine foundation of the Papacy and the Papal system is quite the boldest and most romantic. No divine force, but a pitifully human series of forgeries and coercions, of pious frauds and truculent ambitions, perpetrated in an age of deep ignorance, built up the Papal power, hierarchy, and creed.
The Christian hierarchy arose in a very simple way. In the primitive community, which met at times to break bread in memory of Christ and meditate on his words, some division of labour was needed. It fell to "the elder" to break the bread and address the little group. It fell to a few of the younger men to carry round the bread to be "ministers" or servants. Then, as scandals grew among the brethren and sisters, it was just as natural to appoint an "overseer" for each group of communities. In Greek, which these early Christians generally spoke (even at Rome), elder is πρεσβυτερος; minister or servant is διακονος; and overseer is επισκοπος. Hence the words priest, deacon, and bishop.
Certain of these primitive communities were believed to have been founded by the immediate followers of Christ, the apostles, and they were called "apostolic churches," and entitled to especial respect. Until the fifth or sixth century the Roman Church was just one of these "apostolic" churches. Its bishop was called "Pope" only because every bishop was called "Pope" (as every priest is in the East today) during the first few centuries.
But the Roman Pope had two peculiar advantages, and these formed the foundation of his ambition to rule the whole Church. In the first place, Rome was the metropolis of the Empire, the greatest city of the world. In the second place, it was somehow generally believed by the end of the second century, though there is no other serious evidence of the fact, that the Roman Church had been founded by Peter.
In the Gospels Peter has a remarkable position. Christ is represented as saying to him (Matthew xvi, 18): "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock [πετρα] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." This poor little pun on Peter's name was obviously not made by Christ. The word "church" had no meaning at all in the days of Christ and Peter. A Galilean fisherman would have asked in astonishment what this mysterious thing was which was to be built upon him. There was no such word in Aramaic. Christ would have had to say "synagogue"; and he hated synagogues. The pun belongs to a later date. There came a time when Peter and Paul quarrelled, as Paul tells us, and there was a party of Peter and a party of Paul; and some zealous Petrist, possibly of the Roman Church, got that passage interpolated into the Gospel. That crude little pun has changed the course of history and made the life-work of Christ a mockery.
From the Epistle to the Romans, which is generally admitted to be genuine, we gather that there were a few Christian families at Rome, living in obscurity in the squalid shipping suburb, by the year A.D. 59. Probably three years later Paul reached Rome and was put to death there after two years of arguing in the poor rooms of his followers. I have examined at length all the evidence for this early period in a recent and larger work, A History of the Popes (1939) and several other volumes and need say here only that the "Letter of the Church of Rome to the Church of Corinth," though not unchallenged, is the decisive document. Catholic writers quite falsely represent it as an assertion of his authority by Pope Clement in the last decade of the first century and make him base his authority on St. Peter. On the contrary, the letter is written in the name of the Roman community, not of its bishop, and is a friendly appeal from one church to another. It states that Paul came to Rome and was martyred there, but it does not even say that Peter ever came to Rome, much less died there. The one or two non-Catholic historians who have admitted the presence of Peter at Rome seem to have overlooked this most important fact. At the end of the century the Roman community was still just one amongst many and claimed no authority. Nor is there the least recognition of such authority in the letters of Ignatius and the works of Irenaeus, which are never quoted. Indeed, as the Church was now torn asunder by the Gnostic controversy, the fact that no Eastern bishop made the least appeal to Rome to settle it plainly shows that until near the end of the second century, when the forgery about Peter was in circulation, Rome did not even claim any authority.
The seed began to germinate before the end of the second century. The ecclesiastical historian Eusebius tells us (bk. v, 34) that Bishop Victor, of Rome, heard that the Churches of Asia Minor did not celebrate Easter on the same day as the Romans, and he commanded them to change. That was about the year 190. Catholic Truth is very careful to tell of this first assertion of Papal supremacy, and just as careful to suppress the sequel. The bishops of Asia Minor told Victor, in very plain Greek, to mind his own business. Victor, haughtily, threatened to excommunicate them, whereupon even the bishops of the West "bitterly attacked Victor" (Eusebius says) for his arrogance, and declared that they would take no notice of his excommunication. Possibly they knew that, as Bishop Hippolytus tells us, Pope Victor was a friend of the emperor's mistress, Marcia, the vicious companion of one of the most brutal of the emperors.
It was thirty years after this severe snub before a Roman Pope repeated the claim. Tertullian, the famous African writer, speaks disdainfully in one of his works (On Chastity, ch. i) of some bishop who calls himself "the supreme pontiff" and "the bishop of bishops." This seems to refer to Pope Callistus; and if Tertullian had known the personal history of that remarkable adventurer, he would have used even more violent language. For seventeen centuries Callistus has been honoured in the Roman Church as "Saint and Martyr." But about ninety years ago we discovered the manuscript of a work written by a Roman contemporary of Callistus, and it pitilessly exposes the way in which the Roman Church, by means of deliberate forgeries, glorified its early bishops. Callistus was an astute ex-slave, of dubious character, who died comfortably in his bed after a very brief, but very remarkable, tenure of the Papal office. For Catholic Truth and the Papal officials, of course, this discovery makes no difference. For them Callistus is still "Saint and Martyr"; and, by an exquisite irony, his rival and exposer, the anti-Pope Hippolytus, is also a "Saint and Martyr" in the Roman literature! 
Thirty years later, in 252, we have another opportunity to test the Papal claim Those were days when bishops did not mince their words, and the famous Bishop Cyprian of Carthage tells his "dear brother" Cornelius of Rome, in a letter (Ep. lv), precisely what he thinks of him for listening amiably to certain schismatical ruffians who have gone to Rome to complain of Cyprian. Naturally it is enough for the Catholic writer that they have appealed to Rome. Even Mgr. Duchesne, one of the ablest of modern Catholic scholars, emphasizes the fact, and he quotes Cyprian describing Rome as "the principal Church — the source of sacerdotal unity."  The truth is that Cyprian sternly rebukes Pope Cornelius for interfering. "Why did these men come to you?" he asks; and he goes on:
Since it is acknowledged by all of us, and is right and just, that a case must be heard where a crime has been committed, and that each pastor shall have his own portion of the flock, and render to God an account of his conduct, those whom we rule must not roam about and disturb the good relations of bishops by their lying audacity.
Quite clearly Bishop Cyprian knew nothing about the divine institution of the Roman supremacy! But Mgr. Duchesne presently finds a clearer proof. In the year 254 the bishops of Gaul wrote to tell Cyprian, the Carthaginian Pope, and Stephen, the Roman Pope, that one of their colleagues had been deposed for evil conduct, and he refused to submit. Cyprian therefore wrote to Stephen, and, says Duchesne (p. 304), "according to Cyprian it was the duty of the Pope to intervene in Gaul." It is a pity that even the most distinguished Catholic scholars pervert history in the interest of the Papacy. What Cyprian plainly says (Ep. lxvii) is, that it is "our duty" (the equal duty of Stephen and Cyprian), and that makes all the difference in the world. The Gallic bishops had appealed to both. Cyprian had responded at once; and his letter to Stephen, for whom he had no respect, is a caustic injunction to do his duty as soon as possible.
Nor was this the last word of these African bishops, whom the Catholic writer represents as admitting Rome's supremacy. A few years later we again find Cyprian writing to his "dear brother," who has been pushing his claim. He writes now in the name of all the African bishops, and he closes his letter (Ep. lxxii) with this heavy sarcasm:
We use no violence and make laws for none, because each prelate has the right to follow his own judgment in the administration of the Church, and must render an account to the Lord.
Stephen, in reply, brandished his poor Papal credentials, and told them to submit or be excommunicated. The Africans met in solemn council to frame a reply, and it was one of flat and contemptuous defiance. It opens with these bitterly ironic words:
We judge no man, and we cut off no man from communion for differing from us. None of us regards himself as the bishop of bishops, or seeks by tyrannical threats to compel his colleagues to obey him.
And this letter, Mgr. Duchesne and the Catholic apologists assure their readers, does not call into question the Pope's claim of authority! The African Church, we must remember, is of peculiar significance in' this respect. It was not only more important than any other section of Western Christendom, but it looked to Rome as its "mother-church." Rome was the very heart of that mighty Empire of which the northern fringe of Africa was but a colony. Hence it is that the African bishops speak of Rome as "the principal church" and "the source of sacerdotal unity." But to say, in face of these repeated letters, that the African bishops acknowledged the authority of Rome over them is a piece of audacity which Catholic Truth alone could achieve without a blush of modesty. At that time, and until the days when Goth and Vandal shattered the provincial churches, the claims of Rome were a laughing-stock to all. Mere compliments to the Pope are of no more significance than they are to-day in the mouths of many Anglicans.
We have next to see how this Roman ambition was enforced by such violence, fraud, and forgery as have no parallel in the history of civilized religion. I have said that the Roman Church remained until the end of the third century, although it scandalized the Africans by dropping the ancient discipline and admitting large numbers of loose-living Romans (as Bishop Hippolytus tells us), a poor, small, and ignorant body. We know from the semi-official Calendar of the Popes (Liber Pontificalis) that they had not a chapel of the humblest description until about 220, and that they could not afford silver vessels for altar use until about 230. We have reason to believe that they did not in the year 250 number more than 20,000 in a city of a million people, although they had suffered scarcely any persecution for seventy years. Their sufferings really began — we will presently set aside their mendacious accounts of earlier persecutions — under the Emperor Decius, and continued under Diocletian. Very few were martyred, the whole 20,000, except a few score, denying their faith, and by the year 310 the Roman Church was a tiny and despised body. Then there occurred three events which entirely changed the situation. The first was the conversion of the Emperor Constantine. Dazed by the sudden change from fierce hatred to favour, the Roman Christians emerged from the catacombs into a shower of gold, and their church grew rapidly. Constantine used no pressure, but the path of promotion now lay through Christianity, as the Pagans sadly complained The Pope began to live in a palace. His bishopric began at last to share the prestige of the Imperial city.
The second event which favoured the Roman ambition was that in the fourth century Eastern Christendom was torn into shreds, and spattered with blood, by the fierce struggle of Arians and Trinitarians. The Roman Church, which was in these early centuries very far from being a seat of learning, did not understand the subtleties of the Greeks, and it remained simply Trinitarian. Naturally the Trinitarian bishops of the East then began to flatter it and appeal to it. They did not at any time grant its claim of supremacy, though in the fourth century they might have found this a useful weapon against the Arians. In the very heat of the struggle they laid it down, in the famous Council of Nicæa (Canon VI), that the Bishop of Rome had merely the same authority in his own region as had the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch in their regions In fact, when Pope Liberius himself incurred the taint of heresy (as we shall see), when Pope Damasus proved so slow to assist and so arrogant that St. Basil used stronger language about the Roman bishop than even Tertullian and Cyprian had done, the Eastern bishops clustered round Constantinople and left the Popes to pursue their ambition in the West. But for a time the freedom from heresy, the comparative calm, of the Roman Church gave it some prestige, and many of the flattering tributes (often deliberately enhanced by later Roman forgers) which the Catholic writer quotes belong to this diplomatic period.
The third event was the most important of all. We have seen, and shall see further, how the Western bishops were Just as disdainful as the Eastern of the Roman Pope's claim to rule them. But very soon after the establishment of Christianity in Europe there occurred the mighty downpour of barbarians from the forests of Germany which destroyed the Roman Empire and prepared Europe for the Middle Ages. This great catastrophe shattered the provincial churches — of Gaul and Spain and Africa — annihilated the Roman school-system, and brought a sudden and dense darkness upon Southern Europe and Africa. There are other points to consider be/ore we examine this closely, but it must be mentioned, in anticipation, here as the third and chief event which enabled the Popes to enforce their fraudulent calm.
During the fourth century, as is known, Christianity became the established religion of the Empire. Only fifty years before it had pathetically pleaded for religious freedom. Now the Roman Church, guiding the consciences of Emperors, lightly adopted persecution in Its turn, and fell upon all the other religions with truculent severity. The rival temples were closed, or converted into churches. For thirty years the emperors persecuted all other sects, even sentence of death being decreed against them. The city of Rome became, by what we should call Act of Parliament, entirely Christian. The Roman bishopric gained incalculably in wealth and power.
The writers of the time leave no room for doubt that this material gain was accompanied by a very serious loss of character But in estimating this we must again be on our guard against "Catholic Truth." The Roman Church did not fall so far as is sometimes believed, because it had not nearly so far to fall. The pretty and touching picture of that Church during the persecutions which is still given in Catholic literature is appallingly untruthful. I have spoken of lies and forgeries, and the reader may feel that this is intemperate language. Not in the least. The story of the condition of the Roman Church before the conversion of Constantine has been grossly and deliberately falsified, and the forgeries by means of which this was done begin about the period we have reached.
According to the Catholic writers, and even the official liturgy of their Church, the Roman community of the first three centuries was so decked and perfumed with saints and martyrs that it must have had a divine spirit in it. Now the far greater part, the overwhelmingly greater part, of the Acts of the Martyrs and Lives of the Saints on which this claim is based are impudent forgeries, perpetrated by Roman Christians from the fourth to the eighth century in order to give a divine halo to the very humble, and very human, history of their Church.
This is not merely a contention of "heretics and unbelievers." It is not even a new discovery. The legends of the martyrs are so gross that Catholic historians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries frequently denounced them. Cardinal Baronius and Father Pagi repeatedly rejected them. The learned and pious Tillemont, in the fifth volume of his Mémoires, slays hundreds of them. Pope Benedict XIV, of the eighteenth century, a scholar who by some mischance was made a Pope, was so ashamed of the extent to which these forgeries permeate the official ritual of his Church that he entered upon a great reform; but the cardinals and monks obstructed his work, and the literature of the Church still teems with legends from these tainted sources. In fact, many of these forgeries were already notorious in the year 494, when Pope Gelasius timidly and haltingly condemned them.
These forgeries are so gross that one needs very little historical knowledge in order to detect them. Large numbers of Roman martyrs are, like the Pope Callistus whom I have mentioned, put in the reign of the friendly Emperor Alexander Severus, who certainly persecuted none. One of these Roman forgers, of the sixth Of seventh century. is bold enough to claim five thousand martyrs for Rome alone under the gentle Alexander Severus! Other large numbers of Roman martyrs are put in the reign of the Emperor Maximin; and Dr. Garres has shown that there were hardly any put to death in the whole Empire, least of all at Rome, under Maximin.  The semi-official catalogue of the Popes makes saints and martyrs of no less than thirteen of the Popes of the third century, when there were scarcely more than three or four.
No one questions that the Roman Church had a certain number of martyrs in the days of the genuine persecutions, but nine-tenths of the pretty stories which are popular in Catholic literature — the stories of St. Agnes and St. Cecilia, of St. Lucia and St. Catherine, of St. Lawrence and St. George and St. Sebastian, and so on — are pious romances. Even when the martyrdom may be genuine, the Catholic story of it is generally a late and unbridled fiction.
A short account of the havoc which modern scholars have made of the Acts of the Martyrs is given by a Catholic professor, Albert Ehrhard, of the Vienna University, and will cause any inquiring Catholic to shudder.  Dr. Ehrhard mentions a French work, L'Amphithèâtre Flavien, by Father Delehaye, a Jesuit, and calls it "an important contribution to the criticism of the Roman acts of the martyrs." It is a "criticism" of such a nature that it dissolves into fiction all the touching pictures (down to Mr. G. B. Shaw's Androcles and the Lion) of the "martyrs of the Coliseum." It proves that no Christians were ever martyred in the Amphitheatre (Coliseum). The English translation of Father Delehaye's Legends of the Saints (1907) gives an appalling account of these Roman forgeries. Another scholar has, Professor Ehrhard admits (p. 555), shown that "a whole class" of these saints and martyrs are actually pagan myths which have been converted into Christian martyrs. The whole literature which this Catholic professor surveys is one mighty massacre of saints and martyrs, very few surviving the ordeal. These fictions are often leniently called "pious fancies" and "works of edification." Modern charity covers too many ancient sins. These things were intended to deceive; they have deceived countless millions for fourteen centuries, and in the hands of priests they deceive millions to-day.
The early Roman Church was a poor little sect, like any other. It had some noble-spirited martyrs during the three or four short persecutions (in two hundred and fifty years) which affected it; but it had a far larger number who either sacrificed to the gods or bought a false certificate that they had done so. It had many men and women of strict life, and still more of lax life. Its first thirty Popes were obscure men of no distinction in the Church, of no learning, who just managed to hold together their ten or twenty thousand followers until the golden days of Constantine began.
Then, with the enlargement and enrichment of the Church, the saints almost disappeared and the sinners multiplied, Pope Liberius was sent into exile for refusing to sign an heretical formula. But when he heard that "the faithful" had set up an anti-Pope he "embraced the heretical perversity" (St. Jerome says), and returned to struggle for his flesh-pots. His followers and those of his rival fought terrible battles, in which many were slain; and it is one of the most piquant outcomes of the early zeal to make martyrs (on paper) that the semi-official Catalogue of the Popes  included the anti-Pope Felix, who died in his bed, as "Saint and Martyr"! Felix is, like Saint and Martyr Callistus, one of the jewels in the crown of the early Roman Church.
When Pope Liberius died the bloody battle was renewed. Two Popes, Damasus and Ursicinus, were elected, and we have unchallenged contemporary records of the way in which the supporters of Damasus ("Saint" Damasus, of course — though his Christian opponents called him, significantly, "the tickler of women's ears," and he was sued in the civil court for adultery) fell with swords and axes and staves upon the other faction. In one church alone they, after a furious siege, killed no less than one hundred and sixty of their Christian brethren. The deadly conflict spread all over Rome, and lasted for weeks. There were more martyrs at Rome in that one month (October, 366) than in the whole of the "persecutions"; and again a number of the murdered supporters of the anti-Pope found a place in the Roman lists of martyrs!
In face of the letters of St. Jerome, who lived in Rome about that time, it is useless to pretend that these were the isolated skirmishes of "the lower orders." The community was generally corrupt. Catholic Truth is, of course, quite familiar with the letters of St. Jerome. From them it quotes to an admiring public the edifying life of Fabiola and Paula and other Christian ladies. But it omits to add that Jerome very emphatically describes this little group of his pupils as a small oasis of virtue in a great desert of vice. Priests, nuns, and laity, men and women, he describes as sordid, greedy, unchaste, and utterly irreligious.  He actually forbids his virtuous young ladies ever to remain in a room with a Roman priest; and when the Christian Emperors are compelled to declare all legacies to priests invalid he sadly confesses that it is a just censure of their greed.
This was the real Roman world which Catholic Truth describes as converted to the true faith and the ways of virtue; and Damasus was the Pope who, above all others, pressed the Papal ambition for supremacy. Yet here we touch only the lighter fringe of the dark story of the making of the Papacy.
 For details and authorities, on this and many other points here discussed. see the author's Crises In the History of the Papacy (1916) and A History of the Popes (1939).
 The Early History of the Christian Church, i, 303.
 Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Theologie, 1876, p. 539.
 Die altchristliche Literatur (1900), pp. 539-92.
 An English translation of this was published by Columbia University in 1916. The editor, Dr. Loomis, warns us that we have in it much "manifest fiction and deliberate fabrication."
 See especially Letters xxii and cxxv (in the Migne edition). Jerome repeats a hundred times that this is the quite general condition of the Roman Church.
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THE HISTORY OF THE ROMAN CHURCH
EUROPE DECAYS AND THE POPES THRIVE
SIMULTANEOUSLY with this forging of credentials and lowering of character in the Roman Church there was a singular transformation of its originally simple offices. The Pagans were accustomed to highly coloured and picturesque ceremonies, and the new Church indulgently met their wishes. Hymns, altars, and statues; incense, holy water, and burning candles; silk vestments and bits of ritual — these things were borrowed freely from the suppressed temples. There must have been a remarkable resemblance between the services in the suppressed temple of Mithra on the Vatican Hill and the services in the new temple dedicated to St. Peter on, or near, the same spot.
Other religions contributed their share. The Pagans had been accustomed to variety, and so the worship of the saints and the Virgin Mother, which was unknown in the Church for three centuries, was encouraged. Then relics had to be invented for the saints, just as saints were sometimes invented for relics. We hear every few years of bishops bring directed "in a vision" to discover the body of some martyr or saint. Palestine also began to do a magnificent trade in relics with Italy; beginning with the "discovery of the true cross," at which no historian even glances today. The events I have described bring us to the close of the fourth century, when Pope Innocent I, a strong man, undertook to enforce the Papal claim in the West. In the Eastern Church there was still nothing but contempt for that claim. In the year 381 the Greek bishops met at Constantinople, and in the third canon of the Council they expressly laid it down that the Bishop of "new Rome" (Constantinople) was equal in rank to the Bishop of "old Rome."
The great figure of the African Church — indeed, of the whole Church — at that time was St Augustine. Catholic Truth is very concerned to show that this great leader recognized the Papal claim, and it repeatedly puts into his mouth the famous phrase: "Rome has spoken; the case is settled." The heretic Pelagius was then active, and the implication is that St. Augustine recognized the condemnation of this man by Rome as the authoritative settlement of the dispute.
Now, not only did neither Augustine nor any other bishop use those words, but they are an entirely false summary of what he did say. His words, in his 131st sermon, are: "Already the decisions of two [African] councils have been sent to the Apostolic See, and a rescript has reached us. The case is settled." The settlement lies plainly in the joint condemnation of Pelagius by Africa and Rome Nor did the matter end here Pope Zosimus at first pronounced in favour of Pelagius, and the African bishops forced him to recant. In order to justify his further interference, the Pope then quoted two canons of the Council of Nicæa which astonished the Africans. After inquiry in the East it was proved that these canons were Roman forgeries, and the African bishops, maliciously informing the Pope of their discovery, trusted that they would hear "no more of his pompousness." They did hear more of it, and a few years later they sent to the Pope a letter (happily preserved) in which they scornfully reject his claim to interfere, and advise him not to "introduce the empty pride of the world into the Church of Christ, which offers the light of simplicity and lowliness to those who seek God." And Catholic Truth has the audacity to tell the faithful that these African bishops admitted the supremacy of the Pope! 
Rome fell in the year 410, but the charm of the great city laid its thrall upon the barbarians, and the Roman See suffered comparatively little. The Spanish Church was next overrun, and the Vandals, crossing the Straits of Gibraltar, trod underfoot the African colony and, as they were Arians, ruined its Church. The provincial bishoprics no longer produced prelates of any strength or learning, and the weak new men, quarrelling incessantly amid the ruins of the Empire, began to appeal more frequently to Rome. Dense ignorance succeeded the culture of the great Empire. The Popes did not rise, but the other bishops fell. "In a land of blind men," says an old French proverb, "the one-eyed man is king."
That the Roman bishopric did not change for the better in that age of general corruption its official record shows. At the death of Zosimus it became again the bloody prize of contending factions. Two Popes, Eulalius and Boniface, were elected, and on Easter morn, when each strove desperately for the prestige of conducting the great ceremony, a mighty struggle reddened once more the streets and squares of the city. A few years later, however, Rome again obtained a strong and zealous Pope, Leo I, and the claim of supremacy advanced a few steps farther. The Church still resisted the Papal claim. When Leo attempted to overrule Bishop Hilary of Gaul, one of the few strong men remaining in the provinces, Hilary (Leo says, Epp. x, 3) used "language which no layman even should dare to use."
In the East, Leo was not innocent of trickery. His Legates attempted to impose upon the Greeks the spurious canons which Pope Zosimus had attempted to use in Africa, and they were mercilessly exposed. In the fifteenth session of the Council of Chalcedon the Greek bishops renewed the famous canon which declared the Bishop of Constantinople equal to the Bishop of Rome. In an ironical letter they informed Leo of this, yet we find the Papal clerks sending to Gaul, in Leo's name, shortly afterwards, an alleged (and spurious) copy of the proceedings at Chalcedon, in which the Greek bishops are represented as calling Leo "head of the universal Church"! We shall see that there is hardly one of even the "great" Popes who did not resort to trickery of this kind.
The Greek Church has retained to this day its defiance of Rome. Western Christendom, on the other hand, has submitted to the Papacy, and we have next to see how this submission was secured. This is explained in part by the enfeeblement of the provincial bishoprics, but especially by the dense ignorance which now settled upon Europe. The reader will not have forgotten the forgeries which I described in the last chapter. The products of this pious industry included documents less innocent than the pretty stories about St Agnes and St. Cecilia. Some of these — certain spurious or falsified canons of Greek councils — we have already met. The forgers grew bolder as the shades of the medieval night fell upon Europe, and some romances of very practical value to the Papacy were fabricated
The chief of these, The Acts of St. Silvester, is believed by many scholars to have been composed in the East, about the year 430. However that may be, it soon passed to Europe, and it became one of the main foundations of the Papal claim of temporal supremacy. After giving a gloriously fantastic account of the conversion and baptism of the Emperor Constantine, it makes that monarch, when he leaves Rome for the East (after murdering his wife and son), hand over to the Papacy the secular rule of all Europe to the west of Greece! It is a notorious and extravagant forgery, but it was generally accepted, and was used by the Popes.
A similar document, The Constitution of St. Silvester, is believed by modern historians to have been fabricated in Rome itself, in the year 498. Two Popes were elected once more, and on this occasion the customary deadly feud existed for three years. The document is supposed to have been invented, in the course of this struggle, by the supporters of the anti-Pope. Rome and Italy were now so densely ignorant that forgers — of relics, legends, canons, pills, or anything else — enjoyed a golden age. The one force on the side of enlightenment was the heretical and anti-clerical King of Italy, Theodoric the Ostrogoth; and the Roman clergy intrigued so busily against his rule that he had to imprison Pope John I. Rome split into Roman and Gothic factions, and terrible fights and bribery assisted "the light of the Holy Ghost" in deciding the Papal elections. In the early part of the sixth century there were six Popes in fifteen years, and there is grave suspicion that some were murdered.
At last Pope Silverius opened the gates of Rome to the troops of the Greek Emperor, but the change of sovereign only led the Papacy to a deeper depth of ignominy. The Greek Empress Theodora, the unscrupulous and very pious lady who had begun life in a brothel and ended it on the Byzantine throne, had a little heresy of her own; and a very courtly Roman deacon, named Vigilius, had promised to favour it if she made him Pope. "Trump up a charge against Silverius [the Pope], and send him here," she wrote to the Greek commander at Rome; and the Pope was promptly deposed for treason and replaced by Vigilius. But Pope Vigilius found it too dangerous to fulfill his bargain; and, amid the jeers and stones of the Romans, he was shipped to Constantinople to incur the fiendish vengeance of the pious Theodora. The Romans, who openly accused him of murder, heard with joy of his adventures and death, and they vented their wrath upon his friend and successor, Pope Pelagius.
Such had already become the Papacy which Catholic historians describe as distinguished for holiness and orthodoxy, under special protection of the Holy Spirit, from its foundation. But this is merely a mild foretaste of its medieval qualities. For a time Gregory the Great (590-604) raised its prestige once more; but even the pontificate of that deeply religious man has grave defects. His fulsome praise of the thoroughly vicious and murderous Queen Brunichildis (Letters, vii, 5, 50, etc.) and of the brutal Eastern Emperor Phocas, and his wild rejoicing at the murder of the Emperor Maurice (who had called him "a fool") (xiii, 31), are revolting. His ignorance and credulity were unlimited. His largest works, The Magna Moralia and The Dialogues, are incredible hotch-potches of stories about devils and miracles. He sternly rebuked bishops who tried to educate their people (vi, 54); and he did not perceive that the appalling vices and crimes which he deplores almost in every letter — the general drunkenness and simony and immorality of the priests, and the horrible prevalence of violence — were mainly due to ignorance. He was one of the makers of the Middle Ages.
After Gregory the Papacy sinks slowly into the fetid morass of the Middle Ages. The picture of the morals of the Roman Church by Jerome in the fourth century, of the whole Western Church by the priest Salviamis in the fifth century, and by Bishop Gregory of Tours in the sixth century, are almost without parallel in literature. It would, however, be dreary work to follow the fortunes of the Papacy, as well as we can trace them in the barbarous writings of the time, through that age of steady degeneration. Contested elections, bloody riots, bribes, brawls with the Eastern bishops, punctuate the calendar. Twenty obscure Popes cross the darkening stage in the course of a hundred years. I resume the story at the point where the Popes begin to win temporal power.
In the eighth century the Greek emperors were again in the toils of heresy, and the ruling people in the north of Italy, the Lombards, were still Arians. The Popes began to look beyond the Alps for an orthodox protector, and their gaze was attracted to the Franks. Rome found it convenient to regard the Franks as an enlightened and pious race, though we know from the reports of St. Boniface to the Popes that the Frank clergy and princes were among the worst in Europe. Clerics, we read, had four or five concubines in their beds. Drunkenness, brawling, simony, and corruption tainted nearly the whole of the clergy and the monks. These things were overlooked; nor did the Lateran (at that time the palace of the Popes) rebuke Charles Martel for his own corruption in despoiling the Church.
Charles Martel paid no attention to the flattering offer of the Popes, but his son Pippin found occasion to use it. He was "Mayor of the Palace," and he desired to oust the king and occupy his throne. He sent envoys to Pope Zachary to ask if he might conscientiously do so. Not only might he, Zachary replied, but he must; and from that time onward Rome was able to claim that Pippin and his famous son, Charlemagne, owed their throne to the Papacy.
It was not long before Pope Stephen II, being hard pressed by the Lombards, appealed to the gratitude of the ignorant Frank, and a very remarkable bargain was struck. Pippin accepted the title of "Patricius" (vaguely, Prince) of Rome, and in return he promised to wrest from the Lombard heretics the whole territory which belonged to the Popes. It is true that very considerable estates had previously been given to the Papacy. Gregory the Great, who believed that the end of the world was at hand, had induced large numbers of nobles to leave their estates to the Church, since their sons would have no use for them, and he farmed and ruled immense territories. He became the richest man and largest slave-holder in Europe. Gregory had been as shrewd in material matters as he had been credulous in religion. But historians suspect, and there is very good reason to suspect, that the Papal envoys showed Pippin The Acts of St. Silvester, and in virtue of it claimed nearly the whole of Italy.
The gruff and superstitious Pippin swore a mighty oath that he would win back for "the Blessed Peter" the lands which these hoggish heretics had appropriated, and he went to Italy and secured them. What precise amount of Italy he handed over to the Papacy we do not know. The Papacy has not preserved the authentic text of a single one of these "donations" on which it bases its claims of temporal power. There is a document, known as the "Fantuzzian Fragment," which professes to give the terms of "the Donation of Pippin," but scholars are agreed that this is a shameless Roman forgery. It is, however, certain that Pippin gave the Papacy, probably on the strength of the older forgery, a very considerable part of north and central Italy, including the entire Governorship of Ravenna, and returned to France.
To this territory the Papacy had no just title whatever, and the King of the Lombards at once reoccupied it. Pope Stephen stormed the French monarch with passionate and piteous appeals to recover it for him, but Pippin refused to move again. Then the Pope took a remarkable step. Among his surviving letters there is one (no. v) addressed to Pippin which is written in the name of St. Peter. The Pope had forged it in the name of Peter, and passed it off on the ignorant Frank as a miraculous appeal from the Apostle himself. By that pious stratagem and the earlier forgery the Papacy obtained twenty-three Italian cities with the surrounding country.
Those who affect to doubt whether the Pope really intended to deceive the King seem to forget that the Papacy of the time was deeply stained with crime and forgery. In 768 a noble of the Roman district named "Toto" got together a rabble of priests and laity, and elected his own brother. "Pope" Constantine was a layman, but he was hastily put through the various degrees of ordination and consecration by obliging bishops. No doubt these bishops then claimed their reward and disturbed the older officials. At all events, we read that the chief official of the Papal court, Christopher, and his son Sergius fled to the Lombards, borrowed an army, and marched back upon Rome. A fierce and deadly battle, in which the Lombards won, was followed by the first of a series of horrible acts of vengeance, which will henceforward, from time to time, disgrace the Papacy.
The wretched Constantine, duly consecrated by three bishops, was put upon a horse, in a woman's saddle, with heavy weights to his feet, and conducted ignominiously through the streets of Rome. He was then confined in a monastery, to await trial; but Christopher and Sergius broke into the monastery and cut out the man's eyes. In this condition, his blind face still ghastly from the mutilation, Constantine was brought before a synod in the Pope's palace and tried. The infuriated priests thrashed the wretch with their own hands, and "threw him out." The end of Constantine is, in the chronicles, left to the imagination. His brother also lost his eyes. One of the consecrating bishops lost his eyes and his tongue. In short, the supporters of the premature Pope were punished with a savagery that tells us plainly enough the character of the Papacy at that time.
Catholic Truth — which, however, generously admits that there were "some bad Popes," though this does not affect its claim of the special interest of the Holy Ghost in the Papacy — imagines the Pope serenely aloof from these horrors. Listen to the sequel. Christopher and Sergius presumed too much upon their services to Pope Stephen, and he grew tired of them and plotted with the Lombard King. They discovered or suspected the plot, and sought to kill the Pope; and it is enough to say that before many days they themselves had their eyes cut from the sockets. Christopher was mutilated so brutally that he died. There are some Catholic writers who make a show of liberality, and admit that the Pope was "implicated" in this. But the sordid truth is known to us and to these writers on the most absolute authority of the time. In the Liber Pontificalis  itself we have the explicit testimony of Pope Hadrian I, the greatest Pope of the time, that Pope Stephen ordered the eyes of Christopher and Sergius to be cut out, and for the sordid reason that King Didier promised to restore the disputed lands if he did so. Stephen, Hadrian says, admitted this to him.
To such depths had "the Vicars of Christ" sunk now that the greed of temporal sovereignty and wealth was added to the ambition for religious supremacy. And they had, naturally, allowed all Europe to sink to the same level As the letters of St. Boniface and other contemporary documents affirm, the moral condition of England, France, and Germany — Spain had now passed to the Arabs was unspeakable. Monasteries and nunneries were houses of open debauch — Boniface describes the English nuns as murdering their babies — and the clergy very corrupt. But here I must confine myself to the Vicars of Christ.
 What is claimed to be the most scholarly publication of the Church, the Catholic Encyclopædia, is the worst of all. Under the heading "Pope" Father Joyce (S.J., of course) says that Rome claimed supremacy from the earliest times and no Church ever questioned it. We will return to this.
 In the sketch of the life of Pope Hadrian, which was written in Rome at the time and is at least semi-official
THE PAPACY IN THE DARK AGES
THE Pope to whom I have referred, Hadrian (or Adrian) I, was one of the most respected and religious prelates in Rome at the time of the horrors I have described, and he succeeded to the Papacy a few years later (772). Under his comparatively clean rule corruption of the more violent kind was suppressed.
But corruption of a different kind was extraordinarily active under Hadrian. Religious as he was, he determined to regain the temporal power, and for that purpose he appealed to Charlemagne. The Lombards were crushed, and Charlemagne came to Rome and confirmed the "donation." Once more the important document which was signed in St. Peter's has been "lost," and we have nothing but Papal forgeries to tell us the extent of the territory ceded to the Papacy. It was in Hadrian's time that "The Donation of Constantine" (a new and finished version of the old forgery) and "The Fantuzzian Fragment" (or "Donation of Pippin") were fabricated in the Papal chancellory, and it is presumably on the basis of these frauds that Charlemagne ceded the territory. Neither the Lombards nor the Italians submitted to the change; and Hadrian's long pontificate, which is almost barren of spiritual work, was one protracted and peevish quarrel about territory. For years Charlemagne seems to have been too disgusted to answer his letters; and the Italian cities, seeing the dishonest way in which the Papal officials continued to annex, sternly resented the whole temporal power.
Such was the best and most religious Pope in five centuries. Under his successor, Leo III, the brutality began again. The Papacy was now rich; and a rich principality in that lawless age was a focus of crime.
A second defect in the character of Hadrian was that he inaugurated at Rome the disgraceful and profoundly mischievous practice of nepotism: the promotion of relatives. He promoted his nephews, Paschal and Campulus, to high office, though their brutal character cannot have been unknown to him. In the fourth year of Leo's pontificate they conspired to replace him either by one of themselves or by some creature of theirs. On April 25, 799, as Leo rode in state through the streets of Rome in a religious procession, a number of armed men sprang upon him, dragged him from his horse, and proceeded there and then to cut out his eyes and tongue; which would unfit him for the Papal office. The Romans fled. Leo seems to have been a rough man, of low birth, and unpopular. But the men did their work badly, and Paschal and Campulus dragged the Pope into the chapel of a neighbouring monastery, threw him down "in front of the altar," "again" cut out his eyes and tongue (or attempted to complete the work with their knives), beat him, and left him in a pool of blood. Such is the cold and amazing language of the semiofficial Papal biographer. Paschal and Campulus were two of the leading clerics.
He recovered and took his complaints to the court of Charlemagne. At the same time the Romans, who seem to have been mainly against the Pope, sent men to charge Leo with certain crimes (apparently, adultery and simony), and the Frank monarch came to Rome and solemnly held a trial of "the Vicar of Christ" and his enemies. Leo was allowed to clear himself by an oath; and as oaths were as cheap in those days as they were sonorous, and witnesses were not examined, we shall not be very captious if we presume that he was guilty. The traitors were punished in the amiable fashion of Papal Rome. Two days later Leo crowned Charlemagne, creating for him the" Holy Roman Empire" (which was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire); and the grateful monarch confirmed the temporal power and showered gold and jewels upon the Church.
Paschal I, a few years later (823), was reported to Charlemagne as having blinded and beheaded two of the leading Papal officials in his palace. Paschal heatedly asserted his innocence, but as he prevented the Emperor's representatives from holding an inquiry, saying that the men were "rightly put to death," and that the men who killed the accused were clerics and not subject to lay jurisdiction, and as the murders certainly occurred in the Lateran Palace, we easily draw our own conclusions. When Paschal died the Romans angrily refused to grant him the usual Papal funeral, and there was a mighty struggle at the election.
Vice and violence continued to rule Italy, in fact the whole of Christian Europe, while the Arabs set up a brilliant civilization in Spain. No less than forty-two Popes in the Dark Ages (600-1050) did not reign two years. At last another "great Pope" comes on the scene. But just as the "spiritual" Pope Hadrian had avoided vice and crime and encouraged forgery, so did the spiritual Nicholas. In his day (about 850) was perpetrated one of the greatest forgeries of the Middle Ages, the Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals (commonly called "the False Decretals"). This is a collection of early decisions of Popes and Councils, an enormous proportion of which are forged, garbled, or put centuries before their proper date. It was fabricated in France, not in Rome, and its direct purpose was to justify appeals of distressed clerics to Rome against unjust prelates or lay authorities. It was written in the interest of these clerics. But it greatly increased the Papal power, and it also gave local prelates a basis for evading the commands of their secular rulers. It was an appalling ecclesiastical fabrication.
The fight continued under Nicholas's successor, Hadrian II, and the great bishops more successfully resisted his attempts to handle kings and prelates as if they were lackeys. Charlemagne had treated the Pope in very cavalier fashion. In a work published in his own name (The Caroline Books) he had spoken quite contemptuously of the Pope's opinion and the Roman practice in regard to image-worship. No Pope had dared to rebuke his notorious morals. But the successors of Charlemagne were generally weak and foolish men, and the power of the Papacy spread over them. Another forgery was added to its fraudulent foundations, and the age was too grossly ignorant to detect the imposture. Clerics, who monopolized what culture there was, did not expose each other to the laity.
This short period of comparative respectability soon came to a close, and a darker night than ever settled upon the Papacy. At the death of Nicholas Rome had witnessed a revival of the stormy passions of the partisans: a clear proof that there had been no moral reform. Blood had reddened its streets. Nuns had been raped in their convents. Under Hadrian II a Roman had lost his eyes; the wife of another had been whipped, half-naked, through the streets. Hadrian's wife and daughter (he had married in earlier life) were murdered by the son of a bishop who had abducted the daughter. Under John VIII, a violent scatterer of anathemas, there was a conspiracy to kill the Pope, and there was a tradition (not well authenticated) that John was eventually murdered. Then there began a quarrel which makes the Papal record hideous, and inaugurates nearly a century and a half of degradation.
John VIII had excommunicated Bishop Formosus, of Porto, and on this ground, and because he was already a bishop, he was ineligible for the Papacy. But with the aid of the German faction he attacked the deacon Sergius, who had been elected (at the death of Stephen V), drove him and his party out of Rome, and secured the Papacy. Sergius headed the Italian faction, or those who would bestow the imperial crown upon an Italian prince. They fled to the provinces for aid, and, after another battle, they imprisoned and would depose Formosus. The Pope, however, got help from Germany, drove them from Rome, and ended his brief reign in peace. His successor, Boniface VI, a gouty and disreputable man, died in a fortnight, and the Italian party now obtained power and elected Stephen VI. Their vengeance upon Formosus is a revolting and familiar page of Papal history. The putrid body of the Pope was dragged from its grave, put on the pontifical throne, and judged. The sacred vestments were torn from it, three mouldering fingers were cut from the right hand, and the corpse was thrown contemptuously into the Tiber. No one questions these statements of the Bishop of Cremona, Liutprand, in his Antapodosis (i, 50).
In a very short time Pope Stephen quarrelled with Deacon Sergius and his other supporters. He was, as his own epitaph and a contemporary writer of high character (Flodoard) tell, thrown into a dungeon by them and strangled. Two Popes then occupy the throne for a few obscure weeks, and obscurely disappear. After them comes John IX, of the Formosan faction, and Sergius and his friends are again expelled and excommunicated. John dies in the year 900, and is for three years followed by the obscure Benedict IV. At his death in 903 — no one can tell how many of these Popes were murdered — Leo V comes out victor in the truculent fight for the highest spiritual office in Christendom, but after two months Leo is deposed by the priest Christopher, who flings him into prison and occupies his place. Christopher enjoys his ill-gotten honours only a few months, when the truculent Sergius fights his way into Rome at the head of Italian troops, deposes and imprisons the usurper, and attains the object of his long and criminal ambition.
Such is the bare chronicle of those stirring and repulsive years which the biographer of the Popes bequeaths us. Behind those few lines we can easily perceive a city and a Papacy in a state of utter degradation, and a few references in other trustworthy writers confirm our estimate. Sergius was a man utterly devoid of moral scruple. For nearly ten years he had fought for the Papacy; he was the leading spirit in the revolting trial of the corpse of Formosus; he snatched the Papal crown at the point of the sword. We can, therefore, well accept — and even Catholic writers like Duchesne accept—the assurance of the contemporary Bishop Liutprand that he had notorious immoral relations with one of the fastest women of the new Roman nobility — "the shameless whore" Marozia, as Cardinal Baronius calls her — and was the father of the later Pope John XI. We can have no just ground to hesitate to accept the statement of another contemporary writer, Vulgarius, that Sergius murdered, or caused the murder of, his two predecessors.  Yet Sergius is merely the first of many such men who will now enter the gallery of the Popes.
We know little in detail about the pontificate of Sergius, but the contemporary writers make it clear that under him began what some Catholic historians have called "the rule of the courtesans" — that is to say, the control of the Papacy by women so promiscuously immoral and unscrupulous that the older Catholic historians freely call them "whores" (scorta). These were, principally, the young woman Marozia, to whom I have referred, and her mother Theodora, wife of one of the highest officers of the city. While Marozia was mistress of the reigning Pope, her mother had a liaison with the fascinating Bishop of Ravenna, and, when the brief reigns of Sergius's two successors were over, she and her husband secured the Papacy for this man (914).
John X was not of the truculent type of Sergius, but in passing from the bishopric of Ravenna to that of Rome he committed the same breach of the regulations as Formosus had done, and his relations with Theodora are described by Bishop Liutprand. In the end he quarrelled with Marozia, and he soon learned that "the rule of the courtesans" was a very real thing. Marozia and her latest lover were angry because John gave so much power and wealth to his brother Peter, and before long their men burst into the Lateran Palace and laid Peter dead at the feet of the Pope. They put John in prison, and he died soon afterwards. We can easily accept the assurance of some of the chroniclers that he was murdered.
In the next two years and a half two insignificant Popes occupied, and promptly vacated, the "Holy See"; and then, in 931, Marozia put her son (and son of Pope Sergius, as the Liber Pontificalis says) upon the Papal throne. He was a weak and negligible youth, and Marozia continued her wild career. When her husband was murdered she offered her hand and the throne of Italy to his brutal step-brother, Hugh of Provence, who had no scruple to accept. But Rome revolted against the unbridled couple, imprisoned the Pope, and put an end to the rule of Marozia. It was her own illegitimate son Alberic who led the revolt, and this worthy son took over his mother's power and nominated the succeeding Popes.
Alberic left this power, in 953, to a still more disreputable son, Octavian, and this last representative of the remarkable dynasty dragged the Papacy to the lowest depth. In 955 he resolved, as the Roman See fell vacant, to unite the temporal and spiritual powers in his own person, and he ascended the Papal throne under the assumed name of John XII. There was not a crime in the penitentials that John XII did not introduce into the "sacred palace." The palace of Caligula or of Nero in ancient Rome had not witnessed more wanton scenes than the Lateran Palace now exhibited. Liutprand tells us (De Rebus Gestis Othonis, iv) how John, pressed by a rival, appealed to the Emperor Otto, and when Otto came to Rome the Romans brought up against their spiritual father a list of crimes which would, they said, "make a comedian blush for shame"; and a comedian was the lowest thing they knew. The Romans were lenient, as we have seen, but they could not tolerate a Pope who committed murder, perjury, adultery, incest (with his two sisters), rape, and sacrilege. Before the synod convoked by Otto it was proved that John had "turned the Lateran Palace into a brothel," cut out the eyes of or castrated those who criticised him, raped girls and women who came to pray in St. Peter's, gambled, cursed, drunk to the devil.... There was, in brief, nothing that he had not done.
John had fled to Tivoli, and with cool assurance he wrote to excommunicate the whole synod! The clergy and the Emperor deposed him and elected Leo VIII (963). But the Romans could never long endure the presence of a German ruler, and their surly conduct soon drove out Otto. We are told that John's agents distributed money freely, and that all the courtesans in Rome — a very large body — were assiduous in his cause (Liutprand, xvii and xviii). The Romans, at all events, flung out Leo, and welcomed their "legitimate" and remarkable pontiff to the chair of Peter once more. After a few weeks spent in cutting off the noses and tongues of his critics, John turned again to his gay ways. But he died three months after his return. Tradition said that he was struck dead by the devil while he was paying his attentions to a married woman in an obscure part of Rome. But we wonder what grudge the devil had against him, and we should not err much, probably, if we attributed the violent death of this "divinely inspired" successor of Nicholas I to the knife of a jealous husband.
Rome still rejected the Emperor's Pope, Leo VIII, and elected Benedict V; but Otto returned, and under his protection Leo made a truculent end of the usurper and his followers. Under Leo's successor Rome again rebelled, and set up a democratic and secular government. It is remarkable that all through these centuries Rome, the city of the Popes, was the most anti-Papal and most democratic city in Europe. Once more the revolt was terribly punished. Under Benedict VI, a nominee of the Imperialists, the Emperor Otto died, and again Rome swarmed angrily to the attack. In the confusion Cardinal Bonifazio Francone imprisoned the Pope, had him strangled in his dungeon, and seized the Papacy.
Gerbert, who tells us of the murder, describes Boniface as "a horrid monster surpassing all other mortals in wickedness"; and he must have known the recent Papal record set up by Pope John XII. The Germans returned, however, and Boniface VIII fled to Constantinople with all the Papal treasures that he could conveniently convey. His successor enjoyed nine comparatively tranquil years under the protection of the Emperor, and in 983 gave way to John XIV. In that year the Emperor died, and Boniface swooped like a hawk from the eastern sky. Again he imprisoned and murdered his victim, and removed a few eyes from their sockets. But he was more Greek than Roman, and in a year's time he also met a sudden death, and his body was dragged through the streets of Rome.
His successor, John XV, a greedy and corrupt man, was driven from Rome in the tenth year of his pontificate. John's successor, Gregory V, was too virtuous for the Romans, who liked a golden mean, and was expelled; and when the Emperor returned to restore him to the throne, on which the Romans had placed a John XVI, that unhappy intruder lost his eyes, his nose, his ears, and his tongue, and was driven through Rome with his face to his ass's tail. It remains to add that the restored, and pious, Gregory V died within a year, under the suspicion of poison, which does not surprise us after the savage deeds upon the Romans of his imperial protector.
If I seem to trip murders and revolts lightly from the pen, to compress whole periods of tragedy into a few cold lines, the reader must blame the scanty chronicles of that illiterate age. Vice and crime become so monotonous that contemporaries dilate on them only when they assume the heroic forms adopted by John XII. It was "the Iron Age." Where the "Holy Spirit" was let Catholic Truth discover; and let it cease to tell its clients, with an air of liberality, that there were "a few bad Popes," and then forbid them to read non-Catholic writers.
The German Emperors, semi-civilized rulers who slit noses and tongues as freely as they made love, were nevertheless eager to "purify" the Papacy. In Germany, as in every other country, the bishops and archbishops, the priests and monks and nuns, cultivated a comprehensive immorality. Sermons and letters and synodal discussions of the time offer us a picture of general and appalling licence. Otto III, however, was still minded to have a good Pope, and he put upon the throne that remarkable scholar Gerbert, who for four short years so dazed the Romans that he died, in their opinion, in a strong odour of sulphur.
After his death (1003) a new power, the Counts of Tusculum, gradually overshadowed and appropriated the Papacy, and the long night approached its darkest hour. After vigorous fights with the Romans one of the counts secured the tiara and the title of Benedict VIII. He fiercely suppressed the riots of the Romans, and, strange to say, for he was quite unscrupulous, attempted some reform of the Church. At his death his brother purchased the votes of the electors, and succeeded him. John XIX soberly enjoyed his purchase for nine years. Then a member of the family, by the customary bribery, bought the tiara for his own son, a boy of eleven, and the Papal record is stained with the fifteen years' pontificate of Benedict IX.
Benedict's particular vices have not earned immortality. "They were so horrible that I shudder to tell them," says one of his successors, Victor II (Dialogues, Bk. iii). Rudolph Glaber (Historia, v, 5) makes the same remark about "the turpitude of his [the Pope's] life and conversation." Bishop Bonitho (Liber ad Amicum, v) is content to mention "adulteries and murders." We gather that unnatural vice, which was then very prevalent in the Church, was the most flagrant offence of the young Pope. He was assuredly one of the "few bad Popes."
In the first year of his reign the Romans plotted against the young Pope's life, and he fled. In 1037 he induced the Emperor Conrad to restore him, and he enlivened the Lateran Palace for seven years. Then the Romans again fell furiously upon his supporters, and, while they spattered Rome with blood in the traditional manner, the young Pope went courting a cousin in the provinces. He was recalled by his relatives, who bloodily crushed the Romans and their anti-Pope; but his thoughts were with his pretty cousin, and in the next year he sold the Papacy to his uncle (for the annual Peter's Pence which was to come from pious England) and decided to wed his lover.
The uncle, John Gratian, was a highly respectable ecclesiastic, with large ideas of reform, and not a little ambition. He assumed the name of Victor III, and took his seat as Vicar of Christ. In another part of Rome sat the rival Vicar, the anti-Pope made by the Romans, Silvester II. In time, Benedict IX failed to get his bride, and he returned and set up a third "chair of Peter." He held the Lateran Palace; Silvester occupied St. Peter's and the Vatican Palace (which now begins to find mention); Victor III had to be content with Sta. Maria Maggiore. To finish with the long history of this phase of Papal degradation, the pious new Emperor of Germany, Henry III, came to Rome, cleared out the three of them, and set Pope Clement II, an austere and virtuous prelate, upon the defiled and despised throne of the rulers of Papal Christendom — the "Holy See."
Readers Digest version?
Personally, I don't worry too much about popes.
They live, they die, they take a crap just like I do.
Jesus hated synagogues? Where does it say that? If he hated synagogues why was he there so often teaching and healing (Mat 4:23, Mat 9:35, Mat 12:9, Mat 13:54, etc)?
Really? Where does Paul tell us this?
We know this how?
My Rome travelguide book has a better and more accurate history than that protestant drivel.
It is not protestant drivel.
It is written by a former catholic priest who was an active atheist.
So sorry to burst the bubble.
Very learned man, by the way.
I disagree with his personal beliefs, but his research into the origins of the cath church are extreme.
Although his language at times is rather intemperate, or not politically correct.
Read it a bit at a time. It is well worth the trouble.
All the cath supremacists who post in this forum get poleaxed quite well by Joe McCabe and his research about the origins of papal power and the actual founding of the cath church.
Quite good stuff.
Just ignore the small anti cath diatribes he injects at times.
Lots of myths exploded here, lots of history uncovered too.
The emperor indeed has no clothes.
Before he answers you, I hope you give us a working defintion of 'anti-catholic'.......
Wait a second... This guy is obviously anti-Catholic and we're supposed to just "ignore" his misinformation and read this as if it were fact? As if his writing wasn't trash enough...
Former Catholic Priest that became an atheist. Perhaps he has an axe to grind? Perhaps he was kicked out because he had a prediliction for little boys and the pope booted his ass. Perhaps he was a gay priest who decided the celibacy thing wasn't for him and wanted to be free of his guilt.
Either way, it is BS written by a poor soul with a serious axe to grind. If you want to bash Catholicism, do yourself a favor and learn about it firsthand. Don't rely in this kind of tripe to do your speaking for you.
What is the matter with you guys???? Don't let the fact's or the lack thereof ruin a good story.
That makes him a protester (protestant)
Pick a Rome travel guide for better Early Christian history lessons.
I stopped after the first paragraph, when it was patently obvious that it was just Catholic bashing. Look let's not over-complicate it. The original quote was something like "Peter, you are the Rock and on this Rock I will build my Church." Works for me & it should work for you, too.
This reminds me of the thread the other day about "Why is the Catholic Church bashed so much on ARFCOM?" The simple straightforward answer is: "Because that's all that's left." One dasn't say anything that could be construed as negative about any other church, race, color, etc. Frankly the owners of this site, who are probably Catholic themselves, have let this get way out-of-hand over the last few years, probably because they don't want to be accused of favoritism, being papists, or whatever.
Peter was called "Cephas" which means "little stone."
The big rock referred to as what Christ would build His church on was the truth Peter proclaimed - "you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
God built his Church on eternal truth, not a man who would be dead in a few years.
Check the context of the verse cited, and you'll see I'm right.
Pretty funny replies for the most part
Yes, lets just read the first few sentences and scream catholic bashing.
Yes, lets run away from exhaustive historical research.
And to say the writer was a pedophile kicked out by the pope?
The roman church had to be dragged into court to take any action at all on its resident child lovers.
But that is not what this post is about, its about roman church history, not about its widespread homosexual priest population nor its resident pedophiles. I dont care about that crap.
This post is to address the elitists amongst the romans that insist they are the native Christian Church when they patently ARE NOT.
And never were.
Read if you have the guts OR the brains to do so. You MAY just learn something.
You never know.
I am speaking theoretically....extremely theoretically.
I could start a post claiming to be an ex-boyfriend of someone you hold very dear, your mom, sister, wife, cousin etc who has passed. Because I claim to be an ex, I therefore have knowledge that others may or may not know. Nobody knows why I am an ex, they can only speculate.
In theory, I could write volumes here on why your loved one is a drug addicted crack whore. I could back up my assertion with facts and details, dates and events. I could go as far as posting her favorite sexual proclivities and all the places we did the dirty deed. Who could prove me wrong? Whether people believe me or not, I do not care. The fact is I may or may not have an axe to grind with said person. It may or may not be true. If it is not true and she is not around to defend herself, the best I can hope to do is smear her name.
The above is purely theoretical as I have stated. I didn't write it to inflame or offend. I did it to illustrate why the piece you posted is nothing but filth which is intended to incite.
If the author was truly a priest and is now an atheist, I feel sorry for him. But there must be an underlying reason why he wrote what he wrote, factual or not. Facts can be presented without bashing.
Nice try G-man, but your probably quoting from that "bible" edited by that old English king. I don't recall any particlar divine intervention in his "work." What was his motive again?
Nice try by you, too, Dram, but it's a huge disappointment to see that a supposedly "learned" guy like yourself can't pick out the bashing immediately. Is this where you get your knowlege of the Catholic Church, from drivel like this?
Wrong again. The Catholic Church was addressing this long before the left wing, Catholic bashing media decided to make it a big issue with half truths & innuendo. The problem with you & your assertion is that you have to apparently see it in the left wing "mainstream" media. Do you believe everything that they print about guns too?
Huh? Then who is? Refer to the post above re:protest and thereby the term Protestant. And why is it of any import to you?
I might but it won't be from anything that you've posted so far.
So let me get this straight. You're saying that this person who is anti-catholic should be trusted as a source for History on the Pope and the Catholic Church?
Or, were you just hoping to discuss/debate the claims he makes in his work?
Discuss and debate the claims he makes, if anybody is capable of it.
And as far as catholic history is concerned, it is patently true that they cannot be trusted to NOT whitewash their past OR their present calumnies.
So, to say Joe McCabe is an atheist, which he absolutely did become, is NOT capable of analysing the roman church of which he was a member and priest is utterly farcical.
The same argument some might propose may be illustrated by the NOW pro-gun author John Lott and his groundbreaking study on the correlation of gun crime and citizens being armed. John Lott was an admitted left winger and fairly anti-gun, yet he studied and researched and came up with inescapable conclusions that were ultimately PRO-gun.
So, if an atheist who denies the very existance of God and cares nothing for the cath church itself is not more impartial than many here... I just dont know what to say.
I am waiting for some type of rational discourse.
And what Bible would you be quoting from? The one Jesus penned?
Oh - that's right - ALL texts were translated by some human.
Feel free to present your alternative text AND give attribution for how we got it.
I gotta agree here.
The fact that someone is an atheist does not by definition make him incapable of reporting any truth whatsoever.
NOT to say I agree with what this guy said....
But to dismiss what he says by merely demonizing him is poor argumentation.
Disprove his arguments - IF you think you can.
Then you won't have to try to demonize him.
The next question is, are you capable of hearing their side of the discussion. Or are you planning on just discounting their answers, because you seem to have such a problem with catholics and their faith.
You didnt phrase that too well Va-g. Why would you care if I did or did not discount their replies? That is a personal choice frankly.
And to be honest, this is likely to die right here as the usual suspects in the roman camp have not showed up at all.
So, it is rather moot.
The only replies have been by those who have nothing better to say than " oh yeah, well... !"
Nothing literate at all.
And enough of this thinking that I "hate" catholics and their religion specifically.
I will, and have, debunked any non-scriptural practice that ANYBODY promulgates as so called "truth".
And in the case of the romans, they have left in place a wealth of information of their own, and there is a world of historical record that is fact about the origins of the Christian Church.
The romans have glossed over and re-written the origins of Christianity for too long and their claims need to be debunked publically. They are NOT the original church and that is stone fact.
We shall see what we shall see.
This topic had potential to be interesting, but it wasn't started well and has just gone down hill.
First of all, a "Reader's Digest Summary" is needed. I tried reading the first part and it's too wordy. Just give me the punchlines. I'll determine how reliable the information is if it's presented briefly and clearly.
Secondly, the author's motives are certainly suspect. He may actually provide useful information, but I'll take it all with a grain of salt and compare notes with other sources including Catholic sources.
If the Catholic Church can prove an unbroken chain of priesthood authority from Peter to Pope Benedict XVI, then more power to it. If not, the facts will speak for themselves. If the link is weak, I'll be the judge for myself on the matter.
I figured it was headed downhill as soon as I saw it posted. I didnt even read it, dont need to.
I will stand up for the Roman Camp as you call it. The article is a cesspool of lies, mistruths, halftruths and heresy's that the early church dealt with over a millennia ago. I will be the first to admit that the Catholic Church is far from perfect. We are all human and being so are of sinful and fallible nature. Yes, even you Dramborleg and your ex-priest author are not perfect.
The history of the Church is no different from the history of the Roman Empire, any Kingdom in Europe, any guild, union, or modern church or corporation. There is/was corruption. There is/are wrongs that need to be addressed. I challenge anyone to name an organization that is without these issues.
So where does that bring us? It brings us to a point where we have to accept that the Catholic Church is a product of the people and the times surrounding it. The issues of the day influence the leadership and their decision which effect directly the faithful. Whether you or anyone else choose to accept/believe the tenets of the Faith, that is entirely up to you. To publish articles which contain obvious negativities and bashing (which you admitted to) is purely childish and immature. You show your ignorance about something you know nothing about because it is far easier to point out frailties and scandals than it is to educate yourself on the subject.
Your author for whatever reason has an issue with the Church. Big deal. If you had taken any time to research early heresy's in the Christian Church (yes, the Catholic Church was the original and ONLY christian church until the Protestant Reformation) you would have recognized many of them immediately in the text. Instead you chose to be a "shit stirrer" by knowingly posting inflammatory material to ellicit a response. Additionally if you had cared to do any fact checking on your article du jour, you would have seen that the author is just another in a long line of provocateurs looking to bring down not just the Catholic Church, but the christian faith as a whole.
I am sure that you will be dealt with accordingly, if not for this thread, but for others in the future if this is truly your attitude. The hatred burning inside you will surface and you will not be able to control yourself and you will slip up.
But then again, I could be wrong. To paraphrase Shakespeare's Marc Antony in Julius Caeser, I am sure you are an "Honorable Man."
Go in peace to love and serve.
It's also interesting that if a protestant refutes the history of the early church, they are refuting their own history... Let's not forget that EVERY christian was Catholic for 1500 years. What exactly is it that protestants bring that is original to the days of Christ that Catholics can't? Oh yeah, they've got the neutered KJV which was commissioned by the king of Scotland/England - Of course that's more authentic! Of course the fact that the texts being translated were STILL chosen by the Catholic church (minus Luther's reduction)
Oh wait, there's also the funniest one I've ever heard - That modern baptists are the REAL church because they can trace their beginnings back to John the baptist! hahahaa
Yes, I'm being sarcastic. Even if I wasn't a Catholic, I could see the borderline retardedness that all these people have come up with. It's also funny that there is nothing new under the sun, as explained above many of these claims are the same old heresies that people came up with and were debunked hundreds if not thousands of years ago.
Face it protestants... You OWE your heritage to the Catholic Church. Everything you have is borrowed from the path that this Church laid down. The mere label "Protestant" itself means that your whole existence is based on the existence of the Church you broke from.
I still do not mean any harm against protestants by my statement above. the VAST majority of them would be just as angry about this stuff as I am because they are good, educated people. For the ones that buy into this stuff - Just follow the teachings of Jesus and leave the Catholics alone. You're not part of our group so quit wasting your effort and time trying to find things to focus you hatred on.
ONLY in the sense that the meaning of "catholic" is "universal."
aka the world-wide body of Jesus Christ.
Which is a FAR cry from the Roman Catholic church.
The purpose of the word "catholic" is to represent the unity of Chrsitians. Unfortunately, the mere existence of a Roman Catholic church, as well as the myriad of Protestant denominations is contra-purposed to the word "catholic."
Understood. But don't forget that Christians WERE unified under the Roman Catholic church for 1500 years. And why does no one attack the Byzantine church? It does after all share its heritage with Rome as well...
It boils down to semantics really. The term "Roman" Catholic is used to differentiate the Roman Rite from the Easter Rite and the Greek Orthodox. All are still Catholic. Some practices vary, but still Catholic. The differnent rites stem back to disagreement over leavened and unleavened bread for communion. Although the bread issue was the main focus, it was more about where the Seat of Peter should be located, either in Rome or in Constantinope. Seems pretty trite today, but back then it was a big deal.
Non one attacks Byzantine or Constantinople cuz they are unaware of it.
But I'll dispute your notion that all Christians were united under the Roman Catholic Church. RCC developed teachings, rites and practices contrary to Scripture - transubstantaition, forbidding to marry, works based salvation - that Chrsitians disputed back to the third century. (roughly)
its more than semantics.
There are significanty doctrinal differences between RCC and what now would be considered Protestantism dating back to the third century (roughly)
HAHAHAHHA.... oooh you romans slay me
You guys "think" I am bubbling with hatred and whatever else you might like to conjure up.
So sad, so sorry.
No hate here.
The same reflexive corrective attitude exists towards ALL apostasies and untruths that are espoused anywhere.
So, dont think you guys are "specially hated" or anything like that. I have plenty of ammo (the bible) for ALL and sundry.
For the poor soul who "thinks" I am a "protesting catholic", you are sadly as wrong as ever man could or would be. To be a "protesting catholic ie protestant", one would have ones origins in the catholic faith, which is utterly beyond recall, untrue. False. A lie if you wish. Native Christianity as practiced in the first century, without pagan admixture or hierarchal structure. That is what I practice.
The faith I follow and the course I pursue was laid down by Christ Jesus and is not possessed of any admixture that is humanly possible to tell.
I am a member of Christs body, not a hyphenated Christian of any stripe. Christian plain and simple.
Of which, there are many who read this that cannot in any way or shape claim the same.
And in the end, no roman has yet to address this article in any way that is sensible. Which was somewhat expected and yet sad at the same time.
Just some yammering about "you owe everything to catholocism", and "all religion was catholic" nonsense that was proven over and over again as patently false.
Beating that one note drum over and over.
Protestantism didn't begin until the 1500's. How did the 3rd century come into play?
As I said....
...what would NOW BE CONSIDERED Protestantism.
The doctrinal differences that caused the Reformation date back over a thousand years prior to 1517.
Garandman - Thanks for being civil. It's a nice thing to see sometimes on this board.
Just as protestants can use scripture to support their positions, Catholics can do the same. I'll point one in particular out:
John 6:51-61 - Jesus himself shocks those around him be elaborating that they MUST eat his FLESH and drink his BLOOD. They think he's nuts and he asks if it shocks them. If he wasn't speaking the truth, he would have told them that he's speaking in code words or for effect like his parables, but instead he basically tells them to leave because they can't handle what he is saying...
ALSO Mark 14:22-25 and Matthew 26:26-29 detail the things JESUS said at the last supper.
If you're Christian, these words are coming from GOD. If you're like most protestants, you believe in sola scriptura and that the bible should be taken literally. If that's the case, it's hard to refute transsubstantiation without saying what Jesus "really meant'. If you do that, you're putting words in the mouth of God.
The one thing that bugs me about protestants the most is that they seem to take Paul's letters with more confidence than the things Jesus actually says.
And if that's the case, Catholics consider protestantism a heresy just like all those things that dated back. But be careful by linking protestantism to some of those ideas...
were ALL heresies that the early Catholic had to face and put down, so I wouldn't be too eager to look to early heretics to support arguments without deeply evaluating. It's also nice that protestants never have to face any heretics of their own. They simply start a "new" church and change the belief system to the flavor of the week.
One can't deny that that's one advantage the Catholic Church has - it's belief structure hasn't changed, and it is the largest force resisting changes to the authenticity of its beliefs AND secularism in the world.
Jesus often used parables, so we see not EVERYTHING in Scripture is literal.
I do hold to sola scriptura. I do NOT beleive the Bible is literal in all instances - namely those instances where the text DEMANDS otherwise.
If Jesus meant His literal flesh, why did he give them bread and wine while He was still physically with them? Why did He NOT give them His actual flesh and blood? Either He wasn;t being literal, or He was deceiving His own disciples.
Take the communion today. At all times both before and after the communion service, scientific analysis will show the bread and wine maintain their chemical makeup as bread and wine. Thus nothing is changed in substance - i.e. transubstatiated.
This RCC doctrine does NOT hold up to Scriptural scrutiny.
Far as Jesus sayings vs. the rest of the NT, and even the OT - they are one unified whole. No disagreement whatsoever. And the rest of the NT gives NO support whatsoever to TS.
You are casting too wide a net.
Any person who thinks that the Church at Rome was considered as THE First Church in Christendom by every Christian from the First Century until the present one needs their skullcap drycleaned.
What a conceit!
Being that is arose directly from Christ to his disciples who spread out across the Middle East, Turkey and Europe, what other "Christian" church/denomination was there at that time?
I might have misunderstood your post, but inquiring minds want to know.
What unfortunately has become known as "the church" is really the body of Christ.
Denominations are unScriptural.
Christ said "By this all men shall know youa re my disciples, In that you love one another."
The ineffectiveness of our message in largely caused by the lack of love found between denominations.
The Church at Rome was a very minor church for the first 300 years of Church History, being well overshadowed by the Churches at Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Caesarea, and quite a few others.
Only when the Roman theretofore-pagan Emperor Constantine relaxed the previous ban on Christianity throughout the Roman world, did the Church at Rome begin to acquire significance in the Christendom.
Even at the Council of Nicea, in 325 AD, either Eustathius, Bishop of Antioch or Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria presided....and Sylvester, Bishop of Rome at that time...didn't even attend!
Nope. You didn't misunderstand me, at all, I think
The Armenian Church, the Syrian Church, the Coptic Church, the Thomasian Church in India, among others, all claim a history older than that of Rome's.
Now I understand your post. You are correct, the church of Rome was very small in the first 300 years. I wasn't sure if you were referring to other Christian Sects is all. No flame intended.
I need to go back and brush up on the History of the Holy Roman Empire, which my history professor noted (at a very catholic college) was neither Holy, Roman or an empire.
I believe at some point (don't recall the date) a council was convened to organize the various sects of the church under one rule (for lack of a better word). It was decided that Rome would house the Chair of Peter, i.e. the seat of the Church.
I will dig out a few old texts and update with the Names, times and dates.
Originally Posted By dvr9:
I'm not knocking the Romans at all.
At least NOT to this point.
There was a time in European History that they were pretty much the sole light in Christendom on that Continent.
And they helped keep Europe Christian at a time when Europe was very much threatened by pagans.
With all due respect to your history professor, that quote is from Voltaire....
Maybe so, but I wasn't a part of that council.
You are right...I do believe he was quoting Voltaire. He just said it so often, that I forget the details. I have been out of college way too long.