52-Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

This episode of Communio Sanctorum is titled, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.”

In our study of the History of the Church, we get to examine some periods when the followers of Jesus did some amazing, God-honoring, Christ-exalting, people-blessing things. In future episodes we’ll take a longerish look at how the Gospel has impacted history & world civilization for the better.

But, we have to be honest & admit there have been too many times when the Church totally fumbled the ball. Worse than that, after fumbling it, they stepped on & kicked it out of bounds!

The danger I face as we deal with these atrocious moments in Church History is of being assumed to be hostile to the Body of Christ. When I speak about the abysmal career of some of the popes, some listeners will assume I’m Catholic-bashing. Later, when we get to the Reformation era and we take an honest look at some of the Reformers, I’ll be accused of being a closet-Catholic!
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51-Icons

This episode is titled Icons.

Those who possess a rough outline of history know we’re coming up on that moment when the Eastern & Western branches of the Church split. The break wasn’t some incidental accident that happened without a lot of preparation. Thing had been going sour for a long, long time. One of the contributing factors was the Iconoclastic Controversy that split the Byzantine church in the 8th & 9th Cs.

While the Western Church went through monumental changes during the Middle Ages, the Eastern Church centered at Constantinople managed a holding pattern. It was the preservation of what they considered orthodoxy that moved Eastern Christians to view the Western Church as making dangerous & sometimes even heretical alterations to the Faith. The Eastern Church thought itself to now be alone in carrying the Faith of the Ecumenical Councils into the future. And for that reason, Constantinople backed away from its long stated recognition that the Church at Rome was pre-eminent in Church affairs.
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50-What a Mess

The title of this episode is “What a Mess!”

As is often the case, we need to start by backing up & reviewing material we’ve already covered so we can launch into the next round of Church History.

Anglo-Saxon missionaries to Germany had received the support of Charles Martel, one of the founding members of the Carolin­gian dynasty that took over rule of the Franks from the Merovingians. Martel supported these missions because of his desire to expand his rule eastwards into Bavaria. The Pope was grateful for his sup­port, and for Charles’ victory over the Muslims at the Battle of Tours. But Martel fell afoul of papal favor when he confiscated Church lands. At first, the Church consented to his seizing of property to produce income to stave off the Muslim threat. But once that threat was dealt with, He refused to return the lands. He also ingnored the Pope’s request for help against the Lombards who were taking control of a good chunk of Italy. Martel denied assistance because at that time the Lombards were his allies.
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49-Charlemagne Part 2 & More

Welcome to the 49th installment of CS. This episode is titled “Charlemagne Pt. 2; & More.”

After his coronation on Christmas Day AD 800, Charlemagne said he didn’t know it had been planned by Pope Leo III. If setting the crown of a new Holy Roman Empire on his head was a surprise, he got over the shock right quick. He quickly shot off dispatches to the lands under his control, saying, “Charles, by the will of God, Roman Emperor, Augustus … in the year of our consulship 1.” He even required that an oath be taken to him as Caesar by all officers, whether religious or civil. He sent ambassadors to soothe the inevitable wrath of the Emperor in Constantinople.

What’s important to note is how his coronation ceremony in St. Peter’s demonstrated the still keen memory of the Roman Empire that survived in Europe. His quick emergence as the recognized leader of a large part of Europe revealed the strong desire there was to reestablish a political unity that had been absent from the region for nearly 400 years. But, Charlemagne’s crowning launched a long-standing contest. One we’d not expect, since it was, after all, the Pope who crowned him. The contest was between the revived empire and the Roman Church.
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