Puzzles of Faith

The mid-eleventh century CE was a disquieting time for the Catholic Church, and events of that time are still coloring the Christian faith business. There was a virtual merry-go-round of papal figureheads from around 1044 through 1088, with the papal throne even being offered for sale by the deposed Benedict IX, which resulted in the dethronement of both Gregory VII and Benedict IX in 1046.

Pope Clement II was elected in 1046 to replace both the aforementioned popes, but he died soon in 1047, after which Benedict IX again took possession of “Peter’s Chair.” However, Benedict was again shunted aside when Damasus II was elected pope in 1048. Only twenty-three days later Damasus died unexpectedly. Leo IX then ascended the throne, remaining there until 1054. It was in 1054, with Pope Leo IX that the shameful turmoil roiled around the papal throne and scandals of clerical pederasty and the buying and selling of ecclesiastical pardons, offices or emoluments led to the “Great Schism” between Catholic and Orthodox churches. At issue, too, was disagreement over what constituted the claimed “primacy” of the pope.

After the death of Leo IX the papal throne remained empty for one year until Pope Victor II was elected in 1055; but he, too, died within two years and was succeeded by Pope Stephen IX. Then in a quick  parade there  passed Pope Stephen X (1058), Pope Benedict X (1058), Pope Nicholas II (to 1061), Pope Alexander II (to 1073), and Gregory VII (to 1085). Gregory VII displayed his worthiness as spiritual guide in his advice to Cursaders: “Cursed be the man who holds back his sword from shedding blood.” Gregory’s successor, Victor III, elected in 1087, soon died and Pope Urban II was elected in 1088, and directed the church for eleven years.

The “primacy” question raised in Pope Leo IX’s reign still divides Orthodox from Catholic, and disagreement still festers around just what that self-proclaimed “primacy” gives the pope. The meeting of Orthodox and Catholic representatives in Ravenna, Italy, October 8-15, 2007 again sought to agree on “primacy” matters to no avail. Haggled over was the manner in which that “primacy” is to be exercised, and how it can be said to relate to scriptural or theological basics.

Divine guidance and intervention seems necessary, but Heaven remains indifferent. No one seems to find it curious that hierarchical religious institutions are not proposed anywhere in scriptures.

One Response to “Puzzles of Faith”

  1. Hi this blog is great I will be recommending it to friends.

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