January 12, 2000
volume 11, no. 8

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    In this journey on the Barque of Peter, we continue to detail the evolution of the Mass and the Church from the early Christian times to our present day so that all may better understand the true meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our faith - the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Today we cover the first half of the Eleventh Century and the start of a new millennium. Twelve Popes would rule during this time including one, Pope Benedict IX who would return three times. Roman unrest because of the alliance with the Holy Roman Emperors made this period in Church history a very turbulent time as simony ruled the day throughout much of the hierarchy from the Popes down to the monasteries.

    We will be using various sources, but the best are four books that are out of print but provide so much solid material: "My Catholic Faith - A Manual of Religion" (1949) by Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D. from My Mission House ; "The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church" (1907) from Benziger Brothers; "The Catholic Church Alone the One True Church of Christ" (1902) from the Catholic Educational Company; and "Cabinet of Catholic Information" (1904) from Duggan Publishing Co. In addition we will be using material gleaned from "The Oxford Dictionary of Popes" by J.N.D. Kelly; The Papal Princes: A History of the Sacred College of Cardinals" by Glenn D. Kittler; "Pontiffs: Popes who shaped history" by John Jay Hughes; "The Mass of the Roman Rite" by Fr. Josef Jungmann, S.J.; "The Story of the Church" from Tan Books by Fr. George Johnson, PhD; "The Story of the Mass" by Fr. Pierre Loret; "Rubrics of the Mass" by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas; "The Wonders of the Mass" by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.; and the Code of Canon Law", as well as the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"; "Baltimore Catechism"; Catholic Encyclopedia (Thomas Nelson Publishers); "Catholic Dictionary" by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.; "Dictionary of Saints" by John J. Delaney; "Butler's Lives of the Saints" from Benziger Brothers; "Saints of the Roman Calendar" by Enzo Lodi and Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP; "1999 Catholic Almanac" from Our Sunday Visitor, and numerous missals and references.

    With a better perception of what the Church stands for and what the Mass truly is, we will not so easily be swayed by new-fangled gimmicks and liturgical abuses being introduced by individual celebrants and ICEL, the International Committee for English in the Liturgy. We will discover why the basis for the use of vestments and sacred vessels, the purpose for the Rubrics of the Mass, the logic of Church Scholars and Popes through the ages for fending off changes that would water-down the faith and the Holy Sacrifice and even invalidate the greatest remembrance Christ gave to His Church.

Installment 33: A New Millennium

The Second Millennium: The Apostolic Line of Peter for the first part of the eleventh century.

        As mentioned in our 32nd installment, Pope Sylvester II ushered in the second millennium which, unbeknownst to him, would be a thousand years wrought with war, pestilence, famine and the decline of morality but would also see the Faith spread to all four corners of the earth as technology would take man to heights he had never dreamed before. When this French-born Pope died on May 12, 1003 his successor became Pope John XVII, the 140th successor of Peter. His pontificate was shortlived for he died in December of the same year. He had been elected during the tremendous upheaval that resulted after the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III's death in 1002. He wanted to establish rapport with the new Emperor Henry II, but was prevented by John Crescentius, a cousin, who was from the powerful Roman family whose father had been executed in 998 by Pope Gregory V because his leading a revolt against the Pontiff.

        He was succeeded on December 25, 1003 by Cardinal John Fasanus who took the name Pope John XVIII, another Roman who was a puppet of the Patrician John Crescentius. Despite his ties to the Roman clan, he renewed, even if for only a short time, the volatile union between the Latin Church and the Greek Church, working zealously to evangelize the Faith to the Barbarian hordes and pagans in other lands. He also set his sights on the north, establishing the hierarchy in Bramburg, Germany at Henry II's request. This Henry was the same Saint Henry. Some believe, because he cooperated with the Emperor and refused to continue to go along with the wishes of Crescentius, that he feared for his life and retreated to St. Paul Outside-the-Walls where he took sanctuary as a monk there. Shortly thereafter he died in July 1009.

        His successor was Pope Sergius IV, another Roman who was elected on July 31, 1009. His name had been Peter, son of a shoemaker, but in respect to the first Pope, he changed it to Sergius. Like his two predecessors, his election was also influenced by Crescentius who by now had become dictator of Rome. It was Sergius who, in actuality launched the first crusade. While officially the Crusades would not begin until the end of the century (1095), he marshalled troops to send to the Holy Land to stop the Caliph from totally destroying the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Though the Saracens did destroy it, Sergius launched an attack on the infidels in Sicily, seeking to drive them out. Sergius IV was a good man who saw the decline in morality and realized the bishops and priests must set the example. Therefore he did all he could to reduce immorality and raise moral standards. Like his predecessor he continued to extend friendly relations with the Eastern Church and the Emperor in Constantinople. He died after a three year papacy on May 12, 1012.

        The death of both Sergius and Crescentius left, for the first time in years, the election wide open. This enabled the selection of Pope Benedict VIII, a Roman. The Crescentii family elected Gregory while the Tusculan family, descendants of the powerful Theophylact clan, selected one of their own - Theophlylact who chose the name Benedict. He was elected on May 18, 1012 and until December 1012 had to contend with the antipope Gregory (VI) who abdicated on Henry's orders the end of the year. Benedict proved to be a better Sovereign Pontiff than many thought for he won St. Henry II over to his side and later solemnly crowned him Holy Roman Emperor in Rome in February of 1014. In return Henry bestowed imperial privilege on Benedict, recreating the Ottonian Privilege first granted by Otto I in 962. On August 1, 1022 during the Synod of Pavia jointly called by both Pope and Emperor, Benedict promulgated new canons that prohibited all clerics from marrying or living with someone. While celibacy had been introduced prior to this, it was Benedict who made it unlawful canonically. He also passed laws against simony and dueling. He passed on to his Heavenly reward after a fruitful twelve-year pontificate on April 9, 1024.

        With the Tusculan family in control, they easily had Benedict's younger brother Romanus succeed him as Pope John XIX who was a mere layman but was fast-forwarded through the orders in order that he might be legally proclaimed Pope on April 19, 1024. Though not adept or spiritual like his brother, he was an astute politician which both helped and hurt him. It helped in dealing with counts and the Holy Roman Emperor and the Eastern Emperor, but it hurt him in that word got out he was willing to compromise the Roman Pontiff's universal jurisdiction by granting equal billing to Constantinople. The monks of Cluny were incensed and mounted a campaign that spread quickly throughout all of Europe which pressured John to back down and not sign the agreement with the Byzantine Emperor. At this same time the great St. Henry II passed away and he was succeeded by his son Conrad II whom he crowned Holy Roman Emperor at St. Peter's on March 26, 1027. During his eight year reign, John XIX was able to establish temporal ties to territories which would increase in revenue in the future, but not without a price - blood and the investiture issue. He died on October 20, 1032.

        The next day Pope Benedict IX, the 145th successor of Peter, was elected for the first time. We say first, for he would be elected a second and third time because of unrest and the unstableness of the situation in Rome. He was only in his teens, when first elected, magnifying the ridiculousness of family interference. His first regime, despite his youth, he showed that he was his own man by forcing the King of Bohemia to return the relics of Saint Adalbert to Prague. When Conrad died in 1039, he was succeeded by his son Henry III who at first was friendly toward Benedict but after a few years this waned and in September 1044 Benedict was forced to flee Rome after an insurrection arose and Henry would not come to his aid.

        With his sudden departure it left it clear for the descendants of the Crescentian family to elevate their man Bishop John of Sabina to the papal throne where he was installed as Pope Sylvester III on January 20, 1045. He died less than a month later but just before his death Benedict IX from afar excommunicated him and though Sylvester was a good man, had been forced into the fray. Some believe this edict from Sylvester contributed to hastening Sylvester's death on February 10, 1045.

        That very same day Benedict returned to Rome to reassume the papacy but unrest again raised its ugly head and within twenty days Benedict IX was forced to flee once more. Anarchy ruled the day. But a new family - the Pierleoni family was coming into power through the means of banking and John Gratian of the family, who was Benedict IX's godson, agreed to assume the throne at Benedict's request for the latter was befuddled in why the people wouldn't accept him and yet dedicated to preserving the papacy. Thus, some say he sacrificed his own position for the sake of the Church while others claim he sold the papacy to Gratian.

        Either way, Gratian became the 148th successor of Peter on May 5, 1045 taking the name Pope Gregory VI. Prior to his papacy there was no papal army to protect the Pope, another reason Benedict had fled twice. Gregory VI sought to rectify this by forming the first Pontifical Army which he personally led in fending off invasion from the anarchists of Rome who stormed the walls of the Holy See. Henry III entered Rome expecting to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Gregory VI in the same manner his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had been enthroned. But the upheaval and growing resentment of Gregory who many considered the "antipope" since Benedict was still alive, prevented this. Gregory, fearing for his life, called a Synod at Pavia where he traveled to meet with Henry. Later that December, in a Synod at Sutri in December, after an investigation called by Henry into the election process, the Synod ruled that the papacy had been acquired by simony and both Gregory VI and Benedict were found guilty as well as the deceased Sylvester III. Henry III showed compassion. Realizing that to leave the deposed Gregory in Rome would be akin to suicide, Henry decided to take him back to Germany with him for his own safety. On the journey back to Cologne he was accompanied by a holy monk named Hildebrand who would go on to become the greatest Pope of the century - Pope Saint Gregory VII, taking his name out of respect for his charge. Unfortunately Gregory VI the next year of the elements.

        With the deposition of all others, the Saxon-born Pope Clement IIwas elevated to the throne through Henry's influence. The Holy Roman Emperor had accompanied his hand-picked Bishop of Bamberg - Bishop Suidger to Rome where he was enthroned as the 149th Pope on Christmas Day, 1046. The same day Clement crowned Henry as Emperor and his wife Queen Agnes as Empress. With this alliance, Clement set about cleaning up problems - especially the simony issue which ran deep in the monasteries and hierarchy - and establishing reforms. He also turned his attention to meeting the arrogance of the Count-Bishops whose arrogance was being flaunted in Rome's face. To regain the upper hand, he issued strong measures and show them the Bishop of Rome was in charge. The strongest resistence came from Bishop Aribert of Milan and when Clement successfully quelled that, he had reestablished Rome's supremacy. A man of deep spirituality, he yearned for the monastic life and had spent much time in nearby abbeys in prayer. It was at the Abbey of Saint Thomas near Pesaro that he caught the fever and died on October 9, 1047.

        Henry, saddened by his death, sought about to find a successor. Eventually he settled on another German Pope - Bishop Poppo of Brixen who became Pope Damasus II on July 17, 1048. But before this he had to contend for nearly a year with the return of the deposed Pope Benedict IX who resumed the throne on November 8, 1047. But holy men counseled him that it would be in the best interest of Holy Mother Church if he step down and repent of his turbulent life. Taking their wisdom to heart, he formally abdicated on July 17, 1048 when Damasus was enthroned. Benedict retired to the Alban Hills at the Monastery of St. Basil in Grottaferrata where he became a monk and died there on January 9, 1056. Bavarian-born Damasus ruled less than a month. During the heat of the summer Damasus retreated to the hills of Palestrina where he contracted malaria and died on August 9, 1048.

        This opened the door for only one of two saintly Popes during this turbulent century - Pope Saint Leo IX who became the 152nd in the line of Peter. Of Alsace-Lorraine nationality, he assumed the papal throne on March 12, 1049 after a nine-month vacancy. Unlike so many of his predecessors, there was no outside pressures for his election and he was freely elected jointly by the clergy and the Roman people. In entering Rome to be crowned, he showed the world he was the servant of the servants for, in humble submission to God and the people, he donned the garb of a hermit and walked bare-foot to St. Peter's. His pontificate would become pivotal for his excommunication of the Eastern Patriarch Michael Cerularius and the beginning of the Great Schism between East and West which we will cover in next week's installment.

Next Wednesday: Installment Thirty-four: The Great Schism and its aftermath.

January 12, 2000
volume 11, no. 8

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