DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     June 16, 1998     vol. 9, no. 116


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
          The causes and effects in Church history have gone a long way in shaping the climate of both the Church and Europe throughout the years. The struggling papacies of the popes in the mid to late thirteenth century played a significant role in establishing cultures that would be rooted in these times and last until today. The actions and inactions of these popes went far in molding sense and sensability. Each of these pontiffs were good men, but weak in one area or another and that hurt the Church in many ways. The Pope we cover in today's installment was just such an example. Pope Honorius IV inherited the mess that Pope Martin IV had left and, though he tried to instill the kind of stern, strong leadership of Pope Nicholas III he left a lot to be desired. Many point to his debilitating handicap of being physically crippled and suffering greatly from arthritis for his failures to follow through on many projects and campaigns; others point to the fact he was such a lover of peace that he would compromise to preserve it. Yet much of his actions belie this point, especially in his standing strong against Aragon in the situation in Sicily after the death of King Charles of Anjou to whom this Pope, like his predecessor Martin, was beholden to. Regardless of the causes and effects, Honorius cannot be blamed completely for he inherited from Martin the rubble of revolt and, to his credit, stilled most of it with a strong governing of the Papal States.
Installment Seventy-Two

Pope Honorius IV: Inheriting the rubble of revolt

          The feeble reign of Pope Martin IV after the strong hand of Pope Nicholas III was like night and day and the cardinals, gathering at Perugia after the former's death, decided to act swiftly in naming a successor. With King Charles of Anjou no longer a threat, having passed away shortly before Martin, they were free to elect whomever they wanted with no political interference. On May 20th, 1285 the conclave selected the physically handicapped Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin who could not stand upright during Mass - Cardinal Giacomo Savelli. He was of noble Roman lineage who had served previous popes loyally, but old age and a severe case of gout and arthritis had rendered his body to a crippling state. But his mind was very, very sharp. Since Savelli was the grand-nephew of Pope Honorius III he decided to honor his uncle by taking the name Pope Honorius IV as the 190th successor of Peter. One of his first measures was to reestablish order in the Papal states where unrest was prevalent because of Charles interference there with Martin's permission. Truth be known most everyone was not only glad Charles was dead, but also Martin who had been nothing more than a "puppet pontiff" to the Angevin king. Now, with a breath of fresh air instilled in the Holy See and Italy once more, great celebration broke out as everyone lauded the new Pope. Though Honorius IV had been on good terms with Charles for political reasons, he wisely chose to disassociate himself from any connection with Martin's favorite and for this, he was hailed enthusiastically throughout Rome, being elected senator for life. Though he suffered greatly from his physical maladies, Pope Honorius was a busy pope, building a new papal palace on the Aventine in Rome. While all the other Papal States were brought into line and peace returned, even in Romagna, Honorius realized that the French influence in Sicily was well-rooted by now and decided to leave it in the hands of the French, winning their favor by giving financial and moral support to King Philip III in his effort to win over Aragon from King Peter III. The crusade that Martin had ill-advisedly waged against the Aragon king proved a fiasco, especially with the death of both Philip and Peter, the campaign was brought to a merciful end. But there were still problems for Honorius who had inherited the rubble of revolt, especially in Sicily and Aragon. Refusing to get caught up in the politics of the day and trying to protect his predecessor, he refused England's King Edward I's plea to mediate between the Aragonians and Angevins. When James, son of Peter of Aragon, claimed Sicily as his and, through coercion, was agreed to by Charles' son Charles II who had been taken prisoner by James, Honorius became livid. Though it might have been the band-aid to a lasting peace in the Papal States, he realized the long-range effects overall and that Charles II was agreeing to this aberration of the Angevin jewel only to bargain for his own freedom. If James had taken over, then there would be problems for years to come. Honorius, realizing the culture of Sicily had tilted strongly to the Angevin line, balked and excommunicated James, knowing that to face the "music" now so-to-speak would be better than down the line when another civil war similar to the Sicilian Vespers outburst during Martin's regime might erupt and spoil everything. The Sicilians tried to call the Pope's bluff, and he didn't blink. They didn't like it, but they accepted for they and the Pope were finally resigned to the fact that Sicily would be lost forever to the Angevins.

         On September 17, 1285 Pope Honorius IV issued two papal bulls - one on the rights and privileges of the clergy, the other on civil administration for the clergy and citizens of the papal states. It was the "magna carta" for the papal states and helped secure peace in the Papal States. Honorius IV, a strong devote of Pope Gregory X and his policies, resurrected one of the benchmarks of his predecessor's reign, recognition with and to the Holy Roman Emperor - in this case Rudolf I of Habsburg. He set the coronation of Rudolf for February 2, 1287, but it would seem this union was once agains snakebit for Rudolf could not make the trip. Though Honorius had served on Gregory's panel of bishops in negotiating with the German King, he was powerless to speed up the process. Because of infighting among the German bishops and miscommunication, the coronation was cancelled and not rescheduled. This caused ill-feelings among the Germans and they ousted the Vatican delegates from their country. Again hard feelings and misunderstanding surfaced and would not be resolved during Honorius pontificate.

         While Honorius had much clean-up work to do in the aftermath of the rubble left in Martin's wake, he was strongly in favor of the religious orders, particularly the Dominicans and Franciscans to whom he extended greater privileges and conditions as well as giving them exclusivity in the court of the Inquistitions. He gave great encouragement to the University of Paris, instilling a mandatory curriculum of the Oriental and other eastern languages in an effort to expedite the possibility of evangelizing to the Orient and mid-east. Though he tried to reach a closer relationship with both the Greek Orthodox and Islam leaders, he was powerless to follow through; mostly because of his health and the lack of a strong disposition to back up his actions. In short he was part Nicolas III - being a strong ruler - and part Martin IV - afraid to offend anyone and, because of that, he will be remembered as a good man, but lacking in following through with much that he instigated. While he had been a great advocate of the Crusades, the money supposedly raised for these campaigns went instead to the political infighting between Angevin and Aragon and he was not strong enough to say no. He died of old age on April 3, 1287. While it would take a year before his successor would be elected, it would be left to that successor to carry on, but it would be a few more popes before the Church was once again placed in capable and holy hands.

    Next installment:

      For the Summer Schedule beginning Next Week:
        Installment One: Establishment of the Blessed Sacrament
      In September we will pick up where we left off here with
        Installment Seventy-Three -
        Pope Nicholas IV: A Franciscan on a crusade.

June 16, 1998       volume 9, no. 116


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