And thank God for this baseball season no matter how it ends. To this editor it is very special because his Padres are in the Fall Classic for only the second time in their thirty year existence. There are many johnny-come lately Pad fans, but don't count this editor among them since he was there in person for the first National League game ever in 1969 at the brand new state-of-the art San Diego Stadium, later changed to Jack Murphy Stadium and then sold out to the corporate malaise of all other stadia with the name Qualcomm along with the coldness of an old stadium where bigger is not always better - though this year it might be with the 65,000 plus crowds packing the Mission Valley edifice. We were there in 1984 in the first row, third deck behind third base when they clinched the pennant against the Cubs in the fifth and final game and again for the second game of the World Series against Detroit when they won their only game. Our boys couldn't experience that exhilaration because Kevin was only two and Cyndi was three months pregnant with Kellin. Now, fourteen years later we were hoping our boys could experience the same euphoria we felt before, but ticket prices have risen so much that one would have to mortgage the future to afford a seat. But no matter, the games are on TV and we can turn down those obnoxious national announcers on FOX, the network for the inane, and tune in our local announcers who, even though they are the Padres' announcers, are more objective than the triumverate calling the game on Rupert Murdoch's network.
You might be asking why we bring all this up? Simply because the slogan of the Padres this year is "Keepin' the Faith!" or in Spanish, "Mantengan la Fe!" Talk about a great motto! San Diego was founded by Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo in 1769 and the efforts and influence of the Franciscans who built the first California mission at Mission de Alcala just a few blocks east of the Stadium in Mission Valley. Chief among the Franciscan Friars was Blessed Junipero Serra. They brought the faith to Southern California to the native Indians there and it was passed down through the generations to all who migrated to the west coast and discovered this corner of paradise which we found in 1968. While serving as an Information Officer in the United States Air Force, I had been transfered from Sioux City AFB in Iowa in February 1968 to Mt. Laguna AFS, 50 miles west of San Diego where one could see the ocean to the west and the great Salton Sea and desert to the east. A love affair began and once released from active duty in 1970 I gained employ with the San Diego Padres baseball club, designing their program covers for the 1970 season and serving as assistant editor of the game programs. Having served as an apprentice in the press box ferrying stats to all the reporters and announcers during the 1965 World Series for the Minnesota Twins while taking my Journalism courses at the University of Minnesota, I was well familiar with the administrative side of Major League baseball. In this nostalgic look back it also provides hope for the Padres who currently find themselves down two to the supposedly invincible and hated Yankees as we write this. In that series the American League team (the Twins) won the first two games at home and were confident of a sweep heading to a far west coast city (LA). Lo and behold, the Bums swept three straight at Chavez Ravine and returned to Metropolitan Stadium up 3-2. Our beloved Twins took game 6 but ran into Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in the pivotal game 7 and, with the help of Lou Johnson's two-run homer high off the left field foul pole, the National League Dodgers escaped with a 2-0 win and sent the Twin Cities into mourning. It took quite a while to get over that. After all, it's not the best prescription to be down heading into a Minnesota winter which is a downer in itself. Now you know why we opted to settle in this Shangrila known as San Diego. Little did I know until after we were married that Cyndi's favorite player was Koufax. Had we met in 1965 a romance would never have developed! But now thirty-three years later (don't you love that number?) Koufax is forgotten and we are praying together as one that history will repeat itself.
Speaking of praying, one thing sports does is encourage kids to pray. Trying to get the offspring to pray is not an easy thing as anyone will attest to, but if it's something they really want, boy can they pray! Such has been the case throughout the playoffs when both Kevin and Kellin would drop to their knees during the game and pray like we haven't heard them praying before, beseeching the great Manager in the sky to help the Padres - if it be His will. We've always stressed to the kids that they add that stipulation no matter what they are asking for. Now there's an entire city and county, and, quite possibly the rest of the nation outside of New York City proper, praying along with Padre fans for a miracle - if it be God's will. You can imagine God's consternation choosing one team over another. It's not something God usually does for He allows free will and He also allows evil for good, such as allowing the evil Yanks to beat the good-guy, underdog Padres. After all, David was able to accomplish the impossible armed with the knowledge of the Psalms and a slingshot. If this editor sounds a bit prejudice, I'm guilty based on being a die-hard Padre fan whose cheered for the boys when they were in last place hopelessly out of the race and when they're in the thick of it like this year. Compounding the problem this year for the Almighty is the fact Joe Torre manages the pinstripers. Nevermind that convicted felon George Steinbrenner owns the New York team, Torre carries a big influence upstairs since two of his sisters are nuns and he himself is a good, practicing Catholic. So it's going to be quite a battle going against a good guy like Joe, but here in San Diego we still believe. After all, how can you go against the Franciscan influence and a team represented by the good friars who did so much to bring the true Faith to the New World? One New York columnist called Padre fans "a bunch of California Catholic mice." If so, we take that as a compliment and warn all comers that Padre fans are ready and waitin'. So bring on the big cheese from the big apple because here in "God's country" we're "Keepin' the Faith!"
With the Pope on French soil and under the heavy influence of the king, the Church took on an entirely different face in the curia. Gone were most of the Italian cardinals as Clement appointed ten new ones, nine of which were French. Philip was so bent on debasing Boniface VIII that he ordered Clement to condemn anyone who memorialized Boniface. He also commanded the Pope to erase all records of Boniface and strike him from the long line of Popes, declaring the former Cardinal Benedetto Caetani a heretic. While many historians insist Clement had no intention of doing this nor of staying in France, he was helpless to do otherwise because of his dependence on Philip financially and for fear of reprisal. Clement was a great compromiser and he felt he could have the best of both worlds by residing in Avignon for it was, at that time, a fiefdom of Naples. Thus he convinced Philip to allow him to move there in 1307. Though the relationship between Philip and Clement was close, each was playing the other. Philip was so obsessed with destroying the memory of Boniface and gaining revenge that he allowed Clement to do what he wanted as the latter stalled Philip's efforts with one thing after another, delaying the inevitable for six years. Philip was ruthless and sent spies to Rome to torch St. John Lateran church and palace in 1308 to make sure Clement would not return to Rome and blamed it on Roman factions which were truly in an anarchical state. Thus it was easy to accuse the Italians of this conflagration and further strengthened Philip's persuasion of the Pope to remain in France. There was also a political move to Philip's actions as he felt Italy would be ripe for French rule with Naples and Sicily favorable to him. The monarch forced Clement into rehabilitating the Colonna cardinals and to issue the papal bull that retracted Boniface's Unam Sanctam. This one was Rex gloriae which ridiculously exalted Philip and which many believe Philip wrote himself because his ego and revenge was so intense. The bull praised the king for his zeal in setting the record straight and attacking Boniface. Because Boniface had betrayed Pope Celestine V the Spiritual Franciscans were overjoyed when Clement canonized Celestine on May 5, 1313. Philip agreed for it set in motion his cause to have Boniface condemned for his actions since a formal declaration was impossible. With this accomplished, Philip turned to swallowing up more territory and riches. One of his targets were the Knights Templars who had been brave warriors during the crusades and brought back much wealth and know-how to Europe. However they, too, had succumbed to the temptations of the world and had moved to the upper class echelons, owning property, banks, land, etc. They were a threat to Philip who coveted their lands and wealth. Therefore he circulated many rumors of heresy and immorality fostered by the Templars and had them all rounded up on October 13, 1307 beginning with the arrest of their leader, the legendary Jacques de Molay, the Grand Commander or Grand Master. Philip had their properties confiscated and commanded Clement to condemn the order. Though apprehensive to do so without proof, he realized it would be one way to take Philip's mind off the crusade to have Boniface totally condemned. Thus Clement chose to convene a general council - the Fifteenth Ecumenical Council at Vienne, France in which the body persuaded the Pope to dissolve the Knights Templar and turn over all properties to the king who made a facade of transfering all properties to the Knights Hospitalers where, in truth, it was all being funneled back to the French monarchy. Clement never officially condemned the Templars but miscommunication made it look as though he did and the Templars never recovered. They would never be reinstated in the Church and provide the seeds for rebellion in later years and be the cornerstone organization to begin a new order - the Freemasons.
Clement was not a bad pope, just a weak one who was caught in the vice grip of Philip's power. When Clement sought to deal in matters in England and with the German king Henry VII he was in over his head for the British isles were in turmoil as well and France was a bitter enemy. Though Clement tried to appease England by releasing King Edward I of his pledge to his barons and founding the heralded University of Oxford, he ran into big trouble in Scotland when he excommunicated the legendary Robert the Bruce for murdering John the Red in the sanctuary of a Scottish church and deposed two bishops who had backed the Scottish rebels in their fight for freedom. This was a truly bad move on Clement's part for it set in motion an anti-papal movement in the Scottish highlands that would last for centuries and make it easier for Calvinism to take hold in that country whereas Ireland, a similar culture, would remain Catholic. As for Henry VII, Clement V, as a puppet of Philip's, tried to encourage the German emperor to conquer Venice. To aid the Holy Roman Emperor in this quest, Clement V preached a crusade against the Venetians in order to reacquire lost land for the papal states in Ferrara. However, after his successes in northern Italy, Henry VII set his sights farther south and came into direct conflict with King Robert of Naples who held all of St. Peter's in Rome. The alliance of Robert and Philip forced Clement's hand and he had to demand a truce and request for Henry to withdraw or suffer the consequences of excommunication. Though the emperor was not favorable to such a threat, no action was taken since he died on August 24, 1313. Less than a year later Clement would also succumb on April 20, 1314 at Roquemaure, France. Even though he was only fifty, he was no doubt worn out by the constant demands of Philip IV. He would be greatly criticized for nepotism, electing four relatives to the rank of cardinal and providing influential and wealthy positions of power within the church to other family members. This was a cause of great resentment not only in Italy and throughout the rest of Europe, but in France as well. All in all Clement's nine year reign was wrought with disappointment and despair throughout the universal Church for many could see Philip's hand in everything Clement did and this did not bode well for the traditions established over the centuries. The papacy had turned from a spiritual fortress to a retaliatory office of politics and it wouldn't get much better over the next seven decades as we shall see in future installments.
Next week we will deal with Clement's successor Pope John XXII and the first antipope of the fourteenth century Nicholas V - the Italians' answer to the French takeover.