The Gregorian Reform (Week #21)

By Haley Daley

What were the problems besetting the Church in the tenth and eleventh centuries? What was “moderate reform”?

Following the 9th and 10th century invasions, Monastic discipline deteriorates. Also, the church becomes entangled in feudal systems, and under the control of local lords. The lords came to be the ones to choose certain religious leaders, such as priests and bishops. They often chose people for political reasons and not religious, resulting in declining spiritual rigor. The condition of the papacy was poor. Aristocratic families jockey for control, and there are contests between emperors and these families over the papal office. Moderate reform is a period under Pope St. Leo IX, who was a german. In his rule, he condemns abuses. He wanted to root out those abuses of the church, such as Simony and clerical marriage. (Simony is the selling of church offices) He emphasized papal authority and urges Laymen to choose good clerical candidates. Then came the Radical reform under Pope Nicholas II. Wherein, the College of cardinals are to choose the popes.The Pope also urges laity to go on strike against immoral clergy, including bishops.

Describe the events that took place during the conflict between Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV. What was at stake?

During The Gregorian Reform, Pope St. Gregory VII (who the reform was named after), who ruled from 1073-1085, can’t appoint his own people. His authority in spiritual matters is acknowledged, but his role with Christendom is not. Laymen and the King appeared to be distributing spiritual authority. He is going to insists that all monarch cease investing bishops. Through all this confusion of role and chaos in the Church, it became resolved in a “showdown” between Pope St. Gregory VII and Henry IV. Gregory holds a council, and Clerics invested by laymen are deposed and laymen doing the investing are to be excommunicated. During this times, the election for the bishop of Milan brings this issue to a boil. Henry appoints his choice in Milan and in other places and the Pope demands he cease. Then Gregory excommunicates Henry and also declared him deposed. Henry, faces with rebellion, must submit. In a meeting in 1077 in Camossa, the excommunication is lifted after Henry begs for forgiveness. Then he goes back to the way he was before. Three years later, he is excommunicated again. This time, he drives the pope out of Rome. Gregory dies in 1085 as an exile. Even though the Pope died in exile, the power of the Papacy grows and grows. It all began because of Gregory’s bravery to challenge the Monarchy and the mix up of powers.

What was Christendom?

Christendom was an international society. It was the Christian world. While there were divisions of Countries, and there were kings of different kingdoms, there was a unity that rose above all that and linked all Christian believers, and that is Christendom. Monks would be sent to Monasteries in other countries. When choosing Cistercians, nationality mustn’t be considered. Bishops and abbots governed places far from their countries of birth. Nationality had nothing to do with acceptance as a university professor. Artists and craftsmen worked throughout Europe. The religious unity of the Christian world was above the political separations and traditions. At this point in time, Christendom is at its height.  Excommunications  and interdict were acknowledged. Most everyone accepts Papal authority and the church’s power.

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