The Great Schism: Corrupt In The Christian Church

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Jess Conway Professor Mastaler THEO 100 – Intro to Christian Theology 1 October 2015 The Great Schism In times of confusion, confrontation, or tragedy, it is very common for people of faith to seek solace in their religion, which often provides them with comfort, guidance, or some other form of relief. In the fourteenth century, however, and throughout most of the Middle Ages, that solace in the church was much harder to find for Christians, as the misconduct and corruption of church officials often added to the agony of the times. This chaos in the Christian church, and the general lack of agreement between officials, then, reached a climax during the times of The Babylonian Captivity (1309-1376), The Great Schism (1378-1417), and…show more content…
The Babylonian Captivity began in 1309 when Pope Clement V moved to the Avignon region in Southeastern France. He was the first of seven popes to live in the Avignon region, and did so due to an onset of pressure from Philip the Fair of France, who wanted the papal court to relocate from Rome to France so that he would gain more political and religious power. Philip would gain this power through manipulation of the close ties between church & state that were common in the Middle Ages. This pressure succeeded because Clement V, critically (and soon after, fatally) ill with cancer, simply didn’t have the willpower to resist Philip’s coercion. Clement V’s successors, then, already in place in Avignon, never bothered to return to Rome due to the effort required to do so, and the fact that once the papal court was in France, Philip was able to keep it there through bribes and various other incentives. The new location in France, while helping Philip, seriously injured the papal prestige because of an increase in corruption among the Avignon Popes, and a decrease in papal authority resulting from a disconnect from the historical roots in Rome. Plus, Italy itself was injured politically and economically, as the papal court…show more content…
There hasn’t been a single pope since that has had power greater than or equal to the power that the popes before the Schism held, and this was largely due to the Conciliar Movement, which began during the Schism and lasted until the Reformation of the 16th century. Conciliarists believed that reform of the church could best be brought about through periodic assemblies, or general councils, that represented the Christian people as a whole, instead of just by the pope. And, due to the controversy surrounding the papacy and its power during the Great Schism, it’s no surprise that this belief gained momentum during the split. While supporters of the Conciliarist movement still acknowledged the pope as the head of the church, they also believed that he should derive his authority from the entire Christian community, those whom he existed to represent. Therefore, the followers of this movement believed in a constitutional, democratic form of government in the church, with power split between the papacy and a more general council, thus giving common people much more power over their religion. The people’s craving for this type of power was best summarized by theologian John Wyclif, who wrote that the papal claims of temporal power had no foundation in the Scriptures anyway, and that the Scriptures alone should be the standard of Christian belief and practice, thus

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