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Roman Empire

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Michael Hinojosa


Zana Lito

26 Apr. 2019

 Discuss the development of Roman Church after the decline of Roman Empire. Discuss the three most important characteristics of Christian church such as the Monasticism, the Doctrine of Papal Primacy, the Division of Christendom and the major factors that caused this division.

        During the time of the ancient roman empire, and towards the demise of the empire, many different classes of society had been converted to Christianity. There are 5 seats of Christian patriarchs in Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria and all of them were situated within the roman empire. After the last abdication of the western roman emperor and the loss of middle east from the Byzantines, the bishop in Rome aka the pope became independent from the eastern roman emperor. Western Roman Empire were invaded and later settled by various Germanic pagan tribes but later some of them were integrated into the remaining Romanized Christian population. The catholic church from Rome successfully converted the Merovingians, a dynasty from the Frankish kingdom into Christianity while other kings converted into Arianism that is considered a heresy by the pope. The rise of the Frankish empire under the Carolingians protected the papacy in Rome They successfully fought the wars between the moors, Saxons and Lombard’s as they were hostile to the pope. The byzantine influence in Italy had weakened due to internal conflicts and threats from the east therefore could not provide security for the roman pope. For example, Pope Leo III requested help from Charlemagne against the Lombard invasion of Rome and Charlemagne conquered the kingdom of Italy. He later was crowned by the pope as the successor of western roman emperor to secure the papal independence in Rome from the Byzantines. The concept of caesaropapism which means the power of Caesar over the patriarch by the Byzantines challenged the papal infallibility of Rome and triggered the western schism. The pope continued to influence the political situation of the Holy Roman Empire as the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire were elected from separate German duchies and had to be crowned by the pope for legitimacy. This enabled the pope to restrict the power of the emperor by supporting the anti-king factions especially in north Italy. Other western European kingdoms like England and France were also divided between nobles. Henry IV of the Holy Roman Empire tried to increase his imperial authority on the churches but failed from civil wars and later excommunicated by the pope. He had to walk to Canossa to seek forgiveness from the pope to maintain his throne. The church was the real authority and decisions of all affairs would come from the church.  Originally it was the duty of the Pope to look after religious affairs. But circumstances led the Pope and the church fathers to play the role of the potential actor in the political fields. This role reached the zenith towards the beginning of the seventh century. At this time, in fact, there was no political authority in real sense. Every decision on political matters emanated from the church and the emperor had not the courage to alter or defy the decision. The unified church established almost a parallel government or administration to Rome. It created a vast network of religious institutions through which politics was controlled. It has been claimed that the church also controlled the intellectual world of Europe. Rise of church or Christianity eclipsed the importance of state and politics in the Middle Ages.

        There were three divisions of the church, those three being Monasticism, the Doctrine of Papal Primacy, and the Division of Christendom. The origins of and inspiration for monasticism, an institution based on the Christian ideal of perfection, have traditionally been traced to the first apostolic community in Jerusalem—which is described in the Acts of the Apostles—and to Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness. In the early church, monasticism was based on the identification of perfection with world-denying asceticism and on the view that the perfect Christian life would be centered on maximum love of God and neighbor. A special development in Roman Catholicism consists of the functional characteristics of its many orders. The individual orders aid the church in its various areas of activity, like missions, education, care for the sick and needy, and combating heresy. Developing a wide-ranging diversification in its structure and sociological interests, Roman Catholic monasticism has extended all the way from the knightly orders to orders of mendicant friars, and it has included orders of decided feudal and aristocratic characteristics alongside orders of purely bourgeois characteristics. The Doctrine of Papal Primacy is the belief that the Pope of Rome is the universal pastor and supreme head of the Catholic Church. He has full, supreme, immediate, and universal jurisdictional authority to govern the Church. This means that no bishop, synod, or council of bishops can override his authority. His teaching authority is defined in the doctrine of papal infallibility. His governing authority is contained in papal primacy.

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