All of which I am about to write in this short synthesis is solely taken from the book entitled, “Church and Sacraments” by Victoria D. Corral, Ed. D. Et al. No other reference was used in the makings. The 12 chosen apostles of Jesus Christ were the first footsteps taken to the creation of the Church, which was born from the Father’s plan in order to continue the mission He had done and that is to proclaim the Kingdom of God. The early Christian community was the beginning of the Church as each apostle begins the Journey of spreading His Word to all nations.
Despite the universal acceptance of the many, it ad not always been as acceptable as it is now, before in Christ’s time. The division between Jews and Gentile had been in continuous tension since then. After the death and resurrection of Christ, the apostles had received the Holy Spirit which enabled them to receive the knowledge of His Word and began to preach immediately afterwards. The converts grew and not too long after had others been convince to widen their horizons and soon began preaching to Gentiles as well.
Peter, a disciple of Jesus began teaching to the Jews, while Paul (Saul), though untimely born, taught to the Gentiles. The spread and development of the Christian community grew yet as I have stated a while back, it was not readily accepted to communicate with the Gentiles as Jews became more tapped with the Gospel. And amongst these, Paul took on the stubbornness of the Jewish Christians by preaching radical liberations to temples and synagogues. To Paul, the encounter he had with Jesus at the Road of Damascus had sent the message that it is time to break the boundaries that separated these two.
Paul, who participated in the Council of Jerusalem with other apostles, had defended the Gospel of freedom from the Law and among the iscussed issues was that of Circumcision and keeping the law. The conflict between Paul and the Judaizers, people who believe that he Jewish Law is a must to attain salvation, was resolved when the council had resolved to believe that of Paul’s argument. Paul’s mission reached as far as the Greco-Roman world with Barnabas as a companion along the Journey. The young Church did not remain at peace when it had first been established.
It received much hatred from the Romans who believed that their emperor was Divine and laws were important. As such, the apostle James ecame the first apostle to be martyred during Herod Agrippa’s persecution of the Church. Christians during this time were blamed for every crime done during then; be it treason, wars, illnesses, and such. Christians did not experience the luxury of life back then having faced death untimely, persecutions, and many devastating events. An example would be the reign of Nero. Nero, who put parts of Rome in fire, blamed the Christians as the cause and caused many to die so he could divert the punishment to him.
Peter and Paul had died as well and by then all the apostles had ied by martyrdom, which gave the Church’s image as the Church of the Martyrs. St. Ignatius first coined the term “Catholic Church” which means “the Universal Church”. Still, it faces difficulty as people begin to oppose the doctrines of the Church and replaced it with other beliefs. These people were called Heretics or people who commit heresy. Heresy in the East dealt with Arianism which denies Jesus as but only a first divine creature. While the West dealt Donatism which claims that anyone committing a grave sin will never be able to return to grace.
During the reign of Emperor Constantine, at a point the Church and State had come to common grounds such that Catholic religion became close to being the national religion, the ranks of popes and bishops were established, and the Arianism’s spread was paused due to the establishment of the Council of Nicea. But, not too long afterwards, the-so-called religious purpose had turned political where the Church became subservient to the State and with the change of heart of Constantine to side with Arius after exiling him during the Council of Nicea. The reign of Theodosius became the year where the
Catholics had been at its peak as he declared Catholic as the national religion. Despite attempts to regain the lost during the disparities, much of the original doctrines have been shattered. Arianism at some point ended but was again spread due to the coming of the West migrants such as Visigoths. Destroying many Catholic churches and bringing disaster, Roman Empire enters the Dark Ages period. Although, at the time, bishops and popes became more functional in civil authority, it was not of power, but because of the opportunity to impart the religious authority.
Afterwards, Catholic Church soon became the Roman Catholic Church. On the other hand, the East maintained traditions and at the Council of Chalcedon, Pope Leo disagreed with the decision to make Constantinople equal to Rome and fought for papal primacy. Written in Pope Leo’s papacy was the greatest mission taken place that when the empire collapses, the only way to protect all was the conversion of the barbarians. When Christendom was created, it paved the way to the conversion of the barbarians. When Clovis, for example, was baptized, he used the Church in stabilizing moral codes towards his men.
Gregory the Great laid the foundation of the medieval Christendom making the pope supreme. But still corruption and abuses remained. Monks also played another role in the Church as they accompany the dissolution of the Empire. The monks who created monasteries allowed intellectual life to continue as the Roman Empire crumble. But it also created a “split-level Christianity’ and this was provided by St. Benedict. He influenced monasticism as a place of religious and economical way where it became a place of learning.
He went as far as the West and earned the title “Father of the Western Monasticism”. After a short while, a new religion came called Islam which had converted many into Moslems. They conquered many Christian based countries such as Jerusalem. The East felt abandoned as the West ignored their plea for help. Charles Martel led the people to victory when he defeated the Moslems and expanded the Church and its defense which was an act inherited by his son Pepin. He earned his legitimacy to the throne from Pope Zachary who was later succeeded by Pope Stephen.
It became traditional that the pope crowns a king when Pepin helped Pope Stephen defeat the Lombards which made Pope Stephen to crown Pepin a second time. Pepin’s second son Charles or Charlemagne was considered the best ruler at the time since he was ble to unify the Western Europe making Europe Christendom, put all disagreements towards Pope Leo Ill away, and united the Church with the State. But it could not be avoided that Charlemagne became concerned with the matters involving both the government of the Catholic body and life in Church.
He, in a way, had taken authority over the Church and it was not the kind of alliance the Church had thought it would turn out. By the 800-1517, papacy and imperial authority began to fade. Although in the 10th century, it had revived much of the power and authority had moved to the emperor, both papal and imperial. This happened in the Kingdom of the East Franks led by Otto the Great who was said to have continued Charlemagne’s seeking of the crown from the pope. Otto had great use of the Church making bishops his greatest collaborators since bishops were intellectually learned and bore no child which made it easy for him to replace one.
He collaborated with the Church by granting it an independence of a Papal State and the no Pope would be consecrated until he had pledged to the emperor. As the years move on, Feudalism was introduced and it was not warmly welcomed by the Church as its negative effect reached until the Church itself and its bishops. When the bishops became feudal lords, it made monasteries and Episcopal Sees wealthy, but it had come from the labor of the helpless people who were subjugated to be part of the feudal system. It created corruption which reached the monasteries, suffering the consequence was their spiritual life.
Thus a new monastic foundation was created to counter the abuses. The monastery of Cluny was one of the two monastic reforms that led to the revival of the monastic life. Clunys monks had been given freedom from the interferences of the feudal lords, granting them the ability to spread Benedictine monasticism – quiet prayer and ignified performance of liturgy. Bernard of Clairevaux was the second movement of monastic reform. Considered one of the greatest spiritual leaders, became a counselor to the popes and kings. The birth of two mendicant orders happened afterwards.
The Franciscans and Dominicans, which inspired the renewal and rejection of abuse in the Church. During Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand)’s rule as pope, he strengthened the Church’s control over itself by giving all power to the pope, making it the supreme head of Christendom. He issued a document called “Dictatus Papae”(Dictates of the Pope) giving authority to the pope. It also raised the dominance of the code of canon law which made the Church more institutionalized. Many of his reforms included the prohibition of lay investiture, simony, and clerical celibacy.
Developing even more, in the rule of Innocent Ill, the Church became more of a papal church and through the Gregorian reform, in hopes of the freedom from secular control; the church became worldly and greedy. Yet despite that, the Pope’s control over the Church intensified and Christendom experienced its golden age. Through the 13th century under the rule of Pope Urban II, the Church became known s an imperial Church as it waged into war. Knights fighting to recover the Holy Land from the Moslems were called Crusaders. Pope Urban II promised eternal reward to those who Joined and it did not take long for people to be attracted.
But despite the main motive of retrieving the Holy Land back, some had Joined for the sake of land and material possessions. Many had died, but according to them, they slaughtered because “Deus vult”(God wills it). A total of seven Crusades were followed. In the First Crusade called by Pope Urban II, Antioch was retrieved from Moslems, broke through Jerusalem, massacred both Jews and Muslims, retrieved Jerusalem, regained influence of Rome to the East, Crusaders were honored and given indulgence, and exempted from taxes.
In the Second Crusade called by Pope Eugene II, due to lack of unity among leaders, the Muslim took hold of all the land the Crusade took, including Jerusalem. In the Third Crusade led by Frederick Barbarossa, who died drowning with his army; Duke of Austria and Philip Augustus, who did not get along with Richard the Lionhearted; and Richard the Lionhearted, who did gain control of some lands, were ll considered as a failed attempt to re-capture Jerusalem as the people became more concerned with the treasures rather the Jerusalem.
In the Fourth Crusade and the succeeding Crusades, no attempts of retrieving Jerusalem ever happened again. They ransacked and stole treasures and such destroying churches and caused the Church to split. There was violence and the separation between east and west gotten worst as the Empire weakened and the papacy lost stature. But despite the disadvantages that happened, there were several advantages as well. They opened trade routes, introduced new products like soaps and spices, brought wealth to the
West, advance learning on Mathematics and Science, brought philosophical works from Greece, and through all the new discoveries made by the Crusade, it eventually led to the period called Renaissance. But the Crusade was still considered as one of the dark pages of the Dark Ages. Another dark page is the Inquisition started by Innocent Ill. This began due to the desire to eliminate those who are heretics and intending to be both a spiritual leader and a political master, Pope Innocent Ill’s plan backfires on him as he became the first Pope to apply force in suppressing religious opinion.
Back in 1054, during the schism of the East and West, the opposing views of the two sides caused an even greater disparity as they resent each other’s claims. When Michael Cerularius became patriarch of Constantinople, there was little respect towards the papacy and when the Pope insisted that all living in the West must bow to western rituals, so did the East’s insist on their side. Refusing to acknowledge that preaching could be preached in other languages, Rome and Constantinople ended the connection and separated from each other.
Both leaders on the Orthodox Church (East) and Roman Church (West) excommunicated one nother. And with the Fourth Crusade happening at the time, who ransacked Constantinople, only disintegrated the relationship of both Churches and until now remains divided. Now the once spiritual beginning of the Church has become political and divided. In the Avignon Papacy, seven popes established their residence at Avignon, France being precedent by Clement V. His desire for peace between France and England made him establish a new residence but failed.
The Avignon papacy weakened the papal authority and eventually leads to the Great Western Schism. Due to the Avignon papacy’s seventy year absence from Rome, it caused the Great Western Schism which had two popes at the same time, namely Urban VI, who was chosen by the citizens of Rome and Clement VI’, who was elected by French cardinals in Avignon as anti-pope as a question to Urban VI’s legality. During this time, the division between papal authorities grew and dividing the nations to whom they take orders from as well. Confusion and the need for political control grew in parallel to it.
Creating a solution to the crisis, the Concilarism was brought forth. A council took place at Piza where the bishops decided to depose both Popes and lected Alexander V who was succeeded by John XXIII, but both Popes refused making the schism last for 40 years. By the end of the schism, the Council of Constance deposed two claimnants, John XXIII and Gregory XII for the sake of harmony in the Church and thus electing a new Pope, Martin V. Although the papacy triumphs in the concilarism, they did not succeed in reestablishing spiritual leadership over Christendom.
Martin V succeeds much in terms or political restoration, but failed to restore the Church and due to this failed attempt, the Protestant Reformation came about. During the 14th to the 16th century, the Renaissance movement had greatly affected the Church as well. Popes became preoccupied with luxury and war, monasteries became consumed with wealth and corruption, learning of Theology as a study of the Scriptures in daily life became nothing more than lifeless teachings. Some tried to recover the essence of the Scriptures like John Huss and Savonarola, but died in flames as heretics.
This was also the time where several people became influential in canonizing Christian faith. St. Vincent Ferrer, who spread and brought countless people to repentance; St. Bernandine of Siena, condemning the abuses; and St. Catherine of Siena, who convinced Pope Gregory Xl to return and restore papacy of Rome. At the time the Renaissance began, as I have stated in the last paragraph, it was a time of political improvement but a radical decrease in spiritual growth. The Church fell into corruption, politics, unworthy cardinals, failure to call for a reform council, and such.
Popes such as Alexander Xl and Sixtus, failed to uphold the standards of the Church by appointing cardinal seats to family members causing a great imbalance to religious functions. Pope Pius II who wanted the reform trying to limit the involvement of the Pope in political matters, died before issuing it. Several reforms were made by the people who remained in faith with God and despite those in the higher positions failing to be models of Christian faith, simple priests and monks continued to show love and care towards the people.
A reform later on called “Protestant Reformation” became another stone to the Church we see now. At the year 1517-1900, Martin Luther cries out a reform publishing his famous Ninety-Five Theses. At the very beginning, Luther was a monk of the Order of St. Augustine, who kept monastery rules and spent much time studying the Bible where he came to realized that it is by grace through faith that everyone is saved and not by good works. During his time, the selling of indulgence was at its peak and many believed that as they pay their indulgence, their sins are cleanse but Luther knew better.
Luther knew how corrupted the Church had become and how money or good works will not save a person. He also knew how people relayed on the external ways man could come up of easy salvation and thus, he passed his writing, Ninety-five Theses, to the Church. Unknown to him, his writings had been translated and sent out to numerous people and many had negative reactions towards it, yet Luther had no intentions of making rebellions act but only share and discuss. A priest complained about him in Rome and a hearing was made whether Luther was a heretic and that he rewrite his writings, but he refuses and continued writing.
In December 1520, a papal document stating that if he continues his acts, Luther would be excommunicated arrived to him. Along with others who had the same belief as he, burned the document and on January, he was excommunicated. Luther in the ollowing years was unable to control the movement but despite that, it was evident that in every movement, Luther’s cry was in it. Another movement was under Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, which gave birth to Churches now called “Reformed” and “Presbyterian”. But the tensions between the two opposing groups cause the thirty years’ war which was the b test war in Europe.
Although there were some g in the Reformation, it was not to Luther, whose intentions were purely religious which escalated into bloodshed and political conflict. Not only that but it had divided the one church into many and hostile churches as well. When the time came where the Catholic Church finally decided to address Luther’s questions, the split between the two groups were far too wide already to which still remains today. As a counter- reformation by the Catholic Church was put up, Pope Paul Ill summoned the Council of Trent and made several meetings, some of which were unfruitful, and others of which made progress.
The council, after much discussion, answers Luther’s question by making the model of the Church as a “hierarchical society’. The council also reaffirmed the doctrine as salvation that comes from grace, but required good works contradicting Luther’s and the Bible), tradition of the Church is source of authority with the Bible, Pope as supreme head of the Church, seven sacraments chosen by Christ, Christ is present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, saints are intermediaries, and Mary is mother of God and the Church.
To assure that all is as followed, Pope Paul Ill instituted the Congregation of the Holy Office or the Inquisition. The Jesuits played an important role as well. Pledging absolute obedience to the Pope, the Jesuits who were intellectually learned made it inevitable that they would be at the forefront of the Catholic resistance to the Reformation. The Council of Trent became an evident fact of the difference between Catholic teaching and Luther’s teaching. The council ended when Pope Pius IV approved all their decrees.
After all these events, the Catholic Church returned into a Papal Church, Catholic missionaries went back to spreading their religion, Catholic religion grew, but remained as a European Church and Popes became less concerned with civil and political issues. In 1700s, a new philosophy came about called the Age of Reason or Age of Rationalism. The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual movement where reason is the primary source of legitimacy for authority. It was ushered by Francis Bacon and Rene Descrates.
Several philosophers like Spinoza and Emmanuel Kant stated the reason alone can help mankind arrive to truth which is why the motto of the Enlightenment period was “Take courage to use your brain. ” During the Enlightenment period, people began to think that if every man can reason out, why must they be dictated what to do? Thus, people came to the point where freedom to decide for themselves, opened up. A movement called “Freemansory’ took place, wherein they believed in doing good works based on human motives making people began to oppose the Church.
To begin with, the philosophers were not technically anti-Christians, simply questioned the narrow-minded thinking of the belief. Some scholars took the time to re-evaluate themselves as well in their understanding of the Bible which led them to a conclusion that some things in the Bible can be understood literally, some had no contradiction with man’s explanation, and some biblical truths were open for various interpretations.
In the years that passed, the Age of Reason turned into the Age of Revolution due to the battle of individual rights which reached the lower class particularly in France. This caused the French Revolution where division between the rich and poor grew wider. Most nobility at the time had despised the Church for its inability to understand freedom of self. Not only was society divided but even the clergies who were divided by social statuses. The French Revolution was the climatic end for the Enlightenment as the Freemasons stir the people into going against the Church.
Despite good attempts to make the French Revolution a nonviolent event, it turned into war as the common people found it no good to simply consult the King, rather they took everything into a radical and omprehensive reform changing the traditional governance into a governance free of controls. By removing King Louis XVI as King, they could gain the freedom they sought, but with Louis decision to bring in mercenary troops, the subtle reform turns bloody.
In the following events prior to the plans and orders of Louis, many bishops and priest against to the idea of making the church into a state-run church and that the positions of priest and bishops were to be elected by the people. The priest and bishops who were against such solutions were either exiled or killed. Thousands of onasteries were destroyed and in 1793, Louis XVI was beheaded. The French Revolution ended the reign of the Church in Europe. Leading the army, Napoleon Bonaparte restored the countrys order and conquered Western Europe and was threatening Russia.
He invaded Italy when Pope Pius VI sided against the revolution, but Pius died not long after. To gain more support for his rule, he re-established the Catholic Church in France where several terms which the bishops and priests had declined before was made. The Pope agreed to the terms which granted the bishops and priests salary in return for agreeing to the terms. When Napoleon was to be crowned emperor, Pope Pius VII was asked to crown him only to find himself imprisoned and Napoleon crowning himself as a sign of insult to the pope. Pius VII excommunicated Napoleon, while Napoleon imprisoned Pius VII for 6 years.
When Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, the Congress of Vienna returned the peace and order of France after 30 years. It went back to the monarchial way and Pius VII was returned to Rome. Despite returning to old ways, much of what happened in the French Revolution was visible that civil divorces, civil marriages, and reedom of religion were evident. A great secularization became the consequence of the French Revolution. After the end of Napoleon’s reign, the Catholic Church took for a better turn as it had a great revival both spiritually and intellectually through the effort of Pope Pius ‘X.
King Louis XVIII’s return to the throne brought relief to the Church as he returned the Papal State to Rome, religious order long restrained in France, and many more which made the Church flourish once again. The rule of Pius IX as pope was considered as the longest papacy in history. Concerned with many hings that had changed during the French Revolution and the Enlightenment period, he condemned modern errors and those associating liberalism, rationalism, and the likes.
His power reached climax when he called bishops to Rome for Vatican Council I defining papacy primacy and papal infallibility. In the 19th century a new era called Industrialization was formed which made the Industrial Revolution possible where the improvement of technology changed the lives to people creating many divisions and insufficient wages. Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Rerum Novarum which ought for the dignity of workers, making him the first pope to concern with social problems.
Industrial Revolution and Rationalism soon turned into Modernism trying to interpret Christianity in modern understanding. And as changes go on, many following popes came to defend and did not side with the modernism. John XXIII became the new pope and announced a meeting of an Ecumenical Council would meet. He saw that the Church could not adapt to the changes of the modern world He called forth the Curia for a preparatory work for the Second Vatican Council. The purpose was to promote unity and adaptation to the new world changing many hings in the way they perceived things.
It also declared Religious Freedom where all may choose whichever they choose as religion no longer having Catholicism as mandated. After the death of John XXIII, many had mourned for his death as he became a legend in the eyes of men changing the way Catholic religion viewed the world. He was succeeded by the following afterwards: Cardinal Montini (Paul VI), John Paul l, John Paul II, and Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict WI). Making realized to one man the importance of knowing the Church’s rich and long yet fulfilling history.