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The Rise of Modern Secular "Religions"
29
turned out, the confessional
doubled both as a so-called
means of personal expiation for
the faithful, while serving the
clergy as an effective tool for
keeping the flock in line.
Reversing Church-State
Relationship
Not content to maintain the
role of spiritual supporter of
secular power, the medieval
church under the Papacy began
to assume a bigger share of the
political pie in the Empire.
Ironically, the Hellenistic
otherworldly doctrines con–
cerning the superiority of the
soul over the body was part of
medieval church canonists' ra–
tionale for claiming increasing
prerogatives in temporal affairs
of state. Since the soul was su–
perior to the body, by the same
token the ecclesiastical power
of the Pope was thought to be
superior to the temporal power
of the Emperor. The temporal
exists for the sake of the spiri–
tual. Earthly princes could only
claim power here on earth. The
Papacy could claim it in heaven
as well.
Not only was the Pope con–
sidered the vicar of God on
earth, but in some quarters he
was considered His
successor.
Therefore, to resist the com–
mand of the Pope was con–
strued as the equivalent of
resisting God. "In short, the su–
preme pontiff was to possess
complete and exclusive jurisdic–
tion over spiritual and temporal
affairs of the whole world. Pa–
pal plentitude of power em–
braced every conceivable aspect
of human life"
(Medieval Pa·
palism,
p. 107).
Using this line of reasoning,
medieval Popes were considered
to have the right and authority
to demand support from secular
rulers. And they weren't hesi–
tant about using it. The Pa–
pacy's initial calls for crusades
to the Holy Land were received
with enthusiastic support
throughout virtually all of
Western Christendom. Like–
wise, Rome's repeated demands
for suppression of "dangerous"
heretics resulted in the In–
quisition of the Middle Ages. In
all these "holy" endeavors there
was close cooperation between
church and state.
Unfortunately (from the
church's standpoint), this cosy
state of affairs couldn't last.
Secular kings and princes grew
restive under the staid and
heavy-handed sway of the med–
ieval Papacy. Fresh winds of
change were blowing across the
Western world. Forthcoming
events would soon shatter the
hegemony of the Roman Catho–
lic Church and bring to birth
new religions and ideologies.