Month: December 2014

69-The Not So Great After All Schism file | Play in new windowThe title of this episode of CS is The Not-So Great After All Schism. At the end of our last episode, a Frenchman, the Archbishop of Bordeaux was elected by the College of Cardinals in 1305 as Pope Clement. But Clement never set foot in Rome, because the locus of political power had shifted to France & her King, Philip.  This marks the beginning of what’s called the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy, a 72–year long period when France dominated the papacy. After Clement, the next 6 Popes, all French, chose to make their headquarters in Avignon rather than Rome. Though it began as a small town when Clement first located there, over the next 70 years it grew to a population of some 80,000, nearly all of them associated in some way with the Church bureaucracy. This transfer of the papacy from Rome to France had a profound impact on the way all Europe came to see both the Pope and the leadership of the Church. Rome was the Eternal City. The Church of Rome, with the Pope as its bishop, went all the way back to Peter. That’s why people regarded it as special; why it called the shots for everyone else. If the Pope no longer sat in Rome, if he could now reside in some other church, what did...

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68-of Popes and Princes file | Play in new windowThe title of this episode of is Of Popes & Princes. As far as the Church in the West was concerned, the 14th C opened on what seemed a strong note. Early in 1300 Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed a Year of Jubilee, something new on the Church calendar. The Pope’s decree announced a blanket pardon of all sins for all who visited the churches of St. Peter & St. Paul in Rome over the next 10 months. Huge crowds poured into the city. Boniface VIII was an interesting man. He had a definite flair for the pomp & circumstance of what some might call pretentious ceremony. He regularly appeared in public dressed in royal, or even better, imperial robes, announcing, “I am Caesar. I am Emperor.” His papal crown had 48 rubies, 72 sapphires, 45 emeralds, & 66 large pearls. He could afford to be generous w/pardons. At the Church of St. Paul, pilgrims to Rome kept priests busy night & day collecting & counting the unending offerings. Looking ahead, to Boniface the years seemed bright.  The Vatican had held unrivaled religious & political power for 2 centuries and there was nothing on the horizon that portended any change. The Pope had before him the sparkling example of Innocent III, who a hundred years before dominated emperors & kings. Boniface assumed he’d carry...

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67-No Dunce Here file | Play in new windowThis episode of CS is titled, “No Dunce Here.” The Franciscans had an answer to the Dominican Scholastic we looked at in the previous episode. In fact, Aquinas’ Franciscan counterpart lived at the same time. His name was John Bonaventure. Born in Tuscany in 1221 as John Fidanza, he became known as Bonaventura when he had a miraculous recovery from a grave illness as a child of 4. Upon regaining his health, his mother announced, “Good fortune” & the name stuck. While Aquinas was predominantly a theologian, Bonaventure was both theologian & accomplished administrator of the affairs of the Franciscans. Where Thomas was precise but dry, John was a mystic & given to eloquence. Aquinas was prose; Bonaventure, poetry. Bonaventure joined the Franciscans and immediately excelled in his studies. He spent 3 years in Paris studying under the Scholastic scholar Alexander of Hales. Alexander paid his pupil a huge compliment when he said that in Bonaventure, “Adam seems not to have sinned.” Finishing his studies in Paris, he stayed to teach, filling the spot of John of Parma when he took on the leadership of the Franciscans. Bonaventure was now only 26.  Though still young, he proved his influence by writing a tract in defense of the vow of poverty of the mendicant orders — under attack at the time. His tract went...

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66-God’s Ox file | Play in new windowThis Episode is titled “God’s Ox.” I want to begin by saying thanks to those who’ve messaged recently on the Facebook page to say they’re enjoying the podcast.  What we’re doing here is ultra-amateur. CS is a labor of love and makes no claim at being a scholarly review of history. As I study, I record these episodes in the hope others can tag along and learn alongside me. I make no claim that this is exhaustive. On the contrary; it’s a cursory account meant to give a brief overview of Church history; a kind of verbal fly-over; with occasional moments when we linger over something interesting. I aim to give listeners a basic sense of when events occurred in relation to each other; who some of the main actors & actresses were & the part they played. And as I’ve said before, the episodes are intentionally short to make it easy to listen in the brief snatches as people are working out, doing chores, going for a walk—that kind of thing. I listen to about a dozen podcasts of varying lengths on a wide set of topics when exercising & working in the yard. I recently had the good fortune to meet a listener while touring Israel. What a kick that was. We met in one of the hotels in Jerusalem. It...

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