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The Church in Medieval Life. San Francisco, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 374

Essay

Development of church policy

The office of Pontifex Maximus, supreme priest, was held by Roman emperors since the beginning of the Roman Empire. However, this ended with Emperor Gratian in 376 A.D when he refused to accept the role. Instead, the title of Pontifex Maximus was bestowed upon the head bishop of Rome. After that, the head bishop served both the roles of Supreme Priest to the pagans and as head of the Christian church. The head bishop later became known as the Pope. Serving under the head bishop was the cardinals, bishops, archbishops, and priests. The cardinals, bishops, and archbishops sat on the emperor’s council and was allowed to serve in high governmental positions. Many of the bishops were wealthy and from noble lineage. The bishops ruled over small parishes called diocese. The priests from these parishes often had little education or money. These priest acted as teachers and doctors to the villagers, tending the sick and teaching scriptures and Latin to the youth (Reacher, 2012).

The policy of the church during medieval times was to teach everyone that they were sinners, but Christians could achieve salvation through faith in Jesus, good works, and participation in sacred spiritual rituals. The church also required Christians to pay tithe, ten percent of their earnings. The pope was viewed as the ultimate leader of the church (Reacher, 2012).

Pope Innocent III

The Popes claimed power over the kings and would have leaders who disagreed with them to be excommunicated, or excluded from the church. An example of this power over kings is seen in Pope Innocent III. Pope Innocent III excommunicated King John of England in the 1200’s during a dispute over appointing an archbishop. The end result, the Pope used his influence to suspend Christian services for the king, to cease administration of many sacred rituals, to deny Christian burial to his subjects, and finally in 1212,to absolve King John and his subjects from allegiance to him. Additionally, he appointed his friend to serve as archbishop instead letting King John make that decision. The role of the Pope was powerful then and remains powerful today (Sommerville, 2013).

References

Reacher, S. (2012). The Church in Medieval Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Sommerville, J. P. (2013). The Crisis of John’s Reign. Retrieved from https://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/ed

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