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Mann on Pascal II and investitures
The following text, from the highly regarded History of the Popes in the Middle Ages
by the English Catholic priest, Fr. Horace Mann, illustrates the constant tradition of the Church in respect of heresy and its effects on membership in the Church and the possession of ecclesiastical offices - in this case, the highest office, the papacy. At least three of those who threatened Pope Pascall II with deposition were saints, including St. Bruno, whose feast we celebrated a week or so ago.
But neither the weakness of the Pope, nor the violence of the emperor, was to remain unpunished. Paschal felt the first darts of retribution. Wherever his concession to Henry became known, it forthwith evoked a storm of indignation among all who, since the days of Gregory VII, had toiled and suffered for the reformation of the Church. So strongly did the party of reform feel on the subject, that Paschal was denounced by many as if he were a heretic. Many spoke as though the concession he had granted to the emperor in a matter that concerned ecclesiastical discipline were a declaration of formal heresy.
One of the first to speak out was Bruno of Asti, bishop of Segni, and for some time abbot of Monte Cassino, the friend of Hildebrand, and the biographer of St. Leo IX. In conjunction with a number of cardinals and of bishops of different countries, he called upon the Pope to annul the privilege he had granted to Henry, and to excommunicate him. After assuring the Pope of his love for him, he continued: “But I cannot approve of that treaty made with such violence and treachery, and opposed to all piety and religion; nor, as I learn from many, do you yourself. Who, indeed, can approve of a treaty which violates the faith, destroys the Church’s freedom, and deprives her of her priesthood by shutting the only door, viz., that of the Church, by which it can be entered?”
John, the cardinal-bishop of Tusculum, who had made such heroic efforts to rescue the Pope when he was first seized, convoked a number of cardinals and bishops, and called on him in their name to undo at once what he had done so unfortunately. In France, where the full facts of the case would not at first be very well known, the unhappy Pope sank very low in the general estimation. Bishops, abbots, and councils not only declared his concessions null, but loudly proclaimed that he ought to have been ready to suffer death “rather than yield anything to the secular power contrary to justice and to the decrees of the Fathers.” So heated did the French clergy become over this affair that it became necessary for the famous canonist, Ivo of Chartres, to remind them that “it was no business of theirs to pass judgment on the supreme Pontiff.” (See also the letters of Ivo of Chartres, who strove to prevent the Church in France from going too far in its opposition to the concessions of Paschal, eg., epp. 236, 237, ap. P. L., t. 162. Though even he speaks of “quaedam nefanda quibusdam nefandis scripta” (ep. 233) See, too, the impassioned letter (1. 7, ap. P. L., t. I 57) of that devoted servant of the Roman Church, Geoffrey of Vendôme.)
Even in Germany itself some of the bishops showed themselves openly hostile to the concordat which Henry had extorted from the Pope. The monks of Hirschau are said to have declared that both Henry and Paschal ought to be deposed and excommunicated. Other monks again, like those of St. Vanne of Verdun, broken-spirited by the thought that “the citadel of the Roman faith had surrendered,” and by the gibes of their enemies that their sufferings for thirty years had come to naught, protested by their silence.
Even the Emperor Alexius wrote to say that he was distressed at the violent captivity of the Pope, and endeavoured to improve the occasion by offering to the Pope either himself or his son as a candidate for the imperial crown in the West (1111). Besides the first suggestion of definite opposition to Henry, the first strong action in this affair also took its origin in the East. Conon, formerly count of Urach, now cardinal-bishop of Palaestrina and papal legate in Jerusalem, “acting on the advice of his clergy, and inflamed with zeal for the glory of God, declared Henry excommunicated (1111). Subsequently, with the assent of their respective churches, he confirmed his sentence in five councils, in Greece, Hungary, Saxony, Lorraine, and France.”
The year 1111, then, which had witnessed Henry’s triumph, did not close without giving abundant evidence of the rise of a flood which would sweep it away completely.
At first Paschal endeavoured to check the rising flood of indignant repudiation of his concordat. He rebuked with severity some of his critics, and even punished others. But when to the well-deserved reproaches of those who were loyal both to him and the Church was added the faithlessness of Henry in fulfilling his side of the concordat, he could not stand his ground. In despair he put off the insignia of his office, and fled to the desert island of Ponza (autumn 1111), famous in the history of the early martyrs of Christianity. But he was not to be allowed to withdraw from the combat. Men knew his goodness, and they feared a schism. The voice of the Church recalled him to his post. (October 1111).
That there was nothing for it but that he should revoke his concession was impressed upon Paschal not only by the indignant protests of Richard, cardinal-bishop of Albano; of Guy, archbishop of Vienne, afterwards Calixtus II; and of all those who were regarded as “the columns of the Transalpine” and Cisalpine Churches, but especially by the action of the imperial party in Germany. Henry was not content with simply sending copies of the concordat all over his kingdom, but he suffered his nobles to anticipate the Erastian Protestants of the sixteenth century. They went about proclaiming that Henry was at once king and pontiff and that it was within his right to make and unmake bishops. Paschal accordingly summoned a council to deal with the affair.
On March 18, 1112, there met together about one hundred and twenty-six bishops and cardinals, a number of abbots, and a very large number of the inferior clergy and laymen. The Pope explained how he and a number of his clergy had been seized by Henry; how, against his better judgment, but under compulsion, and to free his brethren, he had conceded to Henry the right of investiture, and had promised him not to excommunicate him on that count; and how, although Henry had not fulfilled his side of the compact, he could not excommunicate him, but he could and did condemn the privilege he had granted him. Following the lead of the Pope, the assembly, leaving Henry alone, declared the privilege null and void. Throughout all the deliberations of this synod Paschal’s “demeanour, free from hatred to the perjured Henry,… gives him claim to the rare title of a true priest, and we venture to think that his attitude was due to Christian conviction, and not alone to fear.”
Though this action of the council was enough to alarm Henry’s supporters in Italy, and to cause them to beg him to come there at once with an army before opposition to him had become overwhelming, it did not satisfy the party of reform. Not content with the dispatch of Bishop Gerard of Angouleme formally to notify the sentence of the council to Henry, Guy, archbishop of Vienne, Paschal’s legate in France, with the Pope’s permission, and the encouragement of the French king, summoned the bishops of the various provinces of France to meet him at Vienne. The outcome of the deliberations of the council was that Henry was solemnly excommunicated by name for his base seizure of the Pope, and for his extorting the investiture concession from him. Paschal was then earnestly implored to confirm their action; and as “most of the princes and nearly all the people,” say the Fathers of the council, “think with us on this matter, do you enjoin them all to help us if need should arise.” In conclusion, “with due reverence,” but certainly with no little firmness, they assure the Pope of their obedience if he confirms their action and abstains from all further intercourse with “the most cruel tyrant,” but if he does not, then, they conclude: “May God have pity on us, because you will force us to abandon our subjection to you.”
It may be easily imagined that this vigorous action was not without its effect. From Paschal, who ceased not to proclaim that his views of the evil of the practice of investiture had never changed, and that dire necessity alone had wrung from him an approval of it, it compelled a prompt approval of what the council had done (October 1112); and in Germany it caused a gradual alienation from Henry, both of the people and of the nobles. When later we have to chronicle the emperor’s second entry into Italy (1116), we shall then relate how the repetition of the sentence of excommunication against him, and how his
constant illegal treatment of the nobility of the empire, gradually undermined his power.
After he had thus expressed his adhesion to the decrees of Vienne, Paschal enjoyed three or four years of comparative peace.
(Horace K. Mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Middle Ages, 2nd ed., Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner, London, 1925, vol. VIII, pp. 62-69.)
And here is the same story as presented by Da Silveira in his book on the sede vacante
During the Pontificate of Pascal II (1099-1118), the question of investitute shook Christendom once again. The Emperor Henry V, holding the Pope prisoner, extorted from him concessions and promises irreconcilable with Catholic Doctrine. Recovering his liberty, Pascal II hesitated for a long time to retract the acts which he had done under coercion. In spite of being admonished repeatedly by saints, cardinals and bishops, his retraction and the hoped for excommunication of the Emperor were always postponed by him. There began to arise then in the whole Church a murmuring against the Pope, classifying him as suspect of heresy and adjuring him to turn back under pain of losing the Pontificate.
We cite here some facts and documents of the struggle which Saints, Cardinals and bishops mounted against Pascal II. One will see thus, that the theology of the epoch admitted the hypothesis of a Pope heretic and judged that he, on account of such a sin, would lose the Pontificate.
Saint Bruno, Bishop of Segni and Abbot of Monte Cassino, was at the head of the movement opposed to Pascal II in Italy. We do not possess any document in which he has declared in an indisputable fashion that he judged the Pope to be suspect of heresy. Nevertheless, this is the accusation which his letters and his acts insinuated unequivocally.
To Pascal II, he wrote: “(...) I esteem you as my father and lord (...). I must love you; nevertheless I must love even more Him who created you and me. (...) I do not praise the pact (signed by the Pope), so horrible, so violent, done so treasonably, and so contrary to all piety and religion. (...) We have the Canons; we have the constitutions of the Fathers, from the times of the Apostles up to you. (...) The Apostles condemned and expelled from the communion of the faithful all those who obtained charges in the Church by means of secular power. (...) This determination of the Apostles (...) is holy, is Catholic, and whoever would contradict it, is not Catholic. For they alone are Catholics who do not oppose the faith and the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and, on the contrary, they are heretics who oppose obstinately the faith and doctrine of the Catholic Church. (...)”.
In another letter, Saint Bruno stresses that he only considered heretics those who deny the Catholic principles on the question of investitute, and not those who in the concrete order, pressed by the circumstances, act in a way not in accord with true doctrine27. However, the reservation is not sufficient to exempt Pascal II from the suspicion of heresy, since he, even when the coercion had ceased, refused to correct the evil done.
The Pope knew quite well that Saint Bruno did not shrink from the hypothesis of declaring him destitute, for he resolved to depose the Saint from the influential charge of Abbot of Monte Cassino on the basis of the following allegation:
“If I do not remove him from the rule of the monastery, he with his arguments will take away from me the government of the Church”.
And when, at last, the Pope retracted, before a synod convened in Rome to examine the question, Saint Bruno of Segni exclaimed:
“God be praised! For behold that it is the Pope himself who condemned this pretended privilege (of investitute by the temporal power), which is heretical”.
With this phrase, Saint Bruno for the first time let it be know publicly how much he suspected the orthodoxy of Pascal II. At this his enemies protested energetically; the most outstanding among them was the Abbot of Cluny, Jean de Gaete, “who - we read in Hefel- Leclercq - did not wish to permit that the Pope be accused of heresy”30
Saint Bruno of Segni was not the only Saint of the epoch who admitted the possibility of heresy in Pascal II. In 1112, Archbishop Guido of Vienne, the future Pope Calistus II, convoked a provincial synod, at which appeared, among other bishops, Saint Hugo of Grenoble and Saint Godfrey of Amiens. With the approval of these two Saints, the synod revoked the decrees extorted by the Emperor from the Pope and sent to the latter a letter in which we read:
“If, as we absolutely do not expect, you chose another way, and you refuse to confirm the decisions of our authority, may God help us, for thus you will be separating us from obedience to you.”
These words contain a menace of a rupture with Pascal II, only explicable by the fact that in the spirit of the bishops met in Vienne there were united three notions: in the first place, they were convinced that it constituted heresy to deny the doctrine of the Church on investiture; in the second place, they suspected that the Pope had embraced that heresy, and, in the third place, they considered that a Pope in the eventuality of being heretical, would lose his charge, and should not any more, therefore, be obeyed. This interpretation is confirmed, in such a way as to eliminate any doubt, by the letters written on the occasion by Saint Ives of Chartres, to which we allude in the following.
After narrating the events of the Synod of Vienne, Hefele-Leclercq writes:
"The result was that, on the 20th of October of the same year, the Pope confirmed, in a brief letter and in vague terms, the decisions taken in Vienna, and praised the zeal of Guido. It was the fear of a schism which lead the Pope to take this attitude”.
To the discredit of this provincial Synod of Vienne, one could argue that another Saint, Bishop Ives of Chartres, refused to participate in it alleging that no one could judge the Pope.
We do not intend here to study the history of the Synod of Vienne. We cite it only in order to show that, in the epoch, two saints and a future pope took an attitude in relation to Pascal II based on the principles that there could be a Pope heretic, and that in such a case the Pontiff loses his charge. Therefore, it will be only from this point of view that we shall occupy ourselves in analyzing the position of Saint Ives of Chartres.
He also was opposed to the concessions made by Pascal II to the Emperor. He said that the Pope ought to be warned and exhorted by the bishops in order that he might repair the evil done. He dissented with the Synod of Vienne however, because he did not consider that the attitude of the Pope in the question of investiture involved heresy. He affirmed, as a consequence, that Pascal II could not be submitted to the judgment of men, however grave his weaknesses might have been. Yet, Saint Ives recognized explicitly in his letter - which constitutes for us an important testimony on the possibility of the defection of the Pope in the faith - that the Pontiff in the contingency of being a heretic would lose his charge. Here are his words:
“(...) we do not wish to deprive the principal keys of the Church (that is, the Pope) of their power, whoever be the person placed in the See of Peter, unless he manifestly departs from the evangelical truth.”
Therefore, the attitude taken by Saint Ives of Chartres is not opposed from the point of view which concerns us at this moment, to that of Saint Godfrey of Amiens and Saint Hugo of Grenoble, but on the contrary corroborates it.