The Latin Church in the Middle Ages

The Latin Church in the Middle Ages

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The Latin Church in the Middle Ages

The Latin Church in the Middle Ages

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Excerpt

In the middle of the fifth century the Western Church occupied a position without precedent in the Roman Empire. It ruled the emperor and gave him its orders. They were orders directed especially to the extermination of all religious rivals. It required the emperor to suppress the worship of idols, and he closed the pagan temples; sometimes he even authorized their destruction. The Church wished to be rid of dissenting sects; and the emperor forbade heretical meetings. Paganism being driven from the towns, sought refuge in the country. Heresy went into hiding: the Church was victorious. And while it employed the imperial sword to discomfit its enemies, it used the same weapon to strengthen its inner constitution and to centralize its government. From the time of Gratian, the bishop of Rome had an authority over his colleagues in the Occident which the civil power recognized and sanctioned. Valentinian III. by an edict in 445 A.D. completed the work of Gratian. Henceforth the Latin Church was a monarchy within the Empire, with the Pope at its head.

Thus, under the Empire, the Church was strong, but the Empire was falling into decay. The Barbarians knew that its life was failing, that the old organism was worn out, and they hastened to take possession of the remains. From every direction they came for the spoils. The Saxons and the Angles settled in Great Britain; the Franks invaded . . .

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