Establishing Roman Papal Supremacy, Seventh Century, A History of the Christian Church, Lesson 8, 7-10

Although there had been converts from the Jews in the Fifth and Sixth centuries, there apparently were none in the Seventh Century, except those who were converted by force in Gaul and Spain.

The Christians suffered less at the hands of others in this century than in any of the six preceding centuries. There was minor persecution by the Persian kings, and scattered persecution by Anglo-Saxon groups. We’ll mention the greatest enemy of this century a little later.

The disputes between the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople reached such lengths in this century that the schism between them was made so broad that the foundation for the separation of the Eastern and Western churches was finally laid. Boniface III, Bishop of Rome, finally persuaded the Emperor Phocas to take away the title of Universal bishop from Constantinople and confer it on Rome so that for the first time, the Church at Rome became preeminent and Roman Papal supremacy was established.

However, the claim of supremacy was not supremacy in fact. Although the Roman Pontiffs used all sorts of methods to holdouts and enlarged their authority, several emperors and even whole nations opposed the ambitions of the Pope. The Britons and Scots held out against the promises and threats of the Pope and held on to their religious liberty for a long time. The churches of Spain and Gaul seem to have attributed as much authority to the Pope as their interests allowed. It is probable that the Waldenses had already retired to the mountains of Southern France where they were persecuted as heretics by later Popes.

The progress of vice among the subordinate ruler of the church was deplorable. Neither Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons nor Monks were exempt. In those places consecrated to piety, there was little but avarice, fraud, pride, contempt of the common people and many other vices. There were bitter dissensions between the monks and Bishops. The Bishops had long used the monks as their instrument of drawing the contributions from the people. And many of the monks resented their use in this manner. Consequently, many sought protection from the civil rulers and even from the Pope himself. The Popes, always fond of exerting their authority, took the monasteries away from the Bishops and in return, the monks devoted themselves to the interests of the Pope.


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