(Continued) Excerpts from:
THE OLD CHURCH IN THE NEW WORLD – 4
By Archpriest Basil M. Kherbawi
St, Nicholas Greek-Orthodox Cathedral
SOME REASONS WHY ORTHODOXY CAN NEVER UNITE WITH THE PAPACY
SYNOPSIS OF THE LIVES OF POPES
Pope Benedict IX became enamored of the beautiful daughter of an Italian noble, he formally demanded her in marriage. Her father, pretended to be willing, but said he could only consent on condition that the Pope would abdicate his office, hoping that the throne of the church would fall into his own hands, and that he might sit on it whom he pleased. But Benedict, though in nowise reluctant to part with the tiara, was determined to make the sacrifice a source of pecuniary profit. He therefore selected a priest, named Gratianus, who had acquired considerable reputation which had proved so advantageous as to greatly enrich Rome for being more than usually religious, and to him he sold the supreme office of church leadership. There was a party who wished for reforms in the church and they aided John Gratianus to purchase the office, in the hope that he would become their instrument in accomplishing these reforms. At all events, said Gratianus, by his own confession, bought the triple crown, and Pope Benedict consecrated with his blood-stained hands this hopeful successor of the Prince of the Apostles by the title of Gregory VI.
But poor Pope Benedict was yet doomed to disappointment. The father of the intended bride, mortified at the failure of his own schemes, refused to part with his daughter. And assuming that the papacy was still vacant, he nominated another, John, Bishop of Sabina, under the name of Sylvester III. And now Pope Benedict, enraged at the trick that had been played upon him, resolved to retain the supreme power of the church. He therefore, continued his abode in the Lateran and continued to style himself the most holy Pope. The world beheld in astonishment, three pontiffs at once, living in different palaces, and officiating at different altars in the papal holy city – Benedict performing priestly functions at the Lateran, Gregory in St. Peter’s, and Sylvester in the church of Maria Maggiore. “The afflicted church”, to use the language of that time wedded at once to three husbands, witnessed the celebration of many rival masses in the metropolis of Christendom.
We have limited space and cannot narrate all the horrible things that these spiritual combatants have done. The wars between the parties, the shedding of blood, and how the swords crossed over in battle over the tombs of the Apostles and Martyrs is something terrible. The dispute was at last settled by Henry III who convened a council of bishops and clergy at Sutria. At this council, Gregory presented himself in the hope of receiving the imperial sanction to his claim of popery. He was compelled, however, to confess that his claim rested on no better ground than that of simony, and he with his rivals received one sentence of deposition. At the return of Emperor Henry III to Germany, he took in his train the three deposed Popes. The new Pope took the name of Pope Clement II. This unfortunate Pope and his successor Pope Damasus both died of poison.
The dispute between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV is a long story to tell. This Pope whose original name was Hildebrand. He was the first Pope to claim infallibility and who ordered that the name Pope should be applied exclusively to the Bishop of Rome. He also was a champion of Papal supremacy over temporal sovereignty. He abolished the marriage of priests which he called fornication. The dispute between the Pope and the emperor will be continued.
RJM Note: This is no small thing. This Pope gives no attention to Holy Scripture and overthrows the decision of the Lord who established marriage as a holy and beautiful, saying: “It is not good for man to be alone!” Then He made woman for him. A married priest is not living in fornication, and St. Paul clearly blesses the married state of even a bishop. The Pope is the forerunner of protestantism, interpreting the Scripture, not as the Fathers, but to agree with their corrupted and inferior minds.
To be continued