The Western Schism

In the previous posts we had raised the investiture controversy, one sign of the interplay of civil and ecclesial authority, power, and mission. Even with the investiture controversy “on the back burner” for the moment, the siren’s call of power and influence revealed its presence. By the start of the 14th century, the papacy was firmly ensconced in the mix of European politics. Pope Boniface VIII famously claimed all spiritual and temporal power, i.e., all kings ruled at the good pleasure and grace of the pope. It was an age of expanding national powers and the decline of the Holy Roman Empire. Pope Urban locked horns with Phillip IV of France. Phillip was a major proponent of separation of church and state, immediately taking the initiative to remove all priests from civil positions and to tax them as citizens of the realm.

Boniface excommunicated Phillip who responded by decreeing laws prohibiting the export of gold, silver, precious stones, or food from France to the Papal States. These measures had the effect of blocking a main source of papal revenue. Philip also banished from France the papal agents who were raising funds for a new crusade in the Middle East.

Money ever an ingredient in the stew pot of civil and ecclesial life; ever incendiary at their intersection. Continue reading