Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, Rome, 2010
Papacy began 19 April 2005
Papacy ended Incumbent
Predecessor John Paul II
Ordination 29 June 1951
by Michael von Faulhaber
Consecration 28 May 1977
by Josef Stangl
Created Cardinal 27 June 1977
Personal details
Birth name Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger
Born 16 April 1927 (age 85)
Marktl, Bavaria, Germany
Nationality German (along with Vatican citizenship)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., Maria Peintner
Previous post
Motto cooperatores veritatis (cooperators of the truth)[1]
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Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Other Popes named Benedict
Ordination History
Diaconal ordination
Ordained by Johannes Baptist Neuhäusler
Date of ordination 29 October 1950
Priestly ordination
Ordained by Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber
Date of ordination 29 June 1951
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator Josef Stangl
Co-consecrator Rudolf Graber
Co-consecrator Ernst Tewes
Date of consecration 28 May 1977
Bishops consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI as principal consecrator
Alberto Bovone 12 May 1984
Zygmunt Zimowski 25 May 2002
Josef Clemens 6 January 2004
Bruno Forte 8 September 2004
Mieczysław Mokrzycki 29 September 2007
Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro 29 September 2007
Gianfranco Ravasi 29 September 2007
Tommaso Caputo 29 September 2007
Sergio Pagano 29 September 2007
Vincenzo Di Mauro 29 September 2007
Gabriele Giordano Caccia 12 September 2009
Franco Coppola 12 September 2009
Pietro Parolin 12 September 2009
Raffaello Martinelli 12 September 2009
Giorgio Corbellini 12 September 2009

Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus PP. XVI; Italian: Benedetto XVI; Spanish: Benedicto XVI; German: Benedikt XVI.; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger; 16 April 1927) is the 265th Pope,[2] a position in which he serves dual roles as Sovereign of the Vatican City State and leader of the Catholic Church. As Pope, he is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter the Apostle. Benedict XVI was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005. A native of Bavaria, Pope Benedict XVI has both German and Vatican citizenship. On 11 February 2013, Benedict XVI announced that he would resign the papacy, effective 28 February, due to age and ill health,[3] becoming the first pope to resign since 1415, and the first to do so voluntarily since 1294.[4][5]

Ordained as a priest in 1951, Ratzinger established himself as a highly regarded university theologian by the late 1950s and was appointed a full professor in 1958. After a long career as an academic, serving as a professor of theology at several German universities—the last being the University of Regensburg, where he served as Vice President of the university 1976–1977—he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little pastoral experience. In 1981, he settled in Rome when he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most important dicasteries of the Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as Pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals, and as such the primus inter pares among the cardinals. Prior to becoming Pope, he was “a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century” as “one of the most respected, influential and controversial members of the College of Cardinals”; he had an influence “second to none when it came to setting church priorities and directions” as one of Pope John Paul II‘s closest confidants.[6]

Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI is theologically conservative in his teaching and his prolific[7] writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI has advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many developed countries. He views relativism‘s denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He teaches the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God’s redemptive love. He has reaffirmed the “importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work.”[8] Pope Benedict has also revived a number of traditions including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position.[9]



Pope Benedict XVI at a private audience on 20 January 2006

Benedict XVI was elected Pope at the age of 78. He is the oldest person to have been elected Pope since Pope Clement XII (1730–40). He had served longer as a cardinal than any Pope since Benedict XIII (1724–30). He is the ninth German Pope, the eighth having been the Dutch-German Pope Adrian VI (1522–23) from Utrecht. The last Pope named Benedict was Benedict XV, an Italian who reigned from 1914 to 1922, during World War I (1914–18).

Born in 1927 in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany, Ratzinger had a distinguished career as a university theologian before being appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI (1963–78). Shortly afterwards, he was made a cardinal in the consistory of 27 June 1977. He was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and was also assigned the honorific title of the cardinal bishop of Velletri-Segni on 5 April 1993. In 1998, he was elected sub-dean of the College of Cardinals. On 30 November 2002, he was elected dean, taking, as is customary, the title of cardinal bishop of the suburbicarian diocese of Ostia. He was the first Dean of the College elected Pope since Paul IV (1555–59) and the first cardinal bishop elected Pope since Pius VIII (1829–30).

Even before becoming Pope, Ratzinger was one of the most influential men in the Roman Curia, and was a close associate of John Paul II. As Dean of the College of Cardinals, he presided over the funeral of John Paul II and over the Mass immediately preceding the 2005 conclave in which he was elected. During the service, he called on the assembled cardinals to hold fast to the doctrine of the faith. He was the public face of the church in the sede vacante period, although, technically, he ranked below the Camerlengo in administrative authority during that time. Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI affirms traditional Catholic doctrine.

In addition to his native German, Benedict speaks French and Italian fluently. He also has a very good command of Latin and speaks English and Spanish adequately. Furthermore, he has some knowledge of Portuguese. He can read Ancient Greek and biblical Hebrew.[10] He has stated that his first foreign language is French. He is a member of several scientific academies, such as the French Académie des sciences morales et politiques. He plays the piano and has a preference for Mozart and Bach.[11]

Early life: 1927–51

Marktl, the house where Ratzinger was born. The building still stands today.

Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born on 16 April, Holy Saturday, 1927, at Schulstraße 11, at 8:30 in the morning in his parents’ home in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. He was baptised the same day. He was the third and youngest child of Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., a police officer, and Maria Ratzinger (née Peintner). His mother’s family was originally from South Tyrol (now in Italy).[citation needed] Pope Benedict XVI’s brother, Georg Ratzinger, a priest and former director of the Regensburger Domspatzen choir, is still alive. His sister, Maria Ratzinger, who never married, managed Cardinal Ratzinger’s household until her death in 1991. Their grand-uncle was the German politician Georg Ratzinger.

At the age of five, Ratzinger was in a group of children who welcomed the visiting Cardinal Archbishop of Munich with flowers. Struck by the cardinal’s distinctive garb, he later announced the very same day that he wanted to be a cardinal.

Ratzinger attended the elementary school in Aschau am Inn, which was renamed in his honour in 2009.[12]

Following his 14th birthday in 1941, Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth—as membership was required by law for all 14-year-old German boys after December 1939[13]—but was an unenthusiastic member who refused to attend meetings, according to his brother.[14] In 1941, one of Ratzinger’s cousins, a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome, was taken away by the Nazi regime and murdered during the Action T4 campaign of Nazi eugenics.[15] In 1943, while still in seminary, he was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps as Luftwaffenhelfer (air force child soldier).[14] Ratzinger then trained in the German infantry.[16] As the Allied front drew closer to his post in 1945, he deserted back to his family’s home in Traunstein after his unit had ceased to exist, just as American troops established their headquarters in the Ratzinger household.[17] As a German soldier, he was put in a POW camp but was released a few months later at the end of the war in the summer of 1945.[17] He reentered the seminary, along with his brother Georg, in November of that year.

Thus, following repatriation in 1945, the two brothers entered Saint Michael Seminary in Traunstein, later studying at the Ducal Georgianum (Herzogliches Georgianum) of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. They were both ordained in Freising on 29 June 1951 by Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Munich. Ratzinger recalled:

…at the moment the elderly Archbishop laid his hands on me, a little bird – perhaps a lark – flew up from the altar in the high cathedral and trilled a little joyful song.[18]

Ratzinger’s 1953 dissertation was on St. Augustine and was titled The People and the House of God in Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church. His Habilitation (which qualified him for a professorship) was on Bonaventure. It was completed in 1957 and he became a professor of Freising College in 1958.

Pre-papal career

Academic career: 1951–77

Ratzinger became a professor at the University of Bonn in 1959; his inaugural lecture was on “The God of Faith and the God of Philosophy”. In 1963, he moved to the University of Münster.

During this period, Ratzinger participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Ratzinger served as a peritus (theological consultant) to Cardinal Frings of Cologne. He was viewed during the time of the Council as a reformer, cooperating with theologians like Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx. Ratzinger became an admirer of Karl Rahner, a well-known academic theologian of the Nouvelle Théologie and a proponent of church reform.

In 1966, Ratzinger was appointed to a chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tübingen, where he was a colleague of Hans Küng. In his 1968 book Introduction to Christianity, he wrote that the pope has a duty to hear differing voices within the Church before making a decision, and he downplayed the centrality of the papacy. During this time, he distanced himself from the atmosphere of Tübingen and the Marxist leanings of the student movement of the 1960s that quickly radicalised, in the years 1967 and 1968, culminating in a series of disturbances and riots in April and May 1968. Ratzinger came increasingly to see these and associated developments (such as decreasing respect for authority among his students) as connected to a departure from traditional Catholic teachings.[19] Despite his reformist bent, his views increasingly came to contrast with the liberal ideas gaining currency in theological circles.[20]

Some voices, among them Hans Küng, deem this a turn towards conservatism, while Ratzinger himself said in a 1993 interview, “I see no break in my views as a theologian [over the years]”.[21] Ratzinger has continued to defend the work of the Second Vatican Council, including Nostra Aetate, the document on respect of other religions, ecumenism and the declaration of the right to freedom of religion. Later, as the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger most clearly spelled out the Catholic Church’s position on other religions in the 2000 document Dominus Iesus which also talks about the Roman Catholic way to engage in “ecumenical dialogue”.

During his years at Tübingen University, Ratzinger published articles in the reformist theological journal Concilium, though he increasingly chose less reformist themes than other contributors to the magazine such as Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx.

In 1969, he returned to Bavaria, to the University of Regensburg. He founded the theological journal Communio, with Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Walter Kasper and others, in 1972. Communio, now published in seventeen languages, including German, English and Spanish, has become a prominent journal of contemporary Catholic theological thought. Until his election as Pope, he remained one of the journal’s most prolific contributors. In 1976, he suggested that the Augsburg Confession might possibly be recognised as a Catholic statement of faith.[22][23]

He served as Vice President of the University of Regensburg from 1976 to 1977.[24]

Archbishop of Munich and Freising: 1977–82

Palais Holnstein in Munich, the residence of Benedict as Archbishop of Munich and Freising

On 24 March 1977, Ratzinger was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising. He took as his episcopal motto Cooperatores Veritatis (Co-workers of the Truth) from 3 John 8, a choice he comments upon in his autobiographical work, Milestones. In the consistory of the following 27 June, he was named Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino by Pope Paul VI. By the time of the 2005 Conclave, he was one of only 14 remaining cardinals appointed by Paul VI, and one of only three of those under the age of 80. Of these, only he and William Wakefield Baum took part in the conclave.[25]

Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: 1981–2005

On 25 November 1981, Pope John Paul II named Ratzinger as the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the “Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office“, the historical Roman Inquisition. Consequently, he resigned his post at Munich in early 1982. He was promoted within the College of Cardinals to become Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni in 1993 and was made the college’s vice-dean in 1998 and dean in 2002. Just a year after its foundation in 1990 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger joined the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg/Austria in 1991.[26][27]

Ratzinger defended and reaffirmed Catholic doctrine, including teaching on topics such as birth control, homosexuality, and inter-religious dialogue. The theologian Leonardo Boff, for example, was suspended, while others were censured. Other issues also prompted condemnations or revocations of rights to teach: for instance, some posthumous writings of Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello were the subject of a notification. Ratzinger and the congregation viewed many of them, particularly the later works, as having an element of religious indifferentism (i.e., Christ was “one master alongside others”). In particular, Dominus Iesus, published by the congregation in the jubilee year 2000, reaffirmed many recently “unpopular” ideas, including the Catholic Church’s position that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” The document angered many Protestant churches by claiming that they are not actually churches, but “ecclesial communities”.[28]

Ratzinger’s 2001 letter De delictis gravioribus clarified the confidentiality of internal church investigations, as defined in the 1962 document Crimen Sollicitationis, into accusations made against priests of certain crimes, including sexual abuse. This became a target of controversy during the sex abuse scandal.[29] As a Cardinal, Raztinger had been for twenty years the man in charge of enforcing the document.[30] While bishops hold the secrecy pertained only internally, and did not preclude investigation by civil law enforcement, the letter was often seen as promoting a coverup.[31] Later, as Pope, he was accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys in Texas, but sought and obtained diplomatic immunity from prosecution.[32]

On 12 March 1983, Ratzinger, as prefect, notified the lay faithful and the clergy that archbishop Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc had incurred excommunication latae sententiae for illicit episcopal consecrations without the apostolic mandate.

In 1997, when he turned 70, Ratzinger asked Pope John Paul II for permission to leave the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and to become an archivist in the Vatican Secret Archives and a librarian in the Vatican Library, but the pope refused such permission.[33][34]

Papacy (2005-2013)

Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, Rome

Election to the papacy

Main article: Papal conclave, 2005

On 2 January 2005, Time magazine quoted unnamed Vatican sources as saying that Ratzinger was a front runner to succeed John Paul II should the pope die or become too ill to continue as pope. On the death of John Paul II, the Financial Times gave the odds of Ratzinger becoming pope as 7–1, the lead position, but close to his rivals on the liberal wing of the church. In April 2005, before his election as pope, he was identified as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time. While Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger repeatedly stated he would like to retire to his house in the Bavarian village of Pentling near Regensburg and dedicate himself to writing books.

Though Ratzinger was increasingly considered the front runner by much of the international media, others maintained that his election was far from certain, since very few papal predictions in modern history had come true. The elections of both John Paul II and his predecessor, John Paul I had been rather unexpected. Despite being the favorite (or perhaps because he was the favorite), it was a surprise to many that he was actually elected, as traditionally the frontrunners are passed over by the conclave for someone else.

On 19 April 2005, Ratzinger was elected as the successor to Pope John Paul II on the second day of the papal conclave after four ballots. Ratzinger had hoped to retire peacefully and said that “At a certain point, I prayed to God ‘please don’t do this to me’…Evidently, this time He didn’t listen to me.”[35] Coincidentally, 19 April is the feast of St. Leo IX, the most important German pope of the Middle Ages, known for instituting major reforms during his pontificate.

Before his first appearance at the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica after becoming pope, he was announced by Jorge Medina Estévez, Cardinal Protodeacon of the Holy Roman Church. Cardinal Medina Estévez first addressed the massive crowd as “dear(est) brothers and sisters” in Italian, Spanish, French, German and English, with each language receiving cheers from the international crowd, before continuing with the traditional Habemus Papam announcement in Latin.

At the balcony, Benedict’s first words to the crowd, given in Italian before he gave the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing in Latin, were:

Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with insufficient instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help, let us move forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother, will be on our side. Thank you.[36]

On 24 April, he celebrated the Papal Inauguration Mass in St. Peter’s Square, during which he was invested with the Pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman. Then, on 7 May, he took possession of his cathedral church, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

Choice of name

Ratzinger chose the pontifical name Benedict, which comes from the Latin word meaning “the blessed”, in honour of both Pope Benedict XV and Saint Benedict of Nursia. Pope Benedict XV was Pope during the First World War, during which time he passionately pursued peace between the warring nations. St. Benedict of Nursia was the founder of the Benedictine monasteries (most monasteries of the Middle Ages were of the Benedictine order) and the author of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which is still the most influential writing regarding the monastic life of Western Christianity.

The pope explained his choice of name during his first General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, on 27 April 2005:

Filled with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples. Additionally, I recall Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I ask him to help us all to hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our Christian life: May Christ always take first place in our thoughts and actions![37]

Tone of papacy

Pope Benedict XVI’s first trip in a Popemobile

During his inaugural Mass, the previous custom of every cardinal submitting to the Pope was replaced by having twelve people, including cardinals, clergy, religious, a married couple and their child, and newly confirmed people, greet him. (The cardinals had formally sworn their obedience upon his election.) He began using an open-topped papal car, saying that he wanted to be closer to the people. Pope Benedict has continued the tradition of his predecessor John Paul II and baptises several infants in the Sistine Chapel at the beginning of each year, in his pastoral role as Bishop of Rome.


On 9 May 2005, Benedict XVI began the beatification process for his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Normally, five years must pass after a person’s death before the beatification process can begin. However, in an audience with Pope Benedict, Camillo Ruini, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome and the official responsible for promoting the cause for canonization of any person who dies within that diocese, cited “exceptional circumstances” which suggested that the waiting period could be waived. This happened before, when Pope Paul VI waived the five-year rule and announced beatification processes for his predecessors, Pope Pius XII and Pope John XXIII. Benedict XVI followed this precedent when he waived the five-year rule for John Paul II.[38] The decision was announced on 13 May 2005, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima and the 24th anniversary of the attempt on John Paul II’s life.[39] John Paul II often credited Our Lady of Fátima for preserving him on that day. Cardinal Ruini inaugurated the diocesan phase of the cause for beatification in the Lateran Basilica on 28 June 2005.[40]

The first beatification under the new Pope was celebrated on 14 May 2005, by José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The new Blesseds were Mother Marianne Cope and Mother Ascensión Nicol Goñi. Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen was beatified on 9 October 2005. Mariano de la Mata was beatified in November 2006 and Rosa Eluvathingal was beatified 3 December of that year, and Fr. Basil Moreau was beatified September 2007.[41] In October 2008 the following beatifications took place: Celestine of the Mother of God, Giuseppina Nicoli, Hendrina Stenmanns, Maria Rosa Flesch, Marta Anna Wiecka, Michael Sopocko, Petrus Kibe Kasui and 187 Companions, Susana Paz-Castillo Ramirez, Maria Isbael Salvat Romero, and John Henry Newman.

Unlike his predecessor, Benedict XVI delegated the beatification liturgical service to a Cardinal. On 29 September 2005, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a communiqué announcing that henceforth beatifications would be celebrated by a representative of the Pope, usually the Prefect of that Congregation.[42]


Pope Benedict at the canonization of Frei Galvão

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his first canonizations on 23 October 2005 in St. Peter’s Square when he canonized Josef Bilczewski, Alberto Hurtado SJ, Zygmunt Gorazdowski, Gaetano Catanoso, and Felice da Nicosia. The canonizations were part of a Mass that marked the conclusion of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and the Year of the Eucharist.[43] Pope Benedict XVI canonized Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia, Mother Theodore Guerin, Filippo Smaldone, and Rosa Venerini on 15 October 2006.

During his visit to Brazil in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI presided over the canonization of Frei Galvão on 11 May, while George Preca, founder of the Malta based M.U.S.E.U.M., Szymon of Lipnica, Charles of Mount Argus, and Marie-Eugénie de Jésus were canonized in a ceremony held at the Vatican on 3 June 2007.[44] Preca is the first Maltese saint since the country’s conversion to Christianity in 60 A.D. when St. Paul converted the inhabitants.[45] In October 2008 the following canonizations took place: Saint Alphonsa of India,[46] Gaetano Errico, Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran, Maria Bernarda Bütler. In April 2009 he canonized Arcangelo Tadini, Bernardo Tolomei, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Geltrude Comensoli, Caterina Volpicelli.[47] In October of the same year he canonized Jeanne Jugan, Jozef Damian de Veuster, Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński, Francisco Coll Guitart and Rafael Arnáiz Barón.[48][49]

On 17 October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI formally declared sainthood for Saint André Bessette, a French-Canadian; Stanislaw Soltys, a 15th-century Polish priest; Italian nuns Giulia Salzano and Camilla Battista da Varano; Spanish nun Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola and an Australian nun, Mother Mary MacKillop.[50]

On 23 October 2011, Pope Benedict XVI canonized three saints: a Spanish nun Bonifacia Rodriguez y Castro, Italian archbishop Guido Maria Conforti, and Italian priest Luigi Guanella.[51]

In December 2011, Pope Benedict formally recognized the validity of the miracles necessary to proceed with the canonizations of Kateri Tekakwitha, who will be the first Native American saint, Marianne Cope, a nun working with lepers in what is now the state of Hawaii, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian priest, Jacques Berthieu a French Jesuit priest and African martyr, Carmen Salles y Barangueras, a Spanish nun and founder of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Peter Calungsod, a lay catechist and martyr from the Philippines, and Anna Schaffer whose desire to be a missionary was unfulfilled on account of her illness.[52] They were canonized on 21 October 2012.[53]

Doctors of the Church

On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Hildegard of Bingen and John of Avila Doctors of the Church, the 34th and 35th individuals so recognised in the history of Christianity. His predecessor had only named one Doctor of the Church during his papacy.[54]

Curia reform

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Holy See

Pope Benedict began downsizing the Roman Curia when he merged four existing pontifical councils into two in March 2006. The Pontifical Council for Migrants was merged with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace headed by Cardinal Martino. Likewise, Cardinal Poupard, who headed the Pontifical Council for Culture, now also oversees the operations of what had been the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, though both Councils maintained separate officials and staffs while their status and competencies continued unchanged. In May 2007 it was decided that Interreligious Dialogue would again become a separate body under a different President. In June 2010 Benedict created the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. He appointed Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella as its first president.


As Pope, one of Benedict XVI’s main roles is to teach about the Catholic faith and the solutions to the problems of discerning and living the faith,[55] a role that he can play well as a former head of the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The main points of emphasis of his teachings are stated in more detail in Theology of Pope Benedict XVI.

“Friendship with Jesus Christ”

At the conclusion of his first homily as Pope, Benedict referred to both Jesus Christ and John Paul II. Citing John Paul II’s well-known words, “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!”, Benedict XVI said:

Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us?…And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation….When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.[56]

Benedict XVI: “The Eucharist is the enduring presence of Jesus’ self-oblation.” (Deus Caritas Est)

“Friendship with Jesus Christ” is a frequent theme of his preaching.[57][58] He stressed that on this intimate friendship, “everything depends.”[59] He has also said: “We are all called to open ourselves to this friendship with God… speaking to him as to a friend, the only One who can make the world both good and happy… That is all we have to do is put ourselves at his disposal…is an extremely important message. It is a message that helps to overcome what can be considered the great temptation of our time: the claim, that after the Big Bang, God withdrew from history.”[60] Thus, in his book Jesus of Nazareth, his main purpose was “to help foster [in the reader] the growth of a living relationship” with Jesus Christ.[59]

He took up this theme in his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est. In his personal explanation and summary of the encyclical, he stated: “If friendship with God becomes for us something ever more important and decisive, then we will begin to love those whom God loves and who are in need of us. God wants us to be friends of his friends and we can be so, if we are interiorly close to them.”[61] Thus, he said that prayer is “urgently needed…It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work.”

“Dictatorship of Relativism”

Continuing what he said in the pre-conclave Mass about what he has often referred to as the “central problem of our faith today”,[62] on 6 June 2005 Pope Benedict also said:

Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognising nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own ego.[63]

He said that “a dictatorship of relativism”[64] was the core challenge facing the church and humanity. At the root of this problem, he said, is Kant‘s “self-limitation of reason”. This, he said, is contradictory to the modern acclamation of science whose excellence is based on the power of reason to know the truth. He said that this self-amputation of reason leads to pathologies of religion such as terrorism and pathologies of science such as ecological disasters.[65] Benedict traced the failed revolutions and violent ideologies of the 20th century to a conversion of partial points of view into absolute guides. He said “Absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is called totalitarianism.”[66]

In an address to a conference of the Diocese of Rome held at the basilica of St. John Lateran 6 June 2005, Benedict remarked on the issues of same sex marriage and abortion:

The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man…from here it becomes all the more clear how contrary it is to human love, to the profound vocation of man and woman, to systematically close their union to the gift of life, and even worse to suppress or tamper with the life that is born.[67]

Christianity as religion according to reason

In the discussion with secularism and rationalism, one of Benedict’s basic ideas can be found in his address on the “Crisis of Culture” in the West, a day before Pope John Paul II died, when he referred to Christianity as the Religion of the Logos (the Greek for “word”, “reason”, “meaning”, or “intelligence”). He said:

From the beginning, Christianity has understood itself as the religion of the Logos, as the religion according to reason…It has always defined men, all men without distinction, as creatures and images of God, proclaiming for them…the same dignity. In this connection, the Enlightenment is of Christian origin and it is no accident that it was born precisely and exclusively in the realm of the Christian faith….It was and is the merit of the Enlightenment to have again proposed these original values of Christianity and of having given back to reason its own voice… Today, this should be precisely [Christianity’s] philosophical strength, in so far as the problem is whether the world comes from the irrational, and reason is not other than a ‘sub-product,’ on occasion even harmful of its development—or whether the world comes from reason, and is, as a consequence, its criterion and goal…In the so necessary dialogue between secularists and Catholics, we Christians must be very careful to remain faithful to this fundamental line: to live a faith that comes from the Logos, from creative reason, and that, because of this, is also open to all that is truly rational.[68]

Benedict also emphasised that “Only creative reason, which in the crucified God is manifested as love, can really show us the way.”


Pope Benedict has to date written three encyclicals: Deus Caritas Est (Latin for “God is Love”), Spe Salvi (“Saved by Hope”), and Caritas in Veritate (“Love in Truth”).

In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, he said that a human being, created in the image of God who is love, is able to practice love: to give himself to God and others (agape), by receiving and experiencing God’s love in contemplation. This life of love, according to him, is the life of the saints such as Teresa of Calcutta and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is the direction Christians take when they believe that God loves them in Jesus Christ.[69]

The encyclical contains almost 16,000 words in 42 paragraphs. The first half is said to have been written by Benedict in German, his mother tongue, in the summer of 2005; the second half is derived from uncompleted writings left by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.[70] The document was signed by Pope Benedict on Christmas Day, 25 December 2005.[71] The encyclical was promulgated a month later in Latin and was translated into English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. It is the first encyclical to be published since the Vatican decided to assert copyright in the official writings of the Pope.[72]

Pope Benedict’s second encyclical titled Spe Salvi (“Saved by Hope”), about the virtue of hope, was released on 30 November 2007.[73][74]

Benedict’s third encyclical titled Caritas in Veritate (“Love in Truth” or “Charity in Truth”), was signed on 29 June 2009 (the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul) and released on 7 July 2009.[75] In it, the Pope continued the Church’s teachings on social justice. He condemned the prevalent economic system “where the pernicious effects of sin are evident,” and called on people to rediscover ethics in business and economic relations.[75]

Post-synodal apostolic exhortation

Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity) signed 22 February 2007, released in Latin, Italian, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Polish. It was made available in various languages 13 March 2007 in Rome. The English edition from Libera Editrice Vaticana is 158 pages. This apostolic exhortation “seeks to take up the richness and variety of the reflections and proposals which emerged from the recent Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops…” which was held in 2006.[76]

Motu proprio on Tridentine Mass

A pre-1969 Latin Rite altar with reredos.
The high altar of a church was usually preceded by three steps, below which were said the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Side altars usually had only one step.

On 7 July 2007, Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, declaring that upon “the request of the faithful”, celebration of Mass according to the Missal of 1962 (commonly known as the Tridentine Mass), was to be more easily permitted. Stable groups who previously had to petition their bishop to have a Tridentine Mass may now merely request permission from their local priest.[77] While Summorum Pontificum directs that pastors should provide the Tridentine Mass upon the requests of the faithful, it also allows for any qualified priest to offer private celebrations of the Tridentine Mass, to which the faithful may be admitted if they wish.[78] For regularly scheduled public celebrations of the Tridentine Mass, the permission of the priest in charge of the church is required.[79]

In an accompanying letter, the Pope outlined his position concerning questions about the new guidelines.[78] As there were fears that the move would entail a reversal of the Second Vatican Council,[80] Benedict emphasised that the Tridentine Mass would not detract from the Council, and that the Mass of Paul VI would still be the norm and priests were not permitted to refuse to say the Mass in that form. He pointed out that use of Tridentine Mass “was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”[78] The letter also decried “deformations of the liturgy … because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal” as the Second Vatican Council was wrongly seen “as authorising or even requiring creativity”, mentioning his own experience.[78]

The Pope considered that allowing the Tridentine Mass to those who request it was a means to prevent or heal schism, stating that, on occasions in history, “not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity” and that this “imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.”[78] Many feel the decree aimed at ending the schism between the Holy See and traditionalist groups such as the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the president of the Pontifical Commission established for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of those associated with that Society,[81] stated that the decree “opened the door for their return”. Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, expressed “deep gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this great spiritual benefit”.[77]

Unicity and salvific universality of the Catholic Church

Near the end of June 2007, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document approved by Benedict XVI “because some contemporary theological interpretations of Vatican II‘s ecumenical intent had been ‘erroneous or ambiguous’ and had prompted confusion and doubt.”[82] The document has been seen as restating “key sections of a 2000 text the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, Dominus Iesus.”[82]


[icon] This section requires expansion. (June 2008)

Benedict XVI has condemned excessive consumerism, especially among youth. He stated in December 2007 that “[A]dolescents, youths and even children are easy victims of the corruption of love, deceived by unscrupulous adults who, lying to themselves and to them, draw them into the dead-end streets of consumerism.”[83]

In June 2009, he blamed outsourcing for greater availability of consumer goods which lead to downsizing of social security systems.[84]

Ecumenical efforts

Speaking at his weekly audience in St Peter’s Square on 7 June 2006, Pope Benedict asserted that Jesus himself had entrusted the leadership of the Church to his apostle Peter. “Peter’s responsibility thus consists of guaranteeing the communion with Christ,” said Pope Benedict. “Let us pray so that the primacy of Peter, entrusted to poor human beings, may always be exercised in this original sense desired by the Lord, so that it will be increasingly recognised in its true meaning by brothers who are still not in communion with us.”

Also in 2006, Benedict met with Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican Communion. In their Common Declaration, they highlighted the previous 40 years of dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans while also acknowledging “serious obstacles to our ecumenical progress.”[85]

Benedict has also acknowledged the Lutheran church, saying that he has had friends in that organisation.

Dialogue with other religions

Pope Benedict is open to dialogue with other religious groups, and has sought to improve relations with them throughout his pontificate.[86][87] He has, however, generated certain controversies in doing so.


When Benedict ascended to the Papacy his election was welcomed by the Anti-Defamation League who noted “his great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust“.[88] However, his election received a more reserved response from the United Kingdom’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who hoped that Benedict would “continue along the path of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II in working to enhance relations with the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”[89] The Foreign Minister of Israel also offered more tentative praise, though the Minister believed that “this Pope, considering his historical experience, will be especially committed to an uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism.”[89]

Critics have accused Benedict’s papacy of insensitivity towards Judaism. The two most prominent instances were the expansion of the use of the Tridentine Mass and the lifting of the excommunication on four bishops from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). In the Good Friday service, the traditional Mass rubrics include a prayer that asks God to lift the veil so they [Jews] may be delivered from their darkness. This prayer has historically been contentious in Judaic-Catholic relations and several groups saw the restoration of the Tridentine Mass as problematic.[90][91][92][93][94] Among those whose excommunications were lifted was Bishop Richard Williamson, an outspoken historical revisionist sometimes interpreted as a Holocaust denier.[95][96][97][98] The lifting of his excommunication led critics to charge that the Pope was condoning his historical revisionist views.[99]


Pope Benedict’s relations with Islam have been strained at times. On 12 September 2006 Pope Benedict XVI delivered a lecture which touched on Islam at the University of Regensburg in Germany. The pope had previously served as professor of theology at the university, and his lecture was entitled “Faith, Reason and the University—Memories and Reflections”. The lecture received much attention from political and religious authorities. Many Islamic politicians and religious leaders registered their protest against what they said was an insulting mischaracterisation of Islam, although his focus was aimed towards the rationality of religious violence, and its effect on the religion.[100][101] Muslims were particularly offended by the following quotation from the Pope’s speech:

Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.[101]

The passage originally appeared in the Dialogue Held with a Certain Persian, the Worthy Mouterizes, in Anakara of Galatia[102][103] written in 1391 as an expression of the views of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, one of the last Christian rulers before the Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire, on such issues as forced conversion, holy war, and the relationship between faith and reason. According to the German text, the Pope’s original comment was that the emperor “addresses his interlocutor in an astoundingly harsh—to us surprisingly harsh—way” (wendet er sich in erstaunlich schroffer, uns überraschend schroffer Form).[104] Pope Benedict apologised for any offence he had caused and made a point of visiting Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, and praying in its Blue Mosque.

Pope Benedict XVI planned on 5 March 2008, to meet with Muslim scholars and religious leaders autumn 2008 at a Catholic-Muslim seminar in Rome.[105] That meeting, the “First Meeting of the Catholic-Muslim Forum,” was held from 4–6 November 2008.[106]

On 9 May 2009 H.H. Pope Benedict XVI visited the King Hussein Mosque, Amman, Jordan where he was addressed by H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal.[86]

Tibetan Buddhism

The Dalai Lama congratulated Pope Benedict XVI upon his election,[107] and visited him in October 2006 in the Vatican City. In 2007 China was accused of using its political influence to stop a meeting between the Pope and the Dalai Lama.[108]

Indigenous American beliefs

While visiting Brazil in May 2007, “the pope sparked controversy by saying that native populations had been ‘silently longing’ for the Christian faith brought to South America by colonizers.”[109] The Pope continued, stating that “the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.”[109] President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez demanded an apology, and an indigenous organisation in Ecuador issued a response which stated that “representatives of the Catholic Church of those times, with honourable exceptions, were accomplices, deceivers and beneficiaries of one of the most horrific genocides of all humanity.”[109] Later, the pope, speaking Italian, said at a weekly audience that it was:

“not possible to forget the suffering and the injustices inflicted by colonizers against the indigenous population, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled.”[110]

International Society for Krishna Consciousness

While visiting the United States on 17 April 2008, Benedict met with International Society for Krishna Consciousness representative Radhika Ramana Dasa;[111] a notable Hindu scholar[112] and disciple of Hanumatpreshaka Swami.[113] On behalf of the Hindu American community, Radhika Ramana Dasa presented a gift of an Om symbol to Benedict.[114][115]

Apostolic ministry

Pope Benedict XVI in a Mercedes-Benz popemobile in São Paulo, Brazil

As Pontiff, Benedict XVI carries out numerous Apostolic activities including journeys across the world and in the Vatican.

Benedict travelled extensively during the first three years of his papacy. In addition to his travels within Italy, Pope Benedict XVI has made two visits to his homeland, Germany, one for World Youth Day and another to visit the towns of his childhood. He has also visited Poland and Spain, where he was enthusiastically received.[116] His visit to Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, was initially overshadowed by the controversy about a lecture he had given at Regensburg. His visit was met by nationalist and Islamic protesters[117] and was placed under unprecedented security measures.[118] However, the trip went ahead and Benedict made a joint declaration with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in an attempt to begin to heal the rift between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

In 2007, Pope Benedict visited Brazil in order to address the Bishops’ Conference there and canonize Friar Antônio Galvão, an 18th century Franciscan. In June 2007, Benedict made a personal pilgrimage and pastoral visit to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. In September, Benedict undertook a three-day visit to Austria,[119] during which he joined Vienna’s Chief Rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in a memorial to the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps.[120] During his stay in Austria, he also celebrated Mass at the Marian shrine Mariazell and visited Heiligenkreuz Abbey.[121]

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 81st birthday with U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. The White House, Washington D.C.

In April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI made his first visit to the United States since becoming pope.[122] He arrived in Washington, DC where he was formally received at the White House and met privately with U.S. President George W. Bush.[123] While in Washington, the pope addressed representatives of US Catholic universities, met with leaders of other world religions, and celebrated Mass at the Washington Nationals’ baseball stadium with 47,000 people.[124] The Pope also met privately with victims of sexual abuse by priests. The pope travelled to New York where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly.[125] Also while in New York, the pope celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, met with disabled children and their families, and attended an event for Catholic youth, where he addressed some 25,000 young people in attendance.[126] On the final day of the pope’s visit, he visited the World Trade Center site and later celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium.[127]

In July 2008, the Pope travelled to Australia to attend World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. On 19 July, in St. Mary’s Cathedral, he made an apology for child sex abuse perpetrated by the clergy in Australia.[128][129] On 13 September 2008, at an outdoor Paris Mass attended by 250,000 people, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the modern materialism – the world’s love of power, possessions and money as a modern-day plague, comparing it to paganism.[130][131]

In 2009, he visited Africa (Cameroon and Angola) for the first time as a Pope. During his visit, he suggested that altering sexual behavior was the answer to Africa’s AIDS crisis, and urged Catholics to reach out and convert believers in sorcery.

He visited the Middle East (Jordan, Israel and Palestine) in May 2009.

Pope Benedict’s main arena for pastoral activity is the Vatican itself, his Christmas and Easter homilies and Urbi et Orbi are delivered from St Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican is also the only regular place where the Pope travels via motor without the protective bulletproof case common to most popemobiles. Despite the more secure setting Pope Benedict has been victim to security risks several times inside Vatican City. On Wednesday, 6 June 2007 during his General Audience a man leapt across a barrier, evaded guards and nearly mounted the Pope’s vehicle, although he was stopped and Benedict seemed to be unaware of the event. On Thursday, 24 December 2009, while Pope Benedict was proceeding to the altar to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass at St Peter’s Basilica, a woman later identified as 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo, who holds Italian and Swiss citizenships, jumped the barrier and grabbed the pope by his vestments and pulled him to the ground. The 82-year-old fell but was assisted to his feet and he continued to proceed towards the altar to celebrate Mass. Roger Etchegaray, 87, the vice-dean of the College of Cardinals, fell also and suffered a hip fracture. Italian police reported that the woman had previously attempted to accost the Pope at the previous Christmas Eve Mass, but was prevented from doing so.[132][133]

Pope Benedict XVI in Balzan, Malta.

In his homily, Pope Benedict forgave Susanna Maiolo[134] and urged the world to “wake up” from selfishness and petty affairs, and find time for God and spiritual matters.[132]

Between 17 and 18 April, Pope Benedict made an Apostolic Journey to the Republic of Malta. Following meetings with various dignitaries on his first day on the island, 50,000 people gathered in a drizzle for Papal Mass on the granaries in Floriana. The Pope also met with the Maltese youth at the Valletta Waterfront, where an estimated 10,000 young people turned up to greet him.[135] During his visit the Pope was moved to tears while expressing his shame at cases of abuse on the island during a 20-minute meeting with victims.[136]

Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

Prior to 2001, the primary responsibility for investigating allegations of sexual abuse and disciplining perpetrators rested with the individual dioceses. In 2001, Ratzinger convinced John Paul II to put the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in charge of all investigations and policies surrounding sexual abuse in order to combat such abuse more efficiently.[137][138] According to John L. Allen, Jr., Ratzinger in the following years “acquired a familiarity with the contours of the problem that virtually no other figure in the Catholic Church can claim” and “driven by that encounter with what he would later refer to as ‘filth’ in the Church, Ratzinger seems to have undergone something of a ‘conversion experience’ throughout 2003–04. From that point forward, he and his staff seemed driven by a convert’s zeal to clean up the mess”.[139] In his role as Head of the CFD, he “led important changes made in Church law: the inclusion in canon law of internet offences against children, the extension of child abuse offences to include the sexual abuse of all under 18, the case by case waiving of the statute of limitation and the establishment of a fast-track dismissal from the clerical state for offenders.”[140] As the Head of the CDF, Ratzinger developed a reputation for handling these cases. According to Charles J. Scicluna, a former prosecutor handling sexual abuse cases, “Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases, sine acceptione personarum (without exceptions)”.[139][141]

One of the cases Ratzinger pursued involved Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest and founder of the Legion of Christ, who had been accused repeatedly of sexual abuse. Biographer Andrea Tornielli suggested that Cardinal Ratzinger had wanted to take action against Marcial Maciel Degollado, but that John Paul II and other high-ranking officials, including several cardinals and notably the pope’s influential secretary Stanisław Dziwisz, prevented him from doing so.[138][142] According to Jason Berry, Angelo Sodano “pressured” Cardinal Ratzinger, who was “operating on the assumption that the charges were not justified”, to halt the proceedings against Maciel in 1999[143] When Maciel was honored by the Pope in 2004, new accusers came forward[143] and Cardinal Ratzinger “took it on himself to authorize an investigation of Maciel”[138] After Ratzinger became pope he began proceedings against Maciel and the Legion of Christ that forced Maciel out of active service in the Church.[137] On 1 May 2010 the Vatican issued a statement denouncing Maciel’s “very serious and objectively immoral acts”, which were “confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies” and represent “true crimes and manifest a life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment.” Pope Benedict also said he would appoint a special commission to examine the Legionaries’ constitution and open an investigation into its lay affiliate Regnum Christi.[144] Cardinal Christoph Schönborn explained that Ratzinger “made entirely clear efforts not to cover things up but to tackle and investigate them. This was not always met with approval in the Vatican”.[137][145] According to Schönborn, Cardinal Ratzinger had pressed John Paul II to investigate Hans Hermann Groër, an Austrian cardinal and friend of John Paul accused of sexual abuse, resulting in Groër’s resignation.[142]

In March 2010, the Pope sent a Pastoral Letter to the Catholic Church in Ireland addressing cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests to minors, expressing sorrow, and promising changes in the way accusations of abuse are dealt with.[146] Victim groups claim the letter failed to clarify if secular law enforcement has priority over canon law confidentiality pertaining to internal investigation of abuse allegations.[147][148][149][150] The Pope then promised to introduce measures that would ‘safeguard young people in the future’ and ‘bring to justice’ priests who were responsible for abuse.[136] In April, the Vatican issued guidelines on how existing Church law should be implemented. The guideline dictates that “Civil law concerning reporting of crimes… should always be followed.”[151] The guideline was intended to follow the norms established by U.S. bishops, but it does not require the reporting of “allegations” or crimes where reporting is not required by law.[152]

Pope Benedict XVI in choir dress with the red summer papal mozzetta, embroidered red stole, and the red papal shoes.


Pope Benedict XVI has re-introduced several papal garments which had previously fallen into disuse. Pope Benedict XVI resumed the use of the traditional red papal shoes, which had not been used since early in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Contrary to the initial speculation of the press that the shoes had been made by the Italian fashion house Prada, the Vatican announced that the shoes were provided by the pope’s personal shoemaker.[153]

On 21 December 2005, the pope once only wore the camauro, the traditional red papal hat usually worn in the winter. It had not been seen since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII (1958–1963). On 6 September 2006 the pope began wearing the red cappello romano (also called a saturno), a wide-brimmed hat for outdoor use. Rarely used by John Paul II, it was more widely worn by his predecessors.


Prior to his election as Pope in 2005, Ratzinger had hoped to retire—on account of age-related health problems, a long-held desire to have free time to write, and the retirement age for bishops (75)—and submitted his resignation as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith three times, but continued at his post in obedience to the wishes of Pope John Paul II. In September 1991, Ratzinger suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, which slightly impaired his eyesight temporarily but he recovered completely.[154] This was never affirmed – the official news was that Ratzinger fell and struck his head against a radiator – but an open secret known to the Conclave that elected him Pope.[155]

Since his election in April 2005 there have been several rumors about the Pope’s health but none of them have ever been confirmed. Early in his pontificate Pope Benedict XVI predicted a short reign which led to concerns about his health.[156] In May 2005, the Vatican announced that he had subsequently suffered another mild stroke. French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin further stated that since the first stroke, Ratzinger had been suffering from a heart condition as a result of his age, for which he is currently on medication. In late November 2006, Vatican insiders told the international press that the Pope had a routine examination of the heart.[155] A few days later an unconfirmed rumor emerged that Pope Benedict had undergone an operation in preparation for an eventual bypass operation but this rumor was only published by a small left-wing Italian newspaper and was never confirmed by any Vatican insider.[157]

On 17 July 2009, Benedict was hospitalized after falling and breaking his right wrist while on vacation in the Alps. His injuries were reported to be minor.[158]


On 11 February 2013, the Vatican confirmed Pope Benedict would resign the papacy on 28 February 2013 as a result of his advanced age,[159] becoming the first pope to do so since Gregory XII in 1415.[160] The move was considered unexpected.[161] In modern times, all popes have stayed in office until death. Benedict will be the first Pope to have resigned voluntarily since Pope Celestine V in 1294, and the first to leave the Papal office while still alive since Pope Gregory XII in 1415. [5]

In a statement, Benedict cited his deteriorating strength and the physical and mental demands of the papacy.[162] He also declared that he would continue to serve the church “through a life dedicated to prayer”.[162]

The resignation annoucement comes as the Pope is apparently suffering from Parkinson’s disease, which could prevent him from fulfilling his duties.[163]

Benedict said, addressing his Cardinals in Latin:[164]

Dear Brothers,I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.

However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects.

And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


Titles and styles

Papal styles of
Pope Benedict XVI
BXVI CoA like gfx PioM.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father

The official style of the Pope is His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI; in Latin, Benedictus XVI, Episcopus Romae.

However, his rarely used full title is: His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.

Before 1 March 2006, the list of titles also used to contain that of a “Patriarch of the West“, which traditionally appeared in that list of titles before “Primate of Italy”. The title of “Patriarch of the West” was first adopted in the year 642 by Pope Theodore I, but was rarely used since the East-West Schism of 1054. From the Orthodox perspective, authority in the Church could be traced to the five patriarchates of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. However, some Catholic theologians have argued that the term “Patriarch of the West” has no clear historical or theological basis and was introduced into the papal court in 1870 at the time of the First Vatican Council. Pope Benedict chose to remove the title at a time when discussions with the Orthodox churches have centered on the issue of papal primacy.


Arms of Pope Benedict XVI
The coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI was designed by then Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo (who later was created a Cardinal) soon after the papal election. Benedict’s coat of arms has omitted the papal tiara, which traditionally appears in the background to designate the Pope’s position as a worldly ruler like a king, replacing it with a simple mitre, emphasising his spiritual authority.[165]
BXVI CoA like gfx PioM.svg
Gules, chape in or, with the scallop shell of the second; the dexter chape with a moor’s head in natural colour, crowned and collared of the first, the sinister chape a bear trippant in natural colour, carrying a pack gules belted sable
Scallop shell: The symbolism of the scallop shell is multiple; one reference is to Saint Augustine. While a doctoral candidate in 1953, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger wrote his dissertation on The People of God and the House of God in Augustine’s Teaching is always about the Church, and therefore has a personal connection with the thought of this great Doctor of the Church.
Moor of Freising: The Moor’s head is an heraldic charge associated with Freising, Germany.
Corbinian’s bear: A legend states that while travelling to Rome, Saint Corbinian’s pack horse was killed by a bear. He commanded the bear to carry the load. Once he arrived, he released it from his service, and it returned to Bavaria. The implication is that “Christianity tamed and domesticated the ferocity of paganism and thus laid the foundations for a great civilisation in the Duchy of Bavaria.” At the same time, Corbinian’s bear, as God’s beast of burden, symbolises the weight of office that Benedict now carries.

Positions on moral and political issues

Birth control and HIV/AIDS

In 2005, the Pope listed several ways to combat the spread of HIV, including chastity, fidelity in marriage and anti-poverty efforts; he also rejected the use of condoms.[166] The alleged Vatican investigation of whether there are any cases when married persons may use condoms to protect against the spread of infections surprised many Catholics in the wake of John Paul II’s consistent refusal to consider condom use in response to AIDS.[167] However, the Vatican has since stated that no such change in the Church’s teaching can occur.[168] TIME also reported in its 30 April 2006 edition that the Vatican’s position remains what it always has been with Vatican officials “flatly dismiss[ing] reports that the Vatican is about to release a document that will condone any condom use.”[168]

In March 2009, the Pope stated:

I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is. If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help, the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it. The solution must have two elements: firstly, bringing out the human dimension of sexuality, that is to say a spiritual and human renewal that would bring with it a new way of behaving towards others, and secondly, true friendship offered above all to those who are suffering, a willingness to make sacrifices and to practise self-denial, to be alongside the suffering.[169]

In November 2010, in a book-length interview, the Pope, using the example of male prostitutes, stated that the use of condoms, with the intention of reducing the risk of HIV infection, may be an indication that the prostitute is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity.[170] In the same interview, the Pope also reiterated the traditional teaching of the Church that condoms are not seen as a “real or moral solution” to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Further, in December 2010, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith explained that the Pope’s statement did not constitute a legitimization of either prostitution or contraception, both of which remain gravely immoral.[170]


During his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Benedict XVI made several efforts to tackle the issue of homosexuality within the Church and the wider world. In 1986 the CDF sent a letter to all bishops entitled: On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. The letter condemned a liberal interpretation of the earlier CDF document Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, which had led to a “benign” attitude “to the homosexual condition itself”. On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons clarified that the Church’s position on homosexuality was that “although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”[171] However the document also condemned homophobic attacks and violence, stating that “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”[171]

In 1992 he again approved CDF documents declaring that homosexual “inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder” and extended this principle to civil law. “Sexual orientation”, the document said, was not equivalent to race or ethnicity, and it declared that it was “not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account.”[172]

On 22 December 2008, the Pope gave an end of year message to the Roman Curia in which he talked about gender and the important distinction between men and women. The pope said that the church viewed the distinction as central to human nature, and “asks that this order, set down by creation, be respected”. He characterised gender roles which deviated from his view of what gender roles should be as “a violation of the natural order”. The church, he said, “should protect man from the destruction of himself”. He said a sort of ecology of man was needed, adding: “The tropical forests do deserve our protection; but man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.” He attacked what he described as gender theories which “lead towards the self-emancipation of man from creation and the creator”.[173][174]

LGBT groups such as the Italian Arcigay and German LSVD have announced that they found the Pope’s comments homophobic.[175] Aurelio Mancuso, head of Arcigay, saying “A divine programme for men and women is out of line with nature, where the roles are not so clear.”[173]

Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, claimed the Pope had not wished specifically to attack homosexuality, and had not mentioned gays or lesbians in his text. Father Lombardi insisted, however, that there had been an overreaction to the Pope’s remarks. “He was speaking more generally about gender theories which overlook the fundamental difference in creation between men and women and focus instead on cultural conditioning.” Nevertheless, the remarks were interpreted as a call to save mankind from homosexuals and transsexuals.[173]

Gay marriage

During a 2012 Christmas speech,[176] the Pope made remarks about the present-day interpretation of the notion of ‘gender‘. He stated that “sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves”, and “The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply”. Although he didn’t mention the topic, his words were interpreted by news media as denunciations of gay marriage,[177] with some sources adding that Benedict would have called it a threat to world peace similar to abortion and euthanasia.[178] In March 2012, he stated that straight marriage should be defended from “every possible misrepresentation of their true nature”.[179]

International relations

Migrants and refugees

In a message released 14 November 2006, during a Vatican press conference for the 2007 annual observance of World Day for Migrants and Refugees, the pope urged the ratification of international conventions and policies that defend all migrants, including refugees, exiles, evacuees, and internally displaced persons. “The church encourages the ratification of the international legal instruments that aim to defend the rights of migrants, refugees and their families,” the pope said. “Much is already being done for the integration of the families of immigrants, although much still remains to be done.”[180]

Benedict with then President of Russia Vladimir Putin on 13 March 2007

Pope Benedict has also promoted various UN events, such as World Refugee Day, on which he offered up special prayers for refugees and called for the international community to do more to secure refugees’ human rights. He also called on Catholic communities and organizations to offer them concrete help.[181]


In 2007 Benedict sent a letter at Easter to Catholics in China that could have wide-ranging implications for the church’s relationship with China’s leadership. The letter provides long-requested guidance to Chinese bishops on how to respond to illicitly ordained bishops, as well as how to strengthen ties with the Patriotic Association and the Communist government.[182]


On 13 November 2006, Benedict said the dispute over the North Korea nuclear weapons program should be resolved through negotiations, in his first public comment on the security issue, a news report said. “The Holy See encourages bilateral or multilateral negotiations, convinced that the solution must be sought through peaceful means and in respect for agreements taken by all sides to obtain the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.” Benedict was talking to the new Japanese ambassador to the Vatican.[183]


In a 2004 Le Figaro interview, Ratzinger said that Turkey, which is demographically Muslim but governmentally secular by virtue of its state constitution, should seek its future in an association of Muslim nations rather than the European Union, which Ratzinger has stated has Christian roots. He said Turkey had always been “in permanent contrast to Europe and that linking it to Europe would be a mistake.”[184]

Later visiting the country to “reiterate the solidarity between the cultures,” it was reported that he made a counter-statement backing Turkey’s bid to join the EU. Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said that the pope told him in their meeting that while the Vatican seeks to stay out of politics it desires Turkey’s membership in the EU.[185][186] However, the Common Declaration of Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople implied that support for Turkey’s membership in the European Union would be contingent on the establishment of religious freedom in Turkey:[187] “In every step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion.”[188] The Declaration also reiterates Pope Benedict XVI’s call for Europe to preserve its Christian roots.


In May 2009 he visited Israel.[189][190] This was the third Papal visit to the Holy Land, the previous ones being made by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and Pope John Paul II in 2000.


Pope Benedict XVI and Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng met at the Vatican on 25 January 2007 in a “new and important step towards establishing diplomatic ties”.[191] The Pope met with President Nguyễn Minh Triết on 11 December 2009. Vatican officials called the meeting “a significant stage in the progress of bilateral relations with Vietnam.”[192]

Global economy

In 2009 the Pope intervened in global economic and political affairs with his third encyclical, Charity in Truth (Latin Caritas in Veritate), which can be viewed on the Vatican’s web site.[193] The document sets out the Pope’s position on the case for worldwide redistribution of wealth in considerable detail and goes on to discuss the environment, migration, terrorism, sexual tourism, bioethics, energy and population issues. The Financial Times has reported that the Pope’s advocacy for a fairer redistribution of wealth has helped set the agenda for the 2009 July G8 summit.[194][195]

Also included in Charity in Truth is advocacy for tax choice:

One possible approach to development aid would be to apply effectively what is known as fiscal subsidiarity, allowing citizens to decide how to allocate a portion of the taxes they pay to the State. Provided it does not degenerate into the promotion of special interests, this can help to stimulate forms of welfare solidarity from below, with obvious benefits in the area of solidarity for development as well.

Nuclear energy

Pope Benedict XVI has called for nuclear disarmament. At the same time, he has supported the peaceful use of nuclear energy as a tool for development and the fight against poverty. In his message for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he confirmed: “The Holy See, fully approving of the IAEA’s goal, has been a member from the organisation’s foundation and continues to support its activity.”[196]


Pope Benedict XVI after a musical concert offered to his honor. circa 2008.

Pope Benedict is known to be deeply interested in classical music,[11] and is an accomplished pianist.[197] He has a grand piano in his papal quarters. The Pontiff’s favorite composer is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, of whose music the Pope said: “His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence.”[198] Benedict also stated that Mozart’s music affected him greatly as a young man and “deeply penetrated his soul.”[198] Benedict’s favorite works of music are Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Clarinet Quintet.[199]

Pope Benedict has recorded an album of contemporary classical music in which Benedict sings and recites prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary.[200] The album was set for release on 30 November 2009.

Pope Benedict is also known to be fond of cats.[11] As Cardinal Ratzinger he was known (according to former neighbours) to look after stray cats in his neighbourhood. A book called Joseph and Chico: A Cat Recounts the Life of Pope Benedict XVI was published in 2007 which told the story of the Pope’s life from the feline Chico’s perspective. This story was inspired by an orange tabby Pentling cat, which belonged to the family next door.[201] During his trip to Australia for World Youth Day in 2008 the media reported that festival organizers lent the Pope a grey cat called Bella[202] in order to keep him company during his stay.[203]

In December 2012, the Vatican announced Benedict had joined social networking website Twitter, under the handle @Pontifex.[204] His first tweet was made on 12 December and was “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”[205]

Honours and awards

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Italian Wikipedia.

Pope Benedict is Grand Master of the following Orders: Supreme Order of Christ, Order of the Golden Spur, Order of Pius IX, Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great and the Order of St. Sylvester.

1977 Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit of the Republic of Ecuador
1977 Knight Grand Cross of the Bavarian Order of Merit
1985 Grand Merit Cross with Star and Sash of the Federal Republic of Germany
1985 Constitutional Medal of the Bavarian State Parliament in Gold
1989 Ordine della Minerva at the University of Chieti
1989 Augustin Bea Prize (Rome)
1989 Karl-Valentin-Orden (Munich)
1991 Leopold Kunschak Prize (Vienna)
1991 Georg von Hertling Medal of Kartellverband katholischer deutscher Studentenvereine
1992 Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for Services to the Republic of Austria
1992 Literature Prize Capri S. Michele in Anacapri
1992 Premio Internazionale di Cultura Cattolica, Bassano del Grappa
1993 literary prize Premio Letterario Basilicata per la Letteratura e Poesia religiosa Spirituale in Potenza (Italy)
1996 Knight of the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art
1998 Commander of the Legion of Honour (Legion d’Honneur) (France)
1999 Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
2002 Liberal Trieste
2004 Literature Prize Capri S. Michele in Anacapri
Honorary doctorates
1984 College of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA; Honorary Doctor of Human Letters)
1986 Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (Pontifical Catholic University of Peru)
1987 Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
1988 Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski (Catholic University of Lublin, Poland)
1998 University of Navarra (Pamplona, Spain)
1999 Libera Università Maria SS Assunta Roma (Maria SS Assunta Free University, Rome) (honorary degree in law)
2000 Uniwersytet Wrocławski (University of Wroclaw, Poland; Honorary Doctor of Theology)
2005 Universatea Babes-Bolyai in Cluj-Napoca (Babeș-Bolyai University)
Honorary citizenships
1987 Pentling, near Regensburg, location of his main German residence
1997 Marktl, his birthplace
2005 Traunstein, location of the school and the study seminar he attended
2006 Altötting
2006 Regensburg, worked as a full, later as a visiting, professor
2006 Aschau am Inn, started school and received Mass for the first time
2007 Tittmoning, where he spent part of his childhood.
2008 Brixen, where he holidayed several times as a Cardinal and as Pope
2009 Mariazell, whose sanctuary he visited in 2007 as Pope
2009 Introd in the Aosta Valley, where he spent some of his summer holidays in 2005, 2006 and 2009
2010 Freising, where he studied, was ordained a priest in 1951, where he served from 1954–1957 lecturer at the Philosophical and Theological College and worked from 1977 to 1982 as archbishop of Munich and Freising
2011 Natz-Schabs in South Tyrol; Benedict’s grandmother Maria Tauber Peintner and his great-grandmother Elisabeth Maria Tauber both come from Natz-Schabs

The asteroid 8661 Ratzinger was dedicated to him, on the grounds of making accessible the Vatican archives and thus allow the historians to investigate miscarriages of justice against Galileo and other scientists in the Middle Ages.

Pope Benedict is an honorary citizen of Arconate, Romano Canavese


The following is a list of books written by Pope Benedict XVI arranged chronologically by English first edition. The original German first edition publication year is included in parentheses.

See also

Book icon


  1. ^ This book was originally published in German in four volumes: Die erste Sitzungsperiode des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils (1963), Das Konzil auf dem Weg (1964), Ergebnisse und Probleme der dritten Konzilsperiode (1965), and Die letzte Sitzungsperiode des Konzils (1966).


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  6. ^ Walsh, Mary Ann (2005). From Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI: an inside look at the end of an era, the beginning of a new one, and the future of the church. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 135. ISBN 1-58051-202-X.
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Further reading

Literature about him

  • Allen, John L.: Cardinal Ratzinger: the Vatican’s enforcer of the faith. – New York: Continuum, 2000
  • Benedetti, Amedeo: Il linguaggio di Benedetto XVI, al secolo Joseph Ratzinger. – Genova, Erga, 2012
  • Herrmann, Horst: Benedikt XVI. Der neue Papst aus Deutschland. – Berlin 2005
  • Nichols OP, Aidan: The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger: An Introductory Study. – Edinburgh; T&T Clark, 1988
  • Pater Prior Maximilian Heim: Joseph Ratzinger — Kirchliche Existenz und existenzielle Theologie unter dem Anspruch von Lumen gentium (diss.).
  • Twomey, D. Vincent, S.V.D.: Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age (A Theological Portrait). – San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007
  • Wagner, Karl: Kardinal Ratzinger: der Erzbischof in München und Freising in Wort und Bild. – München : Pfeiffer, 1977


  • Allen, John L. The Rise of Benedict XVI: The Inside Story of How the Pope Was Elected and Where He Will Take the Catholic Church. NY: Doubleday, 2005. ISBN 0-385-51320-8.
  • Allen, John L. Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN 0-8264-1786-8. This is a reprint of Allen’s 2000 book Cardinal Ratzinger: the Vatican’s Enforcer of the Faith.
  • Bardazzi, Marco. In the Vineyard of the Lord : The Life, Faith, and Teachings of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. New York: Rizzoli International, 2005. ISBN 0-8478-2801-8
  • Bunson, Matthew. We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor. ISBN 1-59276-180-1.
  • Campbell, Paul-Henri: Pope Benedikt XVI. Audio Book. Monarda Publishing House, 2012, ISBN 3-939513-80-6.
  • Pursell, Brennan, Benedict of Bavaria: An Intimate Portrait of the Pope and His Homeland (Circle Press, 2008). ISBN 1-933271-17-5.
  • Tobin, Greg. Holy Father : Pope Benedict XVI: Pontiff for a New Era. Sterling, 2005. ISBN 1-4027-3172-8.
  • Weigel, George. God’s Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 0-06-621331-2.



Pope’s Statement Of Resignation (Benedict XVI) February 11, 2013

Full text of Pope’s February 11th Declaration to the College of Cardinals

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI announces resignation

I have lacked this strength these past months and I have been obliged to admit my incapacity to properly govern the ministry confided to me, the Pope said.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a historic speech pronounced at the Vatican on Monday said he had decided to resign. This is the first time a Pope has decided to step down in 600 years. He said he was resigning in “full freedom” and would devote the rest of his life to prayer. The Pope said he no longer had “the strength of body or mind” to “fully serve the Petrine Ministry.

 Pope Benedict XVI, formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger before he assumed Pontifical office on 19 April 2005, made the declaration in Latin, during a consistory in the Vatican.

 The Holy See’s spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi said the resignation would go into effect at the end of the month. “The Pope has announced he will give up his ministry at 8 pm on the 28th of February. That is when the period known as “sede vacante” or the Empty Chair will commence”. The next Pope will be elected before Easter which this year falls on March 31. The voting could well begin during Holy Week which begins on March 24.

 In his speech, later relayed by Vatican Radio, the 85-year-old Pontiff explained that he had decided to step down “after having examined my conscience before God several times. I am convinced that my strength, given my advanced age, no longer allows me to fully exercise my ministry. In the present world, prey to constant change, the vigour of mind and body are also necessary to navigate Saint Peter’s boat and advance the Faith. I have lacked this strength these past months and I have been obliged to admit my incapacity to properly govern the ministry confided to me.”

 Shock waves rippled across the world at this completely surprising, unexpected and unprecedented announcement. Believers flocked to the Vatican and to churches and cathedrals in most major cities in Europe. At the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris many faithful Catholics openly wept.

 The Pope has been a figure of controversy for his extremely orthodox views and for the cover up of several sex abuse scandals by priests of the Catholic faith. One of his harshest critics, the Swiss Cardinal Hans Kung, said he hoped the outgoing Pope will not attempt to influence the choice of his successor. “During his time in office he has ordained so many conservative cardinals, that amongst them is hardly a single person to be found who could lead the church out of its multifaceted crisis,” Cardinal Kung said.

 Pope Benedict XVI is the first German to be elected Pope since the eleventh century. On 16 April he will turn 86. Born to a modest and deeply Catholic Bavarian family, he entered the seminary in 1939, the year he joined Hitler’s youth movement – obligatory at the time. Known to be an eminent theologian, he was Archbishop of Munich and Freising in Germany’s most wealthy and eminently Catholic Bavaria from 1977 to 1981. Pope John Paul II called him to Rome to head the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. His conservative views had earned him the nickname of “Pope John Paul II’s Rotweiler”.

Lenten Message of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI – 2013 (Malayalam Translation)

Lenten Message of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI – 2013

(Click here for Malayalam Translation)

Here is the Malayalam translation of the Lenten Message of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the year 2013. The theme of the message focuses on the compelling relationship between faith and charity; between believing in God, the God revealed by Jesus Christ, and the charity that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and that leads us to the horizon of a deeper openness to God and neighbour.

World Day of Consecrated Life (Religious Day) – Eucharistic Celebration

2nd February

World Day of Consecrated Life (Religious Day)

Click here for World Day of Consecrated Life – Eucharistic Celebration

On 6 Jan,1997, The late Holy Father John Paul II decided that the nd World day for Consecrated Life will be celebrated on the 2 Feb, on the feast which commemorates the Presentation which Mary & Joseph made of Jesus in the temple to present Jesus to the Lord.(Lk.2:22).The presentation of Jesus in the temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of one’s life for all those who are called to show forth in the church & in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels “ the characteristic features of Jesus- the chaste, poor & obedient one” (VC1).

The reason for the world Day for Consecrated Life:

The purpose of such a day is threefold. In the FIRST PLACE, It answers the intimate need to praise the Lord more solemnly & to thank him for the great gift of consecrated life which enriches & gladdens the Christian community by the multiplicity of its charisms & by the edifying fruits of so many lives totally given to the cause of the kingdom. In the SECOND PLACE, this day is intended to promote knowledge of & esteem for the consecrated life by the entire people of God. The THIRD REASON regards consecrated persons directly. They are invited to celebrate together solemnly the marvels which the Lord has accomplished in them, to discover by a more illuminated faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the spirit in their way of life, & to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the church.

Following the instruction of late Pope it is a challenge for every religious person to re-read, re-discover & re-state her/his vocation & find new meaning in her/his life as a prophet. They have to be Just as prophets have always arisen in times of crisis to proclaim the will of God to the people of Israel, so in the history of the church religious Orders have always had a prophetic vocation. They have offered a response, in the church and in society, to the longings of the people. They have put their finger on the wound when the church has been too turned in on itself. The first monk responded in this way to the worldwide spread of the church. Benedict, at a time of migration, set up places of community which brought stability to their surroundings. Confronted by the feudal structure of the church and of society, Francis reawakened sensitivity to poverty. Dominic made his own the desire of the Cathars for a pure and clear faith. Ignatius wanted to responded to the Reformation and direct life again only towards the figure of Christ. And many religious Orders in th the 19 century responded to the needs of their times. It is always a question of a prophetic response, a response which comes from God, an attempt to put the will of God into practice in a particular time.

The task of the prophet is not to predict the future but to proclaim the will of God for the present and the situation of today. The prophet claims the “today of God” for people. This” today of God” is often in contrast with the world. Honesty is necessary in announcing the word of God.

Consecrate life has always had a prophetic dimension in the history of the church. How can we live this prophetic dimension today?

– Placing God at the centre

– Making a critical reflection of the society and the church

– Offering a realistic hope and making the people aware that everything is transitory.

– Becoming a blessing for people and leave a legacy.

– Prophetic mission is always a mission for people.

Jesus has shown how to recognize our prophetic mission. Heinvites us to enter by the narrow gate and to journey by the hard road (Mth713-14).The narrow gate is hard and unique which God has planned for us. A certain effort is necessary to find that gate. The wide road is not bad road, but the road which everyone takes. Jesus believes that each one of us is capable of finding the unique way in which our life can become a blessing for people. Animated by the Spirit of God, may every consecrated live up to her/his commitment.

ഇതു ചതി (Malayalam Poem – Ithu Chathi)

“ഇതു ചതി”

(Malayalam Poem – Ithu Chathi)

എവിടെനിന്നാണി തുട്ടുകള്‍-

30 വെള്ളികാശ്.

ഇന്നു നിനക്കിതാരുതന്നു?


വാരികൂട്ടിയ തുട്ടുകള്‍ തന്നെ ഇത്.

ചുംബനം പോലും നാട്യമായ്…

തുട്ടുകള്‍ കൂട്ടിയ തിടുക്കത്തില്‍,

തമ്പുരാന്‍ പോലും വസ്തുവായി.

സ്വന്തം ഗുരു.

ഗുരു വിങ്ങിയിരിക്കണം.

അരികത്തു നിര്‍ത്തിയവന്‍,

അകലത് നില്‍ക്കുന്നു…




കുടലുപോലും പുറത്തുപോയി.

ഗുരുദക്ഷിണക്കു നന്ദി.

മൂകസന്ധ്യ പറഞ്ഞിരിക്കും-

” ഇതു ചതി “.


ഇതും ചതി …


ബിബിന്‍ ജോസ് ഏഴുപ്ലാക്കല്‍ എം. സി. ബി. എസ്

ബിബിന്‍ ജോസ് ഏഴുപ്ലാക്കല്‍ എം. സി. ബി. എസ്.








ALUVA -683 112

                                                                                    MCBS GENERALATE, ALUVA


Dear Rev. Fathers,

“The ‘door of faith’ (Acts14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.”—Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei

In the Acts of the Apostles we read that God has opened the door of faith for the early Church. But did you know that God has opened the door of faith for each one us and he invites us to step through the threshold into a deeper relationship with him. With his Apostolic Letter of October 11, 2011, “Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI declared that a “Year of Faith” will begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013. October 11, 2012, the first day of the Year of Faith, was the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council   and also the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the Year of Faith, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith. The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Saviour of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.

In connection with the year of Faith MCBS Eucharistic Apostolate is privileged to organize a renewal program for our members.  It is the fine opportunity to renew our religious commitment basing on the study, reflection, and discussions on the official teachings of the Catholic Church on Religious life, namely Catechism of the Catholic Church Nos. 871-945, Perfectae  Caritatis, Redemtionis Donum, Vita Consecrata and other homilies of Popes. It was also one of the decisions of the 18th special General Synaxis (No.8) to organize renewal programs as part of our ongoing formation. So we humbly request you to co-operate, participate and take the best advantage of this renewal program. As we cannot conduct a new evangelisation without new evangelizers let us earnestly be prepared for the New Evangelization.

Yours Fraternally in the Eucharistic Lord

Frs. Jacob Naluparayil, George Theendapara & Jose Thundathil

Councillors for the Eucharistic Apostolate



Dear Rev.Fathers,

As all of you know the Holy Father Benedict XVI has declared the Year of Faith on 11th October 2012 which will be concluded on 24th November 2013. In preparation to this great event He has promulgated an apostolic letter under the title Porta Fidei explaining the aim of the Year of Faith and how we shall implement it in our life. The Bishops’ Synod to be held in October 2012 in Rome shall studied and discussed the New Evangelization. All these attempts aim at the renewal of the Church. All feel that there is an urgent need of an Aggiornamento – an updating of the Church with its contents. Since the Religious Life is the vital part of the Church, the renewal of the Church necessarily implies renewal of the Religious Life

The KCBC has also given norms for putting into practice in our context the guidelines given by Rome. There are nine action plans given by the KCBC to be adopted in the communities of consecrated people. We have to study them and bring them into action.

In His apostolic letter Porta Fidei Pope Benedict XVI writes: “One thing that will be of decisive importance in this Year is retracing the history of our Faith, marked as it is by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin. … By Faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ, leaving all things behind so as to live obedience, poverty and chastity with Gospel simplicity, concrete signs of waiting for the Lord who comes without delay” (# 13) By this the Pope reminds us of the urgent need of renewal and revival of Religious life. Since faith is the source and constant stimulation of our religious consecration, strengthening of faith means the resurgence of our commitment.

Besides, our previous General Synaxis has earnestly recommended a renewal course in the whole Congregation which will help the members to revive the commitment they have made in religious profession. Imbibing inspiration from all these authentic sources the General Council has decided to conduct in this Year of Faith a renewal course for all the members of the Congregation. The members are divided into five groups according to their age. The department of Eucharistic Apostolate, headed by Rev.Fr.Jose Thundathil is entrusted to organize the course. He will inform you in time the details of the course.

My dear Fathers, I cordially invite each one of you to co-operate with the programme and participate actively in the course to which you are assigned. Consider it as a religious obligation. I am sure that this course will bring more life and vigor to our Congregation.

Fraternally Yours in the Eucharistic Lord,

Fr.George Kizhakkemury mcbs

Superior General





Dear Reverend Fathers/ Brothers,

It gives me real joy to join you in thanking and glorifying God for the great and benevolent love He has showered on the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (MCBS) since its very conception. As we are on the threshold of Year of Faith let us acknowledge the commitment, courage and dedication of our Founding Fathers Very Rev Fr Mathew Alakkalam and Very Rev Fr Joseph Paredom and our forfathers. Let us appreciate their resolute faith, unwavering determination and unmatched self-sacrifice for the causes of the Universal Church particularly of the Syro Malabar Church.

The Year of Faith summons us to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world (Porta Fidei 6). Its an opportunity to experience a conversion – a return to Jesus and enter into a deeper friendly relationship with him. The Holy Father has described this conversion as opening the “door of faith” (Acts 14:27). The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year we are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew our relationship with Christ and His Church.

Year of Faith is closely associated with the New Evangelization recently launched by Pope Benedict XVI. It is a call to deepen our own faith, have confidence in the Gospel, and possess a willingness to share the Gospel. The New Evangelization is first and foremost a personal encounter with Jesus Christ; it is an invitation to deepen our relationship with Christ. It is also a call to share our faith with others. In the same the Year of Faith also calls religious to conversion in order to deepen our relationship with Christ and to share it with others.

The story of MCBS is the history of being witness to the Word of God. Our commitment to the Word is praiseworthy. A religious congregation like MCBS certainly exists to serve and love  people of God, to nurture them, motivate them, fit them morally and spiritually and above all to have an optimistic attitude towards life and its challenges. I am sure that the renewal programmes anchored by MCBS Eucharstic Apostolate Team in the Year of Faith for our members will provide ample opportunity to renew and strengthen our religious commitment. I wish and pray that all the MCBS members translate their dream in to reality, in their various fields of apostolates. “What the world is in particular need of today,” Benedict XVI wrote, “is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord”

I extend my heartiest congratulations and appreciation to  Rev Dr Jose Thundathil, the General Councilor, Rev Dr Jacob Naluparayil and Rev Fr George Theendappara, the Provincial Councilors for Eucharistic Apostolate, and all the members of Eucharistic Apostolate team. It is my fervent hope and prayer that the Good Lord will continue to guard, guide and sustain us to grow from strength to strength to His glory.

With prayerful regards, yours in Eucharistic Lord,

Fr Francis Kodiyan MCBS

Emmaus Provincial Superior



Precious Brother Priests

Prayerful greetings from our Zion.

 As we know, every fiber of our being is having tremendous ‘Mission Spirit’. That is why we earnestly wanted to reach the four corners of this planet to sow the seeds of THE WORD.

 At the same time we are to make a thorough examination of conscience about our faith life in particular and the faith life of the people whom we serve, in general. Let us humbly acknowledge the truth and fact that we are not up to the expectation of Jesus in this regard. What we are to do is just meditate upon:  Luke 22, 31-33, and do the needful.

 This is the opportune time to serve the purpose as Pope Benedict XVI declared ‘ Year of Faith’,  that truly focus on genuine and radical introspection upon the faith life of each one of us. Let us pray, think and work together with our Leader to regain and reinstate our solid faith life through our whole hearted support and cooperation in the programs headed by the Eucharistic Apostolate of our Congregation.

 Fraternally yours in the Eucharistic Lord

 Fr Jose Mulangattil

Provincial superior

MCBS Zion Province.



DATE             :  24,25 JANUARY 2013


  1. Arackal Mathew
  2. Arackal Sebastian
  3. Ayyampally Alex
  4. Ayyampally George
  5. Chittilappilly Inasoo
  6. Edayal Thomas
  7. Elavanal Zacharias (Batch Leader)
  8. Kadukanmackal Joseph
  9. Kalapura Antony
  10. Karathuruth Joseph
  11. Karimtholil George
  12. Karott Philip
  13. Kizhakkemury George
  14. Kizhakkemury Mathew
  15. Kizhakkethalackal Emmanuel
  16. Kizhakkethalackal Eppachen
  17. Konickal Joseph
  18. Konukunnel Sebastian
  19. Kottayarikil Cyriac
  20. Kuttickal George
  21. Kuttiyanil George
  22. Madathikandam Joseph
  23. Maleparambil Joseph
  24. Maliyil George
  25. Manampurath Jacob
  26. Mattam George
  27. Moloparambil Abraham
  28. Mulangattil Joseph
  29. Nadackal Augustine
  30. Palakkattukunnel Joseph
  31. Parackal Joy
  32. Paremackal Joseph
  33. Pathiyamoola Jose (Batch Leader)
  34. Pattery Thomas
  35. Peedikaparambil Jose
  36. Pooppallil Joseph
  37. Poovathumkal Sebastian
  38. Puthenpurayil John
  39. Puthiyidath Joseph
  40. Thekkekuttu Cyriac
  41. Therukattil George
  42. Valliyamthadathil Joseph
  43. Vallomkunnel Joy
  44. Vattapara Thomas
  45. Vellanickal Sebastian
  46. Vengasseril Xavier



DATE       :  21,22 FEBRUARY 2013


  1. Alavelil Varghese
  2. Akkanath Jacob
  3. Anthyamkulam Joseph
  4. Chencheril Mathew
  5. Kaipayil Joseph
  6. Kannamplackal George
  7. Karikunnel Vincent
  8. Karimankal James
  9. Kariyilakulam Tomy
  10. Kochukaniyamparambil Isaac
  11. Kochupurayil Abraham
  12. Kodiyan Francis
  13. Kozhimala Thomas
  14. Kunnumpuram Xavier
  15. Kuttickal Antony
  16. Meempuzha Kuriakose
  17. Meledath James
  18. Moonjely Kuriakose
  19. Morely Francis
  20. Mukaleparambil Kuriakose
  21. Mundattu Dominic
  22. Naduvilekunnekatt Thomas
  23. Naluparayil Jacob
  24. Olickal Mathew
  25. Paikkatt Augustine
  26. Painadath Jose George
  27. Plathottathil Thomas
  28. Plathottathil Tomy
  29. Puliyurumbil Mathew
  30. Punnassery Augustine
  31. Thadathil Thomas
  32. Thayil Varghese
  33. Theendappara George
  34. Thottankara Thomas
  35. Thundathil Jose
  36. Vallikattukuzhy George (Batch Leader)
  37. Valiyaparambil Cyriac
  38. Vadakkeputhenpura Mathew
  39. Vandanath Antony
  40. Vazhappally George
  41. Vettukattil Thomas (Batch Leader)



DATE             :  14,15 MARCH 2013


  1. Chennakkattukunnel Sebastian
  2. Cheruvamkalayil Kurian
  3. Chiramel Simon
  4. Chunayanmackal Alex
  5. Edamannel George (Batch Leader)
  6. Edapparackal Jose
  7. Elavathinkal Sebastian
  8. Elavumkal Joseph
  9. Kaithamattathil Mathew
  10. Kalapurackal Devasia
  11. Kallirikumkalayil Joseph
  12. Kanipallil Stephen
  13. Kanjiramparayil Thomas
  14. Karisseril Mathew
  15. Kochanichuvattil Joseph
  16. Koonathan Joseph
  17. Kumblanickal Joseph
  18. Kuzhikkattumyalil Jose George
  19. Madathiparambil Mathew
  20. Malamackal Cyril
  21. Maniyampara Joseph
  22. Manjaly John
  23. Mavelil John
  24. Muttamthottil Sebastian (Batch Leader)
  25. Nattuvazhiparambil Joseph
  26. Orapuzhickal Michael
  27. Pallath Thomas
  28. Parathottil Thomas
  29. Paruvanmoottil Varghese
  30. Pathiparambil Joseph
  31. Payyappallil Mathews
  32. Peedikackal George
  33. Peringalloor Sebastian
  34. Perumbattiikunnel Thomas
  35. Podippara Varghese
  36. Pulichumackal James
  37. Pullukalayil Abraham
  38. Puramchirayil Varghese
  39. Puthuparambil Joseph
  40. Thannickal Sebastian
  41. Thekkanal Xavier
  42. Thekkath Mathew
  43. Thuruthiyil Sebastian
  44. Valloppallil Mathew
  45. Varekkalam Joseph
  46. Vattakeril John



DATE             :  11,12 APRIL 2013


  1. Areekkattu Paul
  2. Attickal George
  3. Chelakunnel Joseph
  4. Edakkarott Augustine
  5. Elamplackal Dominic
  6. Ittiyappara Francis
  7. Kalarithara Varghese
  8. Kallarackal Abraham
  9. Kallupalam Joseph
  10. Kandavanathil John
  11. Kattoor George (Batch Leader)
  12. Kochuchira James
  13. Kolattukudy Varghese
  14. Koonananickal Joseph
  15. Kottupallil Thomas
  16. Kulakkottu Varghese
  17. Kunnathett Thomas
  18. Makkiyil Devasia
  19. Manickathukunnel Philip
  20. Mathoor Chacko
  21. Melukunnel Joseph
  22. Mundunadackal George
  23. Mylackal Stephen
  24. Naduviledath Thomas
  25. Nalukandathil Francis
  26. Njondimackal Martin
  27. Palathinkal Sebastian
  28. Pandiyamackal Joseph
  29. Pathiyaparambil Joseph
  30. Plathottathil Mathew
  31. Polethara Sebastin
  32. Pootharayil Sebastian
  33. Pulimoottil Kuriakose
  34. Punnakkalayil Cyriac
  35. Puthenchira Joseph
  36. Puthettupadavil John
  37. Thoonatt George
  38. Thottathil John
  39. Valikulath Sebastian
  40. Vathapallil Michael (Batch Leader)
  41. Vattamattathil Martin
  42. Venatt Kuriakose
  43. Vettarumuriyil John



DATE             :  23,24 MAY 2013


  1. Cheeramvelil Cherian
  2. Chekkathadathil Joseph
  3. Chellamtharayil Xavier
  4. Cherukattikalayil George
  5. Choorapoikayil Pius
  6. Chundelikattil Sebastian
  7. Edathinal Joseph
  8. Elakkadunaluparayil Martin
  9. Idimuzhithadathil Devasia
  10. Kadamthodu Mathew
  11. Kaduvannoor George
  12. Kalambukatt Mathew Joseph
  13. Kanjoothara Jose Anto
  14. Kochuparambil Joseph
  15. Koottakara Abraham
  16. Kottarathil Varghese
  17. Kottayil Nixon George
  18. Kudiyiruppil George
  19. Kureekombil Joseph
  20. Kuttarappallil Joseph
  21. Kuttentharappel James
  22. Kuzhivelithadathil John
  23. Kuzhiyadichira Thomas
  24. Madathikandathl Antony
  25. Mangalathil Mathew
  26. Manickathan Joseph
  27. Muttath Alex
  28. Njavarivaditharayil Joseph
  29. Olamkannel Joseph
  30. Palackal Abraham
  31. Paliyathil Chacko
  32. Palolil Thomas
  33. Panackachalil Varghese
  34. Panathara Varghese (Batch Leader)
  35. Parathanath John
  36. Paravakkadu Joseph
  37. Plakuzhiyil Joseph
  38. Polackal Jose
  39. Ponnadampackal Joseph
  40. Puthiyidathu Mathew
  41. Puthumana Thomas
  42. Thaipparambil Thomas
  43. Vathalloor Joseph
  44. Vavolil Joseph
  45. Vazheeparambil Joseph
  46. Vellaringatt Joseph (Batch Leader)





CONCECRETED LIFE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. (Nature and relevance of consecrated life, its Scriptural and theological aspects. Why does a Christian choose the religious life? Is religious life a superior way of Christian life? Chapter VI of Lumen gentium and the decree Perfectae caritatis imply a higher excellence when they refer to the “special” nature of this life (Lg 44; Pc 1), when they use comparatives in stating that religious are “more intimately consecrated” to Christ and enjoy a union with the Church by “firmer and steadier bonds” (Lg 44), and when they emphasize the “unique” eschatological sign value of the religious state (Lg 44; Pc 1). Rev. Dr. Francis Kodiyan mcbs



CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD (Official teachings of Catholic Church on Priesthood, priestly identity.  “Priests by sacred ordination and mission which they receive from the bishops are promoted to the service of Christ the Teacher, Priest and King. They share in his ministry, a ministry whereby the Church here on earth is unceasingly built up into the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in order that their ministry be carried on more effectively and their lives be better provided for, in pastoral and human circumstances which very often change…” (Presbyterorum Ordinis).

Rev. Dr. Mathew Olickal mcbs



NEW EVANGELIZATION The new evangelization is not a program; the mission of the Church is not a program. Our faith is a way of life. The mission entrusted to the apostles and to the whole Church is bold, specific, and deliberate, to teach and baptize all nations. The new evangelization requires new evangelizers. Evangelization will always contain as the foundation, centre and, at the same time, the summit of its dynamics. A clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.

Rev. Dr. George Koilparambil



FAITH OF JESUS AND THE TRUST OF THE DISCIPLES. The faith lived and demonstrated by the Jesus of the Gospels is the basic foundation of the disciple’s faith. Jesus passionately engaged to cultivate in his disciples His own trusting faith in the Father. These being the fundamental constituents of Christian faith, i.e., the faith of every Christian, it is all the more so for us religious, who seek perfection of baptismal consecration. Anyone who undergoes such a faith formation is automatically oriented towards the proclamation of the gospel, or evangelization. How can a religious belonging to the MCBS, advance in his faith formation each day, in the context of the ministry he has undertaken? How can he discover innovative ways and means of evangelization within the charism and the context of MCBS ministries?

Rev. Dr. Jacob Naluparayil mcbs



MCBS  CONSECRATION (Nature, Charism and Challenges of MCBS Vocation, the founding Fathers of the Congregation have entrusted to its members, as their spiritual heritage, a religious life marked by love and single minded devotion to the Eucharistic Lord and missionary vitality. Its charism is to live and proclaim the Eucharistic mystery that is celebrated, to gather the children of God around the alter, to ‘praise God in the midst of His church, to take part in the sacrifice and to eat the Lord’s supper’ (SC 10) and up hold the real presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The members try to obtain this through their dedicated life and various apostolates (Constitution No.8).

Rev. Fr. Jose Peedikaparambil mcbs




09.00                                       Arrival

09.30                                       INAUGURATION and CLASS I

10.30                                       Tea break

11.00                                       CLASS II and DISCUSSION

12.20                                       Examination of Conscience

12.30                                       Lunch, Rest

03.00                                       CLASS III

04.00                                       Coffee

06.00                                       CLASS IV and DISCUSSION

07.15                                       HOLY HOUR, Supper

09.00                                       SAT SANG, Night prayers, To Bed


05.30                                       Rising

06.00                                       Morning Prayers, Meditation and Holy Mass

08.00                                       Break Fast

09.30                                       CLASS V

10.30                                       Tea break

11.00                                       CLASS VI and DISCUSSION

12.20                                       Examination of Conscience

12.30                                       Lunch, Rest

02.00                                       CLASS VII

03.00                                       Free

03.15                                       CLASS VIII and DISCUSSION

04.30                                       Coffee, Departure


Very  Rev. Fr. George Kizhakkemury (Chairman)

Very Rev. Fr. Francis Kodiyan (  “  )

Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Mulangattil (  “  )

Rev. Fr. Jose Thundathil (Coordinator)

Rev. Fr. Jacob Naluparayil (   “   )

Rev. Fr. George Theendapara (   “   )

Rev. Fr. Issac Kochukaniyamparambil

Rev. Fr. Thomas Kanjiramparayil

Rev. Fr. John Vattakkeril

Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Venatt

Rev. Fr. Pius Choorapoikayil

Rev. Fr. Joseph Vazheeparambil

Rev. Fr. Zacarias Elavanal (First Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. Jose Pathiyamoola (First Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. George Vallikattukuzhiyil (Second Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. Thomas Vettukattil (Second Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. Sebastian Muttamthottil (Third Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. George Edamannel (Third Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. Michael Vathapallil (Forth Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. George Kattoor (Forth Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. Joseph Vellaringatt (Fifth Batch Leader)

Rev. Fr. Varghese Panathara (Fifth Batch Leader)


Message of Pope on World Day of the Sick 2013

Message of Pope on World Day of the Sick 2013

ബെനഡിക്റ്റ് പതിനാറാമന്‍ പാപ്പായുടെ ലോക രോഗീദിന സന്ദേശം

(11 ഫെബ്രുവര 2013)

Here is the Malayalam translation of the Message of Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI on 21 World Day of the Sick. Universal Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick on 2013 February 11th, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. I would be wonderful if we could instruct our faithful to pray for the health workers as well as the health ministry of the Church.

Eucharistic Flame

Eucharistic Flame

Joy and Comfort

 A life of joy and comfort is all I need.

How to get this is the million dollar question.

What if everyone around you loves you very much?

Yes, that could make my life one full of joy and comfort.

But many of them hate me; some are angry or jealous.

Is there any way any one can make them love me?

You are the one who can make them love you.

How can I make my enemies love me?

Forgive those who have hurt you.

Ask forgiveness of anyone

whom you have hurt.

Fill your heart with love.

No other sentiment to be there.

When you love everyone selflessly,

all those around you will love you as well.

Yes, that will make my life one of joy and comfort.

This is the way to make heaven on earth, here and now.

Oriental Theology

Oriental Theology

Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel        

   Originally the denotation “Oriental” was a geographical description of Churches outside Roman Patriarchate. Now it is used as a technical term to describe all the Churches, which are not Latin in origin. They spread all over the world.

            Approaching from the perspective of faith or communion the Oriental Churches are divided into four communions:

  1. The Assyrian Church of the East< which is in communion with no other church.

2. The Oriental Orthodox Churches, which are in communion with, but completely independent of one another.

  1. The Orthodox Churches (The Eastern Orthodox Churches), which is a communion of Churches, all of which recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople as a point of unity with certain rights and privileges.
  2. The Eastern (Oriental) Catholic Churches, which recognize the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Church.

Besides there are a few Orthodox Churches of irregular status. They are of orthodox origin, but their present status is at least uncanonical, if not fully schismatic.

            Some of these churches (non-catholic) are called autocephalous, because they do not subject to any outside jurisdiction. There are also a few Autonomous Churches, which though self-sufficient, are still under the limited authority of a Patriarch or Hierarch outside itself.

            The Eastern Catholic Churches hold in communion with Latin Church all the elements of Christian faith. They recognize the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Church and accept the Roman primacy of jurisdiction and infallibility the Pope. But the other Oriental Churches, which are not in communion with Rome, do not believe in a visible single head of the Church. They recognize the primacy of honor of the Bishop of Rome, but do not his primacy of jurisdiction and infallibility.

            There are certain elements of Christian faith, which these churches hold in communion with Catholic Church. They are the following:

-Holy Trinity

-Fall of Adam and original sin.

-Sanctifying grace was given to Adam. Adam lost it and Christ restored it.

-Incarnation, passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ

-The divinity of Christ. Christ has two natures against Monophysistism Christ has one person- against Nostorianism

-Perpetual virginity of Bl.Virgin Mary

Real presence of Christ in Bl. Sacrament

The Church is the universal and common ark of salvation

-Seven Sacraments

-Absolute need of Divine Grace

-Resurrection of body, eternal life, heaven, hell.

-The Eucharistic sacrifice

Veneration of Mary and Saints

Membership of the Church is necessary for salvation.

Obligation of Moral law  and  Infallibility of the Church

The Characteristics of Oriental Theology

  1. Liturgical: For the Orientals Sacred Liturgy is not only a source of piety, but also a teacher of dogma. They believe that the apostolic tradition has been handed down in a mystery and is preserved in Church’s worship. “Lex orandi lex credendi” man’s faith is expressed in their prayers. The dogma is contained in the prayers and hymns used at liturgical services; Not only the words but the various gestures and actions have a special meaning and they express symbolically the truths of faith.
  2. Faithfulness to the Fathers of the Church. Fidelity to the sacred tradition does not signify fidelity to the past, but it consists rather in the living with the full Christian experience. For Orientals the age of Fathers did not come to an end in the 7th of the 8th centuries. Many later Fathers are considered as Fathers of the Church, e.g. St. Maximus, Gregory Palamas etc.
  3. Dynamic: The Oriental theology admits organic evolution of the dogma. While speaking of the evolution of the dogma, they make a distinction between substance or nucleus of dogma and the forma or appearance of dogma. They say that evolution of dogma is only in the forma. It is described as progress, evolution and explanation. There were discussions about theological subjects, e.g. the procession of the Holy Spirit, nature and person of Christ, icons.
  4. Free from legalism: The Orientals believe in the divinely instituted hierarchy and its authority in the Church, but they are against the abuses of authority and law – law becomes the principle of unity in the church. For them unity is to be found in the common life of Christ’s Mystical Body, confessing the same faith, sharing the same sacraments.
  5. Speculative. Orientals also apply philosophical reasons to the sacred theology.
  6. Not Scholastic. They deny the scholastic method, that is, much concerned with precise definitions and deductions etc.
  7. Mystical and contemplative. In the eastern thought and traditions there is no sharp distinction between mysticism and theology, between experience of divine mysteries and the dogma
  8. Biblical. Their theology is biblically founded.
  9. Social. This is an external characteristic. There is a lay participation in the theological evolution. There are many distinguished lay theologians, e.g. Solovgen (1853-1900) Khomyakov (1804-1860) theology was not the monopoly of the professionals.

The Sources of Oriental Theology

            There are two sources, Bible and Tradition. According to the Orthodox Church the Bible also included in Tradition. Therefore the source of the faith is Holy tradition. Tradition means: the books of Bible, the Creed, the Decrees of ecumenical councils, writings of the Fathers, the Canons, the Service books, the Holy Icons etc.

1. The Bible

 According to the Eastern thought the Church is a scriptural Church. The Bible is the supreme expression of God’s revelation to men. The Christians therefore, must always be “people of the Book” and the Bible is the “Book of the People”. This book should be lived and understood within the Church. Only the Church has the authority to interpret the Bible. The Bible is used widely at Oriental Liturgical services and is venerated in a special way.

With regard to the text of the Bible

  1. The Assyrian Church of the East  uses Pesita version – a Syriac translation, date is not clear, the oldest manuscript is of 446.
  2. The Oriental Orthodox Churches also use the Pesita version.]
  3. The Orthodox Churches use LXX Septuagint.

With regard to the canon of Book

  1. The Assyrian Church of the East though admits all the books of Vulgate canonical, some of their theologians cancelled certain books from the canon, e.g. Theodore of Mopsuetia cancelled Proverb, Ecclessiasticus and Job.
  2. The Oriental Orthodox Churches, though they admit all books canonical there are some defections on account of excess, e.g. The Coptic Church included III Maccabees in OT and two epistles of Clement and 8th book of Apostolic Constitution in NT.
  3. The Orthodox Churches agree to the Catholic church about the canons of the books.
  4. The Niceao- Constantinopolitan creed formulated in the council of Niceae I in 325. All the Oriental accept it, but without the addition of Filioque.
  5. Symbolum Athanasianum or Quicumque. It was considered as rule of faith both in East and West. The authorship is disputed. Some attribute to St. Ambrose
  6. Symbol of Apostles. Some accept it as a symbol of faith; some others consider it as a private profession of faith.

2.  The Creed and Symbols of Faith

 3.. Ecumenical Councils

            The Orientals accept only those councils which were convoked before their separation.

            The Assyrian church of the East – Nicea I (325) Constantinople. 1 381.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches – plus Ephesus (481).

The Orthodox Churches- plus Chalcedon (451), Costantinople. II (553), Constantinople  III. ( 680-81), Nicea II  (787)..

All these Churches ascribe supreme and infallible authority to the ecumenical councils.

The Canonical collection of the Orthodox Church is called Nomocanon in 14 titles. It contains:

-The apostolic canons  -a collection of 85 disciplinary rules served in the first half of 4thc.

–         The canons of seven ecumenical   councils .

–         The canons of local councils

–         The canons of Holy Fathers.

The most important collection of canons of the Orthodox Church was of council of Trullo (692).

Eastern Catholic Theology

Cf. Robert F. Taft S. J., Eastern Catholic Theology, Slow rebirth After A Long Difficult Gestation,  in Eastern Church Journel,Vol.8, No.2, Summer2001, pp51-80.

It is not possible to define in any definitive form what eastern catholic theology is or might be except to say what it is not.

1. It is not Eastern/Oriental Orthodox theology. This does not mean that it stands in opposition to Orthodox theology. On the contrary both claim to derive from the patristic and liturgical sources of a common tradition. Besides Eastern Catholics have been strongly influenced by modern orthodox writers.

2. It is not western catholic theology, though it has obviously undergone strong  western catholic influence.

Is Eastern Catholic theology any theology done by theologians who happen to be Eastern Catholics? No. There are eastern catholic writers who just parrot Latin manual theology of the pre-World War II – this is not eastern catholic theology. Eastern catholic theology means a style of catholic theological thinking in which ‘Eastern’ is not an ecclesial or ethnic attribute of those doing this theology, but an epithet specifying the nature and quality of theology itself.

It is difficult to define Eastern catholic theology. It has similarities with eastern catholic theology and with orthodox theology from both of which far older, fuller and richer theological traditions it obviously derives so much. Yet eastern catholic theology does exist despite problems in defining its distinctiveness.

It is the theology of catholic practitioners with a knowledge and love for the traditions of the Christians of East, a catholic theology that seeks to breathe with both lungs, nourishing a sometimes anemic catholic thought with oxygen from both sides of the East- West Christian division.


I Vatican – least ‘Eastern’ of all ecumenical councils.

                = Its lack of understanding or respect for the distinctiveness of catholic East, its traditions, dignity of hierarchs

                = Their patriarchs were assimilated to the titular Latin patriarchs and ranked with them.

–         Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and bishops protested. Patriarch .Joseph Audo insisted  that the particular discipline of the Christian East be respected.

–         Patriarch. Gregory II Youssef Sayyous (Melkite) defended the patriarchal system of government traditional in the Christian East..

–         There were Eastern Catholic Churches which wanted to recover their heritage and others that are so Latinized they do not understand the nature of the problems.

Pope Leo XIII and the Eucharistic Congress of Jerusalem.

            Leo XIII is called the Pope of the Christian East. His pontificate marked the beginning of the emancipation of the Eastern Catholic .Churches. Report of Card. Vanutelli, Apostolic.Delegate at Constantinople, on 11 April 1883, outlined Latin failures in dealing adequately with the East, and insisted on the teaching in Catholic. Seminaries of special courses in Oriental Theology, Liturgy and History.

            Cardinal.Langenieux, archbishop.of Rheims,Pope Leo’s delegate for the Eucharistic. Congress of Jerusalem reported on 2 July 1893 about the problems caused by the Latin assault on the East, and of the need for a radically new policy. Pope Leo took swift and decisive step On 20 June 1894 he published the encyclical “Pareclara Gratulationis”. The Catholic Oriental Patriarchs were invited to express their opinion freely.

            On 30 Nov. 1984 the pope published “Orientalium Dignitas” on St. Nicholas Day. It is the Magna Carta of Eastern Catholicism.

Further intellectual and institutional developments.

–         Foundation of Review “Oriens Christianus”.

–         Celebration of the 15th C. of the death of St. John Chrysostom in 1907 and a commemorative volume.was published.

–         Foundation of S. Congregation for Oriental Churches on 1 May 1917 and  of Pontifical Oriental Institute on 15 Oct. 1917.

Characteristics of Catholic Oriental Theology

 1. Eastern Catholic theology is not just Byzantine Catholic theology. There has been a remarkable renewal in the non-Byzantine Catholic Eastern Traditions. By and large today, the only Orthodox Theology worth the name is Byzantine Orthodox Theology. The other churches have been reduced by persecution and by Islamic, Russian and Soviet domination. They have their age-old traditional theology rooted in their liturgy, their synods, their Fathers, their monasticism and their spirituality. In the case of Syrians and Armenians this theology is rich, but they struggle for physical survival.

 2. It is a theology in reaction.

      Karl Bath says: ‘the theologian must have the Bible in one hand and the daily         newspaper in the other’. It means that any true existential theology exists at the intersection of God’s eternal revelation and the evolving day to day realities of human history. So like any other theology Eastern Catholic theology is a theology in reaction to the world-situation in which it finds itself. Traditionally, that situation has been one of enemies right and left on one side the praestantia ritus Latini of Benedict XIV’s constitution Etsi Pastoralis of 26 May 1742, on the other side the Orthodox rejection and systematic calumniation of Uniatism. Crusades and Uniatism have rendered impossible for the Orthodox any objective history of their relation to the West.

 3. It is not made but in the making. It is a theology in via, in the process of recuperating and repossessing. It is largely without pretence. It keeps one eye over its shoulder and the other over the Orthodox.

 4. It is self-conscious. Like Orthodox Theology, it is self-conscious in ways the west, complacent in its size and strength, never needs to be. But it is not xenophobic (fear of foreigners & strangers) or paranoid (mental dilution), unlike much in modern orthodox theology. On the contrary it is open to the modern West and embraces its objectivity and fairness.

 5.  It is open and unashamedly eclectic (choosing best out of things). It may be an abomination to the most orthodox writers – subjection to Western influence – the popular Russian catholic spiritual writer Catherine de Hueck Doherty is a representative of this spirit. This is often dangerous and also had some positive effects.

 6. It rejects the pseudo-antithesis between Eastern and Western thought and the false polarization consequent to it. The Imitation of Christ of St. Thomas a Kempis, a typically western spirituality inimical to the spirit of the Christian East, has fifteen editions in Russia. How is it, asks Louis Bouyer. The Eastern spiritual classic “The unseen warfare of Nikodemus the Hagiorite (1748-1809), also author of Philkalia and Pedalion was published in 1796 in Venice.

 7.  It is a theology rooted in the Fathers of the Church and especially in the lived experience of the Church’s liturgy and spirituality that flows from it. This distinguishes it sharply from typically western theology.

 8. It forms an integrated whole. It is an integrated world in which liturgy, spirituality, art and architecture comprise an integrated harmonious whole in a way unthinkable in the West, with its clash of competing methodologies and philosophies.

      There is a  difference between a Gothic cathedral and a small fully decorated                   Byzantine church. Eastern catholic theology is an enclosed world.

As a result of this integral nature, Eastern catholic theology has not just a different liturgy and liturgical iconography and monasticism. It also has a different pneumatology, a different liturgical and spiritual theology, a different theological anthropology, a different Mariology and a different feminism.

Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches

On 21 November 1964 Vatican II approved the decree and it became a law on 22 January 1965. Like other decrees this also underwent several transformations before its final approval. In the middle of 1959 the commission under cardinal Tardini sent an invitation to all bishops asking them to submit proposals and resolutions for the council. In the light of this pope John XXIII nominated an Oriental commission in I960 to work out the following points: 1.Changes in the rite, 2.Communicatio in sacris 3. Reconciliation with the Orthodox Orientals, and 4. The most important disciplinary questions. The work was divided into seven sections and was accomplished in 1960-61 in 56 plenary sessions. The result was the schema -De Ecclesiae unitate (52 articles) and 14 short schemata.

The council started on 11 October 1962. Now the task was entrusted to the newly formed Council Commission. It prepared a schema and sent it to all council Fathers in May 1963. In the light of the suggestions a third schema was prepared on 27 April 1964. Pope Paul VI sanctioned it for the submission to the fathers. At the final voting 2110 Fathers approved the decree and 39 voted against it.

The title of the Decree

Originally the title was “Decree on the Eastern Churches”. The word catholic was added because this decree is not directly intended to the Eastern Churches that are not in communion with Rome. The Catholic Church cannot oblige the non-Catholics to follow the rules and prescriptions of the Catholic Church. According to Patriarch Maximos such a decree is necessary because first the, Eastern Catholic Churches are confronted today with special problems which are not urgent for the Latin Church to the same degree. Secondly the decree can under the authority of the council, repeal certain inopportune and incompatible enactments. He says that the decree arouses hope that a post conciliar commission will carry on the work on its lines.


The first sentence is a disturbing one. There is a contrast between Eastern and Catholic. Here “catholic” is more or less as synonymous with Latin. Patriarch Maximos asks: How the Latins would react if a decree on the Latin church were to say that the catholic church holds in high esteem the institutions of the Latin Church.

Individual Churches or Rites  (art.2-4)

The word ‘rite’ in a narrow sense means liturgical rite, but in a wider sense it means constitution, law, discipline, spirituality, theology, liturgy etc. In the decree it is mostly used in the wider sense.

Art. 2 portrays the historic and theologically founded structure of the Church – a structure made up of individual Churches. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and there is only one baptism, one faith and one government. All baptized are united in the Holy Spirit. The faithful are formed into particular Churches under the bishop. These individual churches are related. Each church developed its own liturgy, discipline and spirituality adopting the customs and traditions of the place. So the»e is a diversity in the Church. Each individual church is bound to safeguard its traditions and spiritual heritage and should grow through adaptation.

Art. 3 emphasizes the fundamental equality of the individual churches in dignity, rights and obligations.

1. The Pope as the visible head of the Church is the head of the universal Church.

2. All these Churches are equally entrusted to pastoral guidance and have the right to preach gospel and to engage in missionary activity.

Art. 4 In order to safeguard the equality of the individual churches and to preserve their growth various provisions have been made.

1. Special parishes, even special hierarchies should be organized for each rite. This was objected on the ground that if the combination of several jurisdictions in the same territory may cause many difficulties.

2. In order to solve the problem there should be a large measure of broad-mindedness and willingness to make adaptations and cooperation in all spheres of ecclesiastical administration at interdiocesan and supra-diocesan levels.

3. Every form of rivalry and attempts to win over members of other individual churches should be avoided.

4. Baptized converts received into the Catholic Church are to be bound to their rite not only within, but also outside the area of their rite.

5. Knowledge of the rite: Priests and seminarians should study about the liturgical rites and inter-ritual questions.  They should instruct the laity.

6. Change of rite is not permitted. Only Rome has the power to give permission to change rite. Now permission to administer the sacraments is given


The Preservation of the Spiritual Heritage of the Eastern Churches (Art.5,6)

1. The eastern Churches are very particular to preserve the spiritual heritage and tradition of the early Church, Their liturgy is ‘centered on Christ. Both Bible and Tradition are precious.  The teachings of the fathers of the Church had great influence on their liturgy. Their spirituality is centered on the Sacraments. Their calendar is Christ-centered. So the Council warns the Eastern Churches not to lose their heritage. The Council praises the heritage of these Churches.

2. The administration of the Church: It is different from that of the Western Church. The head of the Eastern Church is Patriarch who has special powers. So there is diversity in the government. They enjoy the right to rule themselves according to its proper and individual procedure and customs,

3.. The Orientals should preserve their rites and their established way of life. For this they have to study the customs and traditions of the Eastern Churches.

4.. The growth of the rite should be organic. In this growth the identity of each church should be preserved. The mere imitation of other rites is not recommended,

5. The Eastern Churches which were subjected to alterations and which went astray from the observance of their traditions have to restore them.

6. Those who are engaged in missionary work among the Orientals or in Oriental region should study the history, liturgy, discipline and the special characteristics of the Oriental churches.

7. Latin Congregations working in Eastern countries or among Eastern faithful should establish special provinces and houses for the Orientals. In those houses oriental liturgy should be practiced.

Eastern Patriarchs  ( Art.7-11)

According to Patriarch Maximos IV this chapter on the Patriarchs is weakest of the entire Decree because of the rejection of the suggestion to treat the question in the light of the first councils. Actually this question is the central problem of the Eastern churches and indeed generally of the whole structure of the Church. Therefore according to many it should not have been treated as a special problem of the Eastern churches, but as a problem pertaining to the structure of the universal Church.

In the original schema this article had an introduction which was prone rather to weaken than to revalorize the position of the patriarchs both in relation to the Pope and the bishops. Here the rights of the patriarchs were considered as papal concessions. This introduction was replaced by the simple statement that patriarchal structure is an institution of the universal Church which goes back to the earliest epochs of the Church and was already found and recognised (not instituted) as such by the first general Councils.

So the Council says:

1. Patriarchates existed m the early Church and was recognized by the first ecumenical Councils.

2. The patriarch is a bishop who has jurisdiction over all bishops (including metropolitans), clergy and people (of God) of his own territory or rite, in accordance with the norms of the law and without prejudice to the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.

The last paragraph “whenever an ordinary of any rite is appointed outside the territorial bounds of its patriarchate, he remains attached to the hierarchy of the patriarchate of that rite, in accordance with the norm of law” was not in the original text. It was inserted in order to pave the way for a corresponding regulation for the new situation created by large emigration.

3. A bishop of any rite appointed outside the territory of the patriarch, remains attached to the hierarchy of the patriarchate of that rite, in accordance with the norm of the law. It follows that the patriarchs are not entitled to nominate bishops for the faithful of their rite established in America or Canada without the approval of the Holy See,

Art. 8 says:

All patriarchs are equal in dignity. Some o£ them are of later origin.  With regard to precedence the decision of the ecumenical councils is to be considered.

The order of the ancient Patriarchates:

Rome                Rome

Antioch           Constantinople

Alexandria        Antioch



Precedence of the present Catholic Patriarchates:


Alexandria (Coptic)






Ukranian (Major Archbishop)

Syro-Malabar (Major Archbishop)

Syro-Malankara (Major  Archbishop)

Romanian Catholic Church (Major Archbishop)


 The authority of the Patriarchs  (Art.9)

1. Patriarch is the father and the head of the rite.

2. The rights and privileges of the Patriarch should be reestablished in accord with the ancient traditions of each Church and the decrees of the ecumenical councils.

3. These rights and privileges are those existed in the united church before the division.

  1. The patriarchs and patriarchal synod is the high authority in the patriarchal church. It has the power to establish new dioceses and nominate bishops in their territory.
  2. This kind of administration in a particular church is not against the universal jurisdiction of the Pope, who has the right to intervene in the administration of a particular church whenever it is necessary


The  Major Archbishops  (Art.10)

Besides the patriarchal churches there are a number of other individual catholic churches which have no patriarch as their head, but a major archbishop who has the same rights, but not the same privileges. They can be raised to the status of patriarchal church. The preparatory commission had already expressly proposed this for Syro-Malabar, Ukranian and Etheopean churches. Because of certain difficulties only a general recommendation was made. The establishment of Patriarchate is reserved to an ecumenical synod or Pope.

Though the council recommended the institution of patriarchates in certain churches some regarded the patriarchal structure as outdated and antiquated and hence called for its complete abolition. To others it even appeared incompatible with the rediscovered collegiality of bishops.

Questions: Is it wise to create Patriarchate for the small churches?  What would have happened if the patriarchs had not been created?

A rejection of Patriarchal structure of the church on principle would not only mean abandonment of the Uniate churches but also a definitive and irrevocable identification of the Catholic Church with the Latin Church, thus crushing for ever all hopes of a reunion of with the Orthodox Churches. As regards the collegiality, it may be observed that it was in fact in the patriarchally constituted churches that it had been maintained and it is in them that it is still practiced in an exemplary manner


Rules concerning the Sacraments (Art.12-18)

The points considered here are almost exclusively interritual questions for which synods of the various individual churches were not competent at all.

Art. l2: A general statement about the discipline of the sacraments in the Oriental churches, which is very ancient and the council recognizes them and the traditional way of their celebration. The council also wishes that these churches restore them in accordance with the traditions of each church.

There exists .difference with regard to the administration of the sacraments. For eg. In the Latin Church the bishop is the ordinary minister of the sacrament of confirmation, but in the Oriental churches the priest administers it. The Latins use unleavened bread and the Orientals use leavened bread

Art 13.On Confirmation

Confirmation should be administered in accordance with the Oriental traditions. It can be administered only through the chrism blessed by the patriarch or bishop. In Malabar church synod of Diamper changed the practice, in Oriental churches except the Maronites confirmation has been administered by the ordinary priest.

:Art.14. The priest can in future administer it even apart from baptism which had so far not been the customs in some of eastern churches.

It is no longer confined to the rite. In future Eastern priest can administer it validly not only to all Easterners but also to the Latins, which had so far at least not been permissible under Latin ecclesiastical law. Latin priests can also do the same.  In this, the discipline of the each church should be considered.

Art.15 The Eucharist

The decree expressly stresses the competence of the various individual churches with regard to the liturgy. It deals with the obligation of the faithful to participate in the Holy  Mass on Sundays and feast days.

In the Eastern churches Holy Mass was celebrated solemnly and with active participation from the part of the faithful. It was preceded by divine office. There was only one Mass in a church. The liturgical day begins with the Vaspers of the preceding day. Therefore the evening mass is included in the Sunday obligation.  In the Eastern churches Sunday obligation is not under mortal sin.  For the Latins it is the moral sin (Lateran IV 1215).


Art. 16: The faculty for hearing confession to a priest of any rite by his-proper bishop is applicable to the entire territory of the grantor.  The extension of jurisdiction for confession to the priests is dealt here. The eastern priest can in future grant absolution in the region for which he has received the faculty for hearing confessions from his bishop and not only to the faithful of his rite. The hierarchs of other rites have been left with certain possibilities of imposing restrictions.  Here it concerns about the interiritual extension in the territory and this is of considerable pastoral significance because of the widespread mixture of the rites. A bishop can revoke the faculty from a priest with reasons.                                         ;

Diaconate and subdiconate:

Art. I7 – In many of the Eastern churches the diaconate has remained in existence till today as an independent rank in holy orders. The decree calls for its restoration even in places where it had as such ceased to be in practice. Deacons are normally married before their ordination.

Subdiaconate though a minor order is identified with the higher orders in its obligations (Divine office, distinguishing marriage obstacle) it has been left to the discretion of the individual churches to return to the ancient practice.

Mixed Marriages

Art. 18 – The extension of the Latin canonical form to the Eastern churches made invalid all the marriages contracted between Catholics and the non-Catholics. The norm was this: “All marriages not contracted before the competent catholic pastor had been declared invalid (Crebrae allatae c.85 1949).

The motu proprio of Pope Paul VI of 31 March 1970: A marriage between two baptised of whom one is a catholic, the other a non-catholic, may not licitly be contracted without the previous dispensation of the local ordinary, since such marriage is by its very nature an obstacle to full spiritual communion of the married parties.

Since 1949 such marriages resulted in excommunication. Among the Orientals there were many mixed marriages especially where Catholics are minority. Therefore the obligation with regard to the canonical form of marriage was lifted in the sense that it was no longer to be considered as a condition for the validity of a mixed marriage, but only for its lawfulness.

The council says: When Eastern Catholics marry baptized Eastern non-Catholics, the canonical form for the celebration of such marriages obliges only for the lawfulness, for their validity the presence of a sacred minister suffices, as long as the other requirements of the law are observed,

It should be registered as soon as possible. The priests of non-Catholics are requested to cooperate to register in the books of the catholic party (1967 Feb. 22).

The catholic party has the duty to preserve his/her faith, children be baptized, brought up in the same faith.

Marriage between two catholic .orientals – catholic canonical form is necessary.

Marriage between catholic .oriental and Latin – catholic canonical form is necessary

Divine Worship (Art.19-23)

            Art.19. It will be the exclusive right of an ecumenical synod or Apostolic See to establish, transfer or suppress feast days common to all the Eastern churches. The only novelty in it is that in future the patriarch can with his synod, institute or abolish feasts for his church – only in individual cases,

Art. 20 – There is no unanimous agreement among the Easterners on the date of Easter. It is therefore recommended to celebrate Easter on the same day.

Art. 21: The Easterners who live outside their dioceses – ritual diaspora – have been permitted to follow the given local customs with regard to the sacred seasons (feasts , days of fasting etc.). Faithful of different rites in a same family or in a hostel fellow one rite.

Art. 22 – Divine office

Regarding the obligation of divine office it pertains to the community, not to the individual. It should be recited according to the discipline and traditions of each church. The faithful are exhorted to participate in it.

Art. 23 – Use of liturgical language.

Regarding the use of language in sacred liturgy the patriarch with his synod has the power to regulate the use of the language with the approval of the texts by the Holy See. Here the permission is given only for translation which should be faithful to the original text.

Art 24. Relations with the Brethren of the separated churches.

Catholics should show that unity of churches can be achieved without  losing their individual characteristics.

To promote the unity  the council suggests the following:

– Prayer

-Exemplary life

-Religious fidelity to ancient eastern traditions

– Mutual knowledge


– Brotherly regard for objects (icon etc) and attitudes (feeling)

Art.25 – about individual conversion

1. Only a simple profession of catholic faith is demanded.

2. Clerics united are permitted to exercise the orders they possess.

Catholic faith: authority of pope, infallibility, assumption and Immaculate Conception of Bl.Virgin Mary.

They are not bound to follow all the private devotions in the Catholic Church.

Art. 26 common worship

Any common worship (communicatio in sacris) which would damage the unity of the church or involve formal acceptance of falsehood or danger of deviation in the faith, of scandal or of indifferentism, is forbidden by divine law.  Considering the pastoral experience and circumstances the council lays the following with regard the common worship.

Separated Eastern Christians in good faith may be granted the sacrament of penance, Eucharist and anointing of the sick if they ask of their own accord and have right disposition.  The Catholics may also ask them from the non-Catholics who possess valid sacraments.  This should be in the case of necessity and when it is impossible to have access to catholic priest. Common worship is not possible when there is no Eucharistic unity.

Participation in the extra-sacramental worship

Art.28. participation in marriage, burials and similar functions is permitted.

Art. 29 – Common worship should be under the watchful care of the bishop, because it has not only its positive side but also its undeniable dangers. Bishops are asked to show due consideration for each other on this point, so that different practices in the same region or even in the same place might not cause confusion among the faithful.


She council expresses its joy in the fruitful and zealous collaboration between the Eastern and Western catholic churches. All Christians are asked to pray for unity to God the Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit and Blessed Virgin Mary


Trinity according to the Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Church considers the doctrine of trinity as something that has a living, practical importance for every christian. Man is made in the image of God, and to christians God means the Trinity: thus it is only in the light of the dogma of the Trinity that man can understand who he is and what God intends him to be. The basic elements in the doctrine of Trinity are the following:

1. God is absolutely transcendent. The absolute trascendence of God is safeguarded by the use of the way of negation of apophatic theology, which speaks of God in negative terms. God cannot be properly apprehended by man’s mind, human language when applied to Him, is always inexact. It is therefore less misleading to use negative language about God rather than positive to say what He is not.

St. Gregory of Nyssa (+394) says: “the true knowledge and vision of God consist in this – in seeing that He is invisible, because what we seek lies beyond all knowledge, being wholly separated by the darkness of incomprehensibility. St. john of Damscus (675- 749) says: “God is infinite and incomprehensible and all that is comprehensible about Him is His infinity and incomprehensibility…God does not belong to the class of existing things, not that He has no existence, but that He is above all existing things, nay even above existence itself”.

The emphasis on God’s transcendence would seem at first sight to exclude any direct experience of God. But in fact many who made use of negative theology like Gregory of Nyssa, Dionisius, Maximus, also believed in the possibility of a true mystical union with God. They combined the way of negation with the way of union, with the tradition of the mystics or hesychasts. Hesychast comes from the Greek word Hesychia which means quiet. Hesychast is the one who in silence devotes himself to inner recollection and private prayer.

For the Orthodox the positive or Cataphatic theology or the way of affirmation must always be balanced and corrected by the employment of negative language

2.God, although absolutely transcendent, is not cut off from the world, which He has made.God is above and outside His creation, yet He also exists within it. “Thou art everywhere and fillest all things”(a prayer). The Orthodox makes a distinction between God’s essence and energies. His Essence remains unapproachable but His Energies come down to us. We experience them in the form of deifying grace and divine light. Our God is a God who hides himself yet He is also a God who acts -God of history- intervening directly in concrete situations.

3.God is personal, that is to say Trinitarian.  When man participates in the divine energies he is brought face to face with a person. God is a trinity of three persons, each of whom dwells in the other two, by virtue of a perpetual movement of love.

4. God is an Incarnate God. God has come down in His own person. The second person of Trinity became man. This shows the closer union between God and His creation.

Question of Filioque.

The Holy Trinity is a mystery of unity in diversity, and of diversity in unity. Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are one in essence (homoousios) yet each is distinguished from the other two by personal characteristics. St. Gregory of Nazianz says, “The Divine is indivisible in its divisions” for the persons are united yet no confused, distinct yet not divided (John of Damascus), both the distinction and union alike are paradoxical (Gregory of Nazianz).

If each of the persons is distinct, what holds the Holy Trinity together? There is one God because there is one Father. Father is the source of Godhead, the principle of unity among the three, born of none and proceeding from none. Son is born of the Father from all eternity; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father from all eternity. This is the doctrine of the Orthodox Church.

According to Western (Latin) theology the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. For them the principle of unity in the Trinity is the Divine Essence, which all the three share. The synod Toledo (589) for the first time officially inserted “filioque” in the Nicean Creed. Then it spread throughout the whole Latin Church, Frankfert (794) Rome (1014). The west retained their formula “a patre filioque” and later this insertion of filioque caused the division between the East and the West.

The Orthodox Church makes a distinction between the eternal procession of Spirit from the father and a temporal mission from the Son- sending of the Holy Spirit to the world. The one concerns the relation existing from all eternity within the Godhead; the other concerns the relation God to creation. As the son has two births, an eternal birth from the Father and a birth at particular point of time, so the Holy Spirit has an eternal procession from the Father and a temporal mission from the Son. The Orthodox Church claims that their teaching is based on Jn. 15,26. “I will send the Spirit to you from the Father”. The 13th and 14th centuries the. theologians speak of an eternal manifestation of the Holy Spirit by the Son, e.g. Gregory Palamas.

The orthodox theologians say that filioque leads either to ditheism or to semisabellianism- Father, Son and Hoy Spirit are three modes or ways of action. Ditheism is a belief in two gods. If Father and Son are two principles then there are two Gods. Lyons and Florence declared that Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from one principle (tamquam ex uno principio). Therefore, according to the Orthodox Church filioque is dangerous and heretical. It confuses the persons and destroys the proper balance between unity and diversity in the Godhead. Besides the Holy Spirit has become subordinated to the Son.



Creation of Man

Creation of the man is act of all the three persons of the Trinity. Gen. 1,26 says: “Let us make man according to our image and likeness”. Here image and likeness is Trinitarian.

Image and likeness do not mean exactly the same thing. John of Damascus says: Image indicates rationality and freedom. Likeness indicates assimilation to God through virtues. The image signifies man’s free will, his reason, his sense of moral responsibility in everything, in short, the distinguishing mark of man from the animal and makes him a person. It also means that we are God’s offspring, His kin. It means that between God and us there is a point of contact, an essential similarity. For because we are in God’s image we can know God and have communion with him. And if a man makes use of this faculty for communion with God, then he will become like God, he will acquire the divine likeness and he will be assimilated to God through virtues.. (John Damascus)

Grace and free will

Because man is the image of God, he is the son, he possesses a free will. To describe the relation between the grace of God and free will of man, Orthodoxy uses the term cooperation or synergy  (synergeia). St.Paul says: “we are fellow workers (synergoi) with God (1.Cor.3, 9). To achieve full fellowship with God, man as well as God must make his contribution to the common work. Of course God’s work has immeasurably greater importance. So God’s grace and human free will are equally important. The supreme example of synergy is the Mother of God.

The West accused the Orthodox Church of giving more importance to man’s free will. But the Orthodox Church claims that their church’s teaching is very straightforward. They quote, Rev.3, 20: “Behold, I stand at the door,and knock; If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in”. God knocks but waits for men to open the door. He does not break the door. The grace of the God invites all but compels none. St.John Chrysostom says: “God never draws anyone to himself by force or violence. He wishes all men to be saved, but forces no one”. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386) says: “It is for God to grant his grace, your task is to accept that grace and to guard it”. God’s gifts are free gifts, man cannot claim for it, but he must work for it, since faith without good works is dead (James. 2,17).

Fall and Original Sin

Adam was given free will- the power to choose between good and evil. It rested with him either to accept the vocation set before him or to refuse it. Adam refused it. His fall consisted essentially in his disobedience of the will of God; he set his own will against the divine will and so by his own act he separated himself from God. As a result a new form of existence appeared on earth- that of disease and death. By turning away from God who is immortality and life, man put himself in a state that was contrary to nature, and his unnatural condition led to an inevitable disintegration of his being and eventually to physical death. The consequences of Adam’s disobedience extended to all his descendants. We are members one of another (St. Paul) and if one member suffers, the whole body suffers. In virtue of this mysterious unity of human race, not only Adam, but also all mankind became subject to mortality. Cut off from God, Adam and his descendants passed under the domination of sin and of the devil. Man’s will is weakened and enfeebled. The Greeks call it desire; the Latins call it concupiscence.

The Orthodoxy holds a less exalted idea of man’s state before the fall, and also less severe than the west in its view of the consequences of the fall. Adam’s fall is not from a great height of knowledge and perfection but from a state of undeveloped simplicity. Hence he is not to be judged too harshly for his error. His mind became darkened, his will power was impaired, so he could not hope to attain to the likeness of God. But he was not deprived entirely of God’s grace. The image of God is distorted, but never destroyed.

Most orthodox theologians reject the idea of original guilt, man automatically inherit Adam’s corruption and mortality but not his guilt. They are only guilty in so far as by their own free choice they imitate Adam. The orthodoxy never held that unbaptized babies are consigned to hell. Greek Fathers were not much interested in the doctrine of original sin


Incarnation is an act of God’s philanthropia of his loving kindness towards mankind. Many Eastern writers argue that if man had never fallen, God in His love for humanity would still have become man. Incarnation must be seen as part of the eternal purpose of God and not simply as an answer to the fall. Because of the fall of man, incarnation is not only an act of love but an act of salvation (cf. Maximus the Confessor +662; Issac the Syrian 7thc). Christ united man and God in his person, opened man the path to union with God. Christ showed the true likeness of God.

Christ is true God and true man, one person in two natures without separation and without confusion, a single person endowed with two wills and two energies.

A striking feature of the orthodox approach to the Incarnate Christ is the overwhelming sense of his divine glory behind the veil of Christ’s flesh, Christians behold the Triune God. The two moments in Christ’s life when his divine glory was made manifest are Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and the Resurrection. Both are great feasts. The Orthodox do not overlook humanity of Christ. Veneration of the cross, reverence to the Holy Land etc. show this.

God knows different possible worlds:

  1. A world without sin
  2. A world without sin and with Christ as its head.

3. A world with sin but without Christ.

           4 A world with sin but also with Christ as its redeemer in whom God’s merciful love and goodness is best revealed and in whom the world is redeemed and in whom the whole world is sanctified and perfected. Among these possible worlds God by an absolute decree elected the present  world


Holy Sprit.

The works of Christ and the Holy Sprit are complementary and reciprocal. Christ’s work of redemption cannot be considered apart from the Holy Sprit’s work of sanctification. St. Athanacius says: “The Word took flesh, that we might receive the Sprit”. So the aim of incarnation is the sending of Holy Sprit at Pentecost.


Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. So it can be defined in terms of deification. The final goal of every christian is to become God, to attain theosis /deification/divinization. For the Orthodox Church man’s salvation and redemption means his deification.

Behind the doctrine of deification there is the idea of image and likeness. Man is made in the image of Trinity and is called to dwell in the Trinitarian God. Christ prayed that we might share in the life of God the Trinity. Cf. Jo. 17, 2. God dwelling in us and we in Him.

The idea of deification must always be understood in the light of the distinction between God’s energies and His essence. Union with God means union with the divine energies.

The mystical union between God and man is a true union, yet in this union creator and creature do not become fused into a single being. Man retains his full personal integrity, when deified, remains distinct from God. The saints do not lose their free will but voluntarily and in love conform their will to the will of God, nor cease to be human. “We remain creatures while becoming God by grace as Christ remained God when becoming man by the Incarnation. Man does not become God by nature, but by grace (St. Basil).

Man’s body is also deified. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” I Cor. 6,19. The full deification of the body must wait, however, until the last day, for in this present life the glory of the saints is as a rule an inward splendour, a splenndour of the soul alone, then it will be outwardly manifest like Christ’s body on Mount Tabor.

The Orthodox Church has an immense reverence for the relics of the saints because they are convinced that the body is sanctified and transfigured toget6her with the soul. They believe God’s grace is present in them and God uses them as a channel of divine power and an instrument of healing.

The Orthodox Church holds that the whole of material creation will eventually be transfigured (Cosmic redemption). Teilhard de Chardin also speaks of comic redemption. Jesus died on the cross to raise up the world, to move it upward and forward, closer to God and closer to its final point of maturation. Christ descends sacramentally not only into the host (bread) but into the whole universe itself which gradually being transformed by the Incarnation. The world evolves towards the Parousia and the final fullness of all things in Christ will be accomplished at the Parousia.


1. Deification is for all, the full deification is only at the last day, but the process of divinization must be started here and now in this present life.

2. Deification doesn’t mean that one ceases to be conscious of sin. It always presupposes a continued act of repentance.

3. Deification demands observance of the commandments.

4. Deification is a social process. Love of God and of neighbor as himself is important. So there is nothing selfish about deification. St. Antony of Egypt says: “From our neighbor is life and from our neighbor is death. If we win our neighbor we win God, but if we cause our neighbor to stumble we sin against God”.

5. Love of God and love of neighbor must be practical.

6. Deification presupposes life in the Church, life in the sacraments, common life within the fellowship of the Church.


The Church of God: The community aspect of the church is very much stressed in the Oriental Churches. “One falls alone, but no one is saved alone”. The Orthodox Church insists on and agrees with the Catholic Church, the hierarchical structure of the church, the apostolic succession, the episcopacy, priesthood, intercession of the saints, prayer for the dead. But it disagrees about the supremacy and the universal jurisdiction of the pope and papal infallibility. The Orthodox Church treats the church in relation to God. So the idea of the church is spiritual. Three phrases are used to describe the relation of the church with God:

  1. The church is the image of the holy trinity. The church reproduces on the earth the mystery of unity in diversity. She is an icon of God the Trinity. In the trinity the three are one God, yet each is fully personal, in the church a multitude of persons are united in one, yet each preserves his personal diversity unimpaired.

The conception of the church as an icon of trinity has many further applications. Just as each person of the trinity is autonomous, so the church is made up of several autocephalous and autonomous churches, and just as in the Trinity the three persons are equal, so in the church no one bishop can claim to wield an absolute power over all the rest.

 The council is also an expression of the Trinitarian nature of the church. Many bishops assembled in the council freely reach a common mind under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  1. The church is the Body of Christ. We, who are many, are one body in Christ (Rom.12: 5). Between Christ and the church there is the closest possible bond. St.Ignatius says: “where Christ is, there is the catholic church”. The church is the extension of Incarnation. The Church is the Christ with us.
  2. The church is a continued Pentecost. The role of the Holy Spirit is important in the Church. St.Ireneus says:”Where the church is there is the Holy Spirit and where is the Spirit is there is the church”.

The unity and infallibility of the Church.

The unity of the church follows of necessarily from the unity of God. The church is one as God is one. There is only one Christ and so there can be only one Body of Christ.

There is visible unity in the Church. For the Catholic Church, the unifying principle in the church is the Pope, who has universal jurisdiction. For the Orthodox Church the act of communion is in the sacraments. Each local church is constituted by the congregation of the faithful (St.Ignatius), gathered around their bishop and celebrating the Eucharist. The church universal is constituted by the communion of the heads of the local churches, the bishops, with one another. Unity is not maintained from without by the authority of a supreme pontiff, but created from within by the celebration of the Eucharist. The church is not monarchical in structure, centered around a single hierarch. It is a collegial formed by the communion of many hierarchs with one another, and of each hierarch with members of his folk. The act of communion forms the criterion for membership of the church. One ceases to be a member of the church if he severs the communion with his fellow bishops.

The Orthodox Church believes that their church is the true church by the grace of God, because they have received a precious and unique gift from God. The orthodox theologians reject the branch theory, i.e. the church is divided into several branches, mainly three – the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church.

The Orthodox Church also teaches that outside the church there is no salvation. This follows from the close relation between God and His Church. St.Cyprian says: “A man cannot have God as his Father, if he does not have the church as his mother”. Outside the church  there is no salvation because salvation is the church. This does not mean that everyone who is visibly within the church is necessarily saved and not visibly within the church is necessarily damned. St.Augustine says: “How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within”. There may be members whose membership is known to God alone. If anyone is saved, he must be saved in some sense be a member of the church, in what sense, we cannot always say.

The church is infallible.

This also follows from the relation between God and the church. The church is Christ’s Body and a continued Pentecost, so it is infallible. It is the pillar and the ground of truth (1Tim.3: 15). Christ promised His continued assistance and Holy Spirit.

The great Orthodox theologian, Staniloe said to Cardinal Thomas Spidlik: “I cannot understand the infallibility of the pope”. Card. Spidlik replied: “You and I are also infallible. When I say during the Mass ‘this is my body…this is my blood’ or when ‘I absolve you of your sins’ these are infallible words and this is pope’s infallibility, nothing else. Staniloe said, “If infallibility is understood in this way, then it is easier to comprehend. The priests are infallible in the sacraments and the pope is also infallible when he speaks in the name of the great sacrament, of the whole church.

Bishops and Councils.

The Orthodox Church is a hierarchical church. It believes in the apostolic succession of the bishops. The dignity of the bishop is necessarily in the church, that without him neither the church nor the name christian could exist or even be spoken of at all. He is the living image of God upon the earth and a fountain of all sacraments through which we obtain salvation (Dositheus). “If any one is not with the bishop, he is not in the church”(St.Cyprian). At the election and the consecration a bishop is endowed with the threefold power of ruling, teaching and celebrating the sacraments.

The authority of the bishop is fundamentally the authority of the church. The bishop is not someone set up over the church, but holder of an office in the church. The bishop and the people are joined in an organic unity and neither can be properly thought of apart from the other. Without bishop, there cannot be orthodox people, and without orthodox people, there can be no true bishop. “ The church is the people united to the bishop, the flock clinging to its shepherd. The bishop in the church and the church in the bishop.” (St.Cyprian).

The relation between the bishop and his flock is a mutual one. The bishop is the divinely appointed teacher and the guardian of the faith. It is the bishop’s particular office to proclaim the truth. The Orthodox Church considers the first seven councils as ecumenical. It is not so clear precisely what it is that makes a council ecumenical. For them a council cannot be considered as ecumenical unless its decrees are accepted by the whole church


                             Christology according to the Eastern Church


In the Eastern thought, the role of Christ is described in different ways.

1. Christ as the saviour of the world

Jesus asks his disciples a question about their belief concerning his personal identity “who do you say that I am”. Peter answered declaring that Jesus was “the Messiah”, the Son of the living God”(Mt. 16,16). The whole life and activities of Jesus depend on his identity.

In the East there were debates on the identity of Christ. St. Athanatious and St.Cyril were two eminent champions of orthodoxy in these debates. Athanasius was the champion in the council of Nicea I during the Arian controversy. Nicea firmly proclaimed the divinity of Christ. The Nicean victory was not only doctrinal, but also spiritual. The message of Athanasius was that only God Himself could properly be seen and adored as saviour. Thus the divine identity of Jesus, equal to the Father, was not a matter of abstract or purely theological truth, but it indicated the misery of the fallen, mortal humanity- which could neither save itself nor be saved by another creature. It also indicated the true nature of God, who being love, performed Himself the salvation of the world rather than act indirectly through created intermediaries or through an all – powerful but mechanic fiat. It indicates that man cannot be saved by himself or by any other creatures, but only by God.

2. Christ as Immanuel

The central inspiration of Sts.. Athanasius and Cyril was this: only God can save us. St. Cyril says: it is not an elder, nor an angel but the Lord Himself who saved us, not by an alien death, or by the mediation of an ordinary man, but by His very own blood”.

The reconciliation of God as the agent of salvation is shown also in the repeated use of the title Emmanuel – God with us for Christ (letter of Cyril to Nestorius). Both Athanasius and Cyril could not conceive of the divine love manifested in the Incarnation to be really perfect unless it was an act of self giving of God – God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (Jn. 3, 16). This implied the personal presence of God in the human reality of Jesus of Nazareth.

Cyril’s argument against Nestorius was centered on two most human moments in the gospel story of Jesus:

His birth from Mary and   His death on the cross

 Cyril recognized that these moments belong to the divine economy in the flesh – that is, the eternal God by nature could neither be born in history nor die. But he considered that the salvation of the world would not have occurred unless it was perfectly the Son of God who was  born of the virgin and also personally suffered on the cross according to the flesh.

The whole spiritual experiences reflected in Cyril’s Christology implies two central intuitions:

1. God, in search for fallen humanity (lost sheep), does not stop half way, but goes where fallen humanity is – in death itself.

2 It is not an ideal, perfect humanity that the Son of God assumes, but that humanity which bears all the consequences of sin, particularly mortality and corruptibility. Except for sin itself he assumed all the limitations of falleness including suffering and death.

The Christology of Cyril was challenged from two sides:

1. School of Theodore of Mopsuetia (Antiochean). How could the eternal Son be born? How could the passionless God suffer and die?

2. Appollinarian school – Appollinarius, bishop of Laodicea, saw Jesus as God with a human body but without a human soul. Why there need in Jesus for another spiritual center besides the divine Logos? But then was He truly a man? This means that Jesus had a sinless humanity, which could not be affected by corruptibility and mortality – consequently his humanity is perfect, incorruptible not like ours, and therefore his death was not like our death.

There was ambiguous terminology in Cyril – one nature incarnate of God the word, but his rejection of Nestorianism was motivated by the conviction that human destiny lies in communion with God. According to the Antiochean school the human nature of Christ kept not only its identity but also its autonomy. Christ’s birth and death were human only; Mary was mother of Jesus not of God. Jesus the son of man died not the Son of God. It was this duality, which Cyril rejected.

Against Appollinarism, Cyril says that Christ accepted complete humanity – in a fallen state from which it needed to be saved – that the divine Logos had to assume suffering and death. In order to lead the humanity to incorruptibility through resurrection. He first came down where fallen humanity truly was – in the depth of the pit (Ps. 88,6) and then cried before dying “my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Mt. 27,46).

It was the moment of the death of God – the assumption by God Himself in an ultimate act of love, of humanity in its state of separation from its natural communion with God. Christ’s humanity was, therefore, neither diminished nor limited. It was humanity in its very concrete falleness.

The council of Chalcedon affirmed the doctrine of two natures of Christ in their distinctiveness and the doctrine of hypostatic union. The Orthodox Church at the fourth council (553) reaffirmed it.

According to Cyrillian Christology, the humanity of Christ was deified through the cross and resurrection. Christ was the new Adam in whom humanity and divinity were reunited again.

The Christological definitions of Ephesus and Chalcedon, Constantinople II and Constantinople III entered the common tradition of the Eastern and Western Christendom. But the West remained somewhat reluctant in the face of doctrine of deification. For them, redemption –salvation tended to be understood as reconciliation with God rather than a restoration of communion with God. eg.: the Anselmian theory of redemption as satisfaction.

3. Christ as perfect God and perfect Man

St. Athanasius defended the divinity of Christ. St Cyril defended the unity of His being. But their messages remained controversial after their deaths.

In Nicea, ‘Homoousios’ was used to affirm the common divine essence or substance of the Father and the Son. Sabellians or modelists used the same term. For them, Father and the Son are of one essence meant that God was not three persons, but a unique essence with only three aspects or modes of manifestation. Therefore it needed further elaboration. The Cappadocean fathers elaborated it with their doctrine of three hypostasis or really distinct persons.

In Alexandria, after Cyril, Eutychus interpreted the unity of divinity and humanity of Christ to mean the humanity was so totally deified that it ceased to be our humanity. Christ was certainly consubstantial with the father but not with us. His humanity was absorbed by God.

The Chalcedonian definition of Christ tried to satisfy the different existing terminological traditions of Alexandria, Antioch and Rome. It kept the Cyrillian terminology stressing the unity of Christ (repeating the same word  and excluding the duality) and also insisted on the integrity of each nature, each keeping its respective properties within the union by favoring the Antiochean and Latin side. So it can be called a committee document or a catholic, charitable and ecumenical document. Chalcedon solved certain problems but created new ones.  A large Eastern Christian community opposed Chalcedon.

4. Church: the Body of Christ

Christ, the eternal Logos and the new Adam restored the unity of the whole humanity with himself. This restoration could not be automatic or magical; it required free human response to the spirit and the cooperation (synergia) of each human person and a “gathering” of free believers within the assembly of the church. So the restoration requires: –

i. A free human response to the Spirit.

ii. Cooperation of each person

iii. Gathering of free believers in the assembly of the church

The whole Christ (St.Augustine) was manifested where two or three were gathered in His name (Mt. 18,20) where the Pauline image of body could be concretely present. And that body is the church realized most fully in the Eucharist. Participation in the Eucharist in Christological terms was a participation in the resurrected and glorified humanity assumed in the hypostasis of the Son of God and in virtue of the “communication of idioms” between the two natures – penetrated with divine life or energies or grace (John of Damascus).

When we partake in the Body of Christ- being in Christ – we are not identified with the Logos, because person is always unique. It involves a sharing through the power of the spirit, in its glorified humanity- a humanity that remains fully human even after its glorification. The Iconoclasts claimed that Christ, deified in his resurrection, had become indescribable and therefore denounced the possibility of making images of Him.

            Iconoclasts, especially, Emperor Constantine V affirmed the Eucharist to be the only legitimate and biblically established image of God. But the orthodox say that Eucharist was a true and real identification of the faithful with the risen lord – not simply a vision of his image (Theodore of Studites). For them, the Eucharist was never the object of a vision: only the icons were to be seen. It is this general conception that justified the development of Iconostasis. It is the system of icons covering the screen, which separates the sanctuary from the nave of a Byzantine church. The Eucharistic mystery performed behind it is not an object of visual contemplation but a meal eventually distributed to the faithful who otherwise communicate with God by contemplating and venerating icons.

Christ and Bl. Virgin Mary

In Ephesus (431) Mary was designated as bearer of God (Theotokos ) or Mother of God (meter Theou). It affirmed the personal identity of Christ as the preexisting and eternal Son of God assuming the human nature. This decision added a decisive new emphasis to the christian spirituality- a renewed veneration of fMary – She made possible the union of divinity and humanity.

Theotokos was the first doctrinal decision of the church concerning Mary. In NT she was extolled –all generations will call me blessed (Lk. 1, 48.)

Ireneus and Justin called her as the New Eve. Many others glorified her as the earth unsown, burning bush, bridge leading to heaven, ladder which Jacob saw etc.

The Marian piety expresses a spiritual discovery of the human side of the Incarnation mystery. The role of that simple women who conceived the new life, was a reminder of the humanity of Jesus Himself and it gave in a new form the message that free fellowship and communion with God were true expression of authentic human nature.

This shows that the veneration of Mary was never separated from its christological context. This was the only doctrinal definition about Mary. Her exaltation. after Ephesus, did not mean that her belonging to fallen humanity was forgotten. Commenting Mt. 12,46-49-“who is mother, who are my brothers,” John Chrysostom frankly recognized Mary’s human failings and imperfections. The mother of Jesus was seen within the mystery of salvation, as the representative of humanity in need of salvation. But within the mankind, she was the closest to the Saviour and the worthiest receptacle of the new life.

St. Augustine says of Mary’s Immaculate Conception as the object of special grace of God that made her in advance worthy of divine motherhood.

In the West original sin was understood as inherited guilt. And it made it inevitable that Mary be approached in terms of an ‘Immaculate Conception’, as the object of a special grace of God that made her in advance worthy of divine motherhood. The East did not follow that trend, because the consequences of the sin of Adam were seen as inherited mortality rater than as guilt, so that there was no need to see Mary in isolation from the common lot of the fallen humanity


            Sacramental Theology according to the Eastern Churches


            Being in Christ, participating in divine life, is essentially manifested in the sacraments. So sacraments are the acts in which God shares divine life with humanity.

1.Sacraments according to the Assyrian Church of the East.

            According to Abdisho (963-968) the sacraments are the means of divine life in us and as in the natural life there is birth, growth etc. so in the divine life in us. He gives a list of the sacraments:

1. The priesthood which is the ministry of all other sacraments.

2. .Holy Baptism.

3..The  oil of Unction.

4. Oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ.


6..The Holy Leaven.

7..The sign of Life-giving cross.

He also speaks of marriage as a sacred rite.

            About Baptism he says: “In order for a man to be, and to exist in the world, he must be born of a carnal mother through a carnal father….In like manner, in order to belong to the world of immortality it is necessary to be born of the spiritual womb of baptism. (cf.Abdisho of Soba or Nisibis, The Book of the Jewel, tr.G.P. Badger, The Nestorians and their rituals 1-11, London, 1852, pp.404-405.

Baptism as a sharing of Christ’s life and death, is given at the night of resurrection or Easter.

            By anointing with the sacred oil one participates Christ’s ministry and becomes temple of God. St.Ephrem says:

“In it a symbol of your bodies, by chrism they are sealed as holy and becomes temples  of God,where He shall  be served by your  sacrifices”.

Cf.St..Ephrem, Hymn of Epiphany, tr. Edward Johnson.

Rite of absolution fundamentally is a reconciliation with God and the Church. Marriage is not merely a marital relationship between husband and wife, but a realization of the link, spousal and everlasting, between Christ and the Church. It is not that Christ and the Church are the symbol of the Christian marriage, but on the contrary, marriage between Christians is an image of that of Christ and the Church (P.Yousif). According to St.Eprem Virginity is receiving Christ. She reserves herself to Christ as her spouse and carries Him in  her being also her child. Mary is the image. Holy Leaven and Sign of the cross. The former is used for the Eucharist and the latter keeps christains and realized the sacraments. Abdisho says: “The holy leaven is used as the spiritual food of the body of Christ. The sign of the Cross is that by which christains are ever kept, and by it the other sacraments are sealed and perfected.

The sacred orders. The consecration in the sacred orders is a spiritual habilitation to exercise a service. There is a variety of consecrations because of the variety of services.

And they are performed in the Church and for the Church.

The following are the different services and consecrations

Lectors-servants of the word

Subdeacons-servants of the house of God.

Deacons-sevants of the sacraments in the Church of God.

Priests-dispensers of the mysteries of sacraments

Bishops-pastor, father, guide

Patriarch-head of the shepherds.

From this it is clear that priestly ministry is constituted for three services which are correlated: altar, gospel, the people. The ministry in the church is for the benefit  of the members of the church. An ecclesiastical service has no meaning outside the communion of the church.

The basis of the ministry is the respective consecration or ordination. Jurisdiction is a consequence of  sacramental ordination and in some cases it may be revoked. No honorary or titular bishop exist.

Patriarch Timoty II (1318-1360) gave as seven sacraments:

i.Holy orders

ii.The consecration of a Church and Altar.

iii.Baptism and Holy oil (confirmation)

iv.The blessing of monks.

v.The office for the dead.

vi.The holy sacrament of the Body and Blood. Of Christ


Then he adds a supplenment: Indulgence or penance and the forgiving of sins. Mr.Badger says that they now generally allow 1.Orders 2.Baptism 3.The oil of unction, 4.the Oblation of the body and blood of Christ, 5.Absolution, 6.the Holy Leaven and 7.the sign of the cross. Putting these two lists together they have all seven sacraments.

The modern Nestorian does not confess his sins, because the clergy can not keep the seal. Eucharistic liturgy is celebrated only on Sundays and feast days and in the evening before Christmas Epiphany and Easter.

            The Nestorians emphasize the continuity of the Eucharist by the unity of bread used. Each time it is baked, it is leavened not only with some dough from the last baking but with a small portion of the holy leaven which has been handed on form age to age in each church. The baseless legend is that our Lord at the last supper gave an extra consecrated loaf to St.John who later mixed it with water that had fallen from Christ’s body at his baptism, and blood and water that flowed from his side at the crucifixion, The resulting dough was divided among the apostles and has been handed on by a process of leavening ever since. This leaven is renewed in every church by the addition of dough, salt and olive oil by a priest and deacon on every Holy Thursday. No liturgy may be celebrated without it and it is sometimes numbered among the sacraments. An embroidery of the legend is that the West anathematized  Nestorius because when fled from Constantionple he took all the holy leaven with him and left the rest of the world without it.

The Holy Apostles anaphora of the Nestorians misses the words of institution. It is said the omission in the manuscripts was made out of  respect for the holy words.

Nestorians receive Holy communion (only rarely) in both kinds separately, the celebrant ministering the Host, the deacon the chalice. As the Bl. Sacrament is not reserved  there is no provision for communion of the sick outside the liturgy.

            Confirmation was first confused with the baptismal rite followed immediately, and was then dropped altogether. Penance has gone out of use, except in the reconciliation of an apostate. Anointing of the sick does not exist. They have penitential seasons .In addition to seven weeks of lent there are other long and severe


Sacraments according to the Orthodox Church

Sacraments are sacred rites through which the grace of God is imparted in a hidden way. Here the mysterious character is emphasized. No ecumenical Council has determined the number of the sacraments. St. John the Demascus (675-749) recognized two sacraments only, Baptism with confirmation and the Eucharist.

Theodore of Studies (9-thc.) gives the list of six sacraments,

  1. The Holy Illumination
  2. The synaxis (Eucharist)
  3. The holy Chrism
  4. Ordination.
  5. Monastic tonsure.
  6. Service of Burial.

 The number seven appears for the first time in the profession of faith by emperor Michael Paleologus in 1267. It was prepared by the Latin theologians.

 After the Second Council of Lyons (1274) at which Orthodox  renewed its acquiantence with the West , the western usage of seven sacraments was normally adopted.

The Monk  Job  (13th c.) includes the tonsure of the monk, but combines penance and anointing of the sick.

Symeon of Thessalonica (5th c) also admits tonsure of the monk and classifies it together with penance. He considers anointing as a separate sacrament.

Josphat of Ephesus (5th c.) says: I believe that the sacraments of the church are not seven , but more , He gives a list of ten including the consecration of the church, the funeral service and monastic tonsure.

Obviously the Byzentine Church never committed itself formally to any specific list. Many authors accept the list of seven, while others give a longer list , still others emphasize only two, Baptism and Eucharist. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) proclaims that  “in these two our whole salvation is rooted, since the entire economy of true God –Man is recapitulated in them.

Baptism and Confirmation – are normally administerd  together.. Immediately the Eucharist is given.

Symeon of Thesselonica says  ‘If one does not receive the chrism he is not  perfectly baptised’.

Nicholas Cabsilas says ‘Baptism is nothing else but to be born according to Christ and to receive our very being and nature ‘. The salutary day of baptism becomes a name day to christians, because then they are formed and shaped and our shapeless and undefined life receives shape and definition’. Births, new birth , refashioning and seal, as well as baptism cloth and anointing gift enlightening and washing –all signify this one thing that the rite is the beginning of existence for those who are and live in accordance with God.

  1. Baptism is a gift of God. It is not depending on the human choice, consent or even consciousness. “Just as in the case of physical birth, we do not even contribute willingness to all the blessings Derived from baptism”. So they do not have any doubt about the legitimacy of  infant baptism.
  2. Through bapism one becomes  theocentric. One recovers the original destiny which is eschatological and mysterious because it partakes the very mystery of God .
  3. Baptism is a beginning and a promise of a new life. It implies a free self- determination and growth. It does not suppress human freedom, but restores it to its original and natural form. In the case of infant baptism this restoraton is potential, but the sacrament always implies a call to freedom.
  4. Baptism is a liberation from the bonds of satan. It is signified by the exorcism before baptism.

There are numerous rites in Baptism.

1 Exorcism. The priest breathes thrice on the candidate and signs him with the sign of the cross. The devil is exorcized , partly through direct evocations;“satan, the Lord exorcizes thee get out hence ” and  partly through prayers that God  would drive out the evil spirit.

2 Renunciation. The candidate turns to the west, thrice exclaims: “I renounce thee ” and spits in token of his  aversion to the devil. Turning to the east , he  confesses Christ and ejaculates three times  “I surrender myself to Christ”.

3. The recitation of the Nicean Creed. In the case of an infant one of the godparents makes it.

4. The consecration of the baptismal water. The water is consecrated by the prayers of the priest who touches it  with the flat of his hand, and breathes upon it.

5. The anointing of the candidate with sacred oil.

  1. The baptism by three Immersions/sprinkling

                            Ways of prayer and contemplation in the East


.          Russian bishop Theophan of Recluse (1815-1864) says: “The principal thing is to stand before God with the intellect in the heart, and go on standing before him unceasingly day and night, until the end of life”. This reflects the understanding of prayer in Greek and Syrian writers of the first eleven centuries . It indicates three things:

  1. To pray is to stand before God. It is a meeting to face to face and one enters into a personal relationship with God. Here one needs not ask anything or speak in words, but silence is enough.
  2. To stand with the intellect in the heart. It means that the two faculties are to be united. Heart is the center where the created humanity is directly open to uncreated love.
  3. The attitude or relationship of standing before God is to be continued, i.e. unceasingly day and night until the end of life. St. Paul says: “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5,17). Prayer is not merely one activity among others, but the activity of our entire existence, a dimension present in everything else that we undertake.

Prayer is a direct encounter between living persons- God and man. So it cannot be restricted within precise rules, it should be free, spontaneous and unpredictable.  The Eastern writers do not offer any abstract theories or definitions about prayer and contemplation.

The two basic stages on the spiritual journey are the active life (praxis, praktike) and the contemplative life (theoria). Martha is treated as the symbol of active and Mary of the contemplative life (cf. Clement of Alexandria, Origen). In the Western thought the active life normally denotes members of religious orders engaged in teaching, preaching or social work, whereas the contemplative life refers to religious who live in enclosure. But in the East the terms apply to inner development, not to external situation: the active life means ascetic effort to acquire virtue and to master the passions, whereas the contemplative life signifies the vision of God. Thus according to this most hermits and enclosed religious are still struggling at the active stage, whereas a doctor or social worker may yet at the same time be pursuing the contemplative life, if he is practicing inner prayer and has attained silence of heart.

The contemplative life may be subdivided into contemplative life of mature and that of God. Thus there are three stages on the spiritual journey:

  1. The active life –parktike
  2. Contemplation of nature or natural contemplation (physike)
  3. Contemplation of God or vision of God (theoria, theologia –theology or gnosis –spiritual knowledge).

Origen speaks of these as ethics, physics and enoptics or mystical theology and he associates each stage with a particular book of Bible:

Ethics with Proverbs

Physics with Ecclesastes

Mystical theology with Song of Songs.

Evagrius of Pontus (346-399) gives an explanation of these three stages. The active life praktike begins with repentance which is understood not merely as sorrow for sin but as a change of mind (metanoia), a radical conversion, the re-centering of our entire  life upon God. With the help of God we should strive to overcome the deep-rooted passions. For Evagrius passion (pathos) signifies a disordered impulse, such as jealousy, lust, uncontrolled anger etc. that violently dominates the soul. So passions are seen as unnatural, intrinsically evil, a “disease” and thus it is not true part of our human personhood. But Theodret of Cyrus (393-466) regarded passion including sexual instinct, as impulses originally placed in humanity by God, essential to our survival and capable of being turned to good purposes. It is not passion as such, but its misuse that is sinful. Gregory of Palamas (1296-1359) adapted a similar view. He insisted that our aim is redirection of the passions and not their suppression or mortification, He even speaks of “divine and blessed passions”.

Evagrius gives the list of eight evil thoughts: gluttony, lust, avarice, dejection, anger, despondency (listlessness), vainglory, and pride. The christian is called to struggle not only against the passions but also against these thoughts (logismoi). Keeping watch over his heart and growing in self-awareness, one acquires nepsis (sobriety or watchfulness) and diakrisis (discernment or discrimination – the power to distinguish between good and evil thoughts). These qualities should be accompanied by penthos (inward “grief”), and katanyxis (compunction) together with the gift of tears. But tears are not only penitential. What begins as “bitter” tears of sorrow are gradually changed into “sweet” tears of gratitude and love. John Climacus (7th c.) speaks of this as “joy – creating sorrow”.

            For Evagrius  the final aim of the active life is to achieve apatheia (dispassion, freedom from passion). It is a state of reintegration and spiritual freedom. In the West it is rendered as puritas cordis – purity of  heart  (John Cassian)

The second stage is Physike, natural contemplation. It is to see God in all things and all things in God. It is to treat each thing as a sacrament, to view the whole of nature as God’s book: St. Antony’s words: ‘My book, philosopher, is the nature of created things, and it is ready at hand whenever I wish to read the words of God”. (Evagrius).

Evagrius divides physike into 1.first natural contemplation which is directed toward things non-material, toward the angelic realm of spiritual reality. An important aspect of physike is meditation on the inner meaning of Holy Scripture. 2. Second natural contemplation, its object is the physical world perceived by the bodily senses.

The third stage is “theoria” – contemplation of God. Here man no longer approaches the creator through the works of creation, but meets God directly, face to face, in an unmediated union of love. Since the deity is a mystery beyond words and understanding, it follows that in such contemplation the human mind has to rise above concepts, words and images- above the level of discursive thinking – so as to apprehend God intuitively through simple gazing or touching. The mind is to become “naked” passing beyond multiplicity to unity. Its goal is “pure prayer” prayer that is not only morally pure and  free from sinful thoughts but also intellectually pure and free from all thoughts.

 “Whenever you are praying, do not shape within yourself any image of the            Deity, and do not let your mind be stamped with the impress of any form: but approach the immaterial in an immaterial manner …Prayer means the shedding of thoughts … Blessed is the intellect that has acquired complete freedom from sensations during  prayer.  (Evagrius).

At the higher levels of contemplation, then awareness of the subject –object differentiation recedes, and in its place there is only a sense of all-embracing unity. “A monk’s prayer is not perfect if in the course of it he is aware of himself or of the fact that he is praying (words of St. Antony of Egypt in Conferences 9,31 by Cassian). “You are the music while the music lasts”(T.S. Eliot).

In this way the apophatic attitude is to be applied not only to theology but also to prayer. In the realm of prayer it means that the mind is to be stripped of all images and concepts, so as that our abstract concepts about God are replaced by the sense of God’s immediate presence. Accordingly St. Gregory of Nyssa gave a symbolical interpretation of the first commandment. He says that not only images of stone but also conceptual images that must be shattered. “Every concept grasped by the mind becomes an obstacle in their quest to those who search. Our aim is to attain, beyond all words and concepts, a certain sense of presence. The Bridegroom is present, but he is not seen”. This kind of presence of God is designated in Greek sources by the term hesychia, meaning tranquility and inner stillness (hence hesychasm and hesychast). Hesychia means   silence, not negatively in the sense of absence of speech, a pause between words, but positively in the sense of an  attitude of listening. It signifies plenitude, not emptiness; presence, not a void.

The Eastern writers do not exclude the imaginative meditation and many writers also recommended a detailed imaginative meditation upon the life of Christ and more especially, on the passion. E.g. Mark the Monk, Nicolas Cabasilas(14th c.) Peter of Damascus (11-12 c.). So imageless prayer and imaginative meditation are not mutually exclusive but complementary.

With regard to the faculty of the human person that apprehends God in contemplative prayer the Eastern writers are divided. Evagrius defined prayer “as the highest intellection of the intellect”. So the faculty for him is nous or intellect which is not the discursive reason but the direct understanding of spiritual truth through  intuition or inner sight. Other Greek Fathers regarded prayer as a function not so much of the nous as of the kardia or heart. Thus there two are schools: “intellectualists and affective”.

The Veneration of Mary in the Oriental Church

In the Oriental Church Mary is venerated in a very special way. The people  love her icons. In Russia before the revolution the liturgical calendar listed about 1000 Marian icons that were venerated under  diverse  titles, such as: “Our Consolation and Providence (Jan. 21), The Weeping (Feb. 1), Softening of hard hearts (Feb.2), Spiritual banner (Mar.3), Tenderness (Mar. 19), Fertile Mountain (Mar.24), Portress (June 23), Econom (July 5) New Heaven (Sept. 9) Giver of God (Oct .11) etc.

      Marian devotion was cultivated especially in monasteries among monks and woman religious, because they see in the most Pure the full realization of what is sought in monastic life. When we study Mariology of the Orient we have to consider three aspects which the monastic literature of the Orient has strongly emphasized : The ideal of the divinisation of the Christian , “ontological” sanctity, and liturgical piety .

1.The divinization of the Christian

    The Orientals concentrate their attention on the exemplarism by meditating on the signified in facts and things, for example they concentrate their attention not only on the fact that man was created, but rather on what follows in the biblical text: “in His image; in the divine image He created him (Gen. 1: 26- 27 ). The Occidentals look for the cause of events. They begin with the fundamental affirmation that man was created by God and from this they draw consequences . (Spiritual exercise of St. Ignatius Loyola).

     Origen and others (Oriental Tradition) distinguish the two terms: image and likeness. The image is nothing less than an initial divinization: the scope is to become as like to God as possible. This ascent from image to likeness will be completed in the glory of the resurrected bodies (Jn. 3:2) and in conformity with the prayer of Christ (Jn. 17:21), in unity.

Mariology in the Orient is based on this patristic teaching: Image and Likeness.  Demetrio de Rostov, Ukranian Bishop, venerated as a saint, (1651-1709), in his treaties Sull’imagine di Dio e sulla somiglianza con l’ uomo says: “image and likeness do not exist in the body but in the soul and this admits degrees just as perfection does”. In the Slavic language a monk considered as a saint was called very similar to God; and the mother of God was venerated as the most similar. Three degrees, therefore, may be established: the christian is like God (podoben), the monk is more like (prepodebnyj) and Mary is most like to God (prepodebnejsaja). According to this, teaching of Orientals on Mary is not an independent dogma but it remains inherent in the same entire christian teaching as an anthropological leitmotiv (V.Lossky). Therefore Mary is venerated based on the doctrine of divinization. Mary is glorified because God divinizes her. The divinization of man corresponds to the interior logic of the humanization of God. It is a mysterious exchange in which “ each made his own the properties of the other”. The Russian icons teach this doctrine. The red color is the symbol of divine and blue, the human. As a consequence Christ is clothed in red and with a blue mantle. The inner dress of Mary is blue but covered with a red mantle. God became man in order that man might become divine. The mantle almost covers Mary in as much as she is entirely divinized, full of Grace.

2. Mary an Example of Ontological Sanctity

One of the important characteristics of Oriental spirituality is ontological sanctity. It is the consequence of the first aspect, of divinization. Man is adjudged spiritual not only according to his moral actions, since these are only exterior manifestations of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christian life is a transformation of the soul and of the body, their introduction into the sphere of the spirit, in other words this spiritualization of the soul and of the body (Teofane il Recluso, Russian author, (+1894).

In Mary- full of Grace- the ontological presence and the effects of the Spirit manifest themselves in a very particular manner. This Spirit is the sanctifier. “Mary, the All- Holy has summed up the sanctity of the Church, all the sanctity possible for a creature” ( V. Lossky ).

Between the spiritual man and the Holy Spirit there must be a most intimate union so that they form a “mixture”. St. Basil calls the Spirit our “form”. According to Teofane il Recluse the Spirit is the “ soul of our soul”. The Orientals do not speak of “sanctifying grace” but of the Holy Spirit in person. How then can the two persons, even though on such a different level the one a divine person, the other human , become “only one thing”? (Jn.17: 21). This is the reply: the three Divine Persons are united in one “nature”. Nature is the principle of operation. Men “made to participate in the divine nature” (2Pet.1:4 ) , unite with the Holy Spirit in one common operation : Synergeia

The best example of synergeia with the Holy Spirit is the divine maternity. Evdokimov says:To be born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin signifies for the Fathers the mystery of the second birth of every one of the faithful ex fide et Spiritu Sancto. The faith of the each of the faithful is rooted in the act of the Virgin, which has universal value, in her fiat. The annunciation, defined as the “feast of the root’’(St. John Crysostom) inaugurates a new age: the economy of salvation traces back to its Mariological roots and Mariology appears as an organic part of Christology. To the fiat of the Creator corresponds the fiat of the creature.

Ontologically the divine-human synergy is certain with the certitude of faith. Holy Spirit is the enlightener. Mary. Full of the Spirit. must therefore, have an entirely special enlightenment. In the West, Mary is presented as an example of external works whereas in the orient she is the sublime example of contemplation.

Contemplation is essentially the search of the mystery hidden either in the scriptures or in the created world, to discover Christ in the text of the Law and of the prophets and in the visible flesh of His humanity. This aspect is applied to Mary (Origen). The theme of contemplation recurs frequently in the texts for the Marian feasts celebrated in the monasteries with great splendor. Eg. Feast of the presentation of Mary in the temple. According to a legend, Mary dedicated herself in the temple to the weaving of the tabernacle veil. This texture recalls the “veil of the humanity of Christ” which reveals and conceals the Logos, symbol used already by Origen. The temple dwelling of God, refers to mystical steps to arrive at the “place of God” in the highest contemplation. There is a difference between Latin and Oriental spirituality. The adorations of holy hour propose to console the suffering Christ. The iconographical motive is different in the Orient: here we see Christ directing to his mother the words of consolation: “do not weep for me, Mother”. He helps her to overcome the temptation to see pain with purely human eyes and to ascend to the height of contemplation and enlightenment; to see the divine significance of the Cross.

In contemplation, on one aspect man contemplates God. But there is another aspect: man is created also to make God resplendent, so that God may be contemplated in him, in the likeness of the Son Who is both Contemplator and Revealer. In this sense Mary, the one most similar to God is most resplendent and the ideal of beauty. The Syrian poet James Sarug (+521) says: Love moves me to speak of her, who is beautiful / the sublimity of the discourse about her is greater than I, what shall I do? Only love when it speaks, does not fail, because lovable is her excellence/ and to me who listens she grants riches.

According to the Fathers man contemplates God according to the degree of his own purity. From ancient times Mary is called “the most pure”. In fact the Holy Spirit gives man perfect purity. This is realized in Mary Lossky says She represents the peak of sanctity She is without sin under the universal dominion of sin … sin could never have existed in Her”.

The activity of the Holy Spirit is vivifying, who gives life. It follows that participation in eternal life corresponds to the degree of participation in the Holy Spirit. The Mariological conclusion in this sense is twofold: 1. The Mother of God receives eternal life in fullness, the final perfection of creation, therefore assumed into heaven, 2. She receives fertility that she too might be a giver of life, mother of all the christians, of the Church. Mary receives the Holy Spirit together with the apostles gathered together in the cenacle the day of Pentecost at the foundation of the Church. From that moment her maternity becomes perfect, developed in the ecclesiastical dimension, as spiritual maternity, which in the Assumption becomes heavenly alongside the celestial paternity of the Father of all goodness.

3. Mary in the Oriental Liturgical cult.

In Orient liturgy is a solemn common prayer. Teofane ill Recluso says: ‘The church celebrates the rites, and when we assist, we unite ourselves with the church and participate in her grace. Whoever stays away from the exterior ceremonies stays away from the prayer of the church, deprives himself of the great promise of the Saviour,: where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst (Mt. 18,20)

The Oriental liturgy reviews mysteriously the work of salvation. The center of the mystery of salvation is the encounter of the Son of the eternal God with humanity. On the feast of Christmas the Byzantine liturgy affirms: He comes forth from the Father and the Immaculate Virgin offers Him humanity as a new paradise for a new Adam. “What shall we offer You, O Christ, since You are born on earth as a man? Every creature, which is Your work, in fact testifies its gratitude: the angels their song, the heavens the stars, the magi their gifts, the shepherds their admiration, the earth the grotto, the deserted place the crib, but we men, we offer You a Virgin Mother. This shows that the Marian aspect is contained in the feasts, which commemorate the life of Jesus, especially the feast of Christmas. But from the 4th century certain specifically Marian feasts began to appear. The Nestorians celebrated three days in her honor The Syrian monophysites venerate Mother of God on the fifteenth, the Copts on the twenty-first day of each month. In the Ethiopian church the Aganoma Miriam (the harp of Mary )is a panegyric of the Mother of God for every day of the week in the form of scriptural paraphrases. There are beatitudes: “blessed is he who at dawn turns toward you and knocks at the door of your palace. Blessed is he who is touched by your power of your love and always sings the praises of your glory. Blessed is he who always has on his tongue the mention of your name and never ceases to celebrate your majesty.

In the Byzantine liturgy there is a famous hymn, Akathistos which is sung standing because out of reverence (no title, no author of 4th 5th Century) It consists of 24 strophes, one for each letter of the Greek alphabet. The uneven strophes are to praise Virgin Mother and even strophes are like pauses for contemplation of the mystery of Incarnation.

Hail, O Tabernacle of the word of God,

Hail, greater than the Holy of Holies,

Hail, beloved ark of the spirit,

Hail, inexhaustible treasure of Life,

Hail, precious diadem of the holy sovereigns,

Hail, Thou noble bost of devout priests,

Hail, Thou art for the Church a powerful tower,

Hail, Thou art for the Empire a fortress wall”. In the central apse of the Byzantine church there is the icon of Theotokos (Mother of God) either as praying or as an indestructible wall. She is the earthly church which guides all men to unite them in the body of Christ.

Oriental Lumen

Apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II on 2 May 1995 on the occasion of the centenary of Orientalium Dignitas of Leo XII. The pope says that the venerable and ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches is an integral part of the heritage of Christ’s Churches. The Eastern Christians should aware of their tradition. The Latin’s should have a passionate longing for them. All should know that catholicity of the Church is not expressed in a single tradition.

Jerusalem was the center from which Gospel was preached to all nations. Saints Cyril and Methodius are the apostles of the unity of the East and West.

Pope says that now there is a cry for unity of the churches. We cannot come before Christ as divided. The divisions must give way to rapproachement and harmony: the wounds on the path of Christian unity must be healed.

Knowing the Christian East , experience of faith.

The East and the West used different methods and approaches in understanding and confessing divine things. It is possible that one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of mystery of revelation than the other or has expressed them better. So they are complementary than conflicting.

The Christian East has a unique and privileged role as the original setting where the church was born. The Christian tradition of the East implies a way of accepting, understanding and living faith in Jesus. In this sense it is extremely close to the Christian tradition of the West, which is born of and nourished by the same faith. Yet it is legitimately and admirably distinguished from the latter, since Eastern Churches have their own way of perceiving and understanding and thus an original way of living their relationship with the Saviour.

From the beginning the Christian East assumed the characteristics and features of each particular community. So there is a variety of traditions and features of the spiritual and theological traditions. These features describe the Eastern outlook of the Christian. His/her goal is the participation in the divine nature through communion with the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Eastern Eucharistic Theology


The Eucharist is the means by which one affirmed his membership in the Church and experienced it For, the experience of the liturgy is precisely the experience of Christianity and then it becomes the very possibility and source for the knowledge of God and participation in divine life itself. This is the meaning of Easter concept of theosis or divinization and liturgy was perceived as its most perfect expression and realization. This is also why theology Himself y and liturgy remain so closely linked in the East, for one is not considered possible without the other.

            The process of divinization fulfils itself in the Eucharist which is a real participation in the glorified body of Christ. The Fathers of the Church see the Eucharistic elements in very realistic terms. Communion is the source of both immortality and unity and it is essential for christian life.

            St. Basil exhorts to partake of the body and blood of Christ. He communicated four times a week Lord’s Day, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and on other days if there was Mass.

            In the course of time there came change in the Eucharistic theology and practice. The preachers stressed the elements of fear and awe with regard to the Eucharist. The faithful then responded by abandoning communion.  The community was split into a communicating elite and the majority of others. Thus the reception of communion became an act of personal devotion.  The traditional notion of Eucharist as a meal, as fellowship, was replaced by a different understanding without active participation.

            New approaches to the Eucharist were taken due to the social changes and theological debates. The Orthodox gave a new emphasis on the preexisting divinity of Christ against Arianism. They also leveled the doxological formula (to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit), and stressed the two natures formula against Subordinationism and Adoptionism. The Alexandrian and Anthiochean schools had different approaches. The Alexandrian school stressed the analogical or spiritual sense of the scripture. The Antiochean School stressed the literal and historical sense. For the Antiocheans, Eucharist is an imitation (mimesis) or memorial (anamnesis) of the saving acts of Christ’s life and the anticipation of the heavenly liturgy. ( Cf. Theodore of Mopusuetia, Catechetical Homily, 15,20.)

            On this point (Eucharist piety) there is a contrast between East and West. The Latin practice of the veneration of the Host is an expression, on the level of spirituality, of the doctrine of transubstantiation. In the East Eucharistic mystery was not considered in isolation from the Christological facts. The transfiguration of the body of Christ, the change which occurred in it after the resurrection, and which,, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is also at work in the entire body of the baptized faithful that is the total Christ.

            To designate Eucharist the theologians used these terms:

  1. metabole =change
  2. metastoicheiosis = transelementation
  3. metarrythmesis = change of order
  4. metamorphosis= transfiguration

These reflect salvation in Christ of the entire people of God.

            The Eucharistic prayers or canons of the East and the West have several common features and show the ecclesial and Christological dimension.

  1. They are prayers of the community formulated in the first person plural. It shows that communion with Christ is not a matter of individual piety, but of joining together within his single body.
  2. They are addressed to the Father, by an assembly of the baptized persons, who, in virtue of their baptism are already “in Christ”. The catechumens, excommunicated penitents are excluded. Prayers are answered because Christ offers to the Father through and in the assembly and the community as “royal priesthood” and adopted children in Christ participate. Christ is the one who offers and is offered, who receives and is received (Liturgy .of Basil and Chrysostom) but they are inseparable from Him. (cf.Gal.3.27;4.6).
  3. In the Eastern Eucharistic canons, the invocation of the Spirit  (epiclesis) is not an invocation on the bread and wine only, but also on the assembly and the elements. Because bread and wine are not the elements to be transformed independently of the gathered community.

In Christological terms the Eucharistic action implies that (i) the Son of God brings the assumed human nature to His Father in a sacrifice offered once for all.

(ii) Those who have received the same glorified nature by adoption (thesei) or by grace (chariti) are jointing that one High Priest through the power of the Spirit who anointed him as Christ. The same Spirit anoints all the faithful within the communion of the Body of Christ.

Different views on the sacrifice of Eucharist

  1. West- Atonement. The sacrifice on the cross, because He was God, was sufficient before God to atone for the sins of all. In this view, God and creation remain naturally external to one another and the work of Christ is seen as a satisfaction of an abstract notion of divine justice.
  2. East- Restoration.  as an act of divine forgiveness. Redemption was conceived not as an exchange but as a reconciliation and an act of divine forgiveness (Nicholas of Methone). God did not receive something form us … we did not go to him (to make an offering ) but he condescended toward us and assumed our nature, no as a condition of reconciliation, but in order to meet us openly in the flesh.

Golgotha is not simply the price, but only the ultimate point of God’s identification with the fallen humanity, which is followed by the resurrection and is part of entire economy or plan of salvation. The Byzantine Synodikon of Orthodoxy (a solemn annual doctrinal declaration ) affirms that Christ reconciled us to Himself by means of the whole mystery of the economy and by Himself and in Himself reconciled us to His  Father and to the most Holy and life giving Spirit. Christ’s  sacrifice is unique because it is not an isolated action but the culminating point of an economy that includes the OT preparation, the incarnation, the death, resurrection and presence of the Holy Christ in the Church.

            The new life brought by Christ is offered freely, but it must be freely received through personal conversion and appropriated through personal ascetical effort. Eastern monasticism insisted on this personal dimension of christian experience. In this sense we have to understand the doctrine of deification.

 Eastern Liturgical Theology


In 988 when the ambassadors of Prince Vladimir of Kiev attended the liturgy at Hagia Sophia, said that they did not know whether they were “still on earth or in heaven”. This is an apt illustration of the influence of liturgy in the Eastern Churches.  For the experience of the liturgy was precisely the experience of the Christianity and thus it became the very possibility and source for the knowledge of God and for participation in divine life itself. This is the meaning of Eastern concept of theosis, or divinization, and liturgy was perceived as its most perfect expression and realization. This is also why liturgy and theology remain so closely linked in the East, for one is not considered possible without the other. Baptism and Eucharist are the source and summit of the Christian life. Baptism is the  means by which one is made a member of the Church. The Eucharist is the means by which one affirms  this membership and experiences it.


In the East the unitive aspect of the sacrament is stressed. The rites of initiation comprising Baptism, Chrismation (confirmation) and Eucharist are seen as one continuous action. Initiation marks the entrance of the Body of Christ and its culmination is the sharing of Eucharistic banquet which is open to all the baptized including the infants. In the East these actions remain inseparable.

During the first centuries East and West followed divergent practices in the rite itself. The Early Western practice consisted of water baptism, anointing with oil, and the laying on of hands. In the East, the order was reversed and anointing often preceded baptism: (cf. Acts of Judas Thomas – 3c, Didaschalia – 3c The Syriac acts of John – early 4c.) There is reference to the prebaptismal anointing in the  Acts of the Apostles, 10,44-48; 9, 17-18.

So there was divergence in practice, but it did not create any difficulty, for as long as the unity of the rite was maintained it mattered little how the various elements were distributed through the actual rites.

In the East before 4th c. baptism was seen primarily as a reenactment of Christ’s baptism in Jordan. The font is called the womb out of which a new  person emerges, the son of God. (cf. Didaschalia Apostolorum p.352). “Through the bishop the Lord gives the Holy spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we know God and are sealed and  becomes sons of light. Through baptism and by imposition of hand of the bishop the Lord says; Thou art my son, this day I have begotten you”.Baptism bringers forth of the new man and establisher of the new man in the Trinity {Acts of Thomas}.Theodore of Mopsuetia speaks of baptismal font the womb which introduces the Christian in the new life.

After the victory of the church (313) there was a massive influx of new members into the church and there were several theological disputes. These exercised significant influence both on the rites and especially on the theology behind them. The church had to adapt to these new conditions, to provide her new members with proper teaching and to develop adequate rites and explanations.

The process of the historicization of the Liturgy was felt most strongly in Jerusalem. Churches were built in Holy places. And they became centres of the pilgrimage. The liturgies especially of the Holy Week became largely a reenactment of the Gospel events with colorful procession. This type of stational liturgy had a powerful effect on witnesses and the liturgies of Rome and Constantinople soon patterned after it. The calendar, particularly the cycle of fixed feasts, owes much of its development to this phenomenon of historicization. This also marks a shift from a primarily eschatological emphasis in feasts to a more historical one.

The historicizing trend strongly influenced the understanding of baptism. The baptismal rite with its procession to the font, triple immersion and emersion, began to be interpreted as the reenactment of the death and resurrection of Christ basing on  Rom, 6. St.Cyril of Jerusalem applied this theology to the liturgical ceremony in Jerusalem:

          Movement to the font – Procession bearing the body of Christ to the tomb.

           Triple immersion – three days sojourn in then grave.

           The emerging from the pool –sign of resurrection.

Thus our baptism is an imitation (mimesis) of Christ’s suffering in figure. This historicizing trend is also seen in Ambrose, Chrysostom and  Theodore of Mopsuetia.

This was also part of the response by the Church to the massive influx of new members, to whom the mystery of Christ had to be explained in an attractive and  dramatic fashion. It was also to stress the historical basis of Christianity. This approach was pastoral rather than systematic accordjing to the need of the people

               . These factors led in the 4th century to the development of a new type of literature – catechetical literature. This was made necessary by the large number of converts who had to go through a period of preparation. The final stage of this period   (catechumanate ) took place during Lent. This consisted of fasting, exorcisms, reading of scripture and instruction. At the Easter vigil baptism took place. Then neophytes participated the Eucharist at the Constantine – Bascilica. During the Octave of Easter they had to assemble everyday to hear the explanations of the mysteries.

Several conclusions  can be drawn from this:

  1. the message of Christianity was revealed in a liturgical context – a characteristic of  Eastern Churches also today.
  2. scripture was read and explained in a liturgical context.
  3. the experience of liturgy, of baptism, of Eucharist, preceded any explanation of them. The liturgical rites existed before their explanations. They are secondary, and can be changed to accommodate the pastoral and polemical needs of each age.

The great catechists applied the method of scriptural exegesis to the liturgy especially to the visible actions of the rite. From the time of Origen the two types/senses of Scripture were referred  to : 1.literal or historical

                                            2.spiritual, mystical or allegorical

Later spiritual sense was subdivided into three aspects :

                                            1. allegorical – dogmatic aspect

                                            2. tropological – moral and spiritual aspect.

                                            3. anagogical – eschatological aspect.

From 4th century this became the traditional method in the East. In Cyril’s description of the stripping of candidate before baptism we can see how this method is applied to the baptismal rite – putting off of the old man with his deeds – it provides the tropological or moral level. Nakedness of Christ on the cross – allegorical or dogmatic sense.

This method was useful and attractive but also has dangers particularly when the individual elements of a rite begin to be seen in isolation from the rites as a whole, which does happen later.

After 4th C. we find little literature on Baptism because of child baptism. Hence the need for baptismal catechism declined and the catechumanate disappeared. The result, in both East and West, was that baptism began to be taken for granted and thus began to use its prominent position in the theology of the church. In this period there began the difference in approach to the rites of initiation between East and West.

Under St. Augustine’s influence the West began to understand baptism chiefly as the remission of sins. Thus the theology of baptism became primarily negative. The child was considered guilty and need palliative baptism. When confirmation was reserved to the bishop, the rite of initiation was split into distant elements. This, in turn, led to the withholding of the Eucharist from children until after t hey completed the process of initiation.

The East saw the consequences of original sin not as guilt but as mortality. Guilt is only acquired through the personal exercise of a free will through personal sin. So for the East baptism is not a remission from the guilt, but liberation from mortality and incorporation into the life of the Church. This is eminently positive theology. St John. Chrysostom  ( Baptismal catechesis 3,5-6.) says: “The baptized is free person, citizen of the church; saint, just, son, heir, brother of Christ, and coheir of Christ, member, temple, and instrument of the Holy Spirit”. The baptized person is called to theosis – deification – participation in the divine life itself.

The Apostolic Constitution (380) makes no mention of original sin, but places strong emphasis on good christian education and formation. Baptism is a free gift, a promise of a new life, and does not depend on human choice. So the baptismal formula in the East is in deprecatory form  – the servant of God…. This indicates that baptism comes from divine initiative to which the christian is in turn called to respond.

The East sees baptism as a Trinitarian act. It is the gift of the Son, by the Father, made effective by the Holy Spirit. .eg. Trinitarian formula. The prayers for consecration of water and chrism are strongly epicletic – asking Father to send down the Holy Spirit. The baptized like Christ in the Jordan, are anointed by and with the Holy Spirit. Joined to Christ and filled with the Spirit, the christian begins the process of human divinization.



Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

I. The Late Middle Ages (1303-1517

II. The Reformation (1517-1563)

III. The Catholic Reform and Counter Reformation (1563-1617).


I. The Late Middle Ages

1. The Avignon Papacy

2. The Western schism and the councils

3. The Byzentine Church: The age of Palamism (Renaissance)


II. The Reformation

1. Martin Luther and the coming of the Reformation

2. The Struggle over the concept of Christian freedom

3. The reform in the German principalities

4. Europe under the sign of confessional pluralism

III. Catholic Reform and counter Reformation

1. Origin, arid breakthrough of the catholic reform

2. The papacy and the implementation of the council of Trent

3. Religious forces and intellectual content of the catholic renewal

4. The springtime of the missions in the early modern period

5. European Counter Reformation and confessional absolutism

I. The late Middle Ages

On 13 December 1294 Pope Celestine V, a Beneditine monk (Peter of Murrone elected Pope on 5 July 1294, over 80) abdicated. On 23 December of the same year Boniface VIII (1294-1303) – Benedict Gaetani – was unanimously chosen as Pope. He was related to Popes Alexander IV and Nicholas III. He was also connected with Orsini and Colonna, the two papal rival families. He was born at Anagrii around 1240. He was created cardinal by Martin IV (1281-1285). He was harsh and intemperate, but had trained intellect, knowledge of the world, experience of cusiness, intrepid boldness, an iron will and amazing energy.

Boniface was the last great medieval pope, but his nine year reign unmistakably marked the beginning of the decline of papal prestige in European affairs. He, embodying perfectly the medieval concept of papal power, was fated to clash with his political contemporaries, Edward I of England and Philip IV of France.

Reasons for decline:

1. Pope’s desire to enhance his family’s fortune. His scheme to make his family, Gaetani, great landholders in the vicinity of Home brought into conflict with the rival family, Colonna. He degraded two cardinals of this family.

2. The clash with the kings. The kings wanted to eliminate the numerous tax exemptions enjoyed by the church. When kings went to war, they demanded subsidies from the clergy from their exempt possessions. In France the abbot of Citeaux refused to pay and appealed to the pope. Boniface replied with the bull Clericos laicos (Feb. 1296) reiterating the canon law of no taxation without the papal consent. Healso decreed automatic excommunication for anyone demanding or paying unauthorized levies. Edward outlawed the clergy who refused to pay; Philip forbade the export of money outside his realm to strike at the papal purse. Healso approached the University of Paris for opinions on the legality of Celestine’s abdiction, hoping to contest Boniface’s election.

3. The exsumption of the clergy from the trial in secular courts. In 1301 Philip IV’s agents arrested and imprisoned Bernard Saisset, bishop of Pamiers. Boniface published two bulls, i.Salvator mundi, revoking all privileges granted to Philip IV and reinstating Clericos laicos, and ii. Auscmlta fili, a personal letter to the king enumerating the pope’s grievances. He then summoned the French bishops to Rome for a synodal examination of the state of the French church. The statements in Ausculta fill transferred the issue from the religious to the political field.

The French chancellor Peter Flotte denounced Boniface for attempting to infringe on the royal authority. He also procured from the French Estates General a solid demonstration of support for Philip.

On 18 November 1302 Boniface published the bull Unam Sanetarn assenting the papal claims to domination over the temporal power. The bull enuntiates two principles; the distinction between temporal and spiritual power in St. Bernard’s two swords metaphor the innate superiority of the spiritual in Gelasian terminology. She pope declared: “We declare, state, define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary for salvation that every human creature to subject to the Roman Pontiff“.

The official reply to Unam Sanctam was an emotional campaign of personal denigration against Boniface. Philip’s legists charged the pope with simony, heresy, murder, sorcery, idolatry and sacrilege. At ameeting of the royal council in June 1382 in the presence of 26 bishops and 11 abbots, the charges were presented and appeal made to a general council to judge the pope. In all France only the abbot of Citeaux and the bishop of Autin protested; they were arrested at once.

Boniface prepared to excommunicate Philip. It was known to Philip’s agent in Italy, William Morgaret who attacked Anagni, Boniface’s native town where he was then staying, and took the pope prisoner on 7 Sept. 1303. They wanted to carry the pope back to France to place him on trial there, but after two days, papal supporters rallied and expelled Mogaret. Boniface broken in Wind and body, returned to Rome where he died three weeks lateri 12 October 1303).

Boniface’s political meassures turned out for the most part unsuccessful. But his activity within the church was to survive his pontificate: first, the publication of the Liber sextus, a supplement to Gregory IX’s collection of decretals, then the introduction of order into the chaotic state affairs in the curial administrative system, the decision in the question of the relations between the mendicant orders and the diocesan clergy in the bull Super Cathedram of 18 Feb.1300. In June 1303 he founded a university at Rome, the later Sapienza, as a studium gerierale. He bestowed careful attention on the library and archives of the Vatican.

The Avignon Papacy


The situation after the death of Boniface VIII: Benedict XI and Clement V.


Benedict XI (1303-1394)

After the death of Boniface VIII, the supporters of the dead pope succeeded in opening the conclave despite the serious difficulties due to the existence of two factions of equal strength led by colonna and Gaetani families. The two deposed cardinals Janes and Peter Colonna were not allowed to take part in the election. On the first ballot itself the Cardinal bishop of Ostia, Kicholas Bocassini of Treviso, former master general of the Dominicans, was chosen Pope. He took the name Benedict XI. He had to face external as well as internal difficulties: the excessive influence of the French throughout Italy and of the agitation in the papal state, the quarrel between the two groups in the College of Cardinals. Boniface VIII’s new style had altered the papacy as an institution and evoked opposition. To please the French he sent notice of his election arid absolved king Philip IV from all censures he might have incurred and freed the Colonna Cardinals from the ecclesiastical penalties imposed by Boniface VIII.

As a cardinal and legate, he had been a success, but was not quite equal to the demands of his new, burdensome office. His narrowness is evident in the fact that the three cardinals created by him were Dominicans. When Arnald of Villanaova, the physician of Boniface VIII and an ardent Spiritual, sent him admonitions and threats in apocalypse dress, he had him imprisoned without trial. On 7th July 1304 after eight months’ pontificate, Benedict died at Perugia and was buried there in the church of his order.

Clement V C1305-1314)

Ten days after the death of Benedict XI, the cardinals entered the conclave in Perugia. When it opened it comprised nineteen cardinals, eight of whom were religious. In the course of its eleven months four cardinals left because of sickness. Fifteen took part in the actual election. The two Colonna cardinals were denied entry. Two Orsinis, cardinal dean Mathew Rosso Orsini and his nephew the cardinal deacon Napoleone Orsini, were the leaders of the opposite groups and there were violent, between them. Finally on 5 June 1305, the archbishop of Bordeaux Befrtrand de Got, was elected pope.

The newly elected pope accepted the notification made to him at the end of June, styled himself Clement V, and prepared for the Journey to Rome via Provence. But then he ordered six cardinals to attend his coronation at Lyons on All Saints. During the solemn coronation procession on 14 Movember a wall collapsed, killing several persons of high rank; the pope fell from his horse, and the most expensive Jewel in the tiara was lost. People read these happenings as an evil omen.

Clement did intend to go to Rome. His weakness, the increasing pressure of the French king and the insecurity of Rome and of all Italy made him postponing the journey to Rome. In his first creation of cardinals in December 1305, nine including four nephews, were French, and one was English, he was more confined to his homeland. Moreover he was not familiar with the curial procedure.

After the coronation Clement stayed quite a long time in his native place, in Poitiers alone for sixteen months. In 1309 he went to Avignon, but it was hot his permanent residence. From 1309 till his death he spent most of his time outside the city din the Rhone. He can neither be a Roman Pope nor an Avignon Pope. A sick man, he sought a place most advantageous to his health.

In his relations with France the Pope’s dependence was especially clear in two matters:

1. The process against Boniface VIII

2. The process against the Templars

1. The process against Boniface VIII

After the election of element it was discussed that,

i. all measures of Boniface against France against his assailants at Anagni be annulled,

ii. Full compensation be made to the Colonna,

iii. The corpse of the pope be disinterred,

iv. The sentences issued by Benedict XI be recalled (excommu­nication of Nogaret). Precise directions were even given for the formulating of the bull to be issued by the pope. At the curia the demands caused consternation. A committee of six cardi­nals was set up and after much deliberation a bull was sketched but at was not actually drawn up.

Again, a year later, the king and the pope discussed the following matters:

  • permanent settling of the curia in France
  • condemnation of the Templars
  • holding of a general council in France
  • canonization of Gelestine V
  • condemnation of Boniface VIII and burning of his remains
  • absolution of Mogaret.

 The process against Boniface started in 1310 and the case was discussed in many consistories. Several committees were concerned with hearing witnesses. The pope was accused of heresy. The trial was discontinued when the pope in the bull Rex Gloriae of 27April 1311, had acknowledged the king’s praiseworthy real in his proceedings against Boniface and had absolved Nogaret ad cautelam. The cancellation in the official register of the bulls issued by Boniface VIII against France was a serious humiliation.

2. Process against the Templars; the Council of Vienne

In the Middle ages the Christians were seeking the Holy Land and wanted to be taken care of there. From the effort to supply them with aid emerged the Templars.

Hugh of Payens (+1136), a knight from Champagne, Joined with eight companions In 1119 in a religious community obliged to poverty, chastity, and obedience, with added duty of providing armed protection to pilgrims en route from Jaffa to Jerusalern. Since Baldwin II of Jerusalem housed them in the royal palace, the so-called Temple of Solomon, the game came to be applied to them. The circumstances procured for the Templars rich gifts in all countries of the West and made them a powerful international society, conversant with finance, independent of the king of Jerusalem and of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Even before Clement V, the king of France had planned the merging of all military orders, with himself as grand master, and in Lyons, at the time of Pope’s coronation; he had brought his complaints against the Templars. The real motive for their prosecution and destruction were the independence of these military orders and their great wealth in landed property and money. They were defamed and damaging reports were also carried to the pope. On 13 October 1307 all French Templars were arrested at the king’s order and then subjected to strict interrogations by royal officials, who made abundant torture. By extorted confessions they admitted rejection of and spitting on the cross, indecent kissing and exhortations to commit sodomy, and even the adoration of an idol in the ceremony of admission to the order. These avowals (confessions) were handed to the pope. Impressed by them he ordered the arrest of the Templars in all countries. But when he had been apprised (aware) of the nature of the proceedings and of the repudiation of many of the confessions, he suspended the delegated authority of the bishops and inquisitors in Feb.1308. Nevertheless, the imprisoned Templars remained under the custody of the king and his officials.

In summer 1308, the pope and the king met at Poitiers. A few carefully selected Templars repeated their previous confessions in the presence of the pope and curia. The king did not allow the grand master arid the chief officials of the order to come to Poitiers; they were questioned elsewhere. At Poitiers pope had to agree to hold a council in France, to open the process against the memory of Boniface VIII and to lift the suspension of the authority of bishops and inquisitors in regard to the Templars. The pope appointed two investigating committee, a papal commission to deal with the entire order. The king nomi­nated its members for the investigations not in France alone, but also abroad. The Templars were to be interrogated individually in every diocese by means of the episcopal commissions. The king also influenced the local commissions. Its goal was this: to extort confessions and prevent the repudiation of previous avowals by threat of the stake for the relapsed. When especially outside France, confessions were slow in coining, the pope ordered the universal application of torture. There were heroic scenes; many imprisoned Templars publicly declared their

innocence and that of the order. Thereupon, the Archbishop of Sens in May 1310 sent 54 of them to the stake on a single day and later several small groups.

Council of Vienne – 16 October 1311

The main purpose of the council was the affair of the Templars. The total number of the participants was around 300, of whom 120 were patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and mitred abbots. At pope’s suggestion the council selected from among its members a large committee to which the records and summaries were submitted for examination. After the discussion of the subject, out of regard for the king and pressure, the pope announced the suppression of the order by an apostolic decree on 3 April 1312.

After the council there began struggle for the Templars’ property. On 2May shortly before the close of the council, the transfer of the Templars, property to the Hospitallers was published. But the execution of this regulation proceeded very slowly and was dragged out for decades. In France the greatest part of it apparently landed in the King’s hands, since he claimed an adequate compensation for having brought the case to a conclusion. When the grand master and grand preceptor of Normandy were asked to repeat their confession of guilt in front of Notre-Dame de Paris and accept their sentences if life imprisonment, they publicly repudiated all confessions and swore to the order’s innocence. On the same day both were burned without regard for the Pope.

Today it is generally agreed that the order as a whole was guiltless of the crimes attributed to it. It was mainly the machinations of Philip the Fair and he bears the personal responsibility for the ruin and death of the Templars.


John XXII C1316-1334)

About two years after the death of Clement V, on 7 August 1316, the Cardinal bishop of Ostia, James Dues e of Cahors the bishop of Avignon (from 1310, cardinal from 1312)  was elected pope. he took the name John XXII. His coronation was performed at Lyons on 5 September and he arrived in Avignon in October.

This period is qualified as political papacy because the priority was given to politics, though John expressed his desire to return to Rome, he postponed it. The longer the delay lasted, the more serious became the psychological difficulties confront­ing a transfer of the Holy See.

John XXII and the Franciscans: In the Franciscan Order two groups had taken shape, the Spirituals and the Conventuals, differing on the question of a more or less rigid interpretation of the rule of poverty. St. Beneventure and Nicholas III had attempted unsuccessfully to resolve the difficulty in the last |century. There was a radical group called Fraticelli among the Spirituals, who resorted to force to overcome their more liberal brethren. John threatened them with excommunication and a temporary lull set in.

In 1322 the friars’ general chapter declared in vindication of the Spirituals’ views that it had always been a matter of faith that Christ and the Apostles had lived in absolute poverty. Pope condemned this opinion as heretical and imprisoned Bonagratia of Bergamo, the Franciscan representative at Avignon. Most of the friars accepted John’s declaration, but some like Michael of Cesena, William of Ockam opposed it.


John XXII and the empire: A double election occurred in 1314 between Frederick of Austria and Louis of Bavaria and it was not settled until Louis defeated his rival after eight years of civil war. John remained neutral but when Loius showed an interest in the affairs of northern Italy John declared him a usurper on the ground that no man might exercise the rights of emperor without papal approbation. When Loius refused to countenance such a claim, the pope excommunicated him. The emperor received support from the disaffected Franciscan Minority whom Louis sheltered at his court. They accused him of heresy because of his refusal to accept the Spirituals’ ideas on the poverty of Christ and his strange views on Beatific Vision which pope preached in a private sermon. – the souls of the just do not enjoy the full vision of God immediately after the death but only after the general judgment. On a visit to Rome in 1328, Louis set up a Franciscan friar as antipope but it collapsed quickly. There was discussion over this matter and in Faris the government opposed the pope and threatened to prosecute him for heresy. On the eve of his death the pope is said to have abandon­ed his peculiar opinion.

Pope John was an attentive reader and preacher. Healso deserved the label of politician. He died in 1334.

Benedict XII (1334-1342).

On 20 December 1334 James Fourner, bishop of Mire poix, was elected pope; he took the name Benedict XII. It seems that Benedict had no intention to returning to Rome as he built the great papal palace at Avignon. He also had to depend on France. The French church was again and again burdened for the political needs of the government. Throughout his pontificate he was unable to free himself from the strong bonds linking him to French policy.

Benedict started a comprehensive reform activity. A few days after his coronation he sent back to their benefices all ecclesiastics who could not satisfactorily justify their sojourn at the curia, se avoided many abused that had crept in. He was a Cistercian and the religious orders were his special concern. He issued special Dulls for their reform. “Fulgens sicut stella” for the Cistercians; Summi magistri for the Benedictines; Redemptor noster for the Franciscans.

Estimates of Benedict’s personality vary. So one denies that he was inspired by lofty motives. Petrarch Judges him quite severely, characterizing him as a totally unfit, drowsy, and drunken helmsman of the ship of the church, very likely these reproaches emanated from hostile Franciscan circles. In regard to theology he was rightly considered scholarly but of inquisi­torial harshness. He was a spiritual autocrat but a firm preserv­er of legality. Benedict died in 1342.

Clement VI (1342-1352) Fierre Roger from Limousin

On 7 May 1342 Clement VI was elected pope, he was known for his oratorical gifts. He was entrusted by the government with numerous tasks, he was also the spokesman of the episcopate in the nomination and taxations of benefices, official preacher of the crusade. He was created cardinal in 1338 and soon occupied an important position at the curia.

Clement was highly intelligent, a hard worker and a man of wide culture, he was the most magnificent of the Avignon popes. He used to say: “my predecessors did not know how to live as popes should do”. He abandoned all hope to return to Rome. &e resolved to complete and improve the palace. In 1348 Avignon was purchased from Queen Joanna I of Maples. This and the magnificent construction of the palace disappointed the Italian hope of a return of the curia.

In this pontificate occurred an important event. A few months after his election, Cola di Riengo the tribune of the people visited the pope to ask the reduction of the jubilee from every one hundredth to every fiftieth year, the pope granted it and proclaimed 1310 as jubilee year in a consistory in 1343. Cola di Rienzo took over the administration of the city in 1347 and planned to have the sovereignty of the Roman people after the suppression of barons and foreign mercenaries, independence of pope and emperor, unification of all inhabitants of the peninsula under a ruler of Italian blood. In spite of this the jubilee 1350 could be celebrated.

Clement ranks as the most splendid representative of the Avignon regime – grand scale expenditures, a court of princely luxury. It unbridled favouritism of relatives and countrymen. Under him the curia was scarcely to be distinguished from a secular court. His pontificate bore a worldly character. Clement died in 1352.

Innocent VI (1352-1362)

Cardinal Steaphen Aubert as Innocent VI was elected pope on the second day of the conclave in 1352. Before the election the cardinals resolved that the pope could not create no more cardinals until their number had dropped to sixteen and there could be no more than twenty of them. The pope is bound to get the consent of the cardinals – at least two third – for any procedure against individual cardinals and for the alienation of any part of the papal state. The consent of the cardinals was to be obtained in filling the higher administrative posts, in granting tithes and subsidies to kings and princes, and in demanding tithes for the benefit of the Camera Apostolica. The pope was not to hinder the cardinals’ free expression of opinion. But after the election the pope declared this capitulation null.

Innocent fortified Avignon with strong walls in 1357. He entrusted the reconstruction of the patrimonium papal state to Cardinal Gil de Albornoz who stayed in Italy thirteen years from 1353. Innocent could no longer realize his often expressed desire to go to Rome. He died at Avignon on 12 September 1362.

Bl. Urban V (1368-1370)

After the conclave of five days the cardinals elected one from outside the College of Cardinals, William Grimoard, the abbot of St. Vietor de Marseille. He took the name Urban V. He was a canonist. Se retained his monastic habit and monastic life le promoted studies by founding colleges and burses. He took strong steps against luxury of the court and sent many curialists packing. As a monk he was a stranger to the life of Curia. A man of interior life and somewhat ignorant of the world, he did not always see through the diplomatic game and fell prey to the allurement of political power.

In spite of the objections from France and the college of the cardinals, Urban left Avignon for Home on 30 April 1367 and landed at Corneto in the papal state on 4 June. After a brief rest he proceeded to the security of Viterbo in preparation for entering Rome, with a strong military escort, on 16 October.

In Rome the pope devoted special attention to the repair and adornment of the Roman churches, especially the Vatican and Lateran basilicas. In 1368, he created seven cardinals, five Frenchmen, one English and one Italian. There were disorders in Rome and Viterbo and political disturbances and opposition. Urban thought of going back to Avignon. In vain did Catherine of Siena, Bridgit of Sweden, Peter of Aragon advised against it. The French influences, above all that of the cardinals, were stronger, and the miscarriage of the Pope’s political plans was the chief motive for his giving in. He said “the Holy Spirit led me here, and now he is leading me back for the honour of the church”, Urban left Italy on 5 September 1370 and on 17th of the month he reentered Avignon. On 19 Dec. 1370 he died. Later he was beatified.

Gregory XI (1370-1379)

The conclave which began on 29 December 1370 with 17 cardinals, ended the following morning with the election of Cardinal Peter Rogery nephew of Clement VI. Gregory XI was crowned on 5 January 1371 and appeared on horseback in a colour­ful procession in Avignon. When only nineteen, he was made cardinal by his uncle in 1348. He was elected pope at the age of forty-two. As pope he too remained strongly attached to family and homeland. Of the 21 cardinals he created, eight were from his own land; there were eight other Frenchmen, two Italians, and one each from Geneva, Castile and Aragon.

Gregory was a weak and easily influenced man. He had also the traits of tenacity, energy and unrelenting severity. He understood the necessity of pope’s return to Home. He postponed it due to the unfavourable political situation in Italy and the pressure from France.

Despite the difficulties and pressures Gregory left Avignon on 13 September 1376. The influence of St. Catherine of Siena on Gregoryes return to Home is important. It is said that she spent three months -from the middle of June 1376 at Avignon to confer with the pope. On 17 January 1371 Gregory with 13 cardinals made his solemn entry into Rome. He died on 27 March 1378.

The Curia at Avignon

For almost seventy years Avignon was the papal residence, though the seat of the papacy was never transferred there. Avignon occasioned the expression “Babylonian Exile”. This term refers to the desolation of Rome and implies an accusation. In 1348 Clement VI purchased the city and the surrounding territory. Benedict XII started the construction of the papal palace and it was completed by Clement VI.

The papal curia at Avignon was like a princely court. The style of the officials of the curia strongly resembled that of the French royal court. The management of the apostolic palace was done by a large group of clergy and laity. Everywhere the French orientation was very clear especially in creating the cardinals. The College of Cardinals had great influence. Some­times pope’s freedom of action was restricted by the College of Cardinals. She written election capitulation of 1352 was a typical example. Most of them lived a luxurious life with enormous wealth. The French popes had an imprudent over-development of the financial system and an excessive affection for their country.

The Black Death (1348-50) lasted for thirty months. It was extremely contagious. Europe it destroyed some forty million people in Western Europe.

The Western Schism and the Councils

The premature death of Gregory XI on 27 March 1378 placed the church in a difficult situation. Thousands of Romans demanded a pope from Rome or at least a native of Italy. The sixteen cardinals then in Rome – 11 French, 4 Italians, 1 Spanish entered the conclave on 7 April. Next morning they decided to vote for Bartholomeo Frignano, archbishop of Sari. In the afternoon the mob invaded the conclave. It was calmed for the moment when it was declared that the aged Roman Cardinal Tebaldeschi had been elected. Despite his resistance he was enthroned before the altar of the chapel by the mob. The other cardinals profited by the break to flee, six to Castel Sant’ Angelo, the others to their residences or outside Rome. On the next after noon 12 cardinals returned voluntarily or were called to the Vatican to complete the election procedure. Cardinal Fiagnano took the name Urban VI. The cardinals ratified the election and acknowledged Urban as pope. They informed the absent cardinals of Urban’s election.

Once seated upon the pontifical throne, Urban alienated the cardinals by his tactless and tyrannous manner. His method to reform the church was at fault. His language was very offensive. St. Catherine of Siena wrote him: “For the love of Jesus crucified, Holy Father, soften a little the sudden movements of your temper”.

On 13 August 1378 the cardinals declared the election of Urban to have taken place under pressure and therefore to be null and void. On 20 September they -13 cardinals – elected Cardinal Robert of Geneva who called himself Clement VII at Fondi. The election was proclaimed on 21 and on 31 October he was crowned as Clement VII (1378-1394).

Clement’s election was an unhappy one. Canonically his election was entirely unacceptable. St. Catherine of Siena supported Urban, despite his notorious failings, and dubbed the cardinals of Anagni ‘devils in human form’. After trying in vain to establish his authority in Home, Clement went to Avignon in May 1381. The pope in Rome retained the obedience of England, almost all Germany, Scandinavia and northern, and central Italy; while Clement at Avignon was recognised by France, Scotland, Spain and the kingdom of Naples. The two rivals excommunicated one another, and each talked of nothing less than burning the other alive. The Great Schism had begun and it was to last for forty years.

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almost as many acolytes at heaven’s altar: St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Colette, the celebrated reformer of the Poor Clares, Bl. Peter of luxenburg. There was no universally recognized pope, no papa indubitatus. The archbishop Peter Tenorio of Toledo replaced in the canon of the Mass the name of the pope with the phrase “pro illo qui est verus papa”. The spiritual anguish thus generated increased stay from day to day; desolation over­whelmed the souls of men, and it was widely believed that no one had gained entry to Paradise since the beginning of schism. Many believed that the end of the world is 1400.

Urban VI died in 1389. The cardinals owing obedience to him elected a Neapolitan cardinal Peter Thomacelli pope who took the name Boniface IX (1389-1404). The Avignon pope Clement VII died on 16 September 1394. The Avignon college of cardinals elected a successor on 2S September 1394 – Peter de Luna, who styled himself Benedict XIII (1394-1423). With most of his colleagues in the conclave he had signed under oath a statement that he would devote himself to union with all real and would even abdicate in the event that the cardinals should regard this as necessary.

Various solutions were proposed to end the schism. In 1394 the University of Paris, after much consultation suggested three possibilities:

(1) via cessionis – joint surrender

(2) via compromissi – compromise, a committe of arbitration should be appointed and its decision bind both obediences,

(3) via concilii – a general council to pronounce the judgment.

France had an extraordinary attempt to end the schism, in 1398 the French clergy proclaimed the complete and immediate withdrawal of its obedience from Benedict XIII, hoping thereby to compel his immediate abdication. But Benedict absolutely refused to abdicate alone or to be the first to do so. After four years of vacillation they renewed allegiance to him. Until 1403 .Benedict was isolated in the palace. On 12 March 1403 he made a fantastic escape from the papal palace down the Rhone to the Chateau-Renard in the territory of the count of Provence.

Soon after the reconciliation of the clergy and his liberation Benedict sent important proposals to Rome:

(1) for a meeting of the two rivals on the borders of the respective obediences or in Italy, for e.g. in the territory of Genova.

2. for negotiations by plenipotentiaries in the event that the claimants could not meet personally;

3. for resignation.

Boniface rejected all of this. His death, occuring while the Avignon Embassy were in Rome, interrupted the contact, and the new pope Innocent VII did not take part in discussions.

The death of Innocent VII in 1406 seemed to open up another solution when Benedict asked the Roman cardinals not to proceed to an election. But before the envoys arrived, the new pope had been elected: the Venetian Angelus Correr, who became Gregory XII (1406-1415). In the event of his election each cardinal is had bound himself to resign if the same thing were to happen on the opposing side; specific regulations concerned the naming of new cardinals in order to maintain both colleges at numerical equality.

The third way was to convene a council to depose both popes. In March 1409, 24 cardinals – 14Romans, 10 Avignonese – accompanied by some 300 leading prelates held a meeting at Pisa. Since no pope had convened this council, their meeting was illegal. It lasted from March until August. They deposed both rival popes holding each guilty of the double offence of schism and heresy. They chose in their stead a Greek, Petros Philarges, cardinal of Milan, who became Alexander V (1409-1410). The University of Paris declared: Oh, happy choice! Peace had been restored! Oh, pacific union! But both popes refused to abdicate at the council’s order. Instead of two contested and questionable popes, there were henceforth three Alexander V died in 1410 and was replaced by John XXIII – Balthazar Cossa, the cardinal deacon of Ostia.

The council of Constance (1414-1418)

The council of Pisa could not achieve union. Therefore a new council was proposed to restore Christian unity. The place chosen was Constance. On 9 December 1313, Pope John XXIII issued the bull convoking the council to Constance. The German king Sigismund sided with the pope. John entered Constance on 28 October 1414 and on 5 November solemnly opened the council. He was accompanied by a retinue of six hundred. The other two popes did not attend in person, but both sent delegates. At first the number of the participants was slight, because many wanted to see whether the council would meet at all. Sigismund arrived on Christmas, and with the new year, 1415, the attendance rapidly grew. Thirty-three cardinals nearly five hundred bishops, two thousand representatives of the universities and some five thousand priests, ambassadors from every secular court, forty dukes, five hundred knights, every single one escorted by a train of gervants- some one hundred thousand souls! Ulrich of Richethal shadier side – seven hundred prostitutes to reform men’ s morals !

The council had a triple end in view:

1. to put an end to the scandal of Great Schism

2. to enact measures to suppress the abuses

3. to crush certain heresies

Of these three, the first one was seriously pursued. It was manifestly impossible to choose between the three popes. John came to Constance with the intention of having the Pisan decrees against Gregory and Benedict confirmed and then dissolving, the council. Although the legitimacy of the council of Pisa and of the election of John was recognised almost unanimously, only the resignation of the Pisan pope also and of the two deposed at Pisa seemed to give hope of success. This was also Sigismund’s plan and that of most of the nations. The council pressed for John’s resignation with menacing accusations. John finally yielded to the pressure and held out the prospect of abandoning his claims, but he bargained for a week about the proper formulation. Then, in the night of 20-21 March 1415, he left the city secretly and in disguise. He hoped that his flight would disrupt the council. But the council continued. The fugitive pope was brought back as a prisoner and deposed on 29 May being accused of simony, plurality, incest, sodomy, fornication and of being his predecessor’s murderer. He signed his own condemnation inscribing it with his Christian name alone: Balthazar. Five years later Martin V readmitted him to the College of Cardinals.

Gregory sent envoys to the council. After the flight of John XXIII, he reconvoked the council and announced his resignation. The council appointed him cardinal bishop of Porto and lagate of the Marsches of Aricona. Benedict XIII did not want to resign. He took refuge on the rocky pinnacle of Peniscola, a kind of Spanish Mont-St-Michel and proclaimed his profound faith in the justice of his cause; the whole Christendom was with him on this mountain top, just as all humanity had been with Noah in the Ark! On 26 July 1417 the council deposed him. Till his death in 1423 he regarded himself as the only legitimate pope.

The Great schism had been terminated and there remained the task of choosing a lawful pope. But it was not easy. Various factions were at work in Constance. It was finally decided to that the new should be elected by the College of Cardinals and six representatives of each of five nations (30). The elected should get two-thirds not only from the cardinals but also from the representatives of each individual nations. On the eight day of the conclave, 6 Novemebr 1417, Cardinal Oddo Colanna was elected under the name Martin V. He was crowned on 21 Nov. From now on the council was under his direction.

The German emperor Sigismand urged Martin to settle in Germany, the French king urged him to return to Avignon. But Martin courageously preferred the eternal city, Rome. He entered Rome on 28th September 1420.

The council restored peace in the church, but it could not solve all her problems. It advocated the conciliar supremacy. It decreed: ‘the general council, representing the Catholic Church, and deriving its power directly from Christ, must be obeyed by everyone, whatever their conditions or rank, even toy the pope! Another decree ‘frequens’ established the council as the normal and regular authority in the church, fixing the interval at which it must be convened (five years initially then seven and ten).

According to the Frequens, Martin, after five years, summoned a council at Pavia, but it was transferred to Siena due to plague. After a year of fruitless discussions it was disintegrated and it commanded to hold a council at Basel seven years later. Martin assented, and appointed Cardinal Cesarini as president with authority to dissolve it. On 20th Feb.1431 Martin died of apoplexy. Martin was a politician. He was able to restore peace in the church. He was also a man of very simple life. He reestablished the papal state, can be called the third founder of papal state. The inscription on his tomb reads: “temporum suorum felicitas”. When he died he left a state in relatively good order in the church.

Eugene IV (1431-1447)

The conclave met in the convent of Minerva, and chose Gaoriel Condulinero, a Venetian patrician and nephew of Gregory XII. The new pope took the name of Eugene IV. He was an Augustinian, pleasant, distinguished, reserved, continued the monastic life, against nepotism, interested to govern the church in the best interests of the church. But he lacked the flexibility and shrewdness of a diplomat.

At the conclave Eugene had been obliged with his fellow cardinals to sign a kind of capitulation which would subject the pope to the College of Cardinals. It entitled the college

–          to receive oath of loyalty from vassals and officials

–          to make alliances

–          to declare war

–          to control the reform in the church

–          to reform of the curia in head and members

–          general reform at a general council

–          to transfer of the curia

–          observance of the rules issued at Constance in regard to the nomination of cardinals.

–          sharing by the college in the income and in the govern­ment of the papal state.

–          no proceeding against the person and property of a cardi­nal without the consent of the majority.

–          whenever the formula ‘de fratrum nostrorum consilio’ was in a decree, the listing by name of the consenting cardinals.

Eugene was not a politician. His rash- proceedings against the Colonna family produced long lasting troubles in ail parts of the papal state. In 1434 the pope had to flee from Rome; he found refuge at Florence and then at Bologna. He was not able to return to Rome until 1443.

According to the decision of Constance, a council was opened at Basel on 23 July 1431. Eugene opposed the council from the start, lie dissolved it by the bull ‘Quoniam alto’ of 12 Nov. 1431 signed only by ten cardinals. Then he summoned a new synod, which was supposed to meet in Bologna eighteen months later. But Cardinal Cesarini and others were against dissolving the council. So the pope changed his tactics. He issued a bull which authorized the holding of the council at Basle and commanded the largest number of priests to attend it. Then he published two bulls which were intended to annul all the conciliar decisions. This was too much and Christendom feared a rebirth of the schism. Everybody begged Eugenius to yield. At last the pope by a new bull “Dudum sacrum” proclaimed his submission. When it was learned in Basle on Christmas 1433 that the pope had capitulated, one German prelate asserted: ‘the world had not received so great a benefit since the Incarnation’.

Shortly afterwards another event took place in Rome. Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan, invaded the Papal States. The pope felt unsafe in Rome that he decided to flee. Eugene left the city on the night of 4 June 1434, disguised as a Benedictine and accompanied by only one faithful servant. After a very dangerous journey the pope reached Florence and had established himself there. Several cardinals rallied around him in Florence and the republic assured him of her protection, Eugene then ordered the closure of the council of Basle, which was now a state of utter chaos and had been abandoned by the legate, and summoned a new council at Ferrara.

The council of Ferrara was also intended for the reunion of the Greeks and has tern churches. The emperor with the patriarch and others arrived in Ferrara. But an epidemic raging in the neighbourhood of Ferrara forced to the council to adjourn to Florence. After much discussion the East and the West, in June 1439, agreed to a solemn declaration which proclaimed “the Roman pontiff to be the authentic successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, the vicar of Christ, Father and Doctor of all Christians”. The act of union was signed a month later.

Meanwhile the atmosphere at Basle was becoming both ponderous and frenzied. There was an antipapal campaign under the direction of a fanatic, cardinal Louis Aleman. The men of Basle consummated the rupture with Rome by electing an antipope the person of a layman, prince Amadeus of Savoy. He took the name Felix V. (He wass a widower and father of nine children).

On 18 September 1437 Eugene-transferred the council to Ferrara which was opened in January 1438. The Greeks arrived at Ferrara at the beginning of March. In June began the theolo­gical discussions. The forms of the discussions were quite varied. There were few general sessions; for the most part the work is done in committee discussions, in which prepared cedulae were debated by experts of both groups, often in a very sharp fashion. Joseph II, patriarch of Constantinople, was favourable to union but he died before the publication of the union decree at Florence.

Because of an alleged danger of pestilence, but really for financial reasons, the synod was transferred to Florence in January 1439. The expenses of the conciliar meetings were a burden on the curia. After long and fruitful discussions, con­versations between emperor and pope, and repeated threats of departure by the Greeks, there finally took place on 6 July 1439 the promulgation of in both languages and signing of theunion decree “Laetentur coeli”. Soon after the Greeks left, and on the very return voyage many of these among them who had taken part in the council withdrew their consent. The union was scarcely acknowledged in the East, even though other smaller groups of Oriental Christians – Armenians, Copts, Syrians, Chaldeans, and Maronites – reached an understanding with the curia. On pope its return to home in 1443 the council was transferred to the Lateran; it quickly declined in importance^ and was never officially con­cluded.

The points of theological controversy:

–          Filioque

–          Purgatory

–          the matter arid form of the Eucharist

–          the interpretation of the papal primacy

The doctrine of purgatory was discussed at Ferrara and Florence and stated: the souls in question had to undergo a cleaning penalty after death.

For the Greeks Filioque was the most important and really decisive point. The debate began at Ferrara in September and were prolonged until December without success. Then they were resumed in Florence at the beginning of March 1439 and were concluded in June, the Greeks argued that according to the decree of Ephesus the creed was not to be altered by additions. There were long and bitter discussions; no solution came out, but produced an axiom – “between the Western and Eastern Fathers if here can be no contradiction since they are all illumined by the Holy Spirit. In the decree of union the accord and the per­missibility of the accepting of the Filioque into the creed were defined with many words but it was not said who could law­fully make such an addition, and the Greeks were not obliged to insert the Western addition.

On the Eucharist they agreed to the essentials and recognized unleavened and leavened breed as the matter but there was no decision relevant to the form, that is, to the words of consecration and the epiclesis.

There was also heated discussions on the papal primacy. The Greeks regarded as the highest tribunal in the constitution of the church the pentarchy. They were fully prepared to concede to Rome the privileges he had enjoyed before the outbreak of the schism. There could no question of a primacy of jurisdiction. But in barely three weeks the Greeks were compelled to yield on a broad front.

 On political ground the emperor and the pope needed union. The emperor wanted the military assistance of the West in exchange for the slightest possible dogmatic concessions; the pope wanted aid against Basel arid hence demanded recognition of the primacy. Finally a satisfactory accord was reached and on 6 July 1439 the reunion of the churches was solemnly proclaimed. Pat. Joseph II of Constantinople, Bishop Bessrion of Nicea, and Isidore of Kiev sincerely laboured for reunion – pope Eugene even promoted the two latter to the rank of cardinal – but the motives of other Greeks were dubious. The factious Greek, popula­tion repudiated the work of their hierarchy. Constantinople fell in 1483 to the Turks.

Pope Eugene died on 23 February 1447. His successor was Nicholas V (1447-1455).

Renaissance and

Renaissance is a return to the study of classical literature and a rediscovery of Gracco-Roman art. As a result of this new phenomenon all Italy was enveloped in a golden hate of luxury and glory, of creative passion and sheer beauty. Renaissance man’s interests centered on the present rather than on the next world.

Michelet (History of France – 1&55) was the first to use theword to designate a chapter in the history of civilization. This was a break, a sudden change. It is said that after the sepulchral| darkness of the Middle Ages humanity broke from the tomb and underwent a glorious revival. This is an attractive picture, but not the complete picture. This brilliant scene contains great areas of shadow. It is also noted for its abject sins, depravities and violence. Horror mingled so intimately with beauty that it eventually came to seem perfectly natural. The very same people who embellished the churches became murderers, buried people alive and kept their enemies’ heads in urns and pickled in salt. The intrigue, debauchery, poisoning and incest were taking place on the fringes of the Holy See itself. This epoch, bore much prolific fruits simply because it was both voluptous and delicate and terrible, scholarly and barbarian. This period was abounded in unusual people. The renaissance period is also traditionally associated with a number “of inventions and discoveries: Gutenburg press, Mavigattiirs – Henry the navigator, Christopher Columbus, Bartholomew iat, Vasco da Gama etc. for their geographical discoveries.

The Renaissance was, substantially as well as chronologi­cally, an Italian srigia phenomenon. The movement was born in the Italian peninsula, and received its most powerful impulse from there. While the reminder of the West was still the scene of the death struggle of medieval civilization, a new culture had already come into Deing at Florence, Siena, Venice and Rome. There is a striking time lag between the Italian Renaissance and the phenomenaHa similarly named in France and Germany. West of the Alps men were thinking and building in G-othig while Brunelleschi was designing the cupola of Florence cathedral; on the banks of Loire and the Seine artists and writers were only Just starting to develop their kind of classicism, at a time whti, those wi on the Arno and the Tiber werealready well committed to baroque.

Why Italy assumed the leadership of the Western civilization? Because iff or two hundred years Italy experienced one^ of these upsurges of creative vigour, one of those prolific developments of_genius and talent which can be observed in Periclean Athens, twelth century France or the age of Louis XIV. The whole social political situation in Italy conditinoed a psychological and moral climate in which a number of j^owerf ul personalities were indeed enabled to assert themselves» This climate and the decadence and disintegrattjon during the final one hundred and fifty years of Middle Ages caused the emergence of this new state of mind: philosophy tended towards emancipation; the human personality grew tired of the moral and social ruJt^lTto which it was subject, and basic disciplines cnumbled;/the very meaning of life itself seemed about to be called in question.

The popes of early Renaissance


Micholas V (1447-1115).

In 145CKHlcholas celebrated the Jubilee year. Rome wjs over­crowded with pilgrims. On one occasion an enormous crusk on the bridge of Sant’angelo resulted in two or three hundred pilgrims being thrown into the Tiber, fie canonoiy.ed St. £ernardino_of Siena, a great preacher and Franciscan. Nicholas was a theologian . and skilled in fireelc Me played an important role in the reunion council of 143f. Sis short pontificate is immortal by his patronage to scholars and artists. Ie placed papacy in better position. France returned to the bosom of the church. Emperor Frede­rick mIII came to Rome to celebrate his marriage to Eleanor of Portugal and his coronation. Piccolomini observed: ‘It usedjto be the emperor_ who chose the pope, but riowthe pope is master’. In Germany a Concordat (of Vienna) wag signed in 144i which became a model of the agreements between the papacy and the_states. The right of the Holy See was recognised; but the electiqn_j>f the bishops was permitted to the secular authority, thepapacy__merely reserving’it self the right to sanction the choice. %elii V (f abdicated and he was admitted to the college of tfardinals.

le summoned artists to Some and transformed the face of the eternal city. The papal__city was surrounded by impregnable walls and the finest painters in Europe under Fra Angelico covered them with masterpieces. Se was also a patron of literature. ordered the scho’lars to translate liomer, Plato Aristotle etc.

e started the collection f__jjre_cious manuscripts and rare books whjch were to constitute the Vatican library, fie sent numerous messengers far and wide to obtain the copies of the precious books. At his death the Vat. library boasted nearly fifteen hundred books of which eight hundred and eighty were Latin manu­scripts. The money received during the Jubilee year was mostly spent for this purpose.

Nicholas had two tragic worrings. There was a plot under \tefano rorcaro, once a close friend to the pope, to set fire to the Vatican during the High Mass and arresting, the pope. The plan was discovered and Porcaro was hanged. A fow months later in. Pfay 1455__Goristantinople |3ilirrto_jbhe_ hands of the Turks. Nicholas was greatly hindered in the last year of his pontificate by a chronic illness. With him died thefirst Renaissance pope, but he was a Renaissance pope in the best senee.

Calixtus III U45S-145S).

Nicholas died during the night of 24-25 March 1455. The next conclave was overshadowed by the rivalry of £ollonna and Orsini families, but it could be held in the Vatican. The 77 year Cardinal Alfonso Borgia was elected; he called himself Galixtus__LII. He was an eminentjurist and had contributed decisively to the settling of the Western schism, fie became cardinal in 1444.

‘i’he chief dtaty _activity of the pope was devoted to the crusade. jj>ut it was not successful. He favoured nepotism T made two nephews cardinals

Pius II U 458-1464)

On 1cj August 1458 Aeneas oilvius Piccoloraini, cardinal of Sinna was elected’pope who took the name Pius II. In an election capitulation he had sworn: to continue the Turkish war and the reform of the Roman curia; There followed decrees on the share of the_cardinals in important ecclesiastical measures and in the iaiifill ing of the higher benefices, a sort of coregency in the administration of the gapal state, and an adequate maintaining and observing of the Constance decrees on the namii-g of   J new cardinals. Once a year the college was to meet and to examine whether the pope had observed the election capitulation and if necessary to admonish him, iefore the proclamation of the election the newly chosen pope had to confirm the election capitulation and later have a bull issued on this matter. All of this Pius did.

Pius was a humanist and had connections with all the great intellectuals of the age. Jie invited raaay of his own stamp to the Vatican, but unlike Nicholas, never reposed excessive con-fidence in any of them, lie encouraged artssts. fie also continued his li t e rary endeavours . When he was reminded that his early writings were not exemplary, he answered the courageously, repudiating the sins of his youth: ‘Aeneam rejicite, Pium ac^ipite ‘

?ius sought_td> revive _^jjg_J^ga Q? a crusade to unite the whole of chris tend om^against the Turks, fie appealed for a crusade in October 1463 and appointed Ancona. as the placje_of gathering in the next summer. Despite his poor health he said that he would take part, fiis appeal found a response among the lower classes throughout .e-urope. They set out for Ancona in bers but soon had tm turn bc.ck. There was response from the princes. On 1& June 1464 the seriously ill pope left Rome and with many cardinals and curialists, made his way to Anconas To his great disappointicent he found there only a few crusaders and eagerly awaited the arrival of the Venetian galleys. As they came in sight he died on 14 August’and the great enterprise was ruined.

The so-called letter of Pius to Mohammed II ia an extremely important document for an explanation of the personality__of liusll.  fie is regarded as_a reform pope. Right after his ele­ction he began comprehe_ngiy_e_prepa.rations for general reform and f orthe jref orrn__of the Romancuria. He worked hard on the drawing up of a greet reform bull, but he could not^promulgate in his_ i lifetime. As pope he did not defend the conciliar theory, but defended 1KB his prmatial prerogative^. To safeguard his position he was forced to admit several relatives to the college of card_-irials and to confide important posts to Sienese fellow countrymen.

Paul II (1464-1471)

The j^yenetiancarditial Feter B^rbo wa.s elected as Pope Paul II. The election was ded by a capitulation with more detailed regulations. J-ts content/Ls as follows: c on t inua t ion._of Turkish war and use of jtiie__^reat alum mines discovered near Tolfa under Pius II for the expenses of the crusade, reform__of thg_ curia within three months of the assumption of the papacy and continuation of reform, keeping the chanceryfees in line with the prescriptions of the chancery rules j^f instead ofmoving about.from palce  to

place, no-nomination of cardinals because ‘of requests from outside| respect the number qf_24 cardiriajjg as laid down at Constance, observance of other decrees of Constance, the summoning of a council within the next three years, the paying of 100 florins monthly to the cardinals who did not have an annual income of 4000 florins, filling of the higher benefices only in consistory the granting of presentations or nominations to benefices only with the consent of a majority of the Sacred College, the pro­secuting of the cardinals only with the consent of a majority, obligatory consultation in regard to enfeoffments in the papal state, renunciation of the exercise of jus spolii at the deaths of the cardinals, express consent of the college for military enterprises, no changing of the amount of taxes and no deals with the princes on the taxation of tne clergy, the taking of an oath by officials of the papal state to relinquish their posts sede vacante, and the prohibiting of relatives of the pope from governing atrongholds in the papal state: Civitavecchia, Tivoli, Kami, Spoleto, Soriano, Viterbo, itoccocontrada, and Fano. Jjo bull contradicting these regulations was to be drawn up. These chapters were to be read in the first consistory of every month and the cardinals were to investigate twice a year how they were being observed. After the election the pope declined to acknojtf-ledge the election capitulation.

Paul II had been admitted to the college by his uncle, Eugene IV, when he was 23 and was still lacking in personal merit, fie tried to get his way by force and hence was feared rather than loved.On the other hand he exerted himself to win people by splendid entertainments. As a cardinal he had used his immense wealth to constuct the huge Palag.zo Vener.ia and planned great collections, fie issued a ^eries_of practical rules and for the administration of andcare of Kome and the papal state.

In 1470 the pope issued a new summons to the crusade aga_inst the_Turjcs and sent invitations-to a congress at Eome. But it was not heard. The pope died in July 1471 at the age of fifty-three.

Sixtus IV iU71-14>4).

After the conclave of three days, Francis della Rovere, a Franciscan and mutstanding theologian, wss elected asypope Sixtus IV, on 9 April 1471. With him the high Renaissance had begun. &c favoured nepotism; he made two of his nephews cardi­nals, one later became as pope Julius II, the other was very notorious and/was dead within three years. The thirty.four card­inals – six pf’__them_jwe•re__his__nepheiws.-* were for the most part hardly worthy men.

with thejhajiie of Sixtus IV is foreever connected the t r an s fo rina $ ion of mediaeval Rome into a Renaissance city. This includes the 2£w__j3^rjej2te, the ponteSisto over Tiber, the churches of Sr;nta Maria del Fopolo, Santa Maria della Pace, the new hospital of Santo Spirito, numerous palaces of cardinals and other high prelates, and especially the great new palace chapel in the Vatican, the Sistine chapel. The pope’s bronze monui^nt now in the crypts under Sairt Peter’s is one of the finest o* papal graves.

When the Turks reached Italy the pope managed to i^nd out a fleet to expel the Moslems. In 147& a terrible trn4/^7 shocked the whole Italy. Giulio de wedici was assainated in the cathedral of Ilorencc during the High Mass, his brother Lorenzp escaped and having established himself in power, butchered every conspi-ratofc together with their friends. It very soon became known that a nephew of the pope had organized the plot and that the pope himself was aware of it.

The stressing of the personal goodness and piety of Sixtus IV cannot prevent our seeing in him the one who upset _the Italian balance of power by his unfortunate politicaljgnterpri-ses. And he be;.-rs the chief guilt for the further progress of the Roman curia into unbridled nepotism and worldliness.

Innocence VIII (14*4-1492)


The death, of Sixtus was followed in Rome by a storm against the”Grenoesey who, so the Romans and the inhabitans of the papal state thought, had occupied all the good positions under the Ligurian Pope (Sixtus). There was_ln security, unre st , the plu-and street fighting. The conclave started on 26 August 14*4. Twenty-five cardinals took part, and they were split into two f actions. On 29^!ajrdinal John Baptist Cibo, bishop of Mol-fetta, was elected as Innocent VIII. fie was a creation°cardinal Julius ^novere . Before his election, Innocent agreed to grant the cardinals whatever they might ask. It can be regarded as bribery and simony . He also was known to have two natural chil-j|r e n . One of them Franceschetto married Maddalena, daughter of Lawrence de’ Medici, which brought about temporary reconciliation with Florence. Because of the opposition of the Maples in 14§9, the pope imposed ecclesiast ijg_al censures on tne king and his territory. Only shortly before the deaH;h of the pope peace with fiaples was reached. in 1492.

Innocent was highly influenced by Julian delle Rovere. Vatican administration was increasingly controlled byonworthy men. The sacred college was filled wih__w^r]^ly cardinals. Among them was a thirteen year old boy G-iovanni de’Medici, who hed received the purple in token of the Pope’s gratitude to his father, Lawrence. In 1490 there was a move for crusadg_^.£aini the Turks, butjwas_without results^ innocent’s reign was almost constantly filled with disturbances in Rome. On the whole it was an unfortunate and we^kponti.f_icate_ in an age whlch._n_eeded^_£i strong, reform mindedpersonality.

Alexander VI (1492-1303)

(The temptation of the Flesh: Alexander VI, Borgia i*enri-Daniel Rops,The’ Prpt.Kef .p.300.) Alexander VI was born around 1430 at Jativa near Valencia.! He studied at Bologna. When his uncle had become pope Galixtus II” h» was admitted to the sacred college and became the vice chancellor of the Roman Ohurch. He was the richest cardinal of his time next to the French cardinal d’Estouteville. In the years 1462-1471 were born to him Peter Louis, Jjeronina and Isabella the names of whose mothers have not come down to us. Best known are those born of his liaison with Vannor.za Cottaneis, Cj^e sar , ,. , , John,. Geoffery and Lucre tia. They alter his election to the papacy, were at once provided for in the mariner of princes and claimed an excessive share of pope’s interests. John, born in 1476, became ,after the early death of Peter Louis, Duke of Gandia in Spain and then was given the honorary posts in Rome, made captain general of the pap&l sia±ss troops in the stuggle against the Orsini. He was assasinated in 1497. Suspicion was directed against Cardinal Ascanasus Sforza, the Orsini, and later even Caesar .Borgia.

Caesar’s influence on the pope was pernicious. He was richly endowed with benefices under Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII. After his father’s election as pope he obtained at theageof_1_t several bishoprics, including the wealthy see of Valencia, and in 1493 he was made cardinal. On the death of his brother John he resigned the cardinalate. He then became the duke of Valen-tinois and married a French princess, and was given the title of the duke of Komagna. The opoe’ s death caused his star to fade rapidly and died in 1507.

Lucretia_was corn in 14*0 and was favourite. In 1493 she was married to the Count of Pesaro I3frza family), but w^s declared null because 01 the husband’s alleged impotence in 1497. Then she married Alfonso, the duke of Msceglie. In 1500 he was murdered by Caesar’s minions iri the Vatican palace during the Holy Year 1500. In 1501 was her third marriage to Alfonso d’iiste of ierrara. Lihe died in 1510.

Geoffrey was born in 14*2. In 1494 he married Sancia of Aragon, a bastard daughter of Alfonso II of iiaples and became prince of Squillace. —e died in 1517.

Pope Alexander’s relationship^with Julia Farnese, sister of cardinal Alexander Farnese(Paul III) is debated. As cardinal he blessed her marriage. The two boys born during Alexander’s pontificate, ‘(John, the infans Komanus, in 1498 and liodr_i£O in 1503, very prooably had the pope for their fatherT open question, lackes clarity.

If the administration of the papal state was regarded as standard for evaluating a pontificate – it was so – Alexander’s pontificate was shrewd and important. Me could preserve the balance of power and react very sensitive&y to outside inter-ference. There were difficulties in the papal state caused by the quarrels of petty lords and the rivalries of the Roman families, Colonna, Orsini, Savelli. ^uite often th>. pope had to seek shelter in iaant’ Ang-“O o, and to proceed with sever? eccle-siatical.penalties against the disturbers of peace. In all th*ce he conformed to the style other princely courts.

Alexander VI and Savanarola

Jerome Savonarola was born in Ferrara in 1452, entered the Dominican Order at 23, an exemplary novice, a brilliant scholar, most rigorous in fasting and asceticism. In the beginning he confined to teaching and then began to preach. He became convin­ced that ha Christ had chosen him to be the_repositor3r of_fiis divine^me_s_sage. He said in a prophetical tone: The church will b eref_orme_d, but Italy will first be sgourged, and her chastise­ment ia imminent!”.

Savonarola was made the prior of Sanjfereo, Florence. At that time the monastery’s numbers rose to over 200. His sermons attracted huge crowds, fie h«d inherited the very fire and style from the OT prophets, fie claimed a supernatural power and was convinced that he had been invested with the giftof_T)rojihe_cy. iie spoke of his extraordinary ecstacies and of the apparition of Christ and Bl.Virgin Mary to him. The theme of his sermon: “the bride of Christ was tainted with sin and must be purified, she nust regain her faith. Alexander V.I on Peter’s throne must be the abomination’of desolation fortold by the scriptures.

The political involvement of Savonarola slowly made him unpopular. &e played a direct part in overthrowing the rule of Pietro de’Medici and in establishing a new democratic situation by a council elected by the middle class. He then imposed a dictatorship upon Florence.

fiis clash with the pope had political rather than theologi­cal cuuses, namely his support of the refusal by the Florentine Signoria to join the great Italian league against France. For the king of France was intended, in ajtotal misunderstanding of reality, the task of reforming the church arid curia by the con­voking of a general council and of replacing Alexander by a. more worthy pope. After long and patient waiting the curi?-* tqgk action by excommunicating Savonarola and threatening Florence with interdict, ^e disregarded the eccl. censure, fte was impri­soned, tortured, tried by eccl. court and hadcitaeen condemned as H a heretic.He was executed (in May 1491. respite all the evil, Alexander VI did splendid things in   , the gxternal eccl. sphere. The Jubilee year 1500 was celebrated with many eccl. rites in which he usually took part. The «ssasi- | nation of his son John, the collapsing d>£ the ceiling in the Vatican palace during a severe storin persuaded him to take up reform of the church, fte appointed a reform comnisioRof worthy and learned cardinals and competent theologians. It worked hard and drew up an admirable program for reform of head and members also but the reform bull that was ^prepared was never issued . encouraged expeditions and discoveries.

Alexander died in August 1 303 following a severe fever. there is a rumour that a mix-up in a poisoned drink destined for the host at a garden party is said to have resulted in the Pope’s death.

The e.i33aD6aac climax__in__ the remarkable personality of Alexander VI» for &vil practices that had been hitherto customary were now present in abundance and were toler-  f ated Dy the cardinals: a failure to observe^celibacy evgn_fey as  J pope, dissolution of marriages from purely polj/tijiaJL_it’Otives^. granting of high eccl. office, including the cardinalate, in return for considerable sums, extremes of nepotism in the pro-viding for children/ to the detriment of the papal state, the administering of the apostolic palace by the pope*s_^ajj^?hjte_rlju-cretin, who was also regent of Spoleto for_a_jrear – and yet Rod-  j rigo Borgia refused to be bk&sx&s outdone by anyone in the firm-  t ness of his faith.

Pius III (1503)

The unexpecjted_death of Alexander VI caused much cofusion in Rome and tlie papalistate. Caeaar Borgia, though ill, exerci­sed great influence, ^e was induced to leave Rome and the concl­ave started on 16 September. The election capitulation of 1484 was adopted with the express injunction that a general council had to be convoked within two 3*ears, and then one was to meet every five years, especially for the reform of the church. The two candidates, Julian della fiovere and George d’Araboise (Fr.) could not get the required number of votes. So .Pius IISs nephew Fra.ncis__Too.estchirii-i’iccQlomini, who was seriously ill, was elected as a caretaker pope. Mis pontificate lasted only 26 days. Contemporaries and posterity regarded his pontificate as a great misfortune, since the convoking of a general council and serious reform could have been expected from him.

otf_Raphael__in the stansa of Vatican palace are great. Julius spoke of his plans: 1 should like to see the_JJoroan poritiflLjthe one and the only permanent .master of Italy, ou^__c_graTon_jao_ther, but I am distressed to think that time may prevent me froc bringning my schemes to fruition, No 1 shall not be bble to do for Italy all that iny heart desires. Ah, if only I_were twenty years younger.  This was his and his predecessors dream. Jie strove to give it reality in a few years at his disposal. Though not all agree, Pastor styles Julius II as the saviour’ oftne papacy. It is true if pa pace’s tusks lies in politics, but it should lie in an intellectual and spiritual ministry that follows_the example of Christ.


Leo X (1313-1521)

‘^he__temptation_of_art’ Julius II lef\t a conflicting legacy: on the one hand a cosolidating papal state and a considerable treasure in the Pastel oant’Angelo; on the other, the_enemity of France and ecclesiastical opposition; besides a demand for reform from all sides.

25 cardinals took part in the election which began dir 4 March 1513,; As customary an election capitulation w&s first decided and swo rn to by all cardinals. On 11 Karen the 37 year old John de’Medici was elected. Me was sick and was carried into Conclave and at once he had to undergo an operation. £is illness made easier to get the assent of the old cardinals. His zealous secretary also worked hardfor it. fie had great political experience as ruler of Florence.

i»eo was from Florence, son of Lawrence il Magnifico. Me received tonsure at/the age of seven, soon obtained a series of lucrative benefices, including the abbey of Kontecassino. At thirteen he was secretly named cardinal by Innocent VIII« and in his seventeenth yearhe entered the sacred college.

Protestant Reformation

Reformation was not the work of one man – Martin Luther. It did not first begin with the 95 theses on 31 Oct. 151 7. Causes far reformation. Qy Devotio moderna^ the modern way of serving God, a spiri­tual revival within the catholic church, which strongly empha­sized both personal devotion and social involvement especially in education. It began in the late 14th cent.

Its sower was Geert Groote (1340-1384) from Holland . After a luxurious life he changed his life with a total commitment to Christ in 1374. Then he devoted himself to practical piety in the service of God and man. le Joined the Carthusians. After three years in 1379 he left the order and undertook a mission of preaching, le had an_ exalted view of the priesthood and never advanced beyond the rank^of deacon, lie licence to preach wa» revoked in 1383 because of his sharp criticism against the clerical abuses. He gathered a community ofjleyout women in his house to live the common life together without taking the vows of a convent. Ruysbroeck(l 293-1 38f) ana Radewijns (1350-1400) were associated with him.

Later a community of men – Brethren of the Common life  was formed . They have^observe the threefold rule of poverty, chas and obedi1eiice> but bound by no formal vow. In 1387 a house was founded at Windesheim. Here they became the Augustinian

canons and their constitutions were apporoved by pope Boniface IX in 1395. A few years later they formed the Congregation of Windesheim. They devoted to education and printing. They set up communities in Germany and Switzerland. Nicholas Cusa, Eramas were the members of this community.

Thomas a Kempis (Thomas Haemerken) 1380-1471 , was the man who best sums up the faith of the devotio moderna. His imitation of Christ is the choicest  evot_ional_handbook of the Middle Ages . In 1406 he became an Augustinian canon.

Imitation of Christ: 4 parts

1. some thoughts to help with the spiritual life.

2. -some advice on the inner life.

3. provides ‘spiritual comfort1.

4. a reverent recommendation to Holy communion. It was first printed in 1471 at Augsburg and has appeared in thousands of editions.

Imitation of Christ fiias influenced the lives of millions because it is searching, scriptural and utterly centred on Christ.

Devotion Moderna conditioned Many hearts and mindseto receive the teaching of the Reformers. No great revolution happens with­out rumblings and warnings. Luther had his heralds and prophets; before him came many lesser Luthers. Four of them deserve mention because their writings either anticipated the Reformer or helped i* form his views.

1. Meister Bckhart (1260-1327), a ^erman Dominican mystic. His teaching was condemned after his death.

2. Johann_Tauler (1300-136$), German Dominican mystic, poerful preacher, in the presence pf_God.

3. John of Wesel (140C-1481, German, rejected many of the distinctive doctrines and practices of the medieval catholic church, declared that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority in matters of faith. He wrote against indulgencesin 1475, was tried by the Inquisition in 1479 and condemned to a lifetime’s confinement in the Augustinian monastery at Mains.

4. Wessel Gransfort (1419-1489), Duthh theologian, wrote against indulgences.

5. Erasmus of Rotterdaai (1467-1536), greatest humanist, made reformation almost inevitable, he laid the egg which Luther Jiatc-hed. He became an Augustinian canon in 1487, priest in 1492, left monastery, went to Paris in 1495, among the humanists, then to England 1499-1500. Back to Holland he published a series of best selling satires^which ridiculed monasticism and scholasti-cism.

^) The medieval system of pilgrimage and relics. Reformation had no intention of a division. Its aim was the reform of the one Chmrch, common to all. The causes must not be restricted to so-called abuses and bad popes. Reformation means an adaptation to new circumstances and an awakening of self to the needs of the hour, not merely a return to the original and the removal of abuses.

(2) pglitical^ involvement of the popes and ecclesiastics^, authority. This led to to the rejection of religious guidance along with its political leadership.

– Boniface VTII’s theory – He replaced the traditional two powers theory.

– The Avignon papacy and popes‘ far reaching dependence.

on Trance, the interests of the universal church were no longer be considered.

The Great schism destroyed the unity of the Church.

– Coneiliarism – only escape from the damnable trinity of popes.

– Concordates after Constance – the fate of the church had been handed entirely to secular powers. Its result was the territorial Church – dependence of the church on the secular power.

– Popes became more and more princes among the princes.

ffiClericalism of the Middle Ages.

monopoply of education by clerics privileges of the clerical state.

– German idea: The church had to transmit not only the revelation of Christ but also the cultural treasures of antiquity. The church nad to distinguish between the treasures of faith and culture. A peaceful change is required, but the laity strived for independence and the church claimed outdated idea , i.e. the world had to extort its autonomy. This led to the protest of secularisation against the church under the standards of sub­jectivism, nationalism and laicism.

-^.   (g)The traditional attitude of the church created an anti-clerical, anti-loman and^ ant-scholastic atmosphgre

(jAAbuses among clergy and people Immediate cause, esp. examples of bad popes.

– The reign of Leo X was more gangerous his schoking negligence irresponsible frivolity prodigal j love of pleasure

unawareness of his duty and of responsiblity of the supreme shepherd.

His installation was a great festive display, a grand exhibition of the pope and his court. On a great placard could be read: ‘Once Venus reigned (Al«x.VI)» then Mars (Julius II) and now Pallas Athens takes the scepter1.

“Depravity has become so taken for granted that those soiled by it no longer notice the stench of sin”

‘Adrian VI)

(7) Situajtion_of__thejclergy was n© better clerical concubinage scandalous life negligence

– Tjie_church_apj)eared as the property of the_jcJLei;gy__tQ bging” econojaaic a^vantg-ge jjid profit. Its result: several bisho­prics or other pastoral offices could be united in one person. It was detririental to the care of souls. Eg.     ? C_aL_rdin_a_l_Al e xand e r farnese, grandson of Paul III possessed* 10 episcopal sees, 26 monasteries and 133 other benefices.

– In Cermany episcopal sees and abbacies open to nobility/only

– Most pasters were naaed by secular patrons.

– No religious spirit and zeal for the care of souls.

– Worldly papal court.

® great_jexpense of^ war  for_aione^ that j.ed to the trade of indulgence.

The Jjgrmari grieYances_aga.inst ^apacj, 1455 by Dietrich VonTErbach, abp. of Mainz.

To the chritian nobility of the German nations, by Martin Luther.

call for_ reform and _ oppogitiejLJfeg “th® church . Precisely waat were the strong and weak points of _the_church as it entered the era of reformation? To what extent was the external religious activity a facade or reality? – veneration of saints, pilgrimage, procession etc are they genuine? Was the external practice_ba,aed on a sound theological doctrine? ^ Those who attacked the church thought that they are still in the Church, eg. Martin Luther.

During the great schism people were unable to ascertain the true pope. And__they even accustomed to getting along without a pope.

Lateran_y (1512-17) had only meager effectiveness with regard t® reform. Because “theory and practice were__in j3uch_ glaring contradiction^1 . eg. In 1514 together with the papal bull on the reform of the church read at the 9th session thece was sent t© -archbishop” of Magdebarg and Mainz the curia’s offer, which pro­vided the immediate occasion for the reformation, for a fee of 10,000 ducates the archbishop would be allowed to hold the two sees simultaneously, and for the financial* of the fee* half of the indulgence offerings for St. Peter’s would be made over to__him.

– The far_reaiching deterioration^^ religious amd moral strentt

– The want of precision in centralquestions of faith.

– the so many lost opportunities foV- reform.

Martin Luther.

Reformation depended to a great extent on Martin Luther himseli Lorte characterizes him as ” sea of energies, of impuls_es__and perceptions and experiences” . On one side Luther was_the_jiero of faith , on the other the arch-heretic , the destroyer of Church^s_unity;. He was born at Bisleben on 1 0 _Noy ._ 1 483 • His father : Hans Luther, a miner. He had a harsh upbringing at home and at school. He says: “from childhood I was so trainedjtha^t I could not but turn pale and__becQmejterrified if I merely heaotd the_naae_ of Christ mentioned, for I was_jtaught only to regard him sis a stern and angry judge” . ‘

1 501 – entered the university of Erfurt

1 502 – Bach&lor of arts

1505 Masterof arts, at his fathers wish he began to study law.

1505 July 2 – lightening-striking, thrown to the ground and he cried out: ” Saint Anne, help me and I will become a monk”.

1505 July 17 – e_ntjBreji_Augustinian Monastery.

1506 Sept. – profession

1507 April 3 – Qrdination to priesthood^ anxiety during the first mass, ertte||£t_jLQ_f_lee from the altar. He was taught: “to expect forgiveness of sins and salvation through our works”.

1508 – lecturer at Wittenburg university.

1510 – visit to Rome. The main purpose of my journey to Rome was to fulfill my desire of making a complete -confess ion from my youth and to become devout. He was disapp­ointed , he found uneducated and unsympathetic confessors

– became doctor of theology, began to teach Bible.

– after a long spiritual crisis he finally came to under­stand the nature of the righteousness of God. He reje­cted all theology based solely on tradition and empha­sized personal understanding and experience of God’s Word.He oelieved that all our action^ stem from God. We are justified nflit by our deeds, but by faith alone. October 31. posted 95 theses on the door of the cathedral of Wittenburg.

December – The archbishop of Mains complained to Rome about Luther. Luther refused to come to Rome. July- during a disputation with Eck, K Luther denied the supremacy of poEg__a.nd. the infallibility of general councils,,. He_burned_ the papa.l_bull which threatened his 1521 January 3 – Luther was excommunicated.