THE RISE OF THE PAPACY

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Introduction Early in history, the Roman papacy consolidated its power. It became one of the most influential organizations in the medieval period. This rise to power resulted from the decline in the Western Empire, the leadership of Roman bishops, and special grants that gave the church land holdings. This rise to power caused some positive ramifications, such as the protection of the church from heresy. However, the absolute power of the pope also caused corruption and abuses, many of which would eventually spark the reformation. Rise of the Papacy Perhaps no other event was as influential to the rise of papacy in Rome as the decline of the Roman empire. With the decline of the empire, the church became the last refuge of stability. Without the protection of the empire, Rome was subject to poverty, disrepair, and attack from enemies.1 The rise of the papacy was a response to this situation. It was further cemented by the leadership of such men as Leo I and Gregory I, the latter sometimes referred to as the father of the medieval papacy.2 Finally, the granting of lands and authority to the bishop of Rome greatly increased the power of the Roman church.3 Decline of the Empire As the Roman Empire shifted its center of power to the East, Rome lost much of the prestige and protection it had previously enjoyed. With Constantinople as the new seat of the empire, the West was left to stand alone, often defenseless.4 Barbarians attacked Rome in AD 410, and Rome found little help from Constantinople. With the Western Empire essentially abandoned, disease, poverty and instability were rampant. Many structures had fallen into disrepair, and famine ravaged the land. Most government officials had left Rome, leaving the churc... ... middle of paper ... ...e Great." Leadership (Winter 2009): 83-86. Childress, Diana, and Bruce Watson. "The fall of the west." Calliope 11, no. 5 (January 2001): 27. Douglas, J. D., Philip Wesley Comfort and Donald Mitchell. Who's Who in Christian History. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992. Eckman, James P. Exploring Church History. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2002. Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity. 2nd ed. New York City, NY: HarperOne, 2010. Lutzer, Erwin. The Doctrines That Divide: a Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998. Bainvel, Jean. The New Catholic Encyclopedia. New York City: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm (accessed September 23, 2011). Ullmann, Walter. A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages. 2nd ed. New York City, NY: Routledge, 2003.

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