Saturday, April 30, 2011

History in the Making: Some Thoughts About the Beatification of John Paul II

One of the thousands of Posters that
dotted the streets of Rome during
the funeral of  Pope John Paul II

This is the weekend that John Paul II will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI—just six years after his death.  The beatification is not without some controversy and, to be honest, I am surprised that it has all come about this fast.  For one thing, I had heard over the last several years that Pope Benedict was not anxious to advance the “cause” of his predecessor. In part, I think this was a prudent reservation on the part of the current Pope.  The papacy of John Paul will be an extremely complex one to historically evaluate.  “It was,” as one BBC commentator replied at the time, “the best of times; it was the worst of times.”  John Paul was probably the most significant individual in the collapse of the Soviet Empire, not only demolishing the tyrannical regimes but  making Stalin a posthumous laughingstock for his derisive comment “How many divisions does the Pope have?”  John Paul had immense popularity—especially with the world’s youth and never passed up an opportunity to reach out to them.  Yet one cannot say that he brought them back to the practice of the faith, much less to the moral standards which the Church teaches.    He took some remarkable steps with interreligious and ecumenical dialogue.  At the same time, since his death there has been some serious rethinking of those very same interreligious and ecumenical advances, not least of all by the current Pope.  Probably more seriously, there are questions regarding his handling of the Sex Abuse situation in the Catholic Church—how much did he know and in what ways did his policies hinder justice and leave young people exposed to predators?  Too, some observers believe that that he greatly weakened the Church by selecting bishops for their loyalty without sufficient regard to their pastoral skills, prudent judgment, or intellectual ability.  Certainly we can see in the United States that we no longer have sufficient numbers of articulate or intellectual leaders among the American Bishops to write the sort of pastoral letters that the Bishops turned out on Just War Theology and Nuclear Weapons or the Economic Morality that the bishops of thirty years ago turned out.  Of course good leadership or bad leadership does not reflect on the personal sanctity of the candidate.  We have had saintly popes who failed to meet the leadership challenges of their times.  But the question remains—in what way the example of Pope John Paul II reflects the extraordinary degree of sanctity and virtue that sainthood represents.  He was pious, granted—but piety is not holiness.  I am not saying that this beatification is a mistake—only that it will be corrected—if corrected it need be—by time’s passing and history’s critique.
As for the rapidity of the process—note here some medieval canonizations (not beatifications) and see their time line:    

Name                       Year of death     Year of Canonization       
Anthony of Padua            1231                       1232    
            Francis                                 1226                      1228
Claire of Assisi                   1253                      1255
Hugh of Grenoble            1132                      1134
Elizabeth of Hungary      1231                      1234
Thomas Becket                 1170                      1173
Galgano Guidotti              1180                      1184
Hugh of Cluny                   1109                      1120
Gilbert of Sempringham1190                       1202
Dominic                              1221                       1234
Bernard of Clairvaux       1153                      1174

I am sure there are other “quickies” in addition to these, but it does show that at one time the Church didn’t scruple to move ‘em thru.  By the way, I will be in Rome this week and doing some travelling for the next week or two so be patient.  I won’t be posting every day but I will be collecting photos and doing some research. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Westminster: An Abbey No More

With the Royal Wedding, I thought it would be good to take a look at the Abbey Church of Saint Peter in Westminster.  Perhaps at a future time we can even do a series on its history in the Middle Ages with a look at monastic life in that period.
There had been a community of monks at Westminster, then an island in the Thames River, probably since the seventh century, but it was only in the late tenth century that a Benedictine community was installed on the site by Saint Dunstan, himself a monk of the ancient Abbey of Glastonbury and at the time Bishop of London.   King Saint Edward the Confessor decided to appropriate their Abbey Church as the Chapel Palatine for the palace he was building at Westminster—a place that would later become the home of Parliament—and for this end King Edward built a fine Abbey Church of stone in the Romanesque style.  It was consecrated at Christmas 1065, only a week before the King’s death.  Edward was buried in his new abbey Church.
Edward’s succession was a problem.  Edward had no direct heirs and on his death-bed he allegedly commended the Kingdom to Harold Godwinson, Earl of Essex.  The Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot—a sort of early form of Parliament—confirmed this and elected Harold King.  William, the Duke of Normandy wanted the throne as well and he had some claim to it as King Edward’s mother, Emma, was his aunt.  It was a tenuous claim.  William was not in the line of the Blood Royal but only happened to be the great-nephew of a queen consort.  However, Edward has spent time in exile in Normandy as William’s guest during the the Danish Cnut’s invasion of England and reign (1018-1035)  and William claimed that Edward had promised him the throne during William’s 1052 visit to England.    William also claimed that Harold, for his part, had sworn fealty to him (William) and thus was his vassal.  Harold, to preserve his claim, lost no time in arranging his coronation—less than a week after Edward’s Death—and to stress his legitimacy as Edward’s successor held the coronation in Edward’s new abbey and at Edward’s tomb.  It was in vain, however.  Within the year, William of Normandy had organized an invasion of Harold’s realm and defeated Harold on October 12, 1066.  William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day 1066.  Again, to establish the legitimacy of his reign, William—like Harold before him—insisted being crowned at the tomb of Edward the Confessor and thus in Westminster Abbey.  It then became customary for the Coronation of the English King to take place in Westminster Abbey.  Eventually it came to be that Kings were not only crowned there, but buried there when they died.  Between Henry III (1272) and George II (1760) most—but not all—English monarch were buried in the Abbey.  Among the exceptions is Henry VIII who is buried in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Being the site of coronations and royal burials made the Abbey central to the life of the nation and the legitimacy of the monarchy.  At its peak there were about eighty monks.  The community was exceptionally well endowed both the monarchs and those courtiers who wished to curry the royal favor.  A community of eighty monks—many scholars, some royal employees, and all gentlemen required an army of employees and servants and the Abbey was the economic foundation of the surrounding village of Westminster that grew up around it.  The Abbot sat in the House of Lords and indeed, parliament often met in the Abbey Chapter House—the large and elegantly vaulted octagonal room where the monks gathered each day for their monastic business and decision making.  In 1540, four years after the final separation of the Church of England from the Roman Communion, Henry VIII abolished the monastic community and made the Abbey a Cathedral of a new diocese which the King cut out of the London Diocese.  The Abbot, William Benson (also known as William Boston) was named Dean of the new cathedral and several of the monks were retained as canons.  The other monks were pensioned off, being provided with revenues from the former Abbey lands.  Ten years later, Henry’s son, Edward VI, suppressed the Diocese and the former Abbey Church became a “collegiate church,” a church used for Divine Service under the administration of a Dean and Chapter (of secular canons).  Henry’s Catholic daughter, Queen Mary, refounded the Abbey at considerable expense to the Crown, but when Protestant Elizabeth ascended the throne the Abbey was suppressed once again and the Church became once more “The Collegiate Church of Saint Peter in Westminster” with its Dean and Chapter.  Its subsequent history was not pretty.  Ignored for the most part except when needed for a coronation or royal funeral, the Church was poorly maintained.  Daily services (Morning Prayer and Evensong) continued except during the Puritan Commonwealth when the church was given over to Reformed (i.e. Presbyterian) worship.  Nicholas Hawksmoor built the matching towers between 1722 and 1745, doing a fair work in a period that did not favor the medieval style of architecture.  (A close look reveals many neo-classical details in his design.)   Finally in the nineteenth century with the influence of the Romantic Revival (and to some extent the Oxford Movement) Sir Gilbert Scott did a thorough restoration which gives the Abbey its modern look.
Today the Abbey—or more properly the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter in Westminster—is served by a Dean and six canons.  In addition to the rare royal wedding, the even more rare royal or state funeral, and the rarest of all—a coronation—the Abbey has a round of daily services: Morning and Evening Prayer, Daily Eucharist, and special events and ceremonies.  Tourists flood the Abbey every Day and some ask for religious or personal guidance. The Abbey is known for its superb music and solid preaching.   

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Roots of the Reformation IV: The Bohemian Reformer

Jan Hus being burned at the stake
Bethlehem Chapel, Prague
 Wycliffe found a posthumous disciple in a land far distant from his English countryside.  Jan Hus was a devout young man who had spent his youth as a church chorister and altar-server in order to finance his education at the Charles University in Prague where he received first his bachelor’s and then his master’s degrees in Theology in 1396.  Four years later he was ordained priest and then, two years later, was named Rector of the University and University Preacher at the newly constructed  Betlémská Kaple or Bethlehem Chapel.  It was at this time that he was exposed to the writings of John Wycliffe, dead these sixteen years or so. Wycliffe’s writings radicalized the young priest and he used his university pulpit to call for reform in the Church and particularly reform of the clergy.
This was a tumultuous time in the Bohemian Church where the Archbishops usually stood loyal to the Roman claimant to the papal throne and the King—Wenceslaus IV—did not.  (We haven’t looked at the great Schism yet, but there is a slight mention of it on February 4th 2011 post. Wenceslaus’ opposition to the Roman Claimants—Boniface IX succeeded by Innocent VII succeeded by Gregory XII was because Wenceslaus had been elected King of the Germans and was thus entitled to be crowned Emperor, but the Roman Popes were reluctant to acknowledge the claim and have him crowned.) 
It was only a few years before Hus’s preaching that John of Nepomuk had been murdered on the orders of King Wenceslaus.  Although hagiographers say he was murdered for refusing to divulge the queen’s confession to the jealous and suspicious Wenceslaus, it seems that he was murdered in retaliation for his installing an Abbot contrary to the King’s wishes, an Abbot who was loyal to the Roman Claimant, and the story of the Queen’s confession is a later embellishment.  Nevertheless in popular mythology the confession story stands and he is the symbol of protecting the secrecy of the confessional.  Beneath the conflict we can see that there is stress between the Crown and the Church and this gives us some  background for Hus.  The Roman party represented vested clerical interest; the Royal party—while probably indifferent to the issue of clergy morals—were the anti-clerical party if for no other reason than the clergy supported the Roman Claimant to the papacy.  You will notice that I am not saying that Wenceslaus supported the Avignon Claimant (Benedict XIII) for he really wasn’t enthused about Benedict and when a third papal line emerges with the Pisan Claimants Alexander V and then John XXIII, Wenceslaus will support them.  I know this is confusing but bear with me.  Suffice it to say that the clergy supported the Roman Pope; the King  and anti-clerical party did not.      
In 1403 the Archbishop of Prague was Zbynĕk Zajic who held office for political reasons and was without a serious theological background.  Like the King he (initially) did not support the Roman Claimant to the Papacy (Gregory XII).  Initially he supported Hus and his Reform preaching even though the clergy wanted the preaching stopped because Hus, in his enthusiasm with Wycliffe’s ideas, was denouncing them for their considerable wealth and poor morals.  
But then Hus got caught in a web of intrigue between the King Wenceslaus and the Archbishop.  The Archbishop switched his support to the Roman Pope, Gregory  XII, while the King (and Hus) supported Alexander V—the claimant who emerged from the Council of Pisa’s attempt to end the Western Schism.   Under Hus’ direction and with the king’s blessing, Wycliffe’s doctrines pervaded the University and spread throughout Bohemia.  Hus’ rode a wave of popularity because so many of the peasants and urban working classes resented the wealth of the Church and its vast estates.   
Hus’ call for the Church to disentangle itself from its vast wealth and its access to political power was a lost cause with the Catholic Church—and all three of its popes.  The Roman, Avignon, and Pisa claimants were all opposed to Wycliffe ‘s ideas as each wanted to be sole Pope of a wealthy and powerful Church.  As said above, Wenceslaus had thrown his lot in with the Pisan Claimant, Alexander V, and Hus, dependent on the King for his support of Hus’ calls for Reform, followed suit.  But when Alexander’s successor, anti-pope John XXIII declared a crusade against the king of Naples who was sheltering the Roman pope Gregory XII Hus found himself in a very uncomfortable position.  Hus could not support violence.  And when John offered indulgences to those who supported the crusade, Hus condemned the crusade and its sale of indulgences  saying that no pope or bishop could command believers to take up the sword   He reminded his followers of the Gospel command to “love your enemies; pray for your persecutors.   Hus’ followers then burned the bulls of anti-pope John XXIII,  not in loyalty to Gregory but in opposition to any pope—the institutional church, whichever of its claimants being Pope, was in their eyes only a coven of simoniacs.  Now the clergy had their revenge on Hus. The theology faculty of the University did not support Hus but many people did, especially from the lower classes.
Wenceslaus’ brother Sigismund of Hungry had outmaneuvered him in seeking the Imperial Crown and while he was not officially crowned until 1433 he was elected “King of the Romans”—the title of an Emperor-in-waiting in 1411.  He was Emperor in all but title and one of the expectations put on him—one of the reasons Wenceslaus who had a better claim to the title had been deposed from it in 1400—was to end the Great Schism.  To this end, Sigismund called a Council for Constance in 1415 and Hus was summoned to it to answer for his ideas.    The Council condemned both Wycliffe and Hus. 
Hus had travelled to Constance under a promise of safe-conduct issued by Sigismund and initially he lived in Constance as a free man, but was gradually imprisoned under ever more severe terms.  Sigismund was troubled by his arrest—and the danger of Hus’ being killed—but was assured that the pledge of safety he had given Hus was not binding as one did not have to keep one’s word with a heretic.     Hus was found guilty of heresy and, refusing to recant, was burned at the stake on July 6 1415.  His remains were thrown into the Rhine.
Hus did not follow all of Wycliffe’s ideas and one must be very careful to distinguish between them.  Wycliffe was a Nominalist and therefore could not accept the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  Hus, on the other hand, proposed a doctrine called “impanation” in which Christ’s flesh and blood become the bread and the bread becomes Christ’s flesh and blood.  This is similar to but not exactly what Luther would teach and which is called “consubstantiation.”  In other words, Hus affirmed the Real Presence though he rejected the idea of “Transubstantiation” as an explanation for it. 
What really brought condemnation down upon Hus—and posthumously upon Wycliffe—was their identification of the Church not with the Institutional or hierarchical Church, but with the community of true believers.  Their understanding of the Church made papacy and hierarchy superfluous, indeed made an ordained clergy more or less superfluous, though neither ever taught that non-ordained could administer the Sacraments.  Their opinions—formed by the Donatist heresy—did however insist that unworthy ministers could not effectively celebrate the Sacraments.  Whereas Wycliffe’s followers were long to remain as an underground movement subversive to but within the Church, following Hus’ death, masses of people—primarily about the poor and the peasantry—went into open breach with the Catholic Church forming communities of their own.  The Moravian Brethren (sometimes called the Moravian Church) continue Hus’s heritage today.  A later group, the Czechoslovak Hussite Church broke away from the Catholic Church in the first quarter of the twentieth century and while they claim the name “Hussite” and their clergy are educated by the Hussite Theology Faculty in Prague, they reflect more the Old Catholic heritage that separated from Rome over questions of modernism and papal infallibility.   

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Roots of the Reformation III: Long before Luther

Howden Minster, an English
pre-Reformation Chuch
John Wycliffe is another proto-Protestant—one of those religious leaders who anticipated Luther in calling for a reform of the Church and whose preaching and teaching led to the formation, not of an alternative Church or community of believers, as with Peter Waldo and his Waldensians, but of groups of followers who existed as a dissenting movement that technically remained within the Catholic Church but without subscribing to many of its doctrines. 
Wycliffe, born 1328, was a Yorkshire man from the North of England which always had a different religious tradition than London and the southern counties, a tradition that looked less to Rome for leadership and a stronger sense of both Englishness and of the distinctive “Ecclesia Anglicana” heritage.  He was a scholar at Baliol College, Oxford where he studied mathematics, natural philosophy (the physical sciences), English and Roman Law, English history, theology and Philosophy.   This was an amazing spectrum of studies and he could well be called a Renaissance man although there was as yet no Renaissance, at least in England. Philosophically, he was a disciple of Ockham and the Nominalists and as such he was what we would call today, a deconstructionist.   He rejected “realism” and thus such doctrines as “transubstantion” did not sit easy with him.  Indeed, the one source of authority he recognized was The Bible—to which he had great devotion and which he managed to have translated in its entirety to English (from the Latin Vulgate) so as to be accessible to the common people.  His study of scripture convinced him that many of the doctrines of the Church—such as papal supremacy—were unsubstantiated by Scripture or even contrary to it.  Moreover, he differed from Catholic orthodoxy on several other points.  Influenced by the ancient Donatist doctrines, for example, he believed that the efficacy of the sacraments depended on the worthiness of the minister.
Despite his lack of strict religious orthodoxy, he was recognized for his academic brilliance and Archbishop Simon Islip appointed him head of Canterbury Hall—an Oxford foundation which was meant to provide education for twelve priests or candidates for priesthood from the Archdiocese of Canterbury.  Islip’s successor, Simon Langham, replaced Wycliffe with a monk, however, and while Wycliffe appealed his case to the papal court the appeal was unsuccessful.  This may account in part for Wycliffe’s turning against both monasticism and the papacy.  
Like many of the Oxbridge dons, Wycliffe was supported by being given “a living” or “a rectory” which meant he was pastor of a parish which paid a handsome salary—handsome enough both to support him in his academic work and to pay for a “vicar” to actually live in the parish and tend to its pastoral needs.  Wycliffe held a number of rectories in his life but probably actually ministered only in the last two-- Ludgershall, Buckinghamshire and Lutterworth in Leistershire.  But from these rectories, when he was no longer teaching at Oxford, he issued a series of pamphlets and other materials that attacked corruption in the Church.  His Donatism shown through in his affirming that the “real” Church was not the represented  by the hierarchy and the visible society of baptized believers, but the association of those believers, known only to God, who were to be saved.  This naturally led him to a doctrine of predestination in which God not only knew but determined who would  be saved and who was to be lost.
Wycliffe not only undermined traditional Catholic Doctrines, but he directly assailed the papacy.  Remember that through most of this time the papacy was located at Avignon, just across the Rhone River from the realms of the King of France but very much under his influence.  The popes were mostly French at this time, as were the majority of the cardinals.  And the French were the enemies of the English.  This was not only the time of the Avignon papacy but of the Hundred Years War between France and England.  Wycliffe’s anti-papal polemics found a patriotic ear among the English. Wycliffe assailed the papacy for its wealth and claimed that various practices such as annates were simply simony.  Annates were the practice by which a man elevated to an ecclesiastical post—bishop, Archbishop, Abbot, even a canon or somewhat minor official—paid the pope the first year’s revenues of his new position.  We will hear much about them in this series.  Simony is the crime/sin of buying and selling Church office.   
As much as Wycliffe hated the papacy he hated monasticism even more.  He was a secular priest and he resented to claims to holiness that the monks made when often they were not only no better than himself and other parish priests, but when in fact they led lives far more indolent.  Initially supported by the Mendicant Orders—who themselves were often in mutual hatred with the Monastic Orders—Wycliffe soon turned on them too for their lack of holiness.  Read the medieval literature, Chaucer, Boccacio and others, and you will see that monks were seen to be lazy gluttonous characters more given to sleep and drink than to prayer, and friars (the mendicants) were womanizers and cheats.  These caricatures did not come out of thin air.  Not all monks were lazy and not all friars were lechers, but there was a need—a serious need—for reform in the clergy. 
The English Church, like the Church most place sin Europe, had great wealth in the centuries before the Reformation.  Bishops and Abbots, by virtue of their office, were great landowners and peers of the Realm.  Generations of bequests, donations, endowments, and monastic dowries—all usually made in grants of income-producing land and properties—made abbeys, cathedrals, and even parish churches very wealthy.  Great Lords and simple yeoman farmers alike were constrained in giving a tenth of the produce of their fields and orchards to the clergy in tithes.  The clergy had other customary charges that brought them revenue—the burial cloths and candles from funerals, wedding and christening fees, stipends for the blessing of fields and vineyards and orchards, and mass offerings.  While parish vicars were often underpaid, rectors of churches—often absentee—could usually count on a handsome income and as for canons, bishops, and other prelates, want was not at their doors.  Wycliffe—himself the holder of comfortable benefices—proposed the sending out of “poor priests” who would preach the gospel to the poor and evangelize the ordinary English man or woman. It would have been a brave step because the Church was losing its credibility fast among the middling sort of folk.   
Wycliffe’s rants were popular for a variety of reasons.  The popes were unpopular due to their alliances with England’s enemies; the Church did control great wealth and vast lands in a society where many were, or perceived themselves to be, on the margins of survival; the clergy needed reform; the English bible nourished people spiritually and rendered the ministrations of the clergy somewhat superficial.    Wycliffe also had a protector in the King’s uncle John of Gaunt who was extremely influential, especially during King Richard’s minority. 
Wycliffe’s ideas were condemned by a synod of English bishops in 1382 but he was not deprived of his living and no action was taken against him in his life time.  He suffered a stroke while attending mass on the Feast of the Holy Innocents in 1384 and died three days later.  But that is not the end of the story. 
We will see that many of his themes—especially the authority of scripture,  popular religion and the role of the Bible, and the wealth of the Church,  will continue to surface and threaten the hegemony of the hierarchical Church.  The failure of the Church to heed the calls to Reform will eventually lead to the struggle of the Reformation.  Hus’ doctrinal ideas on the Eucharist, on the nature of the Church as a “spiritual reality,” on the need for ministers to be men of integrity in order to minister effectively, on scripture alone, and on predestination will survive and later even return with a vengeance.  We will see what happens when the Church fails to “read the signs of the Times” as John XXIII called it to do when he called a Council in our own times.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Roots of the Reformation II: It's didn't start with Luther

A medieval burgher peeks out frin his
window beneath the pulpit of the
Stefansdom in Vienna--it was this class
that was drawn to the eachings of
Peter Waldo

Martin Luther was not the first voice to speak up against the Institutional Church and go his own way—and take followers with him.  Peter Waldo was one of the wealthiest cloth merchants in Lyons—itself one of the wealthiest cities in Europe.  On day, while hearing mass, he was struck by the Gospel Command: if you be perfect—go, sell all that you have (and you will have treasure in heaven) and come, follow me.  Waldo was probably in his early thirties at this time and, in the late twelfth century that was a somewhat more mature and advanced age than it would be now.  He was a serious man, a man of deep piety and the words struck to his heart.  He paid a priest to make him a translation of the gospels into his native Lyonnais patois—a sort of early medieval French spiced with some Provençal—and he began to study the gospels assiduously.  As he was married and had children—two daughters—the monastic life was not an option for him, but neither did he seem to be attracted to that form of Christian discipleship.  Like many of his religious contemporaries—Stephen of Grandmont (who was actually about two generations ahead of Waldo) or Francis of Assisi (who was actually a generation younger than Waldo), he simply wanted to follow the gospel.   He endowed his daughters as nuns in the reformed abbey of Fonterevault, turned his business over to his wife for her support, separated from her and gave his money to the poor.  He then began to preach in the streets of his native city.
The citizens of Lyons were amazed to see one of their wealthiest burghers standing in the streets of their city wearing shabby clothes and talking about Christian discipleship.  The bishop, in his palace and fine robes, was particularly unhappy.  The clergy in their elegant dress and with a comfortable life style were embarrassed by his zeal.  He was told that since he was not in Orders (a priest or deacon) he had no authority to preach.  Waldo’s response was that as long as he conformed to the Apostolic life—no purse, no sack, no walking stick, no change of clothes—the authority which Jesus gave his apostles in sending them out was sufficient (Matthew 10:9-10).  Well, the Gospel rarely suffices to prove much to the clergy who are impressed only with canon law and perhaps dogmatic theology and Waldo was told not to preach.  So he went to the Pope in 1179.  Alexander III was a canon lawyer.  He was impressed by Waldo’s earnestness and his renunciation of wealth and family for the sake of the Gospel but he was a canon lawyer and like many canon lawyers even today he could not think outside the box.  No, Waldo was not to preach.
Well this brought Peter Waldo to a crisis.  The Church told him he could not preach, the Gospel told him he could, and the Holy Spirit, or what he perceived as the Holy Spirit, told him he must.   About twenty years later another Canon Lawyer pope, Innocent III, would cut the Gordian knot and distinguish between what we call “witnessing” and formal canonical and doctrinal preaching—permitting the former to the laity.  Alas, by that time—as so often in the history of the Church—it was too little too late. 
Waldo and his followers found themselves outcasts from the Church.  The movement spread and actually took root in Lombardy in the areas around Milan.  Milan had a long history of tension with the Institutional Church going back to the Patarini controversies of the eleventh century.  The Milanese were not very tolerant of sloppy standards and thought that if the Church were going to legislate things like celibacy then they should enforce the rules.  Moreover, the Milanese had a long history of class conflict and the working class—mostly tied to the cloth industry (and remember Waldo was a cloth merchant) were among the strongest voices crying out against the wealth of the clergy and laxity of clerical morals. 
Waldo was excommunicated by Lucius III in 1184 but the movement was not condemned as “heretical” until Lateran IV in 1215.  Waldo and his followers were quite orthodox in both their Trinitarian and Christological beliefs.  In regard to their ecclesiology and sacramental theology they reflected many of the popularly held beliefs that were accepted by the Church prior to the extensive doctrinal clarifications of the Fourth Lateran Council which defined there to be seven sacraments, the necessity of auricular confession to a priest, and the precise nature of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.   Three hundred years later,  in the sixteenth century, when the Calvinist Reformation articulated many of the “Reformed Doctrines,” the Waldensians subscribed—more or less—to that theological trend though they would later affiliate with the World Methodist Council of which they are still members today, although not Methodists.   
The real issue was not “orthodoxy” as Waldo and his followers were well within the current boundaries of Catholic faith as it was accepted in the 12th century.  Years ago I heard a noted Protestant historian say that “the Roman Church will accept almost any deviation from its doctrine as long as it doesn’t challenge the basic authority of the Church itself.”  As a historian, I have seen that time and time again.  Church authorities will rationally discuss any and all doctrines and examine the dogmas of the Church with the most critical scholarship as long as the authority of the magisterium is not brought into question.  Waldo’s challenge to the Church of his day was that he appealed against its authority to Scripture and individual conscience.   What should be noted in the situation behind Waldo and his break with the Church is the antagonism of many people to the wealth and power of the Institutional Church as well as the distance between the hierarchy and many of the clergy, on the one hand, and the working-class faithful on the other.  Peter Waldo had a credibility that many clergy lacked in the eyes of many because of the simplicity and earnestness of his life.  We are going to see this theme repeated in other circles as we build up to the Protestant Reformations.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Roots of the Reformation I: Don't thank Gutenberg, it was the Muslims

Gutenberg usually gets all the credit, but that is grossly unfair.  The invention of  movable type (c. 1450) certainly speeded up the processes of challenging the authority of the Church because the printing press made books so much more readily available, but the fact that Europe had been experiencing an educational revolution for at least three centuries gives a wider angle to the picture of European society ripe for intellectual revolution. 
Avicenna, the Arab Philosopher
whose works helped introduce Aristotle
to the west
Where does it start? I suppose some would say the roots of the Reformation can be found with the rise of the universities in the later part of the twelfth century while others would look to the eleventh century cathedral schools which were themselves the “pollywogs” from which the universities matured.  Certainly, by the thirteenth century universities were springing up all over Europe and grammar schools in most cathedrals, urban friaries, and collegiate churches were providing the basic education that allowed the sons of the rapidly expanding middle class to acquire the basics they needed to study law, medicine, or theology at the universities. 
While these universities were intimately linked to the medieval Church they were not catechetical centers—far from it.  The medieval university was an intellectual hothouse which was jumping with ideas.  No doctrine or dogma of the Church went unexamined in the classroom nor unchallenged in the debate hall.  While today few study theology and theology departments rest (or are supposed to rest) firmly under the thumb of the local bishop, in the Middle Ages theology (along with its adjunct, philosophy)  was the hot topic of the intellectually curious.  Granted many studied law (so as to take their places in the royal administration) and some studied medicine—but it was Theology that made the reputation of a school and none more than the University of Paris, the premier university of Christendom.  And it was not merely doctrines that were challenged at Paris and Cologne and the Oxbridge schools—but entire philosophical systems on which the Church had constructed its doctrines.  In the thirteenth century the neo-platonic philosophical structure on which Christian doctrine had been built since late antiquity  was not only challenged but ultimately replaced by the more experiential Aristotelian system, newly rediscovered through the works of the Arab (and Muslim) philosophers such as Avicenna and Averroes.   Neo-Platonism depended heavily on the “authorities”—that is the long history of previously determined philosophical and theological “truths” –as taught by those whom “Tradition” has validated.  Aristotelianism, on the other hand, taught that empirical evidence and logic  together trumped “Tradition.”  While initial efforts to subject the doctrines of faith to the questions of reason led to the condemnation of Abelard, Aristotelian thought eventually was vindicated by such brave new (and revolutionary) theologians and philosophers as Aquinas.  But at the same time that the triumph of scholastic Aristotelian thought led to Aquinas as the premier Catholic apologist in history, it also undermined the foundations of Tradition and Authority.  This would, in turn, lapse into Ockham and nominalism which would undermine the notion of belief all together.  Note—I said undermine, not destroy, because while nominalism would raise the questions that challenged  belief it also, for believers, demanded to know of them precisely what it is in which they believed, not as mere words or formulas, but as realities that transcended the words and formulas, and even transcended “universals” or concepts which those words and formulas were meant to convey.  In the hands of mystics like Meister Eckhart and those who would be associated with apophatic theology such as the author of The Cloud, this would disassociate personal religious experience from doctrinal affirmation and threaten to make religion purely subjective.  (Like it is for so many today.) While Eckhart himself would never have said this, and indeed his pledge to renounce any “heresy” that might be found in his writing in favor of the faith of the universal Church testifies against his radical subjectivism, it did create the theological ground from which Luther and others could challenge the staid (and indeed embalmbed) doctrines of last medieval scholastic thought.  There is something ironic in Scholasticism’s having challenged the authority of Tradition only to end up having its own authority challenged by its post-scholastic heirs.  But then where would history be without irony?  tomorrow: the renaissance and the roots of the Reformation.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurexit sicut dixit, Alleluia, Alleluia

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη
happy easter
I spent Easter Day with friends at their country home.  There were several families there for the weekend and a priest friend of theirs had joined them Easter morning to celebrate mass for the group and have Easter dinner with them.  Among the families were seven “kids”—all of College Age or seniors in High School and all took part in various ways, as did the adults, in the mass.  The readers were both among the younger generation.  Others had moved the chairs and set up and decorated the screened porch to be a temporary chapel.  In a shared homily, all the youth but one shared their response to the Easter readings.  All come from good Catholic families and all obviously know the mass and participate in it regularly.  Yet something struck me and made me wonder as I watched them: how many of these—all children of practicing Catholics—will be practicing Catholics themselves in ten to fifteen years?  They represent a new generation, a generation that thinks for themselves, can be articulate about what they think and believe, and do not take things on other people’s testimony.  In the course of the day I heard various kids express some very different opinions on politics, on social mores, and on religion from their parents.  These opinions may have been somewhat disturbing, but they were well-informed, well-thought out (in one case in particular, far better thought out than the opinion that this girl’s father had just expressed), and well expressed.  This is not a generation to take things “on authority;” indeed my impression was that at least five of these seven young men and women do not even have an intellectual construct that admits to authority’s having a claim over them.  Their experience seems to be their only guide.   While this failure to accomodate a place for authority is a dangerous sign for the future, I want to emphasize that—for this limited group of young people—their experience is informed and rational and not just a whim or a bandwagon rolling by.  But if such is fate of the green wood, what shall become of the dry?  These "kids" are la crème de la crème--Catholic families, Catholic Schools, all in college or about to go there.  If authority has little or no credibility for them, what will happen to the much larger number whose ties to the faith and Catholic  background is weak?    When the Renaissance caused a sharp and swift rise in European education in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it led to challenges to the authority of the Church—challenges that resulted in the series of Protestant Reformations that split western Christianity into an all but infinite number of denominations and sects; it also created the most effective internal Reformation which the Catholic Church has known in its history.  It gave us Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli; it also gave us Ignatius Loyola, Teresa of Avila, and Francis deSales.  We need to take today’s technological advances with the subsequent revolutions in knowledge and communication seriously so that time we can experience the Reformation of heart and mind without seeing the Body of Christ disintegrate even more than it has.  This requires us to “think outside the box” not merely with a photo of the Pope opening his Facebook page, but with genuine communication running up and down throughout the central nervous system of the Body of Christ tying all together in mutual understanding and profound respect.  The renewal demanded for the Church to stand faithful today to the mission of its Lord is not a matter of guitars at mass or aging nuns in pants suits—it is a thorough revisioning of what it means to be the Body of Christ.    

Saturday, April 23, 2011

cogitationes in sabbato mortis Domini

Caravaggio: Deposition from the Cross
Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Week Thoughts--the history and the future

The Humility of Christ
in the sacristy of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence
I was struck last night at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  I had already written yesterday’s posting and my thoughts of yesterday were so reinforced by the liturgy.  After the homily—an excellent homily by the deacon in which he, who will be ordained priest in just a few weeks, talked about the radical selfishness of so many priests that just puts them totally out of touch with the real lives of the very real people they are ordained to serve—was the washing of the feet and it was done in the most remarkable way.  The priest washed the deacon’s foot.  Then the deacon and priest turned and each washed the foot of a server.  The servers then washed the feet of members of the congregation, each of whom, when he or she (note the “she”) had had his or her (note the “her”) foot washed, turned and washed the foot of yet another until all who wished to participate had done so—the only requirement being that to have your foot washed you then had to turn and wash the foot of another.  Why did that sound so familiar? 
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
What works about this is that the washing of the feet is not a ritual reenactment of some long ago scene—it is a here and now in the everyday world fulfilling a commandment of Christ.  It is not a command given to some disciples, the apostles, and not to all.  The priest (or bishop, or pope) does not represent Christ and the washees the apostles in a sacramental drama any more than the bread and wine represent Jesus’ body and blood.  It is a here and now, in our modern world and every-day reality carrying on the work of God as Christ has revealed it to us.  The priest is not Jesus washing the feet of Peter; he is “Joe” or “Jack” or “Mike” washing the feet of “Ralph” or “Fred” or “Louise” –and Ralph and Fred and Louise had better realize that as was done to them so must they then do also.  It is about creating a world of service.
We have looked these past months in our dozens entries about basilicas and palaces and nuncios and bishops and plenary councils and whatever about the power of the Church.  In stories like the battlefield nuns of the Civil War or Mother Seton  or Vincent de Paul we have seen the Church as servant.  Frankly there is much more history of the Church in its roles of power than in its roles of service.  Cardinal Dulles said that the first millennium of the Church’s history was about witness and evangelization; the second millennium about power.  The third millennium, he said, must be about service.  And we need to take that seriously.  Bishop Emile de Smedt of Bruges said in the first session of Vatican II that it was time to renounce the triumphalism, clericalism, and juridicism that has so characterized the Church of recent centuries.  I am a historian—as a historian I am willing to deal with the palaces and the pomp, the fancy robes and exalted titles, the ceremony and the power. It is part of our history.  I am also a person of the Gospel and as a person of the gospel I join my voice to Bishop de Smedt and so many others and confess that the triumphalism, the clericalism, and the juridicism has no place in the future of the Church.   Let the dead bury their dead and let us go out and proclaim the Kingdom of God.   

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ecclesia semper reformans, semper reformanda: The Church, always reforming--always in need of reform

Yesterday a woman at church said to me “I am so at the end of my rope with the Church—this sex abuse issue, the coverup.  I resent the fact that a criminal can be a priest, but a woman can’t be.”  I had never heard it put quite that way.   We are in the midst of a mess in the Church these days.  The sex abuse and the cover-up are part of it—a huge part of it.  We are seeing hypocrisy when the “The Church” is taking such a harsh line not only on the political hot-potato of “gay marriage” but of appropriate pastoral care of gay people.  Indeed it seems that “The Church” has defined for itself the most rigid of codes of sexual morals when it is clear that many of bishops and clergy who make up “The Church” are living a double standard, sitting in the chair of Moses, as it were, but not practicing the morals they preach.  In the last few entries to this blog we have seen this is nothing new.  The blog has looked at gay popes and cardinals and bishops and we have looked at bishops and cardinals and popes with multiple illegitimate children.  We have seen prelates who have accumulated vast amounts of wealth for themselves and been interested in their own aggrandizement rather than the pastoral good of the souls entrusted to them.  We have seen abuses of power and resorting to violence to achieve one’s ambitions in the Church.   
Somewhat coincidentally I have been reading A Tale of Two Cities or, more precisely, listening to it on an audio book.  I last read it as a sophomore in High School but it has always remained among my favorite books.  Last evening, on my way home from church, I had been listening to the scene where Monsieur the Marquis’s carriage runs over and kills the child of Gaspard.  One could not help but be appalled at the Marquis’s apathetic contempt for the ordinary citizen.  Here is a man who lives in a universe where he thinks the “vulgar masses” were created solely to provide him with his indolent lifestyle.  And you know, I hate to say it, but in so many ways I see “The Church” reflected there.  In many ways it was the Church of the Renaissance and the ancien regime that Dickens was writing of—quite explicitly.  He does not leave that to your imagination when he speaks of the French ecclesiastics.    “The Church” was complicit in the evil that left so many people in dire poverty and squalor in those centuries when some think the Church was so glorious.  Those Basilicas and palaces of Renaissance Rome were built on the backs of the poor.  Not only Italy, but all Europe was being drained dry by the Medici, Della Rovere, Piccolomini, Borgia, Farnese, et al popes and their sycophant cardinals  and bishops and pezzi grossi prelates who were building their palaces and screwing their pages and poisoning their enemies while God’s poor starved.  I am not being anti-Catholic in saying any of this.  I am just reporting the facts.  And when I say that today we have prelates in Rome and prelates here parading around in silk gowns with trains longer than Kate Middleton’s upcoming dress and pontificating about sincere people who are trying to figure out how to balance their need for giving and receiving love, their same-sex attraction, and their devotion to Christ I am not sure how much has changed.  And when I hear sermons that tell me the priest is from cloud la-la land and has no idea how parents of families with four and five kids are trying to make ends meet without the mother having to work outside the home, or hear priests say that they have a life of sacrifice when a maid plops their three course dinner down before them on a table set with linen, china, and crystal I think that there is a need for change in “The Church.”  When I hear priests disparage women or hear of a Bishop who has instructed his pastors that when he visits, no woman is to be invited to dinner I cannot but think of Monsieur the Marquis and his contempt for the people who carried him with all his comfort on their backs and with the sweat of their brows.
But that is not the whole story, nor even half of it.

Also last evening I was at Tenebrae.  The Cathedral was packed.  The Liturgy was moving.  As I listened to the ancient readings and saw how the scriptures were arranged in the various antiphons and responsaries to tell the ancient story of our fall and our redemption—our fall in the disobedience of one man and our redemption in the obedience of another—I was moved to think of those countless thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of monks and nuns who through the centuries created this prayer, wove these texts together out of their meditations.   In the ever-darkening shadows of the Cathedral as the service progressed, I was reminded of faithful pastors, the holy priests, the humble men and women who, while the false shepherds were making a mockery of the Cross, were on their knees, lost in the mystery of God’s love made manifest in a naked and bloodied thorn-crowned man from Galilee whose faithful obedience set right all the sin in human history.  I looked around me at the Cathedral.  Connecticut Avenue lawyers in their three piece suits.  Mothers with strollers.  A smattering of the DC street people.  Some same-sex partners from the Dupont Circle area.  Senior citizens who live in the neighborhood.  Yuppies and DINKs (Double Income No Kids).  African Americans. Asian Americans.  White bread.  Hispanics.  That’s what it means to be Catholic.  Y’all come.  Everybody’s welcome.  And this is what The Church is.  The hierarchy is not the Church. The Pope is not the Church.  Michael Voris and his “Real Catholic TV” is not the Church (despite what he pretends).   The Church is the whole kit and kaboodle.    We all belong. Even those popes with kids and those popes with pages, even the Borgias with their special mushroom casseroles and Sixtus IV with his pretty-boy Cardinals.  Saints and sinners, wheat and tares, Christ died for all and if you or I are one of the lucky ones who remember that it is about Christ dying for us—and for all—and not about capes and swords and tall bejeweled mitres, just be thankful that your eyes have been opened and pray for those who are still so blinded by the glory of “The Church”  that they can’t see the true glory, the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Old St Peter's Basilica: Caught in the Della Rovere-Medici Crossfire

 Julius II had  been the cardinal-nephew of Sixtus IV Della Rovere.  Sixtus who had headed the Franciscan Order before his election, named a number of his nephews Cardinals and they, in turn, had spent much of his papacy fighting one another for power and influence (and money).  Most of them weren’t worth spit but Guiliano was a cut above the rest and proved himself competent enough to hold several important offices in the Roman Curia as well as being entrusted with a variety of bishoprics—holding eight at the same time, though being an absentee pastor in each of his dioceses.  It was common to name important Roman officials to dioceses not only in Italy but throughout Europe so that they could collect the salaries as a means of financial support.  This drew money from all over Europe into the Roman economy and empowered these Curia officials to build the palaces and  churches of Renaissance Rome. 
Speaking of Roman palaces, another of Sixtus’ cardinal nephews, Raffaele Riario hosted an evening of gambling at which Franceschetto Cybo, bastard son of Pope Innocent VIII (the current pope and successor to Giuliano’s uncle, Sixtus IV), lost 15,000 ducats (Two and a half million modern dollars).  Not a lucky night.  The pope asked Cardinal Riario to return the money, but the Cardinal explained that he had already spent the money to finance the construction of a new palace—the beautiful palazzo della Cancelleria near the piazza Campo dei Fiori.  If it is any consolation to the memory of Innocent VIII, the palace is still owned by the Vatican and it serves today to hold various administrative offices.  It truly is one of the most lovely buildings in Rome—won all in a night’s gambling.   As for Cybo, he was not a cardinal as he was married (to a Medici—rivals of Pope Sixtus, Cardinal Giuliano, and other Della Roveres.  Mortal enemies as we shall see.  While unable to be made a Cardinal, Cybo was entrusted with several military and administrative offices, including the governorship of Rome, that provided him a handsome income.  He was, after all, the Pope’s son. In 1490 he attempted to steal the papal treasury to finance his extensive gambling debts, but as Dad was still pope, he was not prosecuted for his lack of good judgment.  One of his own sons would become a Cardinal—not only was he the grandson of a pope (Innocent VIII) but remember he was a Medici on his mother’s side, so one of his uncles was destined to reign as Leo X—the pope at the time of Luther’s saying that he had enough of the whole Roman Church. “Everything is for sale in Rome.”  When you see this sequence of events, can you blame Luther?  Well, we will talk about that in future postings.
We are still not ready to return to Julius yet as there is one more important story about his Cardinal Cousin—Rafaelle “lucky at cards” Riario.  The seventeen year old Cardinal stopped in Florence on his way from Pisa where he was studying canon law (how would you like to have a Cardinal in your canon law class?) to Rome.  Unbeknown to the lad, his visit was used as a pretext by his uncle the Pope and several others to lure the Medici brothers—Lorenzo and Giuliano—out of the Medici Palace to attend High Mass at the Cathedral.  It would have been considered rude, a snub to the Cardinal, to miss the mass in his honor.  The elevation of the host was used as a signal for the conspirators to attack. Giuliano was stabled to death on the Cathedral floor; Lorenzo, seriously ( but not fatally) wounded escaped to the sacristy where, once in, the doors were barred for his protection. The plot failed as the Florentines supported the Medici and in the subsequent bloodshed many of the conspirators were killed—including the Archbishop of Pisa, Francesco Salviati, who was hung naked from the walls of Florence’s town hall, the Palazzo della Signoria.  The young Cardinal seems to have been only a pawn in his uncle’s game and, though arrested, he was shortly set at liberty.  In fact Lorenzo and Pope Sixtus soon made up.  In Renaissance Italy, attempted murder was no reason to break off a friendship.  It was done all the time.   But the plot does tell you something about this Della Rovere family.  They played for big stakes and they played for keeps.  Well, back now to Julius, but also note tht  Raffaele Riario was also the patron who first brought Michelangelo to Rome. 
Julius, or more properly at this pont, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, also had his ups and downs as we have seen.  He fled to France after his enemy Rodrigo Borgia was elected Alexander VI.  In France he became buddies with Charles VIII whom he persuaded to invade Italy in hopes of deposing Alexander.  Though Charles did get to Rome, Alexander out maneuvered Giuliano’s plan and Charles, instead of convoking a Council to depose Alexander, moved on to fight a war with Naples in a vain hope of adding it to his realms.  In the second 1503 conclave, however, Cardinal Della Rovere’s fortunes improved and he was elected pope.
As I pointed out, the Della Roveres were strong people.  The family had been poor until uncle Sixtus had become pope and started making all the nephews Cardinals.  They were scrappers and they didn’t mind a fight to get what they wanted.  Indeed Julius himself loved a fight—a real fight in which he could put on armor and get on a horse and go out and bash some heads. In a 1506 battle for Bologna, the pope was one of the first up the scaling ladders and over the city wall.  He was a man’s man which isn’t to say that he didn’t enjoy having a man in bed.  While he had an illegitimate daughter, Julius seems to have been either gay or bi-sexual.  I have heard stories that he made one of his lovers the Archbishop of Ravenna but I can’t find this anywhere and I wonder if the sources are confusing him with Julius III whose lover was a street urchin, Innocenzo Ciochhi Del Monte, whom, in his infatuation, he made Cardinal. 
As I said yesterday, Julius’ great passion was for his projected tomb and that returns us to the fate of Old St Peter’s and the Destiny of New Saint Peter’s. Before we pick up the story of the Basilica, however, one more thing about Julius.  As part of the terms under which he was elected pope, Julius had promised to convoke a Council of the Church to address the need for reform.  (Ya think there was a need for Reform???)  He delayed this as long as possible, but finally on July 18, 1511 he convoked the Council to meet at the Lateran on April 19, the following year.  Finally fifteen Cardinals, two Latin Patriarchs, ten archbishops, fifty-six bishops, various abbots, the generals of the mendicant orders, and ambassadors from various states convened on May 3rd 1512.  Giles of Viterbo, the charismatic General of the Augustinian Friars preached the opening sermon—a bombastic demand for reform in root and branch.  Julius would die the following February, escaping any personal worries about having to reform. 
the image today is Giuliano de Medici, killed in the Pazzi Conspiracy due to the rivalry between the Della Rovere family and the Medici.