The Avignon Papacy and Liberalism

The Josias has an excerpt from Ludwig von Pastor’s history of the papacy about the Avignon popes, their cupidity, and the consequences of the same. Well worth a read. This passage, in particular, stuck out to us:

Still more radical, if possible, are the views regarding the doctrine and government of the Church put forth in this work. The sole foundation of faith and of the Church is Holy Scripture, which does not derive its authority from, her, but, on the contrary, confers on her that which she possesses. The only true interpretation of Scripture is not that of the Church, but that of the most intelligent people, so that the University of Paris may very well be superior to the Court of Rome. Questions concerning faith are to be decided, not by the Pope, but by a General Council.

This General Council is supreme over the whole Church, and is to be summoned by the State. It is to be composed not only of the clergy, but also of laymen elected by the people. As regards their office, all priests are equal; according to Divine right, no one of them is higher than another. The whole question of Church government is one of expediency, not of the faith necessary to salvation. The Primacy of the Pope is not founded on Scripture, nor on Divine right. His authority therefore can only, according to Marsiglio, be derived from a General Council and from the legislature of the State; and for the election of a Pope the authority of the Council requires confirmation from the State.

The office of the Pope is, with the College appointed for him by the Council or by the State, to signify to the State authority the necessity of summoning a Council, to preside at the Council, to draw up its decisions, to impart them to the different Churches, and to provide for their execution. The Pope represents the executive power, while the legislative power in its widest extent appertains to the Council. But a far higher and more influential position belongs to the Emperor in Marsiglio’s Church; the convocation and direction of the Council is his affair; he can punish priests and bishops, and even the Pope.