12 June 2011

A couple of papers

Following up my last post about this semester's classes, here are two of the papers I wrote this semester. You can also find them with all my other papers at the Academic Essays page linked above.

Pastoral Aspects of Marriage and Family.
Marriage and Family: A Proposal for a Pastoral Approach.

The most important pastoral issues facing the Church in the United States today with regard to marriage and the family include the problems of divorce and re-marriage, contraception, abortion, pre-marital co-habitation, and homosexuality. In the first part of this paper I present an overview of the development of these issues in the United States and of the Church’s response to them. In the second part, I then propose a pastoral approach to these issues based on the Church’s current Code of Canon Law (1983)... (continue reading)

History of Byzantium.
The Coronation of Charlemagne.

On Christmas Day, in the year of our Lord 800, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, knelt in the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome and was crowned as Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III. There can be no doubt that this was an important moment in the history of Western Europe, but how was it viewed in the East? According to Runciman, "Constantinople inevitably saw it as an act of treachery." He says that "the coronation made it impossible for the Imperial Government to trust the Papacy any further." And on account of this, he describes it as "an act of great political unwisdom" on the part of the Pope. Similarly, Magdalino asserts that, amidst the many open questions surrounding the coronation, such as whose idea it was, and who benefitted most from the new arrangement, one thing that there can be no question about is that "Byzantium was seriously offended." We may still ask, however, why this should be so. Of course, a reigning monarch would always be offended by another man claiming his crown and title; but this had long become commonplace in the Roman Empire. In fact, it had only been three years since the currently reigning Empress Irene had herself seized the throne and crown by violence from her own son Constantine VI, whose eyes she had put out "in the same purple chamber where she had given birth to him twenty-six years earlier." Now there can little doubt that Constantine himself saw this as 'an act of treachery' and was 'seriously offended' by it, but the same does not seem to be true of Constantinople as such. Was there then something more than the usual palace intrigues at work in the case of Charlemagne? Something which made it more particularly and uniquely offensive? (continue reading)


big daddy said...


I agree with your conclusions that the manner of Charlemagne's coronation was part of the papacy's ongoing effort to avoid Greek-style caesaropapism and assert in some way the priority of the spiritual realm over the secular. Which effort has proved to be successful over the centuries, mainly. I wonder that this historical fact isn't a greater factor (maybe it is and I don't see it) in ongoing ecumenical dialogues with the Eastern Orthodox churches. Autocephaly, practically, has meant submission in many practical ways to the sultan or the tsar. So much better than accepting the primacy of the successors of Peter!

John said...

What you say is no exaggeration.

In fact, I only just learned - to my shock and horror - that after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 it was the Sultan Mehmed II who not only chose who the next patriarch should be but actually installed him in the office personally.