The Conciliar Controversy
The Conciliar movement that can be seen as a threat or challenge to the authority of the medieval papacy. The pope in the Catholic Church is viewed as having very high authority. He is the representative of the Apostle Peter whom Jesus Christ commanded to feed his sheep. The pope, therefore, has been given a mandate, not only from earthly beings but also from God himself. The pope ruled with absolute authority over the members of the Catholic Church until the Conciliar Movement came about and challenged the power of the pope.
The Conciliar movement sought to come up with a church in which all members, even the pope himself would be answerable to the General Council. The council thought that absolute powers that the pope held did not bode well for the church. No one was able to keep the pope accountable for his actions as he was the successor of the Apostle Peter on earth. Peter was ordained by Jesus Christ himself hence the pope’s role was God-given.
The Conciliar movement felt that this state o affairs concerning papal supremacy should be changed. A better solution was to come up with a general council that would oversee the church as a whole. The members of the council would assemble under the authority of the Holy Spirit. The Council would come up with new reforms and policies that would be followed by all the people, including the pope. A failure to adhere to the laws that were laid down by the council was a direct violation of the laws of Jesus Christ who had ordained the council. Wrongdoers therefore had to be punished fittingly even if it was the pope himself. There was much reform that needed to be carried out in the church, and this would be undertaken by the Holy Synod or by another general council that had been constituted legally.
A pope might have reasons to fear the decisions of a general council. The Pope has considered the highest authority in the Catholic Church; hence a word from him was like a word for Jesus Christ himself. The pope had the tasks of leading the Catholic faithful as well as those serving in the Church. This granted the pope autonomy to do whatever he wanted. It was, therefore, challenging to tell whether the pope was acting for his good or for the good of the whole church in general. The pope was like a king over the Catholic Church just as a king rules a country. He had to fight for his power, fight the Churches’ enemies and also to act in a manner that undermined the desires of their enemies.
The General Council would step in and be the overall authority of the Church; the council would ensure that all wrongdoing in the Church was punished. This included any acts of wrongdoing by the pope himself. The Council was legally constituted, and hence no one could challenge its authority. When the pope did something wrong, he would be punished. The problem with a general council, however, is that they might engage in a witch-hunt for the pope. This was highly likely especially if the pope wanted some reforms in the Catholic Church that members of the council do not agree with. They might come up with accusations to taint the Pope’s image and get him out the office is held. While many Catholics worked to advance their faith and their church, the few who had a different agenda would be given a platform.
Rebellion in the church would also be curbed under the leadership of the council. May wrongdoers in the church were unhappy with the council. They appealed through the pope to future council members. The council, however, disagreed strongly with the appeal. They said that there was no legal or theological that could be brought against the council. The laws that they made had been formed after the consultation with people trained in matters of civil law and canons.
The regular meeting of the general church council was essential for the growth of the church. It was an opportunity to identify any actions of church members and how to condemn such actions. The general council would also get the chance to root out any evils that existed in the Church; the meetings were a chance for the council to consult each other and to discuss the necessary reforms in the church. Some of the issues in the Catholic Church included the fact that the poor members of the church were facing oppression and there was no one to fight for their rights. Meeting s of the council provided the chance to discuss possible remedies to this situation. The powerful people had to be punished, and only the General Council would have the authority to do that in a fitting and adequate manner.
It was also the time to strengthen their faith in God and even to get more members in the church. The meeting s was an opportunity to encourage fruitfulness in the church. If the general council were neglected, it would encourage the growth of evil in the church which would have been curbed early with enough guidance. Continuity of the council would be assured with the meetings set on a regular basis of ten years forever. The council was also tasked with bringing reforms, mandates and other regulations to the church. The meetings would ensure uniformity in the church in all the different parts of the world.
Sinfulness had been allowed in the church for far too long, and wrongdoers were left to go scot-free without any punishment meted out on them. Rebellion had been encouraged and licensed, and the members of the church had gone astray. The hierarchy and discipline in the church had been ignored for too long, and the council would get the chance to remedy this.
The Conciliar movement would at a position to carry out much-needed reforms in the church. The Pope would still maintain his leadership role but would be guided and held accountable by the general council. The fact that the council commanded that there be no appeals against any of their decisions is a worrisome one. There should be democracy in the church to allow for aggrieved members to seek reprieve. The Council, however, made their intentions as to the reforms clear, they wanted to put a stop to the oppression of the poor, to punish wrongdoers, to make sure that the fields of the lord were kept fertile and to encourage members in a way that is right and pleasing to the Lord.