The Roman Church Cannot Do Whatever It Pleases – Cardinal Godfrey of Verdome (1065- 1132)


Pope Paschal II

This was written in reaction to Pope Paschal II’s capitulation to King Henry V’s insistence on lay investiture. Although the Pope only conceded to allow lay investiture to the King in light of harsh imprisonment, we have the following reaction to this from Godfrey of Vendome (1065- 1132), who was a French Benedictine, monk, Cardinal, and a strong supporter of the Papacy. He worked alongside many Popes during his life, and could hardly be seen as a Papal opponent. His epistolary consists mainly in his opposition to lay investiture, which he condemned as heresy and simony. As I was reading through Anglican historian Karl Morrison’s book on Tradition in the Western Church, I was fortunate to come across this little snippet, whose ocassion was to contend Paschal II’s concession to Henry V. To be fair to the Pope, he condmened lay investiture before and after his imprisonment, but his momentary concession afforded this interesting comment.

Finally, [Abbot] Godfrey of Vendome, a member of the Sacred College, condemned on grounds of tradition Paschal II’s decree approving lay investiture. Some men claim, he wrote (ca. 1116), that the Roman Church can do whatever it pleases, and that by some dispensation it can even do other than the Scriptures command. But the Roman church could surely not do what Peter could not do, and , as Paul showed by resisting Peter to his face, Peter could not dissolve the law of the divine Scriptures. Rome, therefore, must use the power to bind and loose not according to its own will, but ‘according to the tradition of Christ’

(Ep. ad Bernarium, MGH Ldl. 2, 688; taken from “Tradition and Authority in the Western Church: 300-1140”, Karl Morrison, pg. 310)

1 thought on “The Roman Church Cannot Do Whatever It Pleases – Cardinal Godfrey of Verdome (1065- 1132)

  1. Reblogged this on Tom's Digest and commented:
    Abbot Godfrey of Vendome in A.D. 1116, sounding remarkably like Vatican I’s Pastor Aeternus in A.D. 1870 — or like Pope Benedict XVI in A.D. 2005. Mind you, Abbot Godfrey was a Hildebrandian reformer-monk type, bane of Protestants and the dissident Greco-Slavic churches of today. He spells out clearly what is essentially Catholic dogma on the limits of the Papacy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s