I’m trying to finish a paper on Pope Innocent III’s idea of the papacy. It has taken me 9 months, and while I shouldn’t compare it to the pain of giving birth….
OK. But seriously, it has taken a great deal of emotional processing–which for me, means hours of staring at a wall and feeling various unformed thoughts struggle inside me. Only at the very end do I have words.
This is it: Pope Innocent III was a good man. He defended prostitutes, gave indulgences to men who would marry one and get her out of that lifestyle, and (if legends be true) set up an anonymous infant donation center, so that they wouldn’t end up drowned in the river like kittens. He was an idealist and a romantic: and one of those ones who probably cried for those who had lost, especially their innocence. But….he trusted far too easily. And when his grand plans of heroism went terribly awry (e.g. when would-be crusaders lost control of their soldiers who then pillaged/raped/slaughtered)…he commanded, he complained, and when they did not listen, he gave up and compromised with them.
I suppose one can’t condemn someone for failing. But it is still sad.
Also…he corrupted the symbol. Oh, he had the best of intentions, but he innovated the symbol: of what the Pope was. In his teaching, he changed the symbol of the pope, from friend of the Bridegroom (Christ) to bridegroom himself (albeit temporarily and technically only for the city of Rome). That was a very dangerous thing to do. Because symbols are sacred, latent with terrible power (like a nuclear reactor), and generations will reap the fruit of it. And generations did reap the fruit.