First Council of the Lateran

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The Council of 1123 is reckoned in the series of Ecumenical councils by the Catholic Church. It was convoked by Pope Callixtus II in December, 1122, immediately after the Concordat of Worms. The Council sought to: (a) bring an end to the practice of the conferring of ecclesiastical benefices by people who were laymen (b) free the election of bishops and abbots from secular influence (c) clarify the separation of spiritual and temporal affairs (d) re-establish the principle that spiritual authority resides solely in the Church (e) abolish the claim of the emperors to influence papal elections.

The council convoked by Callistus II was significant in size: three hundred bishops and more than six hundred abbots assembled at Rome in March, 1123; Callistus presided in person. During the Council the decisions of the Concordat of Worms were read and ratified. Various other decisions were promulgated.


History leading to the Council

The First Lateran Council was called by Pope Callistus II whose reign began February 1, 1119. It demarcated the end of the Investiture controversy which had begun before the time of Pope Gregory VII. The issues had been contentious and had continued with unabated bitterness for almost a century. Guido, as he was called before his elevation to the papacy,[1] was the son of Count William of Burgundy.[1] He was closely connected with nearly all the royal houses of Europe on both sides of his family. He had been named the papal legate to France by Pope Paschal II. During Guido's tenure in this office, Paschal II yielded to the military threats of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, and was induced to issue the Privilegium in the year 1111. By this document the Church gave up much of what had been claimed and subsequently attained by Pope Gregory VII and his Gregorian Reforms.[1]

These concessions did not bring the expected peace but were received with violent reactionary opposition everywhere. Europe had come to expect an end to the Investiture controversy, and was not willing to return to the old days when the Holy Roman Emperor named the pope.[1] The greatest resistance was seen in France and was led by Guido, who still held the office of the papal legate.[1] He had been present in the Lateran Synod of 1112 which had proclaimed the Privilegium of 1111. On his return to France, Guido convoked an assembly of the French and Burgundian bishops at Vienne (1112). There the lay investiture of the clergy (the practice of the king, especially the Holy Roman Emperor naming bishops and the pope) was denounced as heretical.[1] A sentence of excommunication was pronounced against Henry V, who had extorted through violence from the pope the concessions documented in the Privilegium. The agreement was deemed to be opposed to the interests of the Church.[1] The decrees from the assembly of Vienne which denounced the Priviegium were sent to Paschal II with a request for confirmation. Pope Paschal II confirmed these which were received in general terms, on October 20, 1112.[1]

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