Thursday, 10 November 2011

11th November.


The Papal Archbasilica of St John Lateran  - of which the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, is ex officio the "first and only honorary canon" of the basilica, a title inherited from the Kings of France, who have held it since Henry IV.

Now I could go on about St Martin of Tours (who influenced Scotland's St Ninian) or Remembrance Day, but it is also the 296th anniversary of the 4th Lateran Council (12th Ecumenical and it was binding on the medieval church in Scotland). Amongst other things it passed the following Canons:

Canon 1: Transubstantiation rules OK. (Good-ish)

Canon 4: An exhortation to the Greeks to reunite with the Roman Church and accept its teaching, so that, according to the Gospel, there may be only one fold and only one shepherd. (Not welcome at Constantinople I'm sure.)

Canon 5: Proclaimed the Papal primacy. After the Pope, primacy is attributed to the patriarchs in the following order: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem. (But not Canterbury - sorry ++Rowan!)

Canon 6: Provincial councils must be held annually for the reform of morals, especially those of the clergy. (So That's what General Synod's really for!)

Canon 13 forbids the establishment of new religious orders, lest too great diversity bring confusion into the Church. ( Franciscans founded 1209, Dominicans 1216 so it was pretty much ignored soon after!)

Canons 14-17: Against the irregularities of the clergy — e.g., incontinence, drunkenness, attendance at farces and histrionic exhibitions (so we can avoid General Synod?).

Canon 21, the famous "Omnis utriusque sexus", which commands every Christian who has reached the years of discretion to confess all his, or her, sins at least once a year to his, or her, own (i.e. parish) priest. This canon did no more than confirm earlier legislation and custom, and has been often but wrongly, quoted as commanding for the first time the use of sacramental confession. (Anti-mendicant order really!)

Canons 78 & 79: Jews and Moslems shall wear a special dress to enable them to be distinguished from Christians. Christian princes must take measures to prevent blasphemies against Jesus Christ. (Oh well, every Ecclesiastical gathering makes horrible mistakes I suppose - but ain't it funny/ironic that nowadays it's the Right (Theological) wing of both Judaism and Islam who want the right to dress distinctively, rather than see it as a form of persecution or discrimination which it originally was?)

Ah, the joys of Church History!

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