At the turn of the V-VI centuries. the positions of the papacy grew significantly as a result of the weakening of state power in Italy, as the country survived the conquest by the Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Lombards. In this situation, the popes were able to concentrate in their hands not only spiritual but also secular power.
A special role in this belongs to the Pope of Rome, Gregory the Great. He came from a noble Roman family. His parents were good Christians. Having received a good education, Grigory occupied the highest administrative office in Rome – prefect. A year later he established a monastery of St. Andrew in the parental home and became a monk. In Sicily, Gregory built six more monasteries. Soon an erudite monk was appointed representative of the pope at the Byzantine court. Returning from Constantinople, Gregory became the abbot of St. Andrew’s monastery, and in 590 was elected Pope.
The beginning of his Pontificate fell on a difficult period. All sorts of disasters hit Italy: natural disasters, famine, the constant raids of the Lombards. In addition, the positions of the church were threatened by imperial power in Constantinople. Thank the wise and consistent policy of Gregory, many problems were solved. He, in particular, achieved peace with the Lombards and the right, irrespective of the Byzantine emperor, to appoint prefects. His power was spread throughout central Italy. During his pontificate, the missionary activity of the Roman church was particularly active. He believed that it was the papacy that could unite the Christian world. Grigory maintained diplomatic relations with many European rulers. So the secular power of popes was formed.
Thesis about the supremacy of popes in the Western world was established by a charter on the so-called “Constantine gift.” It was believed that it was in the IV. Roman emperor Constantine I before moving to Constantinople. Charter secular power over Rome and the Western Roman Empire was passed on to the Pope. This document aroused suspicion already among medieval scholars, but only in the XV century. it was proved that this is a qualitative fake, compiled in the VIII-IX centuries.
In the X century. the church was in the hands of secular rulers. German kings, and then the emperors themselves actually appointed the Roman popes. The bishoprics and paraffin were bought. This phenomenon was later called Simonia – after the name of Simon Magus, who offered
the apostle Peter a fee for giving him the gift of doing miracles.
Conflicts between the western and eastern churches were getting deeper and deeper. Subsequently, disagreements began between them about the church-administrative system, the doctrine, the rituals. For example, in the West they were baptized with five fingers joined together, held services in Latin, priests shaved their faces, shaved tonsure; in the East – were baptized with three fingers, the service was conducted in Greek, the priests wore a beard, etc.
The occasion for the final rupture between the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople was the dispute over the subordination of the Church of Southern Italy. This area for a long time belonged to Byzantium, but the pope considered it his possession. Long negotiations did not bring success, and in 1054 the representatives of Rome and Constantinople severed the relations of their churches and exchanged ecclesiastical curses with the Anaphems. The main actors of the separation from Constantinople were Patriarch Michael Kerularia, and from the Roman side – Pope Leo IX and his ambassador Humbert. This divided the Christian church and all the Christian people into the Orthodox and Catholic worlds. In the history of Christianity, the events in 1054 were interpreted as a Church split. Since that time, the Western church began to be called Catholic, and the eastern – Orthodox.
The pontificate is the church authority, the activity and the time of the Pope’s reign.
Simonia is the purchase and sale of church positions or spiritual dignity.