Papacy
The Roman Catholic Church’s system of government led by the Pope, or the political influence of this system.
Pontiff
The title of certain religious leaders and high priests, now used mainly for the Pope.
The Pope and the Archbishop
Summary: Thomas Becket's murder in 1170 sparked a chain of events that led to papal control of Britain.
 
 

In 1982, Pope John Paul II visited the United Kingdom. He kissed the ground at Gatwick airport as a sign of authority. Where did that authority come from? BBC tells us of his visit:

Canterbury Cathedral: West Front, Nave and Central Tower. 
Watch The Secret Behind Secret Societies on ADtv for more information. 

John Paul II became the first pontiff ever to visit the UK when he made the six-day tour of the country.

He visited Canterbury Cathedral on 29 May to say prayers with the then [Anglican] Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie. Streets were lined by 25,000 people and the Pope told the congregation it was a day "which centuries and generations have awaited"...

The Pope and Dr Runcie knelt in silent prayer at The Place of the Martyrdom, the spot where St Thomas-a-Becket was murdered in 1170.

Derek Ingram-Hill, an honorary canon at the cathedral...said: "It was a very moving moment to see the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury praying on the very spot where the most famous of all archbishops, Thomas-a-Becket, had fallen so many centuries ago.“i

What is so monumental about Thomas Becket's death?

Who is Thomas Becket?

Thomas Becket, also known as Thomas-a-Becket or Thomas à Becket (1118-1170), was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to 1170 AD. Remember that this occurred before the Protestant Reformation, meaning that the Catholic Church was the only Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury was Catholic, as Anglicanism did not yet exist.

At that time, King Henry II of England (1133-1189) wanted to decrease the power of the Roman Catholic Church in his kingdom. Henry wrote 16 constitutions to this end, but Becket refused to ratify them.

According to the New World Encyclopedia, "Henry was characteristically stubborn and on 8 October 1164, he called the Archbishop, Thomas Becket, before the Royal Council. However, Becket had fled to France and was under the protection of Henry's rival, Louis VII of France.

"The King continued doggedly in his pursuit of control over his clerics, to the point where his religious policy became detrimental to his subjects. By 1170, the Pope was considering excommunicating all of Britain. Only Henry's agreement that Becket could return to England without penalty prevented this fate."ii

When Becket returned, he began to excommunicate his opponents in the Church, frustrating more of King Henry's plans. In a moment of anger, the king said something along the lines of, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" And unfortunately for Thomas Becket, four of Henry's devout knights overheard the king's complaints and decided to answer the King's call by ruthlessly murdering Becket in 1170.iii

The Fallout

Becket's murder caused more stress than relief for King Henry II, who had to smooth things over with the Papacy:

Stained glass window of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. Watch The Secret Behind Secret Societies...

Just three years later, Becket was canonized and revered as a martyr against secular interference in God's church; Pope Alexander III had declared Thomas Becket a saint...The Compromise of Avranches in 1172 marked the reconciliation of Henry II of England with the Catholic Church after the murder in 1170 of Thomas Becket. Henry was purged of any guilt in Becket's murder, but he agreed that the secular courts had no jurisdiction over the clergy, with the exceptions of high treason, highway robbery and arson:

The murder had far-reaching consequences for England, but the immediate result was that Henry II had to make peace with the Church. He did this four years later by performing penance at Canterbury Cathedral. He was beaten by eighty monks while wearing sack cloth and ashes and spent the night in vigil at Saint Thomas Becket's tomb. The Church had wasted no time and had canonized Becket in 1173. He (Henry II) also had to promise to raise money for the Crusades and to either mount a Crusade or make a pilgrimage. He did neither. There was enough to do at home.iv

It's clear from these stories that the true power behind the British throne in those days was the Pope. In fact, the Pope dominated the entire continent—Catholicism reigned as the only Christianity for 1260 years in Europe.

In the early 1200s, King John of England (1166-1216) had no better luck in keeping the Pope happy.

Read his story in our next article: Concessions that Changed the World

 


 

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