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Callistus (Calixtus) II - Father Of Peace

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Woodcut of Callistus IIBlue blood of blue bloods was Guy of Vienne who became Calixtus II. Guy was born probably at Quingey in 1060, the son of William, count of Burgundy. By blood or marriage he was related to Emperor Henry V, Henry I of England, Louis VI of France, and Alfonso VII of Castile. Guy became a priest when quite young and soon rose to be archbishop of Vienne. He acted as legate for Paschal II and held a council at Vienne which boldly excommunicated Henry V when that monarch wrested the privilege of lay investiture from poor Paschal.

The council urged Paschal to confirm its decrees and hinted that he had better do so--or suffer worse! Since Paschal did so, there was no trouble; but the incident reveals a lack of perfection in Guy's obedience and loyalty. He was, however, a strong reform bishop and a popular one. Elected pope by the cardinals at Cluny, Guy was most reluctant to accept; but finally all objections were overruled and he was enthroned at Vienne on February 9,1119, as Calixtus II. The outstanding event of this pontificate was the settlement of the lay investiture quarrel. While Calixtus captured Henry's antipope at Sutri, Henry was meeting much opposition in Germany. And all this time a great tide of public opinion favoring a peaceful settlement was rising swiftly. After some preliminary negotiations, Henry held a great diet at Worms in September 1122 to discuss the matter. After heated discussions, the papal legates and the Emperor drew up a concordat or agreement between Church and State. By this concordat the Emperor renounced the right of investiture by ring and crozier, thus conceding the independence of the spiritual power. The Pope allowed investiture by scepter as a symbol of the temporal fiefs connected with the bishopric or abbey. Thus while the principle of spiritual independence was saved, the legitimate rights of civil rulers to some control over fiefs was safeguarded.

The Emperor guaranteed free elections, but the Pope agreed that the Emperor could be present at elections, a concession which could easily make free elections a mockery The Concordat of Worms was hailed as a victory for the Church and sent papal prestige skyrocketing. In cold sober fact it left the Church still far too open to secular control. At any rate Henry was released from censures, and men rejoiced in the peace that followed. In March 1123 Calixtus held the ninth ecumenical council, the First Lateran. This, attended by over 300 bishops and 600 abbots, confirmed the Concordat of Worms. It passed the usual reform decrees and one striking new one. Before this, if a priest married, the marriage, though illicit and sinful, was valid. Now such a marriage was declared null and void; in other words, no marriage. Calixtus II favored St. Norbert and approved the Premonstratensian order. He also approved the Knights of St. John or Hospitallers, that famous crusading order. An able spiritual ruler, Calixtus proved also a capable king. Heads literally rolled when he stormed the castles of lawless Roman lords. Even in turbulent Rome itself there was a momentary pause in the clash of arms. No wonder an old chronicler calls Calixtus II, "the father of peace." Calixtus II died on December 13, 1124.

Excerpted from "Popes Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.

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