Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/73

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53
CONTEMPORARY OPINION.

the same time, describes the Church as filled to the mouth with the filth of temporalities, of avarice, and of negUgence, so that in these points it far surpasses the laity ; and he points out that nothing is more damaging to the Church than to see laymen superior, as a class, to the clergy. Gilbert of Gemblours tells the same tale. The prelates for the most part enter the Church not by election, but by the use of money and the favor of princes ; they enter, not to feed, but to be fed ; not to minister, but to be ministered to ; not to sow, but to reap ; not to labor, but to rest ; not to guard the sheep from the wolves, but, fiercer than wolves, themselves to tear the sheep. St. Hildegarda, in her prophecies, espouses the cause of the people against the clergy. " The prelates are ravishers of the churches ; their avarice consumes all that it can acquire. With their oppressions they make us paupers and contaminate us and themselves. . . . Is it fitting that wearers of the tonsure should have greater store of soldiers and arms than we ? Is it becoming that a clerk should be a soldier and a soldier a clerk? . . . God did not command that one son should have both coat and cloak and that the other should go naked, but ordered the cloak to be given to one and the coat to the other. Let the laity then have the cloak on account of the cares of the world, and let the clergy have the coat that they may not lack that which is necessary." [1]

One of the main objects in convoking the great Council of Lateran, in 1215, was the correction of the prevailing vices of the clergy, and it adopted numerous canons looking to the suppression of the chief abuses, but in vain. Those abuses were too deeply rooted, and four years later Honorius III., in an Encyclical addressed to all the prelates of Christendom, says that he has waited to see the result. He finds the evils of the Church increasing rather than diminishing. The ministers of the altar, worse than beasts wallowing in their dung, glory in their sins, as in Sodom. They are a snare and a destruction to the people. Many prelates consume the property committed to their trust and scatter the stores of the sanctuary throughout the public places ; they promote the unworthy, waste the revenues of the Church on the wicked, and convert the churches into conventicles of their kindred. Monks and


  1. Cod. Diplom. Viennens. No. 163,— P. Cantor, Verb, abbrcv. cap. 57, 59.— Guiberti Abbat. Gemblaccns, Epist. 1.— S. Hildcgardao Revelat. Vis. x. cap. 16.