Very little in the church’s history is more controversial than its use of the sword, said Franciscan University adjunct professor Dr. Andrew W. Jones on Nov. 3 in the Gentile Gallery at his last talk on “The Liturgical Cosmos.”
Jones noted that the Fourth Lateran Council had two primary focuses: crusade and the universal reform of the church. In his previous lecture Oct. 27, Jones focused on the reforming movement of Lateran Four. Crusade and the sword, the focus of his final lecture, are where one finds most of the controversy surrounding Lateran Four, said Jones.
“The Fourth Lateran Council had a great deal to say about the sword, about the use of force,” said Jones. “It launched a crusade to the Holy Land; it condemned heretics and demanded that the temporal sword be wielded against them, and it set up procedures that would become the Inquisition. … That’s just to name a few things, but the sword actually permeates throughout the canons of the council.”
Jones continued, “Crusade and inquisition is often seen as the embodiment of all that’s wrong with medieval Catholicism. … How could a society that’s rooted in the love of God, a society that is committed to a vision of unity in faith and charity, a society that looks to Christ who is the ultimate peacemaker as its model … how could such a society use violence to advance its vision? And that is the question.”
Jones said that in order to answer this question truly, one must understand how medieval Christians viewed the world, thereby understanding how they viewed the sword. Their view of reality was at its core analogical, he said.
He said, “A conductor is to an orchestra as a general is to an army. … He moves its various pieces towards some goal; he coordinates the whole in order to achieve some movement greater than any of the pieces and so on. But think of the differences. Peace to war. Creation to destruction. Beauty to ugliness. One reaches up, the other down. Analogy permeates the worldview that I’ve been discussing in these lectures. … This Liturgical Cosmos … was, I think, the cosmos of Lateran Four and it’s a cosmos to