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4 CATASTROPHE

grounds not above suspicion, since the sojourn of Peter in Rome can- not be proved from the Bible, which also does not establish his priority over the other Apostles excepting perhaps in age. The Bishop of Rome is not entitled to call himself Peter's successor or to consider himself superior to any other bishop. Only the Bible merits uncon- ditional belief; and no other writings, least of all decrees of the Pope, are to be similarly trusted. The right to use force does not belong to the Holy See, but to the prince who as the highest lawgiver also summons die Council. And yet this prince in turn merely acts in behalf of the citizenry. He is responsible to the people, which is the sovereign bearer of all civil rights. Laicistic, naturalistic and revolu- tionary to the core, these writers who before Machiavelli's time were subder than Machiavelli, regarded the "sect" of Christianity as the most estimable of religious factions, and assigned it to the place they adjudged befitting inside the political order they conjured up out of purely secularist thinking. The first and ultimate objective of this vi& moderna was therefore necessarily a maiming blow at the Papacy. The contemporary philosophy of the Averroists, the scepticism of other schools, and the opposition of those who sponsored an ideal of poverty (a vigorous movement fed from deep religious springs) to the Curia, threatened the Papacy from within the world of Christ and that of anti-Christ alike.

John XXII (1316-1334) received the tiara as an old man of seventy- two years, after a long drawn-out battle between the French and the Italian cardinals. Like all Popes of the period of exile he was a Frenchman. Born the son of a cobbler, he grew up to be an educator and the chancellor of Robert of Naples. Later he became Archbishop of Avignon and Cardinal; and his always imperious will had grown hard as steel. He was astonishingly energetic, learned, of modest personal habits, open-minded toward the intellectual problems and social needs of the time, and adroit in the defense of die rights and powers of his office. Later times would both admire and denounce him as a great financial genius. Dante said maliciously that he honoured not Peter and Paul, but the image of John the Baptist on the guilders of Florence. A shrewd calculator, he made use of a system of taxation which included a great number of questionable sources of money from episcopal consecrations, newly established prelacies and


JOHN