Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/84

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CONSULS OF GOD

lapse of the Western Empire, which had long since seen its last cargo of Egyptian grain, it was his first care to give the people bread. Only after that could he say to them that man does not live by bread alone! As steward of the city and all the ecclesiastical estates within and out- side of Italy estates which had been accumulated as a result of gifts and bequests he inaugurated a great reform by building a system of ecclesiastical self-management upon the idea of rational use and highest returns. To him the purpose of ecclesiastical economy was to supply the needs of the poverty-stricken, the proletariat, the horde of those who fled from regions desolated by the Lombards, and the prisoners whose freedom he could purchase. The spirit which actu- ated his method of organizing work was in consonance with the pur- pose of his charitable enterprises. The chief officials were Roman clerics, directly responsible to the Pope; and a system of leases and payments curbed the danger that some would seek to enrich them- selves. In all this Gregory opposed Mammonism of every kind, and directed his attention in particular to simonistic bishops who demanded payment for administering the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He re- gretted deeply that the needs of the time compelled him to be so much engrossed in worldly business (he even had to take a hand in selling cows and oxen) and he therefore strove to emphasize doubly the spirit of Christian kindliness and the eternal meaning of all earthbound industry. To his clergy he preached the motto of service rather than lordship, holding up before them the picture of a Christ who had driven the money-lenders out of the temple.

Gregory mastered the troubled situation in Church and State in a spirit of lofty nobility blended with the prudence and wisdom of a political calculator. He did what was possible at every given mo- ment, but over and beyond that proved himself able to frame a long range policy. Against the East he defended the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Church as emphatically as he could in view of the tragic vagueness of which Pope Vigilius had been guilty. This he excused by referring to the false impression under which Peter had laboured in the beginning concerning the mission to the heathen. He opposed to the arrogant attitude of the "ecumenical patriarch" of Byzantium a description of himself as servtts servorum Dei, servant of the servants of God. He also succeeded in defending his Lombard


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