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Catholic view of history Thomas Becket – Flexible memory

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A supposed processing of the historical background to the “Saint” Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, illustrates the enormous flexibility of the memories attempted for this purpose. From a Catholic perspective, a completely different picture emerges than the unchangeable past actually portrayed.

Idiosyncratic reminder of history

The Roman Catholic Church has a remarkably exclusive collection of “blesseds” and “saints.” One of them is Archbishop Thomas Backet. A historical figure with a huge influence on the history that followed. For the Catholic Church, this bishop is a model of spiritual virtues against the “evil worldly powers.” The stories and legends surrounding this figure are designed accordingly. Balm for the googly-eyed sheep.

The basis for historical reappraisal

The work “From Conflict to Community” provides a very remarkable formulation of the current treatment of past history. A joint statement on the de facto burial of Protestantism on October 31, 2017, just in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, said:

What happened in the past cannot be changed. However, what is remembered from the past and how it happens can actually change over time. Memory makes the past present. While the past itself is unchanging, the presence of the past in the present is changeable. Looking ahead to 2017, it’s not about telling a different story, it’s about telling that story differently.
(Chapter II, pos. 16, page 12)

Historical images
Fixed History – Flexible Reminders

This treatment of the common history, expressed in the context of the completed return of the former Protestant churches to the Roman mother institution, has a thoroughly universal quality. Since the early (Dark) Middle Ages, there have been virtually no politically significant decisions where the Church of Rome did not have its countless sticky tentacles stuck into it. That is why it seems more appropriate for this church in the present not to remember the undistorted image of history, but rather to modify its memory accordingly. History itself would ultimately remain untouched. Even without evidence, this formulation for the flexible treatment of the memory of unchanging history comes from the scholastic department of the Jesuit stable.

The rough outline

The Catholic pen’s account of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s background appears to have undergone such a process of memory modification.

The Catholic magazine “Die Tagespost” remembers one of the favorite martyrs of the Roman Catholic Church. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. The actions surrounding this bishop, appointed by the Pope, are of enormous historical importance. The result of this “odyssey” involving Thomas Becket, King Henry II and Pope Alexander III paved the way for the successful incorporation of the English crown by Pope Innocent III just a few decades later.

As usual, the Church of Rome not only fought its lust for power externally, but there was also, as usual, internal friction, as can clearly be seen in the Church of Rome today. During Alexander III. polished his papal tiara in Rome between 1159 and 1181, Victor IV, Paschalis III Calixt III and a (“preliminary”) Innocent III each appeared as so-called antipopes. The theater calmed down again with the quick change to Pope Lucius III in 1181.

The Catholic memory of Thomas Becket

The heroic epic about Thomas Becket declared him a martyr during his lifetime. Of course Becket is a “saint”. At least this attribute is clearly highlighted by the Catholic magazine (Source). According to the tenor, Becket fought bravely against the desires and desire for power of the secular government in England. Even today, pandering to the zeitgeist is one of the greatest threats to the Catholic faith, according to the author of the report.

Becket’s career was extraordinary. From a wealthy family, traveling in Europe, and ultimately secretary to the previous Archbishop of Canterbury Theobald. Not even ordained as a priest, Becket was appointed his successor in 1161. He quickly became a priest, only to be catapulted to bishop immediately after his ordination. This step was an abrupt change from the secular into the mystical Catholic spiritual.

King Henry didn’t like that

This was all a thorn in the side of King Henry II. After the predecessor had been personally elevated to office, he was now followed by a papal emissary who owed obedience to the pontiff in Rome and not to the king. The argument between Heinrich and Becket was inevitable. According to the Catholic magazine, the archbishop openly criticized the king and subsequently feared for his life. Becket fled to a monastery in France. Before his return, the archbishop is said to have told a friend that he was going back to England to die there. Friend and the source of this claim remain anonymous. But it fits wonderfully for designing a hero figure.

The author of the report describes Becket’s death only “briefly and crisply.” The archbishop was killed on December 29, 1170 by four royal knights.

For the archbishop the path ended at this point. But his work had a great influence on the people. According to the author, this had already honored him as a martyr during his lifetime in his fight against the secular rulers.

Another miracle at that

But the “greatest miracle” was Henry’s public penance at Becket’s grave. The king allowed himself to be scourged by monks and thereby abandoned his original plans to build a national church. Thomas Becket sets the example “that a bishop always has the opportunity to remain faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teaching of the Church.”

A “different” memory of Becket history

The depiction, as it could have come from the pens of a Tolkien, is a prime example of how a romantic-looking heroic epic can be crafted from omissions, suggestive formulations and also a little bending and breaking.

A little more background

Old books
History has even more to offer

Left completely unaddressed is the simple fact that the Archbishop of Rome, appointed by the Pope, represents what might also be called an ambassador. By the 12th century the priority had long been settled and cemented. The Bishop of Rome, i.e. the Pope, is the head of the church. Everything else that floats around in this church, walking or sipping, remains subject to the Pope during their service and lifetime and is subject to absolute obedience. The dispute between King Henry and Thomas Becket was not primarily a private dispute, but rather a power struggle between the English crown and the papacy.

The misconduct presented as the king’s mere desire for power is nothing other than the desired emancipation from Rome. Heinrich didn’t want to understand why the “guy” wanted to stick his nose in everywhere in Rome. The supreme ruler of England is the king and not the Latin in his colorful robes. As a subordinate of the Pope, Thomas Becket naturally acted in the interests of the Roman Church. And their lust for power is unprecedented in history. Henry wanted to return to his previous supremacy over the Church of England. This was continually infiltrated due to the Roman Church’s desire for power. The appointment of Archbishop Becket without the king’s intervention was the final straw.

Monastery or collaboration?

Becket actually fled to France after Henry announced that he wanted to arrest him. However, Becket did not spend his years “crying” and “singing Hosanna” in the monastery, but instead turned straight to the King of France, Louis VII. Becket wanted to incite him to a full-scale war against England. Pope Alexander was present in France, but his political calculations did not allow for intervention because he feared that Henry would turn to the German Emperor Frederick I and the then antipope Paschalis III.

This monastery story can safely be banished to the realm of legends, because it didn’t fit with the archbishop’s lifestyle. While still in the service of his predecessor, Becket, who came from a wealthy family, preferred to sweeten his everyday life with excessive luxury. Christian modesty did not set in even when he was appointed bishop in the blink of an eye.

Excommunication and interdict

In 1269 there was a meeting between King Henry and Thomas Becket. They parted in mutual anger. In the same year, Henry initiated an amendment to the “Constitutions of Clarendon”, which de facto released England from obedience to the Pope.
This in turn caused Thomas Becket and subsequently the Pope to excommunicate everyone responsible. This also affected the king. Henry feared an interdict (church strike) over England and began negotiating with Becket. The king gave the archbishop all the previously confiscated possessions.

The archbishop returned to Canterbury. His promise was to lift the excommunication of selected Henry’s comrades-in-arms. Becket wanted to avoid an interdict. This night made the crowd cheer as he returned to the city. Heinrich was angry and gave in to verbal outbursts. “Who can free me from this wretched monk?” Four royal knights heard this outburst, took the king at his word and wanted to do him a favor. They killed Thomas Becket. It only took a few days for Becket to be canonized. Pope Alexander promised that Henry’s excommunication would be lifted if he repented and (good) submitted again.

The memory of unchanging history can be seen in “Encyclopedia Britannica” (Source). Something different from these authors in the Catholic magazine.

Enormous blackmail potential

Wolf in sheep's clothing
The Church of Rome and its ‘Christian spirit’

It is impressive to see the means through which the Roman Catholic Church achieved its unprecedented power. It is a combination of ludicrous stories sold as Christian doctrine, withholding the truth by banning the Bible under penalty of death, and people’s gullibility. The leverage of excommunication and also of interdict were enormous.

People believed, or the “good” Catholics still believe today, that exclusion from the church community automatically meant a direct trip to hell. Both are wrong. Although people are not automatically saved outside of the Roman Catholic Church, they are not definitely lost either. There is no eternally burning hell that torments the soul for eternity (Info). But people believed (believe) that an Indian tikt, i.e. refusing confession and communion, was a sure ticket to the abyss of flames. A very, very unpleasant situation for a king when the people feel that they are hopelessly lost because their king is bitching against the Pope.

So the Church of Rome had a blackmail tool with enormous leverage at its disposal with its heresies, excommunication and interdict, which were brought into the world and unfortunately also believed. The Catholic magazine called the king’s willingness to repent “the greatest miracle” in this story.

Old tradition – New tradition

Excommunication would immediately be a welcome matter. But even on this point the Roman Catholic Church reveals its limitless arrogance. This process does not exempt you from church laws (in Germany, not from church tax). You still remain “property” of the church and subject to church law. Catholic baptism “binds forever.”

As an excommunicate, you had a year to repentantly throw yourself into the dust in front of a cleric, otherwise you would be declared “outlaw”, an “empire ban” at the state level, labeled a heretic and persecuted as such. Heretics were generally murdered by this church. As an “outlaw” you could be killed by anyone without the murderer facing any consequences. For this purpose, the church “commanded” “its” God to accept such inconsequential crimes (Info).

The madness practiced in the darkest of ages would no longer work today. Pope Francis in particular has come up with a different strategy for this, or had his stable team come up with it. The heart-melting, lovely seduction (Info).

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Matthew 24:3-4

Bible verses from King James Version

Anyone who believes in the Gospel has never been in good hands in the Catholic Church and is no longer in good hands in any of the former Protestant churches. The Church of Rome and its affiliated daughters embody what the Bible calls “the son of perdition, man of sin, whore of Babylon, abomination of the earth and false prophet.” (Info)

Catholic view of history Thomas Becket – Flexible memory
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