Paradiso Canto IX Their thoughts are never bent on Nazareth

'For this the Gospel and the great Church Fathers
are set aside and only the Decretals
are studied‹as their margins clearly show.

On these the pope and cardinals are intent.
Their thoughts are never bent on Nazareth,
where Gabriel's open wings were reverent.

And yet the hill of Vatican as well
as other noble parts of Rome that were
the cemetery for Peter's soldiery
will soon be freed from priests' adultery.'
Paradiso Canto ix

According to the commentary on Paradiso canto ix by John Carroll, the above Folco passage viewed from a historical context tells of his ‘passion of indignation against Pope and Cardinals for their indifference to the fate of the Holy Land.’ Folco ‘could not understand how the Head of the Church could basely abandon to the infidel the sacred soil on which the Church's Lord was born.’ On the contrary the meaning of this passage should not be read just on the historical level but on a higher level, a level defending the rights of the Holy Roman Emperor against the abuses of the Papacy. In order for the Popes to defend their abusive authority against the rights of the Holy Roman Emperor many of the defenders of the Pope relied exclusively on the Decretals and have ignored the Gospels, and as according to Dante in his de Monarchia he tells us that ‘There is also a third category, called decretalists - ignorant and lacking in any philosophical or theological training - who argue their case exclusively with reference to their decretals (which I certainly think worthy of veneration); trusting in their authoritativeness, I believe, they disparage the empire.’ Further on Dante tells us that use of the Decretals as an authority takes the back seat to Scripture and the Church. ‘Then after the church come the traditions called "decretals", which, while certainly to be revered on account of their apostolic authority, must yet take second place to the fundamental scriptures, given that Christ reproached the priests for doing the opposite’ This is the correct meaning or view of the above passage in canto ix that the Churchmen have neglected to look at the Life of Christ and His willingness to be born under the reign of Caesar Augustus and that the Holy Family obediently enrolled themselves in the census of Caesar thus confirming the legitimate authority of the Roman Emperor. ‘Their thoughts are never bent on Nazareth’ The popes never looked at the life of the Holy Family and their willfull obedience to Roman Rule. Instead the popes rejected the legitimate temporal authority of the Holy Roman Emperor. Simply put in this one matter of obedience to temporal authority the popes did not follow in the footsteps of Christ. Far more beneficial for the popes to pay attention to the following Scriptural passage than to rely on any passages found in the Decretals: 'And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.'


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