ECCLESIASTICAL CORRUPTION IN THE MIDDLE AGES
Religion and faith dominated virtually every aspect of life during the middle Ages. However, the Church's influence suffered greatly during the later part of this age of faith. Many historians hold that the Medieval Church was a landmark of corruption. This view is often used to explain the decline and fall of the Church and the success of Martin Luther's reformation. It depicts the Church as being ruled by power hungry popes who abuse their positions of authority. At this time "the increasing hostility of the laity to ecclesiastical wealth and decadence undermined papal prestige".
"Omne malum a clero"--every evil comes from the clergy. The clergy are church officials who are divided into two classes. The first class, monks and nuns, lived in accordance to a recognized religious rule, and remained secluded from the outside world. The second class of the spiritual clergy include the priests, bishops, and arch bishops, who have taken the Sacrament of Holy Orders which allows them to administer sacraments and perform religious services.
It is not clear which of the two classes engrossed themselves in the most corruption, there is documentation condemning them both. In the year 1245 at the Council of Lyons, Pope Innocent IV had called the sins of the higher and lower clergy "one of the five wounds in the Body of the Church," and at the second Council of Lyons in 1274 Gregory X declared that "the wickedness of many prelates was the cause of the ruin of the whole world!"
Perhaps this can be traced back to the increase of the importance of the clergy after the establishment of the Canon Law and their exemption from any sort of secular jurisdiction. The clergy lived above the law, which was a breeding ground for clerical...