Comparison of Gregory and Ossius Letters

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Comparison of Gregory and Ossius Letters

In his letter to Herman, Bishop of Metz, Pope Gregory VII uses historical documents closely related to the churchand therefore unquestionedas the basis for his excommunication of King Henry. In these documents, he shows the role of the church as the supreme kingdom on earth with the obligation of overlooking other kingdoms. In his letter to Emperor Constantius, Hossius, a high level member of the church presents the church as having a different dutyto control the affairs of the church.

Hossius states “God has put into your hands the kingdom; to us He has entrusted the affairs of His Church; and as he who would steal the empire from you would resist the ordinance of God, so likewise fear on your part lest by taking upon yourself the government of the Church, you become guilty of a great offence” (Hossius, 44). In stating these lines, Hossius shows separation in the affairs of the church and of the state. He states clearly that the Church has no right to overthrow a king because he his divinely appointed, and the king has no business in the Church because it is out of his God-given realm. This idea is drastically different than that of Pope Gregory.
Gregory cites Holy Scripture to justify why he has the authority to excommunicate Henry. He goes on to use a quote from Matthew to show the church as being the shepherds and the rest as being the sheep. He further goes on to portray his relationship with the kingdoms of heaven as one of a father and a son and a master and an apprentice (Gregory, 2) He presents kings as his responsibility and who he must have an answer for on the day of judgement. In sharp contrast to Hossius, Gregory shows the church as having not only a say in what the affairs of kings, but he shows the church as being obligated to correct those kings who the Church sees unfit. Hossius presents the church as an advisor and Gregory presents the church as an over