The role of Pope Gregory Vii in Reforming the Spiritual Life of the Religious

Published: 2022-12-16
The role of Pope Gregory Vii in Reforming the Spiritual Life of the Religious
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Education Business Society
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1873 words
16 min read

I. Introduction: History of reform and the thesis statement

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The church has undergone many changes since its inception as a simple belief and a way of life by the early man. Initially, people were deeply entrenched in their traditional methods of religious practice that did not involve much formality. Although there were religious leaders who set the rules of worship, the system was not completely formalized as is seen in modern Christian practice. The key common characteristic of such beliefs was a cross-cutting idea of the existence of a supreme being called God. However, the ways of expressing religious beliefs varied from one community to another, from one location to another and also depended on the social and economic status of the involved persons in the society.

With the growing civilization and the fights for attention between different religious beliefs, Christianity became widespread, and some common rules had to be set to ensure formality, smooth operations, and orderliness. These rules at times had to take into account traditional practices and beliefs to appeal and make sense to the believers. It is noteworthy to state that the Catholic Church was the earliest formal church in the religious history of man. The Catholic Church, therefore, played a pivotal role in shaping modern Christianity and religious practices in general. It undoubtedly becomes of keen interest to study such reforms and the involved church leaders about the Catholic Church, to understand the history of the church in general.

The thesis statement:

"Pope Gregory VII had a significant role to play in reforming the spiritual life of religious and the church in the 11th Century."

II. Objective

From the thesis statement, the main objective of this paper is to investigate the role of Pope Gregory VII in reforming the spiritual life of religious and the church in the 11th Century. This duration was classified into three stages namely the early, high, and later middle ages, and the resounding characteristic of this era in the minds of most church historians is the many reforms that were put in place. The paper focuses on the role of Pope Gregory VII in propelling such reforms and the particular changes he instituted. He lived between the years 1015 and 25th May 1085, an interlude within the 11th Century, and he has received numerous credits for being perhaps the most reform-oriented Pope in the history of the church. We shall also examine the implications of the said changes, through expert opinions, analysis, and positive critique, on the way Christian had to practice and express their faith henceforth.

III. The Problem and it's setting

Statement of the Problem

In getting to understand the history of the church better, students and modern religious researchers rely on the information that was provided by the early historians. There is some information concerning church history that has not only tried to outline the origin of religion and the church but also the progressive changes in the realm, the realm that is considered unquestionable by most people today. Many believe that whatever information about the church should not be subjected to objective arguments or questioning. Looking at the issue from this point of reason, it is fair to state that little research and analysis on the various aspects of the church and its underlying ideas has been going on. As a result, some of the information available on the church history and reforms can be classified as poorly researched, biased or scanty and poorly documented. In response to these gaps in information, the paper seeks to provide detailed research on the role of Pope Gregory VII in reforming the spiritual life of religion and the church in the 11th Century, since history has recorded his crucial role in forging for such changes. It further seeks to examine and analyze the impact of such changes in the ways of religious practice on the entire religious and church system, and the various considerations of the interest of all the stakeholders in the entire church body. Religious expert views and opinions from credible sources will be put into consideration in the arguments to make the paper more reliable. In the end, the paper is aimed at highlighting missing and weak points in church history and, therefore, form the basis for further productive research in the area.


The following main hypotheses will guide the research for the paper.

a) That the sources of information used are reliable and reflect the original and ultimate truthful information without distortion since their authors are objective in their analysis and have no vested interests on this subject.

b) That Pope Gregory VII, is indeed the Christian leader that instituted majority of the reforms during his era concerning how worship was to be carried out by the believers, hence study of his era is crucial in making an informed summary for all the rest or rather that he can be used as a case study.

c) That the said reforms introduced by Pope Gregory VII have a direct impact on the way people worship and the entire religious practice is run and managed to the modern generations of Christians and even the mushrooming protestant churches.


The research paper has the following assumptions:

a) The research is going to provide clear insight and truthful information to the readers on the subject of Church history and the reforms instituted by Pope Gregory VII of the Catholic Church in the 11th century.

b) The information to be presented in the paper will provide sufficiently reliable and valid information on the subject. Additionally, the research paper should provide future religious researches with the basis and drive to conduct more research on the subject to yield additional beneficial information that will be able to fill the gaps that will result in future.

Importance of the Study

The paper will bridge the evident gaps in the information concerning the history of the church and the reforms that were introduced, with much emphasis on the middle ages. It also aims at making records straight concerning the reforms that have been subjected to questioning for benefits by the opposing forces in the church and placing them in a single document for easier reference by the future generation - objective analysis and critique will, therefore, be encouraged. Furthermore, it will provide a basis for benchmark and evaluation of the available information concerning the subject of study. Consequently, religious researchers will be challenged to explore more into the subject, a move that will generate more information that will shed more light, bridge information gaps and enable continuation in research in the later days.

IV. Review of the Literature

The focus of the paper is to investigate the significant role to play by Pope Gregory VII in reforming the spiritual life of religion and the church in the 11th Century and serves to provide a document that fully and in a detailed manner explains the subject. The paper will also become a source of reference on the subject and hence inspire future research avenues in the same area. Already there is some information on this same subject available to the readers. The information covers the general history of religion and church and the metamorphism that the church has undergone over the years in an attempt to cope up with the ever-changing social beliefs and its relationship with the state, the development of its doctrinal and ethical positions, its relationship to surrounding cultures, its geographical expansion, and consolidation. Remarkable researchers in the past in this area include Hubert Jedin, Ullmann, Peter Sarris (2011), Marcia Colish (1997) and Jonathan Riley-Smith (2008) among others who highlighted reforms in the middle ages such as the crusades, the measures to address the growing tensions between the East and West, monastic reforms, medieval inquisitions and the rise of universities among other notable changes.

Notably, their gaps and limitations have been identified and brought out concerning the already available work, and a claim raised that there is some information that powerful hands in the "mother church" are holding onto as top secrets. Some scholars claim that Christianity originated from very dangerous cults and that the information has never been released to the believers (Bart Ehrman). These coupled with other unmentioned shortcomings appear to taint the complete reliability on the available information about the history of the church and provides a niche on which the research is founded. The paper aims to tackle these gaps and uncertainties to a larger proportion.

In consideration of the limited time available for the research and the limited geographical location of basing the research, the research on the paper will make use of the secondary data sources only. These include the historical books, journals, films and other research papers tackling the subject. Also, interviews and public debates will be conducted and the data added to the print sources findings. However, the chosen article will be subjected to cross-checking between several notable authors, personal analysis based on the information gathered in the area and the religious historians and expert views. The collected data will constitute the findings section; the analysis will be highlighted under the conclusion section and the recommendation section used to give proposals for future research on the same subject.

V. The Data and Methodology

Data collection methods for the paper will include only secondary sources. These include:

a) Print media sources such as Christian history books, journals and research papers that tackle the subject and have been verified to be works of reliable and knowledgeable authors on the subject.

b) Artworks such as paintings, songs and films that give relevant information on the subject of church history and the reforms introduced in the sector especially during the middle ages,

c) Conducting interviews with knowledgeable individuals on the subject such as religious professors and lecturers, religious leaders and the elder persons in the society who happen to know history on the subject.

d) Conducting public debate among the student body, with a debate topic that seeks to encourage the students to research and provide the relevant information in their arguments. Such topics for consideration can include the following among many others:

Pope Gregory VII is leading serving Catholic church leader in introducing reforms in the church of all the times.

Information available on the history of the early church cannot be trusted fully.

Once the information is collected, it will be properly presented as findings and analyzed to see its credibility and the unaddressed gaps in it. Finally, conclusion statements and recommendations shall be drawn based on the said analysis.

VI. Findings

Pope Gregory VII was an Italian born in the year 1015 as Ildebrando di Soana. He had served as the Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria Dominica between the years 1058 and 1073, when he was appointed the Pope of the Catholic Church and served until his death on 25th May 1085. Among the Catholic Popes, he has been credited for many reforms that he pioneered and that are still being observed to date in the Catholic Church. On the other hand, many religious historians, authors and some of the Protestants have reviewed him as the most authoritarian Catholic Church leader of all times whose reign was marred by numerous cases of unprecedented violence and controversy. The Middle Ages in the history of the church can be classified into three stages namely the Early Middle Ages (476-7...

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