Today in Catholic History – Concordat of Worms

On 23 September 1122, Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V agreed to the Concordat of Worms or the Pactum Calixtinum which temporarily resolved the struggle between the papacy and the Holy Roman Emperors regarding the appointment and power of monks and bishops.

Prior to the Concordat, the secular ruler was seen as possessing the right to invest bishops with both secular and sacred authority. The ability of the secular ruler to appoint bishops was an important means of exercising political control. Bishops could be placed in charge of royal lands without worrying that those lands might fall into the hands the bishop’s descendants. However, it also meant that the Church’s liberties with respect to the secular rule were much curtailed.

As a result of the Concordat, the secular ruler continued to invest bishops with secular power but no longer with sacred authority. The Concordat was also instrumental as part of the Gregorian reforms which gained greater independence for the pope in his relations with the Holy Roman Emperor.

The Concordat did not end the struggle between secular and religious authority in regards to authority either in the Holy Roman Empire or in Europe as a whole, it was simply a temporary cessation of hostilities.

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