Over the past few nights, I’ve watched a television program produced in 1997 by Welsh, Irish and French channels. In four one-hour episodes, it spans the history of the popes and the Church from the beginning until the late 1700s; there might be a fifth but I only found four. The programs were very well done overall. While there are some gratuitous hits on the papacy, it does try to present an even history, good and bad. I did find at some points that more explanation was required, such as when the topic of the Crusades was reached as no mention of moslem attacks on visitors to the Holy Land or on Christians was made, and which were some of the reasons why the Crusades were begun, and the program would have benefited from a deeper of exploration of the character of Luther when the reformation was discussed. Despite its deficiencies, I enjoyed the four hours spent. The programs also showed the greatness of many popes and the extraordinary deeds they accomplished, for which the Church and we are rightly proud.
In the end, what was most poignant was the fact that despite the many bad and even evil popes, despite the best efforts of kings, princes, generals, heretics, and infidels to weaken, marginalize or destroy the papacy and the Church over the last 2000 years, they all failed. What is clear is that the Church stands astride that history, while whole peoples, nations, empires, and other sects have come, thrived, and faded into oblivion during that same period,
As Jesus promises, the gates of hell shall never prevail against His Church founded on the rock of Peter. Let’s keep that in mind during our own time, confident in the knowledge that this too shall pass but the Church will not.