4.The Church has always been the target of anti-religious men who see in its existence a threat to their progressand designs. And I use the word ‘always’ advisedly, for plotting against the Church occurs as early as the year A.D. 58. in words spoken by St. Paul to the people of Ephesus (and Paul, a trained Pharisee, when it came towarning against subversion knew what he was saying): ‘After my departure, grievous wolves shall come inamong you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall issue men speaking perverse thingsin order to draw away the disciples after them.’The urge for world domination whether by force of arms, culture, or religion, is as old as history. The earliestrecords, without considering myth or even legend, give proof of it. Egypt, which first dominated the thoughtand outlook of the East, was never a purely military State. But a warlike era emerged (we may date it fromabout 910 B.C.) with ‘Assyria the Terrible.’ The rise of Babylon, short-lived, was followed by that of Persia,under Cyrus the Great. Then came a name that has never ceased to be synonymous with that of a vast empireand lordship of the known world, Rome. But all such powers, apart from being concerned with territorial gain,aimed also at imposing some political or social creed, the overthrowing of one standard belief and theelevation of another, a process that the ancients used to associate with the influence of the gods.The spread of the Arian heresy, that split Christendom throughout the fourth century, becomes a landmark. Itinvolved all the symptoms of revolution, anarchy, treachery, and intrigue. But the underlying cause was not political. Its mainspring was religious, even theological, since it turned upon a phrase coined by Arius, theAlexandrian priest whose name was given to the movement: ‘There must have been a time when Christ wasnot.’That denigration of the divine being and nature of Christ, if carried to its logical conclusion, would haverendered the world that was centred on Rome to a negative state in which Europe, as we know it, would havehad no future. But Rome survived, as a place of reverence for some, as a target for others; and what we nowlook back upon as the medieval world was filled with repercussions of the same struggle.With the consolidation of Rome as a Papal power the objective became a more definite reality, with its purpose never in doubt and always the same, whatever temporal or domestic interpretation was placed upon it.For the eyes of men, whether in France, Italy or Spain, England or Germany, were on Peter’s Chair, an objectof controversy that has proved more potent than gold in bearing on the mind.That was the situation in Rome during the first quarter of the twelfth century, when two rival families, thePierleoni and the Frangipani, were angling for power. Both were rich, the Pierleoni immensely so; neither wasover-scrupulous; and when the Pope, Callistus II, died in 1124, both families put up a candidate for the Papalthrone. The Pierleoni’s man, Anacletus, was ‘not thought well of, even by his friends.’ But he managed tooutvote his rival who was backed by the Frangipani.Anacletus’s reign was short and unpopular, but he clung perilously to power until his death in 1138, when hewas declared anti-pope in favour of Innocent II. So it came about that an organised clique, if only briefly, took over the Vatican where they installed ‘their man’, a looked-for consummation that figured in the minds of international plotters until, in our own time, it came to be realised.It is a curious fact that man will suffer more readily for ideas, however crude, than he will for positive causesthat affect his way of life; and when the perennial heresy of Gnosticism raised its head at the little town of Albi, in southern France, at the start of the thirteenth century, men flocked to it as once they had to join acrusade. But this time its principles were more extreme than those of any Christian warrior. Matter wasdeclared to be evil; so death, which meant the ending of matter, became more desirable than life. Suicide,often brought about by men starving themselves and their families, was a privilege and a blessing; and thevery foundations of the Church, with the Papal throne, were shaken as hundreds of clergy, with as many nuns,came out on the side that had more political and philosophic undertones than appear in many stories of the period.