Death of Pope Cornelius, Perhaps by Beheading Hot

Death of Pope Cornelius, Perhaps by Beheading

Pope Cornelius
Source: Wikipedia

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Pope Cornelius dies in Civitavecchia; some think that he is beheaded by his enemies. Cornelius was pope at a very difficult time for the Catholic Church. His predecessor, Fabian, died more than a year before Cornelius was elected; the delay was created by the bitter persecutions under the reign of Emperor Decius. Only after Decius left Rome did church leaders feel comfortable enough to risk electing a new pope.

In the interim the church had to be governed by a committee, a situation much like that during the church's earliest years. Unfortunately for Cornelius, his election was opposed by the spokesman for the committee, Novatian, who felt he should have been picked instead. Novatian also disagreed about how the church should be governed.

For example, Novatian and Cornelius disagreed over how to deal with lapsed Christians (those who renounced their faith during the persecutions). Cornelius advocated readmitting them to the Christian community after a suitable penance, but Novatian wanted them shut out permanently. Most sided with Cornelius, but a few agreed with Novatian's harder position and a schismatic movement developed with Novatian as antipope. Eventually all would be excommunicated.

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