As we have suggested, the movements represented by the friars quickly attracted large numbers of members and spread rapidly through Western Europe. Why this was so is not entirely clear. It may have been because they combined the sort of complete devotion to the Christian ideal that was seen in the traditional monasticism with service to others in the form of missions to nominal Christians and to non-Christians. Whatever the reason, they became one of the most familiar features of the Europe of the thirteenth century and continued to grow.
This growth brought the mendicant orders into repeated conflicts with the secular clergy. By the term "secular clergy" or "seculars" is meant those clergy who are not members of monastic bodies but who live in swculum. namely, in the world. Before the end of the thirteenth century, the Popes had, by successive steps, made the friars independent of the bishops and responsible only to their own superiors and to the Holy See. While older orders had also enjoyed this immunity from control by diocesan bishops and were directly subject to the Pope, this status made the friars unusually irritating to the episcopacy, for, unlike most of the earlier monks, they did not live apart from the world, but went everywhere preaching, hearing confessions, and saying mass. Preaching had been a prerogative of the bishops and hearing confessions and giving the communion were among the functions of the parish clergy. Many bishops and parish priests, accordingly, felt aggrieved. In 1254 Pope Innocent IV, yielding to the complaints which had come to him, especially from the University of Paris, where the Dominicans were in open conflict with the university authorities, forbade religious orders to receive into their churches on Sundays or feast days the parishioners of others, to preach even in their own churches before mass, to preach in parish churches, or to hear confessions without the consent of the parish priest. Before the year was out, this edict had been revoked by Innocent's successor and the mendicants continued to flourish. Many of them also rose to high office in the Church. Here was a new and permanent element in the Catholic Church of the West.
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