Great Schism

Topics: Pope, Pope John Paul II, Catholic Church Pages: 2 (352 words) Published: July 14, 2013
Vanessa Rios Cortes
Professor D’Ascoli
HUM2210 - Western Humanities: Ancient to (Online)
13 April 2013
“Western Schism, was the period from 1378 to 1417, when there were two, and later three, rival popes, each with his own following, his own Sacred College of Cardinals, and his own administrative offices.“ The two elections of 1378 produced two claimants to the papal title and the Great Schism. Bartolomeo Prignano, the Italian archbishop of Bari and the French cardinal Robert of Geneva. Each took a papal name and number: Urban VI, who stayed in Rome, and Clement VII, who returned to Avignon. Although Roman Catholic Church historians generally agree that Urban VI and his successors were the legitimate popes, there has never been an official pronouncement to this effect.

The double election had disastrous effects upon the church. The followers of the two popes were divided chiefly along national lines, and thus the dual papacy fostered the political antagonisms of the time. The spectacle of rival popes denouncing each other produced great confusion and resulted in a tremendous loss of prestige for the papacy. Many citizens were confused over this split, but those who were not decided to take advantage of it. As McWilliams states:

There were very few people who actually took the statements of these so-called spiritual leaders seriously because of the fact that they were competing constantly with one another just like anyone dealing with worldly politics.

Finally, the cardinals of both popes decided that an ecumenical council of godly men could collectively possess more divine authority that just one pope. So, in 1409 they asked the church council in Pisa to elect a new pope that could unite the sides. The Pisian council did, but neither pope was willing to give up his power. Thus, three popes were vying for authority over the church.

Works Cited

"Western Schism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online....

Cited: "Western Schism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2013 <>.
McWilliams, D.. N.p.. Web. 13 Apr 2013. <>.
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