The Western Schism
Jeffrey C. Witt (Loyola University Maryland) | @jeffreycwitt
1. The Church and its Leaders before the Schism.
2. The Immediate Causes/Events of the Schism.
3. The Legal Resolution of the Schism.
## Avignon Popes
- Pope Clement V: 1305–1314
- Pope John XXII: 1316–1334
- Pope Benedict XII: 1334–1342
- Pope Clement VI: 1342–1352
- Pope Innocent VI: 1352–1362
- Pope Urban V: 1362–1370
- Pope Gregory XI: 1370–1378
Benefices and their Abuses
## Avignese Excesses
"There is no doubt that Avignon under Clement VI was a haven for careerist
churchmen delighted to be able to draw a comfortable income from parishes
they rarely visited while they themselves enjoyed the fleshpots of the papal court."
(Mullins, *The Avignon Popes*, p. 95)
## Avignese Excesses
"During his ten year reign as pope
he appointed twenty-five new cardinals
(twelve of them in a single month in 1350),
of whom twenty-one were French,
and at least ten of them were closely related to him either by blood or marriage.
One of these was his younger brother Hughes Roger,
and three other where his **nephews**, including one, Pierre Roger,
who was widely rumored to be his own son,
and who twenty years later was to become the last of the seven Avignon popes, Gregory XI.
There was also a **niece** who found herself awarded the title of "rectrice" of the papal Comtat,
a post which seems to have carried no defined responsibilities."
(Mullins , p. 96)
## Avignese Excesses
"Accommodation was at a premium; people arriving in search of work
were often compelled to sleep in the streets,
or along the banks of the Rhone, or even in the overcrowded cemeteries.
Taverns and inns sprung up in plenty, and duly overflowed.
Drunkenness and violence amoung the numerous rival factions erupted regularly,
only fractionally curbed by a curfew imposed at nightfall
by the authorities attempting without much success to contain this social cauldron.
Prostitution was rife;
there are records of at least eleven brothels in one are of the city alone…"
(Mullins, p. 96)
## Avignese Excesses
"What words can express how one is nauseated by the rank-smelley alleys,
the obscene pigs and snarling dogs,
the rumble of wheels shaking the walls,
and the carts blocking the twisted streets?
So many races of men, so many horrible beggars,
such arrogance of the rich!
In short, so many ill-fitting human beings of diverse customs,
such a clamour of mingling voices,
and such a throng of jostling bodies!"
(Petrarch qtd in Mullins, p. 99)
1377: Gregory XI leaves Avignon for Rome
March 3, 1378: Gregory XI dies
April 4, 1378: Conclave and Election of Urban VI
Late Spring and Summer under the rule of Urban VI
Cardinals seemed to acknowledge legitimacy of Urban VI
by making typical requests of any true pope and attending official functions.
Meanwhile pope began reforming (harassing?) the cardinals:
He publicly called them: "those who have been corrupted by the yellow metal" ("qui fulvo corrupti metallo")
Publicly accused Cardinal of Amiens of taking bribes (he definitely was!)
In response to a cardinal's check on his power, he declared "I can do everything -- and so I will and decree it"
Physically attacked the Cardinal of Limoges
Demanded that Cardinals restrict themselves to one course at meal time
Demanded that Cardinals refuse taking outside gifts
September 09, 1378: Election of Clement VII
### Designation of a Pope according to Canon Law
#### Pope must be elected by Cardinals
Gratian, *Decretum*, I, d. 79, c. 1
"If anyone is enthroned to the apostolic seat
without the agreement and canonical election of the same Cardinals
and subsequently of the religious clergy, he is not the Pope or Apostolic,
but should be held to be apostate.
"si quis apostolicae sedi sine concordi et canonica electione Cardinalium
eiusdem ac deinde sequentium clericorum religiosorum intronizatur,
non Papa vel Apostolicus, sed apostaticus habeatur."
A legitimate conclave can be called only when the seat is empty (sede vacante)
## Invalid election????
Gratian, *Decretum*, I, d. 79, c. 9
"If anyone is enthroned to the papal seat by money or human favor,
or by popular or military force,
without the canonical and concordant
election of the cardinals,
and subsequently of the religious clergy,
he is not Apostolic,
but should be held to be apostate."
"Si quis pecunia uel gratia humana, aut populari tumultu seu militari,
sine canonica et concordi electione cardinalium,
et sequentium religiosorum clericorum fuerit apostolicae sedi intronizatus,
non Apostolicus, sed apostaticus habeatur."
Problem: Does the statute apply to the events of 1378? Who gets to decide?
A general council
Problems with a general council?
1) Who can call a general council?
"It has been shown above from the writings of the saints
when the general councils were celebrated and that their authority is greater than that of other councils.
Authority for convoking councils, however, belongs to the Apostolic See."
(Gratian I, d. 17, dictum a. 1; trans. Thompson)
"Yet the great obstacle to a convocation of a General Council lay in the law,
as Conrad is well aware.
Papal authorization of any General Council is the necessary prerequisite
for the validity of its decrees and decisions.
But who should convoke the Council, asks Conrad,
since there are two popes?" (Ullmann, p. 178)
2) Could a general council successfully adjudicate the matter?
Are the members of the council in a position to decide which side is right?
### In Sum: Three Possible Solutions
1. via facti
2. via iustitiae
3. via cessionis
Side stepping the issue with the "via cessionis"
Advantage: Avoids having to decide who was in the wrong and who was in the right.
Weakness: None of the Popes seem willing to resign.
Indirect Advantage: If the via cessionis is the only solution,
and the popes refuse, are the popes guilty of apostasy?
## Can an apostate pope be deposed?
Gratian, Decretum, I, Dist. 22, c.5
"...and he who exists as an enemy of religion, ought he not to be deposed?...moreover these ones who
are holy, who are ecclesiastics, who are celebrated legitimately,
are they not able to call the apostolic seat to judgment?"
"...et qui extitit religionis inimicus, depelli debuerunt?...Ceterum isti,
qui sacri, qui ecclesiastici, qui legitimi celebrantur,
sedem apostolicam ad iudicum vocare non possunt"
A third way for the papal seat to become empty (sede vacante)
## Who gets to decide when the Pope commits apostasy?
No getting around the need for a general council.
## A need for Epieikeia/Equity
"The true interpretation of every law must proceed
upon the Aristotelian basis of epieikeia,
that is, of equity, which is the only adequate criterion
for a satisfactory explanation of positive law.
Equity is that element which is best fitted to discover the mens legislatoris."
(Conrad of Gelnhausen qtd in Ullmann, p. 180)
## Rethinking the essence of a corporation
1. Unity of members through the subordination of members to a single head.
2. Unity of members through agreement to a common principle or goal.
## the Conciliar Movement
Council of Pisa
Not invoked by a pope, but by cardinals and princes.
Deposes both popes as heretical (side stepping the question of who was the legitimate pope)
Now, the seat was empty (sede vacante)
A new conclave could be called
A new pope was elected, Alexander V.
Council of Constance
Now with three rival popes, a new council is called that has the greater appearance of legitimacy.
It is convened by the Pope John XXIII who was the successor of the pope elected at Pisa.
"Haec Sancta Synodus" is passed, which decreed that a general council has authority over the Pope.
While the council is fully underway (after the approval of "Haec Sancta Synodus")
Gregory XII (of the Roman line) must have
seen the writing on the wall, and decides to invoke the council
that is already happening and then agrees to resign.
The other two popes resign or are deposed once more.
A new pope is elected, Martin V.
Parallels in Modern Political Thought
Hobbes, Leviathan, Pt. 2, c. 17: "And in him [the sovereign] consisteth the essence of the commonwealth:
which (to define it), is one person,
of whose acts a great multitude,
by mutual covenants one with another,
have made themselves everyone of the author"
Hobbes, Leviathan, Pt. 2, c. 18:
"there can happen no breach of covenant on the part of the sovereign;
and consequently none of his subjects,
by any pretense of forfeiture, can be freed from his subjection."
Rousseau, Social Contract, Book I, chapter 6: "
[The republic] is formed thus by the union of all others"
# Conclusions and Questions
Rousseau, Social Contract, Book I, chapter 6:
"This act of association produces a moral and collective body
composed of as many members as there are voices in the assembly,
which receives from this same act its unity, its common self, its life, and its will."