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Definition: A man elected to the papacy, but later determined to be a false claimant. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there have been 30 antipopes in the history of the Catholic Church. Several antipopes “reigned” during the struggle to return the papacy to Rome after its 73 year stint in France during the fourteenth century. There were up to three popes “reigning” at the same time from 1378 to 1417 in both Rome and Avignon. This period, known as the “Great Schism,” necessitated a formal church council to clarify the situation.

Discussion: The existence of antipopes is a further proof that the doctrine of apostolic succession (a continuous line of bishops traceable to the original apostles) is fiction. The history of the papacy is replete with political intrigue. At the council of Constance, three claimants to the papal throne were deposed: Gregory XII (1406-1415), Benedict XIII of Avignon (1394-1423) and John XXIII (1410-1415). In a crazy twist, John XXIII himself succeeded Alexander V (whom he poisoned). It was John XXIII who formally opened the Council to determine the proper pope – before losing control of the proceedings and being thrown in prison. The Council of Constance elected Martin V (1417-1431) as the new pope. Despite being deposed, Gregory XII is now considered a valid pope.

Articles & Viewpoints:

  • List from the Catholic Encyclopedia Antipope
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