Apostolic Succession not until the 19th Century? What?


I was reading about the Western Schism and came across this: **
"The line of Roman popes is now recognized as the legitimate line, but this was not true before the 19th century". source wikipedia

It also referred to the fact that there were three Popes in the 13th century at the same time. source New Advent

I believe in Apostolic Succession, but I wonder how that can be if there were three Popes at the same time. We are going to Rome next year with some very close protestant fundamentalist friends and they are bible savvy and if this comes up.

We need help!


Tony :shrug:


There were never “three Popes at the same time.”

At one point there was one Pope and two false claimants to the Papacy. It took a while to figure out which was which, but in the end the Holy Spirit prevailed. :thumbsup:

More here.


well someone needs to correct the wikipedia entry. It’s just wrong.

The other is just a poor choice of words. There was actually ONE legitimate pope and two self claimed popes.


Thanks, that helps. I know this will probably come up in conversation so I need to be prepapred when it does.


I’m guessing perhaps Papal Infallibility wasn’t defined until 1870?

Not logical, I know…but maybe there was the all-too-common misapplication of dates to the office of Pope, and somebody mixed that up with succession.


What the wikipedia article is saying is that in the 19th century Catholics came to the conclusion that of the three papal lineages existing in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the “Roman” lineage was the valid one. I don’t know if the article is correct that Catholics had no consensus on this point before the 19th century, but I don’t know anything to the contrary. (The 19th-century historian Ludwig Pastor made this argument for sure–I had always assumed that he was following an already established line of argument, but perhaps it was newer than I thought.) I’d be interested to hear evidence that Catholics did adopt this explanation before the 19th century.

Either way, the article is not talking about apostolic succession or the validity of the Papacy in general, but about the specific issue: which of the three Popes in the early 15th century (two for several decades in the late 14th) was the true Pope?



I would argue for the history of Papal succession described with unanimity here.

Coupled with the development of the authority of Peter’s successors in the earliest centuries.

I think that’s what you are asking for anyway.


That is a real possibility. I didn’t think of that.


No. The OP is clearly talking about a wikipedia article on the Western Schism of the late Middle Ages. This is not about the Petrine succession in general, but about a very specific issue: who was the true Pope between 1377 and 1415? Was there a consensus on this point before the 19th century (when Catholic historians such as Pastor asserted confidently that the “Roman” as opposed to the “Avignon” or Pisan Popes were the true ones)?



Ah. :o I haven’t researched that one. Maybe when I have some time.


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