Popes in Avignon


Was there ever a time, when the Popes were reigning in Avignon, when they were not still acting as Bishop of Rome?


no - the move to Avignon was done out of necessity for the Pope’s safety…yet the need for the Pope to physically be in his ‘diocese’ is a real one…which is why St. Catherine of Sienna begged the Holy Father to return to Rome.


By definition the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, so you cannot have a Pope who is not Bishop of Rome, and you cannot have a Bishop of Rome who is not the Pope.


None of this is implied by the “keys” at all. It is a later story.

Basically a discipline of the church.



Sorry, wrong there.

History tells another story.



But none of that was part of the OP’s question.


And where is this supposed historical reference that tells a different story. The histories of the church I have read all talk about the anarchical conditions in Italy and Rome which contributed to the decision to go to Avignon for a time. See this quickly found link for info on the first Pope to go there.

If you have other information, please reference it so we can all learn.


I am glad you asked that question.

I will respond later when I have a bit more time. It has been my experience that the Old Catholic Encyclopedia is pretty accomplished at spinning the facts, but only when necessary. :slight_smile:

There is a reason this period has been called the Babylonian Captivity. Suffice it to say that the removal to Avignon was not so much a move to protect a Pope, as to dominate a papacy, and to that purpose it was something of a success.



You responded to the OP not with a fact, but with a rule based upon a theory, and we cannot be certain that this rule has always been in force, or when it was first promulgated. I was addressing the rule.

I am just not convinced that this satisfies the original question, but it is a fact that there were Archbishops in Rome while the Popes resided in Avignon. I would have to find a source for that info because I do not have that handy.



Are you suggesting that at in the Catholic Church at the time of Avignon the understanding of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome did not exist? That would be a rather extraordinary claim.

It’s one thing to argue against the Catholic claims of the papal office. It’s another to argue that the Catholic Church (or Western Church if you prefer) did not understand “the Pope” in the manner in which we are using the term to mean the Bishop of Rome.


That’s not true… even by Catholic understanding - else Peter was not Pope when he was in Antioch - he had no special charism until he went to Rome!


You’re simply mistaken here. Catholic understanding is that Peter became head of the Apostles (and therefore ‘pope’ if not in name) at Matthew 16:18. They point to events in Acts that they believe shows that he was leader.

No Catholic doctrine says that Peter was only Pope AFTER reaching Rome.


It is true since Peter became Bishop of Rome, which is to say, it is true ever since there has been a Bishop of Rome. You’re really splitting hairs now, and to what purpose?


Same as always, I suppose—to claim the early Church was run like a Rotary Club, and to claim that this Pope or that violated club rules and ought to have been drummed out.


It’s not true except on your condition that Peter was Bishop of Rome and Pope when he also became Bishop of Rome

The purpose is that he is not Pope because he is bishop of Rome. That’s a novel idea of yours - I find it bizarre that I have to defend the Catholic position here - his power (according to your church) is given by Jesus, not vested in being in Rome.

It’s a distinction that needs to be made to stop people such as yourself confusing why he is Pope.

It’s not therefore ‘splitting hairs’. The issue of him being Pope has nothing to do with being Bishop of Rome.

Rome could be washed away into the sea and he’d still be Pope.


You come up with some very odd statements. Who is making what statements?



From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The supreme headship of the Church is, we have seen, annexed to the office of Roman bishop. The pope becomes chief pastor because he is Bishop of Rome: he does not become Bishop of Rome because he has been chosen to be head of the universal Church. Thus, an election to the papacy is, properly speaking, primarily an election to the local bishopric.

In other words, the Pope is the Pope because he’s the Bishop of Rome. That there was no Bishopric of Rome until Peter got there in no way diminishes his primacy or the fact that he was the first Pope.

If you want to argue this any further, you will indeed be splitting hairs.



I could not post this last night because the server went down just when I had the time.

I am not making such a suggestion.

I am not really certain how it was thought of. But there was an Archbishop in Rome while the Popes resided in Avignon. What the party line is these days may not be what the church was thinking then. We all have to be careful about telescoping our notions back into earlier eras. Especially when it comes to the Roman Catholic church.

Somehow I get the feeling (not really sure) that by that time (14th century) the idea of “Pope” was already floating above the ordinary episcopate. This was a period immediately following the Gregorian Reformation. (Today of course we know that the bishop called the Pope holds a specific office, that of bishop at the church of the City of Rome, the papacy is not a sacrament.)

That’s what seems to have given the western Christian world such fits during the 3-way schism later, it was already established that the Pope need not be actually personally tending the flock in Rome (as a bishop normally would), and the office of Pope was actually established in three different cities.

I have two questions I would like answered, if anyone knows:
*]Was there a bishop of Avignon during the Popes residence there, if so was he considered a suffragen to another bishop (like the Pope or another), or an ordinary?
*]At the time of the three-way schism, were there bishops of the cities the Popes resided in?[/LIST]We have to bear in mind that at the time, no one knew what the legitimate line of Popes actually was then. In fact, there were Catholic Saints on each side of the schism, travelers took communion from one faction and then another indiscriminately, all the bishops appointed during the schism, by whatever claimant, retained their Sees and even the Cardinals appointed by each line of Popes were accepted into one college eventually.

So how were these cities tended when the Popes resided in them, were the Popes regarded as bishops of those cities? Were they regarded bishops of those cities AND Rome simultaneously? (making them holders of multiple Sees) or were the Popes regarded as above all of that? I’d like to know.

It might be helpful to know what year the Canons were composed identifying that a Pope is always to be identified as the bishop of Rome. That information should certainly be available somewhere.

Anyway, I’m mostly just musing on this…



Hello Dante,

BTW, I liked your books! The poetry loses a lot in translation though :blush: …I spent a lot of time reading the commentary. :slight_smile:

Anyway, it is not actually certain that there was no bishop in Rome before Peter or Paul arrived. We know for certain that there was a Christian community in place before Peter arrived but that is about all, it’s pretty vague, so it does no good to speak in absolutes either way.

There may (possibly) have been more than one bishop as well. The office of bishop was much more like a local pastor or missioner, the large extended diocesan structures came later.

The presence of an Apostle with the prestige of Saint Peter (or even Paul) would be just what was necessary to knit the communities together, if there was any isolation at all between them.



I made the statement, which is an analogy for the persistent nitpicking legalism the Orthodox display in any discussion of papal authority and the early Church.

The tone of such discussions invariably devolves into the outrage manifested by DMV clerks when one deviates from the bureaucratic rulebook in some slight fashion.

Insofar as I can tell, the Orthodox argument against the Pope and the Church is essentially, “Since paragraph 153© of Robert’s Rules of Order was circumvented in [insert Council here], the Pope is clearly not the Vicar of Christ on Earth and we’ll now begin our thousand-year snit.”

Every one of these threads on Orthodox schism tend toward straining gnats, a la the filioque and this current discussion on the Popes in Avignon.

One wonders how the Orthodox Church might look today were they to consistently apply their own standards for judging credibility and authenticity to themselves.

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