What to make of Benedict IX?

Let me start by saying that this topic is NOT about any scandal due to his moral character. An immoral pope doesn’t serve as any disproof of the Church.

Bio on Catholic Encyclopedia: newadvent.org/cathen/02429a.htm

I’m simply trying to make sense of who was actually pope at what time. The Catholic Encyclopedia provides this list of popes:

*]145. Benedict IX (1032-45) He appears on this list three separate times, because he was twice deposed and restored
*]146. Sylvester III (1045) Considered by some to be an antipope
*]147. Benedict IX (1045)
*]148. Gregory VI (1045-46)
*]149. Clement II (1046-47)
*]150. Benedict IX (1047-48)
*]151. Damasus II (1048)


Benedict IX appears on here three times. Given the time frame, I suppose we must first distinguish between the temporal and the spiritual. Benedict IX may have been temporal “Bishop of Rome” (or perhaps more simply stated: King/Governor of Rome) three times, given when he actually occupied the city. But from a spiritual perspective, this doesn’t make sense to me. Controlling Rome doesn’t determine whether he is the true Bishop of Rome in a spiritual sense, otherwise our resolution to the crisis in the fourteenth and fifteenth century (with Urban VI) wouldn’t be coherent.

So if I may speculate, it would seem that the proper order is:
*]Benedict IX (1032-45) opposed by antipope Sylvester III
Benedict IX resigns
*]Gregory VI (1045-46)
*]Clement II (1046-47)
*]Damasus II (1048)

When Benedict IX seized control of Rome after Clement II died and titled himself Pope again, that didn’t actually make him the acting pope. Neither can a Pope’s spiritual supremacy be deposed by military force or by council, as shown by the Urban VI situation.

Is there a formal resolution to this conflict, like we have regarding Urban VI’s situation? Am I missing some subtleties?

Benedict IX
Question from michael donlan on 6/6/2001:

Doctor, My initial question is that if a pope is pope for life, how can the popes who served in between Benedict IX’s three reigns be rightful popes? I read an article that he resigned after his second reign so I suppose he had the power to do that, but then how was he rightfully not the pope after his first reign?? God bless, Michael
Answer by Dr. William Carroll on 6/7/2000:

The complex history of Pope Benedict IX is covered in full, documented detail in the second volume of my history of Christendom, THE BUILDING OF CHRISTENDOM, which you may obtain from Christendom Press in Front Royal, Virginia by calling toll-free 1-800-698-6649, or by inter-library loan. A Pope holds office for life unless he resigns, as several Popes have done, though it is not generally known. Benedict IX was Pope from 1032 to 1045, when he resigned. Though he later tried to revoke his resignation, the right of a Pope to do that has never been recognized by the Church. Once he has resigned, he no longer has any basis to claim to be Pope. - Dr. Carroll

Thank you. It sounds like I stumbled onto the correct order, then. At least, it’s an order that agrees with the comments from Dr. Carroll you quoted.

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