Who was the legitimate pope during the western schism?


I’m trying to remember the history but didn’t the bishops elect a pope and then go back on it and leave Rome and elect someone else because they lost faith in his stability? And then later on another claimed to be pope?
So who was the pope ? I feel like it is something the church has ruled on but there must be shades of grey to it that noone can really justify who was legitimate and who was an antipope. One of the lower points in our churches history, especially when it lasted for 40 years.


I think later historians were able to gain the full picture and an unbiased perspective that was not possible during the time the schism was ongoing. It’s pretty safe to trust the Church got it right in deciding who the legitimate popes were.

And if you want to read up on the history: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13539a.htm


If the historians are correct, it is just another reprimand (embarrassment) of the Church. The church grows from these reprimands (cross/resurrection; cross/resurrection; etc…).


The correct answer to all the pope/anti-pope squabbles in history is always “The one that won” - regardless what other factors were at play.


What, nobody got Wiki?


Short answer: There’s an unambiguous line of legitimate succession from Urban VI to Gregory XII.


How do we know which was the true pope and which wasn’t? It’s more confusing than anything after reading even that article someone posted.


i wonder if this Western Schism could have precluded what eventually led to the Reformation.
of course, there were other reasons for the Reformation, but this clearly showed
there were problems.


Oh yes it had a huge effect on peoples faith in the Papacy. I believe it is one of the greatest of three schisms or separations that hurt the Church almost irreparably. The first was the east-west schism of 1054. The second was this western schism of 1378-1417. And of course the reformation in 1517 and inward. All three have hurt the united Church in so many ways.


You are correct that the Western Schism helped sow the seeds of the Protestant Revolt. The French influence and the bickering among the cardinals hurt the prestige of the papacy.

There were other causes as well. The Black Death caused many deaths. This included many priests. If a priest was doing his vocation, he would be helping those who were sick. This led to many deaths among the clergy. To fill the shortage of priests, the training and standards for priests fell and this led to clergy abuse.

Then there was also the lifestyle of some of the bishops was also a scandal. Pluralism (being bishop over more than one see) led to absenteeism (where the bishops did not reside in his see). Of course the opulent lifestyle didn’t help.

The bishops at the Council of Trent, called to combat Protestantism, acknowledged that the bishops had been part of the problem.


We “know” because Boniface IX, Innocent VII, and Gregory XII (like their predecessor Urban VI and successor Martin V) were elected by lawful assemblies of cardinals in response to a legitimate vacancy. The same can’t be said of other claimants during the schism.


Yet the same bishops who elected him thought it was a grave mistake and went and elected someone else!


But he was legitimately elected. Whatever the cardinals thought afterwards about the quality of their choice (or perhaps less well meaning motivations), they did not have the authority to unseat a reigning Pope.


I will add that the council was able to resolve the schism through (legetimate) Pope Gregory XII’s resignation, but that was only legitimate because Gregory XII agreed to it.


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