The last time a pope resigned

I read an interesting article on the history of the last pope that resigned. It is interesting in that it gives us an insight as to why this current pope is resigning. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, This is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. (Ecc. 1:9&10) Below is the ariticle from the Dailymail:

Pope Gregory XII was the last pope to resign, standing down in 1415.

His resignation ended the Western Schism – a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417 which saw two rival popes claiming to be in office: one based in Avignon, France; the other in Rome.

The dilemma of papal allegiance arose following the death of Gregory XI, an Avignon Pope, in 1378.

When the College of Cardinals met to vote for a new pope, a Roman mob broke into the voting chamber and forced the election of an Italian pope – Urban VI.

Unhappy with being cornered, some cardinals returned to Avignon where they elected Clement VII as the pope.

This forced followers in Europe to choose loyalty towards either Avignon or Rome.

Until 1409, there were two popes simultaneously, although the Avignon Popes (Clement VII and then Benedict XIII) were seen as antipopes – in other words, those in opposition to the one generally viewed as the legitimate pope.

The Roman popes were Urban VI, Boniface IX, Innocent VII and Gregory XII.

Cardinals allied to Gregory XII and Benedict XIII decided to try and resolve the situation by getting the pope and antipope to meet and make an agreement.

However, at the last minute they pulled out and it was decided at a church council in Pisa that they would elect another pope – Alexander V.

He died in 1410 shortly after being elected and was succeeded by John XXIII.

To resolve the situation the Council of Constance managed to get Pope Gregory and Antipope John to resign so a new election could take place.

As he refused to step down, Avignon Pope Benedict XIII was excommunicated and his successor, Antipope Clement VIII resigned in 1429 in recognition of the Roman Pope Martin V’s legitimacy to the papal throne.

The only others to resign are Marcellinus, who abdicated or was deposed in 304 after complying with the Roman emperor’s order to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods; Benedict IX, who sold the papacy to his godfather Gregory VI and resigned in 1045; and Celestine V, who stepped down after five months as pope in 1294.

Certain things jump out at you from this historic account, there was a split in the church, two rival popes and the name Benedict XIII (Who refused to step down and was excommunicated).

Now back to our day, read this article from wikipedia:

The Vatileaks scandal[1][2][3] is a scandal involving leaked Vatican documents, allegedly exposing corruption. The scandal first came to light in late January 2012 in a television programme aired in Italy under the name of The Untouchables (Gli intoccabili). Further information was released when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published letters from Carlo Maria Viganò, formerly the second ranked Vatican administrator to the pope, in which he begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions in higher contract prices. Viganò is now the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Over the following months the situation widened as documents were leaked to Italian journalists, uncovering power struggles inside the Vatican over its efforts to show greater financial transparency and comply with international norms to fight money laundering. Also in early 2012, an anonymous letter made the headlines for its warning of a death threat against Pope Benedict XVI.[2] The scandal escalated in May 2012 when Nuzzi published a book entitled His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI consisting of confidential letters and memos between Pope Benedict and his personal secretary,[4] a controversial book that portrays the Vatican as a hotbed of jealousy, intrigue and underhanded factional fighting.[5] The book reveals details about the Pope’s personal finances, and includes tales of bribes made to procure an audience with him.[6]

And from the inspired word of God we can gain an insight as to what is really happening in the Vatican and what God is about to do.

God’s providence still further overruled events to give opportunity for the growth of the Reformation. The death of Gregory was followed by the election of two rival popes. Two conflicting powers, each professedly infallible, now claimed obedience. (See Appendix notes for pages 50 and 85.) Each called upon the faithful to assist him in making war upon the other, enforcing his demands by terrible anathemas against his adversaries, and promises of rewards in heaven to his supporters. This occurrence greatly weakened the power of the papacy. The rival factions had all they could do to attack each other, and Wycliffe for a time had rest. Anathemas and recriminations were flying from pope to pope, and torrents of blood were poured out to support their conflicting claims. Crimes and scandals flooded the church. Meanwhile the Reformer, in the quiet retirement of his parish of Lutterworth, was laboring diligently to point men from the contending popes to Jesus, the Prince of Peace. – {GC 86.2}
The schism, with all the strife and corruption which it caused, prepared the way for the Reformation by enabling the people to see what the papacy really was. In a tract which he published, On the Schism of the Popes, Wycliffe called upon the people to consider whether these two priests were not speaking the truth in condemning each other as the antichrist. “God,” said he, “would no longer suffer the fiend to reign in only one such priest, but … made division among two, so that men, in Christ’s name, may the more easily overcome them both.”—R. Vaughan, Life and Opinions of John de Wycliffe, vol. 2, p. 6. – {GC 86.3}

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