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A.D. 1409 - Council of Pisa

The election of Gregory XII was due in great measure to the belief that he was earnestly bent on the restoration of unity to the Church, and, in the earlier days of his Pontificate, he certainly seemed full of enthusiasm for this great cause. He assured those around him that, notwithstanding his age, he was ready, for the sake of unity, to meet Benedict,J even if he had to take the journey on foot with a staff in his hand, or to cross the sea in an open boat. In his Encyclical, as well as in other Briefs, he expressed himself in a manner which seemed to leave no doubt that the Schism would soon be at an end.

The Synod of Pisa (1409), according to Catholic principles, was, from the outset, an act of open revolt against the Pope.t That such an essentially revolutionary assembly should decree itself competent to re-establish order, and was able to command so much consideration, was only rendered possible by the eclipse of the Catholic doctrine regarding the primacy of St. Peter and the monarchical constitution of the Church, occasioned by the Schism.

The council of Pisa, summoned as an ecumenical council by the cardinals adhering to both the rival popes (Gregory XII and Benedict XIII), met at Pisa in Northern Italy, March 25, 1409, for the purpose of terminating the great Western schism, and was largely attended. On the 5th of June it deposed and excommunicated both popes for their notorious schism, heresy, perjury, and enormous crimes ; and on the 2Gth the 23 cardinals in conclave elected as pope Peter de Candia, who took the name of Alexander V. But all this only added a third rival pope, without terminating the schism, or effecting the anticipated reformation of the church. Gregory and Benedict both held their councils, which were thinly attended and amounted to nothing; and both spurned the decrees of this council, which was dissolved by Alexander on the 7th of August. The French party have constantly recognized this council and its popes, Alexander V, and his successor John XXIII; cardinal Bellarmin considered Alexander and John as the real popes of the age; but the later curialists or adherents of the Roman court entirely reject the ecumenicity of this council, disown its popes, and recognize Gregory XII as the rightful pope until his resignation at the council of Constance.



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