Words of Wisdom

If you ask a Catholic "How many Popes were there from the beginning of the Church to the present day?" not one in a million will probably answer you correctly. Most Catholics know that St. Peter was the first Pope, just as most Americans know that George Washington was the first President of the United States.


Then who was the second Pope?

Who was the second President of the United States?


Not many people know.

Did you know that the Church has had a number of antipopes?

You didn't?

Why not?

Anyone wishing to argue a point, or discuss an issue, or defend or oppose something, ought to have some knowledge of the subject under discussion.

The second Pope after the death of St. Peter circa 67 A.D. was St. Linus who reigned from c.67 - c.79. He died a martyr for the faith.

After the 16th Pope, St. Callistus, we encounter the first antipope: Hippolytus (A.D. 217-235). He was around for 18 years. Some people accepted him as a true Pope; others rejected him.

The 17th true Pope, Urban I reigned from 222-230. He also died a martyr. Hippolytus recanted and died for the faith as a martyr. He is honored in the Church as St. Hippolytus - even though he had been an antipope.

At the same time that we had a true Pope, Cornelius, there was also another antipope: Novatian.

Pope Cornelius died after only three years in office, while Novatian was around for another five years.

A true Pope, Lucius I, replaced Pope Cornelius making him the 22 legitimate Pope.

Things went pretty well for awhile. But then, in 355 we meet with another antipope: Felix II. Felix II appeared during the reign of St. Liberius (A.D. 352-366). Liberius was Pope for 14 years.

Pope Damasus I followed Pope St. Liberius to be the 37th legitimate Pope. There was some turmoil there because at the same time that Damaus I was elected, there appeared another antipope in that same year: Ursinus.

Five legitimate Popes later, another antipope appears: Eulalius (A.D. 418-419).

Nine legitimate Popes later, yet another antipope shows up: Lawrence (A.D. 498-505).

In A.D. 530 there are two Popes elected: a legitimate Pope, Boniface II, and an antipope, Dioscurus. It seems Pope Dioscurus did not live long because he died in that same year -A.D.530.

There is some peace in the papal palace for a number of years because the next antipope rears his head in the year A.D. 687.

This is the year that the 83rd legitimate Pope, Pope Conon, died.

Immediately, two antipopes arise to mar the election of Sergius I - the legitimate Pope. The antipopes were Theodore and Paschal.

How many antipopes have you counted so far? Seven? That is correct. So, from the time of St. Peter until the 84th Pope there were seven false popes.

Should we go on listing all the others? Or, will this suffice to show that the idea of antipopes is not an invention of modern day fanatics? It is the `fanatics' who are unable to weigh objective facts, draw logical conclusions, and face reality. The peculiar thing about the word `fanatic' - from whence comes the English word `fan' - is that it describes people who are `unreasonably enthusiastic' about some thing or some one. The operative word here is `unreasonably.'

Before that era in Church history which became known as the `Western Schism,' there had already been twenty eight antipopes!

True, even though there were antipopes, there were legitimate popes at the same time. What is intended to be shown here is not determination who was the legitimate pope and who was the antipope. What suffices for our purpose is to show that antipopes are not only possible, but did, in fact, exist.

This matter becomes more evident when we consider the situation in the Church during the Great Western Schism.

It began with the death of Gregory XI. Urban VI (1378-1389) was elected. The Roman people clamored for a Roman pope. So the cardinals chose the archbishop of Bari who took the name Urban VI. His election came as a compromise arranged by several factions. He was nobody's first choice. Because there were some circumstances in the election of Urban VI that lent themselves to question, a later attack on the validity of his election occurred. What happened was that during the conclave which was composed of four Italian, five French, and seven other cardinals, a crowd of Romans invaded the Vatican, demanding the election of an Italian pope. The cardinals were frightened and hastily elected the archbishop of Bari. While awaiting the arrival of the newly-elected pope to appease the crowd, they clothed another cardinal, Tebaldeschi, with the papal robes and presented him to the people as pope. When Urban arrived, they attempted to remove all doubt by re-electing him.

We see here the grounds for suspecting foul play in the Vatican in later days. If they could do such things back then, why can't they do such things in our day? Urban VI may have been a good man, but good men are seldom appreciated by everyone. It was when he declared his intention of creating a majority of Italian cardinals and of never transferring the papal residence back to France, that thirteen cardinals, encouraged by the French king, Charles V, met at Agnani in August 1378, announced that Urban's election had been invalid, and chose Cardinal Robert of Geneva to be pope. Cardinal Robert took the name of Clement VII. And thus began the Great Western Schism. All of Scotland, France, Spain, Sicily, and parts of Italy accepted Clement VII as the legitimate Pope.

Clement VII ruled from Avignon from 1378 to 1394. At the same time, Urban VI was ruling from Rome. Eventually, there would be a third pope reigning from Pisa. Consequently, there were three popes reigning at the same time: one in Rome, one in Avignon, and one in Pisa.

What is particularly striking in all this eruption of human failings is that at no time did any of these popes or antipopes ever propose doctrines opposed to the clear teachings of the Church. For the most part, the problems that arose on this highest level were instigated by the laity. Rivalries and factions which even St. Paul had to condemn in his time only prove that vice does not die easily, nor is virtue achieved without effort.

Noteworthy is the fact that there were men and women of great sanctity on each side of the controversies. St. Catherine of Sienna, a Dominican nun and mystic defended Urban VI, while the equally great preacher and Dominican saint, St. Vincent Ferrer defended the Avignon Popes. He even wrote a treatise in defense of the Avignon line of popes.

For those who would like to know who the different popes were during the Great Western Schism, the following list indicates those residing in Rome, Avignon and Pisa, respectively.


Urban VI (1378-1389)

Boniface IX (1389-1404)

Innocent VII (1404-1406)

Gregory XII (1406-1415) (Resigned. d. 1417)

Martin V (1417-1431).


Clement VII (1378-1394)

Benedict XIII (1394-1417) Deposed. d.1424.


Alexander V (1409-1410)

John XXIII (1410-1415) Deposed. d. 1419.

Since we are confronted with two individuals with the same name: Pope John XXIII, it is necessary to investigate both individuals to determine which of them is the real `Pope John XXIII'.

We would like to know, also, whether since the death of Pope Pius XII (died 1958) and who was the 260th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, does the Church have a legitimate Pope, or not? Academically speaking, the turbulent history of the papacy alone gives cause to pose such a question. Nor should anyone of good faith be disturbed by such a question. On the contrary, it is in the interest of all mankind that such a question be asked.

Who was the first `Pope John XXIII'?

John XXIII was a `Pisan Pope.' That is, he was elected by the cardinals who had met in Pisa in 1409 without canonical authority and announced their meeting as a council of the Church. The first thing they did was decree the deposition of the two existing popes, Gregory XII and Benedict XIII. They elected a third pope _ Alexander V _ and thereby created a schism within a schism.

Pope Alexander V was a Franciscan cardinal of Milan. He reigned only ten months.

The same cardinals elected John XXIII who was a political-minded prelate. After a conference with John XXIII, the Emperor Sigismund, acting on the popular desire for a general council, announced that such a council would meet in November of 1414. The Emperor himself attended the council. This was the Council of Constance.

The purpose of the council was to end the schism, reform the Church, and to repress heresy.

There were forty-five sessions and the council lasted from November 1414 to April 1418. The largest attendance at any one session was approximately two hundred bishops, archbishops and cardinals; one hundred abbots and religious generals, and three hundred theologians and canons. Approximately five thousand monks and friars were present. There were also several German rulers, envoys representing the kings of France, England, Scotland, Spain, Denmark, Poland and Naples. The Greek emperor with nineteen Greek bishops attended later sessions.

The Italians supported John XXIII and were more numerous. The German, French and English bishops decided to depart from traditional procedure and voted by nations. In this way they were able to break Italian control.

Despite the fact that the civil rulers and especially the emperor played important parts in the council, the real leaders were scholars representing the new learning. The universities were taking on an almost decisive part in ecclesiastical affairs.

It was the universities that formulated the Conciliar Theory and which gave this theory so much widespread popularity and gained the support of so many learned and religious men.

John XXIII presided over the first session held on November 19, 1414. Messengers from Benedict XIII (The pope in Avignon) arrived in January with an offer to meet the emperor at Nice. Not long after, Gregory XII (the pope in Rome) announced his willingness to resign if the other two popes would do the same.

However, in March, John XXIII promised to resign but then, disguised as a hostler, he fled from Constance, leaving the council without a head. Whereupon, in the fifth session (April 5, 1415), the council drew up the Five Articles of Constance, the first two of which proclaimed the supremacy of every general council over every pope.

In the twelfth session, the council decreed the deposition of John XXIII. In its fourteenth session it persuaded Gregory XII to give his recognition to Constance as the Sixteenth Ecumenical Council and then to resign the papacy.

Benedict XIII _ the Avignon pope refused to abdicate. The council simply deposed him with Gregory XII now at its head _ one assumes.

John Hus was condemned to be burned at the stake at this council. It also undertook the discussion of reform.

The laymen, the lower clergy (priests) and the monastic orders present at the council soon showed their displeasure and this spirit of hostility towards the higher ecclesiastics manifested itself. At one of the sessions, it was suggested that no cardinal should be admitted to the deliberations on the question of Church reform. The council was almost brought to a stalemate by the different factions.

It was the bishop of Winchester, uncle of the king of England, who proposed a compromise.

The council then decreed that for the election of a new pope, thirty delegates _ six from each of the five nations were to be added to the cardinals present at Constance. On the basis of this decision, a conclave assembled in November of 1417 and elected Cardinal Colonna, who took the name of Martin V.

It is said that Martin V never expressed any opinion about the acts of the council as a whole. In its last session (1418) he gave approval to all that had been decided in matters of faith in proper canonical form. Interestingly, though, the decrees of the earlier sessions are not regarded as the official teaching of the Church.

The Second "John XXIII".

There is a reason why Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli chose the name of a deposed antipope. We can only speculate on what that reason truly was. Was it the program of reform initiated under the weak first "John XXIII" that suggested taking this name? Was it a cryptic symbolic gesture to signal to the hidden infiltrated forces of the Revolution that now, the original program of `reforming' the Church could take up where it had left off?

Remember, the laity _ especially those who held responsible positions of government _ resented the intrusion of the papacy in their too often worldly compromises _ who tried to shape a new Church with themselves in the driver's seat, as it were. Likewise the lower clergy _ the priests who were more interested in gain and fame than the salvation of souls wanted a papacy which they could manipulate by means of `democratic' councils. The charisma of papal infallibility in Pope and Bishops united with him is one of the things that had a sandpaper effect on the wannabes of the world.

Although someone started the pietistic myth of `good Pope John,' one could never really get a clear answer when the challenge was made: "Why do you call him `good Pope John'?" there was never any intelligent answer apart from silence. Yes, why was John XXIII suddenly propelled into the mass mind as `good Pope John'?

It is the press alone that has created this myth just as it called `myth' the fact that he was truly an interim pope.

Was it genuine humility that inspired John XXIII to say to John Baptist Montini that he, Montini, should be sitting on the papal throne and not he, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli? Or, was it another one of those little `secrets' that the rest of us are not privy to? Ambiguity, innuendo: these are the tools of knaves and politicians.

This man called `John XXIII' broke with many traditions. Were they merely "time encrusted precedents' with which he broke? Doubtless, there could be some such precedents. But, is it a part of wisdom to reject the past in exchange for an uncertain future?

Writers try to compare John XXIII with the remarkable Franciscan pope, Pope Sixtus V who was elected in 1585.

It is said that Felice Peretti had entered the conclave bearing down on a cane, feeble and seemingly sick beyond saving. Yet, once elected Pope, he no longer needed a cane, stood straight and embarked on a fantastic five year pontificate during which he inaugurated a robust reform, and gave new life to the Church with his spirit. He restored the splendor of the pontifical state.

Those who would compare Pope Sixtus V with John XXIII miss the greatest of differences. It is no comparison of any value to limit the comparison to relative physical age or condition.

In the case of Pope Sixtus V and John XXIII, we find so much opposition in outlook and priorities, that any comparison becomes groundless.

Under Sixtus V, a campaign of reform was effected in Germany, Switzerland, Poland and the Netherlands. He did not involve himself in taking political sides even in France notwithstanding the pressure of Philip II because he wished to check the spread of Calvinism.

As a Franciscan from the age of twelve, he disliked the very name of the Jesuits. In fact, he was planning to change the Jesuit rule but this was interrupted by his death. He was preparing a new Index, which remained unpublished, wherein are mentioned the works of the Jesuit, Robert Bellarmine. Robert Bellarmine is today a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Even members of his own Order were not exempt from censure: included in this Index would have been the Franciscan, Johann Wild.

John XXIII, on the other hand, became the tool of the Jesuits whose ethics has a tendency to be very elastic. Besides this, unlike Sixtus V, who did not feel `inspired' to call an Ecumenical Council to solve the problems facing him, Angelo Roncalli's sudden `inspiration' to call a council is not beyond question.

It has been rumored that before his death, Pope Pius XII was preparing for a Council that would address the problems of the world. There is little doubt that Pope Pius XII would not have made any agreements with atheistic Communism, since he knew only too well the real power behind this enemy of mankind.

But, under the feeble disguise of `religious ecumenism,' John XXIII and his subsequent alleged successors in the papacy have progressively worked to dismantle the entire supernatural structure of the Roman Catholic Church.

Angelo Cardinal Roncalli claimed to have been `inspired' to call a council. On January 25, 1959 a group of his close associates expressed their sentiments and evaluation of this `inspiration' quite differently. He followed the way of every delusionary and every heresiarch: He fancied himself to have been inspired by God to convene an Ecumenical Council.

He even went so far as to ask the advice of these cardinals: "I would like to have your advice," he said. Well, was he serious or not?

Judge for yourself: The cardinals to a man sat mute before him. Not a single word of response was uttered.

This was assuredly not a case of "Who remains silent, is presumed to consent." On the contrary, even Angelo Roncalli understood the meaning of this silence. He admits this in his recorded journal: "Humanly we could have expected that the cardinals, after hearing our allocution, might have crowded around to express approval and good wishes. Instead there was a devout and impressive silence. Explanations came on following days."

Peculiar is his statement made to a Protestant minister on the occasion of a private audience (One can only hope that this Protestant minister was not the Freemason Billy Graham!) that even though he was the head of the Church and was infallible when proclaiming matters of faith and morals, it was something else altogether when it came to subtle theological questions. In such circumstances he claimed to have recourse to his official theologian.

Think for a moment: This man, John XXIII, admits to a heretic that he is `infallible when proclaiming matters of faith and morals,' yet turns to someone who is not infallible for guidance in the more rarified levels of theology.

But, ascetical and mystical theology are part of ordinary faith. Discerning whether or not his inspiration came from God, himself or the devil is without doubt a grave matter.

When all the cardinals to a man were opposed to a council, the virtue of prudence would have dictated caution. And what about consulting a spiritual director?

No where do we encounter such an attempt to verify the source of this `inspiration.' Like so many false teachers lacking in genuine supernatural humility, John XXIII contradicted himself when he himself decided a council was God's will because it was his will, yet he admits his own incompetence to an heretic in matters of subtle spirituality.

Pious prattle is something that is stock in trade with many prelates. Beware the profuse external expressions of humility which too often hide a heart filled with demonic obstinacy. There are times when true humility must risk appearing proud. As St. Theresa of Avila said when she wrote to one particularly offensive prelate: "I am not so humble that I would wish to appear proud." Better to be humble and appear proud, than to appear humble and be proud.

The direction taken and given by John XXIII was not inspired by the Holy Ghost. His inspiration was not from God, it was from the spiritual enemy of God, Lucifer. The fruits of this inspiration have boldly manifested themselves throughout the years.

There is so much evidence to substantiate the accusation that those popes after Pope Pius XII were invalid popes that it seems almost impossible that intelligent Catholics would have difficulty coming to the same conclusion.

The fact that they have not only proves the truth of Scripture that we are in the Great Apostasy _ the Great Falling Away from the true faith. That this Great Apostasy must be laid at the feet of John XXIII is the only reasonable conclusion.

Having been exposed to some of the less glorious history of the Roman Catholic Church, it is hoped that the respected reader will think about all this and will then find the courage to make the only proper choice: Break the bond of subconscious habit, and return to sound doctrine: to reasoned truth, to reasonable faith..

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