« 上一頁繼續 »
same. The cardinals who elected his predecessor, Innocent VII., in 1404, had in Conclave all sworn, each for himself, that if elected Pope he would pledge himself to resign if the Antipope would do so also. But Innocent no sooner was elected than he dispensed all the cardinals, himself included, from the observance of the vow !-a notable instance of the futility of any attempt to bind a Pope by any moral sanction. In the Conclave which elected Gregory XII. the same oath was taken by all the cardinals, and one cannot but feel astonishment that they should have had the face, each in presence of his fellow, to go through such a solemn farce so shortly after the experience they had had of the efficacy of the oath in question, and astonishment still greater at the simplicity of those, if such there were, who could imagine that they were binding an infallible being, armed with such authority as a Pope wields !
Gregory XII. did not, indeed, forthwith repudiate his oath, as Innocent did. On the contrary, he continued to protest his readiness to abdicate if his rival would do so too. But the promise was one which it was very safe to make. He promised also on oath in Conclave to create no more cardinals than such as should be sufficient to keep his College of Cardinals as numerous as that of the Antipope. But as soon as ever it became convenient to him to do so he violated his oath, declaring that he was not guilty of any perjury because circumstances had changed since he made the promise.
Alexander V., the Pope elected by the self-constituted Council of Pisa, died in 1410, after a reign of only ten months and eight days. His name appears in the official lists of the Popes, and he is recognised by the Church as having been such ;—strangely enough! For it follows that there were two legitimate Popes (beside the Antipope) at one and the same time. The list published in the official Pontifical Calendar declares Gregory XII. to have resigned in 1409, the date of his deposition by the Council of Pisa; and places the election of Alexander in the same year, avoiding the appearance of two contemporary Popes on the face of the list. But in the list of the Popes given in the “Relazione della Corte di Roma," by the Cavaliere. Lunadoro—a useful little work recognised by the ecclesiastical authorities, and reprinted again and again in Rome—the following is the statement made respecting Gregory XII.: “His Pontificate, according to the opinion of those who think that it terminated in the fifteenth session of the Council of Pisa, lasted two years, six months, and four days; and according to the opinion of such as prolong his reign till the fourteenth session of the Council of Constance, at which time Gregory solemnly renounced the Papacy, it lasted eight years, seven months, and three days.” And in truth the resignation of Gregory did not take place till he sent it by his plenipotentiary, Carlo Malatesta, to the Council of Constance, at the fourteenth session of that body on the 14th of July, 1415. And during all the time from the election of Alexander by the selfcreated Council of Pisa, in 1409, to the 14th July, 1415, there were two Popes, neither of whom has the Church agreed to consider spurious and illegitimate. For though Alexander V., the first creation of the rebellious and schismatic cardinals, died at Bologna ten months after his creation, another Pope, Giovanni XXIII., was forthwith created by them in that city, in the person of Baldassare Coscia. The Church considers both these Popes, Alexander V. and Giovanni XXIII., to be genuine. But it is difficult to understand the theory on which it does so. For they were the creations of cardinals who had created an Antipope, or of cardinals who had been themselves created by an Antipope. The Council of Constance, which had been itself summoned by a Pope, John XXIII., who had been created by seceding cardinals in opposition to an accepted and recognised Pope contemporaneously reigning, Gregory XII., and the authority of which, as summoned by a Pope so created, had been expressly repudiated and denied by Gregory, ordained that both Gregory and John should be deposed and a new Pope elected. This election was made in a wholly novel and abnormal manner. It was decreed by the Council that a Pope should be elected by a specially constituted body, consisting, firstly, of the cardinals of the College of Gregory XII. ; secondly, of those created by his rivals John XXIII. and his predecessor Alexander V.; thirdly, of those created by the Antipope Benedict XIII.; and fourthly, by thirty other prelates, six for each of the five nations which took part in the Council.
Such an election involved, it will be seen, nothing less than a new departure for the Church. All continuity with the traditional past is wholly and definitely severed. And though, Martin having been elected, it was thought fit to return with all possible accuracy into the old grooves, and to speak and act as though no continuity
had been broken, nothing can be more indisputable than that the legitimacy of the whole scheme and constitution of ecclesiastical government thenceforward reposed and reposes on the innate authority of a selfconstituted* General Council. No better ground according to the veritable nature of things and of a constituted Church can be imagined. But various difficulties, then unforeseen, have arisen from the course pursued by that Council at Constance in the fifteenth century, and ultimately, therefore, from the disastrous action of those schismatic cardinals who rebelled against Urban VI., because he menaced them with the suppression of their simoniacal gains, luxurious habits, and loose lives. From that rebellion, and from the series of events to which it directly led, arose a condition of things, the only outlet from which, as found by the Council of Constance, has made it exceedingly difficult for the defenders of the Roman Curia to support in its continual encroachments the ever-growing and advancing theory of papal infallibility. Could the Council have foreseen to what a length these claims of infallibility would one day rise, they might have managed better. The better course—the only possible consistent course—would have been to declare the cardinals who rebelled against Urban VI. schismatic, and all their acts null, and the Popes elected by them, Alexander V. and John XXIII., Antipopes, and to have placed Gregory XII. upon an undisputed throne. Probably it was out of the power of the Council to pursue any such course. Probably no exit from the dead-lock could have been found save by compromise. But the compromise was fatal to a theory of papal infallibility, which, as matters have by the action of the Council been made to stand, not only bases the world of papal authority on an elephant which rests upon a tortoise, but takes that same elephant for the support on which to place the tortoise !
* Self-constituted, inasmuch as Gregory absolutely refused to recognise the Council as summoned by John XXIII.—and not unreasonably, for John could be deemed to be Pope only by a seceding portion of cardinals and of Christendom. But Gregory did not refuse to recognise and submit to the Council, considered, not as summoned by John, but as a spontaneous meeting of the bishops of the Universal Church. As to the summoning of it by this or that lay prince, of course such summoning could impart no sort of authority to the Council in ecclesiastical eyes.
The intricate details of the vexed questions to which the proceedings of the Council of Constance have led, and of the all-important bearing of them on the contemporary controversy to which the unprecedented pretensions and claims of the present Pontiff have given rise, cannot be held to belong to a story of the Papal Conclaves, and would lead us into fields much too far away from our subject. The facts of the case, as well as the bearing of them on the claims advanced in accordance with the decrees of the late Vatican Council, have been as succinctly as lucidly set forth in Mr. Gladstone's tract on “The Vatican Council and the Infallibility of the Pope," and may there be read by those who are interested in the subject.
It is more germane to the scope of the present volume to point out, that all the disasters of a schism which divided Europe for thirty-nine years, all the heroic remedies applied by the Council of Constance to an intolerable state of things, from the violence of which