Torn in Three: Western Schism JCC
Rome Papacy vs. Avignon Papacy vs. Pisa Papacy
In 1378, the Western world was shaken when Urban VI claimed the power of Pope from a seat in Avignon, creating a new Papacy to rival Rome. The Avignon Papacy gathered their own allies, dividing Catholic followers into two opposing camps. After decades of bitter feuding, the Council of Pisa, was held in 1409 to unite Catholics under a single Pope. Instead, it created a third embattled camp with the ascendancy of Pope Alexander V. Now, the year is 1409, and three men claim to be the one true Pope. Avignon is in decline, and Pisa is a new power rising, while Rome remains strong in the face of opposition. However, all Europeans know that the current situation cannot be sustained. There can only be one. Which Pope is the chosen one, the Shepherd for God’s sheep?
Rome has, since the earliest Christian communities, been a center of our faith. That has not changed; even now, it is the center of the Catholic world, and the home of our most recent elected Pope, Gregory XII. Pope Gregory took power in a time of great conflict. For the past thirty years, we have struggled to demolish the Avignon line, but now, a new Pope has been elected in Pisa! Every year that these heretics and their followers remain, we grow weaker, and our legitimacy crumbles. It is up to you, the Cardinals, Bishops, and other allies of Pope Gregory XII, to defend Rome from these false Popes. As you work to heal the wounds of the Western Schism, you cannot ignore the other ever-present conflicts that haunt Europe. The monarchies of the West are divided in two camps in a decades-long war between England and France. At the same time, the Turks in the South and East have never been more of a threat. Will Europe rally around us, or will Rome fall with the Church as it fell under the Empire?
We never wanted this, but Rome forced our hand. Pope Urban VI was elected, not by the will of the Conclave, but by a desire for Roman clergy to dominate the French. It has now been over 30 years since the first Avignon Pope of this Western Schism, Clement VII, was elected. Though Avignon began its feud with Rome at a point of power, we are not what we once were, and we have lost much of our political support, even among French leaders. If we are to survive, we must rebuild our lost alliances and search for new ways to rally the people around us, especially after the results of the recent Council of Pisa. Our task will be especially difficult because, beyond this holy war that we find ourselves in, France is also at war with England. Can our Pope Benedict XIII bring us to salvation, and deliver us from evil?
We were the last, but definitely not least. Bishops, Cardinals, scholars, and nobles from across Europe flocked to Pisa in 1409, determined to find a solution to the tired division between Rome and Avignon. The Council of Pisa did not seek to create a new papacy, but no other solution could be found. Alexander V is our Pope, the true Pope who can unite Catholics! But, now that our Council has ended, we face opposition from the Romans and the French - we desperately need allies, and we need to make reforms to heal the ugly injuries Catholicism has suffered during this Schism. As Alexander V begins to establish himself as a leader, we must be wary of our other enemies, most notably the Turks in the Ottoman Empire and the Moors in Spain. If we cannot unite Catholics, the Muslims will flood Europe and wash our glorious faith away. Let this be a turning point for Europe. Let us succeed, or let us be martyrs for our cause. Deus vult!