Facts 1 to 7
So, when it comes to Papal facts I bet a lot of you already think you know all there is to know. Well, all I can say is that there are a lot more facts about the office of Pope that you really should know. And after reading through this list you will surely look upon the Catholic church differently.
I will say though, that even though some of these Pope facts may be a little disturbing, they are not a reflection on the current Pope Francis, who is a real cool dude and winning the hearts and minds of people from all around the world.
1 The Shortest Ever Election Of A Pope
Electing a Pope isn’t really a clear cut procedure. Unlike political elections in a democratic society where we are bombarded with political advertising and maneuvering, there is no such practice in the church. Even though the position is really a political one, the only guidance that the Cardinals have is from God. Yep, they have to pray for guidance on how to vote. To make matters even more difficult, there isn’t a short list of contenders for Pope, which we will explain later. This weird election process is what makes the shortest election of a Pope so amazing.
The Papal election of October 1503 is regarded as the shortest ever election of a Pope. It took place after one of the shortest ever reigns of a Pope ended with the death of Pius III who reigned for 26 days. The election took only ten hours to elect Giuliano della Rovere as Pope Julius II to succeed Pope Pius III.
2 The Longest Election Of A Pope
Well that was the shortest election of a Pope, and with how confusing it can be to pick one, it’s a wonder that they can be so quick. WHich brings us to the longest election of a Pope.
The longest Papal election occurred between November 1268 and September 1, 1271 following the death of Pope Clement IV. The election of Pope Gregory X was the first election of a Pope by compromise. During the election three Cardinals died and one resigned. Their rations were reduced to just bread and water and finally in the end, the roof of the Palazzo dei Papi di Viterbo where the election was taking place was removed by the magistrates of Viterbo to try and force a result. And it worked. This conclave is often considered as the first Papal Conclave.
3 Any Baptized Catholic Male Can Become Pope
Remember how we said that there was no shortlist of contenders for the position of Pontiff? That’s because the field is as wide open, maybe even more so than president of the USA.
All that is required to become Pope is to be a baptized Catholic male. If the elected man is not yet a Bishop he will be immediately ordained one before becoming Pope. Getting the Cardinals to elect you on the other hand may be somewhat harder. But if they are guided by God, it just could happen. And it kind of did.
4 Pope Urban VI Was Not A Cardinal When He Became Pope
Proving that the field can be wide open to anyone of the Catholic faith, Pope Urban VI was elected in 1376 and was not even a Cardinal. But he would hardly be described as saintly. In fact he was a cruel Pope.
During his time as Pontiff he executed lots of people, and excommunicated many more, which to a Catholic is worse than death. It is believed he was poisoned to get rid of his tyranny. So perhaps even though anyone who is Catholic can be Pope, maybe the field should be a little better vetted. But sometimes the process can lead to disputes over who should be Pope, and they can turn violent.
5 A Violent Papal Election
Proving that Christians can be anything but Christian, we come along one of the most violent and despicable processes to elect a new bishop of Rome that there has ever been.
Ten years after the longest ever election of a Pope the church faced yet another long election. The election of Pope Martin IV took place between September 22, 1280 to February 22, 1281, and although it was much shorter then the election of Gregory X, it was a violent one. The magistrates of Viterbo, who ten years earlier had removed the roof of the Palazzo dei Papi di Viterbo to force a result violently removed two Cardinals who they accused of slowing the election process.
Sure, a resolution was reached, albeit a slightly enforced one, but at what cost? When the appointment of Pope isn’t a smooth transition it can lead to disputes, which brings us to the Antipope.
6 So What Is An Antipope?
An antipope isn’t someone who is against the Catholic church or aligned with the devil. On the contrary, they are usually high ranking members of the church who have laid claim to the position of the Pope, but have not been recognised by the majority of the clergy. It was common place in the late Roman Empire and middle ages for there to be an antipope as being Pope was more than just a religious leader, it was also a powerful political office. Some like Sylvester III were also at one point Pope in their own right, before they were removed.
However, if they are lucky enough to remain in office unchallenged they can actually resign.
7 Popes who have resigned
Normally the position of pope is one for life, but if they get too old, too ill or even bored or a better offer, they can resign. We witnessed this rarity when the last Pope up and quit all of a sudden. But Pope Benedict XVI wasn’t the first Pope to quit.
Before Benedict XVI quit there have been 9 others before him who have thrown in the towel. Clement I, Pontian, Marcellinus, Martin I, Benedict V, Benedict IX, Gregory VI, Celestine V, Gregory XII all quit for various reasons. But Benedict XVI was the first in 600 years.
However, it’s not that uncommon for Popes to offer a conditional resignation.