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Professor discusses Pope resignation

February 12, 2013
By THOMAS E. MORRISSEY - Special to the OBSERVER , The OBSERVER

For our times the resignation or deposition of a pope comes as a shock, as something unheard of and unthinkable. This is in part due to a campaign going back more than five centuries which sought to obliterate any record of uncomfortable moments in the history of the papacy and the Church. To a student of medieval history and especially of the history and practice of church law over the centuries this is no surprise at all. Medieval canonists, i.e., scholars who taught and wrote on church law, took for granted that a pope could resign, that in circumstances he should resign and that for a good reason a pope could be removed from his office if he would not resign. The most common ground assumed for such a deposition would have been that he was guilty of heresy. Some canonists went beyond this charge to include if he were incompetent or were guilty of serious crime.

 
 

 

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