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Why Pope Gregory XII Doesn’t Really Count

Franciscan blogger Daniel P. Horan adds some reflections on the level of ‘freedom’ involved in the previous papal resignations.

Dating God

Pope Gregory XII, the last pope to resignAmid all the media hype and need to find out esoteric Christian historical and canonical information on short notice yesterday following Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he will resign from his office as Bishop of Rome on February 28, 2013, there was an understandable amount of confusion about if and when something like this had happened before. Can a pope resign? The correct answer, as most news organizations and commentators quickly discovered, is “yes, a pope can indeed resign.” As I wrote here yesterday, this has always been on the books, but was something that hasn’t been realized in several centuries.

The next question was: “Who was the last pope to do this?” And herein lies the trickier questions, the source of some foundering on the part of journalists and commentators the world over. Some said that Pope Gregory XII (d. 1417), who technically “resigned” in 1415, was the last pope…

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