Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Great Western Schism: Lessons for the Troubled Catholic Present from its Chaotic Past (Part I)

by Dr. John Rao

Why Study the Great Western Schism?

A detailed review of the chaotic years of the Great Western Schism is extremely helpful in coming to terms with the troubled Catholic present. It is useful, in this context, for three reasons. First of all, it shows us — as do all historical studies — that crises do not pop up out of nowhere, and that a given generation's miseries generally have been prepared in a previous age suffering from perhaps even more fundamental woes. Secondly, it demonstrates that resolution of the specifics of any given ecclesiastical disaster may not proceed precisely "by the book", especially if the problems involved are basically new ones and have not been confronted by theologians and canonists adequately before. Finally, it points to the fact that the Church's full awakening from a nightmare which has diverted her energies away from her real mission is a very difficult enterprise indeed; that it cannot be accomplished "on the cheap"; that if it is to take place at all, it must be built not only upon a humble digestion of the lessons taught by recent adversity, but also on a deeper inspection of all of the wisdom that the book and jewel box of her Tradition contain. Only thus can she truly arouse herself from her doctrinal and pastoral slumber and be better armed for the next inevitable battle with her outer and inner demons. ...Cont.

--->Dr. John Rao's website

Dr. John C. Rao, D. Phil. Oxon., is Associate Professor of History at St. John's University, Director of the Roman Forum/Dietrich von Hildebrand Institute, and former President of Una Voce America. A well-regarded speaker as well as writer, Dr. Rao presents a lecture series on Church history in New York and as part of the Roman Forum's Summer Symposium at Lake Garda in Italy. The New York lecture series is open to the general public, and applications for the Summer Symposium are available through the Roman Forum's website. Tapes of those and other lectures are available from

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What/Where is the Roman Catholic Church?

In light of Traditional Catholic dogma/doctrine, how should the Second Vatican Council be viewed ? Is it consistent with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and prior Magisterial teaching?

What explains the tremendous amount of "bad fruit" which has been forthcoming since the close of the Council in 1965? “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matt. 7:16)

This site explores these questions and more in an attempt to place the Second Vatican Council in proper perspective.