Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The Conciliar movement of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in the Roman Catholic Church was an attempt to establish that the final authority in spiritual matters resided in general (or ecumenical) councils rather than the pope. Emerging in response to a particular crisis when the Roman papacy was forced to move to Avignon in 1305 (where it remained until 1377), the movement also gained impetus with the need to reform abuse and reconcile the claims of contending popes. The idea is by no means confined to the fourteenth century, as recent advances in medicine have made it a real possibility that a reigning pope could be kept alive in a coma or vegetative state, with no provision currently in canon law for that possibility. The question is whether “conciliarism”—the power of a church council to remove a pope or intervene in a particular situation—would once again come to the fore ...