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tv   Pope The Most Powerful Man in History  CNN  March 31, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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reign, 2,000 years after the death of st. peter, the pope remains at the head of one of the most powerful institutions on earth. . one of the most powerful men on earth holds a position that has existed for nearly 2,000 years. as the world changes and faith evolves, his authority remains. what began with one apostle has become 1.2 billion followers under one man. he is the head of the catholic church, the pope. and this is his path to power.
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♪ >> in this episode, what happens when the pope threatens a 2,000 year old position, leaving two men at the helm of one divine office for the first time in over 500 years.
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>> we're following breaking news this morning. pope benedict the 16th has announced he is resigning. >> for the first time in 600 years, a pope is retiring. >> i was astonished when benedict resigned. it came completely out of the blue. >> benedict's resignation was an amazing thing. >> in the last 2,000 years, only four other popes have resigned. >> it was wonderfully, comically announced. they announced it at a papal audience in latin, and you had to see all around the room anyone who understood what he was saying. it was an astonishing thing to do.
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>> it raises so many questions. what happens now? >> two weeks after benedict xvi's resignation, pope francis is elected. and the papal crown is handed from one man to the other. >> we have two popes, but only one is the pope. the problem with having two popes is that you have to decide who do you listen to? >> benedict was 85 when he resigned. he inherited the financial mess. he inherited the mess of sexual abuse. he inherited the administrative chaos. >> benedict resigned because he realized that these problems were simply too great for him. >> it's not like other human institutions. it's created, we believe, by god. and this man is resigning from all of that. that's not what a pope is supposed to do.
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>> for 2,000 years the legacy of saint peter has been a define divine office passed down from one pope to the next. but can two men hold the legitimate claim to one godly office? >> it's left us with this situation of a pope and an extra pope. and that's always going to change the nature of an institution. >> who's the real pope? >> in 2013, millions of people watch as benedict xvi peacefully hands the papacy over to pope francis. but in the past, two living men with claim to one legacy has resulted in nothing but chaos. >> the 10th and 11th centuries, if you've got two popes, you've got two factions. >> it's an extraordinary episode. >> benedict ix was a teenager,
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he was the most eligible member of the powerful roman family that ruled the city of rome. they wanted him to be pope for their own financial gains, their own territorial supremacy. >> the papacy was the legal center of the western world. if a king needed a dispensation to marry his brother's wife, if people wanted to take possession of a local parish, they would have to get permission and pay a fee. at rome, you are enormously powerful, immense responsibility. >> but 19-year-old benedict has no interest in bureaucracy or public service. he is only interested in the privileges of power. >> benedict is someone who was clearly made pope in order to enrich his family on the secular side, not someone who had any sort of a spiritual authority,
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even spiritual training. >> nepotism tended to produce a group of wealthy parasites who lived like grandese, who were also clergy. >> he was incompetent. he was morally compromised in many ways. >> benedict was up to his neck in robbery and murder. he was using his position to gain wealth at the expense of the people of rome. >> by the year 1044 the cardinals are fed up. they decide the church needs a real spiritual and political leader, something must be done. >> the holiest priest in rome came to him and said, you need to step down for the good of the church. what can i give you? and made him some sort of offering. benedict ix sold the papacy
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which, of course, is against the cannons. >> in the 11th century, conclaves had not yet been invented. popes are chosen by brute force or nepotism. >> buying church power was the considered one of the worst sins there was. the fact he sold the papacy in return for money was appalling to everyone. >> for the first time in recorded history, a pope resigns in exchange for money, which catapults the papacy into the world of dirty politics. >> the papacy becomes the pawn in politics of central italy. >> though the young pope accepts the young cardinal's bride, this will not be the last the world hears of benedict ix. it's time to get your glow on!
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try it for 30 days, and see for yourself why more than a million people trust fixmestick to keep their computer fast, clean, and safe." call us today or visit us online. in 1044, after eight years of desecrating the papacy young pope benedict ix accepts the cardinal's bribe to resign. >> they ganged up together and drove benedict out of the city. the roman people picked a new pope, and he took the name sylvester iii. >> just weeks after handing the papacy over to sylvester, the former pope benedict ix and his family decide they want the throne back.
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>> and the awkward thing now is that there were two popes, and both of them were claiming to be the heir of st. peter. >> benedict, however, had a wealthier family than sylvester, and so, his family rallied behind him, gave him an army. he marched back into rome and he drove sylvester iii out. >> you find yourself bewildered by this. and it's so far from the apostles or how any christian leader should be. but that was the way the church was. it's about spiritual power, uncomfortably mixed with worldly power. >> six months after accepting the cardinal's bribe to resign, benedict ix is reinstated as pope.
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>> now their positions had reversed. benedict is in rome and sylvester iii is in exile. but they're both still claiming to be pope. >> benedict ix was the first pope that comes back and they have to decide who's the real pope now? >> with rome's allegiances split between benedict and sylvester, the church faces a crisis of faith. how does one decide who holds the legacy of st. peter? the romans will not have long to figure it out. only one month into benedict ix's second papacy he complicates the matter even further. >> benedict then, in the way of impetuous young men, he decided he didn't want to be pope anymore. he had had enough. he wanted to get married. he handed the papacy over to his godfather, and he became pope gregory vi.
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then the really scandalous thing happened, benedict's lady love decided not to marry him after all, and he decided he wanted the papacy back. gregory vi said i'm the pope, and sylvester iii, who was still outside the village said, no, don't forget about me. now we have three popes, and no one to declare which one the most legitimate. >> benedict's, sylvester's and gregory's factions all fight in the streets of rome over who is the rightful heir to the papal throne. in the end, benedict's family wins again. >> benedict was pope three times in the end. >> after benedict's reign sends the church into a tail spin, the spiritual foundation of the papacy has become
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shattered. >> all of this becomes a real problem for the church and you have to sort that out. >> in july of 1048 benedict ix is officially ousted once and for all. the cardinals decide the fairest way to consolidate papal power is to ignore sylvester and gregory's claims to the throne, clear the decks, and elect a new pope. >> one of the problems in the 11th century was there was no clear way of choosing a pope. >> it was a matter of, frequently, murder. bribery. and also relationship, the sons of popes sometimes became popes, choosing a pope. it's very confused, and it's never a pretty sight. >> it's very clear that the office of the papacy can belong to whoever has the most military might to enforce it. >> the cardinals realize they
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must solidify rules for papal elections. they convene in an effort to solve this problem once and for all. and the result becomes one of the most iconic symbols of the papacy. >> in the 12th century, cardinals who were senior clergy in rome made what they called a college. and after that cardinals would choose a pope in public. so that sort of regularized things. but of course you can always twist elections. >> after nearly 200 years of corrupt public elections, what is known today as the conclave is designed. the word conclave, a latin term meaning with a key, signifies that the cardinals are locked in to avoid the interference of
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outside politics. as of 1274 papal elections are held in secret. >> the cardinals would be cut off from the world, enclosed, make their votes, vote again, there would be that famous white smoke at the end. >> for the last 700 years, papal elections have been held the same way. cardinals are locked in the vatican, and vote again and again until a two-thirds majority is achieved. >> and each round of balloting is burned so that nobody can see who voted for whom. that's what generates the smoke. >> in the middle ages cardinals added a damp straw to the burning ballots to create the black smoke, signifying that no pope has been chosen. the white smoke that hails a new pope was made by burning the paper alone.
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today, chemical compounds are added to the ballots to color the smoke. modern conclaves usually only last for a few days. but in the 13th century they could go on for months. >> in the 13th century bribery would be involved. the rivalries of kings, people were basically stone walling, filibustering. >> in 1292 the cardinals assemble to elect a new pope. but warring factions cannot reach the two-thirds majority and the conclave goes on for a full two years. >> without the pope, rome was a mess. robber gangs wanted to dominate the city, and to a great extent did.
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without the pope functioning as a sort of local king. >> with rome in shambles and no end to the conclave in sight, it looks as if the resignation of one teenage pope may have unravelled st. peter's legacy for good. when i received the diagnoses,
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in 1294 the cardinals are determined to renew the spiritual supremacy of the papacy by electing a pope through the proper channels. warring factions are deadlocked, which has left rome without a leader and in dire shape. frustrated by the delay and state of rome, a hermit monk writes to the conclave. >> he was an example of these kinds of crazy guys who live up a mountain and live on beans and read nothing but the gospel. >> he warns the cardinals that vengeance will fall on them if they continue the stalemate. taking his letter as a divine sign, the cardinals decide to elect him pope.
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>> in the 13th century you had a great succession of reforming popes, politicians. but this is not how a pope should be. so what they did was elect a pope who was as unworldly as you could possibly hope for, a hermit. they called him celestine, the heavenly one. >> he does not want to be pope. he'd rather be off praying alone by himself. he goes to this papacy rather reluctantly. >> it's not super clear he knew exactly what was going on. it's not clear how sharp mentally he was. >> celestine v was hopeless. he couldn't run the church at all. >> after only five months in office, celestine v announces
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his retirement. >> during that five months, the french crown manipulated him to get all sorts of concessions and control of more power. the cardinals became increasingly alarmed. he was helped to retire by his successor who was a pro-roman pope, boniface viii. it was said he whispered through a hole in the pope's cell where he prayed and that he said he was the voice of god and told the pope to resign so he could be elected pope in his stead. >> he had made a vow to become a monk, simply living in retirement for the good of his health. the only pope who ever voluntarily did before benedict xvi. >> a couple years before pope benedict xvi resigns, pope benedict took a trip, and he laid his palium on the grave of celestine very. people didn't know it at the time but that might have been a
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signal because a year and a half later he too resigned his papacy. >> but despite the nature by which he resigned, because of the violence and instability surrounding the resignation of benedict ix 250 years earlier, the new pope must make sure that celestine is never heard from again. >> after celestine retired and boniface became pope, he felt it was dangerous to have two living popes. >> you can't have another pope knocking about and threatening the pope. immediately after celestine leaves the vatican, boniface has him attacked and locked up. >> he didn't want celestine talking to anybody, he didn't
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want him to be able to communicate with his supporters. so essentially put him under house arrest in order to protect his own legitimacy as pope. >> and so celestine dies in captivity. >> in the 13th century, however, a retired pope is not the only threat to a sitting pope's power. in a time when the lines between church and state are fluid, kings are just as threatening to papal power as previous popes. >> it was always a bit of a problem as to who was in charge. was it the king or was it the pope? >> so much of the maneuvering and back and forthing and jousting that goes on with the papacy has to do with the fact that it was in italy. italy is not a country yet. italy is basically up for grabs.
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the normans grab part of it. the franks grab part of it. the germans grab part of it. italy is always contested. if you're going to control any major part of italy, you have to get the pope on your side. >> you want to raise an army, you need the pope's blessing. >> because of the volatile nature of medieval european politics, the papacy becomes dependent on the surrounding monarchies for stability. and vice versa. >> the pope didn't have an army. he didn't have anything other than moral persuasion on his side. what we see the early popes doing are making these alliances with different secular leaders. >> at the end of the 13th century, the most powerful monarch in europe is king phillip iv in france. he had manipulated pope celestine into giving him church money and land.
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but after celestine's resignation, the new pope, boniface viii is not so easily manipulated. >> when boniface became pope, he positioned himself as the anti-france pope. so philip iv and boniface had a very real clash of powers. boniface began to generate some very, very harsh language about the power of the papacy, here is a letter he wrote to philip iv of france, he said, listen, son, literally that's how he begins it, son, god has set us over kings and kingdoms, let no one persuade you that you have superiority. so it is this very explicit language that says the pope has control over the king.
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>> but king philip has an agenda, and he does not intend to let one insubordinate pope stand in his way.
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and that becomes a really dangerous situation for holding together not just the papacy, but holding together beliefs and tenants of the church. >> leaving rome costs the papacy religious authority throughout europe. but once the church becomes established in france, pope clement v finds that despite being hundreds of miles from the bones of st. peter, there are certain benefits to the new location. >> it was very clearly a time when they had given up their spiritual authority in order to enjoy material prosperity. the college of cardinals, which also became centered at avignon after this, was absolutely
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notorious for luxurious living. having banquets went on for days and spending church money in order to take care of themselves. >> but the avignon papacy worked. it's much more central to europe than the italian peninsula. it was efficient. it had a decent bureaucracy. there's actually a good case for the avignon papacy. big problem, though. it doesn't have the tomb of peter. what's the point of a pope who doesn't sit at the tomb of peter? >> despite being miles from the spiritual foundation of the papacy, pope clement v remains in france and continues to lead the church under king philip until they both die in 1314. his successor continues his papacy in avignon as does the pope after him. >> the papacy was more or less captured by the king of france.
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for a long period of time it was completely the instrument of the french crown. and almost every cardinal who was appointed to the college of cardinals during this time was french. >> by 1347 it appears that the papacy has become an arm of the french crown for good. it's time for the 'sleep number spring clearance event'
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has left rome and been operating in avignon, france for almost 60 years. at this point the cardinals are almost all french, and have become accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle afforded to them as a thank you for the church's loyalty to the french crown. but outside the walls of the lush papal castle, the rest of europe is a wasteland, setting the stage for what will be the last papal resignation for 600 years. >> the black death. this contagious, dreadful disease devastated europe.
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>> pretty much the entire population was wiped out. >> in the wake of the plague, the papacy is forced to reevaluate its role in europe and face dire conditions in the city it abandoned. >> with the absence of the papacy from rome, the upkeep of the city began to fail. a great deal of the upkeep came out of the pope's coffers, now this was all going to france. law and order became very, very shaky. you have a rise in pickpockets and muggings because there's no king in rome. there's no emperor in rome. and now there's no pope in rome. >> the romans learned, somewhat reluctantly, that the city depended on the presence of the papacy to flourish, to become anything more than just a bit of a wreck. >> fed up with the sheltered
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confines of avignon, pope urban v decides the papacy has lost sight of its spiritual purpose and must return to the bones of st. peter in rome. >> urban v, a reform minded pope is appalled by the luxury, he was appalled by the self-indulgence in avignon. he announced to the cardinals they could only have one course at dinner rather than their usual ten-course banquet. it had become increasingly clear that the ability to act as a spiritual leader would be seriously compromised. he was convicted that the papacy needed to return to its home in rome. but it was not an easy transition. >> the cardinals, who had become used to their indulgent lifestyle in avignon did not
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appreciate the run down conditions in the city. but they remained firm in the spiritual conviction that the papacy belongs at the tomb of st. peter. >> there's a lot of resent of them having to come down in the world, which shows what a cushioned, isolated existence they were living in avignon. that you have a europe that's been devastated by the plague. that the entire social structure of europe has changed. the primary concern of cardinals is they were not getting enough courses for dinner. so you have a sense that during the avignon, the papacy has gotten so out of touch with what the church is supposed to be doing. >> when pope gregory xi dies in 1378 many of the cardinals prepare to move back to avignon. but the frustrated romans call for a sign that the papacy has
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freed itself from the french crown and will return to the principles of the church they once knew. >> the roman population who were always very volatile, and who regularly intervened in papal elections, after a long string of french popes, were determined to have an italian pope. >> the conclave of 1378 is met with angry mobs of romans chanting outside the vatican, demanding a renewed papal investment in their beloved city. and though the cardinals missed. their extravagant french lifestyle, they worry what might happen if the romans' demands are not met. >> so an italian pope, roman vi was elected. >> but he seems to have been unhinged by becoming a pope. instantly reveals himself to be a megalomaniac locking up people
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who didn't agree with him. so instead of being a unifying figure, he becomes a symbol of division. >> half of the cardinals stand behind the maniacal pope urban vi in rome while the other half panic and flee back to avignon where they elect another pope, clement vii. the once univeal church is now split. catholics are torn between two different popes running two functioning church bureaucracies from two different places. >> there was an election of a pope, and some people didn't like that election, so some people say, we're going to set up a church someplace else. and so this becomes a very big battle. >> so in solving one problem, getting the pope back to rome, you've created a much worse one. >> we went through a long period
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when there were always at least two different people claiming to be pope. >> this unprecedented break in the church is what catholics refer to as the western schism. >> you've got popes saying i am pope and some popes are classed as anti-popes because other people didn't recognize them. but who is the anti-pope, who is the real pope? >> for nearly 40 years the church is divided and catholics are forced to choose the true heir to st. peter's legacy. >> where is the place that we are centered? that needs to flow from the pope. what do you do if you have two popes? then it becomes a real problem for the church, and you've got to sort that out. >> this schism made a mockery of the whole idea of the pope and the vicar of christ being the successor of peter. >> if there is one st. peter, he
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can only have one legacy held by only one man. two popes become a clear sign that the spiritual source of papal power has been abandoned. >> having two popes is impossible. it's shattering for christendom. reformers say we've got to do something about this. >> with the future of the church hanging in the balance, in 1415, cardinals on both sides look for a solution. >> they convene a general council at con stance, and the pope's involved are summoned and are either deposed or invited to resign. >> both the roman pope, gregory xii, and the avignon pope, benedict xii, are forced to resign.
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in 1415, pope gregory xvi will be the last pope to leave the office alive until 2013 when pope benedict xvi makes a shocking announcement. ft after i break a. and i never thought i could get quality life insurance with my spare change. neither did i. until i saw a commercial for the colonial penn program. imagine people our age getting life insurance at such an affordable rate. it's true. if you're 50 to 85, you can get guaranteed acceptance life insurance through the colonial penn program for less than 35 cents a day, just $9.95 a month. there's no medical exam and no health questions. you know, the average cost of a funeral is over $8,300. now that's a big burden to leave your loved ones. add to that credit card balances and final medical bills,
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last time a pope resigned happened just about 600 years ago. that would be pope gregory xii back in 1415.
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>> throughout the history of the catholic church, only four popes have ever resigned. and pope benedict xvi is the only one who has ever done it peacefully and of his own volition. but what does it mean to have two living popes? how can two men hold one legacy of st. peter? >> everyone was surprised. catholics were surprised, non-catholics were surprised. it was a strong contrast to john paul ii who insisted on remaining pope until hisng gasp. >> in 2005, after reigni for 27 years, pope john paul ii passed away after a long and public battle with parkinson's disease. >> in a way, the act of
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resignation was a devastating comment on the last five or six years of his predecessor. a flight in the face of the whole theology of the papacy as it devolved in modern time. the notion that john paul had propagated that the papacy was a cross which was laid on your shoulders and you could not shake it off, benedict said, well, it's a job, and if you can't do it, you should let somebody else try. >> by resigning in the face of old age, pope benedict xvi has made a clear statement about the divinity of the papal office. >> i think that was a reminder to everybody in any position of authority or power that it's not just about me. it's actually about am i being effective? am i really serving the community and serving the church properly? >> what benedict did in resigning was to make it easier
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for successive popes to be able to say, i'm 80 years old. i'm not going to stay till i fall down dead in this office. that's thinking more like a ceo than anything else. >> alighting from the helicopter, francis thanks the pilots. then seeing his his predecessor goes toward him to embrace him. this is a historic moment. >> there's not any kind of precedent. benedict's resignation really did do it voluntary and of his own vow. >> today pope benedict xvi lives in a quiet apartment in the vatican. he has passed the holy office peacefully down to pope francis, leaving the power struggles of the past behind. >> the biggest gift that ever happened to the papacy is pope benedict xvi resigning because he allowed the papacy not to become a trap.
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>> in terms of looking to the future, as any pope begins to get older or begins to have any difficulties, the question of resignation will be on the horizon. >> frances has also talked about resigning, and you don't know how serious he is. he's a mischievous man, and he's got an agenda, and he's an old man, and i think he'll want to see that agenda out first. but he maybe. he watched the lesson of pope john paul ii collapse into hopelessness. >> it would be interesting if popes said, i've done my bit. someone else can have a go. >> in announcing his voluntary retirement, pope benedict has shaken the foundation of the papacy. if pope francis retires as well, a 2,000-year-old institution
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could be fundamentally changed forever. palestinians begin a second day of protests. this was the scene friday when 17 palestinians were reportedly killed and wounded along the border with israel. >> also this hour, packing up. the u.s. consulate in st. petersburg closes in russia. music and politics. south korea singers head to the north to perform musical diplomacy. welcome to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world, i'm nie

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