Watch Bill Maher last Friday night? He mentioned 2 popes reigning — now just imagine Trump and Biden…

As history buffs know, two popes once ruled simultaneously — each with dominion over a number of states and their own papal establishments. Pope Clement VII (also called the anti-Pope) ruled in Avignon, France — — you can still see the grand papal estate in that beautiful medieval city — while Pope Urban IV ruled at the current Vatican in Rome.

Known as the Papal schism, this was not a pretty time in Catholic history. The original cause of the split, according to Wikipedia (which not being a historian, I have relied on heavily), was the election of a pope (Urban VI) who seemed okay at the start but began to act “suspicious” and to show “violent outbursts of anger”. Regretting their decision, the cardinals decided to nullify their original choice and put another pope into the office. He became Clement VII and went to Avignon to rule.

“In the intense partisanship characteristic of the Middle Ages, the schism engendered a fanatical hatred…” (Wikipedia)

Does this sound familiar? Just imagine if today’s rivalry between Republicans and Democrats resulted in two presidents simultaneously ruling over different US states?

In this case, presumably, the red states would be ruled by President Trump (also known as the anti-President since he didn’t gain either the Electoral College or popular vote) while President-Elect Biden (who won both) — would be presiding over the blue states.

President Trump might be loath to leave the premises of the White House — except that he must face the hostility surrounding him in the District of Columbia, not to mention Virginia and Maryland which both voted against him. So he might choose a new residence — such as his Mar-a-Lago estate. But since Florida is still on the east coast that primarily went blue (with the obvious exceptions of South and North Carolina), he might choose a location more congenial to his rule.

I’d suggest Bransford, Missouri which is comfortably surrounded by red states. Trumps constituents could visit him there while taking in some local entertainment. According to the Bransford Chamber of Commerce, they might enjoy “inspiring live shows” and “spectacular water features” while attending Trump rallies.

If Trump does cede the White House to Biden during the two men’s simultaneous rule, then Biden could take charge of all the weighty foreign affairs and various domestic programs that Trump is probably yearning to discard. Why should Trump be bothered with FEMA or the CDC or USDA (he probably has yet to figure out what the initials stand for) or the UN, for that matter. Instead of enduring the tribulations of the population, he can enjoy golf (Bransford has several courses) and relish receiving tribute from his many ardent admirers. In fact, let’s face it, his office could soon grow to resemble a papal residence rather than a mere presidential suite.

In the 14th century, other nations aligned with one or the other papacy. Clement’s papacy in Avignon was supported by France, Naples, Cypress, Savoy and Scotland. Meanwhile Charles, ruling in Rome, gained the support of Denmark, England, Flanders, Sweden and the Republic of Venice.

Today, France and Germany have already pledged their support for President-Elect Biden. While the Soviet Block, with Putin at the helm, will certainly continue to endorse their friend, anti-President Trump. And so, no doubt, will dictator-run nations like Hungary, Brazil and Belarus. Other nations, such as Israel or China, may choose to remain neutral and pay homage to both national leaders — unsure about who’s responsible for what and how much they can gain from one or the other.

So now, I bet you’re wondering how long the schism lasted? And how was it resolved?

Both Clement VI or Pope Urban IV had successors: Urban VI, Boniface IX, Gregory XII and very briefly Innocent VII were elected by their minions in Rome while Benedict XIII followed Clement’s rule in Avignon.

I can easily imagine Anti-President Trump appointing his son Don Jr. as his successor. But wait a minute, didn’t we all watch “Succession” on HBO? Often there’s extreme controversy and rivalry in choosing an heir, even among blood relatives.

What about Ivanka? She’s Trump’s favorite. And she might well be selected to follow up his reign….uh oh, did I say reign? Of course I meant tenure of office.

I have to say, it could get ugly, though, if sister is pitted against brother — since as we know from the HBO series “Game of Thrones”, families do shed blood (even the blood of siblings) when power and prestige are at stake.

As for faithful courtiers, like Mike Pence — sad to say, they often get shoved aside.

President Biden will probably place the heavy mantle of office on his running mate Kamala Harris. She’s earned it and deserves it. And that will be an amazing day for the blue US States that have remained in Biden’s presidential sphere. It’s also likely that the anti-President’s followers will sneer and mock and deride Kamala — as they would any woman of color in a leadership role.

It was extremely difficult in the 14thcentury to end the papal schism and unify the Church under one pope. Force and diplomacy were attempted and both failed. The French tried to force Benedict XIII ( a successor of the Avignon popes) to resign without success. In fact, several popes resigned and another was ex-communicated and still no single papal line was produced until 1429. That meant 50 years of mayhem which affected the Christian population of the world at that time very negatively and caused a moral decline according to some historians.

I can only hope that what I’ve fantasized in terms of the current US presidential split doesn’t transpire. We can pray that in a few weeks our anti-President will relinquish power to our rightful President-Elect. But there are no guarantees — history is often repeated. Two popes…two presidents….##




A writer across genres — I’ve worked as a journalist, playwright, author and screenwriter.

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Rosemary Zibart

Rosemary Zibart

A writer across genres — I’ve worked as a journalist, playwright, author and screenwriter.

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