The church created a crisis in the 12th century by electing two popes. A commission selected Innocent II, but others protested the process and elected Anacletus II. Anacletus power base proved stronger and Innocent II fled Rome. Originally, Innocent was declared an anti-pope, but the Second Lateran Council overruled this initial determination. Anacletus II died in 1138 ending the temporary schism.
Pope Honorius II died in 1130 A.D. The Cardinals decided to set up an eight man committee to pick a replacement. They chose Cardinal Gregory Papareschi, who chose the name Innocent II. Honorius died on February 13 and Innocent was sworn in the following day. However, some in the College of Cardinals protested the eight man committee and argued that Innocent had not been properly elected.
The remaining cardinals decided to hold their own election. They announced Cardinal Pietro Pierleoni had won election. Pierleoni became Pope Anacletus II. The second pope’s forces quickly gained control of Rome. They declared his rival an anti-pope and Innocent II fled Rome.
Innocent appealed to Peter the Venerable and St. Bernard. These reformers helped Innocent II gain recognition from various European monarchs. Anacletus became isolated in Rome. By 1138, Anacletus had few supporters outside Rome. However, he refused to step aside and the schism continued until his death.
Anacletus died in 1138. The following year, the Second Lateran Council declared Innocent II the legitimate pontiff and Anacletus became the anti-pope. The council also excommunicated Innocent’s strongest opponent, King Roger II of Sicily. Excommunication was the worst possible punishment for a medieval Christian. It was worse than death because it meant the soul could not ascend to heaven.
Innocent II remained pope until his death in 1143. He left no permanent mark on the papacy. Innocent unsuccessfully attempted to fix the damage caused by the schism, but the wounds were too deep. The pope even had to acknowledge Roger II’s monarchy in Sicily.
The College of Cardinals split over the election of a new pope in 1130. A select committee chose Innocent II while the bulk of the conclave elected Anacletus II. Innocent fled Rome, but proved a better politician and diplomat. He gained support throughout Europe and undermined Anacletus. In the end, the pope became anti-pope and the anti-pope became pope upon Anacletus’ death.