God's providence still further overruled events to give opportunity for the growth of the Reformation.
The death of Gregory was followed by the election of two rival popes. Two conflicting powers, each professedly infallible (See note 2 in 33.02. "Lord God the Pope" and note 2 in 35.08. John Wycliffe - VIII), now claimed obedience. Each called upon the faithful to assist him in making war upon the other, enforcing his demands by terrible anathemas against his adversaries, and promises of rewards in heaven to his supporters.
This occurrence greatly weakened the power of the papacy. The rival factions had all they could do to attack each other, and Wycliffe for a time had rest. Anathemas and recriminations were flying from pope to pope, and torrents of blood were poured out to support their conflicting claims. Crimes and scandals flooded the church.
Meanwhile the Reformer, in the quiet retirement of his parish of Lutterworth, was laboring diligently to point men from the contending popes to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
The schism, with all the strife and corruption which it caused, prepared the way for the Reformation by enabling the people to see what the papacy really was.
In a tract which he published, On the Schism of the Popes, Wycliffe called upon the people to consider whether these two priests were not speaking the truth in condemning each other as the anti-christ. "God," said he, "would no longer suffer the fiend to reign in only one such priest, but . . . made division among two, so that men, in Christ's name, may the more easily overcome them both."--R. Vaughan, Life and Opinions of John de Wycliffe, vol. 2, p. 6.