The M+G+R Foundation

The Papacy In Historical Perspective

The Seldom Told History

 



FOREWORD

The M+G+R Foundation commissioned this document from Lee Penn, a Christian journalist and the author of False Dawn miguel de Portugal vouches for this document, which brings into sharp focus one of the central messages that miguel must convey to all - believers and non-believers alike: Accept no man-made substitutes for the true Christ.


INTRODUCTION

Catholic apologists magnify the Pope and the Papacy, saying: “The Pope is the flesh-and-blood reminder” of the “Church and its teachings. He personifies Catholicism – and for some this is personally offensive.” [1] Leaving aside the bait-and-switch tactic (why would the Pope –  not Christ – personify Catholicism?), to exalt the person of the Pope ignores history. The Popes of the 20th Century were, for the most part, virtuous in their personal  lives.  Many who preceded them were quite otherwise.  

We would not bring these historical events to light except for the fact that, in keeping with the End of These Times and in preparation for the manifestation of the False Christ, the Papacy and the Popes are being exalted by the Vatican's Media Machinery to a level that we will not tolerate - equality with God.

The following are behaviors which are not even acceptable from an average human being, much less from some who have the audacity to claim equality with God and demand the blind sheep to finance it!


DETAILS


The Papacy From 896 to 1048 AD

  Even the Vatican’s apologists acknowledge that the Papacy passed through a dark age from 896 to 1048; they describe the Papacy of the 900s as a “pornocracy,” due to its domination by the Theophylacts, a corrupt family of Roman nobles.  The Papal misdeeds of this era include: [1]

Boniface VI (896): Died after about 15 days in office – the second shortest Papal term of office in history.  He was elected despite having been defrocked      twice (once from the sub-diaconate, and once from the priesthood, and without being canonically reinstated to orders) by Pope John VIII for immorality. [3]

Stephen VI (896-897): Exhumed the corpse of Pope Formosus (891-896), tried the body for offenses against canon law in the “Cadaver Synod,” and had the former Pope's body mutilated (the three fingers used for blessing were chopped off) and the remains tossed into the Tiber.  This outraged the population to the point of insurrection. Stephen was deposed and strangled – and then buried in St. Peter's.

Sergius III (904-911): Jailed and strangled his predecessor Leo V (903), as well as the antipope Christopher who had overthrown Leo.  Sergius reaffirmed the “Cadaver Synod” verdict against Pope Formosus, and bore an illegitimate son with the Theophylact noblewoman Marozia; the boy later became Pope John XI.

John X (914-928): In order to gain the release of the French King (Charles the Simple) from his imprisonment by Count Heribert of Aquitaine, John confirmed the election of the Count's five-year-old son as Archbishop of Rheims.

John XII (955-964):  Elected at age 18, deposed for “perfidy and treason” in 963, overthrew his successor after a few months, and “died at age twenty-eight – of a stroke suffered while in the bed of a married woman.” [4]  A traditionalist historian says, “The Lateran Palace was called a brothel in his day, thanks to his diverse taste in lovers – both in terms of gender and number.”[5]  John “did not hesitate to consecrate as bishop a ten-year-old boy as token of his affection, or to give sacred vessels to prostitutes.”[6]

John XIX (1024-1032): Won election through bribery.

Benedict IX (1032-1045): According to a traditionalist historian, “his personal life was so disgusting (filled as it was with mistresses and rumors of incest and sodomy) that one of the city's factions was able to rally support against him and drive Benedict out of Rome.”[7]  After he fought his way back to power, he soon  “accepted a bribe to abdicate in favor of his godfather, the arch priest John Gratian. [8]

Gregory VI (1045-1046): John Gratian was deposed for having bought election to the Papacy.

 


The Papacy From 1455 to 1555 AD


·       The Papacy of 1455-1555 likewise earned infamy for its immorality.[9]  As is obvious, various Papal decisions (those that apologists describe as “disciplinary acts”) led directly to Protestant revolts in Germany and England.  During this period, ancient paganism became respectable in the Vatican; Curial writing referred to “God the Father as ‘Jupiter Optimus Maximus,’ to the Virgin Mary as ‘Diana,’ to the Apostles as ‘legates,’ and to the bishops as ‘proconsuls.’”[10]


Callistus III (1455-1458):  Made two nephews cardinals, and made a third nephew the commander of the Papal army. One of these nephews, Rodrigo Borgia, was made cardinal-deacon at age 25, and became vice-chancellor of the Holy See at age 26.  This posting – and the immense wealth that the young cardinal was able to gain from it – paved the way for Rodrigo’s election as Pope Alexander VI in 1492.

Pius II (1458-1464): “known throughout Italy and beyond as a connoisseur, an historian, and the author of erotic plays and tales.”[11]  PiusII made two nephews cardinals; one of these – who got his red hat at age 21 – reigned for a month as Pius III (1503).

Paul II (1464-1471): According to a liberal historian, he was “among the worst of the Renaissance popes: a vain, intellectually shallow, ostentatious playboy.” [12]

Sixtus IV (1471-1484): Named six nephews to the College of Cardinals; one of these would later become Pope Julius II.  Sixtus’ coronation tiara cost 100,000 ducats – and this was just the beginning of his extravagances.  He “connived at the Pazzi conspiracy to murder Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici at High Mass at the Duomo in Florence.”[13]  Giuliano died, but Lorenzo survived, and Florence rose against the Pope's allies.  In response, “the pope placed Florence under interdict, and a two years’ war with the city began.”[14]

Innocent VIII (1484-1492): Won election by bribery, and created a plethora of unnecessary new posts in the Curia, auctioning them to the highest bidder to raise money.  In 1489, he struck a deal with the Turkish Sultan.  The Pope detained the Sultan Bayezit's fugitive (and rival) brother in Rome, and the Sultan gave the Pope an initial payment “almost equal to the total annual revenue of the papal state,”[15] plus an annual fee of 45,000 gold ducats, plus the relic of the Holy Lance, which supposedly pierced the side of Christ on the Cross.  Innocent VIII made Giovanni Medici a cardinal at age 13; the young man was later elected as Pope Leo X.

Alexander VI (1492-1503): The father of “at least nine illegitimate children,”[16] he won his election by “generous bribes and promises of lucrative appointments and benefices,” and soon made clear that “the consuming passions of his pontificate would be gold, women, and the interests of his family.  He named his son Cesare, at age eighteen, a cardinal, along with the brother of the current papal mistress.  He also arranged several marriages for his daughter Lucrezia and often left her in charge of the papacy, as virtual regent, when he was away from Rome.” [17]  The aforementioned papal mistress was Giulia Farnese, wife of Orsino Orsini; Romans referred to her sarcastically as “the bride of Christ.”[18]

Julius II (1503-1513): The nephew of Sixtus IV, and made cardinal by him at age 18.  While a cardinal, he sired three daughters.  With the aid of “substantial bribes and promises of ecclesiastical preferments,” he won unanimous election to the Papacy in a one-day conclave.[19]  Julius donned silver armor and led his armies across Italy to expand the Papal States. He gave Henry VIII, the King of England, a dispensation to marry his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon.  (The dispensation soon backfired.  When Henry sought an annulment from his marriage to Catherine, Pope Clement VII refused.  This led to the Anglican schism of 1534.)  Julius laid the cornerstone of the new Basilica of St. Peter in 1506 – but made the fateful decision to cover the construction costs by selling indulgences.  In the bull Cumtam divino, he also declared Papal elections invalid if gained through simony – an ironic ruling, given the circumstances of his own election.

Ironically ,the sainted Pope Pius X reversed this decree.  In the 1904 decree Vacante Sede Apostolica,  Pius condemned simony, but held that this would not invalidate a Papal election.  His successors did the same.  John Paul II ruled in 1996 that “If – God forbid – in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae. At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that – as was already established by my Predecessors – the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.”[20]


LeoX (1513-1521): Upon his election, he said, “God has given us the papacy; now let us enjoy it.”[21]  He continued the sale of indulgences to finance construction of St. Peter's.  It was the marketing of this “spiritual benefit” by the Dominican preacher John Tetzel that caused Luther to post the “95 Theses” on the cathedral door at Wittenberg in 1517, starting the Reformation.  King Henry VIII publicly opposed Luther and wrote In Defense of the Seven Sacraments; as a reward for this book, Leo gave the English King the title of “Defender of the Faith” – a title that the English royalty have continued using ever since, despite their schism from Rome.  One of Leo's cardinals was his nephew, Giulio de’ Medici, who was later elected as Clement VII (1523-1534).

Paul III (1534-1549): While serving as a cardinal, he had kept a mistress, by whom he had four children.  Upon his election, the first two cardinals he chose were his teenage grandsons. Paul “was an ardent believer in astrology, timing consistories, audiences, even the issue of bulls, according to the most auspicious arrangement of the stars.” [22]

Julius III (1550-1555): “created a scandal because of his infatuation with a fifteen-year-old boy whom he picked up in the streets of Parma,had his brother adopt, and then made a cardinal and head of the Secretariat of State.”[23]  Another biographer describes this youth, Fabiano (who took the name of Innocenzo del Monte), as a “depraved … custodian of monkeys,”[24] and a Roman satirist of the time described Fabiano as an “empty and feminine boy.”[25]  Fabiano fell from grace after Julius III died.  Pius IV jailed Fabiano for killing two people at a banquet, and exiled him after his release from prison; then, Pius V removed Fabiano’s red hat.

 

The Standards set forth by St. Paul for Bishops


Contrast the behavior of these Popes to the standards that St. Paul set forth for bishops:

 

“The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”(1 Tim. 3:1-7)

 

Some Popes have been evil, indeed.  Their good works notwithstanding (John XII, for example, supported the monastic reform that began at Cluny, and the Renaissance popes commissioned great works of religious art), these Popes demonstrate that no earthly religious leader “personifies Catholicism.”  The deeds of these Popes show that Gregory VII (1073-1085) was in error when he asserted, in the Dictatus Papae, that “the Roman pontiff, if he have been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter.”[26]
 

Another part of the Dictatus was “the claim that the Pope alone has the right to use the imperial insignia, or that princes shall kiss his foot;” these were derived from the Donation of Constantine,[27] a fraudulent document.


 

The Defenders of the Hierarchy Fail in Their Efforts


Defenders of the Hierarchy say that (a) even the worst of Popes never formally taught heresy, and (b) that the evil behavior of some Popes does not impair their authority and accuracy as teachers of the Faith.  This defense fails on both counts:

 

1.     Several Popes have indeed fallen into heresy,[28] at least for a time, and one Pope was anathematized by an Ecumenical Council.

Liberius (352-366): Initially opposed the Arian heresy (which denied the divinity of Christ), and was exiled in 355 by the Arian emperor Constantius II.  Under duress, Liberius approved a semi-Arian creed that had been produced by a church synod, and excommunicated the orthodox bishop Athanasius.  The Emperor allowed the Pope to return to Rome in 358.  Only after the Emperor died in 361 did Liberius return to orthodoxy, reinstating Athanasius and urging all bishops to adhere to the faith that had been stated at the Council of Nicaea.

Zosimus (417-418): Initially revoked the prior Pope's condemnation of Pelagius (who promoted the heresy that men can be saved by their own efforts, without the need for divine grace).  After protests from bishops in North Africa, including St. Augustine), the Pope reversed himself and restated Rome’s opposition to the heresy.

Vigilius (537-555): Vacillated between support for orthodox theology (as taught by Chalcedon– that Christ is fully God and fully man, thus having two natures) and the Monophysite heresy, which teaches that Christ has only one nature.  (As with Liberius, coercion by the Emperor explained some of Vigilius’ conduct.)

Vigilius ’greatest crime had been the way he obtained the Papacy: he had aligned himself with the dissolute Empress Theodora, posed as a Monophysite sympathizer to gain her support, and went to Rome with her money to buy election as Pope.  The clergy there had already elected Silverius as Pope; the Imperial authorities responded by sending Silverius into exile and declaring the Holy See to be vacant.  Vigilius won then Papal election, arrested Silverius as soon as the former Pope returned to Rome, and exiled him again – leading to Silverius’ early death by starvation.  As a historian of the Papacy reports, “To all intents and purposes, one Pope, and he the son of a pope, had been deposed and murdered by another.”[29]  These acts raise a question: shouldn't posing as a heretic, and doing so with such lethal effect, “count” against a Pope in the same way that intentionally issuing a heretical encyclical would?

Honorius I (625-638): Adhered to Monothelitism, which held that there is only one (divine) will in Christ.  After Honorius died, he was solemnly condemned as a heretic by the Third Council of Constantinople, (680-681 – the Sixth Ecumenical Council).[30]  Pope Leo II (682-683) affirmed the verdict, saying, “We anathematize …Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this ApostolicChurch with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted.”[31] The Seventh Ecumenical Council (787) restated this condemnation.[32]  Even though Honorius did not formally define his view as Church teaching,[33] this event clearly shows that Popes can be heretical.

 

2.     “Teaching” involves more that putting orthodox words into an encyclical with the appropriate canonical formulae.  Jesus taught by his acts as well as with his sermons.  Any wise parent, teacher, or manager knows that bad example can – and usually will – negate even the most inspired or well-intentioned  words (or teachings) given to those under their authority.  As the Apostle James said: “faith, by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  (James 2:17).  Thus, when Popes lived evil lives – and yet more, when they pursued evil policies using the power, resources, and authority associated with their office – they were teachers of evil.

 

Lord Acton, a Catholic historian in 19th Century England, makes this case for sober and realistic judgment of the behavior of Popes (and other powerful men):

 

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong.  If there is any presumption it is the other way against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases.  Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility.  Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.  There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”[34]




 NOTES                                                                                      

[1] Patrick Madrid, Pope Fiction,Basilica Press, 1999, p. 18.

[2] Sources used for this history include: Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco, 2000, pp. 143-174 (liberal perspective); Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, pp. 163-204 (traditionalist perspective); Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners, Yale University Press, 2001, pp. 104-114 (centrist, academic perspective); Claudio Rendina, The Popes: Histories and Secrets, Seven Locks Press, 2002, pp. 210-257 (liberal perspective).

[3] Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco,2000, p. 146.

[4] Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco,2000, pp. 157-158.

[5] Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, p. 179.

[6] Claudio Rendina, The Popes: Histories and Secrets, Seven Locks Press, 2002, p. 226.

[7] Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, p. 200.

[8] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale UniversityPress, 2001, p. 111.

[9] Sources used for this history include: Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco, 2000, pp. 260-284; Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, pp. 322-347; Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners, Yale University Press, 2001, pp. 184-218; Claudio Rendina, The Popes: Histories and Secrets, Seven Locks Press, 2002, pp. 413-461.

[10] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale University Press, 2001, p. 188.

[11] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale University Press, 2001, p. 184.

[12] Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco,2000, p. 263.

[13] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale University Press, 2001, p. 189.

[14] Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, p. 326.

[15] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale University Press, 2001, p. 196.

[16] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale University Press, 2001, p. 189.

[17] Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco,2000, pp. 267-268.

[18] Claudio Rendina, The Popes: Histories and Secrets, Seven Locks Press, 2002, p. 431.

[19] Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco,2000, p. 270.

[20] John Paul II, Universi Dominici Gregis, para. 78, 1996; http://catholiculture.com/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=5518, accessed 01/11/06.

[21] Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, p. 337.

[22] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale University Press, 2001, p. 209.

[23] Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco,2000, p. 283.

[24] Claudio Rendina, The Popes: Histories and Secrets, Seven Locks Press, 2002, p. 459.

[25] Claudio Rendina, The Popes: Histories and Secrets, Seven Locks Press, 2002, p. 460.

[26] Gregory VII, Dictatus Papae, 1075, translation at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/g7-dictpap.html, accessed 01/11/06.

[27] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale University Press, 2001, p. 121.

[28] Sources used for this history include: Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco, 2000, pp. 60-62, 66-68, 90-93, 101-103; Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, pp. 71-72,101-103, 113-115; Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners, Yale University Press, 2001, pp. 32-33, 54-57; Claudio Rendina, The Popes: Histories and Secrets, Seven Locks Press, 2002, pp. 47-51, 58-60, 89-93, 112-114.

[29] Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners,Yale University Press, 2001, p. 55.

[30] Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco,2000, p. 395.

[31] Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, p. 126.

[32] Decree of the Second Council of Nicaea, which stated: “Further we declare that there are two wills and principles of action, in accordance with what is proper to each of the natures in Christ, in the way that the sixth synod, that at Constantinople, proclaimed, when it also publicly rejected Sergius, Honorius, Cyrus, Pyrrhus, Macarius,those uninterested in true holiness, and their like minded followers.” (http://www.piar.hu/councils/ecum07.htm, accessed 01/23/06).

[33] Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ, Citadel Press, 2003, p. 115.

[34] John Acton, “Acton-Creighton Correspondence,” April 5, 1887, in Lord Acton, Essays on Freedom and Power, ed. Gertrude Himmelfarb, Meridian Books, 1957, pp. 335-336.

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