Top Worst Sins and Crimes of Popes in History
John Paul II was pope for 27 years surpassing all these worst popes combined in years, powers and wealth of the Vatican Bank and all the modern means of travel and media manipulation controls but John Paul II sat at the Chair of Peter overseeing with his Holy See the 20th Century's most heinous crimes against hundreds of thousands of children victims of the Priestly Sodomy of Biblical Proportions committed by thousands of the John Paul II Pedophiles Rapists -Priests Army - the most original papal sins and mainly against children- of all top papal sins in the 2,000 years history of Christianity.
Here are the top worst sins and crimes of popes in history. Let us start with the 21st Century with Benedict XVI and the 20th Century with John Paul II.
Benedict XVI's Crimes Against Humanity have been filed at the Hague, the International Court of Law, the first ever that a sitting pope is sued at the highest court of the world where despots have been sued and convicted read it here http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2011/02/criminal-charges-against-dr-joseph.html. The Hague of course is the last recourse of mankind for all the sufferings that Benedict XVI has caused upon children and thousands others because the Vatican is the most powerful institution on earth. Benedict XVI committed the worst crimes against children during his 24 years tenure as the Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when he was the greatest enabler of pedophiles rapists-priests next to John Paul II see video below. There is also an American litigation against him by an American deaf man who was among the 200 deaf boys sexually abused by a priest whom Cardinal Ratzinger personally covered-up read about it here http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2010/07/new-york-times-church-office-failed-to.html
Today the Vatican Bank, of which Benedict XVI is the CEO, is being investigated for money laundering http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2010/09/vatican-bank-under-investigation-for.html and it is the department where all moneys of religious orders of nuns and priests are deposited -- so we ask our readers and all WYD World Youth Day young men and women not to buy expensive statues of John Paul II and other John Paul II medals and souvenirs but to donate instead to the Red Cross and secular charities where laypeople are involved in the fields and are unlike the Pope and his men who live in the fortress and ivory tower of the Vatican Palace see the statues and their prices here http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2011/04/narcissism-and-grandiosity-of-john-paul.html
Benedict XVI is abusing his papal powers by hastily beatifying John Paul II only six years after JP2's death and this is his worst pathological lie as a pope of the 21st century.
Benedict XVI also misleads people as he imitates Eve and blame the Devil for the existence of thousands of pedophiles rapists-priests of the 20th century read Analysis of Pope’s homily in Year for Priests -sorcerers of Christ’s flesh and blood http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2010/06/eve-and-benedict-xvi-blame-devil.html
Look closely at these natural evil eyes of Benedict XVI.
Benedict XVI has a very effeminate (old woman) voice that's because he is GAY.
John Paul II was very ugly in his last 7 years as pope. God allowed him to become so ugly, and he could barely speak or write, as ugly as Lucifer he could be. At the end he took his own life by committing euthanasia so he could die at the Vatican as John Paul II the Great read Why John Paul II is Opus Dei's Patron Saint: analysis of conference at Holy Cross Pontifical University in Rome http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-john-paul-ii-is-opus-deis-patron.html
The Nazis of Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church of Benedict XVI they both burn human beings in Auschwitz and in Hell http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2011/02/nazis-of-hitler-and-roman-catholic.html
Follow Benedict XVI's story here in our weblog Benedict XVI Ratzinger: God`s Rottweiler http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/
Real Cross of Pedophilia
500,000 children abused by Catholic church
Pope falls asleep because of pedophiles
Caricatures of John Paul II and Ratzinger by Court Jones,
John Paul II
John Paul II had the longest papacy of 27 years in history and not once did he speak up against pedophile priests hence the 6,000 pedophile priests in the USA and thousands of pedophiles rapists-priests in Europe and around the world are named aptly after him as the John Paul II Pedophiles Rapists-Priests Army read the statistics here http://jp2army.blogspot.com/
The John Paul II Pedophiles Rapists-Priests Army were (like the Nazis) born out of the Devil’s bowels an inherently evil all-male hierarchy who thrived under secrecy and cover-up of the 27 years pedophiliac papacy of John Paul II the Great who said and DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO STOP this Priestly Sodomy of Biblical Proportions under his Holy See watch and infallible papal powers. IN LIFE, JOHN PAUL II DID NOTHING TO SAVE CHILDREN, LIKEWISE IN DEATH, HE CANNOT SAVE CHILDREN. Heil Satanas John Paul II.
Read The narcissism and grandiosity of John Paul II, Cardinal Bernard Law, Benedict XVI, and Bishop Roger Vangheluwe are nauseating and despicable http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2011/04/narcissism-and-grandiosity-of-john-paul.html
Read Mary versus John Paul II and the pathological lie of the Totus Tuus Marie of John Paul II http://stella0maris.blogspot.com/
Read the Prayer to John Paul II: the saint of pedophiles and pederasts, rapists and abusers of children http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2011/04/prayer-to-john-paul-ii-saint-of.html
Holy Heist! John Paul II WYD had no role with Arab youths who liberated Egypt from Mubarak who stole then deposited billions into Vatican Swiss Banks http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2011/02/holy-heist-john-paul-ii-wyd-had-no-role.html
Why John Paul II is Opus Dei's Patron Saint: analysis of conference at Holy Cross Pontifical University in Rome http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-john-paul-ii-is-opus-deis-patron.html
John Paul II was the most corrupt pope in history because he traveled around the world courting billions of dollars for the Vatican Swiss Banks as in this video with the dictator and murderer Pinochet of Chile - John Paul II was therefore cohort with dictators and mass murderers like Pinochet - read Top Worst Sins and Crimes of Popes in History http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2011/04/top-worst-sins-and-crimes-of-popes-in.html.
Sins and crimes are not synonymous. Sinners and criminals are not one and the same http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2010/05/sins-and-crimes-are-not-synonymous.html
Benedict XVI has no power to say « Let there be God » in the Eucharist just like he has no power to say « Let there be light » in Genesis http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2009/12/benedict-xvi-has-no-power-to-say-let.html
Benedict XVI and Georg his GAY Private Secretary are GAYS.!.http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2009/07/benedict-xvi-and-georg-his-gay-private.html
Benedict XVI and Georg his GAY Private Secretary are GAYS.!. http://pope-ratz.blogspot.com/2007/06/benedict-xvis-handsome-private.html
Danish cartoonist (of Mohammed) drew this image of http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifJohn Paul II with inscription "I am against homosexuality but for pedophilia". http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2007/10/john-paul-ii-portrait-by-danish-artist.html Read the vision of Paris Arrow on how Saint Michael the Archangel tied the giant millstone on John Paul II's neck at his last WYD in 2002 -- in the John Paul II Millstone post August 1, 2006. John Paul II's neck broke and Saint Michael threw him into a raging sea of fire... The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for (enough) good men -http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif and good women - to do (and say) nothing. Youths of today, do not be deceived by the pathological lies of the Pope and the Vatican. The Vatican own the Swiss Banks where all moneys from corrupt regimes are hidden and poor peoples and poor countries are therefore perpetually oppressed....http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
John Paul II is the Sun as the Infallible Most Powerful Pope of the Catholics with seven rays of the 7 Sacraments, he is in his white papal uniform and his two papal hands pulls up the children`s robes because he enabled and allowed thousands of pedophiles rapists-priests to go on freely sodomizing and raping little boys (and girls) during his longest reigning papacy of 26 years, together with Cardinal Josef Ratzinger his right-hand man as Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2007/10/john-paul-ii-portrait-by-danish-artist.html.
So here we show in pictures how John Paul II contrast with Mary who like Rachel weeps for her thousands of little boys (and girls) who were sodomized by the «John Paul II Pedophiles Rapists-Priests Army see our sister weblog http://jp2army.blogspot.com/
This is the image of the woman as the sun Our Lady of Guadalupe defending and protecting children and holding a child up high away from the snares and snatches of the Serpent while John Paul II gave countless thousands of little boys to the Serpent of Sodomy to be sodomized and raped by his John Paul II Pedophiles Rapists-Priests Army for over 26 years during his glorious papacy as John Paul II the Great
Mexico mounts a worldwide campaign against the beatification of John Paul II, they should for they are the people of Ouhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifr Lady of Guadalupe http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2011/01/mexico-mounts-worldwide-campaign.html
Canon Law and John Paul II, the Vatican & Benedict XVI never saved children nor excommunicated pedophile priests during last quarter of 20th Century http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2010/07/canon-law-andhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif-john-paul-ii-vatican.html
From Fatima, Jacinta would throw the first stone at John Paul II Pedophile Priests Army to defend her little brothers and sisters http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2010/04/from-fatima-jacinta-would-throw-first.html
John Paul II Pedophile Priests Army expands into Ireland &John Paul is elevated as "Venerable"... only in the Catholic Church are criminals glorified http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2009/12/john-paul-ii-pedophile-priests-army.html
John Paul II did not have the charity of Mother Teresa http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2009/11/john-paul-ii-did-not-have-charity-of.html
Vision of Paris Arrow : St. Michael the Archangel tied a giant millstone to John Paul II's neck at World Youth Day in 2002 http://jp2m.blogspot.com/2006_08_01_archive.html
Victims - Attackers - Responsible Leaders
Pearl Harbor - 3,000 victims - 170 planes - Admiral Yamamoto
WTC & 9/11 attacks - 5,000 victims - 19 Muslims - Osama bin Laden
USA Priest Pedophilia - 12,000 victims - 6,000 rapists-priests - John Paul II, Benedict XVI & Opus Dei --- The Vatican Trinity: Opus Dei controlled the 27 years papacy of John Paul II and therefore Opus Dei was most responsible for the cover-up and aiding and abetting the John Paul II Pedophiles Rapists-Priests Army
Top 10 Worst Popes in History
1. Pope Stephen VI: had his predecessor exhumed, tried, de-fingered, and thrown to the river
Stephen VI was Pope from 896 to 897. Fueled by his anger with Pope Formosus, his predecessor, he exhumed Formosus's rotting corpse and put "him" on trial, in the so-called "Cadaver Synod" in January, 897.
With the corpse propped up on a throne, a deacon was appointed to answer for the deceased pontiff, who was condemned for performing the functions of a bishop when he had been deposed and for receiving the pontificate while he was the bishop of Porto, among other revived charges that had been leveled against Formosus in the strife during the pontificate of John VIII.
The corpse was found guilty, stripped of its sacred vestments, deprived of three fingers of its right hand (the blessing fingers), clad in the garb of a layman, and quickly buried; it was then re-exhumed and thrown in the Tiber. All ordinations performed by Formosus were annulled.
Pope Stephen VI
The trial excited a tumult. Though the instigators of the deed may actually have been Formosus' enemies of the House of Spoleto (notably Guy IV of Spoleto), who had recovered their authority in Rome at the beginning of 897 by renouncing their broader claims in central Italy, the scandal ended in Stephen's imprisonment and his death by strangling that summer. Talk about bad Popes.
2. Pope Benedict IX: the Pope who sold the papacy
Pope Benedict IX
Benedict IX was Pope from 1032 to 1044, again in 1045, and finally from 1047 to 1048, the only man to have served as Pope for three discontinuous periods, and one of the most controversial Popes of all time. Benedict gave up his papacy for the first time in exchange for a large sum of money in 1044. He returned in 1045 to depose his replacement and reigned for one month, after which he left again, possibly to marry, and sold the papacy for a second time, to his Godfather (possibly for over 650 kg /1450 lb of gold). Two years later, Benedict retook Rome and reigned for an additional one year, until 1048. Poppo of Brixen (later to become Pope Damascus II) eventually forced him out of Rome. Benedict’s place and date of death are unknown, but some speculate that he made further attempts to regain the Papal Throne. St. Peter Damian described him as “feasting on immorality” and “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest” in the Liber Gomorrhianus, a treatise on papal corruption and sex that accused Benedict IX of routine homosexuality and bestiality.
3. Pope Sergius III: ordered the murder of another pope and started the "pornocracy"
Sergius III was Pope from 897 to 911, and has been the only pope known to have ordered the murder of another pope and the only known to have fathered an illegitimate son who later became pope; his pontificate has been described as "dismal and disgraceful." The pontificate of Sergius III was remarkable for the rise of what papal historians call a "pornocracy," or rule of the harlots, a reversal of the natural order as they saw it, according to Liber pontificalis and a later chronicler who was also biased against Sergius III. This "pornocracy" was an age with women in power: Theodora, whom Liutprand characterized as a "shameless whore... [who] exercised power on the Roman citizenry like a man" and her daughter Marozia, the mother of Pope John XI (931–935) and reputed to be the mistress of Sergius III
4. Pope John XII: raped female pilgrims and invoked pagan gods
John XII was Pope from 955 to 964. On 963, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I summoned a council, levelling charges that John had ordained a deacon in a stable, consecrated a 10-year-old boy as bishop of Todi, converted the Lateran Palace into a brothel, raped female pilgrims in St. Peter's, stolen church offerings, drank toasts to the devil, and invoked the aid of Jove, Venus, and other pagan gods when playing dice. He was deposed, but returned as pope when Otto left Rome, maiming and mutilating all who had opposed him. On 964, he was apparently beaten by the husband of a woman with which he was having an affair, dying three days later without receiving confession or the sacraments.
5. Pope Leo X: sold indulgences, killed cardinals
Leo X was Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He is known primarily for the sale of indulgences to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 theses.
According to Alexandre Dumas, "under his pontificate, Christianity assumed a pagan character, which, passing from art into manners, gives to this epoch a strange complexion. Crimes for the moment disappeared, to give place to vices; but to charming vices, vices in good taste, such as those indulged in by Alcibiades and sung by Catullus." When he became Pope, Leo X is reported to have said to his brother Giuliano: “Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.”
His extravagance offended not only people like Martin Luther, but also some cardinals, who, led by Alfonso Petrucci of Siena, plotted an assassination attempt. Eventually, Pope Leo found out who these people were, and had them followed. The conspirators died of “food poisoning.” Some people argue that Leo X and his followers simply concocted the assassination charges in a moneymaking scheme to collect fines from the various wealthy cardinals Leo X detested.
6. Pope Alexander VI: nepotism, orgies and the rise of the Borgia family
Pope Alexander VI
Alexander VI was Pope from 1492 to 1503. He is the most controversial of the secular popes of the Renaissance, and his surname (Italianized as Borgia) became a byword for the debased standards of the papacy of that era. Originally Cardinal Borgia from Spain, Pope Alexander's claims to fame were taking over much of Italy by force with the help of his son Cesare (yes, his son), a racy relationship with his daughter Lucrezia (some say her son was his), and his affinity for throwing large parties, bordering on orgies, that usually culminated with little naked boys jumping out of large cakes.
7, Pope Innocent IV: introduced torture on the Inquisition
Innocent IV was Pope from 1243 to 1254. Certainly the Inquisition represents the darkest of Roman Church history, and it was Innocent IV who approved the use of torture to extract confessions of heresy. He aggressively applied the principle that “the end justifies the means.” It is shocking to learn about the deranged instruments of torture that were used on so many innocent people. One of the most famous people to suffer at the hands of Roman inquisitors was Galileo. The church condemned Galileo for claiming that the earth revolved around the sun.
8. Pope Urban VI: complained he did not hear enough screaming when his Cardinals were tortured
Pope Urban VI
Urban VI was Pope from 1378 to 1389. He was the first Pope of the Western Schism (which ultimately lead to three people claiming the Papal throne at the same time). Once elected, he was prone to outbursts of rage. The cardinals who elected him decided that they had made the wrong decision and they elected a new Pope in his place, so he took the name of Clement VII and started a second Papal court in Avignon, France. Later he would launch a program of violence against those he thought to have been conspiring against him, imprisoning people at will and mistreating them brutally. Later historians have considered seriously that he might have been insane.
The second election threw the Church into turmoil. There had been antipopes, rival claimants to the papacy, before, but most of them had been appointed by various rival factions; in this case, the legitimate leaders of the Church themselves had created both popes. The conflict quickly escalated from a church problem to a diplomatic crisis that divided Europe. Secular leaders had to choose which pope they would recognize. The schism was repaired forty years later when all three of the (then) reigning Popes abdicated together and a successor elected in the person of Pope Martin V.
9. Pope John XV: split the church's finances among his relatives
Pope John XV
John XV was Pope from 985 to 996. The Pope's venality and nepotism had made him very unpopular with the citizens, as he split the church's finances among his relatives and was described as "covetous of filthy lucre and corrupt in all his acts."
10. Pope Clement VII: his power-politicking with France, Spain, and Germany got Rome sacked
Clement VII was Pope from 1523 to 1534. A member of the powerful Medici family, Clement VII possessed great political and diplomatic skills - but he lacked the understanding of the age necessary to cope with the political and religious changes he faced. His relationship with Emperor Charles V was so bad that, in May 1527, Charles invaded Italy and sacked Rome.
Imprisoned, Clement was forced into a humiliating compromise which forced him to give up a great deal of secular and religious power. Eventually, Clement became ill and never recovered. He died on September 25, 1534, hated by the people of Rome, who never forgave him for the destruction of 1527.
10 Worst Popes in History
In the two thousand years since Christ walked the earth and founded one of the most influential religions in the world, church history has been documented by an incredibly diverse collection of stories that speak to mankind of blessings, curses, and everything in between. Millions have found hope because of Christianity – but millions have also been slaughtered in the name of God.
Starting with St. Peter, the world has seen a total of 265 official popes. While many of the holy fathers have indeed shown themselves to be saintly men worthy of trust and respect, there are a few whose names must go down in the archives of infamy, because they chose to hold the things of the world above the things of God. Others, while not as blatantly wicked, simply made bad choices that adversely affected the people they were supposed to be saving.
The life stories of these popes now serve to illustrate the sinful side of human nature and remind us that even God’s own representative can lose his way. Here are ten of those stories, revealing some of the most power-hungry, sexually immoral, and ungodly men that have ever held the papacy – the worst popes.
10. Pope Boniface VIII (c. 1235 – 1303)
Born to a minor noble family in Anagni, Italy, Benedetto Caetani became a successful student of canon law and later a member of the Roman Curia, eventually winning the position of cardinal priest in 1291. He was elected Pope Boniface VIII on December 24, 1294 after the pious yet incompetent Pope Celestine V abdicated (possibly due to Boniface’s own insistence). One of his first decisions as pope was to sentence Celestine to prison in the Castle of Fumone, where the old man was mistreated and eventually died ten months later.
Boniface quickly became one of the church’s strongest advocates for papal supremacy in both spiritual and civil matters, involving himself in foreign affairs to no end. His desire for political domination, of course, did not sit well with many rulers of the day, such as Philip IV of France, whose policies of clerical taxation angered the pope and prompted a string of bulls culminating in the famous Unam Sanctam, which essentially claimed all civil and spiritual authority for the papacy.
Other famous clashes include Boniface’s feud with the powerful Colonna family, which led to several of their towns being demolished – Palestrina, for example, was razed to the ground and 6,000 citizens were killed. In addition, Boniface aroused the anger of Dante Alighieri, whose portrayal of the pope in his Inferno is anything but kindly, since he places Boniface in the eighth circle of his imaginary hell.
Boniface never quite attained to the absolute power he craved. Not surprisingly, his insatiable ambition led directly to a brutal beating at the hands of those who refused to submit to him, and within a month of this incident he was dead.
9. Pope Leo X (1475 – 1521)
Often associated with Martin Luther and the upheavals of the Protestant Reformation, Pope Leo X is also well-known for being one of the most lavish, uncontrollable spenders who ever headed the Christian church. A famous phrase attributed to Leo aptly illustrates his greatest priority: “Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.” According to Alexandre Dumas, “Christianity assumed a pagan character” as Leo doggedly pursued worldly pleasures.
Born Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici, Leo came from a powerful family and enjoyed early favors that helped him acquire the papal throne by the time he was 37. A patron of the arts, education, and charity, Leo certainly deserves to be recognized for elevating the church’s status, but his preference for money and political advancement rapidly exhausted the treasury. So financially unstable did his position become that he was eventually forced to pawn off furniture, jewels, and statues from the palace, as well as borrow huge sums of money from creditors (who were ultimately ruined when he died).
In addition to living a life of splendor, Leo practiced nepotism, famously used the sale of indulgences to finance the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica, and was even accused of homosexuality. In fact, some sources hold that he died in bed while getting it on with a youth. That accusation may or may not be true, of course, but one thing is for sure: Leo certainly let his love of luxury get the best of him.
8. Pope Clement VI (1291 – 1352)
Pierre Roger, a Frenchman, was the fourth of the Avignon popes, and took the name Clement VI for his pontificate. He was not a particularly evil man; in fact, his efforts during the Black Plague did much to provide refuge for the Jews, who automatically became the scapegoats for the deadly breakout. Described as a fine gentleman, a prince, and a patron of the arts and learning, Clement lacked one important characteristic that is rightly expected of popes – saintliness.
By his own words, Clement was “a sinner among sinners.” His love for expensive living quickly drained the savings of his frugal predecessor (Benedict XII), and Clement resorted to raising taxes and selling off bishoprics to finance his worldly pursuits.
Throw in a little nepotism to boot, and you’ve got yourself a pope who may very well have been a man of decent character, but who also used his powerful position for his own sexual adventures, cheerful pleasures, and overall celebration of the world’s many vices.
7. Pope Urban II (ca. 1035 – 1099)
It’s undeniable that Otho de Lagery, who became Pope Urban II in 1088, was a talented diplomat and successful leader, responsible for establishing the modern Roman Curia and supporting reforms of the clergy. What he is most often remembered for, however, is his unfortunate role in launching a bloody holy war against Muslims that has since come to be known as The First Crusade.
In 1095, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I requested Urban’s aid in fighting off the Turks, who had conquered most of Anatolia. Urban responded favorably by using his remarkable rhetorical skills to preach “Just War” – a holy, God-ordained crusade to liberate the eastern churches and the Holy Land from Muslim rule. By appealing to Catholic anger over the rumored (and often unfairly trumped-up) atrocities committed by the invading Turks, and by guaranteeing remission of sins to those who would participate in the fight, Urban was able to organize a large-scale uprising of piously outraged soldiers of Christ.
The religiously-sanctioned First Crusade, while successful in defeating Muslim forces in Anatolia and the Holy Land, was very costly in terms of casualties. Not only was there a huge loss of lives on both sides, but the horrible offenses committed by enraged Christians against Jews, Muslims, and even members of the “schismatic” Eastern church will always be a bloody stain on the pages of church history.
6. Pope Julius III (1487 – 1555)
Born to a famous Roman jurist, Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte was elected pope in 1550 as a compromise candidate, and chose the title Julius III. While his early career in the church shows that he was very capable and successful, his papacy is known for being extremely ineffective and undistinguished. For the most part, Julius withdrew to his palace and spent the majority of his time seeing to his own personal pleasures and keeping out of political affairs.
However, it was his relationship with a boy named Innocenzo that tarnished his name more than anything. Julius discovered Innocenzo as a young beggar in Parma before ascending to the pontificate, and he adopted him as his own nephew. When Julius became pope, he elevated Innocenzo to the status of cardinal-nephew and bestowed many gifts and benefices upon him. In fact, the relationship between Julius and Innocenzo showed signs of being much more intimate than normal family ties, and many reports indicate that Julius actually had an extended sexual affair with the young man.
5. Pope Stephen VI (? – 897)
Le Pape Formose et Étienne VII ("Pope Formosus and Stephen VII"), 1870. Note the latter is now called Pope Stephen VI.
Little is known about Pope Stephen VI’s personal life and background, although he was a Roman and the son of a priest named John. The reason his name stands out in church history is because of his involvement in what is perhaps the most bizarre ecclesiastical trial of all time – the Cadaver Synod of January 897.
As the name reveals, this grotesque synod was convened to put a corpse on trial. Stephen ordered it for the sole purpose of passing judgment on the freshly-exhumed body of Formosus, who had held the papacy from 891-96. Due to activities in Bulgaria which compromised his duties as bishop of Porto, Formosus had been excommunicated by then-pope John VIII (872-882), but after John VIII’s death he had reassumed his bishopric in Porto and was elected pope in 891.
Political interests regarding rightful claims to the throne of the Holy Roman Emperor resulted in animosities that created a trickle-down effect and impacted later popes. Stephen VI and the Cadaver Synod are the most famous instance of reactions to Pope Formosus.
While it is not perfectly clear who exactly instigated the trial, the fact of the matter is that Stephen ordered Formosus’s body to be disinterred and seated on a throne in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. A deacon stood next to it to act as its spokesman while Stephen lambasted it with accusations.
The corpse was condemned for transmigrating sees, committing perjury, and acting as bishop after being deposed. As punishment, his body was stripped of its vestments, the three fingers of the right hand used for benedictions were cut off, and all his former ordinations were declared null. The body was then buried, exhumed again, and finally thrown into the Tiber River.
4. Pope Sergius III (? – 911)
The son of a Roman noble and a member of the ultimately unsuccessful faction which opposed the policies of Pope Formosus, Sergius III must chiefly be understood through the biased writings of his enemies, since almost all sympathetic accounts have been destroyed.
Nevertheless, what we do have on Sergius suggests that he didn’t quite measure up to Christian standards for piety. He was accused of ordering the murders of his predecessor Pope Leo V and Antipope Christopher in prison. It is said that his mistress was the young Marozia (later to become a powerful Roman noblewoman), and it was their son who became Pope John XI in 931.
It gets weirder, though. Pope Stephen VI’s infamous Cadaver Synod had been declared void by succeeding popes, but when Sergius came to power, he voiced his displeasure with Formosus by annulling all of his recently reinstated ordinations. There is even a report that Sergius had the corpse of Formosus exhumed, tried, beheaded, and thrown into the Tiber – all over again!
3. Pope Benedict IX (c. 1012 – 1065/85)
Benedict IX, born Theophylactus of Tusculum, is known mainly for two things: 1) he held office on three separate occasions, and 2) he is the only pope who ever sold the papacy (to his own godfather, of all people).
Benedict became pontiff at a very young age, thanks to the political prowess of his father, who had managed to get the papacy reserved ahead of time for his son. With little actual training or preparation that qualified him to act as pontiff, Benedict led a highly immoral life, and was accused of various rapes, adulteries, and murders. According to St. Peter Damian, Benedict was “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest,” and his carousing eventually caused him to be forcefully expelled from Rome.
Benedict managed to regain his throne, but then – surprise, surprise! – he was sidetracked by a prospective marriage (to his cousin) and sold the papal chair for a significant amount of money to his godfather, a priest who named himself Pope Gregory VI. His later repentance and attempt to resume his position created quite a controversy, forcing the German King Henry III to intervene. Benedict was subsequently excommunicated from the church.
“His life as a pope,” wrote Pope Victor III, “was so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.”
2. Pope John XII (c. 937 – 964)
Born in Rome, the young Octavianus practically had the papacy handed to him on a silver platter. His father, a patrician of Rome, made the Roman nobles swear an oath that at the next vacancy in the papal seat, Octavianus would be elected. Sure enough, when he was only 18 the reigning pope passed away, and Octavianus was chosen as the successor, taking the name Pope John XII.
Almost everything known about John XII is found in the writings of his enemies, so it’s possible that the accounts we have are factually distorted. Nevertheless, the stories we do have are quite shocking – he was accused of committing many adulteries (even with his own niece), turning the Vatican into a whorehouse, blinding his confessor, castrating and then murdering a subdeacon, invoking demons and foreign gods… the list goes on and on.
Even if some of the reports were falsified, it still appears that John XII made for a pretty bad pope. When we read the account of John’s death that claims he was murdered by a jealous husband whose wife was the object of the pope’s special attention, it’s not too hard to believe it.
1. Pope Alexander VI (1431 – 1503)
The reward for “Baddest Pope Ever” arguably goes to Rodrigo Borgia, who enjoyed the benefits of having an uncle who just happened to be Pope Calixtus III. Thanks to his convenient social status, Borgia passed through the ranks of bishop, cardinal, and vice-chancellor, gaining enormous wealth along the way. In 1492, he was actually able to buy his way into the papacy, defeating two other opponents by means of bribery.
Alexander was so corrupt that his surname eventually became a byword representing the hellishly low papal standards of the time. He sired at least seven different illegitimate children by his mistresses, and didn’t hesitate to reward them with handsome endowments at the church’s expense. When low on finances, he either established new cardinals in return for payments, or he slammed wealthy people with completely fabricated charges, jailed or murdered them for said false charges, and then stole their money.
Not surprisingly, there is very little about Alexander VI that can be considered godly or even lawful. His goals were selfish and ambitious, and the orderly government he initially administered quickly deteriorated until the city of Rome was in a state of complete disrepair. The words spoken by Giovanni de Medici (the future Pope Leo X) after Borgia’s election are telling:
“Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this world has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all.”
Written by Brandt Ketterer