Chapter Twelve

    IN ADDITION TO the conclusive evidence that has been given, the very character and morals of many of the Popes would tend to identify them as successors of sun worship priests, rather than representatives of Christ or Peter. Some of the Popes were so depraved and base in their actions, even people who professed no religion at all were ashamed of them. Such sins as adultery, sodomy, simony, rape, murder, and drunkenness are among the sins that have been committed by Popes.  To link such sins with men who have claimed to be the "Holy Father", "The Vicar of Christ", and "Bishop of bishops", may sound shocking, but those acquainted with the history of the Papacy well know that not all Popes were holy men.

     Pope Sergius III (904-911) obtained the Papal office by murder.  The annals of the church of Rome tell about his life of open sin with Marozia who bore him several illegitimate children. He was described by Baronius as a "monster" and by Gregorovius as a "terrorizing criminal."  Says a historian: "For seven years this man ... occupied the chair of St.Peter, while his concubine and her like mother held court with a pomp and voluptousness that recalled the worse days of the ancient empire."

     This woman - Theodora - likened to Semiramis (because of her corrupt morals), along with Marozia, the Pope's concubine, "filled the papal chair with their paramours and bastard sons, and turned the Papal palace into a den of robbers."  The reign of Pope Sergius III began the period known as "the rule of the harlots" (904-963).
     Pope John X (914-928) originally had been sent to Ravanna as an archbishop, but Theodora had him returned to Rome and appointed to the Papal office. According to Bishop Liutprand of Cremona who wrote a history about fifty years after this time, "Theodora supported John's election in order to cover more easily her illicit relations with him."  His reign came to a sudden end when Marozia smothered him to death!  She wanted him out of the way so Leo VI (928-929) could become Pope.  His reign was a short one, however, for he was assassinated by Marozia when she learned he had "given his heart to a more degraded woman than herself"!

     Not long after this, the teenage son of Marozia - under the name of John XI - became Pope.  The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "Some, taking Liutprand and the 'Liber Pontificalis' as their authority, assert that he was the natural son of Sergius III (a former Pope). Through the intrigues of his mother, who ruled at that time in Rome, he was raised to the Chair of Peter."  But in quarreling with some of his mother's enemies, he was beaten and put into jail where he died from poisoning.

     In 955 the grandson of Marozia at eighteen years of age became Pope under the name of John XII. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes him as "a coarse, immoral man, whose life was such that the Lateran was spoken of as a brothel, and the moral corruption in Rome became the subject of general odium ... On 6 November a synod composed of fifty Italian bishops was convened in  St.Peter's; John was accused of sacrilege, simony, perjury, murder, adultery, and incest, and was summoned in writing to defend himself. Refusing to recognize the synod, John pronounced sentence of excommunication against all participators in the assembly, should they elect in his stead another Pope ... John XII took bloody vengeance on the leaders of the opposite party, Cardinal-Deacon John had his right hand struck off, Bishop Otgar of Speyer was scourged, a high palatine official lost nose and ears ... John died on 14 May, 964, eight days after he had been, according to rumor, stricken by paralysis in the act of adultery."

    The noted Catholic Bishop of Cremona, Luitprand, who lived at this time wrote: "No honest lady dared to show herself in public, for Pope John had no respect either for single girls, married women, or widows - they were sure to be defiled by him, even on the tombs of the holy apostles, Peter and Paul." The Catholic collection of the lives of Popes, the "Liber Pontificalis," said: "He spent his entire life in adultery."

     Pope Boniface VII (984-985) maintained his position through a lavish distribution of stolen money.  The Bishop of Orleans referred to him (and also John XII and Leo VIII) as "monsters of guilt, reeking in blood and filth" and as "antichrist sitting in the temple of God." The Catholic Encyclopedia says he: "overpowered John XIV (April, 984), thrust him into the dungeons of Sant Angelo, where the wretched man died four months later ...For more than a year Rome endured this monster steeped in the blood of his predecessors.  But the vengeance was terrible. After his sudden death in July, 985, due in all probability to violence, the body of Boniface was exposed to the insults of the populace, dragged through the streets of the city, and finally, naked and covered with wounds, flung under the statue of Marcus Aurelius ... The following morning compassionate clerics removed the corpse and gave it a Christian burial."

     Next came Pope John XV (985-996) who split the church's finances among his relatives and earned for himself the reputation of being "covetous of filthy lucre and corrupt in all his acts."
     Benedict VIII (1012-1024) "bought the office of Pope with open bribery."  The following Pope, John XIX also bought the Papacy.  Being a layman, it was necessary for him to be passed through all the clerical orders in one day!  After this, Benedict IX (1033-1045) was made Pope as a youth 12 years old (or some accounts say 20) through a money bargain with the powerful families that ruled Rome!  He "committed murders and adulteries in broad daylight, robbed pilgrims on the graves of the martyrs, a hideous criminal, the people drove him out of Rome. The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "He was a disgrace to the Chair of Peter."

     "Simony" the buying and selling of the Papal office became so common, and corruption so pronounced, that secular rulers stepped in. King Henry III appointed Clement II (1046-1047) to the office of Pope "because no Roman clergyman could be found who was free of the pollution of simony and fornication."

     A number of the Popes had committed murders, but Innocent III (1198-1216) surpassed all of his predecessors in killing.  Though he did not do the killing personally, he promoted the most devilish thing in human history - the Inquisition.  Estimates of the number of heretics that Innocent (not so innocently) had killed run as high as one million people! For over five hundred years, Popes used the inquisition to maintain their power against those who did not agree with the teachings of the Roman

     In conflicts with cardinals and kings, numerous charges were brought against Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303). Says The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Scarcely any possible crime was omitted - infidelity, heresy, simony, gross and unnatural immorality, idolatry, magic, loss of the Holy Land, death of Celestine V, etc. ... Protestant historians, generally, and even modern Catholic writers - class him among the wicked Popes, as an ambitious, haughty, and unrelenting man, deceitful also and treacherous, his whole pontificate one record of evil.  " It is not necessary to insist that all charges brought against him were true, but all cannot be dismissed either.  During his reign the poet Dante visited Rome and described the Vatican as a "sewer of corruption."  He assigned Boniface (along with Popes Nicolas III and Clement V) to "the lower parts of hell."

     Though seeking to put emphasis on certain good traits of Boniface, "Catholic historians ... admit, however, the explosive violence and offensive phraseology of some of his public documents."  An example of this "offensive phraseology" would be his statement that "to enjoy oneself and to lie carnally with women or with boys is no more a sin than rubbing one's hands together."  On other occasions, apparently in those "explosive" moments he called Christ a "hypocrite" and professed to be an atheist.

     Yet - and this sounds almost unbelievable - it was this Pope that in 1302 issued the well-known "Unam Sanctum" which officially declared that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church, outside of which no one can be saved, and says:  "We, therefore, assert, define and pronounce that it is necessary to salvation to believe that every human being is subject to the Pontiff of Rome."

    Because there have been sinful Popes, being "subject" to the Pope has raised a question. Should a sinful Pope still be obeyed?  The Catholic answer is this: "A sinful Pope ... remains a member of the (visible) church and is to be treated as a sinful, unjust ruler for whom we must pray, but from whom we may not withdraw our obedience."

     From 1305 to 1377 the Papal palace was at Avignon, France.  During this time, Petrarch accused the Papal household of "rape, adultery, and all manner of fornication."  In many parishes men insisted on priests keeping concubines "as a protection for their own families!

     During the Council of Constance, three Popes, and sometimes four, were every morning cursing each other and calling their opponents antichrists, demons, adulterers, sodomists, enemies of God and man. One of these "Popes", John XXIII (1410-1415) "was accused by thirty seven witnesses (mostly, bishops and priests) of fornication, adultery, incest, sodomy, simony, theft, and murder!  It was proved by a legion of witnesses that he had seduced and violated three hundred nuns.  His own secretary, Niem, said that he had at Boulogne, kept a harem, where not less than two hundred girls had been the victims of his lubricity."  Altogether the Council charged him with fifty-four crimes of the worst kind.

     A Vatican record offers this information about his immoral reign.  "His lordship, Pope John, committed perversity with the wife of his brother, incest with holy nuns, intercourse with virgins, adultery with the married, and all sorts of sex crimes...wholly given to sleep and other carnal desires, totally adverse to the life and teaching of Christ ... he was publicly called the Devil incarnate."  To increase his wealth.  Pope John taxed about everything - including prostitution, gambling, and usury. He has been called "the most depraved criminal who ever sat on the papal throne."

     Pope Pius II (1458-1464) was said to have been the father of many illegitimate children.  He "spoke openly of the methods he used to seduce women, encouraged young men to, and even offered to instruct them in methods of, self-indulgence."  Pius was followed by Paul 11 (1464-1471) who maintained a house full of concubines.  His Papal tiara outweighed a palace in its worth.

     Next came Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) who financed his wars by selling church offices to the highest bidders and "used the papacy to enrich himself and his relatives.  He made eight of his nephews cardinals, while as yet some of them were mere boys.  In luxurious and lavish entertainment, he rivaled the Caesars.  In wealth and pomp he and his relatives surpassed the old Roman families."

     Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) was the father of sixteen children by various women.  Some of his children celebrated their marriages in the Vatican.  The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions only "two illegitimate children, Franceschetto and Teodorina" from the days of a "licentious youth." Like numerous other popes, he multiplied church offices and sold them for vast sums of money. He permitted bull fights on St.Peter's square.

     Next came Rodergio Borgia who took the name of Alexander VI (1492-1503), having won his election to the papacy by bribing the cardinals. Before becoming Pope, while a cardinal and archbishop, he lived in sin with a lady of Rome, Vanozza dei Catanei; and afterward, with her daughter Rosa, by whom he had five children, On his coronation day, he appointed his son - a youth of vile temper and habits - as archbishop of Valencia.  Many consider Alexander VI to be the most corrupt of the Renaissance Popes.  He lived in public incest with his two sisters and his own daughter, Lucretia, from whom, it is said, he had a child.  On October 31, 1501, he conducted a sex orgy in the Vatican, the equal of which or sheer horror has never been duplicated in the annals of human history.

    Pope Leo X (1513-1521) was born December 11, 1475. He received tonsure at age 7, was made an abbot at 8, and a cardinal at 13!  The Catholic Encyclopedia says that Pope Leo X "gave himself up unrestrainedly to amusements that were provided in lavish abundance.  He was possessed by an insatiable love of pleasure ...He loved to give banquets and expensive entertainments, accompanied by revelry and carousing."  The picture given here shows the Bull of Pope Leo X.  On one side of the leaden seal appears the apostles Peter and Paul, on the other the popes name and title.  The word "bull" (from a Latin word linked with roundness) was first applied to the seals which authenticated papal documents and later to the documents also.  Today we commonly use the word "bulletin" which stems from the same source.

     According to "Life" magazine, Pope Paul III (1534-1549) as cardinal had fathered three sons and a daughter.  On the day of his coronation he celebrated the baptism of his two great-grandchildren.  He appointed two of his teenage nephews as cardinals, sponsored festivals with singers, dancers, and jesters, and sought advice from astrologers. 

     During those days, Martin Luther, while still a priest of the papal church, traveled to Rome.  As he caught the first glimpse of the seven-hilled city, he fell to the ground and said: "Holy Rome, I salute thee."  He had not spent much time there, however, until he saw that Rome was anything but a holy city.  Iniquity existed among all classes of the clergy.  Priests told indecent jokes and used awful profanity, even during Mass.  The Papal court was served at supper by twelve naked girls.  "No one can imagine what sins and infamous actions are committed in Rome," he said, "they must be seen and heard to be believed.  Thus they are in the habit of saying, 'If there is a hell, Rome is built over it'."

     One day during Luther's visit to Rome, he noticed a statue on one of the public streets that led to St.Peter's - the statue of a female Pope. Because it was an object of disgust to the Popes, no Pope would ever pass down that certain street. "I am astonished", said Luther, "how the Popes allow the statue to remain."  Forty years after Luther's death, the statue was removed by Pope Sixtus V.

     Though The Catholic Encyclopedia regards the story of Pope Joan as a mere tale, it gives the following summary: "After Leo IV (847-855) the Englishman John of Mainz occupied the Papal chair two years, seven months and four days, he was, it is alleged, a woman.  When a girl, she was taken to Athens in male clothes by her lover, and there made such progress in learning that no one was her equal.  She came to Rome, where she taught science, and thereby attracted the attention of learned men - and was finally chosen as Pope, but, becoming pregnant by one of her trusted attendants, she gave birth to a child during a procession from St.Peter's to the Lateran - There she died almost immediately, and it is said she was buried at the same place."

     Was there really a female Pope? Prior to the Reformation which exposed so much error in the Romish church, the story was believed by chroniclers, bishops, and by Popes themselves.  The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries this Popess was already counted as an historical personage, whose existence no one doubted.  She had her place among the carved busts which stood in Siena cathedral.  Under Clement VII (1592-1595), and at his request, she was transformed into Pope Zacharias.  The heretic Hus, in defence of his false doctrine before the Council of Constance, referred to the Popess, and no one offered to question the fact of her existence."  Some have questioned how Pope Clement could have a female Pope, named Joan, "transformed" into a male Pope, named Zacharias, centuries after she had died!

     Having mentioned the gross immorality that has existed in the lives of some of the Popes, we do not wish to leave the impression that all Popes have been as bad as the ones mentioned.  But we do believe this evidence seriously weakens the doctrine of "apostolic succession", the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church because it can trace a line of Popes back to Peter.  Is this really an important point?  If so, each of these Popes, even those who were known to be immoral and cruel, must be included.  There is even the possibility of a female Pope to make the succession complete!  But salvation is not dependent on tracing a line of Popes back to Peter - or even on a system of religion claiming to represent Christ.  Salvation is found in Christ himself.