Pope Francis was named Time‘s Person of the Year today. That’s all well and good. Pope Francis is the most interesting man in the world, after all. But we felt it would be good to remind you that Popes weren’t always so understanding. What follows is a study in the despicable.
Pope Stephen VI (896 − 897) held the“Cadaver Synod” of 897. Pissed off at his predecessor, Steve 6 dug up the rotting corpse of Pope Formosus and put it on trial. You know, like a crazy person. The former Formosus was found guilty of perjury, violating canon law, and performing bishop duties as a layman. The cadaver was thrice de-fingered and thrown into a river. Naturally.
Sergius III (897 − 911) put a hit out on two popes. He fathered a bastard child with a 15-year-old girl. He founded a “pornacracy.” Most absurdly, he retrieved that mutilated dead body of poor Formosus for the second Cadaver Synod, where Sergius beheaded the corpse and threw it back into the river for good measure.
Pope John XII (955 – 964) was charged with raping pilgrim girls, converting the Lateran Palace into a whorehouse, stealing church offerings, praising pagan gods, and toasting to the devil – total pope no-no’s. The charges never stuck, so Johnny murdered and mangled all who opposed him. That is, until he was beat to death by the husband of his mistress.
Pope Benedict IX (1032 − 1044, 1045, 1047− 1048) sold the papacy in 1044 to the highest bidder. After returning to office for a month, he sold it again in 1045 to marry his cousin. Ben was accused of rape, adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality. Pope Victor III claimed of Benedict IX, “His life as a pope was so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.”
Urban II (Pope from 1088 − 1099) started the First Crusade. That should be enough. But he also imprisoned unlawfully married cardinals for life and sold their families to slavery. After recognizing his pissy disposition, the electors of Urban II regretted their decision so much that, for the first time in history, legitimate cardinalselected a new replacement pope. Urban responded by moving to France and killing off his adversaries.
Alexander VI (1492 − 1503) bribed and intimidated his way into the papacy. He may have banged his daughter. He probably fathered 7 illegitimate children. He definitely threw block-rocking orgies where little naked boys jumped out of cakes. After pissing away the church’s money, Al allocated funds for the church by framing and murdering rich citizens.
Leo X (1513 – 1531) famously said when elected to office, “Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.” And he promptly made it rain. His extravagant expenses angered Martin Luther and caused a gang of cardinals to plot his assassination. The alleged attempt failed, and a not-so-mysterious bout of food poisoning soon plagued the conspirators