5 Most Controversial Popes In History

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5 Most Controversial Popes In History
5 Most Controversial Popes In History

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Not only secular, but also ecclesiastical power corrupts people, especially absolute power. For many centuries, the Catholic Church has chosen from among its ranks the best leader, the Pope, to lead a multimillion flock. However, among the hundreds of pontiffs, not all were exemplars of faith and obedience. Some of them were remembered for their monstrous deeds and shocking scandals.

5 most controversial popes in history
5 most controversial popes in history

Stephen VI (VII): 896-897

Pope Formosa, who died in 896, was replaced by Boniface VI, who also died two weeks later. Stephen VI (VII) ascended the throne. This pontiff belonged to the noble Frankish family of the Guidonids. The relatives of Pope Stephen VI were the emperors of the West, Guido and Lambert, with whom Stephen's predecessors fiercely clashed.

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The pontiff zealously defended the interests of his family, sometimes crossing all sorts of boundaries. His predecessor, Pope Formosus, paid the price for his differences with the Guidonides even after his death.

Stephen VI ordered that the body of the recently buried Formosus be exhumed and a cruel trial be carried out over him. The half-decomposed corpse of the previous pope was taken out of the grave, dressed in papal robes and seated in the defendant's chair in the church courtroom. The process began, and the corpse was asked questions to which the acting pontiff himself answered.

The corpse was accused of violating church rules and oaths, as well as crowning a representative of the Carolingian dynasty as emperor of the West. The election of Formosa by the Pope, all his decisions and actions at the trial were invalidated. Finally, Formosa's body was sentenced to severe punishment. Stephen VI pronounced curses over him and personally cut off three fingers with which the sign of the cross and the blessing of the faithful were performed.

The naked corpse of Formosa was hauled through the streets and buried in a mass grave; according to some sources, the body was cut into pieces and thrown into the river. This act was not to the liking of ordinary Romans and many members of the clergy. Pope Stephen VI himself was eventually sent to prison, where he was strangled. Subsequently, Formosus' body was reburied in a papal grave.

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John XII: 955-963

John XII is considered the last pope of the period of pornocracy. He was the son of the Roman patrician Alberich and the grandson of Marosia, the mistress of Pope Sergius III. He was made pontiff by his relatives at the age of 18, so the reign of John XII can hardly be called mature. For 8 years of his papacy, he managed to earn the unspoken title of the most immoral pope in the history of the Catholic Church.

The young pope was a lecher, turned the Lateran Basilica into a brothel and openly raped the women pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica. At the same time, he loved to appeal to the pagan gods, played dice for donations from believers, arranged drinking parties, at which he made toasts in the name of Satan. Not surprisingly, many Romans considered him to be the incarnation of the devil.

Even Pope's ally Otto I, in a personal conversation, accused John XII of murder, blasphemy, perjury and incest with his sisters. John XII died, according to various sources, either from an apoplectic stroke during another sex, or after being beaten by an offended husband of one of his mistresses, finding them in bed. As a result of the beatings, the dissolute pontiff died three days later.

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Benedict IX: 1032-1044, 1045, 1047-1048

Benedict IX was the son of Count Tuscolo, nephew of Popes Benedict VIII and John XIX. This pontiff occupied the Holy See three times and once even sold it. According to various sources, at the time of his first election as Pope, he was 12, 18, 20 or 25 years old. He was not only one of the youngest, but also one of the most scandalous popes in the history of the church. Historians speak of Benedict IX as "a demon from hell who ascended the Catholic throne in the guise of a priest."

In 1044, when the Crescenti family defeated Tuscolo, the Pope was forced to leave Rome. Pope Sylvester III reigned in the Vatican for two months.Soon the political situation changed, Benedict returned to the throne. A month later, he sold the papal title to his godfather, presbyter Giovanni Graziano, allegedly in order to marry his cousin.

Two years later, Benedict tried again to claim the rights to the papacy, but met with resistance from the secular authorities. This wicked and shameful thrice-pope as a result was excommunicated for simony - the sale of church offices, clergy, sacred rites, sacred relics. Benedict IX was also accused of rape, homosexuality, participation in orgies, murder, theft and adultery.

In the papal palace, Benedict lived as an oriental sultan, surrounded by wealth and concubines. Moreover, despite the young age of the papacy, no one ruled him like a puppet, only his own vicious desires. He decided to violate absolutely all the canons and even as a pontiff to enter into an official marriage, a completely wild act for that time.

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Innocent VIII: 1484-1492

Gianbattista Chibo ascended the papal throne and became Pope Innocent VIII under the patronage of the de La Rovere family, to which the previous pontiff belonged. The Chibo family was related and had the support of the influential and wealthy Genoese Doria family.

This is the only pope who openly recognized his eight illegitimate children. However, Innocent VIII is best known for the fact that, during his reign, the church supported and fully approved the activities of Heinrich Kramer, the notorious author of The Hammer of the Witches. Also, the pope issued a bull calling to punish witches for having a relationship with the devil. All this led to the famous inquisitorial trials against women, the so-called witch hunts throughout Europe.

At the same time, the Pope himself was distinguished by increased attention to the beautiful half of humanity. His lovingness knew no limits, both before the acceptance of the clergy, and after. According to historians, in old age, in order to save himself from death, Innocent VIII regularly drank blood that was expressed from three boys, who later died.

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Alexander VI: 1492-1503

The Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia made his way to the Holy See through intrigue and bribery. Only 7 cardinals voted for his election, he bribed the rest and, as a result, became Pope Alexander VI, and in fact a usurper. He was the father of at least seven illegitimate children, whom he supported all his life with money from church donations.

His reign was characterized by special cruelty, incestuous relationships, orgies. The pontiff was also distinguished by his entrepreneurial activity. When the church treasury needed money, he levied bankers and ordinary clergy with a huge amount of extortion.

By his order, the famous and popular monk Girolamo Savonarola, who accused Alexander VI and other popes of depravity, was hanged. At first, they tried to bribe him by order of the pope. After this failed, the pope ordered the capture and imprisonment of Savonarola, and then sentenced to public execution. This act further worsened the reputation of the pontiff among the people and significantly brought the Reformation of the Catholic Church closer.

The whole life of Pope Alexander VI was saturated with debauchery, intrigue, bribery and unscrupulousness. Despite the vow of celibacy that exists for the pontiffs, the pope from the Borgia clan, after enthronement, brought his mistress closer to him, who bore him three children. And subsequently he often changed his mistresses. In addition to permanent women, Alexander VI had an uncountable number of courtesans. It is believed that this sinful pope also had a sexual relationship with his own daughter, Lucrezia Borgia. Her husband testified about this at the trial.

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