Catholics argue that even the most scandalous of the popes, such as Alexander VI (Rodrigo de Borja; Lucrezia’s father and lover), in matters of faith, kept the purity of the forefathers and dogmas.
The average Catholic has a very remote idea of the popes who were replaced on the St. Peter’s throne. For several centuries in a row, at the “conclaves”, the Cardinals have chosen highly educated, well-versed in world politics and morally immaculate popes, mostly Italians.
The popes, since Mussolini times, once again considered to be the sovereigns of the “church states” that they govern monarchically, are surrounded with all the modern comforts in the ancient Vatican Palace: they use smartphones, drive cars, are interested in all the latest discoveries in engineering and science. They have a strictly elected and centuries-tested administration — the Roman Curia — on which countless congregations, commissions, judicial and disciplinary bodies, and institutions that control the vast hierarchy of the Roman church in all countries of the world depend. The Vatican is an exemplary organization headed by a pope.
The history of the Roman Church, as we shall see, like any history, abounds in examples of holiness and sinfulness. Every person is subject to sins and heresies; unworthy shepherds met in all the churches, and against them, to protect the Church from false teachings, the apostles and holy fathers established the principle of collegiality, the only one guaranteeing the infallibility of the Church.
As I have indicated, the Christian doctrines of Orthodoxy were not composed by individuals, but were a confession of an assembly of saints and learned theologians, who represented the entire Church at the Ecumenical Councils. That is why these dogmas are unbreakable. Whenever shepherds motivated by pride were separated from this basic principle and violated the Council’s ruling, their teachings, convicted by the Church, gradually disappeared. Arius, an educated and fiery preacher, who managed to tear entire nations away from the Church, was a vivid example of such a shepherd. And what is left of his false doctrine? No heresy is terrible to a Church that recognized the principle of collegiality: when a bishop or patriarch is mistaken, the rest observe the purity of the doctrine and direct the Church along the path of the Ecumenical Councils and according to the teaching of the church fathers.
It is quite different when it comes to the Roman Church: it is headed by the Pope, the “vicar” or the “vicar of Christ,” as he is called. From the I Vatican Council, i.e. since 1870, Catholics have dogmatically recognized his infallibility in matters of “faith and morals” when he says “ex-cathedra”. Everything is reduced to one person – the pope. The terrible thing in this modern heresy is that the dogma of infallibility concerns all popes, past and future.
According to this, all popes should be considered equally possessing infallibility, this attribute of the Church alone, despite the fact that the Roman Church, having hosted the heretical teachings of the Filioque and other innovations, and, most importantly, as will be pointed out, tempted by the fictional theory about the universal primacy of the pope, in order to avoid conciliar condemnation, began to strive by all means and achieved a break with Orthodoxy.
Having lost this cathedral grace, the pope added new ones to his former mistakes, of which the dogma of papal infallibility was the most glaring as an attempt to deify the Roman bishop. As it will be repeatedly emphasized, the Vatican Council, that introduced this dogma, acted contrary to all Christian traditions because it was deprived, like all Roman councils, convened after the break of the 11th century, of any right for “universality”. This council, like its definitions, was an arbitrary act of Pius IX and his curia, and the new dogma was the logical conclusion of the policy of Pope Nicholas I in the 9th century, and Agatho’s epistles to the patriarchs, who asserted the infallibility of the Roman throne based on the words of the Savior about faith, addressed to St. Peter.
In order to show the absurdity of such an incredible definition, I shall provide several examples taken from the speeches of Catholic bishops, delivered at the First Vatican Council against the approval of the dogma of infallibility. Examples of these were given by the American Bishop of Gonolli, Yuri Strosmayer, and Ignatius Dellinger.
Pope Victor (192) first approved Montanism, then condemned it. Montanus, a eunuch and priest of the goddess Cybele (in Phrygia), having adopted Christianity, began to pretend to be a prophet and a messenger of God called to purify the Church by rebuilding its hierarchy. Convicted and excommunicated by the councils in Hierapolis and Anchialus (170), the Montanists intensified in North Africa.
Marcellinus (296-303) was an idolater. He entered the temple of Vesta and offered a sacrifice to the goddess.
Liberius (358) agreed to the condemnation of St. Athanasius and decided to convert to Arianism in order to be called out of exile and returned to a former bishop’s throne. St. Jerome wrote about Liberius: “Defeated by exile, Liberius committed himself to heresy.” (S. Hieron. “Chronica” et “De viris illustrious”).
Vigilius (537) bought papacy from Belisarius, the commander of Emperor Justinian. He broke his promise and paid nothing.
Honorius (625) stuck to monotheism. A. Gratry thoroughly proved it. In 634, in response to the message of Sergius, the patriarch of Constantinople, a supporter of this heresy, the pope wrote: “We confess the will alone in Christ because the Divine perceived not our sin but our nature, and as such before being damaged by sin.” In 638, the emperor Heraclius published the “Statement of Faith” (“Ecthesis”), compiled by Patriarch Sergius and approved by Honorius, commanding him to recognize “One Christ and One Will” which was heresy.
The Roman Council of 679 condemned monotheism and its authors. During the Council of Constantinople, at a meeting on March 28, 681, the fathers condemned all these heretic monotheists and added the following: “We also anathematize Honorius, the former Pope of Ancient Rome, because we saw in his epistles to Sergius that he shared fully the opinion of the latter and sanctioned his ungodly teachings.”
Pope Leo II (682-684), the successor of Agathon, sent a letter to the emperor in 682, completely agreeing with the Council’s decision regarding the anathema of Honorius, “who,” wrote the pope, “did not take pains to glorify our Church, preaching the apostolic dogma, but permitted, according to the unfit treachery, dishonoring of this unspotted church.” (E.Amann.” L’Eglise des premiers siecles “, 1928).
Adrian II (867–872) declared civil marriages valid, and Pius VII (1800–1823) condemned them.
Stephen VI (896–897) ordered to exhume Pope Formosus’s (891–896) body from the grave, papal robes were removed from him and his three fingers were chopped off of his right hand, with which he blessed the people. Then the chopped corpse of Formosa was thrown into the Tiber river. For this, Stephen was subsequently imprisoned, poisoned and strangled.
Romanus (897) and John X (914-928) – restored the memory of Formosus. Scholar-historian Cardinal Baronius wrote about the papal court and the Roman Church: “How inglorious is it! Only strong courtiers rule in Rome. They sell, and barter, and buy a bishopric, and, dreadfully, they dare to elevate their favorites, false-pops, on St. Peter’s throne.”
Catholic St. Bernard, the best preacher of his age, founder of the monastic order and inspirer of the II Crusade, condemning the pope, exclaimed: “Can you show me in this great city of Rome any person who recognizes you as a pope unless it has been hired by gold or silver?”
Church historian of the XVIII century Claude Fleury wrote that the turmoils, occurred during the election of the popes, reached such extremes that in 8 years 8 popes were enthroned and overthrown.
The famous Theodora (870 – 916), wife of Senator Theophylact, having raised her lover to the throne under the name of John IX (898-900), despotically ruled Rome. Then she gave this power to her daughters, as depraved as herself, Marozia and Theodora. The first one, having raised her lover Sergius III to the papacy (904-911), had a son from him, who, in his time, was also “converted” into the pope.
Her younger sister Theodora, in turn, enthroned her lover, John X (914–928) as well. But Marozia was insidious; not wanting to share power with her sister, she grabbed Pope John X, locked him in the fortress of St. Angela, where, according to some records, he was starved to death, and according to other – chocked with pillows. When her son, adopted from Sergius III, came of age, she made him the Pope John XI (931-936).
This time of the women’s government of Rome lasted almost 60 years. Another son of Marozia, Alberic II, put an end to this shameful female administration, setting his mother in prison, taking away all his secular power from his brother, the pope, and surrounding him with the most vigilant surveillance.
John XI following popes limited themselves to one spiritual administration, and Rome rested for 22 years under the reasonable and firm control of Alberic II. After his death, the Romans, to their misfortune, elected Pope John XII (955-964), his unworthy son, who inherited all the vile vices of his beldams: he made a den of depravity of the Lateran Palace, scattered church decorations to his lovers and went so far that foreign women were afraid to visit the church of the Holy Apostles (Santi Apostoli), due to the violence that awaited them there, indiscriminately married, widows or virgins.
When the emperor Otto I arrived in Rome, the people who swore allegiance to him brought innumerable complaints against their pope, for example, that he performed liturgy without the communion in the St. Gifts, sold spiritual places, put a 10-year-old boy as a bishop in Todi for money, confided a deacon in a stable, poked out his confessor’s eyes, castrated John, the cardinal-deacon and so on. Pope John XII also worked out a special rate of fines for absolution in favor of the Apostolic Confessional (Penitencerie Apostolique).
Carnal sins have become the most profitable source of income for the Roman Church for many centuries: absolution of fornication of a priest with nuns, performed in or outside the monastery, or of a priest with his nieces, cousins or goddaughters, was fined in the amount of 67 francs, 11 sous, 6 deniers; unnatural sins cost was 219 fr. 14 sou.
The nuns, who have committed fornication with men in the monastery or outside thereof, paid much more than the monks: 131 Fr. 14 sou 16 deniers. The sin of adultery was regarded equally for the laity of both sexes – 87 francs. 13 sou. (Pope Leo X (1513-1521) significantly increased this tariff.)
Pope John XII quite tolerantly insured incest: this sin, committed with the sisters or mother, was worth only … 40 sous.
All these details are taken from the famous work “The Fines of the Apostolic Confessional” by Dupin de Saint-Andre (Dupin de Saint-Andre. “Les taxes de la Penitencerie Apostolique”), published in 1520 and reprinted in 1741 in Rome and, finally, in 1879
Gelasius I (492-496) declared that the Roman Church is the judge of every other church and cannot be subject to anyone.
Caesaropapism of Charlemagne who condemned Pope Leo III in Rome and arbitrarily appointed bishops of the empire continued under his successors, who did not hesitate, moreover, to dispose of church property. Pope Nicholas I (858–867) received a tiara at the request of Emperor Louis II (855–875).
The council convened by the emperor, condemning and overthrowing John XII, chose a new pope under the name of Leo VIII (963-965). But as soon as Otto left Rome, John, hiding until then, returned and, having banished his rival, began to ruthlessly avenge his enemies, cutting off their noses and ears, chopping off hands, until finally he was killed by one offended husband. The Romans elected Benedict V (964-965) to take his place, but Otto forced them to accept Pope Leo VIII who he had set before him, and the council which was attended by clergy and laity recognized the right to appoint heirs to the Roman kingdom, approve the election of the popes and give investiture to the bishops. Thus, without imperial consent, neither the popes, nor the patricians, nor the bishops could be elected. Let’s recall that at one time the Byzantine emperors had a right to assert the election of the popes.
The ruling of the Roman Council was strongly reflected in Italy of the Middle Ages, and later an enmity broke out between the popes and the emperors, known as the “Investiture Controversy”.
Benedict VI (972-974) was overthrown and mortified by a hostile party.
Boniface VII (974-985) starved Pope John XIV (983-984) to death in the fortress of St. Angela and himself died a violent death.
John XVI (985-996) had his nose and tongue cut off, eyes gouged out; he died in prison.
It is clear that the Romans did not recognize such rulers as their masters, and Crescentius, as well as his son John, ruled Rome as a republic, following the example of other Italian cities of that era. In 991, the French bishops, at the Cathedral in Saint Basil de Vergy, refused to obey the popes, “these monsters, full of dishonor, devoid of divine and human lore.” This gave rise to a temporary “controversy”.
To complete the humiliation of the church, Benedict IX (1033-1048) was enthroned. A 10-year-old boy, who turned into a monster of depravity over the years, reminiscent of Caligula and Heliogabalus: he led the life of the Turkish sultan in Lateran, robbing and killing the Romans on arbitrariness and whim; he seriously planned to marry Gerard Sachs’ daughter and, finally, sold his papacy under a formal act concluded on May 1, 1045, to John Gratian who became Gregory VI (1044-1046). This pope, convicted of simony at the Sutri Cathedral, convened by Emperor Henry III, voluntarily resigned from the papacy he had bought. Heinrich, crowned in Rome by the elected new Pope Clement II (1046-1047), restored his power there wholly, giving himself approval and investiture of the popes and taking an oath from the Romans of all classes.
Paschal II (1099-11118) and Eugene III (1145-1153) approved the duels banned by Julius II (1503-1517) and Pius IV (1559-1560).
Boniface IX (1389–1404) himself traded in sacred objects, and his mother and brothers – spiritual positions, places of honor and parishes.
Innocentius IV (1243-1254) wrote the following: “The popes, heirs of Jesus Christ, the true Tsar and Priest according to the order of Melchisedec, received royal power simultaneously with the hierarchal authority, the earthly kingdom along with the kingdom of heaven.
John XXIII (1410-1415) rejected the immortality of the soul and was deposed by the Council of Constance in 1415.
Sixtus V (1585–1590) approved the publication of the Bible and reading thereof; Pius VII condemned the Bible readers.
Clement XIV (1769-1774) destroyed the Jesuit Order approved by Paul 111 (1534-1549). Pius VII restored this order to its former rights.
These examples do not need, we think, the comments regarding the degree of potential infallibility which these saint fathers would have to have… It may be objected that in other Churches, for example, the Greek, there were also unworthy patriarchs, although far from such scandalous behavior.
We repeat once again: not a single patriarch has ever dared to be called the “Vicar of Christ” and was considered infallible by everyone. According to the Patristic teachings and the definitions of the fathers of the Nicene and Constantinople Councils, only the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church are infallible, for the Head is Jesus Christ Himself.
This is a guest post by Roy Emmerson.
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