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The Bad Popes: From Peter to Benedict XVI. By Tihamer “Tee” Toth-Fejel St. Mary’s Graduate Student and Young Professional Group December 19, 2005. Peter (?-64 C.E. * ). Uneducated Headstrong Impetuous Denied that he even knew Jesus Abandoned Jesus at Calvary. * Christian Era.

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The Bad Popes: From Peter to Benedict XVI

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the bad popes from peter to benedict xvi

The Bad Popes:From Peter to Benedict XVI

By Tihamer “Tee” Toth-Fejel

St. Mary’s Graduate Student and Young Professional Group

December 19, 2005

peter 64 c e
Peter (?-64 C.E.*)
  • Uneducated
  • Headstrong
  • Impetuous
  • Denied that he even knew Jesus
  • Abandoned Jesus at Calvary

* Christian Era

hippolytus 175 235 c e
Hippolytus (~175-235 C.E.*)
  • Disciple of Irenaeus; Origen heard him preach
  • Spoke out against Monarchian heresy
  • Harshly criticized Pope Zephyrinus for not condemning the Modalist heresy and for being a tool of deacon Callistus
  • When Callistus become pope, Hippolystus became the first anti-pope
  • Reconciled with Pope Pontian when both exiled to work the mines
  • Canonized as martyr

* Christian Era

pope sylvester i reigned 314 135 c e
Pope Sylvester I (reigned 314-135 C.E.*)
  • Unremarkable bishop of Rome at time of Constantine
  • In 328 AD, Emperor Constantine moved back to Istanbul (Constantinople), giving the bishops of Rome his Roman residence in perpetuity.
  • Many years later, someone wrote about this event, embroidering it a bit…

… and that is where the trouble began.

* Christian Era

church and state gelasius i reigned 492 496 c e
Church and State: Gelasius I(reigned 492-496 C.E.*)

The Byzantine Emperors thought that they were both temporal and spiritual leaders, as in Melchizedek of the O.T.

Gelasius disagreed, saying that the unity of powers lies exclusively in Jesus Christ. He wrote to Emperor Anastasius I:

“Because of human weakness, they have separated for the times that followed, so that neither should become proud.”

Benedict XVI points out that only the United States has continued this model of free churches, separated from the world but with a special religious mission towards it (vs. the two European models – of radical secularism or the state church)

* Christian Era

the donation of constantine 750 850 c e
The Donation of Constantine (~750-850 C.E.*)
  • A document from Constantine to Sylvester
  • Believed by Pepin II
  • First quoted by Pope Leo IX in 1054 A.D.
  • First challenged as a forgery in 1450 A.D.
  • Support the claims of the popes to secular power in Italy? Or establish legitimacy for the Emperor?

* Christian Era

emperor leo iii vs pope gregory ii 726 c e
Emperor Leo III vs Pope Gregory II (726 C.E.*)
  • For 400 years, the Emperors ruled Rome loosely from afar, and things were tolerably ok.
  • Because of Muslim successes, Leo ordered “all graven images” to be destroyed.
  • Gregory differentiated between idol worship and reverence to people represented by images.
  • The Italians became independent of the Byzantine Greeks…
  • …Resulting in a power vacuum.

* Christian Era

anastasius 810 879 c e
Anastasius (810-879 C.E.*)
  • Almost antipope vs. Pope Benedict III
  • Supported by Emperor Louis II
  • Excommunicated twice
  • Nasty brother
  • Librarian and counselor to three popes; Nicholas I (855-67) , Adrian II (867-72), and John VIII (872-82).

* Christian Era

the house of spoleto vs the house of theophylac 896 963 c e
The House of Spoleto vs. The House of Theophylac (896-963 C.E.*)
  • Families fought for the papacy as a means to power in Italy (and Europe).
  • The Women: Ageltruda, Theodora, Marozia
  • Cadaver Synod: Stephen VII tried Formosus
  • Seven popes in seven years

Vs. the Carolingians (Franks), etc., etc.,

* Christian Era

the theophylac women theodora and marozia
The Theophylac Women Theodora and Marozia
  • Theodora - wife of Roman Senator Theophylactus
  • Supposedly slept with John X
  • Marozia supposedly slept with Sergius III to produce John XI;
  • We only have records from their enemies

* Christian Era

theophylac family tree
Theophylac Family Tree

John X

Reigned 914-928

Theophylacus (d ~924)

Theodora (d ~924)

Marozia (b ~890)

Senatrix 926-932

Alberic of Camerino

(b ~915)

Sergius III

Reigned 904-911

Theodora II

Alberic II (b ~???)

Prince 932-954

John XI

Reigned 931-936

John XII

(b ~937)

Reigned 955-964

Gregory (d ~1012)

Count of Tusculum

Alberic III (b ~??)


John XIX

Reigned 1024-1032

Benedict VIII

Reigned 1012-1024

Benedict IX (b ~1018)

Reigned 1032-1048


Pope Benedict IX sold papacy to Gregory VI for love (& 3/4 ton of gold)

  • 1032 Undisciplined brat given absolute power
  • Within six months, he had to flee for his life
  • Three years later, he had to flee again; Germans re-installed him
  • 1044 Antipope Sylvester III elected when Germans left
  • Fell in love; sold papacy to his godfather Gregory VI for 1,500 lbs of gold; fell out of love
  • Rome got tired of three popes; appealed to Emperor
  • Sylvester arrested; Benedict deposed; Gregory resigned
  • When Pope Clement II died, Benedict returned
  • How did it end?
the western schism 1378 1417
The Western “Schism” (1378-1417)
  • 1376 Catherine of Sienna got Gregory XI to return to Rome.
  • 1377 Sixteen (mostly Italian) cardinals elected Urban VI and the other six (mostly French) cardinals approved.
  • Within months, thirteen cardinals went into conclave at Fondi and elected Clement VII, who moved to Avignon.
  • Mutual excommunications
  • In Rome, Boniface IX succeeded Urban VI
  • Benedict XIII succeeded Clement VII in Avignon.
  • 1389 In Rome, Innocent VII succeeded Boniface IV, and two years later was replaced by Gregory XII.
  • Gregory and Benedict agreed to meet and abdicate if the other did.
  • 1409 Council at Pisa deposed the two pontiffs, and elected Alexander V, who was succeeded by John XXIII.
  • 1414-17 The Council of Constance deposed John and (eventually) Benedict; Gregory resigned.
  • Pope Martin V elected
colonna vs orsini
Colonna vs. Orsini
  • Colonna:
    • 27 cardinals, starting in 1192
    • Martin V (1417 - 1431)
  • Orsini:
    • Celestine III (reigned 1191 - 1198)
    • Nicholas III (reigned 1277 - 1288)
    • Benedict XIII (reigned 1724 - 1730)
    • Over a dozen cardinals
the saintly hermit and the bloodthirsty lawyer
The Saintly Hermit and the Bloodthirsty Lawyer
  • 1294 Conclave had been meeting for 18 months.
  • Letter promising damnation from hermit
  • Ecclesiastical & royal parties climbed 1000 foot mountain
  • But Celestine V achieved a disorganized mess; abdicated in 6 months
  • 1297 Boniface VIII vs. Colonna: excommunication, crusade, betrayal
  • How did it end?
the bloodthirsty lawyer s legacy
The Bloodthirsty Lawyer’s Legacy
  • Celestine V died in prison after a wild chase by royal and papal forces; Canonized in 1313
  • Feud between Colonna and the Orsini continued
  • Borgia pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) tried to destroy both the Colonna and the Orsini
  • 1527 Colonna allied with the French Imperialists to sack Rome for five months
  • 1571 Pope Sixtus V married nieces to both families
  • Not always right, but never wrong
  • Even heretics and pagans recognized Pope’s special role (2nd and 5th Centuries)
  • Caiphas (John 11:49-52)
  • The Church a human organization?
  • Can the gates of hell prevail? (Matthew 16:18)
  • Pillar of truth? (1 Timothy 3:15)
  • Only alternative is private judgment
infallibility and history
Infallibility and History
  • No ex cathedra definition of any pope has ever been shown to be erroneous.
  • Pope Liberius (reigned 352-66) alleged to subscribe to Arianism and condemn St. Athanasius.
  • Pope Honorius (reigned 625-638), alleged to teach Monothelite heresy.
infallibility and history cont
Infallibility and History (cont.)
  • Slavery
  • Usury
  • Galileo vs. Paul V and Urban VIII
    • Fallible tribunal
    • Conflict of personalities
  • Purpose: investigate and combat errors
  • Difficult for moderns to understand because
    • Religious belief is no longer objective; or important civic duty
    • Church is no longer seen as belonging to God
  • The “Inquisition” during the Middle Ages
    • Those that were found to be blind fanatics were deposed and incarcerated for life.
  • The Inquisition in Spain
    • Early Inquisitors were martyred by heretics (1200’s)
    • Isabel and Ferdinand vs. secret Jews and Muslims
    • Torquemada was installed to prevent abuses
  • 266 Popes
  • 7-10 corrupt (20 if you don’t believe Church teaching on infallibility, original sin, contraception, and homosexual acts; ~77 if you’re an Old Catholic)
  • 78 canonized
  • 10 married (six canonized)
  • Are the sacraments valid if administered by a bad person? Why?
  • Are the teachings of a pope valid even if he is a bad person? Why?
  • What is the difference between infallibility, impeccability, and inspired by God?
  • How do we know that the popes are infallible?
  • By what authority do the popes have to spend all this money building opulent papal excess? Hint: Who accused Lazarus’s sister Mary of extravagance? (John 12:3-5) What is the Vatican budget?