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From as far back as the 4th Century, one of the titles claimed by Roman Catholic popes is Vicarius Filii Dei," or "Vicar of the Son of God." Those words are on one of the many crowns the popes might wear when dressing up, and are spoken by the cardinal who places the crown on the new pope’s head during the coronation ritual. In the RCC, a "vicar" is a priest who acts for or represents another, often higher-ranking member of the clergy. In the pope’s case, he substitutes for Christ Himself and another of his titles is that of Vicar of Christ. That is a bold assertion, but hardly the boldest we have seen issuing forth from the papal throne. Pope Innocent IV, who reigned from 1243 to 1254, took this Vicarius Filii Dei business one giant step farther. He actually declared that he was Praesentia Corporalis Christi, the bodily presence of Christ. Given his "holy" status, anyone who failed to render him proper respect was, by default, a heretic.

Because of this divine or semi-divine status the Roman Church claims for its rulers, one might reasonably anticipate that those who have worn the papal ring indeed manifested Christ during their sojourn as pope. One must concede that, though Christ was sinless, no other person ever could attain to such a perfect life. However, in spite of our human frailty, one should reasonably expect that the men who have ruled over the affairs and established the dogma and doctrine of that apostate body should have led exemplar lives. That has not been the case. Many who wore the papal tiara were incredibly vile and corrupt. Surprisingly, some were declared heretics and at least one, Adrian V who ruled briefly in 1276, was not even a priest.

In marked contrast to the RCC’s repeated assertions that the pope is a link in an unbroken chain of apostolic succession which began -- according to Rome’s erroneous and self-serving interpretation of Matthew 16:18 -- with Christ’s giving to Peter the "keys." and authority to rule over the "one true Church," history records that a few who wore the papal ring came to the job by what surely was a less-than-divine route.

There were times when a secular prince had authority to choose the pope. Henry of Germany chose Clement II (1046-1047), who served essentially as chaplain to the king. Adrian I granted Charlemagne the privilege of choosing popes in recognition of the powerful prince’s having greatly enlarged the papal states. This was neatly reversed by the next pope, Leo III , who pulled a fast one on the warrior-king.

After Leo III escaped from the monastery in which he had been imprisoned, Charlemagne made a show of strength in Rome and an assembly agreed to drop all charges against Leo III, thereby clearing the way for a magnificent celebration of Christ’s birth. On Christmas Day in the year 800, Charlemagne, dressed in the robes of a Roman patrician, knelt before St. Peter’s altar in prayer. Leo produced a jeweled crown and set it upon the king’s head. The congregation, perhaps having been instructed beforehand to act according to the ancient ritual as the senatus populusque Romanus confirming a coronation, thrice shouted the requisite words. After anointing the king’s head with oil, Leo declared Charlemagne as Emperor and Augustus – thereby establishing the precedent that civil authority derived from ecclesiastical conferment.

Sergius III (904-911) killed Cardinal Christopher and Leo V to get the pope’s job. Gregory VI (1045-1046) convinced Benedict IX it was OK for him to resign--so that he himself could become pope.

Shortly after assuming the Triple-tiered Tiara, Gregory was compelled to resign for simony. This is interesting, when one considers that for later popes, the papal office was a great source of income. John XXII (1316-1334) permitted priests who paid a tax to keep their mistresses. He actually had a set table of fees for the absolution of any crime – from murder to incest to sodomy. That he was serious about his revenue programs is shown by the fact that he excommunicated 1 patriarch, 5 archbishops, 30 bishops and 146 abbots for not paying taxes to the pope. Sixtus IV (1471-1484) levied a tax on priests who kept mistresses and was the first to offer indulgences for the dead, thereby establishing a virtually infinite source of revenue. Alexander VI (1492-1503), who reportedly, at the tender age of 12, murdered his uncle, Pope Callistus II, was labeled "The Tiberius of Christian Rome" by Gibbons. He freed murderers for a price and appointed cardinals for a flat fee – after which he poisoned them to take possession of their goods and hasten job turn over.

Some of those called Vicarius Filii Dei indeed were lusty men. Sergius III (904-911), at the age of 45, seduced 15-year-old Marozia, mother of Theodora, in the Lateran Palace. One of his sons is known to history as John XI. Pope John XII (955-963), a grandson of Sergius III and Marozia, became pope when he was 16. He slept with his mother and maintained a harem in the Lateran Palace. He died when an angry husband caught him inflagrante delicto and bashed in the back of his head with a hammer.

Boniface VII (974, 984-5) imprisoned and strangled Benedict VI, made himself Pope for a month, then fled to Constantinople, taking with him as much papal treasury as he could carry. He returned several years later, to seize the papacy from the unpopular Benedict VII, who was imprisoned and murdered. Boniface reportedly was killed by a jealous husband and his corpse, riddled with over 100 dagger and spear wounds, was dragged through the streets and dumped in front of the Lateran Palace. Benedict VII (974-983) was caught in the act of adultery and killed by an outraged husband. Four months after he was chosen pope, a Roman crowd seized Leo III (795-816) and, accusing him of adultery, gouged out his eyes, cut off his tongue and imprisoned him in a monastery, from which he later escaped..

Boniface VIII (1294-1303), whom Dante called "The Black Beast," had a married woman and her daughter as his mistresses. That murderous pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) had incestuous relationships with his daughter, her mother and her grandmother. He is known to have fathered at least ten illegitimate children.

In fairness, it must be acknowledged that not all popes were notorious womanizers. No doubt there were some who took their vow of celibacy seriously. In fact, at least one pope appears to have been a misogynist. Of Paul IV (1555-1559), it was said that, "If his mother had foreseen his career, she would have strangled him at birth." He hated all women with an inflexible theological ferocity and declared that "the soul of a women is not potent enough to be a man." Innocent XI (1676-1689) was convinced that engaging in sex merely for pleasure was sinful. Sixtus IV (1471-1484), whose several sons were referred to as "The Pope's Nephews," was more practical. He was the first to license Roman brothels. A number of years later, Pius V (1566-1572) shut down all the bars and ran the prostitutes out of Rome.

At least one pope was insane. Steven VII (896-897) exhumed the body of his predecessor, Pope Formosus (891-6). He dressed the corpse in pontifical robes and put it on trial, finding Formosus guilty of becoming pope under false pretenses. Sergius III (904-911) dug Formosus up ten years later and beheaded the corpse.

Throughout history, Roman popes have been notorious for their love of both ecclesiastical and secular power. Ill-tempered Urban V (1378-1389), an alcoholic, pronounced "I can do anything I like, absolutely anything I like." Apparently, few had taken to heart Christ’s admonition that one cannot serve two masters:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. -- Matthew 6:24

Paul IV (1555-1559), in Cum Apostolatus Officio claimed to be Pontifix Maximus, God's representative on earth, thereby declaring the pope to hold unlimited power.

Innocent III (1198-216), who turned Rome into a clerical state and considered himself "Lord of the World," called himself Universal Bishop (A title repudiated by earlier popes). He promulgated more laws than all the preceding 50 popes combined, yet was bound by none of them. Declaring himself the "Foundation of All Christianity," he proclaimed that "Every cleric must obey the pope, even if he commands what is evil, for no one may judge the pope. (My emphasis). Reversing this infallible declaration, Innocent IV (1243-1254) declared – no doubt also infallibly – that the faithful are not to obey any papal utterance that is heretical or tends to divide the church.

Urban II (1088-1099) declared that heretics were to be tortured and killed. But who exactly were heretics? Paschall II (1099-1118) quoted a forged letter of St. Andrew in support of his argument that whoever does not agree with the Apostolic See is without a doubt a heretic. Gregory IX (1227-1241) agreed that it is the duty of every Catholic to persecute heretics. He established the Inquisition to root out heretics, i.e., anyone who dared oppose any papal pronouncement, and turn them over to civil authorities for burning. Innocent IV (1243-1254) described himself as the bodily presence of Christ (Praesentia Corporalis Christi) Therefore, anyone who failed to respect him was, ipso facto, a heretic.

Pius VIII (1829-1830) applied mind control techniques which later found favor with Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and other totalitarian leaders. He declared that anyone who heard a word of blame against the Holy Office and did not report it was as guilty as the offender and to be treated as such.

Benedict XIV (1740-1758) found a way to identify even the unwilling as subject to the Roman yoke. According to him, a child baptized against parents' will and contrary to canon law was still a "Christian" according to Rome’s definition and had to live as one--or else be a heretic and receive dire penalties as such.

Boniface VIII (1294-1303), a monster that Dante consigned to the 8th circle of Hell with his head in a rock fissure, wrote Unam Sanctum, in which he declared his authority over all humanity: "Every human being must do as the pope tells him." In his supreme arrogance, he continued: "We declare, announce and define that it is altogether necessary for salvation for every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."

A few popes were actually declared heretics, but others got away with holding to heretical viewpoints. John XIII taught the heresy that souls of the departed faithful do not see God until the resurrection of the body and no that one is in hell until the same. John XII actually toasted the Devil at the high altar.

History has provided many instances of one pope, speaking infallibly on matters of faith and morals , contradicting or rescinding the teaching and ordinances of another pope who, we must assume, also was speaking infallibly on the same issue. For example:

On the issue of priestly celibacy, we see some interesting developments over the centuries. Victor III (1086-1087) acknowledged that, throughout Italy, clerics from bishops down, without shame or concealment, were married, lived with their wives openly and generally provided for their offspring in their wills. One of his successors, Urban II (1088-1099), soon addressed this problem by condemning clerical marriages and selling priests' wives into slavery.

Gregory VII (1073-1085) declared "The Pope cannot make a mistake," and established that popes are not subject to councils in matters of faith and morals.

Adrian VI (1522-1523) confessed at the Diet of Nuremburg in 1552 that all evils in the church proceeded from the Roman Curia. "If by the Roman Church you mean its head or pontiff, it is beyond question that he can err even in matters touching the faith. He does this when he teaches heresy by his own judgment or decretal. In truth, many Roman pontiffs were heretics. The last of them was Pope John XXII (1316-1334)."

The infallible popes on the issue of abortion:

Gregory XIII (1572-1585) did not consider it homicide to kill an embryo less than 40 days old since it was not human.

Sixtus V (1585-1590) declared all abortions, whatever the reason, to be homicide and to be penalized by excommunication reserved to the Pope.

Gregory XVI (1831-1832) decided that the censures on abortion established by Sixtus V were to be treated as if never written.

Pius IX (1846-1878) held that Mary was immaculate from the first moment of conception, therefore, all human beings are full human beings at conception; therefore, no abortion, no contraception.

John Paul II, in promulgating the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, clearly stood with Sixtus V: "Can. 1398 A person who actually procures an abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication."

Some papal opinions on Hell.

Gregory I (590-604) declared that the unbaptized go straight to Hell and suffer for all eternity.

Pope John XIII taught that no that one will be in Hell until the bodily resurrection:

Some papal opinions concerning Jews

Gregory I wrote the Bishop of Naples, instructing him "Do not allow the Jews to be molested in the performance of their services. Let them have full liberty to observe and keep all their festivals and holydays, as both they and their fathers have done for so long."

Innocent III led the 4th Lateran Council in its demand for a Jewish badge, and laid down the principle that all Jews were doomed to perpetual servitude because they had crucified Jesus.

In Cum Nimis Absurdum, Paul IV (1555-1559) established a landmark in anti-Semitic history: According to this Vicar of Christ, Christ killers were by nature slaves and should be treated as such. He put Jews of Rome into a ghetto with only one entrance.

Gregory XIII (1572-1585) announced that the guilt of Jews in rejecting and crucifying Christ only grows deeper with successive generations, entailing perpetual slavery.

Pius XII (1939-1958), stood by passively, refusing to intervene, or even denounce, the Nazi atrocities against Jews, despite the fact "There was one in the world whose witness Hitler feared, since many of his armies were Catholic." Even when Jews were taken from Italian cities, as part of what Winston Churchill described as "probably the greatest and most horrible single crime ever committed in the whole history of the world," he remained neutral.

Some interesting papal views on marriage:

Gregory I (590-604) declared that marriage is not sinful, but sex between partners is.

Alexander II (1061-1073) dealt leniently with a priest who had committed adultery with his father’s second wife because the priest had not "committed matrimony."

The popes on power:

When he promulgated Coena Domini, Clement XI (1700-1721) declared the Pope has dominion over the entire Christian world, religious and secular. It bears noting that the Vatican has never explicitly abandoned the position.

According to Leo XIII (1878-1903), the church has a right to a monopoly of religion in any Catholic state."

Some random papal declarations:

Pius V (1566-1572) asserted that the sun revolves around the earth.

Pius IX promulgated Ineffabilis Deus on 8 Dec 1854, proclaiming the Immaculate Conception of Mary, thereby flying in the face of some of the greatest lights in the early church, such as Gregory the Great (590 to 604), the last of the Latin Fathers of the Western Church, who had proclaimed that Christ alone was conceived without sin. This was the tradition till 12th century, as with the Greek and Russian Orthodox Church. Pius proclaimed this dogma on his own, going against Anselm, Bernard, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas who all denied Mary's immaculate conception and Irenaeus, Jerome, Chrysostom, who in common with Paul and Peter, never even thought about it.

Pius X (1903-1904) established in Lamentabili that the Church's interpretation of Sacred Scripture is not subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of exegetes. Of particular interest to those who may have fallen for the RCC’s current ecumenical posturing, is Pius’ declaration that the organic constitution of the Church is immutable and not subject to perpetual evolution. In other words, any separated brethren who are lured into the willing arms of Rome will have to first abandon any other doctrines to which they may subscribe in order to embrace without reservation the heresies of Rome.

John XXIII (1958-1963) published Pacem in Terris wherein he declared everyone has a right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. Of all who ever wore the papal ring, John clearly was the least bigoted.

These are some of the men who claim to be Christ’s personal representative on earth. Be warned. The popes are not content with absolute authority over those in the Roman cult. They want full power, both spiritual and secular, over the affairs of men in all the nations of the world. It may be honestly said that some of these men reflected the morality of the times in which they lived. This, while true, does not mitigate the evil deeds of those who dare call themselves the Vicarius Filii Dei. Surely the Christ for Whom they claim to standing in would never be guilty of the atrocities and heresies of which they have been guilty.

Rome has declared, infallibly, that her doctrines and dogmas will never change. Think about it. Do you wish to trust your eternal state to a religious cult controlled by arrogant men such as these who claim to be infallible in matters of faith and morals? Turn instead to Christ. Read the truth concerning salvation in the Word of God which, indeed, has never changed – nor will it.

Special thanks to the White-Robed Monks of St. Benedict for their research, which drew heavily from Peter De Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy, Corgi Books, 1988. See also Father Richard P. McBrien's Lives of the Popes, HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.

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