Bad Popes..Pulp Fiction...Yea though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod … The dying man seems to go into the dark valley alone.

Here they are in all their glory…lets have at em…did they change Doctrine? Did we have 12 sacraments and now 7, Mary Worship, Idol worship and now fixed, were we Pelagians and they corrected it…what gives here??? Did these Popes change the Church or speak Ex Cathedra against what we have now or what? Will these evildoers never learn…!!!

Pope Stephen VI (896–897)
Pope John XII (955–964)
Pope Benedict IX (1032–1044, 1045, 1047–1048)
Pope Boniface VIII (1294–1303)
Pope Urban VI (1378–1389)
Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503)Pope Leo X (1513–1521)
Pope Clement VII (1523–1534)

Tim Staples on Bad Popes found here…

Many of the central truths of the Catholic Religion were being opposed or ignored. It was clear that the faith of the ordinary Catholic was being eroded and destroyed by this revolutionary and rapid change.

This is not to say that there was not a need for reform. Most Catholic historians and theologians acknowledge that some aspects of Catholic life were in need of reform. There was little proper seminary training for priests and the sacraments and sacramentals were being abused by Churchmen. Some princes and kings were given too much power in the Church and many clergy were meddling in affairs of State. While all of this is true, we must remember that this poor state of affairs in the Church did not affect all areas of the Faith.

Even despite all their corruption and human weakness, the bad Popes and unscrupulous clerics did not change the centuries-old body of Catholic teaching. They did not re-write Catholic doctrine nor try to change the traditional beliefs about the Mass and the Sacraments.

It was the protestant reformers who wanted these changes to Catholic doctrine and practice. Many of these reformers complained about the obvious corruption which did exist in the Church, but they also wanted to change basic belief.

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

2God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

3Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

4Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.

I see Evangelicals, Protestants looking at Bad Popes comparing them to the Faith of Peter however did they change the Church or was Christ faithful?

Wouldn’t a domineering, authoritarian church desperately try to repress this information? :shrug:

Refreshing to even be having this discussion. :slight_smile: :popcorn:

The problem with this line of apologetics is you’re looking at two different definitions of the word “bad”. The Protestants are ignoring doctrine completely and just looking at Popes who were - for lack of better words - not good people. The reason is to undermine the moral grounding of the Church rather than the purity - which is what this apologetic aims to preserve. Protestants don’t care whether or not they left the faith of the religion in tact.

In other words, if you want to answer this protestant argument, you need to tell us why it doesn’t matter that some nasty and seemingly impious men have managed to become popes.

For the record I’d tend to side with Catholics on this, that it doesn’t matter that some less than perfect individuals have taken the Papal throne, I’m just trying to clarify where the actual opposition is.

Even if it wanted to, the Papacy doesn’t have the capability to repress information - a lesson it learned with the now defunct Index. That it hasn’t tried to do what it knows it can’t do is not an argument for its inherent goodness.

I don’t think Leo X was bad as far as bad but he was very worldly.


Your bias is showing. You mention what the Protestants need and then you say that what you need to tell us. This includes you as Protestant does it not? On the other hand you side with the Catholics.

I don’t need to prove anything. All I am doing is airing out the bad laundry. Let Protestants think what they will. If they have questions let them ask. If they have concerns let them voice them. The message is the same. The messengers sometimes are not as we want them.


What is the index? You are full of good information. Inherent goodness cannnot be percieved by not doing what you know you cannot do. Good Rabbi. Why do you call me good. For on your own you can do nothing. God alone is good. Are we on the same planet here?

I think he might mean the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, which was the list of banned (prohibited) books from the Vatican. Pope Paul VI abolished it if I remember correctly.

Good point. I mean if the church really were so fallible, then surely it would be the easiest thing in the world for an Alexander VI (guilty of fornication, murder and simony, and suspected even of incest) to definitively declare one or more of these things to not be sinful, at least for people in his circumstances. Yet he didn’t :shrug:

C’mon, Nine.

Surely the ‘Whore of Babylon’ can keep the papist automatons from finding out the truth…



I’m not interesting in undermining anything, and that was my reason for saying to HL (on the other thread) that what I was expressing was descriptive (of what is a stumbling block for me), not prescriptive (in regards to telling other people what they should believe). Other than Nine_Two saying that the reason Protestants bring this issue up is to undermine the moral grounding of the Catholic Church, I agree with what he is saying here. The concern doesn’t have anything to do with bad popes changing doctrine.

I mentioned Paul’s instructions for choosing bishops in the other thread. Both 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter 1 give clear descriptions of the actions, character, and attitude —not just the professed doctrine—required of an ordinary bishop. In Titus Paul explains that these moral requirements are necessary because even the ordinary bishop is God’s steward or householder, charged with being a caretaker of God’s children.

So, well, I don’t see why it’s unreasonable of me to be deeply troubled by the gross immorality of the worst popes; deeply troubled enough that I wonder how these men could have had Peter’s faith. You may say, well, they had Peter’s office but not his faith. I’ve heard that from some Catholic apologists. But then that leads us back to St. Hilary and some EFC’s who appear to not separate Peter and Peter’s faith when it comes to being the “rock” of Matthew 16.

Again, I’m not trying to argue or undermine anything; I’m just laying my concern on the table for discussion.


I would imagine that you may consider that Peter saw Jesus, spoke to Jesus, witnessed Jesus and to have the Faith of Peter for any person may be a stumbling block…I pointed out the immorality of Evangelicals as you know because in their humanity they sinned but the message that was delivered was not diminished by that sin. While Paul declared the requirments do you believe that this is a mold that fit at all times for all people. No Protestant pastor fit that mold perfectly…are we stuck on the message or the mold…?

While Christians are to conform to Christ…I recall a posting asking for Protestants that fit that mold in regards to the OHCAC recognizing Saints that we recognize come close to that mold…I recognized Billy Graham as a Protestant saint…some Popes just were not Saints…and I am not talking about the ones Benny Hinn refers to when he speaks and says "now saints…now church…

I’m off to feed my beasts then to bed, so no hurry to answer this…Yes, I believe Paul’s requirements still stand; why would they have changed?

I’m not talking about requiring anything close to perfection in bishops, archbishops, or the Bishop of Rome. Of course they are frail and flawed humans doing a very hard and stressful job by the grace of God.

Requirements are essential however the reality is that humanity often fails the requirements and in the context of the Papacy and Peter…the OHCAC survives intact…gotta love that Church…:slight_smile:

There was one Pope who was known to be so bad that as soon as word of his election to the papacy went round, the monks began to fast and pray for his death! Heard that somewhere, can’t recall- perhaps the History channel or something. Another one toasted the devil with the chalice (The cup we use for the consecration at mass) and wine at St Peter’s alter- That’s so incredibly evil I can’t even imagine it. That these guys didn’t try to change church teaching to suit their fancies is just incredible- Or perhaps they tried and failed, who knows? But man, those were some evil popes! What a contrast with our Martyr popes of the first 300 years, or the Holy Popes of the last century and a half!

St. Peter, pray for us!

The problem with the Renaissance Papacy (I did actually write an essay on them, 4000 words!) is that the knowledge we have of them comes from their enemies, not from them themselves. Therefore the historicity of some of the claims can be challenged, no doubt they were bad but exactly how bad? The historical evidence being so unreliable makes it incredibly hard to ascertain.

Pope Alexander VI for example, most of the sources we have on him are wrote by his opponents, and those that really did not like the Spaniard. So some of the accusations may be false, but we can never know.

Probably one of the most important distinctions I have learned on this forum is the difference between the Pope being an infallible man that could make human mistakes vs the Holy Spirit PREVENTING him from making an error that will harm the Church.

From a Catholic perspective, the holiness of the Church is dependent upon the holiness of Christ, her Divine founder, and not upon the holiness of her individual members. The miracle is not that every successor of Peter (or of the apostles in general - if we wish to expand this discussion to look at the episcopate) has been a saintly a man, but rather that despite human weakness, sinfulness, and corruption, the Church has continued to hand down the faith of the apostles, proclaim the Gospel, and administer the sacraments. The office of the papacy is bigger than the individual man who occupies the throne of Peter at any given time…the authority of the office is rooted in Christ Himself and the infallibility of the office in Our Lord’s promise to Peter that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:32) - it is Christ who preserves the papacy, the episocopate, and the Church, not the popes or bishops. When Our Lord established His Church, He set in place certain “rules” that are guarenteed regardless of human weakness or sinful choices. I like to compare it to the laws of nature that God set in place when He first created the universe… no matter how hard I try to defy gravity, an object will fall to the ground every single time I release it. Likewise, by virtue of Our Lord’s promise and His divine plan for His Church, the sacraments and the divinely instituted offices of the papacy and the episcopate will operate in the way He intended, regardless of the worthiness of the individual ministers. A man who ascends to the papacy has been given great graces and gifts and true God-given authority - yet the man still has freewill and can choose to abuse what he has been given - just as any of us can. To me, the idea that a pope, who has been given so much by God, can choose to not cooperate with the grace of God is no more of a scandal than the fact that I, who by virtue of my baptism and confirmation have been anointed as a king, priest, and prophet, a share in the very divine life of the Trinity, can choose to reject God’s grace.

We can see a similar principle at play in the Scriptures. In the Old Testament, which of course anticipates the New, the office of High Priest was endowed with certain intrinsic and objective qualities regardless of the individual worthiness of the office-holder…the authority of the High Priest was the authority of God and thus the office could not be degraded by a mere man. We see this in the Old Testament but also in the Gospel in the case of Caiphas who, as St. John tells us, spoke by the Holy Spirit by virtue of his office as high priest, despite the fact that he plotted to murder God-incarnate! (See John 11:51). Judas is another excellent example - Our Lord chose Judas and gave him the graces and authority of an apostle, yet Judas chose to betray Our Lord.

It is Christ who sustains His Church. It is Christ who deifies/sanctifies His people through the sacraments. It is Christ who speaks through his popes and bishops. Can Christ be hindered by the sin of a mere man - even a pope?

as I read this list, for the 2000 years of the Catholic Church, I read only 8 “bad Popes” listed here. In prospective that is pretty good out of 2000 years of church history. As a former protestant, it is easy to confuse infallibility with impeccability, there don’t mean the same things. infallibility means when the Pope rules ex cathedra on matters of doctrine. Impeccability means no Pope is a perfect man and obviously some more than other. I think I have read that Blessed John Paul II went to confession every day. look on the other side, Many of our previous Popes are saints, more than has made the bad Pope list. If you based your rejection of the Papacy based on 8 bad Popes, you are grasping at straws. There are many more who have been killed in the job and gave up themselves for Christ and the Church than made the bad Pope list. It is better to point out those Popes than focus on defending why we had 8 bad Popes. Just as Christ choose Judas, we have had a few duds but that does not negate the office and role of the Pope. We have also had a few bad presidents of the US too, that doesn’t negate the office of the presidency of the US.

The us was more to indicate non-Catholics. Even if I don’t buy the argument as proof against the Catholic Church, it does undermine the idea of Papacy - even if not disproving it.

You very much don’t need to prove anything, but you’re the one who brought up the argument and then gave an apologetic that doesn’t answer it.

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