LIVES OF THE POPES
Part 4 (The Final Section)
Pope Clement V (French) did not obtain his elevation to the papacy without first promising important concessions to the King of France. He resided chiefly at Avignon – far from the chair of Peter – his successors followed his example for no less than seventy years – writers call this period the "Babylonish captivity of the Church.”
Pope Alexander died in the year 1410 from poison. His death in such a sorrowful manner was ascribed to his successor Pope John XXIII, whose election to popedom astonished the world. He was brought before the Council of Constance, charged with the most monstrous crimes, almost any one of which would have brought a common offender to the scaffold. To none of these charges did he offer denial or defense. During this period there were three popes at once. The said three popes were, Gregory XII, Benedict XIII and John XXIII. The Council deposed the whole three, and Pope Martin succeeded them. The humble deportment of Pope John saved him from death, and he spent many subsequent years in prison.
The hands of Pope Nicholas V were stained with the blood of Porcari and nine of his confederates, who were hanged from the battlements of St. Angelo. The crime of Stefano Porcari the noble and honorable Roman was that he urged his countrymen to ask the new pope to give them tuitional liberty.
Pope Sixtus who succeeded Pope Paul II had several illegitimate sons who, for enriching them, seized on the estate of one of the nobles of Romagna with the intention of conferring them on one of these children, and the story of the trouble fills a volume. The Pope formed a plot for the assassination of Lorengo’s whole family out of revenge against him, because he interfered on behalf of the injured man. For two years this Vicar of Christ filled northern Italy with bloodshed and terror, and if it were not for the conquering Turks entry to Italy and the taking of Otsanto, God only knows what he would have committed in crimes and iniquities.
But the most disgraceful of Innocent’s popedom was the instigation which he gave to sanguinary prosecution of the Waldenses of Piedmont. The bull which he issued for this purpose exhorts “all bishops, together with the princes of France” to take arms against that innocent people, and to “tread them underfoot as venomous adders.” The response to this bull was as fierce and savage as its bigoted author could have desired. The inhabitants of the valleys were hunted to the mountain caves to which they fled for refuge, and the mouths of the caverns were stopped up with large piles of wood which were immediately set on fire. Among the crowds thus cruelly suffocated were four hundred infants in their cradles or at their mother’s breasts. Multitudes of both sexes, and of all ages were hurled over the rocks and dashed to pieces and altogether three thousand thus perished at the hands of their brutal persecutors.
The whole of ten years of the pontificate of Pope Julius II were devoted to fraud and stratagems and deeds of violence and injustice, and bloody wars, in which he took personal part, forgetting the divine commandment “You shall not kill.”
Philip the Fair King of France, had a long dispute with Pope Boniface VIII. The King imprisoned a bishop for committing treason, and wrote to the pope desiring that the culprit be suspended from office. The pope got very angry and said in his reply to the King: “God has set me over the nations and kingdoms, to root out and pull down, to build and to plant in His name.” So said the Scion of Christ, but listen to what has been said by Christ himself: :He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the street, a bruised he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench.”
It is neither our purpose nor permitted by our limits to dwell much on the lives and characters of the popes of Rome. What we have said is only an illustration of a few of the deeds and acts of those who claim to be the only true church and who refer to themselves as the “Vicars of Christ” although their actions prove them to be anti-Christ, and not a church. Consequently the pride of the popes of Rome caused their fall from communion with the Mother Church. Their tyranny was the cause of the exodus of 150 million from their communion and their deviating from the true duty of their holy office deserved the wrath of God and His punishment.
The proclamation of infallibility of Pope Pius IX took place on July 18 1780; on the very next day began the Franco-Prussian War; this caused the recall of the French troops from Rome. Then followed the capture of the City by a newly United Italy, and the firm establishment of the Italian throne at the gates of the Vatican. The popes had added to their spiritual power very strong secular power and armies to protect their property. This temporal power of the papacy vanished like a dream and Pope Pius IX considered himself a prisoner within the Vatican precincts. All his successors followed his example and still dream of restoring temporal power once again.
Remembering the sordid history of the papacy, the populace of Catholic countries hold the Vatican in contempt, despising and loathing their past actions for hundreds of years. Holy Orthodoxy’s Head is the Godman whom we are called upon to emulate, for He alone is the perfect man, the benevolent man who is the perfect image and likeness of God whom we magnify in praise. The infallible head of the papacy cannot portray himself to be benevolent nor to be the example of a perfect man in the image and likeness of God. History books reveal the terrible acts of so many popes whom the Vatican claims that through them came the succession from Peter of many vicars of Jesus Christ.