The good old days of the Roman papacy were occasionally rather dreadful. More than a few Pontifex Maximus rotten apples in the old Vatican barrel.
Pope Sergius III
We need lots of reforms today — BUT, all things considered, the papacy today is in much better shape.
A friend in Rome has called attention to “The Vatican Hall of Shame” by Tony Perrottet. A few anecdotal historical snippets:
POPE SERGIUS III (904-11), known by his cardinals as “the slave of every vice,” came to power after murdering his predecessor. He had a son with his teenage mistress — the prostitute Marozia, 30 years his junior — and their illegitimate son grew up to become the next pope!
POPE BENEDICT IX, (1032-48) continually shocked even his most hardened cardinals by debauching young boys in the Lateran Palace.
After massacring the entire population in the Italian town of Palestrina, POPE BONIFACE VIII (1294-1303) indulged in sex games with a married woman and her daughter and was renowned throughout Rome as a shameless pedophile. He famously declared that having sex with young boys was no more a sin than rubbing one hand against the other……
POPE SIXTUS IV (1471-84), who funded the Sistine Chapel, had six illegitimate sons — one with his sister. He collected a Church tax on prostitutes and charged priests for keeping mistresses. Critics argued however that this merely increased the prevalence of clerical homosexuality.
POPE JULIUS II (1503-13) is remembered for commissioning Michelangelo to paint the Sistene Chapel’s ceiling. His other clail to fame: the first pope to contract “the French disease,” syphilis, from Rome’s male prostitutes.
And the all-time winner of course is: Rodrigo Borgia, who took the name POPE ALEXANDER VI (1492-1503). Edward Gibbon tells us he presided over more orgies than masses. One of his special treats was the 1501 “Joust of the Whores.” Fifty dancers were invited to slowly strip around the papal table. Alexander and his family then gleefully threw chestnuts on the floor and forced the women to grovel around their feet like pigs. The papal party then offered special prizes for the fellow who could fornicate with the most women. One of Pope Alexander’s other favorite pastimes was watching horses copulate. After his death — he was probably poisoned by his pathological son, Cesar Borgia — Alexander’s body was expelled from the basilica of Saint Peter as too evil to be buried in sacred soil.