Is Joseph Ratzinger the Most Evil Pope in Vatican History?
Prior to 384 CE, there was no Catholic Church. In that year a bishop named Siricius was elected archbishop of Rome, entitling him to assume the title of “Pope” as one of five popes who reigned over the five Christian patriarchies of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria. Since no bishop of Rome before Siricius was recognized as Head Christian, none can be considered to have held the office of Pope, as that title is understood today. Siricius promptly declared himself pope of all Christians, thereby creating what is now regarded as the Catholic Church, and declared that his four coequal popes were henceforth his inferiors. The first pope is not known to have been a particularly evil man. His seizure of an office to which he had had no entitlement was not qualitatively different from the same actions of the first Sunni Caliph, or Pepin the Short, or England’s King William III, or Brigham Young, or Fidel Castro, or George W. Bush.
At about the same time as Siricius’s self-promotion, a passage was interpolated into the anonymous Christian gospel called Matthew (16:18-19), showing Jesus bestowing the office of Head Christian on his apprentice, Peter. Since the Manichean “Acts of Peter” claimed that Peter had travelled to Rome and been executed there, he was retroactively acclaimed as Rome’s first bishop even though he had never visited Rome in his life and even though “Acts of Peter” was excluded from the Christian canon. The Matthew interpolation in effect identified the current bishop of Rome as Peter’s successor and therefore Head Christian. While Siricius utilized the interpolation to bolster his declaration of primacy over the other four popes, whether his self-popification happened before or after the interpolation is not known. Since his rivals were aware that, “God is on the side of the big battalions,” as Napoleon Bonaparte observed, and Siricius commanded the biggest battalions, the bishops of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem quickly capitulated. The bishop of Constantinople never did, and the adherents of the Constantinople patriarchy are to this day deemed Eastern Orthodox rather than Catholic.
Popes have always been scientifically illiterate. No one can be more scientifically illiterate than a theologian, described by H. L. Mencken as “a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that is not there—and finding it.” Pope Paul III planned his consistory by horoscopes. Leo X founded a chair of astrology at a major university. Other popes who endorsed the validity of astrology include Sixtus IV and Julius II. Paul V decreed that “The doctrine of the double motion of the earth about its axis and about the sun is false, and entirely contrary to holy scripture.” For some reason, he did not similarly denounce “the doctrine that the earth is round,” which is also “contrary to holy scripture,” Since the bible contains fourteen fables that could be true if and only if the earth is flat. John Paul II announced the RC church’s acceptance of the theory of evolution, making it impossible for Benedict XVI to proclaim his belief in intelligent design an article of faith. Instead he tried to have his cake and eat it by declaring “It is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.”
Hypocrisy has long been a papal norm rather than an exception. Pope Boniface VIII was the first known atheist to become pope, in effect ordering Catholics, “Believe what I tell you, not what I believe myself.” Leo X is on record as remarking, “How profitable to us has been this fable of Jesus Christ.” Benedict XVI’s most defining quality is the hypocrisy that enabled him to order his bishops to cover up thousands of instances of priestly pedophilia and then denounce the subordinates who carried out the cover-ups that he had personally ordered.
The Catholic Church has been homophobic from its inception, denouncing all homosexual acts performed by other people. But the popes who were themselves homosexual, and therefore hypocrites, include John VIII, Julius III (who made his 16-year-old catamite a cardinal), and Leo IX. Pope John Paul II had a longtime special relationship with Stanislaw Dziwisz, whose bedroom at the Vatican adjoined his own. Whether New York’s Cardinal Spellman might have become pope if his homosexuality had not become an open secret can only be guessed.
The RC church has also consistently denounced adultery, under its modern definition of a recreational activity rather than the fraudulent impregnation of a married woman that is what “adultery” meant to the author of the commandments of Exodus 20. Popes who took the attitude, “When the pope does it, it’s not a sin,” include Sergius IV, who promulgated the doctrine, “that the pope could not be damned, but that, do what he would, he must be saved,” and Sergius III. John XII was murdered in the bed of a married woman, probably by her husband. According to Martin Luther, twelve naked nuns customarily served Pope Julius II his supper, but whether he copulated with them, Luther apparently did not know. It was Julius II who founded the Mary Magdalene Order of prostitute nuns, probably in recognition that a nun was originally a priestess who copulated with male worshippers as an act of worship to a fertility goddess. Sixtus IV established a brothel in Rome and, as its pimp, received commissions amounting to 20,000 ducats a year. When Paul of Tarsus denounced a crime that English bibles render as “fornication,” he was referring to the false-god worship of nuntupping.
“Incest,” a purely religious concept meaning “unchastity,” has never been front and center in papal preaching. But it has always been denounced as a monstrous sin—except when Pope Alexander VI impregnated his daughter, Lucretia Borgia, of course. Alexander’s dictum, “Do as I say, not as I do,” is now the Golden Rule for televangelists and Catholic priests. John XXIII (1410-1415) was convicted of incest as well as murder. Boniface VIII was publicly accused of fathering the children of two of his nieces, but his trial was halted without a verdict out of fear that a conviction, especially since the allegations against him included atheism, would do the church irreparable harm.
Popes have always utilized the Big Lie. Gregory VII endorsed as morally sound, “the lie that is told in a good cause.” Adrian I commissioned the forged Donation of Constantine and presented it to the Emperor Charlemagne as the basis for the papacy’s claim to secular rule of the Western Roman Empire. Innocent VIII, after publicly proclaiming the Christian trinity as the only gods, turned to the goddess Panacea, the deified human breast, on his death bed, and followed her prescription of drinking only breast milk. He did not recover.
The Vatican has long maintained the Big Lie that its doctrines have never changed. In fact the Roman church categorized marriage as licensed sin and ordered its priests not to attend wedding ceremonies for the first twelve centuries of its existence. It only declared matrimony a sacrament when it recognized that, by its failure to claim the right to pronounce a marriage into existence (for the right price), it was missing out on a significant source of income.
For eighteen centuries Rome viewed abortion as a mere imperfection, a violation of a woman’s duty to bear as many tithe-paying Catholics as she was physically capable. Only in 1869 did Pius IX abolish the doctrine of passive conception, under which a fetus was deemed to be soulless prior to quickening, and declare that fetuses have souls from the instant of conception.
In 1332 Pope John XXII denounced the concept of papal infallibility as the work of the Christian devil. In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared himself infallible. When the bishops attending the First Vatican Council indicated that his infallibility proposal would be defeated, Pius intimidated the 70 percent who opposed him into leaving Rome, and had the resolution passed by the few bishops who remained.
The categorization of birth control as a sin by Pope Pius XI in 1930 has not been reversed. But later popes have declined to proclaim that the doctrine cannot be changed, probably to minimize the damage when a future pope does so. Paul VI appointed a committee of clerical and lay advisers to consider the matter, and was on the verge of legitimizing birth control, when the future Pope John Paul II pointed out to him that such a reversal of the church’s position would carry the implication that the Protestants had been right. Cardinal Wojtyla declared that, “If the church sent all those souls to hell, it must keep maintaining that that is where they are.” Did Paul VI and John Paul II believe that they had the power to free millions of souls from hell, but chose to keep them there because freeing them would have caused the Catholic Church to lose face? Regardless of the answer to that question, their teaching that birth control is a “sin” was based on political convenience, not on what they actually believed. That makes it a lie. But no Big Lie in papal history surpasses Benedict XVI’s conscious, deliberate, self-serving, death-dealing lie that condoms contribute to the spread of AIDS rather than diminishing it. Even his lie that he had not ordered the cover-up of priestly pedophilia pales into insignificance compared to that one.
Homicide has traditionally been a papal prerogative. Pope Boniface VII succeeded to the papacy by murdering his predecessor, Benedict VI. He was forced to flee Rome, but returned and regained the papacy by murdering the new pope, John XIV. Damasus I murdered 160 supporters of a rival candidate. Even though he was not really a pope, since he was the true first Pope’s (Siricius) immediate predecessor in Rome, he was eventually canonized. Benedict IX resigned the papacy to Damasus II, and promptly murdered him in an unsuccessful attempt to regain the office from which Damasus had ousted him. John XXIII (retroactively reclassified as an antipope) was tried and convicted of murder and incest, but the accusation that he seduced 200 nuns was not put to a verdict. He maintained a stable of 200 concubines in Bologna.
Those were personal murders. Popes who ordered massacres and genocide include Benedict VIII, who executed Rome’s Jews under the pretence that they had conjured up a storm that was ravaging the city. Clement V burned the leaders of the Knights Templar for alleged heretical practices, but more likely because they constituted a powerful opposition to papal power and owned much property that the church confiscated. Gregory II waged a civil war against the Byzantine emperor for trying to ban the image worship that remains a part of Catholic ritual to this day. Gregory IX instituted the Inquisition that replaced heretic lynching with legalized heretic burning. Pius V sent an army to massacre 2,000 Waldensians in southern Italy, and authorized the massacre of 70,000 Huguenots in 1572. His successor Gregory XII promptly proclaimed a year of celebration when the genocide of the Huguenots succeeded. Innocent III unleashed an army of 400,000 against the Albigensians of Provence, and expressed joy when they massacred the whole population of several thousand square kilometers. John VIII ordered the bishop of Naples to bring him the city’s most prominent Muslims, so that he could cut their throats in public for daring to live among Christians. Pius XII accepted a bribe from Adolf Hitler, who agreed to act as the pope’s tax collector in Germany, in exchange for ordering German Catholics not to speak out against Hitler’s extermination of Jews.
But no pope, even those responsible for the Crusades, has engineered as many homicides as Joseph Ratzinger. First as John Paul II’s Grand Inquisitor and later as Pope Benedict XVI, his prohibition of sane population control led to the births of 20 million unwanted children who starved to death because their parents were unable to feed them. And his prohibition of sane disease control has so far caused 20 million AIDS deaths and a further 20 million infections of persons who will eventually die from the disease. While John Paul II shares Ratzinger’s guilt for those murders, he at least has the defence of diminished capacity. Benedict XVI is the most prolific serial killer in human history, with the possible exception of Joseph Stalin. The only way Adolf Hitler could be considered a contender for the title is if he is held accountable for every death on both sides in World War II.
Joseph Ratzinger, aka the Nazi pope, aka Ratzinazi, aka the Rat, aka Benedict XVI, aka Maledict XVI, is not the most hypocritical pope in Vatican history. Popes who enriched themselves by peddling “this fable of Jesus Christ” despite being themselves atheists outstrip him on that score. He is neither more nor less avaricious than the majority of his predecessors, and no more unprincipled than John Paul II, Pius IX, or Pius XII. As a liar, he surpasses Hitler’s full partner in the Holocaust, Pius XII. When his role in the facilitation of child abuse for the purpose of protecting the RC church’s power and reputation became common knowledge, he made a speech congratulating himself for, “the courage that doesn’t let us be intimidated by the chatting of dominant opinions.” There have probably been similar self-justifying lies by previous popes, but none comes to mind. The closest parallel is Al Capone’s protestation that “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.”
But it is Ratzinger’s status as a mass murderer, and not even a fanatic anti-Semitic or anti-Protestant murderer but an expedient one, which makes him the most evil pope in Vatican history. No pope has been fired since the Great Schism. Benedict XVI might well be the first.