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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/18/20

The Borgias: Holy Murderers

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While they posed as pillars of piety, some medieval popes were depraved criminals.

Sergius III (reigned 904-911) allegedly had two papal rivals strangled in prison. His illegitimate son later became pope.

John XII (955-964) openly had mistresses, gave them church treasure, castrated one opponent, blinded another, and donned armor to lead the papal army.

Benedict V (May 964-June 964) reportedly dishonored a girl and looted Vatican treasure.

Boniface VII (974-985) apparently murdered a rival pope, was driven from Rome stealing Vatican treasure as he left then returned to murder a second rival and regain the papacy. Later, he was branded an antipope.

Benedict IX (1032-1048) sold the papacy to a successor for 1,500 pounds of gold, and later used troops to seize power again.

Boniface VIII (1294-1303) sent troops to kill 6,000 residents of Palestrina and raze the city. He decreed that salvation requires "that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff".

Clement VI (1342-1352) cavorted with mistresses on ermine bedspreads.

Urban VI (1378-1389) tortured and murdered cardinals who opposed him.

Clement VII (1378-1394) was a rival pope at Avignon, France. A year before his papacy, he ordered troops to massacre 4,000 residents of Cesena.

A previous John XXIII (not the 1950s reformer) was removed by a council in 1414, and Edward Gibbon sardonically recorded in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: "The most serious charges were suppressed: the Vicar of Christ was accused only of piracy, murder, rape, sodomy and incest."

Innocent VIII (1484-1492) flaunted his illegitimate children and gave them church riches. He launched the infamous witch hunts.

But the grandmaster of papal barbarity was Rodrigo Borgia, who became Alexander VI.

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James A. Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia's largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Mr. Haught has won two dozen national news writing awards. He has written 12 books and hundreds of magazine essays and blog posts. Around 450 of his essays are online. He is a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine, a weekly blogger at Daylight Atheism, (more...)
 

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