This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Friday, 28 November 2014

Is this the worst pope ever?

A re-post of something I wrote in 1494.

When cardinals meet in a conclave to elect a new pope, they are of course guided by the Holy Spirit - or at least the Spirit of Lateran II - or, failing that, by the Spirit of Cardinal Murfio Conna - and therefore there can be no such thing as a bad pope. So we should be reluctant to criticise Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia).

Pope Alexander VI

Actually, he does look a little like Pope Francis.

Traditionalists among us fondly remember Pope Innocent VIII, with his powerful encyclical Summis desiderantes, a polemic against witchcraft that led to harsh criticism by Signora Cristina Beati in the Pastiglia.

Alexander is rather different. Already he is highly unpopular in Germany, where an 11-year old boy called Martin Luther has been arrested for scribbling "The Pope is a Schweinehund" on his church door. But even amongst adults there is disquiet as to some of the Holy Father's behaviour.

Luther's graffiti

Graffiti at Wittenberg.

For a start, there are Alexander's views on family life. His recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family took a controversially liberal attitude to unconventional family arrangements. Indeed, it was attended by the pope's mistress, Vannozza dei Cattanei, together with numerous children. This sort of conduct may be tolerated in Arundel and Brighton, but is still considered inappropriate for Rome.

Vannozza dei Cattanei

Vannozza dei Cattanei.

Alexander is also ruthless with his political enemies. Some have been exiled to the barren island of Malta, and there have been claims that in extreme cases the Pope is prepared to use poison. However, these are still only rumours. In any case, such minor eccentricities are surely outweighed by the pope's humble and charismatic nature! Who are we to judge?


  1. Eccles, if I was a woman, I would want to have your children, whether or not you are a Cardinal. (Probably more so if you are, I suppose.) Your posts always make me chuckle as I read them earnestly.

  2. I know this is a satirical blog, but don't you think its a little excessive and cruel to Alexander VI to insinuate a comparison with such a corrupt Pope?

  3. Nothing will equal the encyclical of Francis I "Summis amentis....". Autem qui ego sum judicare?

  4. I have just read on the Rorate Caeli blog that Francis has asked the Metropolitan Bartholemew to bless him and the Church of Rome. As the blog says "One has to ask just what the Pope thinks about Apostolic succession..."? It appears that Bartholemew then gave him a kiss on his forehead. He was more than a little taken aback!!!

  5. Francis is cleverer. He keeps his chestnuts to throw around in his homilies.

  6. LeonG,

    I believe in Latin, it should be: Autem quis ad iudicandum sim ego?

    You don't need the ego, but it seems to fit the context. Remember that qui is the relative, quis the interrogative...and questions of improbity take the subjunctive mood.