Tag: Catholic Popes

No 7 Of Top 10 Controversial Catholic Popes: Nicholas III

No 7 Of Top 10 Controversial Catholic Popes: Nicholas III

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Nicholas III

Number seven on our list of top ten controversial Catholic Popes is Nicholas III. It’s always good to be the Pope. But for the three years of Nicholas III’s reign (1277-1280), it may have been better to be the Pope’s brother. Or uncle. Or cousin. Nicholas III distributed principalities in the Papal States among members of his family, essentially giving them land and political power. This nepotism earned him a spot in Dante’s eighth circle of Hell.

No 6: Boniface VIII

No 8: Clement V

No 6 Of Top 10 Controversial Catholic Popes: Boniface VIII

No 6 Of Top 10 Controversial Catholic Popes: Boniface VIII

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Boniface VIII

Number six on our list of top ten controversial Catholic Popes is Boniface VIII. Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) didn’t want to save your soul; he wanted to rule your life. Boniface VIII was one of the most ardent supporters of papal authority.

What started as a minor squabble with King Philip IV of France over a government’s ability to tax clergy members escalated until Boniface VIII excommunicated the king and released a decree stating that “every human creature [was] subject to the Roman pontiff.”

Boniface VIII sent mercenaries to destroy other people’s castles, declared all the prominent Italian Colonna family’s property forfeited and proceeded to parcel their land out among his family members. In September 1303, an army led by the Colonna family kidnapped the Pope and demanded that he abdicate. Held in captivity for multiple days, the Pope refused. He survived the attack and returned to Rome only to die a month later.

Although Boniface VIII was still alive when Dante — who had been personally exiled by the Pope for supporting papal limitations — wrote his famous Divine Comedy, the Italian writer placed him in his version of Hell anyway.

No 5: Pope Benedict IX

No 7: Nicholas III

No 5 Of Top 10 Controversial Catholic Popes : Pope Benedict IX

No 5 Of Top 10 Controversial Catholic Popes : Pope Benedict IX

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Pope Benedict IX

Number four on our list of top ten controversial Catholic Popes is Pope Benedict IX. Pope Benedict IX was not exactly beloved. St. Peter Damian, for one, called him a “demon from hell in the disguise of a priest.” In his third book of Dialogues, Pope Victor III wrote of Benedict IX as having a “life as a pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.” No wonder Benedict IX decided to stick it to all of them, resigning in 1045 — and becoming the first man in history to sell the papacy. The buyer: the priest John Gratian (Pope Gregory VI). Benedict IX later refused to face charges of simony and was excommunicated.

No 4: Pope Pius XII

No 6: Boniface VIII

No 4 Of Top 10 Controversial Popes: Pius XII

No 4 Of Top 10 Controversial Popes: Pius XII

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Pope Pius XII

No four on our list of top ten controversial Catholic Popes is Pope Pius XII. Quite popular during his time as Pontiff, Pius XII, who served at the Vatican from 1939 to 1958, has been the subject of heated debate in the decades since. As head of the Catholic Church during World War II, Pius has been pilloried in some quarters for not doing more to speak out against the atrocities of the Holocaust. In January 2010, the head of Rome’s Jewish community confronted Pope Benedict XVI over Pius’ perceived silence during the war. The church, however, has long held that Pius was active in saving Jews from the Nazis, a claim it says will be supported when Vatican documents related to the war are released to the public over the next half-decade.

No 3: Pope Alexander VI

No 5: Pope Benedict IX

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