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Chapter 7

The Papal Record

 

IN this era of ecumenism, many often overlook the abysmal record of the Papacy. The Vatican has never repented of it. In May 1990, the emperor of Japan publicly repented of the crimes perpetrated in Korea during the Japanese occupation of 1906–1945. But the Papacy has never repented of her crimes of vastly greater proportions.

This summary of the Papacy’s record is not written in order to cause anyone to despise the Catholics, for these people are greatly loved of God; however, in order to demonstrate why God, in His Word, uses such strong language in His denunciation of Catholicism, we need to understand that Scripture is speaking about the religious system, not against individual persons for whom He died.

We quote from a Catholic author lest Protestant sources are thought to be biased. Dr. Peter de Rosa (a former professor of ethics and metaphysics in Westminster Seminary, and a former dean of theology in Corpus Christi College) has not concealed this record in his classic work, Vicars of Christ.

Claiming to be in the apostolic succession from Peter, popes have led out in the most appalling evils. Who can seriously believe the claim of apostolic succession when popes have conducted themselves in a manner that is foreign to the Christ-filled life of the apostle Peter? The Jews made similar claims, in their retort to Jesus, that they were the descendants of Abraham. This claim was genetically valid, but the character of these people proved how utterly false it was. The papal claim of apostolic succession is also a fallacy.

No one can successfully refute the fact that many evils were perpetrated, in the name of God, by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1432, a group of godly bishops held a council in Basel, Switzerland, without papal approval. These sincere prelates merely wished to cleanse the church of the more obvious evils in its midst. The response of Pope Eugene IV to their suggestions typi-fied papal responses over many years to such proposed reformations.

In spite of curial efforts to scupper it, a council met in Basel in 1432. The bishops showed they were in earnest. [They declared that] from now on, all ecclesiastical appointments shall be made according to the canons of the Church; all simony 1 shall cease. From now on, all priests from the highest to the lowest rank, shall put away their concubines. Whoever, within two months of this decree, neglects its demands shall be deprived of his office, though he be the bishop of Rome. From now on, the ecclesiastical administration of each country shall cease to depend upon papal caprice. . . . The abuse of ban and anathema by popes shall cease. . . . From now on, the Roman curia [the pope, the cardinals, and the permanent staff] shall neither demand or receive any fees for ecclesiastical offices. From now on, a pope should think not of the world’s treasures but only of those of the world to come.

This was strong meat. Too strong. The ruling pope, Eugene IV, summoned his own council at Florence. [The council that met in] Basel [in 1432] he labelled "a beggarly mob, mere vulgar fellows from the lowest dregs of the clergy, apostates, blaspheming rebels, men guilty of sacrilege, gaolbirds [jailbirds], men who without exception deserve only to be hunted back to the devil whence they come. (Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, p. 138)

One man who sought reformation and paid with his life as a result was the Bohemian Reformer, John Huss.

Huss, who was brave, chaste, incorruptible, a stern opponent of simony and clerical concubinage met a harsher fate. Forbidden counsel, tried on a trumped-up charge, interrogated by Dominicans who had not read his books, even in translation, he was sentenced to death. . . . It was clearly more sinful to say, as did Huss and the New Testament, that, after the blessings the Eucharist should still be called "bread" than to be a greedy, murderous, incestuous pope who misled the church on almost everything. (de Rosa, pp. 132, 133)

This latter reference is to Pope John XXIII (no connection with the twentieth-century pope of the same name) who, the same year that Huss was martyred (1415), was deposed after his conviction on five charges. Peter de Rosa quotes Gibbons’ record concerning the fact that the number of charges against Pope John XXIII was reduced from fifty-four to five.

The most scandalous charges [against Pope John XXIII] were suppressed; the Vicar of Christ was only charged with piracy, murder, rape, sodomy, and incest. (de Rosa, p. 132)

For these crimes, the pope received a jail sentence of three years. It was said of the same pope that he was exonerated of the charge of heresy because he did not evince sufficient interest in religion to say anything heretical. Such secularization on the part of a Christian leader was shameful.

Even more shameful was the conduct of Pope Innocent IV and his curia who, because of a dispute with Emperor Frederick II, were forced to leave Rome and set up court in Lyons, France. After the emperor’s death, Innocent IV and his entourage returned to Rome. History testifies that the pope was misnamed. In a letter dated 1520, Cardinal Hugo, writing in the pope’s name, expressed appreciation to the citizens of Lyons for their hospitality during his period of dire need; however, the cardinal, pointing out that all the benefits had not been one-sided, gave evidence of this fact.

During our residence in your city, we [the curia] have been of very charitable assistance to you. On our arrival, we found scarcely three or four purchasable sisters of love. Whilst at our departure we leave you, so to say, one brothel that extends from the western to the eastern gate. (de Rosa, p. 164)

No true Christian could experience anything but revulsion at this conduct by claimed religions leaders.

It is the iniquitous doctrine of papal infallibility proclaimed at the Vatican I Council of 1870 which prevents contemporary popes from expressing regret for these disgusting activities. One wonders what Giuseppe Sarto (better known as Pope Pius IX, who introduced the dogma of papal infallibility) thought about the statement that Pope Adrian VI made in 1523.

If by the Roman Church you mean its head, or pontiff, it is without question that he can err even in matters touching the faith. He does this when he teaches heresy by his own judgment or decretal. In truth, many Roman pontiffs were heretics. The last of them was Pope John XII. (de Rosa, p. 285)

At the Vatican I Council, no fewer than 140 bishops absented themselves from this session which voted papal infallibility. They would have done themselves and their church a better service if they had displayed greater courage, and boldly voted what their consciences dictated. In the session, only two bishops evinced such courage—the Italian bishop Riccio, of Cajazzo, and the American bishop Fitzgerald, of Little Rock; however, they also demonstrated the shallow depth of their convictions a few minutes later.

Those two brave bishops who, a moment ago, denied it, now confessed on their knees to Pius IX—"Modo credo, Sancte Pater"—that they believed it as sincerely and unreservedly as they believed in God’s and Jesus’ divinity. Theirs was the quickest conversion in history. (de Rosa, p.187)

If, as had been declared, popes are infallible when they speak ex cathedra,2 then surely Pope Adrian VI’s statement that popes have been fallible in matters of faith is an infallible statement. The reader will see at once the problem inherent in such a statement.

Applying the God-like quality of infallibility to some of history’s most evil men underlines God’s utter rejection of the papal system. It is a system which designates evils as virtues and virtues as evils.

In his seventeenth-century book, Romano Pontifice, Cardinal Bellarmine stated, "If the pope were to err by imposing sins and forbidding virtues, the church would still have to consider sins as good and virtues as vices, or else she would sin against conscience." (de Rosa, p. 71)

With such an abhorrent concept of right and wrong, one designed by the archdeceiver himself, no wonder Pope Clement XI (1700–1721) could declare the following:

There is no higher duty than obedience to the pope. Obey him, and there can be no question of condemnation from God. (de Rosa, p.325).

If this pope is to be believed, those who, at the command of the popes, perpetrated the Inquisition (in which millions of faithful and innocent men and women were cruelly tortured and killed) were "pleasing" to our loving and beneficent God. The "justice" of the Inquisition, a part of papal policy for centuries, may be judged by the following:

In the Libro Nero (Black Book) on display in the Vatican for the guidance of Inquisitors, as late as the end of the nineteenth century, it was stated, "Either the person confesses and he is proved guilty by his own confession, or he does not confess and is equally guilty on the evidence of witnesses. If a person confesses the whole of what he is accused of, he is unquestionably guilty of the whole; but, if he confesses only a part, he ought still to be regarded as guilty of the whole, since what he has confessed proves him to be capable of guilt as to the other points of the accusations. . . . If, notwithstanding all the means employed, the unfortunate wretch still denies his guilt, he is to be considered as a victim of the devil. As such, he deserves no compassion from the servants of God nor the pity and indulgence of the Holy Mother Church. He is a son of perdition. Let him perish among the damned." (de Rosa, p. 230)

[From the moment of arrest, the victim of the Inquisition] had no hope. . . . Alone and friendless, he was refused legal representation. . . . Defense witnesses were not allowed. All prosecution witnesses (their identities were kept secret from the prisoner) were given equal status. Among them might be the accused’s servants whom he had dismissed for theft or incompetence or others of ill-repute or unreliable testimony. (de Rosa, p. 231)

It is understandable why a Roman Catholic author was constrained to state Pope Innocent’s opinion.

In [Pope] Innocent’s view, it was more wicked for Albigenses to call him the antichrist than for him to prove it by burning them—men, women, and children by the thousands. (de Rosa, p. 225)

Despite all this iniquity in the leadership of the Catholic Church, men today praise the Papacy as a bastion of liberty, justice, and democracy. It must never be forgotten that, even today in the United States, there is an obvious difference between the privileges of democracy and the freedom of expression that individual Catholics enjoy in society, and the secrecy and absolute control in church government.

A Catholic rejoices in openness, complete freedom of worship, and democracy. He takes it for granted that freedom leads to a deepening of the truth. He is used to his leaders having to present themselves for his approval. He can vote them in; he can vote them out. He demands press conferences, freedom of information, and an unfettered press that is like a second government. In the church, a Catholic has to put up with total secrecy and lack of accountability. There are no choices. . . . He has to accept what he is given. In the church, there are no press conferences, no checks and balances, and no explanations. The control from the top is absolute. The impression given is that freedom and discussion lead to the dilution of truth. (de Rosa, p. 209)

In truth, even in the last decade of the twentieth century, the Papacy is the arch-opponent of liberty, justice, and democracy.

No wonder God is constrained to declare the final judgment of this corrupt religious body.

For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. (Revelation 18:5–8)

1 The selling of church appointments
2 ex cathedra, literally, "from the bishop’s palace." The meaning is, speaking officially, handing down law on a subject.


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