Historians have traditionally looked at Christian missionaries in one of two ways. The first church historians to catalogue missionary history provided hagiographic descriptions of their trials, successes, and sometimes even martyrdom. Missionaries were thus visible saints, exemplars of ideal piety in a sea of persistent savagery. However, by the middle of the twentieth century, an era marked by civil rights movements, anti-colonialism, and growing secularization, missionaries were viewed quite differently. Instead of godly martyrs, historians now described missionaries as arrogant and rapacious imperialists. Christianity became not a saving grace but a monolithic and aggressive force that missionaries imposed upon defiant natives. Indeed, missionaries were now understood as important agents in the ever-expanding nation-state, or “ideological shock troops for colonial invasion whose zealotry blinded them.”
The Vatican’s ultra-secretive culture and dubious financial dealings have frequently mired it in scandal. We chart the most memorable
The Vatican is exceptional in every sense of the word. The tiny city-state, surrounded by Rome, is the smallest state in the world by area and population, yet it wields a unique power over the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, by dint of the fact that it holds the seat of the religion’s church.
It is independent of, yet fully owned by, the Holy See, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Pope. It is, quite literally, a law unto itself.
I spent much of this week reading and trying to absorb the new and devastating book by one Frédéric Martel on the gayness of the hierarchy at the top of the Catholic Church, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. It’s a bewildering and vast piece of reporting — Martel interviewed no fewer than “41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignori, 45 apostolic nuncios, secretaries of nunciatures or foreign ambassadors, 11 Swiss Guards and over 200 Catholic priests and seminarians.” He conducted more than 1,500 interviews over four years, is quite clear about his sources, and helps the reader weigh their credibility. He keeps the identity of many of the most egregiously hypocritical cardinals confidential, but is unsparing about the dead.
CreditCreditTerry Vine & J Patrick Lane/Blend Images, via Getty Images
respond to a dad’s plea for members of the faith to demand the resignation of the entire clergy, including the pope.
A few weekends ago, Naka Nathaniel stood up during a Mass in Atlanta and confronted his priest about the Roman Catholic Church’s response to the Pennsylvania sexual abuse cover-up. In an Op-Ed essay last week, Mr. Nathaniel wrote about balancing his already complex relationship with Catholicism with his role as a father raising a 9-year-old son in the Catholic faith. He concluded that the church can no longer be reformed from within. “I’m mad at the church administration,” he wrote. But, he added, “I’m also angry at the congregation. I’m upset with the people who aren’t demanding that every member of the clergy resign.”
In 1922, during the election of Pope Pius XI, an Atheist Italian agitator, standing in St. Peter’s Square, is said to have remarked:—
Look at this multitude of every country! How is it that the politicians who govern the nations do not realize the immense value of this international force, of this universal spiritual Power? (Teeling, The Pope in Politics.)
In that same year that same man assumed office and then built the first Fascist dictatorship, on the pattern of which, in the following decade, so many European nations were to be established. It was the alliance of these two men, Pius XI and Mussolini, that influenced so greatly the social and political pattern, not only of Italy, but also of the rest of Europe in the years between the two world wars.
The fact that Fascism was born and first established in a Catholic country, and that it began its official career in the very seat of Roman Catholicism, is neither mere coincidence nor a freak of history. It was due to various important factors of a religious, social, economic, and political nature, not the least of which was the presence and co-operation of the Vatican in this first experiment of modern Totalitarianism.
AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio. (2)]Reverend Meza, Reverend Reck, I’m grateful for your generous invitation to state my views.
Reverend Meza, Reverend Reck, I’m grateful for your generous invitation to state my views.
While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that I believe that we have far more critical issues in the 1960 campaign; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers only 90 miles from the coast of Florida — the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power — the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctors bills, the families forced to give up their farms — an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space. These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues — for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barrier.
From mistresses and illegitimate children to dance parties and harbored criminals, the Vatican has a shockingly dirty history.
While it’s true that no one is perfect, the seven corrupt popes below were exceptionally unholy:
7. Pope Clement VII (Pope from 1523 to 1534)
Besides being indifferent to the Protestant Reformation (a reform movement in Europe when several denominations broke away from the Catholic church), Pope Clement VII became best known for flip-flopping between alliances with France, Spain and Germany, although he began to lean toward French political forces before his death in 1534 after eating a poisonous mushroom.
Clement was inclined to changing his political views to match those of whomever was the most powerful and wealthy at any given time. As a result of his wavering allegiances, Clement VII’s critics, who included Charles V, compared him to a shepherd that had fled his flock, only to return as a wolf, according to “The Pontificate of Clement VII: History, Politics, Culture” (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2005).