Vatican Corner 08-19-18

Over the 2018 years of the papacy there have been 266 popes and many have been recognized as saints, including 48 out of the first 50 consecutive popes. Of the first 31 popes, 28 died as martyrs being killed for their faith. Some popes have been better than others, but No. 145 – Pope Benedict IX (1012 – 1056) is considered to be one of the worst. His original name was Teofilatto and he was pope three times, from 1032 to 1044, from April to May 1045 and from 1047 to 1048. He was the son of Count Alberic of Tusculum, the nephew of the two previous popes, and grandnephew of Pope John XII. Some sources say he was the age of 20, while others say he was age 12 when his father obtained the papacy for him through bribery. Being a young man with so much wealth and authority, his behavior eventually got out of control. It is said that Benedict indulged in a lifestyle without restraint, and he hosted orgies in the Lateran Palace. The monk St. Peter Damian wrote that Pope Benedict was “ a demon from hell in the guise of a priest. ” Pope Benedict was violent and excommunicated Church leaders who were hostile to him. An angry mob of Romans had enough of him and drove Benedict from the City, but a)er a few weeks of political maneuvering he was back. A)er his re – installation, a gang of attackers tried to assassinate him as he celebrated Mass. He survived and presided over the Church for another 8 years until he was deposed again by a group of ambitious cardinals who drove him out of Rome and installed Pope Sylvester III. Benedict, without any military experience, raised an army and reclaimed the throne. He let Sylvester III live. Almost a year later he decided to get married and sell the papacy to the highest bidder which turned out to be his godfather and who became Pope Gregory VI. It is believed his godfather took this action to save the Holy See from Benedict ’ s scandalous conduct. However in the following year both Sylvester III and Benedict returned claiming to be pope rather than Gregory. The German King Henry III invaded and he chose none of the three as pope but instead install ed his pet bishop – Clement II. Benedict fled, arranged to poison Clement and retook the papacy. King Henry then sent a new pope – Damasus II and an army. Damasus II died in office a)er 24 days from malaria. King Henry then sent Leo IX to be pope and Benedict was captured and sent to a monastery. Benedict IX was excommunicated, but he repented and Leo IX may have lifted the ban before Benedict died of natural causes at the age of 35. Leo IX was later canonized as a saint. Sometimes it ’ s interesting to look back at the past, to get a different prospective on our current problems.