Evil Popes


Q. The theory that the popes of the Catholic Church are infallible is ridiculous because history records that several popes have been evil. How can you Catholics go on believing popes are infallible in the face of the historical evidence to the contrary?

A. First let me agree with you that there have been some evil popes in the history of the Church. And if they did not repent before their death there may even be some popes in Hell. But it is common to misunderstand. The Church does not mean, when she claims that the pope is infallible, that we believe the pope is sinless or impeccable. Absolutely not. Jesus and Mary were sinless but the Church has never claimed or even pretended that our popes are sinless. They go to confession at least once a week if not more often.

What the Church means by infallible is a very narrow and closely defined dogma.

The pope is infallible, only when he is:

1. Teaching about faith and morals to the whole Church.

2. We believe that God protects His Church from error and heresy by graciously preventing the pope from ever teaching error regarding faith and morals.

3. This does not mean he is infallible in private teaching, conversations or balancing his checkbook.

Some people might think that the Dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope means that the pope is always hearing messages from God that he then passes on to the whole church. While this might, at times, occur with a very holy pope that is not what we mean. Infallibility works to prevent false teaching. The pope must study and learn in the ordinary way and the Holy Spirit guides him into teaching nothing but the truth.

So, when by the wiles of Satan a godless or worldly pope is installed, the Holy Spirit would prevent that pope from teaching error to the whole church through letters, encyclicals etc. That sort of pope would effectively be silenced by the Holy Spirit in order to protect the truth of the Catholic Faith.

CCC 889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a “supernatural sense of faith” the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, “unfailingly adheres to this faith.”417

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

891The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,”419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

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17 Responses

  1. When the pope acts, (even if he is not giving a speech to “the whole”) is he not acting as the representative of God on earth? Are not his actions in declaring wars, joining wars, selling indulgences, etc. just as much a representation of doctrine to the surrounding world (believers and nonbelievers) as “letters, encyclicals etc.”- if not more so?

  2. Totaltransformation

    Of course the Pope is always seen as God’s representative on earth by the faithful.

    Are not his actions in declaring wars, joining wars, selling indulgences, etc. just as much a representation of doctrine to the surrounding world (believers and nonbelievers) as “letters, encyclicals etc.”- if not more so?

    No. The pope’s opinion should always be listened to with respect and consideration. But we are free to disagree with him until and unless he makes a solemn declaration that all the faithful must believe a certain teaching.

    Then by faith we count this as the Word of God on the matter and submit to God our Lord and His annointed.

    Are not his actions in … selling indulgences…just as much a representation of doctrine

    No Pope ever “sold indulgences”. That is sacrilege. What you may be thinking of is the fundraising methods used in one country, Germany in the sixteenth century. This was not sanctioned by the Pope at the time and was later condemned.

    Men have free will and even though he has the power, God doesn’t control us. The pope cannot control all the priests and bishops in the global Catholic Church even in this day and age of instant communication. So, 500 years ago the pope could do even less with errant priests given the slow process of communication.

    Christians would agree that God has the power to speak visibly at any time He wishes and to as many people as He wishes. But history shows us that He doesn’t use this method. He likes to use men to speak His words to His people.
    For instance, Moses, the judges, and the prophets. So, the Pope just continues this pattern. And anyone, who has read the Old Testament, knows that the spokespersons chosen by God Himself were variable in their degrees of holiness. Nevertheless, their words are regarded as infallible.

    • No Pope sold indulgences? Really? REALLY? So Leo X was doing what when he offered to grant indulgences if you provided “alms” for the rebuilding of St. Peters in 1517? Or the papal bull of November 9th, 1518 requiring all Christians to believe in the pope’s power to grant indulgences?

      I will give you that when the hypocrisy of exchanging money for these indulgences came out in public, the Church was often forced to denounce the practice (such as the 1215 Fourth Lateran Council, where it was not said that selling indulgences was wrong, but “that on the occasion of the dedication of a church an indulgence of not more than one year be granted, whether it be dedicated by one bishop only or by many, and on the anniversary of the dedication the remission granted for penances enjoined is not to exceed forty days.” So selling them is fine, but they only last 40 days unless you founded a Church. So you better stock up…) But this certainly did not include indulgences given for supporting the Crusades (ether monetarily or bodily)or from being awarded indulgences for alms to build new churches, and it certainly was not strong enough to prevent them from not taking the money when it was offered; which they were only too happy to continue to do until called on it by Martin Luther and his 95 theses in 1517. Even then it took until the Council of Trent in 1562 (45 years!) to OFFICIALLY denounce the sale of indulgences.

      So, if we want to be generous, and say that the selling of indulgences was ONLY occurring from 1215 to 1562, that is 347 YEARS where the Church knew the abuses were taking place, but didn’t really do anything of substance to stop it, while at the same time happily accepting huge amounts of money from the practice. 347 years is a far cry from “No Pope ever.” Does recounting Papal history from Papal sources really count as sacrilege?

      • let’s say there were abuses. Let’s say the Pope should have done more. It still doesn’t justify Martin Luther’s followers from dividing from th Catholic Church. Besides, I thought the reformation was supposed to be a reforming movement. While the Catholic Church will live forever, movements have thier day in the sun and then die away. There was a time when Lutherism and other protestant groups stirred the hearts and imagination of men, today it’s a greying and old idea that seems to be surviving on inertia. After Protestants go in for all the fads of abortion, homosexual/female clergy, artificial contaception, the Catholic Church will still be salvation of the whole world, even Protestantism.

        As GK Chesterton says about the reformers,

        “they were right about what was wrong,but wrong about was right”. I’m a longtime Lutheran in the process of returning to Rome.

        • Please quote Chesterton correctly. He said, “The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.” By the way, in that context Chesterton was not referring to the Reformers of the Reformation.

  3. D: The bible is very clear that Mary herself stated she was in need of a saviour in Luke. Jesus is the only mediator.

    BFHU: Please see how Mary was saved HERE and that Catholics believe Jesus is the one mediator Here.

    We do not believe anything that contradicts the Bible. Our beliefs do however, contradtict Protestant beliefs and D: Protestantinterpretations of the Bible.

    D.The problem is that most Catholics don’t know the bible and don’t know that it says do all things in thought word and deed in the Name of Jesus.

    BFHU: You are mistaken. You think we do not know what is in the Bible b/c we believe things that you think contradict the Bible but our belief merely contradict Protestants. Because Protestants mistakenly believe that all that they believe and teach is infallible truth Protestants jump to the wrong conclusion: That Catholics don’t know the Bible.

    The fact is that Protestants are blind to the fact that they interpret the Bible one way and Catholics interpret it another way. And they rarely actually have an understanding of any depth whatsoever of what the Catholic Faith actually teaches.

    D: Jesus said it was finished on the cross we don’t need a co-redemptrix.

    BFHU: Mary is Co-Redemptrix simply because she participated in out redemption by receiving the Eternal Word into her body, giving Him Flesh from her flesh, giving birth, and raising the Son of God to adulthood. It means nothing more sinsiter that this which every Protestant also believes. You object to a word without know what we actually mean by it.

    D: Only Jesus can forgive sins.

    BFHU: John 20:22 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

    Of course the priest is acting as an agent of Jesus and God IS the one who ultimately forgives sin. But you may have missed that Bible verse. Not too many sermons are on it.

    D: I am very sad that a church drunk on the Blood of the real saints.

    BFHU: This is a Protestant Urban Legend. Could you please name all these saints?

    D:A church that basis it’s doctrine on obedience to men instead of obedience the the Word of God.

    BFHU: We obey Christ and those He has placed to govern the Church.

    D: Traditions of men will not save.

    BFHU: I totally Agree.
    The Traditions that we follow are not “traditions of men” but the very teaching of the Apostles of Jesus taught by Jesus to them. And even St. Paul tells us:

    2 Thessalonians 2:15
    So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

    D: Only repentence and Baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus will save you.

    D: Jesus does not live in a gold box on the alter and he does not live in graven images.

    BFHU: I see, again, that you lack understanding. We do not think Jesus lives in a gold box or in statues.

    D: My wife is a former Roman Catholic and she left because she found she needed more than these traditions.

    BFHU: She left the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist? !What more could there ever be than HIM? She must not have been well taught the Catholic Faith. She is looking for that which was in the Catholic Church all along.

    D: My wife found, as the scripture says we have direct access to the throne of grace and that throne of grace is Jesus. The one mediator. We are all saints if we are saved. It does not take a council of men to vote us in as saints. This to is in the bible.

    BFHU: We too believe all of this. As I said she was not taught her catechism well.

    D: Nothing against catholics personally,
    but I challenge you to search out the scriptures for yourself and you will find not a Pope, not a priest nor any other person can impart unto you what Jesus can .

    BFHU: I would encourage you to read my posts in the category POPE, priest, because I am afraid you have been told by men that these things are not in the Bible…but they are!

    D:Only He can forgive your sins. Only by HIs Blood. The Roman church stated that Peter the Apostle was the first Pope and yet the Peter in the Bible in Acts chapter II said Repent and be Baptized everyone of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the HolyGhost.

    BFHU: You must have been taught that Catholics worship the Pope or something. Having a pope does not negate the saving work of Christ, repentance, and baptism. You have been taught a pack of lies about the Catholic Church.

    D:There is a diference between obedience to men and a relationship with Jesus.

    BFHU: Our listening to the teaching of our priests and bishops and popes is not different that Protestants being taught by their pastors and teachers. We obey Christ. We do not “Obey Men” in the idolotrous way you imply. If we obey men it is IN Obedience to Christ…not rather than Christ.

    D: I may be off course some from the content of this web page, but I feel lead to encourage you to read the bible.

    BFHU: Please read my
    Conversion Story. I used to be a dyed in the wool Sola Scriptura Protestant.

    D. As to the subject of evil Popes God and mammon cannot dwell in the same body and to live a life in open disregard for the scripture just becasue you are powerful enough to do so and get away with it. You bring a reproach on whatever you are talking about and You cannot represent Christ and live as a murderer thief, adultriss.

    BFHU: I agree. Did you even read this post?

    D: Paul I think said such were some of us, but notice He said were nbot such as are some of us. When we get saved we change. Repentence means to turn from whatever we are doing with a contrite sorrow and not to pick it up and keep doing it . Just go to confession and you can go on as the leader of the most powerful church killing and working all sorts of evil deeds.

    BFHU: I have no idea why God didn’t just take the wicked popes out.
    But if this makes you angry you will have to take it up with Our Lord. God’s ways are not our ways.

    D:Fall in Love with Jesus and you will realize He LiVES IN you always not when the host is given to you by the Priest.

    BFHU: Of course, He is always with us spiritually, but He is in us in a physical bodily presence when we receive Him in Holy Communion. Why wouldn’t every Christian want all of Jesus that He offers us?

    D: I state the fact that Mary deserves respect becasue she is the mother of Jesus but she is not a goddess.

    BFHU: Who told you Mary is a goddess? She is a human person. We do not believe she is the fourth person of the Trinity.

    D: There is only One sinless and that is Jesus

    BFHU: Can you show me that in Scripture please?

    D: and I submit the fact that He said I am Alpha, Omega,
    Begining and the end. I submit the fact that He said I Am. I submit as the Bibke says there is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.

    BFHU: Agreed, emphatically. But, the Church founded by Jesus, the Catholic Church is One. It is the Protestant Churches that are divided and fractured into +40,000 different sects. Now that contradicts Jesus desire in John 17 that we all be one…ONE Faith.

    D:No where in the Holy Bible does it say Mary is a councilor.

    BFHU: Neither do we say that.

    D. See Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born , unto us a Son is given and the Government shall rest upon His Shoulders and He shall be called the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, The prince of Peace , Wonderful Councilor. Isaiah also says Behold I have engraven thee upon the palms of my hands. Jesus paid the price , He was as II Timothy says , God in the flesh For great is the mystery of Godliness for God was manifest in the flesh Justified in the Spirit, preached unto the Gentiles and was received up unto Glory.

    BFHU: AMEN!

    D: The scripture states if we add or take away from the book of revelation we will drinl of the cup of damnation and this is just what the roman church authorities have done.

    BFHU: How did the Catholic Church add to the book of Revelation? We have not done this but the Jews and Martin Luther removed seven books from the OT. And Deuteronomy also says:

    12:32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.

    So, based on this verse in Deuteronomy are all of the commmands or writings in the later additions in the OT and the NT forbidden?

    D: Jesus is coming back and every knee shall bow every tongue confess that He is Lord. God Bless

    BFHU: Maranatha!

  4. All religion is wrong. This is just the words of man not the truth of Christ. Religion has no place for Christ and Christ has no time for religion. Any religion.

  5. Then how do you explain that Jesus Christ founded a Church in Matthew. Jesus said,

    “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

    So Jesus Himself instituted the Christian Religion.

    Religion simply means to read again re(again) legere (read)

    The Engish definition of religion is:

    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    And then there are those that like to invent their own religions but as our Pope said,

    “To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name.” [Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, 1885]

  6. Christianity mirrors exactly the most popular pagan religion around 2,000 years ago. Extremely blasphemous (to jews), foreign, pagan ideas like being born of a virgin and the personal, and only son, of God, would never have of occured to any Jews in Israel.

    Yeshua (no Jew ever named Jesus), would see everything about the Christian churches, foreign and offensive. And that’s before he learned the horrible history.

    Chrstianity, for whatever it’s worth, has very little or nothing to do with a Jewish man, claiming to be the Jewish mesiah (if he did), about 2,000 years ago.

  7. Sam,

    Christianity does not mirror pagan religions. Someone is lying to you. The first Christians were Jews so something about it must have made sense. Maybe it was the astounding miracles and the bodily resurrection of Jesus

    No Jew was ever named Jesus??? Now you have lost all credibility. Have you ever heard of Joshua? Yeshua is Hebrew for our name Joshua and Jesus is the Greek rendition of the same name. Yeshua=Joshua=Jesus.

    And contrary to your groundless assertions Christianity has EVERYTHING to do with the Jewish God/Man Jesus.

  8. In addition to what’s already been said, evil popes actually prove the infallibility of the papacy. All these men chosen to be pope had all these plans to change dogma and do all sorts of evil things. However, they never did so. If absolute power corrupts, then absolute power corrupts absolutely. They were either guided by the Holy Spirit to leave the dogma alone, or they were simply prevented by doing so.
    For example, one pope (whose name I do not know) was planning to release this new translation of Scripture with all sorts of heresy in it. He went to bed the night before and simply did not wake up the next morning.

    • There is also the time when the supporters of the Arian heresy which denies the deity of Christ were successful in getting their candidate to become the new Pontiff. Once he was installed as Pope he changed his mind. If anyone reading this remembers the year and the name of the pope, please inform me.

  9. It seems ignorance is abundant on this blog. Please STOP quoting the bible, doctrine, and dogma. Please do some intense research and study on where the bible came from, who actually wrote it, how it has been changed through the centuries, when and who decided that Jesus was fully God born as a man, as well as when and who decided he was begotten as a virgin birh. Study how women were deleted from the Jesus story and wiped from the church hierachy. Study how social and historical opinions and beliefs were written in to the bible. STUDY, STUDY, STUDY people; then write something based on intelligent thought based on due diligence.

  10. Ignoranceisnotbliss,

    What would you suggest we study to support your assertions?

    Exactly? So far we have nothing to support your opinion.

  11. Well there is no one in heel yet

  12. I am a born again Christian, a Catholic for many years until I was Saved in 1982, and know what a falllocy the Catholic Church is, please wittness to them as they don’t know they are lost and going to A Christless hell, Pray for their Salvation, John 3,16 Romans 10,9-13
    Love & Prayers Judie
    John 3,16

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