Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy
"After Peter, the centuries roll by, full of controversies, any one of which today would involve immediate recourse to Rome for a decision... We have already noted that not a single Father can find any hint of a Petrine office in the great biblical texts that refer to Peter. Papal supremacy and infallibility, so central to the Catholic church today, are simply not mentioned. Not a single creed, nor confession of faith, nor catechism, nor passage in patristic writings contains one syllable about the pope, still less about faith and doctrine being derived from him.”
Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy
Crown (January 13, 1988) p. 206.
"The Pope and the Council contained aspects of papal history
completely unknown to me. I had been brought up as a Catholic, had
gone through the usual six-year seminary course prior to ordination,
had graduated from a Catholic university, the Gregorianum in Rome,
and had never come across such ideas. This is partly to be explained
by the partisan nature of seminary education and the fact that in
such establishments history is a Cinderella subject. The misbehaviour
of popes is lightly dwelt or even excised, rather in the way that
Trotsky was cut out of all Soviet history by Stalin ... My ignorance
must also be set down to the preference Catholics have for a history
of the papacy that can be read with white gloves on. It is not easy
to admit that one's leaders were often barbarians, or that the good
popes sometimes did far more harm than good.
Thus, quite late in my career, I felt obliged to examine the history of Catholic ideas and institutions, the later of course including the papacy. It was a long and sometimes painful form of a self-education.”
Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy,
Crown (January 13, 1988) pp. 455-56.
Note: Peter de Rosa is author of many books including Bless Me, Father, Christ, Original Sin, and Jesus Who became Christ. In Vicars of Christ. He dispels myths about the papacy in favor of hard facts, and provides everyone, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, with the true, alarming story of the dark origins of the Church.
"The subject of papal heretics and papal excommunication is little practiced since 1870. Even the arrogant Innocent III admitted: 'I can be judged by the church for a sin concerning matters of faith.' Innocent IV, affirmed that all creatures were subject to him as Vicar of the Creator, even, as in his own words: "Of course a pope can err in matters of faith.” Therefore his naive creatures are to believe not because the Pope believes but because the Church believes. In simpler language even if popes err somehow, the Church will not err. These words appeared in the original text of Innocent IV's Commentary on the Decalogue. They were later erased from later editions. No one knows why, since a number of popes said more or less the same.
The aura and awe surrounding the papacy today is so entrenched that few Catholics question their conscience about the history of papal infallibility, a long dark, mysterious mixture of humans — the normal pious, the obscenely pompous, the truly mad, the frightfully murderous, the devilishly lecherous, the senilely elderly, the lustily youthful, and immature children. These popes were fallible long before they became infallible. Roman pontiffs not only erred but erred in fundamental matters of Christian doctrine.
Most Catholics go through life and never hear in school or church a word of reproach for any pope. Yet a devout Catholic like Dante had no scruple about dumping pontiff after pontiff in the deepest pit of hell.”
Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy,
Bantam Press (1988) p. 30.
Quotes from Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy
"Impeccable Catholic sources, papal documents, letters of reforming saints, all paint the same depressing picture. Monasteries full of women; every friar had his 'Martha', every nun her lover. Bishops, in every sense the fathers of their people, kept harems.”
"Young men who spent their youth in rape and adultery were rising in the ranks of the clergy. They were spending their nights with four or five women, then getting up in the morning — in what state, he leaves to the imagination — to celebrate mass.”
"... many monasteries were the haunts of homosexuals, many converts were brothels.”
"As to the sex-starved secular clergy, they were so often accused of incest that they were at length forbidden even to have mothers, aunts or sisters living in their house.”
"Promiscuity was rife in monasteries and convents. The great Ivo of Chartres (1040-1115) tells of whole convents with inmates who were nuns only in name. They had often been abandoned by their families and were really prostitutes.”
"There also crept in the infamous cullagium, a charge for keeping concubines... bishops and archdeacons themselves benefited from this sex-tax; in Rome, it was the pope.”
"In the year 1250, Bishop Grosseteste of Lincoln wrote to Pope Innocent IV. Of priests he said: "They are in truth teachers of heresy, inasmuch as the word of action is mightier than the word of speech.”"
"In the year 1414, King Henry V asked the University of Oxford to prepare articles for the reform of the church. Article 39 began: "Because the carnal and sinful life of priests today scandalizes the entire church and their public fornication goes completely unpunished ...”"
"In the parish of St John Zachary in London, there was a church service of a very remarkable kind. It provided a brothel exclusively for priests and nuns ...”
"St Alban's Abbey, for instance, was nothing but a den of prostitutes serving the local monks. Nuns were regularly raped therein and the entire place, in a phrase worth of Shakespeare, was "riot of seed and blood"...”
"The overall report (in England) said that 144 religious houses were equal in viciousness to Sodom; countless convents, served by "lewd confessors", were full of children; clergy — abbots, monks and friars — were carrying on not merely with whores but with married women...”
"After six centuries of strenuous efforts to impose celibacy, the clergy were a menace to the wives and young women of parishes to which they were sent.”
"Across the border lived Henry, Bishop of Liege. The man was a legend beyond his lifetime. Henry was finally deposed by Gregory X at the Council of Lyons in 1274 "for deflowering virgins and other mighty deeds"... He ended murdered by a Flemish knight who was outraged at what the bishop had done to his daughter.”
"During Borgia's reign, the Florentine friar Savonarola said the nuns were worse than harlots. As to the clergy, "one priest spends the night with his concubine, another with a little boy, and in the morning they proceed to the altar to celebrate Mass. What do you think of that? What do you make of such a Mass?”"
"The evil was too deeply rooted; the last opportunities for reform long lost... A proverb passes from mouth to mouth: "The profession of the priest is the surest road to hell.”"
From Publishers Weekly
De Rosa ( Prayers for Pagans and Hypocrites ) is an angry Catholic. In the worst proselytizing tradition, this devil's advocate overstates familiar arguments, bludgeoning the reader with his dossier against the Church. Among De Rosa's tamer charges: Jesus renounced possessions, but his vicars celebrate high mass garbed in cloth of gold; the Church has never lifted strictures against usury, yet the Vatican operates a bank. De Rosa sweeps through Church history to parade popes who begat children, popes who fornicated on a grand scale, popes who married. Then in the second half of this polemic, he addresses Church teaching, conjoining the "immaculate conception" doctrine to decrees governing birth control, abortion, celibacy. The doctrine of papal infallibility is dealt with, as is Church anti-Semitism through the ages leading to the Holocaust silence of Pius XII, the "one man in the world whose witness Hitler feared.” And in wrapping up his catalog of "The sins of the papacy," De Rosa virtually dismisses internal reform: "It is not Catholics but other Christians who chiefly can make the papacy what it ought to be.”
From Library Journal
In his history of the papacy, former Jesuit De Rosa aims to undermine belief in papal infallibility. Although he claims to be a friend of the Catholic Church, and does at times express admiration for the holiness of many of the Popes, his book is so heavily weighted with information on the corruption of the Papacy that it would be hard for any reader to see any good in the office. The book cannot be faulted historically or stylistically, though most of the information including the most sordid can be found in the standard Roman Catholic sources. Patrick Grainfeld's The Limits of the Papacy (Crossroad, 1987) offers a more balanced view of the expansion of papal power.
Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, N.J.
Expose of the history of the Papacy from an insiders view., February 24, 1999
By A Customer
This book would make your hair curl. No wonder the Christians got such a poor reputation!
Syllabus of Errors... And Crimes, May 12, 2004
By "Bute2" (Paris, France)
This book had me shaking with laughter and trembling with rage—rage at the misdeeds of the papacy, not the book. It brilliantly recounts the endless crimes, hypocrisies, errors, indecencies, murders, debaucheries, illogicalities, idiocies and fanaticisms of the papacy from the "first pope" to the present. It is written in a highly engaging and breezy journalistic style, with more than a dash of humour and wit. For the most part the author lets the deeds (or rather, misdeeds) of the Bishops of Rome speak for themselves, although his own dim view of his subject is abundantly clear throughout. He is himself a former priest (educated at the Gregorian University in Rome) who unfolds the theologial groundlessness of the office of Pope itself, the ethical depravity of a depressingly high percentage of its occupants, the religious zealotry of many Popes, and the laughable absurdity of so many Roman Catholic doctrines such as Papal Infallibility. The overall effect of this is devastating for the Papacy, which emerges from the pages of this book as one fo the most hypocritical, malevolent and unjustifiable institutions in human history—which is saying a great deal. The book is the perfect antidote to the awe in which the office of Pope is held today, and a very welcome reminder of the dark history of a powerful institution built on a mountain of absurdities and atrocities that we all-too- easily forget. De Rosa has done his readers a great service in putting that history into a single volume without mincing his words of pulling his punches. Read it and weep.
Authenticity and sources, July 23, 2000
By C.T. Garrett (Houston, Tx USA)
Peter De Rosa was brought up Catholic, went through the six year seminary course prior to ordination, and graduated from a Catholic university, the Gregorianum in Rome. He dedicated eight pages of bibliography listing authors, titles, and year published. Not to mention the fact that historians such as Edward Gibbon in "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" substantiates the demeanor, to say the least, of the Papacy.
De Rosa had done a marvelous job in exposing the "Great Lie", revealing its truths with documented sources some of which are Papal documents themselves which can be found on the Vatican website, if you have a hard time taking his word for it. And if your still not sure that what De Rosa says is true, read Revelation by John the Apostle. Surely John's vision will substantiate all that was done that De Rosa has documented, even if you read the Latin Vulgate version. There's no hiding the truth, Vicars of Christ is De Rosa's testimony of the truth, another witness, another Martin Luther another Wycliffe, another man that had the courage to speak out against the horrid evilness of the extension of the Roman Empire, and its time is short. :)
Too bad this is out-of-print, February 1, 2002
By Michael Freeman (Blanchard, OK)
This is a book that every Christian and every Catholic needs to read. De Rosa is a Catholic himself, though the pope would probably consider him less-than-orthodox. His description of the corruption and wickedness of the "Mother of Harlots" i"s certainly less than flattering.
De Rosa chronicles the centuries of Roman Catholic "rule" over the ""Church.” It is fascinating to read the history behind the development of the "Church" as we know it, and behind some of the doctrines of Catholicism. The teaching of Purgatory, for instance, grew out of the need to raise funds. The Pope invented Purgatory so he could sell indulgences in order to allow souls out!
After reading this description of the vast wickedness of this pseudo- church, one must read the seventeenth chapter of Revelation. The Apostle John perfectly described what was to come!
Steve September 5, 2011
"De Rosa sets out to chart the dark history of the papacy across the estimated 263 incumbents of the papal throne up to and including John Paul II. He attempts to clear those fallacies held true, such as the fact that St Peter never held the title of Bishop of Rome, only being invested with it centuries after he died. Imprisoned as a foreigner espousing a dangerous sect, Peter was finally brought out of confinement to be executed in the persecution of the Christians blamed by Nero for the fire of 64AD. Christianity would not become more central to the faith of Roman citizens until the arrival of Constantine in 312.
Laying seige to Rome in his attempt to remove his rival Maxentius and secure sole control of the Empire, and facing superior odds, Constantine had a vision which attached commitment to 'Christos' as presaging victory. Incredibly, Maxentius relinquished his secure advantage within Rome to flee north and Constantine routed his force at Milvian Bridge, where his rival and many of the latter's troops drowned in the Tiber. Yet, Constantine never made Christianity the official religion and was a cold-hearted despot.
However, with the Edict of Milan, he did establish freedom of worship for all faiths, something the author decries the Catholic Church as never offering in the centuries since. Enjoying the fruits of this Pax Romana, the Christian faith was not only able to spread across the Empire, but also to gain the trophies of secular power. The early days of the papacy thus experienced corruption, bribery and bloodfeuds, as rival candidates fought to attain the trappings of power.
The papacy also had to defend itself against the jealous interests of other powers and so, Pope Stephen III in 753 sought military protection in anointing Pepin, and his son Charlemagne, as 'patricians of the Romans'. In persuading the latter, the Pope presented a document of great antiquity - the 'Donation of Constantine'. This was claimed to be the deed whereby the late emperor, in return for being baptised in the faith, acknowledged the rule of the papal throne across the empire. An obvious fake due to inaccuracies in the text, it wouldn't be proven as such till 1517, but even so Rome continued to proclaim its authenticity for centuries.
The truth was that Constantine and not the Bishop of Rome embodied the authority of church and state, as evidenced by the fact that he summoned the very first General Council of the Church in Nicaea in 325, to avoid a schism in the church by proclaiming the indivisibility of God the Father and his Son. Having secured temporal power the early papacy became embroiled in depravity.
Pope Benedict V had to flee Rome after dishonouring a young girl before being eventually murdered by a jealous husband and having his corpse paraded through the streets and dumped in a cesspool. While John XII, also in the tenth century, was caught cheating with a married woman by her husband and killed in flagrante delicto with a hammer blow to the back of the head.
Restoring strength to the papacy, Gregory VII set out to establish once and for all the suzerainty of the Papal see over temporal sovereigns. Gregory would enlist a whole school of forgers to provide him with documents for any occasion, but by extending the principle of excommunication to emperors and kings in 1078 he sowed rebellion and civil unrest.
In excommunicating the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV, he fought for his absolutist ideals, and though he would die in exile in 1085, he set the seal for future papal supremacy. Inocent III would put whole nations under papal interdict, such as King John's England between the years 1208-1214, for their challenge to the power of the church, while single-handedly forging the Papal states.
However, papal autocracy reached its apogee with Boniface VIII who according to Dante, turned the Vatican into 'a sewer'. From the outset his reign was embroiled in scandal, being suspected of having tricked his predecessor into resigning. In one of the strangest episodes in papal history, faced with months of fruitless discussion to nominate a papal successor in 1292, Boniface had hoped to be elected as a compromise candidate.
Yet, his strategy of producing a supposed plea from a respected old hermit, backfired when the latter was offered the papal throne. The hermit accepted, becoming Celestine V, and opting to establish his reign in Naples to avoid the licentiousness of Rome. Incorporated into the newly-appointed Pope's wooden cell at his palace, Boniface had a speaking tube installed through which he pretended to be the voice of the Holy Spirit calling for Celestine to step down. Once his own election was achieved in December 1294, Boniface had his predecessor locked up where he died of starvation and neglect.
This ambitious and greedy occupant of Peter's throne would further blacken the papacy's reputation when in 1299 he ordered the levelling of his rivals' citadel of Palestrina on the outskirts of Rome with the deaths of some six thousand people. However, his lasting legacy was the consequences unleashed by his composing of the papal bull, 'Unam Sanctam' in 1302, by which he declared the salvation of all men depended upon subjecting themselves to the power of the Pope.
This was in retaliation to the challenge to papal and ecclesiastical authority posed by Philip the Fair of France, and led to the joining of forces of rival factions with the French crown which ended one year later with the forcible removal of Boniface from his throne and his incarceration and death.
Though this prevented his being taken to France for trial, Philip would secure his victory with the election of a French pope, compliant to his wishes and the evocation of the papal court to Avignon in 1309. After seven successive Avignon Popes, in 1378 the election of the Pope returned to the auspices of the Vatican, but with an unruly mob securing the election of an Italian cardinal wo refused to blindly succumb to French wishes, a schism occurred with the election of a French alternative. A hastily convened church council in Pisa in 1409 sought to end the schism by appointing a third Pope, but all three now claimed infallibility and excommunicated their rivals.
Eventually, at the Council of Constance between 1414-1418, the power of the General Council of the Church was declared as having authority direct from Christ and thus superior to the authority of the Pope. The schism was at an end, though not the excesses of the papacy.
Francesco de la Rovere as Sixtus IV was not only the first pope to licence the brothels of Rome, but also the progenitor of indulgences and the first to sanction the Inquisition in Castile in 1478. With the election of Rodrigo Borgia as Alexander VI in 1492, the papacy ploughed its depths. Rumoured to have had incestuous relations with his daughter, Borgia sired and brought up in public ten illegitimate children.
Of these, Cesare would serve as the inspiration for Machiavelli's Prince, and was so devoid of moral compass that he would steal a man's wife, rape her, and throw her in the Tiber. Having murdered his own brother and his sister's lover and husband, Cesare would poison himself and his father, causing the most horrible demise to the latter in 1503.
The Reformation revealed the extent to which the papacy refused to countenance any internal dissent, believing itself to have a monopoly on the truth. De Rosa provides a concise history of papal suppression of any challenge to its theological interpretation or from other religions. In doing so, he subscribes to the view that the traditional early Christian belief in the sanctity of human life was abandoned in the face of the militaristic competition of Islam.
As such, the role-model switched from the ascetic monk to the sword-weilding Christian knight sworn to cast out the infidel, and assured, like his Muslim counterpart, of absolution for all his acts for serving the one true religion. Perhaps the bloodiest chapter was written when Innocent III called for the eradication of the Cathars in his Bull Of Anathema in 1208.
The Cathars had flourished for over a century in Languedoc in SE France, and condemned Rome as the Whore of Babylon and the Pope as the Antichrist, yet their beliefs are still unveiled with no evidence left behind aside from the biased judgement of Catholic authorities. Their principal crime being not showing the Pope due deference, the Cathars were routed and wiped out by the Crusaders at Beziers in July 1209 before further massacres throughout the province, turning it into a wasteland over the following seventeen years.
In 1232 the Inquisition was born and over the next five centuries tortured and executed all guilty of dissent. The most tyrannical inquisitor would be Torquemada, confessor to Queen Isabella, who from his appointment in 1483 tallied 114,000 victims. Ironically, De Rosa reveals that this executioner in the name of the true church was himself descended from a Jewish grandmother.
The author opines that the greatest cover up in history concerns the artistic and theological representation of Christ on the cross, attired in a loincloth to hide his Jewishness, which has allowed centuries of pogroms against the Jewish people.
Centuries before Hitler's Final Solution, the Holy Roman Catholic Church codified the prejudicial treatment and persecution of the Jewish race through the enactments of the Third and Fourth Lateran Councils in 1179 and 1215. These edicts banned all Jews from administration and commerce, and deprived them of ownership of land. Moreover, the Crusades routed their first victims, ahead of arrival in the Holy Land, in the slaughter of Jews within Christendom itself.
Then in 1555 Pope Paul IV published a bull which forced them into ghettos and to wear a badge of shame. Another controversial issue raised in the book concerns the papacy's claim to infallibility. As De Rosa explains, within the Early Catholic Church, Popes could be removed from office by church councils accused of heresy. Yet, at what has since become termed as Vatican I, Pope Pius IX in 1870 defined the terms of papal supremacy which still shackles the Roman Catholic faith to this day, and failed its ability to meet the challenges of twentieth century society on issues such as divorce and abortion.
The second half of the book is informative but becomes more of a sermon from the author, though the points he makes are extremely relevant an persuasive.”
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