Top 10 Most Evil Popes

Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, there have been a number of popes whose actions and legacies have been controversial, scandalous, or even considered evil. In this article, we’ll explore ten popes who have been deemed some of the most notorious figures to hold the highest position in the Catholic Church.

1. Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503)

Born Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI is often considered one of the most controversial popes in history. He was accused of nepotism, simony, and fathering several children with his mistresses. The Borgia family’s corruption and scandals during his papacy have been the subject of numerous books, films, and television series.

2. Pope Stephen VI (896-897)

Pope Stephen VI is known for the infamous “Cadaver Synod,” where he had the corpse of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, exhumed and put on trial. The macabre trial ended with Formosus being found guilty, his papacy declared null, and his body mutilated and thrown into the Tiber River.

3. Pope John XII (955-964)

Pope John XII, who became pope at the age of 18, was accused of a variety of immoral acts, including adultery, incest, and even murder. He was known for turning the papal palace into a brothel and was eventually deposed by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I.

4. Pope Urban VI (1378-1389)

Pope Urban VI was known for his violent and tyrannical behavior. He tortured and executed several cardinals who opposed him, leading to the Western Schism, a period of division within the Catholic Church that lasted for nearly 40 years.

5. Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303)

Pope Boniface VIII was involved in a bitter power struggle with King Philip IV of France. He issued a papal bull declaring that spiritual authority was superior to temporal authority, leading to his eventual arrest and death at the hands of the French king’s forces.

6. Pope Julius II (1503-1513)

Known as the “Warrior Pope,” Julius II was more interested in military conquests than spiritual matters. He led armies into battle, engaged in political intrigues, and was known for his patronage of the arts, including commissioning Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

7. Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492)

Pope Innocent VIII was accused of selling church offices and indulgences to the highest bidder. He also endorsed the witch hunts that swept through Europe during his papacy, leading to the torture and execution of countless individuals accused of witchcraft.

8. Pope Benedict IX (1032-1044, 1045, 1047-1048)

Benedict IX was the only pope to have served three separate terms, having been deposed and restored twice. He was accused of rape, murder, and bestiality, and he allegedly sold the papacy to his godfather, Gregory VI, in order to marry.

9. Pope John XXIII (1410-1415)

Not to be confused with the 20th-century Pope John XXIII, this antipope was involved in the Western Schism and was accused of piracy, rape, sodomy, and incest. He was eventually deposed and imprisoned by the Council of Constance.

10. Pope Leo X (1513-1521)

Pope Leo X was known for his extravagant spending and love of luxury. He famously said, “Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.” His sale of indulgences to fund the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica was a major factor in the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther.

It’s important to note that while these popes are considered among the most controversial or “evil” in history, the Catholic Church has also had many popes who have made positive contributions and worked to reform the institution. The actions of a few individuals do not define the entire history or mission of the Church.

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