The papacy today owes much to the colourful character of previous popes who have worked so hard to make the catholic church into what it is today.
St.DAMASUS (reigning pope between 366-84): murdered 160 of his opponents (who had objected to his committing adultery) in a church where they had taken refuge. Catholic claims that this was only a "faction fight" cannot explain why not a single one of Damasus' party was killed. This "saint" is still invoked by believers in cases of fever. THEODORUS (642-49), commenced the custom of dipping his pen into consecrated wine (the "blood of Christ") when signing death orders. St.SERGIUS I (687-701): like so many popes was accused of adultery. But in this case, according to church history, his innocence was proved. The child he was accused of fathering, when it was only 8 days old, cried out: "The pontiff Sergius is not my father!" (The baby not only talked at a rather early age but could even remember whose sperm he started with!) STEPHEN VI (869-7): had the body of a former pope disinterred, dressed in Episcopal robes and placed on the pontifical chair; he then asked him: "Why didst thou, being bishop of Porto prompted by ambition, usurp the universal see of Rome?" When the dead ex-pope did not offer a satisfactory explanation, he was stripped of his vestments, and three fingers (those used in blessing) were cut off.

SIXTUS III (432-40): accused of "debauching a virgin" he was acquitted, by a council not because of innocence, but "because the judge of all ought to be judged by none." BONIFACE II (530-32): bought his office, accused his rival of having tried to do the same. He solemnly excommunicated this rival (Dioscorus) and persecuted his supporters. A later pope removed the excommunication. VIGILUS (537-55): killed his own secretary in a rage, had his sister's son whipped to death. When banished by the emperor, he repented to save his skin.

JOHN XI (931-36): son of pope Sergius III and Marozia who was the concubine "of several popes. "Elected" as pope at the age of 18. A half brother by the same mother expelled him and imprisoned their mother. JOHN XIII (956-64): nominated himself pope when he was 17; cohabited with his father's concubines, guilty of numerous sexual perversions; cruel in punishing objectors to his debauchery: deprived one deacon of his right hands and his balls, put out the eyes of another, cut of the nose of the keeper of archives etc. etc. Died from a blow on the head while in bed with a married woman. BONIFACE VII (974): murdered his predecessor, robbed the Basilica and fled with the plunder, but returned later to murder John XIV, then on the papal throne. GREGORY V (996-99): punished his opponent by depriving him or his sight, cutting off his nose and tearing his tongue out; then had the victim paraded through the streets sitting backwards on a donkey. BENEDICT VIII (1012-24): when Rome was being damaged by a storm he saved it - by having the Jews arrested and executed!!!

CONSTANTINE (708-15): to please him, they cut out the tongue and eyes of the Archbishop of Ravenna for heresy. STEPHEN III (768-72): upon his election, he punished his predecessor and his supporters by blinding their eyes. EUGENIUS II (824-27): pioneered many sadistic practices, such as the "ordeal by cold water" to help confessions along.

PELAGIUS (555-60): accused of having poisoned his predecessor. St.GREGORY (the Great, 590-604): an enemy of education, forbade the study of classic authors, said to have burned the Palatine Library founded by Augustus Caesar; promoted a belief in superstitions and miracles. SABINIAN (604-6): accused St. Gregory of having bought his office, and according to church history the latter appeared to him in four separate visions. After the forth apparition the ghostly saint had enough of trying to convince Sabinian of his innocence and hit him over the head so that he died soon after.

JOHN VIII (872-82): ordered the bishop of Naples to bring him the chief men of the Sarazens, and when they were delivered, had their throats cut. Died of poison administered by a relative of a married lady he had "seduced".

BENEDICTIX (1033-46): a nephew of previous popes; grasped the chair at age of 12 or 18 (depending on which records are correct); committed adultery, murder etc.. Lusting after the body and the goods of a female cousin he sold the papacy to a certain John Gratianus, whom he consecrated as Gregory VI. Receiving a golden handshake, he retired from his career of murder and mayhem to live in his own territories. ADRIAN IV (1154-59): only Englishman who ever became pope. Gave away Ireland to Henry II receiving· an annual tribute for it. Had his opponents burned at the stake. INNOCENT III (1198-1216): claimed a universal empire and used the inquisition to enforce that claim, Butchered tens of thousands of his opponents. GREGORY IX (1227-41); built his power on the inquisition, raised taxes everywhere, excommunicated kings and incited nations to revolt. Was finally ignominiously driven from Rome. BONIFACE VIII (1294-1303): called himself King of Kings, enriched his estate by instituting the sale of indulgences; excommunicated all who disputed his claim of being supreme ruler of the universe. Lived in concubinage with his two nieces, guilty of several treacherous assassinations. CLEMENT V (1305-1314): burnt alive the grand master of the Templars and his supporters under false charges. Urged new crusades, announcing that every crusader gained the right to free four souls of his choice from purgatory.

URBAN VI (1378-89): a vicious despot, he ordered 6 cardinals brutally tortured. He and a rival pope excommunicated each other, and the schism between the two papacies cost thousands of lives. His rival John XXII was found guilty of murder and incest, had also been accused of having seduced 200 nuns.

INNOCENT VII (1484-92): established a bank in Rome for the sale of pardons. Each sin had a price. Needed enormous sums to maintain a lifestyle of vice and waste. Once pledged the papal tiara as security. ALEXANDER VI (1492-1503): one of the most brutal and criminal of popes, died accidentally by poison which had been intended for a disliked cardinal.

MARTIN V (1417-31): under his rule Jan Huss was burnt alive after having been promised safe conduct if he came to discuss his grievances. EUGENIUS IV (1431-47): his first act was to put to torture the treasurer of his predecessor and hanging 200 friends of the previous pope. Was deposed by the Council of Basle, but waged a civil war. PAUL II (1464-71): corrupt and merciless, amassed immense treasures; tortured the chief members of the Roman Academy on the rack, tearing some of them to pieces. SIXTUS IV (1471-84): claimed that he found the papal treasury empty when he ascended the chair, but nevertheless lavished immense wealth from it on his relatives. By seizing grain and selling it abroad he created famines which he exploited to enrich himself.

PAUL III (1534-49): he acknowledged an illegitimate son and daughter. When the emperor criticised him for promoting two of his young grandchildren as cardinals, the pope pointed out that this was his right predecessors had even made infants in the cradle into cardinals.

The crimes of the popes did not cease suddenly, but certainly became less spectacular after the Reformation. While the papacy today embraces some humanist ideas it is still so blinded by self-interest that it opposes measures (like birth control) that are now vital for the continuation of civilisation and indeed life on this planet. It is incredible that there is still a number of Catholics who place unquestioning trust into a leadership which history shows to have been consistently opposed to universal human ideals and so-called "Christian" ones.

An important quiz for devout Catholics: how many of the questions below can you answer correctly?
1) How many times was Holy Father Benedict IX holding the Papal Throne between 1032-1048? 2) How many Popes were simultaneously claiming the Papacy between 896-904? 3) Who succeeded the Holy Father Sergius III (904-911)? 4) Which Pope drank toasts to the Devil and invoked Pagan Gods while gambling and how did he die? 5) How did the Bishop of Cremona Luitprand and Cardinal Barunius describe the Lateran Palace (Pope's residence) in the Xth century? 6) What did visiting Bishop Benno report about Papal Rome in 1046? 7) What was the Holy Father's reaction to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215? 8) What were the last words of Holy Father Innocent IX (1243-1254) on his death bed? 9) What was the first action of Holy Father Nicholas III (1227-1280) after ascending the Papacy? 10) How did the famous Italian writer and greatest scholar of his time, Petrarch, describe the Papal Capital or Avignon where he lived from 1312-1337? 11) What did Holy Father Urban VI (13781389) do on learning that some Cardinals were plotting to replace him with their favourite? 12) How many children did Holy Father Alexander VI (1492-1503) have? 13) Who was the best businessman-Pope of them all? 14) Which Holy Father made two of his sons Cardinals at the ages of 14 and 16 and gave two Papal Cities (Piacenca and Parma) to his daughter? 15) For what is Holy Father and Saint of the Church, Pius V (1566-1572) famous? 16) What was the reaction of Holy Father Gregory XIII (1572-1585) to the news of the slaughter of the Huguenots in France on St. Bartholomew Night in 1572, when 100,000 men, women and children were killed? 17) How did Holy Father Clement VIII react to the Edict of Nantes (1598) by the French King granting Protestants a measure of religious tolerance? 18) What was the favourite punishment under Papal jurisdiction in Rome in the XVI and XVII centuries? 19) How long did Holy Father Clement XIV (1769-1774) live after having dissolved the Order of Jesuits? 20) How did more recent Holy Fathers view religious tolerance and freedom or opinion? 21) What is "Syllabus of Errors"? 22) What happened to the longstanding rule of the Canon Law requiring death for heretics?

1) 3 times, after having sold the job twice for 2,000 pounds of gold and then reclaiming it by force. 2) Eight. Two were murdered by Holy Father Sergius III. 3) The son of the above Sergius III and his mistress Marozia was crowned by his Holy Father to become Holy Father John XI. . 4) Holy Father John XII (955·964). He was beaten to death by the husband of his mistress when caught with her in bed. The Church has put the inscription on his tomb "Ornament of the Whole World". 5) "A Brothel" and "A Stable". 6) "There was no Cleric in Rome who was not either illiterate, or guilty of Simony or living in concubinage". 7) Holy Father Innocent III (1198-1216) called it being "Inspired by the Devil" and proclaimed Anathema on it and its supporters. 8) He said to his relatives assembled around him: "Why do you weep? Did I not make you rich enough?" 9) He promptly appointed his 3 brothers and 4 other relatives Cardinals. 10) "It was swept along in a flood of the most obscene pleasure, an incredible storm of debauch, the most horrible and unprecedented shipwreck of chastity ..." The Pope VI· is referred to as "An Ecclesiastical Dionysos with his obscene and infamous artifices." 11) He had 6 of them tortured to death, watching the torture himself while reading his breviary. (Witnessed and described by eminent Jurist of the time, Dietrick Von Neheim). 12) 6 known and probably 8. His famous son, Cesare, was murderer; daughter, Lucretia, similarly. She also had an incestuous relationship with her father the Pope, and probably with brother. 13) Possibly Leo X (1513·1521), the one who excommunicated Martin Luther. He amassed a personal fortune of millions of crowns. Said about the papacy: “It is a business so profitable that it would be sheer madness to open eyes of the ignorant". 14) Paul III (1534·1549). A later Pope, Sixtus V, has done even better. He made his son Cardinal at 13. 15) He institutionalised Holy Inquisition, torturing and burning at stake hundreds of heretics, while Holy Father was watching. He was also concerned with the morals of the Clergy, prohibited Priests to keep female servants and Nuns to keep male watch dogs (!) and ordered that blasphemers were to have their tongues pierced with red hot iron. He was also instrumental in convincing Philip of Spain to invade England with his Armada, but died before the debacle. 16) He celebrated Thanksgiving Mass, had church bells ringing, sent congratulations to the French Royal Court and struck a commemorative medal inscribed: "Slaughter of the Huguenots". . 17) He said: "The most accursed thing that €an be imagined whereby liberty of conscience is granted to everybody, which is the worst thing in the world." 18) Torture, castration and burning at stake. 19) Less than a year. All indications were that he was poisoned. 20) The pronouncement of Holy Father Gregory XVI (1831.1846) in his Encyclical (5/8/1832): "... that absurd and erroneous doctrine or rather delirium which claims and defends liberty of conscience for everyone. From this comes in a word the worst plague of all, namely unrestrained liberty of opinion and freedom of speech " 21) A list of 80 "Reprobated, proscribed and condemned principal errors of our times" compiled by Pius IX in 1864, (This Pope decreed his infallibility). Samples: It is false that "Every man is free to profess the religion, which by the light of human reason, he believes to be true." It is false that "Men find the way of eternal salvation and attain it in any religion" (Other than Roman Catholicism). It is false that "The Roman Pontiff can and should reconcile himself to and agree with progress, liberalism and modern civilisation" (Article 80). 22) It was reaffirmed by Holy Father Leo XIII in 1901 and again by Holy Father Benedict XV in 1918 as "Right and duty to put heretics to death". Not until 1983 were the words watered down a little.