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Evils of religion part 5: Catholicism's worst atrocities

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The pope admitted this week that 1 of every 50 priests is a pedophile. Likely, the number is far higher. Of course, the truly hideous thing is not simply the existence of pedophiles in an organization that claims to be God’s guiding light to humanity; nor the hypocrisy of the oh-so-pious fathers engaging is such disgusting practices then crying big crocodile tears when caught; the most disgusting aspect of the story is the Church’s self-serving game of hide-the-pederast, moving to other parts of the world any who were about to become an embarrassment.

As a ‘new’ phenomenon, it’s shocking. Through a broader lens, however, it fits seamlessly into the Church’s whole history. Entire volumes could be – and have been – written by respected historians about the disgusting things done by the Church. Here is just a summary:

The election of Pope Damasus was so hotly contested that war broke out, and 137 of his rivals were slaughtered. Murder likewise featured in the election of Pope Symmachus and others.

Vigilus accepted a bribe of 700 pounds of gold from the empress Theodora. She sent her general to Rome to depose Pope Sylerius and install Vigilus. Vigilus was accepted as pope by the majority of the clergy, whereupon he promptly forgot his sugar mama. He was poisoned by – and replaced by – Pope Pelagius.

Pope Urban I famously ruled that:

“The gifts of the faithful offered to the Lord can only be used for ecclesiastical (clergy) purposes…for they are the consecrated gifts of the faithful, the atonement offering of sinners.”

What a clever money-maker that turned out to be! According to the Bible, however,

“It is through that divine will that we have been set free from sin, through the offering of Jesus Christ as our sacrifice once for all… Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:10-18)

Surely Catholics know that Christ’s death did away with atonement offerings? For the Church to accept money as ‘penance’ for sin was nothing more than greed.

Pope Siricius, at a time when it was still okay for priests to be married, ordered them to stop having sex with their wives. (Too bad he didn’t think to also rule out sex with little boys…)

Pope Innocent I was the son of Pope Anastasius. Apparently Anastasius didn’t get the memo about no sex… Similarly, Pope Benedict VI fathered Pope Sergius I. In fact, the papal family tree gets so complicated in places you need a chart to keep them straight. There’s a good one here.

Pope Sixtus IV made 3 nephews and a grand nephew cardinals, and another nephew a bishop. He sold the See of Lisbon to a child of 8 and the See of Milan to a boy of 11, both sons of princes. He appointed Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia's 7-year-old illegitimate son to the priesthood.

Pope Innocent VIII mortgaged the papal treasures to pay for a Vatican wedding for his illegitimate son to the daughter of super-rich Lorenzo de Medici. He made his son's new brother-in-law a cardinal at age 13, and he established a bureau for the sale of favors and pardons.

Pope Alexander IV created 80 new offices which he sold for 780 ducats each. He issued a Papal Bull legitimizing the bastard son of his illegitimate daughter Lucrezia Borgia. He made cardinals of one of his own illegitimate sons, and of his mistress' brother. He appointed 43 cardinals in all, most of whom paid highly for the appointment. Having arranged the marriage of his daughter to a relative of a cardinal, he later annulled the marriage so he could give her to the heir to the throne of Naples. In 1501 he presided at a banquet in a courtyard of the Vatican at which 50 prostitutes performed a striptease, then had sex with the guests. Prizes were offered to the guests who "performed the act most often with the courtesans." The Pope, his daughter Lucrezia and his son, Cesare, looked on.

Pope Leo X’s inauguration ceremony cost 100,000 ducats, the equivalent of about $20,000,000. To pay for it, he created over 2000 saleable positions, including 400 he called "Knights of St. Peter" which sold for 1000 ducats down and 100 ducats a year, each. He excommunicated the Duke of Urbino so he could bestow the title and territory on his own nephew. He had several very wealthy cardinals accused of plotting to assassinate him. After forcing them to plead guilty, he had one executed. The others were then allowed to buy pardons. He sold 31 new cardinalships in a single day, collecting from the recruits over 300,000 ducats.

Eugenius IV bought the papacy by promising, in writing, that he would divide half the Church’s property among all the cardinals who voted for him. He then tortured the treasurer of his predecessor Martin V into revealing the hiding places of Martin’s wealth.

Sixtus IV set up an arrangement in Rome whereby he collected a weekly tax from the prostitutes who worked there. In a good year it added 20,000 ducats to his coffers.

Pope Urban II called on all Catholics to “go and fight against the barbarians… bathe your hands in the blood of the infidels.”

Pope Innocent III ordered an attack on Bezier, France, to kill “heretics.” When asked how the soldiers were to tell the heretics from the good Catholics within, the Pope’s representative, Abbot Amalric, replied:

‘Kill them all. The Lord will know which are his own.”

20,000 men, women and children were slaughtered.

It has been estimated by some that the Crusades, and the Inquisition that came after, claimed 50,000,000 Christian lives – plus untold millions of Muslims, Jews, and Turks, slaughtered supposedly at God’s direction.

Regular readers of my column know that when I use the words Christian or Christianity I don’t automatically mean Christ-like, I mean how a person or sect self-identifies. Catholicism claims to be the gold-standard of Christianity. Yet over the centuries this ‘Christian’ organization has formed alliances with monsters… not once or twice but over and over! Mussolini, Peron, Francisco Franco and, of course, Hitler. Often overlooked is Anton Pavelitch (or Pavelic) of Croatia, the ‘Butcher of the Balkans.’ He was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII and received a papal blessing in May, 1941. Over the next few years he out-nazi'd Hitler. He not only slaughtered millions of Jews and Roma:

“In 1941 a concentration camp is opened about 90 km southeast of Zagreb. Up to 200,000 Serbs, Jews, Gipsies and political prisoners are killed at Jasenovac, which is the largest of the 26 camps established in the Balkans. Catholic clergy staff the camp and participate in the executions.”

Nearly half of Croatia’s extermination camps were headed by Catholic priests. After the war more than 200 priests and nuns were charged with collaborating in the genocide of the nearly a million orthodox Serbs, and were executed. U.S. Army counter-intelligence agents sent to grab Pavelic to stand trial for war crimes eventually reported:

“His contacts are so high and his present position so compromising to the Vatican, that any extradition of the subject would deal a staggering blow to the Roman Catholic Church.”

Ancient history? Propaganda?

In 1994 people of the Hutu tribe began a genocide in Rwanda that wiped out 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days. Pope John Paul II admitted this was a

“genocide for which, unfortunately, even Catholics are responsible.”

Did he mean that, since 80% of Rwanda was Catholic, logically some of the murderers were Catholic? No, he meant more than that. Some of the Hutus hacking off the legs of the taller Tutsis, were actually priests and nuns.

In fact, the pope’s half-hearted admission was really addressing something even deeper:

“As the [Hutu] regime turned to ethnic politics as a means of regaining public support, the leaders of the churches, because of their close association with the regime and the long history of church entanglement in ethnic politics, offered little or no opposition but instead engaged in their own brand of ethnic politics. By the time the genocide began, the majority of church leaders had already clearly associated themselves with Hutu ethno-nationalism.”

Hutu’ and ‘Tutsi’ had long since ceased to be real ‘tribes;’ they were simply racist titles attached to people by the ruling (Catholic) Belgians in the first half of the 20th century. Based on an unscriptural, crackpot theory called Eugenics – the idea that the color of a person’s skin, the shape of their head, their height, predisposed some to be superior to others the government, with the Church’s blessing, gave preferential treatment to some they calledTutsis over others they called Hutus, until the Hutus finally rebelled.

Another Catholic atrocity that came to light recently is now referred to as the Magdalene Laundries scandal in Ireland. Under the guise of running a home for unwed mothers, the Catholic Church in fact was operating a very profitable business: an industrial laundry – profitable because the labor was all provided by slaves. It is estimated that, between 1922 and 1996, some 10,000 women were imprisoned for being unwed mothers. Is this more propaganda from the Church’s enemies? The Irish Government doesn’t think so…they’ve recently authorized payments to be made to some of these women as compensation for their ordeal.

In Spain under the Catholic dictator Franco, new parents who were deemed unsuitable were told their babies had died. The nuns who ran the hospitals then sold the infants to parents the State felt had more appropriate political leanings. The practice continued until as recently 1987, when the government decided the Catholic Church couldn’t be trusted to run adoption agencies. In all, it is believed that some 300,000 babies were stolen from their parents and sold.

Is it any wonder that an outside observer might look at Catholicism’s version of Christianity and say, ‘Leave me out of it!’

Sadly, the Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on evil done in the name of religion. Catholics, if you’ve managed to stick with me until now, congratulations: your patience is about to be rewarded. We’ll take a look at Protestantism next.

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