Cleansing Fire

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Thou Art Not Peter

December 11th, 2009, Promulgated by Gen

Iridescent Italian month marches on, and I thought we should take a moment to talk about the infamous Pope John XXIII. No, not Blessed John XXIII, but the anti-pope of the 15th century. There’s a huge difference, folks. Remember? We talked about this – we’re not sede-vacantists.

Here is a well-told history of this less-than-iridescent-Italian:

He was one of the seven cardinals who, in May of 1408, deserted Pope Gregory XII, and, with those belonging to the obedience of Antipope Benedict XIII, convened the Council of Pisa, of which Cossa became the leader. They elected Pope Alexander V in 1409.
On the night of the 3rd May 1410, Pope Alexander V died suddenly of poisoning after having dinner along with Cardinal Baldassare Cossa.
The Italian cardinals elected the Pisan Baldassare Cossa (c. 1370-1419) to replace him. He called himself Pope John XXIII (1410-1415)
The vices of Cardinal Cossa, who had bribed electors, were well known to the cardinals and all of Italy, and nothing could show more plainly than this election the depth to which the papacy had sunk. Whether he was the son of an Italian pirate, as Dietrich says, we need not stop to consider. For 15 years he had been the head of the popes’ corrupt financial system and had led papal troops and mercenaries with all the ferocity and looseness of commanders of that age. Dietrich adds that, as papal legate at Bologna, Cossa had exacted a personal commission from gamblers and prostitutes. On these matters, it is enough to say that the cardinals who elected him were, like all Europeans, aware of his reputation, and we remain content with the official ecclesiastical description of his character.
To end the schism and mutliple Popes, Emperor Sigismund agreed to convoke and preside at a Church General Council at Constance in 1414. It was an uncanny four-year event that defied understanding, and “the incontinence practised by the churchmen demoralised the city in which it was convened” (Samuel Edgar’s The Variations of Popery, London, 1838, 2nd ed., p. 533). The priests employed 1,500 prostitutes, whom they called “vagrant strumpets” (ibid.), who refreshed them of an evening after their days of arguing in the Council. The sacerdotal fornicators, it seemed, were very liberal with their favours to the professional ladies. One courtesan, it is said, gained 800 florins, an immense sum in those days.
After hearing witnesses, the Council drew up a long indictment against John XXIII which ran to 54 Articles, and may be read in any collection of Church Council records available. He was later charged with rape, adultery, incest, sodomy and the murder of Pope Alexander V. After a brief trial he was found guilty, deposed, imprisoned and strangled within two years. The Romans pelted mud and stones at his coffin when it was brought to Rome.

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4 Responses to “Thou Art Not Peter”

  1. avatar cj says:

    No, we aren't Sedes but there is a reason John XXIII is still just a blessed. Probably the same reasons why Sedes, closet Sedes and humble little grandmas shake their heads over his pontificate. Even JPII didn't canonize him and he canonized everybody.

    Speaking of JPII, if he gets canonized I'll eat my veil.

  2. avatar Gen says:

    Every pope has personal, theological, emotional, physical weaknesses. After all, we're all human.

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    True. A no-brainer. Doesn't change a thing I posted so I trust you will join me in praying for popes present, past and future, eh?

  4. avatar Gen says:

    Naturally, CJ.

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