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Matter of Opinion

Monday Pope Factoid

Just in time for the pope's visit to the United States comes the book "101 Questions & Answers on Popes and the Papacy" by Christopher M. Bellitto of Kean University.

(Disclosure: Bellitto is also an editor for Paulist Press and did a fine job editing two books on marriage which I co-authored.)

If people think the modern Catholic Church is filled with turmoil and controversy, nothing compares to the church in former times. So this week, I'll excerpt some of the questions and answers from Bellitto's pope book.

Question 29: I know that Martin Luther comes along at some point and says that the papacy is the Antichrist. Why did he say this?

Excerpt from answer: We should begin by acknowledging the Renaissance papacy as one of the low points in church history in terms of the quality of men sitting on Peter's throne. Caricatures of popes from wealthy families the Medici, the Borgias, and others with mistresses, children and grandchildren are based in hard fact and incontrovertible evidence.

It is something of a rogues' gallery...Leo X (1513-21), famously -- or infamously -- said that if God saw fit to make him pope, the least he could do was enjoy it...Popes made their children and granchildren, some of them only teenagers, into bishops and cardinals.

To read about the last straw for Martin Luther, read the rest of the entry.

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