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Meditation 781
A Clerical Surprise Party

by: Watson Heston

From: The Freethinker's Pictorial Text-Book, published New York, 1890

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But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone : which is the second death.-- Rev. xxi, 8.

Constantine was one of the vicars of Christ. Afterward, Stephen IV. was chosen. The eyes of Constantine were then put out by Stephen, acting in Christ’s place. The tongue of the Bishop Theodorus was amputated by the man who had been substituted for God. This bishop was left in a dungeon to perish of thirst. Pope Leo III. was seized in the street and forced into a church, where the nephhews of Pope Adrian attempted to put out his eyes and cut off his tongue. His successor, Stephen V., was driven ignominiously from Rome. His successor Paschal I., was accused of blinding and murdering two ecclesiastics in the Lateran palace.

At this time the bishop of Naples was in secret alliance with the Mohammedans. This bishop was excommunicated by the pope ; afterward he gave him absolution because he betrayed the chief Mohammedans and assassinated others. There was an ecclesiastical conspiracy to murder the pope, and some of the treasures of the church were seized, and the gate of St. Pancrazia was opened with false keys to admit the Saracens. Formosus, who had been engaged in these transactions, who had been excommunicated as a conspirator for the murder of Pope John, was himself elected pope in 891. Boniface VI. was his successor. He had been deposed from the diaconate and from the priesthood for his immoral and lewd life. Stephen VII. was the next pope. This vicar of Christ was thrown into prison and strangled. From 896 to 900, five popes were consecrated. Leo V., in less than two months after he became pope, was cast into prison by Christopher one of his chaplains. This Christopher usurped his place, and in a little while was expelled from Rome by Sergius III., who became pope in 905.

This pope lived in criminal intercourse with the celebrated Theodora, who with her daughters Marozia and Theodora, both prostitutes, exercised an extraordinary control over him. The love of Theodora was also shared by John X. She gave him the archbishopric of Ravenna, and made him pope in 915. The daughter of Theodora overthrew this pope. She surprised him in the Lateran palace. His brother, Peter, was killed ; the pope was thrown into prison, where he was afterward murdered.

Afterward, this Marozia, daughter of Theodora, made her own son pope, John XI. Many affirmed that Pope Sergius was his father, but his mother inclined to attribute him to her husband Alberic, whose brother Guido she afterward married. Another of her sons, Alberic, jealous of his brother John, the pope, cast him and their mother into prison. Alberic’s son was then elected pope as John XII. John was nineteen years old when he became the vicar of Christ. His reign was characterized by the most shocking immoralities, so that the emperor Otho I. was compelled by the German clergy to interfere. He was tried. It appeared that John had received bribes for the consecration of bishops; that he had ordained one who was only ten-years old; that he was charged with incest, and with so many adulteries that the Lateran palace had become a brothel.--Intellectual Development of Europe, by Prof. Draper, University of New York

Cartoon: A Clerical Surprise Party