History Summarized: Pope Fights

When you look at a Pope like our boy Francis, You might reasonably think that being a good person is a prerequisite for being the holiest guy in Christendom. You might imagine that the Pontifex Maximus would never be the type of person to leverage their divine responsibility for such earthly trifles as material gain or political expediency. Well, to that I say that you have clearly never seen a good old fashioned Pope fight. Pope fight? Yes, Pope fight. So, for the next nine minutes, allow me to take you back in time to a simpler time… when the Western Roman Empire had disintegrated And the land around the city of Rome itself was governed by the only guy in town who had any semblance of power — the Pope. For over 1,000 years the Papal States ruled over the center of Italy while overseeing the religious life of all of Europe. While today’s Pope is almost solely a spiritual leader, the medieval Popes were functionally kings and boy, did they act like it. With the stage set, Let’s go down to the ring for tonight’s. First. Pope fight! In one corner — He’s lean, He’s mean, he’s 20 years old and became Pope through bribery and nepotism, It’s Benedict the Ninth! And in the other corner, we have … wait a minute! Why are there three popes here? Who approved this schedule!? You know what? Okay, whatever. So, Benedict here didn’t actually care about doing all of that complicated Jesus stuff and he used the office to enrich his already monstrously wealthy family. Eight years later and the Cardinals decided that they didn’t want a greedy toddler for a leader and they got him out of office the same way that he got in — Bribery. A priest named Giovanni fought gangster with gangster and made Benedict an offer that he couldn’t refuse. Basically, Benedict sold the papacy and Giovanni became Pope Sylvester the third. Okay. So that’s a pretty sacrilegious thing to do, but at least we’re done, right? Ha, no. Time for round two. So, three brief months later, Benedict decided that he wanted to be Pope again because he had so much fun defrauding the people of Rome the first time. So he marched an army into the city and declared himself as Pope again. But then, just a month after he handed the Cardinals a fresh new succession crisis Benedict decided that he wanted out again, so he could get married. His godfather became Pope Gregory the Sixth and . . . that’s it. No? Okay, round three. It seems like beating dead horses was another one of Benedict’s hobbies in addition to wholesale corruption. So Benedict’s wife-to-be noped right on out of there and he decided that he wanted to be Pope again. Meanwhile, poor Sylvester is still out there sulking in the hills. So there are three people claiming to be Pope at once. To settle the matter, the Holy Roman Emperor — that is to say the German emperor — rode into town and held a council where he found Sylvester to have no legitimate claim, Benedict’s to not even slightly be worthy of being Pope and Gregory guilty of simony. All three were tossed out, and a German bishop became Pope Clement the second. But wait — There’s more! A year later, Clement the second died, and who else but Benedict came strolling back to the Vatican for term number three. Six months later, however, the Holy Roman Emperor had just about had enough of the antics so he swiftly excommunicated and exiled Benedict for good. One cardinal called him “a demon from Hell in disguise as a priest”, which is pretty hardcore, especially for a priest. But, honestly, to me the most shocking part is that he didn’t try for a fourth time. Benedict definitely qualifies as a meme Pope. Words I never imagined saying back-to-back. Given this colossal mess, it might be of little surprise that the Greek Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Empire broke off from Catholicism for good just six years later. Well, there you have it folks The final score for our first pope fight is Benedict – 3; sticking to a decision for more than twenty minutes – zero Okay, but now we’re done right? Oh boy, check the time stamp, kiddo, we’re just getting started over here. So let’s move on to our next pope fight this evening . . . and there’s no one here… Well, see, to avoid the bribes, murders, and nepotism that had plagued the papacy for a few centuries in general and the past few years in particular they developed what we now know as the papal conclave, where popes are elected by secret ballot to ensure a peaceful transition of divine authority, through what in theory would be a just and capable line of popes So, this worked out pretty well for a couple centuries, but in 1292 two warring factions of cardinals drew out the Conclave from the usual couple weeks to two entire years. For two years the papal states were without its ruler and Rome was a mess. In the confusion, a hermit monk wrote to the conclave, warning the cardinals that the almighty hand of God would dope smack the eternal salvation out of them if they kept screwing around all decade long, and, as it happened the cardinals were so impressed that they elected him Pope, marking possibly the only instance in which anyone was hired by telling their interviewers to go to hell — I mean, hey, if it works it works. So this monk becomes Pope Celestine V and he proceeds to do . . . nothing. Yeah, honestly, he was kind of a stooge. The only thing he ever really did in his first five months was help out the French-allied King of Naples by appointing his mooks to church positions. Oh, yeah — Did I say first five months? I meant only five months. When it became unavoidably clear that the ascetic monk that had no relevant experience in running a complex bureaucracy wasn’t good at his job, he went to the cardinals. And they said, “What is your first decree?”, he said, “I want to be allowed to quit.” “All right. What’s your second decree?” “I quit!” Honestly, it makes sense. He never even wanted to be Pope in the first place. He just wanted somebody to be Pope to end the deadlock. But, be careful what you wish for because Boniface the Eighth became the next Pope and he wasted absolutely no time throwing Celestine in jail. Reason being that no one had ever voluntarily abdicated the papacy like that before, and Boniface had reason to believe that that someone or another would challenge his authority and try to install Celestine back in as an anti-Pope to oppose him, so the obvious solution was to cut out the middleman and just toss Celestine in prison. Boniface then proceeded to undo all zero of Celestine’s actions. He mainly just cleared away his appointees and left only the very small clause about Popes being able to retire. Whether Celestine died of straight-up murder or just the fact that he was 81 years old and in prison, Boniface basically sentenced Celestine to death, although, honestly, when faced with the choice of being dead versus being Pope, I’m pretty sure Celestine got what he would have preferred — being Pope is work. And, at the end of the round, It’s responsibilities – one, wanting to just go home and take a nap – zero. But who’s this entering from the north? It’s King Phillip the Fourth of France and he’s not happy, folks! In fact, Boniface and Phillip feuded privately and publicly for years. At one point, Boniface wrote him a letter that literally opens with “listen, son”, which is the respectful papal way to say, “All right, looky here dumbass. You’re way out of your league and if you don’t shape up real soon, I’m gonna excommunicate your sinful ass so hard, you’ll wish I only imprisoned and maybe murdered you.” So, anyway, Phillip the Fourth carried on exactly as he had before and when Boniface prepared an order of excommunication against the king, he sent French thugs to assault him, the Pope, in his own hometown and he died within two weeks. Phillip ordered a hit. On the Pope. The gall. Pope-murdering-Pope-murderer Philip then manipulated the papal conclave to elect Clement V as the new pro-France pope. At the end of the second period, that’s French king who’s way outside of their lane – one, Murder Pope – zero. And speaking of that brings us to our sponsor for today’s video: Pope Zero! Same divine taste, zero calories. Now, back to the fight. It’s after Clement steps into the pope fight that things get even weirder. Philip, still high on his victory and ballsier than ever, decided to test his luck and yoinks the entire papacy itself out of Rome, out of Italy, even, and moved it into Avignon, France. Starting with Clement, the Catholic Church operated in France under the authority of the French King for 68 years — mind you, that whole time, the literal papal states were Pope-less. After almost one metric human lifetime of lavish living in the pocket of the French crown, Pope Urban v and his successor Gregory XI fought bitterly against the College of Cardinals to restore the papacy to Rome. The cardinals, at this point, had nicely settled into eating ten course meals while everyone else in Europe was actively dying of plague. Because that’s a thing now, not that they would have known that, being cooped up in the purpose-built Palace of Avignon all century. But, anyway, that’s okay now, because Gregory moved the papacy back to Rome, and even though it’s definitely worse for wear after 70 years of functionally no government, the Church set about restoration projects to fix stuff. Now, that was all well and good, but Gregory’s successor Urban VI turned out to be . . . well, kind of insane. As soon as he became Pope, He started locking up his opponents. You know, like a fascist. This was awkward because most of the Cardinals were still French, so the obvious strategy for the half of the church leadership that didn’t like Urban for obvious reasons was just to run off to France and elect Clement VII as their Pope. Their argument was that the new Roman Popes were an illegitimate offshoot of their rightful Avignon line. The Roman cardinals believed that, independent of Urban the Sixth’s personal qualities, he was the rightfully selected Pope, and at the end of round 4, our score is: real Pope – one Faux Pope – 1: but in French. So we’ve had Popes retired to make way for new popes, we’ve had former popes contesting with current popes, we’ve even had murder popes and Pope murderers; but now, Christianity saw two entirely separate papacies in Italy and France each believing that the other was a one stop shop for every lawless heretic on earth. At this point St. Peter’s probably thinking, “Guys, what the hell?!”, but Jesus is just omnisciently snacking on popcorn loving every single minute of the drama. This, ladies and gentlemen, is no ordinary Pope Fight — no no, no. This was a full-on Pope war. Two entire papacies competed for nearly 40 years, each branding the other as anti-popes. Needless to say it didn’t reflect especially well on the church when a pope is condemned as a heretic by a different pope. This went on for a while, and neither side budged, as you can imagine. But, finally, cardinals from both sides met in an attempt to reconcile and succeeded in electing another anti-Pope. I lost count of the rounds of this Pope fight a while ago, but this is honestly getting ridiculous. The mess was mercifully concluded at the four-year-long Council of Constance where the second anti-Pope was deposed, the Avignon anti-Pope had his claim dismissed, the Roman actual Pope resigned, and a new pope — Martin V — was elected by the combined council. And, now, we’re done. Well, there were few anti-popes tooling around for another couple decades, but nobody cared and it wasn’t a problem. As far as European Christians were concerned, the seat of the church was permanently re-established in Rome, and all the Popes between then and 2013 served for life, the way God intended. That was the year Benedict XVI became the first pope in almost 600 years to voluntarily resign, and thankfully he did so without an accompanying Pope fight. Let’s take one last look at the scoreboard, folks. At the end of the fifth and final round for the evening, It’s lasting dignity of the medieval Catholic Church – negative seven — That’s one for each succession crisis — and meme capacity of the medieval Catholic Church – – Maximal. Woo, that’s gotta hurt. All told, though, the fighting did stop, papal mischief in general continued in various forms for another century. Between the moral depravity of the Borgia Pope Alexander the Sixth, the Medici murder conspiracy, abetting Pope Sixtus the Fourth, and a lot of indulgences being sold to finance the Renaissance, the reconstruction of Rome serving as the final nail in a solid gold coffin five centuries in the making, it may be of little surprise that Martin Luther famously said, quote, “Screw this. Screw the church. I’ll do it myself. Don’t @ me.” Hmm, harsh words, but still, as far as the complete abandonment of spiritual responsibility for material luxuries goes, you just can’t beat a good Pope fight. Finally — and this is basically irrelevant — — But it is deeply important to me that you’re aware. Pope Francis has a rock album. Yes, the Pope has a rock album. Other Popes – zero, Pope Francis – infinity. Play it! (Pope rock music) Subscribe for more amazing videos. This has been an Overly Sarcastic Production.
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5majAET5KA

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