Monday, February 11, 2013

The resignation of Benedict IX

Today we heard the Pope is resigning. 

I wish him well. He is a fine philosopher and his books well worth reading. 

In terms of resignation though there is an earlier Benedict who resigned albeit in a very different context. 

Benedict IX was around 18 to 20 years old when made pontiff, although some sources claim 11 or 12.  He led an extremely dissolute life and had few qualifications for the papacy other than connections with a socially powerful family. St. Peter Damian described him as "feasting on immorality"; the historian Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote that in Benedict, "a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest... occupied the chair of Peter and profaned the sacred mysteries of religion by his insolent courses." The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him "a disgrace to the Chair of Peter." The first pope said to have been primarily homosexual, he was said to have held orgies in the Lateran palace.

He was also accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of "many vile adulteries and murders".  Pope Victor III, in his third book of Dialogues, referred to "his rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts. His life as a pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it."

In order to rid the Church of the scandalous Benedict, in 1045 his Godfather, the pious priest John Gratian, persuaded Benedict to resign and sell the papacy. Gratian then became Pope Gregory VI

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