Today, in 1590, Pope Urban VII died. He had been the Pope for 13 days. Not even two bloody weeks. Official cause of death? Malaria, which is a lot cooler than what most people died from in 1590 (living past 30). During his papacy, Urban enacted a smoking ban, one of the first in history, because you might as well do one memorable thing before dying of malaria in the dark ages, and that was it. But Urban was just one in a long line of Popes who didn’t manage to use the office to its full potential, oh no. There’s a whole Vatican’s worth of Popely losers out there. Check it!
Pope Stephen VI – Corpse Heckler
The greatest pope of all time was Stephen VI for having the polished titanium balls to put a previous pope on trial after the man was already dead. The accused, Formosus, had pissed off a number of other Holy Rollers in the day during his 5 year tenure as Pope. He had been coerced into appointing a Holy Roman Emperor and then, first chance he got, he supported another dude in his war against said Emperor because screw that guy. If history teaches us anything, it’s that Old West whores were not to be trusted. Less well known is that a Pope can only double cross so many people before it bites him in the ass. Even if his ass is already decomposing.
Spurned by the widow and son of the double crossed Emperor, Pope Stephen had Formuses dug up a year after he died (three years after the Emperor died) and put on trial. The official charge? Douchebaggery. Or something. Probably. Point was, his corpse was literally dressed up like a Pope and sat in a chair while Stephen appointed a deacon to speak on the dead man’s behalf. Surprinsgly, the dead Pope didn’t have a very good defense for any of the charges brought against him so he was found guilty. Three of his fingers were cut off so he couldn’t go around blessing people in the after life and it was declared he had been an unfit Pope so everything he did as Pope didn’t count any more. Then they buried him. Then, just to mess with him, they dug him up again and tossed him in a river. Rumor has it he washed ashore and started performing miracles after that, but none of them could have been as hardcore as Stephen’s attempt at justice.
Pope Benedict IX – Third Time’s a Charm
Benedict managed to take a bite of the ol’ Pope apple on three separate occasions. Not a lot of jobs will let you keep quitting and coming back, but if you’re as crooked as a dog’s hind leg strapped to an $11 bill then shit happens.
Great men in history all have critics and maybe Benedict was awesome and just misunderstood, but it should be noted it’s on record that at least one saint referred to him as “a demon from hell in disguise as a priest” which is like, the exact opposite way you want to ideally describe a Pope. Just about.
What was the big that Benedict kept sticking up people’s asses? Well, he left his job as Pope the first time because someone paid him to take over, which is kind of awesome but arguably a little shady at the same time. A year later he came back and kicked out his replacement to take up the office again, but only for a month. He quit again when his Godfather paid him for the title. Then he came back two years later and retook the Vatican before someone showed up to kick his ass out permanently.
Selling your job as the head of the Church not once but twice is pretty low down, but let’s not forget he was also accused of rampant sexual deviancy including bestiality. Because if you’re the Pope, you need to be decadent in all things.
Pope John XII – Possible Hatred of Catholicism
You’d think that being the Pope would entail some kind of desire to actually do something Churchish. Maybe you should even like being Catholic and what the Church stands for. John never really lived up to that and now, over 1000 years after his death, he’s mostly known as the guy who turned the Church into a bit of a whore house.
It’s not even that John apparently liked hookers or random women, or that maybe he was a drunk or he gambled or murdered a few people and who knows what else, it’s the simply little things you’d expect even the drunkest Pope to do (or not to do), like take communion during Mass or ordaining a ten year old as a bishop, that make John stand out as the drunken frat boy of the Papacy.
Pope Paul II – Death by Buggery
Pope Paul wasn’t the worst Pope ever, he just wasn’t very good. Most of his problems stemmed from his paranoid habit of continually appointing cardinals in secret because he was afraid of not having supporters. Officially there were only supposed to be 24 cardinals at any given time, but Paul decided to cancel that and made a bunch of secret cardinals he didn’t tell anyone about. Just because.
Paranoid cardinal production is fun and all, but it’s not any kind of majestic historical failure until you get to the poor man’s death. Officially, they say he died from indigestion after eating some melon, which even back in his dead must have reeked off so much bullshit that they needed to air out his room for weeks afterwards. However, unofficially, he died of cardiac arrest after being buggered mercilessly by a page boy, which, you have to admit, probably would have literally destroyed that page boy’s mind.
Pope Benedict XVI – Hitler Youth
The current Pope looks almost exactly like Emperor Palpatine, which is really offputting for any number of reasons. But worse than that, the man was actually, literally a member of the Hitler Youth. Not to judge the Catholic Church or anything, but with its several hundred year history of PR issues, they might want to look into not selecting former Hitler Youth members as Pope in the future. It doesn’t matter if he actually believed in Nazi ideals, it doesn’t matter if he really likes Jews now, the thing is, he used to be in the Hitler Youth. You only need to do it once. Eat one turd, and people are always going to call you turd eater, don’t forget it.