5 WORST POPES
Paul IV: ‘The Zealot’
Creator of the Roman Inquisition, which ruthlessly hunted down and brutally punished accused heretics, Paul IV also burned hundreds of supposedly blasphemous books and also severely persecuted Rome’s Jewish population.
Benedict IX: ‘The Scandalous’
Made Pope on three separate occasions, Benedict engaged in multiple relationships (forbidden for priests) and even sold the title so that he could marry. After conspiring his way back into power, he was finally deposed in 1049 CE.
Leo X: ‘The Greedy’
Leo enacted the sale of ‘Indulgences’ in the church, essentially taking payment in exchange for absolving, or reducing, the punishment for sins. This corrupt practice contributed to Martin Luther’s Reformation.
Alexander VI: ‘The Schemer’
Accused of bribing his way into power, Alexander also had several children and a secret wife. He made his teenage son a cardinal and used his position to strengthen his dynasty.
Stephen VI: ‘The Avenger’
Stephen ordered that his dead predecessor, Pope Formosus, be dug up and put on trial for alleged corruption. He then had the body mutilated and dumped in the River Tiber.