List of sexually active popes
This is a list of sexually active popes, Catholic priests who were not celibate before they became pope, and popes who were legally married. Some candidates were sexually active before their election as pope, and others were accused of being sexually active during their papacies. A number had offspring. The Second Lateran Council (1139) made the promise to remain celibate a prerequisite to ordination, abolishing the married priesthood. Sexual relationships were generally undertaken therefore outside the bond of matrimony and each sexual act thus committed is considered a mortal sin by the Roman Catholic Church.
There are various classifications for those who were sexually active at some time during their lives. Periods in parentheses refer to the years of their papacies.
- 1 Background
- 2 Popes who were legally married
- 3 Fathered illegitimate children before Holy Orders
- 4 Known to, or suspected of having fathered illegitimate children after receiving Holy Orders
- 5 Popes alleged to be sexually active during pontificate
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
For many years of the Church's history, celibacy was considered optional. Based on the customs of the times, it is assumed by many that most of the Apostles, such as Peter, were married and had families. It is clear from the New Testament (Mk 1:29–31; Mt 8:14–15; Lk 4:38–39; 1 Tim 3:2, 12; Tit 1:6) that at least Peter had been married, and that bishops, presbyters and deacons of the Early Church were often married as well. It is also clear from epigraphy, the testimony of the Church Fathers, synodal legislation, papal decretals and other sources[not specific enough to verify] that in the following centuries a married clergy, in greater or lesser numbers, was a normal feature of the life of the Church. Celibacy was not required for those ordained, but still was a discipline that could be practised in the early Church, particularly by those in the monastic life.
Although various local Church councils had demanded celibacy of the clergy in a particular area, it was not until the Second Lateran Council (1139) that whole of the Latin (Western) Rite of the Catholic Church decided to accept people for ordination only after they had taken a promise of celibacy. This applied to the leadership of the Church.
Popes who were legally marriedEdit
|Saint Peter (Simon Peter)||(30/33–64/68)||Mother-in-law is mentioned in the Gospel verses Matthew 8:14–15, Luke 4:38, Mark 1:29–31 and who was healed by Jesus at her home in Capernaum. 1 Cor. 9:5 asks whether others have the right to be accompanied by Christian wives as does "Cephas" (Peter). Clement of Alexandria wrote: "When the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, 'Remember the Lord.' Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition toward those dearest to them."||Yes||Later legends, dating from the 6th century onwards, suggested that Peter had a daughter – identified as Saint Petronilla. This, however, is likely to be a result of the similarity of their names.|
|Pope Felix III||(483–492)||Married and widowed before he was elected as pope||Yes||Himself the son of a priest he fathered two children, one of which was the antecedent of Pope Gregory the Great.|
|Pope Hormisdas||(514–523)||Married and widowed before he took Holy Orders||Yes||Father of Pope Silverius.|
|Pope Adrian II||(867–872)||Married to Stephania before he took Holy Orders, she was still living when he was elected Pope and resided with him in the Lateran Palace||Yes (a daughter)||His wife and daughter both resided with him until they were murdered.|
|Pope John XVII||(1003)||Married before his election as Pope||Yes (three sons)||All of his children became priests.|
|Pope Clement IV||(1265–1268)||Married before taking holy orders||Yes (two daughters)||Both children entered a convent|
|Pope Honorius IV||(1285–1287)||Married before he took Holy Orders, widowed before entered the clergy||Yes (at least two sons)|
Fathered illegitimate children before Holy OrdersEdit
|Pope Pius II||(1458–1464)||Not married||Yes (at least two)||Two children, both born before he formally entered the clergy. A first child fathered while in Scotland, but which died in infancy. A second child fathered while in Strasbourg with a Breton woman named "Elizabeth". However, the baby died 14 months later. Delayed becoming a cleric because of the requirement of chastity.|
|Pope Innocent VIII||(1484–1492)||Not married||Yes (two)||Both born before he entered the clergy. Nepotism described as "lavish as it was shameless." Married elder son Franceschetto Cybo to the daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, who in return obtained the cardinal's hat for his 13-year-old son Giovanni, who became Pope Leo X. His daughter Teodorina Cybo married Gerardo Usodimare.|
|Pope Clement VII||(1523–1534)||Not married. Relationship with a slave girl – possibly Simonetta da Collevecchio||Yes (one)||Identified as Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence.|
Known to, or suspected of having fathered illegitimate children after receiving Holy OrdersEdit
Relationships with womenEdit
|Pope Paul III||(1534–1549)||Not married. Silvia Ruffini as mistress||Yes (three sons and one daughter)||Held off ordination in order to continue a promiscuous lifestyle, fathering four illegitimate children (three sons and one daughter) by Silvia Ruffini after his appointment as Cardinal-Deacon of Santi Cosimo and Damiano. He broke his relations with her ca. 1513. He made his illegitimate son Pier Luigi Farnese the first Duke of Parma.|
|Pope Gregory XIII||(1572–1585)||Not married. Affair with Maddalena Fulchini||Yes||Received the ecclesiastical tonsure in Bologna in June 1539, but subsequently had an affair which resulted in the birth of Giacomo Boncompagni in 1548. Giacomo remained illegitimate but Gregory later appointed him Gonfalonier of the Church, governor of the Castel Sant'Angelo, as well as governor of Fermo.|
|Pope Leo XII||(1823–1829)||Not married||Allegedly (three)||As a young prelate was suspected of having had a liaison with the wife of a soldier of Swiss Guard and as nuncio in Germany allegedly fathered three illegitimate children.|
Relationships with women and menEdit
|Pope Julius II||(1503–1513)||Not married||Yes (three daughters)||Three illegitimate daughters, one of whom was Felice della Rovere (born in 1483, twenty years before his election as pope, but twelve years after his enthronement as Bishop of Lausanne). The schismatic Conciliabulum of Pisa, which sought to depose him in 1511, also accused him of being a "sodomite".|
Popes alleged to be sexually active during pontificateEdit
Relationships with womenEdit
|Pope Sergius III||(904–911)||Not married||Yes (at least one)||Accused by opponents of being the illegitimate father of Pope John XI by Marozia. Such accusations found in Liutprand of Cremona's Antapodosis, as well as the Liber Pontificalis. The accusations are disputed by another early source, the annalist Flodoard (c. 894–966): John XI was brother of Alberic II, the latter being the offspring of Marozia and her husband Alberic I, so John too may have been the son of Marozia and Alberic I. Fauvarque emphasizes that contemporary sources are dubious, Liutprand being "prone to exaggeration" while other mentions of this fatherhood appear in satires written by supporters of Pope Formosus.|
|Pope John X||(914–928)||Not married. Affairs with Theodora and Marozia.||No||Had romantic affairs with both Theodora and her daughter Marozia, according to Liutprand of Cremona in his Antapodosis.(See also Saeculum obscurum)|
|Pope John XII||(955–964)||Not married||No||Accused by adversaries of adultery and incest. Benedict of Soracte noted that he had "a collection of women." According to Liutprand of Cremona, "they testified about his adultery, which they did not see with their own eyes, but nonetheless knew with certainty: he had fornicated with the widow of Rainier, with Stephana his father's concubine, with the widow Anna, and with his own niece, and he made the sacred palace into a whorehouse." According to Chamberlin, John was "a Christian Caligula whose crimes were rendered particularly horrific by the office he held". Some sources report that he died 8 days after being stricken by paralysis while in the act of adultery, others that he was killed by the jealous husband while in the act of committing adultery.|
|Pope Alexander VI||(1492–1503)||Not married. Relationships with Vanozza dei Catanei and Giulia Farnese.||Yes (at least seven, possibly ten)||Had a long affair with Vannozza dei Cattanei while still a priest, but before he became pope; and by her had his illegitimate children Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, Gioffre Borgia, and Lucrezia. A later mistress, Giulia Farnese, was the sister of Alessandro Farnese, and she gave birth to a daughter (Laura) while Alexander was in his 60s and reigning as pope. Alexander fathered at least seven, and possibly as many as ten illegitimate children, and did much to promote his family's interests – using his offspring to build alliances with a number of important dynasties. He appointed Giovanni Borgia as Captain General of the Church, and made Cesare a Cardinal of the Church – also creating independent duchies for each of them out of papal lands.|
Relationships with menEdit
|Pope Paul II||(1464–1471)||Not married. Alleged affair with a page||Thought to have died of indigestion arising from eating melon, though suggestion that he died while engaging being sodomised by a page.|
|Pope Sixtus IV||(1471–1484)||Not married||According to Stefano Infessura, Sixtus was a "lover of boys and sodomites" – awarding benefices and bishoprics in return for sexual favours, and nominating a number of young men as cardinals, some of whom were celebrated for their good looks. However, Infessura had partisan allegiances to the Colonna family and so is not considered to be always reliable or impartial.|
|Pope Leo X||(1513–1521)||Not married||Accused, after his death, of homosexuality (by Francesco Guicciardini and Paolo Giovio). It has been suggested he may have had ulterior motives in offering preferment to Marcantonio Flaminio.|
|Pope Julius III||(1550–1555)||Not married. Alleged affair with Innocenzo Ciocchi del Monte||Alleged to have had a long love affair with Innocenzo Ciocchi del Monte which was a cause of public scandal. The Venetian ambassador at that time reported that Innocenzo shared the pope's bed.|
Relationships with women and menEdit
|Pope Benedict IX||(1032– became pope in 1044, again in 1045 and finally 1047–1048).||Not married||No||Accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of "many vile adulteries." Pope Victor III referred in his third book of Dialogues to "his rapes... and other unspeakable acts." His life prompted Peter Damian to write an extended treatise against illicit sex in general, and homosexuality in particular. In his Liber Gomorrhianus, Damian accused Benedict IX of routine sodomy and bestiality and sponsoring orgies.[verification needed] In May 1045, Benedict IX resigned his office to get married.|
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