Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pope Clement VI (1291 – 1352)

Pierre Roger, a Frenchman, was the fourth of the Avignon popes, and took the name Clement VI for his pontificate. He was not a particularly evil man; in fact, his efforts during the Black Plague did much to provide refuge for the Jews, who automatically became the scapegoats for the deadly breakout. Described as a fine gentleman, a prince, and a patron of the arts and learning, Clement lacked one important characteristic that is rightly expected of popes – saintliness.

By his own words, Clement was “a sinner among sinners.” His love for expensive living quickly drained the savings of his frugal predecessor (Benedict XII), and Clement resorted to raising taxes and selling off bishoprics to finance his worldly pursuits.

Throw in a little nepotism to boot, and you’ve got yourself a pope who may very well have been a man of decent character, but who also used his powerful position for his own sexual adventures, cheerful pleasures, and overall celebration of the world’s many vices.

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