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Popes Influence Throughout the 1500's-21st century

History of the Roman Catholic Church

Christianity existed before the 1054 schism with most Christians living within the boundaries of the Roman Empire. Afterwards, the Roman Empire divided into two parts: the Western and the Eastern. Expansions took place in the Roman Empire which drifted the Western and Eastern Church further apart. Thiscontinued over centuries until early 18th century when disputes started between the two churches.

The renaissance was born in late 15th century and early 16th century. It was a time of change and unearthing the spiritual, political, and societal aspects. According to Simonis (129), “For over the last 1600 years, the pope has been the head of the Roman Catholic Church”. He is also referred to asthe Bishop of Rome. The Eastern churches rejected the pope’s leadership and theology. Abuses began in church and were more prevalent when Pope Alexander VI was elected to reign from the year 1492.

Pope Alexander VI

At the beginning of the 16th century innocent III died and Rodrigo Borja was elected to replace him. Borja adopted the name Pope Alexander VI. He was born in Xàtiva, nearValencia, in Spain on January 1, 1431. He ushered the church into the 16th century. He was given the post of the vice-chancellor and the cardinal of the church when he was only 24 years old. He was a wealthy man and had bribed in order to win the elections. The splinter groups were not happy with his action. In fact, eleven other cardinals had actually sold their votes to him and the church supported theidea. Having originated from Spain increased his chances of being elected since the cardinals did not want to elect a Frenchman for another term (Anon. 2).

People really wondered if Alexander VI was a Christian or he was just pretending. He has a history of being one of the notorious Popes that has brought embarrassment to the present church. He had many illegitimate children among them histwelve bastard children and several mistresses. “Alexander VI was a sexual pervert, and lurid stories were bandied about him by the intellectual underworld of Rome” (Anon 4). He actually had sex with his daughter Lucrezia and fathered children with her. Pope Alexander VI encouraged other immoralities such as sodomy of children and homosexuality. He even promoted burning of innocent individuals inEurope under false charges.

Cesare was Alexander’s son who was much favored than his other sons. He was taken to cardinal college at the age of seven and was made a bishop. At the age of 18, Cesare was elevated to command the Vatican military (Anon 4). Unlike his father, Cesare grew to be an influential and understanding intellect.

Pope Alexander VI issued a verdict barring the printing ofChristian religion books; they could only be printed under his permission or the archbishop’s consent. This marked the beginning of the restraint on the printing of Christian books which was later recognized as a Vatican policy. This was maintained by the church all through to the 20th century. Despite the fact that Alexander VI is remembered today as a pervert and vicious pope, he was involved onimportant agreements such as the “Treaty of Tordesillas” in June 7, 1494. This agreement was between Portugal and Spain and its main purpose was to finish conflicts over land. In the treaty, Pope Alexander VI acknowledged Spain with all the territory west of a line 100 leagues south and west of any of Cape Verde Islands or the Azores. In return, the agreement stated that people from the new worldwere to be Christianized. Also, Portuguese explorations were to keep to the East.

After Alexander VI, Julius II was elected as Pope for the period 1503-1513. During his reign, papacy rose into prestige. He was succeeded by Pope Pius who reigned for the period 1775 to 1799. During his papacy, some significant changes were experienced in the cardinals’ college. These had been brought about by...
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