Saturday, September 28, 2013

Alexander Borgia wasn't that bad

Rorate tells us Alexander VI was not such a bad thing, or at least they did, now it has disappeared!

 I have not exactly admired him but given him just a little respect for suppressing devotion to Our Lady of the Swoon, which was an extension of Our Lady Sorrows, but taught that the Mother of God collapsed, overcome in her grief. Borgia said, 'No, the Gospels clearly say, she stood at the foot of the Cross'.
The other good thing he did was to attempt to bring peace between Spain and Portugal by 'giving' Spain the Americas and Portugal the East, it forestalled a war that would have engulfed Europe and laid her open to Islamic invasion.
The point Rorate is making is that for despite all his personal excesses and sinful actions Alexander Borgia, as Pope, was doctrinally orthodox and unambiguous. In a sense as ghastly as he was, he was subsumed by his office.


Joshua said...

But remember the horrendous death of Pope Alexander VI: his corpse swelled until it was as wide as it was long, and all semblance of humanity was distorted beyond recognition. Burchard, the long-suffering Papal M.C., had to jump on the lid of the coffin to make it fit. No one attended his exequies; and the next Pope forbade any Requiems to be sung for his soul, on the grounds that it is blasphemous to pray for the damned. Mors peccatorum pessima.

And even whilst he lived, the Roman populace, with their biting anti-clerical humour, referred to his dreadful daughter Lucrezia as - "the Bride of Christ"!

As even the Fathers of Trent averred, it was the wickedness of immoral prelates (such as the Borgia Pope), and their scandalous lives, which brought religion into contempt and thus so scandalised the faithful as to tempt them into rejecting the Catholic Faith, that brought the curse of the Protestant Revolt upon the world.

Quite frankly, while I miss dear Pope Benedict terribly, and do wince at certain sayings and actions of dear Pope Francis, both men are orthodox and good, and while the former is unjustly represented in the secular mind, the latter instead seems to be impressing and even attracting many. God knows we need good press for the Church for a change!

I think Rorate went a bit far (as they are wont to do) in trying to exalt Alexander Borgia over Francis Bergoglio.

Unknown said...

Joshua writes: "I think Rorate went a bit far (as they are wont to do) in trying to exalt Alexander Borgia over Francis Bergoglio" That's not what Rorate were doing at all. They were merely pointing out that even Popes like Alexander couldn't destroy the Church and that, evil though they were, they didn't change or distort the actual dogmas of the Faith. Rorate did NOT "exalt" him!


Christopher said...

The real problem with Pope Francis, and I think with many clergy of his age, is that they do not see the world or the Church as it is. (Whereas, Rodrigo Borgia certainly did.) He talked a lot about discernment in the long interview, but I don't think most of his speeches and actions have so far demonstrated his commitment to discernment. The press reports him positively because on their litmus-test issues he was, at least compared to BXVI or JPII dismissive. But when several 'progressive' groups took this up, posting 'thank yous' on Facebook etc. the comments of individuals under these 'thank you' images, reveal very clearly that, in fact, the hatred for Catholicism is still there in the vast majority of commenters.

Discernment means first of all seeing things as they are and not how you wish they were. And the reality is that for a huge number of people Catholicism is not only anachronistic, it is evil because it suppresses 'love', sexual rights, and so forth. It is cited as a cause of depression, crime, violence and civic strife. It holds back the human race from development, and it tries to stop science bettering the human lot. Its history is full of oppression, murder, hypocrisy and greed. It tortured and murdered thousands of innocent people. It enslaved the native peoples of dozens of countries. Even its founding principles, its founder himself, are called into question. And above all, "I never asked anyone to die for me." Discernment means realising that tip-toeing towards people with such deeply-set and convinced hatred is not going to bring them onside. Even a whole-sale sell-out of our faith to their convictions does not achieve that, it merely confirms what they knew all along: our faith is nothing, it can be exchanged for cheap brass anytime, so how can it have ever been valuable? And more, how can these idiots have believed in something worth so much nothing? But even that is not the end, because once you have put into a waste-skip and burned everything you once had to offer, those who do still come to your store, find that the shelves are empty and there is no food. Thus they depart, empty handed. So, those who hate you are not fed, and those who want to know you go hungry too. This is the real meaning of 'going out the peripheries', the reality of "impressing and attracting many"...

Christopher said...

...I do not say that the Church must always be the enemy of the world: on the contrary. But the Church must accept with humility the hatred of the world, "for if the world hates you it hated me first". The trouble in our time is that the Church is internally weakened, has lost the courage of her convictions, she wants to be loved by the world. Discernment means accepting that those days, if they ever really existed, are gone. Pope Benedict seemed to recognise that because of this, the need of the Church, and so ultimately the need of the world, is a strengthening of faith, a reinvigoration of Catholic 'identity', a new evangelisation not only directed outwards, but inwards as well. That is what all the tat, all the talk about art, music, liturgy, all the catechesis on the Fathers, on the great doctors and teachers throughout history, the teaching on prayer, scripture and so forth really meant: remember who you are as a Catholic Christian, remember the great gifts of faith, remember that if there has been evil in the history of the Christian world, there has been and still is so much more good - a great trail of light running throughout history and spreading out even in the modern world. Have confidence in what you have experienced! And of course, it is this which is the 'leaven', which we can take out with us "to the peripheries". If we do not have this, what are we bringing? Myself? Well I am nothing - just a sinner like anyone. But if I have this faith, this Jesus, to offer, then he has everything that is needed. The Church is useless if she doesn't present the faith. She is useless if she only triages: yes, heal those in immanent danger, but you can't do it without medicine, without resources. And when you have done the triage, what then - you cannot ignore those who are not on the edge of death, or their sickness might return, or something else happen to them, worse than the first.

I personally do not feel the sense of 'betrayal' some have spoken of with Pope Francis. In fact, I have met some 'pro-lifers' for whom the issues the Pope speaks about are a serious, I would say almost pathological, obsession. I probably have the same malady when it comes to the Liturgy, and I must always be reminding myself not to get caught up in the feelings of upset which come when my parish priest washes female feet on Maundy Thursday, or uses clay pots for the Mass (or, insists on calling the Mass 'Eucharist' - not even Holy Eucharist - like an Anglican). So, I take the Pope's words as a reminder that I must be patient with people who do not understand the Liturgy in the way I do (I may change my tune if Piero M does become Prefect of the CDW!).

If there is are good things about Francis, it is when he talks about the power of evil, about the Lord who has overcome it, about trusting Jesus, entrusting ourselves to our Lady, about spending time before the Lord present in the Eucharist. Because Jesus is found in the upper room, as well as on the road.

New Catholic said...

Thank you, Chloe, that is exactly right. It is always amazing how some people can read minds on the web.

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

Alexander VI was a Borgia pope during an immensely complicated political era. An interesting account of his life and actions, together with those of his family may be found in “The Borgias”, by Renaissance historian Michael Mallett. I do not believe Professor Mallet was Catholic.

The book casts a completely different light on the usual ill-informed opinions, without in any way attempting to cover up the disgraceful conduct of this pope. Well worth reading, IMNSHO.

blondpidge said...

Alexander VI is a fabulous example for Catholic apologists.

Despite being a louche individual with appalling morals, a stain on the altar linen of church history as it were, he never once attempted to change or distort doctrine to justify his own misdeeds.

The fact that there have been some complete scoundrels (although Alexander did do some laudable things such as clearing Rome of assassins) as Pope's is perhaps the strongest argument that the Church is protected by the Holy Spirit.

Christ never promised us that the Pope would be a good or even holy man. He did however promise that he would never teach error. The old impeccabiloty versus infallibility trap that so many non-catechised fall into.

viterbo said...

A bit of morale boosting from Louie Verrecchio

Catholic commentators on both the left and the right all too frequently attempt to employ the words and deeds of Pope Benedict XVI as a kind of “measuring stick” for evaluating the papacy of Pope Francis. At times this is done to make the case for how similar they are; at other times the goal is the exact opposite. In both cases, however, count me unimpressed. In the grand scheme of things, who cares how Francis compares to Benedict? Over the last five-and-a-half decades since the reign of Pope Pius XII, we’ve had six popes, five if you overlook the 33 day papacy of John Paul I.

A candid synopsis of their legacy might look something like this:

John XXIII: His deep personal desire to be liked by all, and his radical distaste for condemning error, virtually castrated his papacy, paving the way for mutiny in the Second Vatican Council and beyond, precisely at a moment in history when Apostolic authority was desperately needed.

Paul VI: Reigned over, and was complicit in, the greatest liturgical disaster in the Church’s history; a failure of such monumental proportions that humanity will be suffering its ill effects for many more generations to follow.

John Paul II: Transformed the papacy into a cult of personality and media phenomenon while singlehandedly doing more to invite religious indifferentism than any other Roman Pontiff in memory.

Benedict XVI: Made valuable contributions to the effort to restore right order, most notably in “liberating” the traditional Mass, setting the Church on a corrective course (albeit a painfully slow one), but his blind allegiance to the Council in the areas of ecumenism and religious liberty served to keep the Church mired in crisis.

So, when Pope Francis comes along and immediately goes about steering the Barque of St. Peter away from the corrective course set by his predecessor, it is perhaps understandable why some might feel compelled to draw comparisons to Benedict, but let’s be honest, the Pope Emeritus, the same who inexplicably abandoned his flock, is by no means the gold standard for papal performance.

Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt. 5:48)

Similar to the way in which we are called to measure how well we’re doing in the quest for holiness, not by comparing ourselves to our neighbors, but to the All Holy Lord Himself, so too should we consider the words and deeds of the popes, not by measuring them against those of his immediate predecessors, but relative to something far more lofty. We have nearly 2,000 years of sacred magisterium and tradition through which the faith that comes to us from the Apostles is transmitted, and it is therein that one will find the only standard by which a given papacy can properly be evaluated. Either the occupant of St. Peter’s throne protects and conveys this precious treasure well, or he doesn’t. In a more perfect world, there would be no need to even question such things; in this world, however, the witness of history tells us that it is at times necessary. In our particular day, given the current state of affairs, foolish is the man who contents himself with a mere papacy’s worth of perspective.

P.S It's important to remember the the world is always the enemy of the Church and that those of us not in a state of grace can only serve the enemy.

viterbo said...

A Prayer to St Joseph

To thee, O Blessed Joseph, we have recourse in our affliction; and having implored the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse, we now with hearts filled with confidence, earnestly beg thee also to take us under thy protection. By that charity wherewith thou wast united to the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, and by that fatherly love with which thou didst cherish the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, thou thou wouldst look down with gracious eye upon that inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by His Blood, and wilt assist in our need by thy power and strength. Defend, O most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, the chosen offspring of Jesus Christ. Keep from us, O most loving Father, all blight of error and corruption. Aid us from on high, most valiant Defender, in this conflict with the powers of darkness. And even as of old, thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the peril of His life, so now defend God's Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Shield us ever under thy patronage, that following thine example and strengthened by thy help, we may live a holy life, die a happy death, and attain to everlasting bliss in Heaven. Amen.

terry prest said...

"Rorate tells us Alexander VI was not such a bad thing"

Nice to see that Bruvver Eccles is now writing for Rorate

Pétrus said...

Father, who was Alexander Borgia? Any relation to Roderic Llançol i de Borja commonly known as Rodrigo Borgia?

Sorry, I am being facetious.


I don't think any of us are in a position to call Alexander VI evil. I think it is questionable that he was even a bad pope - as Rorate have made the case.

While there is plenty of evidence to paint him in a bad light there are lots of positive things to take from his papacy.

Jacobi said...

Thanks for that reference. I have great respect for Verrecchio.

The fact is we have not been well served by our Popes after Pius XII. In some respects Benedict XVI is the most puzzling. Having steadied the ship, established the understanding of Continuity as a solution to the post-Vatican II heresy and chaos, he blithely announces his retirement, without any explanation and in apparent good health, while Christ’s enemies are still pounding at the gates. There are many people in this world who soldier on in spite of problems. He has, in the absence of any forthcoming explanation, set a bad example. As for Pope Francis I, well, time will tell.

As I have said elsewhere it took nine Popes, some good some awful, plus Trent, to sort out the Protestant Reformation and it will probably take about the same, another four, and another Council, plus a Syllabus of Errors of Vatican II, to sort out the current Modernist Reformation.

parepidemos said...

Using the standards by which one arrives at the statement that Alexander VI "wasn't that bad" then one has to say that neither was Marcial Maciel. Jesus wept.

parepidemos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Nolan said...

Alexander VI is unfortunate in that his biography was largely written by his bitter enemies and Burchard, the papal MC, was a gossip-monger prone to exaggeration. There is no historical evidence for the lurid tales of poison and incest. His sexual immorality is not in doubt and his nepotism was notorious (although understandable given the politics of the time). Two years into his papacy Charles VIII of France invaded Italy and this was the beginning of the 'Italian Wars' in which of course the papacy was caught up. Alexander proved himself adept at both administration and diplomacy. He was also a patron of the arts. What is not generally known is that when the Jews were expelled from Spain, Portugal and Provence, Alexander gave them refuge in the Papal States, including Rome itself, where they were allowed to practise their religion and set up in business.

As for Lucrezia, she must be one of the most unjustly maligned women in history. From early adolescence she was a pawn in her family's dynastic ambitions, yet she seems to have had strength of character in addition to considerable beauty and grace. Lord Byron was enchanted by the love letters she exchanged with the poet Pietro Bembo, and claimed to have come away from Milan in 1816 with a lock of her hair.

There is a painting by Frank Cadogan Cowper showing her presiding in the Vatican in her father's absence, with a friar kissing her foot. If Pope Francis does appoint a woman cardinal I bet she won't be half as glamorous.