Bad popes and CEOs, while possibly not a sign of the apocalypse, are a sign that an institution has gone rogue. When the church is about the glorification of the pope, or the corporation is about enriching the CEO, it is an institution in bad need of reform or reinvention. It is hard to imagine three popes who could do more to dissuade Europeans of respect for medieval authority than the 3 Renaissance popes.
Think of the fun Fox and MSNBC would have reporting on these popes. A pope with sword on hip, swearing at his soldiers to urge them on in military campaigns? Another pope who, when a cardinal, was rebuked for hosting orgies?
Alexander rather fittingly took his name from the conqueror Alexander the Great rather than some milquetoast saint. Pope Alexander purchased the papacy in 1492. As Columbus was discovering a new world, Alexander was bribing fellow cardinals for their vote, an investment that he and his children would recoup.
Where a modern CEO might think it fun to throw multi-million dollar parties for a child, Alexander’s gifts were more creative. He bought his children lavish wedding parties, private bull fights, political positions and even armies with which to conquer new territory. Alexander had at least 7 known illegitimate children, a natural enough product from a man who seemed so at ease with sex. As pope, he once hosted a party that included a contest matching his guests with prostitutes and then dispensing gifts to the guests who demonstrated the most impressive feats of virility.
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