This Week’s Ask Alice: History’s Biggest, Catholic Church Scandals.

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She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Brian Asks: With the recent Philadelphia sex scandal surfacing, i was trying to rationalize the severity of this scandal in the history of the church. Naturally its an ugly situation here and in other parts of the world. What are the top 5 biggest scandals in the history of the Catholic Church?

Alice Answers: Living in an era when scandals rock our Church is no concert for faithful Catholics. To put the current scandal in perspective, I spoke with two priests.

My beloved uncle, Fr. Sergius Wroblewski, O.F.M., is an author, and he also teaches Scripture classes at Lourdes Friary, in Cedar Lake, Indiana. Here is his answer:

“That is a tough question, because it calls for scouring history for scandals. I came up with two cases and both have to do with the Reformation. One is about the Capuchin, Bernardine Ochino who became a Lutheran and caused a great scandal that almost brought down the whole Capuchin Order. The other one is about Pope Leo X who was Pope from 1513 to 1521 and whose scandalous life was a factor in moving Luther to break with the Church. He was a de Medici pope. Cardinal Petrucci wanted to kill him. Four cardinals were involved. They did not succeed because a letter describing the plot was intercepted. So Petrucci was strangled at the Castel Gandolfo.

Leo was the Pope who initiated the construction of the great Vatican Basilica. He needed lots of money so he issued indulgences: the greatness of the indulgence was in proportion to the amount of money given. This speculation in indulgences involved Bankers. But let me give you a description of what was going on in the Vatican gardens.

There was a continual celebration that was a mixture of paganism and Christianity with masked balls, performances of ancient mythology, Roman tales acted against magnificent scenery and, on the other hand, processions and splendid church feasts with performances in the Colosseum, classic orations in the Capitol, and more feasts and speeches on the anniversary of the founding of Rome. There were daily parades of cardinals, ceremonies for the arrival of ambassadors and princes with groups so large they looked like armies. Retinues, too, of the pope where he went off to hunt at Magliana, at Palo, at Viterbo, with the falcons at his wrist, with packs of dogs, heavy baggage, flocks of servants, the suites of the cardinals and of foreign preachers, the happy crowd of the poets of Rome and a mob of barons and princes, all in such a clamor as to seem a company of Bacchantes.

The vicar of Christ took part in the shows and appeared to enjoy the stupidities of the court buffoons that his valet Serrafica, had the job of bringing to Court. Among these was a certain Querno who dressed like Venus sang poems and drank a lot. There was also Mariano Fetti, Apostolic Sealer in the Chancery, better known as the court clown. A formidable glutton and drinker, he amused the pope with his buffoonery inviting him to enjoy life, saying, ‘Let’s live it up, Holy Father, for everything is a joke.’

There is no doubt that lasciviousness and moral corruption reached the highest levels with Leo X. That was a scandal that invited a (very) strong reaction, The Protestant Reformation.”

Fr. John Zemelko, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Valparaiso, Indiana compiled his list of the top five scandals of the Catholic Church:

1) Schisms: East and West (the Reformation)

2) Lapsi Crisis. This schism occurred when an African deacon, Felicissimus, opposed St. Cyprian, who enforced an extremely rigorous policy for Christians who apostatized (lapsi) during the Decian persecution in 250 A.D.

3) The Inquisition

4) The Crusades

5) Current clergy sex scandal

Although we live in troubled times, it is reassuring to remember Jesus’ promise to all faithful Catholics when appointing Peter as His earthly successor.

“(Peter) you are ‘Rock,’ and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

No priest, bishop, heretic, dictator, or army can destroy the Catholic Church, which was founded in 33 A.D. by Jesus Christ.

In Christ’s Love,


Doug Lawrence adds: I often say that if the Catholic Church was a publicly traded company, I would have sold all my stock in it, many, many years ago. Instead, I continue to “hold” … based solely on the “rock solid” security that God alone is able to provide.

The fact that the Catholic Church has always been able to “take a punch” … ever since Jesus Christ walked the earth … despite whatever novel corruptions and persecutions those outside … or inside … of the Church … might choose to unleash against it … is just more proof of its divine origin … and of God’s loving and continuing providence.

But … what else would a person expect of the only Church that Jesus Christ ever founded, authorized, empowered, and eternally guaranteed … for the purpose of our salvation?

Praise God!

1 Comment

  1. Lack of recognition of the holocaust while it was going on?????????

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