HS 101 Readings

Julius Exclusis
Desiderius Erasmus

from Durant, Will, The Reformation, Simon & Schuster, N.Y. 1957,

Pope Julius II is barred entrance to Heaven by Peter

Julius:  Enough of this. I am Julius the Ligurian, P.M....

Peter:  P.M!  What is that? Pestis Maxima.?

J:  Pontifex Maximus, you  rascal.

P: If you are three times Maximus . . . you can't get in here unless you are
Optimus also.

J: Impertinence! You, who have been no more than Sanctus all these
ages_and I Sanctissimus, Sanctissimus Dominus, Sanctitas, Holiness
itself, with bulls to show it.

P: Is there no difference between being holy and being called Holy? . . . Let
me look a little closer. Hum! Signs of impiety aplenty. . . . Priest's cassock,
but bloody armor beneath it; eyes savage, mouth insolent, forehead brazen,
body scarred with sins all over, breath loaded with wine, health broken
with debauchery. Ay, threaten as you will, I will tell you what you are....
You are Julius the Emperor come back from hell....

J: Make an end, or I will excommunicate you....

P: Excommunicate me? By what right, I would know?

J: The best of rights. You are only a priest, perhaps not that_you cannot
consecrate. Open, I say!

P: You must show your merits first....

J: What do you mean by merits?

P: Have you taught true doctrine?

J: Not I. I have been too busy fighting. There are monks to look after
doctrine, if that is of any consequence.

P: Have you gained souls to Christ by pure example?

J: I have sent a good many to Tartarus.

P: Have you worked any miracles?

J: Pshaw! Miracles are out of date.

P: Have you been diligent in your prayers?

J: The invincible Julius ought not to answer a beggarly fisherman.
However, you shall know who and what I am. First, I am a Ligurian, and not
a Jew like you. My mother was a sister of the great Pope Sixtus IV. The
Pope made me a rich man out of Church property. I became a cardinal. I had
my misfortunes. I had the French pox. I was banished, hunted out of my
country, but I knew all along that I should come to be Pope.... It came true,
partly with French help, partly with money which I borrowed at interest,
partly with promises. Croesus could not have produced all the money that
was wanted. The bankers will tell you about that. But I succeeded.... And I
have done more for the Church and Christ than any Pope before me.

 P: What did you do?

J: I raised the revenue. I invented new offices and sold them... I recoined
the currency and made a great sum that way. Nothing can be done without
money. Then I annexed Bologna to the Holy See....
I set all the princes of Europe by the ears. I tore up treaties, and kept
great armies in the field. I covered Rome with palaces, and left five
millions in the treasury behind me....

P: Why did you take Bologna?

J: Because I wanted the revenue....

P: And how about Ferrara?

J: The duke was an ungrateful wretch. He accused me of simony, called me
a pederast.... I wanted the duchy of Ferrara for a son of my own, who could
be depended upon to be true to the Church, and who had just poniarded the
Cardinal of Pavia.

P: What? Popes with wives and children?

J: Wives? No, not wives, but why not children? . . .

P: Were you guilty of the crimes of which they accused you?

J: That is nothing to the purpose....

P: Is there no way of removing a wicked Pope?

J: Absurd! Who can remove the highest authority of all? . . . A Pope can be
corrected only by a general council, but no general
council can be held without the Pope's consent.... Thus he cannot be
deposed for any crime whatsoever.

P: Not for murder?

J: No, not even if it were parricide.

P: Not for fornication?

J: Not for incest.

P: Not for simony?

J: Not for 600 acts of simony.

P: Not for poisoning?

J: No, nor for sacrilege.

P: Not for all these crimes gathered in a single person?

J: Add 600 more to them, there is no power that can depose the Pope.

P: A novel privilege for my successors_to be the wickedest of men, yet be
safe from punishment. So much the unhappier the Church that cannot shake
such a monster off its shoulders.... The people ought to rise with paving
stones and dash such a wretch's brains out.... If Satan needed a vicar he
could find none fitter than you. What sign have you ever shown of an

J: Is it not apostolic to increase Christ's Church? . . .

P: How have you increased the Church? . . .

J: I filled Rome with palaces . . . troops of servants, armies, offices....

P: The Church had nothing of this when it was founded by Christ....

J: You are thinking of the old affair when you starved as Pope, with a
handful of poor hunted bishops about you. Time has changed all that. . .
Look now at our gorgeous churches . . . bishops like
kings . . . cardinals gloriously attended, horses and mules checked with
gold and jewels and shod with gold and silver. Beyond all, myself, Supreme
Pontiff, borne on soldiers' shoulders in a golden chair, and waving my hand
majestically to adoring crowds. Hearken to the roar of the cannon, the
bugle notes, the boom of the drums. Observe the military engines, the
shouting populace, torches blazing in street
and square, and the kings of the earth scarce admitted to kiss my
Holiness's foot.... Look at all this, and tell me, is it not magnificent? ... You
perceive what a poor wretch of a bishop you are, compared to me.

P: Insolent wretch! Fraud, usury, and cunning made you pope.... I brought
heathen Rome to acknowledge Christ; you have made it heathen again. Paul
did not talk of the cities he had stormed, the
legions he had slaughtered . . . he talked of shipwrecks, bonds, disgraces,
stripes; these were his apostolic triumphs, these were the glories of a
Christian general. When he boasted it was of the souls he had
recovered from Satan, not of his piles of ducats. . .

J: All this is news to me.

P: Very likely. With your treaties and your protocols, your armies and your
victories, you had no time to read the Gospels.... You
pretend to be a Christian, you are no better than a Turk; you think like a
Turk, you are as licentious as a Turk. If there is any difference
you are worse....

J: Then you won't open the gates?

P: Sooner to anyone else than to such as you....

J: If you don't give in I will take your place by storm. They are making fine
havoc below just now; I shall soon have 60,000 ghosts
behind me.

P: O wretched man! O miserable Church! . . . I am not surprised that so few
now apply here for admission, when the Church has such rulers. Yet there
must be good in the world, too, when such a sink of iniquity can be honored
merely because he bears the name of Pope.