[The following is excerpts from chapter 12 of A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days, copyright 1994 by Dave Hunt, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402]

"Upon her forehead was a name written … MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS…" --Revelation 17:5

"The history of celibacy makes for reading so black. … A large part [of it] is the story of the degradation of women. … Ivo of Chartres (1040-1115) tells of whole convents with inmates who were nuns only in name … [but] were really prostitutes." --Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ


One must understand that mandatory celibacy is not taught in the Bible, nor was it practiced by the apostles. This teaching developed as an integral part of the evolving papal system and gradually became essential to it. The concern was not morality, for celibacy proved to be a veritable cornucopia of evil. In fact, the rule of celibacy was not the prohibition of sex but of marriage. Pope Alexander II (1061-73), for example, refused to discipline a priest who had committed adultery with his father's second wife because he hadn't committed the sin of matrimony. That was the great evil which had to be eliminated for the priesthood to be totally devoted to the Church.

All down through history not only priests and prelates but popes as well had their mistresses and visited prostitutes. Many were homosexuals. No member of the clergy was ever excommunicated for having sex, but thousands have been put out of the priesthood for the scandal of getting married. Why then the strict insistence upon celibacy, even to the present day, if it really doesn't mean abstinence from sex? It is because the rule of celibacy has a very practical and lucrative result for the Church: It leaves priests and especially bishops and popes without families to whom to bequeath property and thereby impoverish the Church. The clergy must have no heirs.

Pope Gregory VII, bemoaning the difficulty in stamping out marriage among priests, declared: "The Church cannot escape from the clutches of the laity unless priests first escape from the clutches of their wives." Here is another vital reason for celibacy: to create a priesthood without the encumbrance (and loving loyalties) of wives and children. Thus fornication and adultery, though forbidden in theory, were preferable to a marriage relationship. Nineteenth-century historian R.W. Thompson explains:

"It was considered absolutely necessary to the perfect working of the papal system that there should organize a compact body of ecclesiastics, destitute of all those generous sympathies which grow alone out of the family relation, that they might be the better fitted to do the work of the popes." (R.W. Thompson, The Papacy and the Civil Power, New York, 1876, p. 443).

Though married men in those early days were allowed to enter the priesthood, they were required to live celibate lives. Pope Leo I (440-61) decreed that married clergy were to treat their wives "as sisters." Few if any Catholics realize that as late as the reign of Pope Gregory VII (1073-85) it was accepted for priests to be married and supposedly live in celibacy with their wives.

Such a requirement was both unnatural and unrealistic. Who could keep such a rule? All over Italy the clerics openly had largely families and no discipline was enacted against them. After all, many of the popes had large families as well and sometime made no secret of it. De Rosa comments:

"This theological confusion in an age of depravity led the clergy, in fifth-century Rome in particular, to become a byword for everything that was gross and perverted. ... When Pope Sixtus III (432-40) was put on trial for seducing a nun, he ably defended himself by quoting Christ's words, `Let him who is without fault among you throw the first stone.'

"...roving monks were proving to be a social menace ... there ... were long periods when many monasteries were nothing but houses of ill repute. ... The second Council of Tours in the year 567 ... publicly admitted there was hardly a cleric anywhere without his wife or mistress" (De Rosa, op. cit., pp. 402-03).


For centuries the priesthood was largely hereditary. Most priests were the sons of other priests and bishops. More than one pope was the illegitimate son of a previous and supposedly celibate pope. For example, Pope Sylverius (536-7) was fathered by Pope Hormisdas (514-23), and John XI (931-5) by Sergius III (904-11) of his favorite mistress, Marozia, to whom we referred earlier.

Among the other bastards who ruled the Church were Popes Boniface I (41822), Gelasius (492-6), Agapitus (535-6), and Theodore (642-9). There were more. Adrian IV (1154-9) was the son of a priest. No wonder Pope Pius II (1458-64) said Rome was "the only city run by bastards." Pius himself admitted to fathering at least two illegitimate children, by different women, one of them married at the time. The rule of celibacy literal created prostitutes, making Rome the "Mother of Harlots," as the apostle John foresaw.

In his fiery sermons, Savonarola of Florence, Italy (soon to be martyred), called Rome "a harlot ready to sell her favors for coin" (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, 1950, vol. VI, p. 18) and accused the priests of bringing "spiritual death upon all ... their piety consists in spending their nights with harlots." He cried, "one thousand, ten thousand, fourteen thousand harlots are few for Rome, for there both men and women are made harlots" (Ibid., vol. V, pp. 155-56).

Pope Alexander VI threatened to "lay an interdict upon Florence" if it did not silence Savonarola. The city rulers obeyed for fear that as a result of the interdict all "the Florentine merchants in Rome would be thrown into jail" (Ibid., pp. 157-58). The pope wanted Savonarola brought to Rome for trial as a heretic, but the Signory of Florence wanted to execute him themselves. After signing confessions that had been wrung out of them by the cruelest of torture, Savonarola and two comrade friars were hanged and burned to ashes (Ibid., pp. 159-60). Yet this man who preached against the Church leaders' immorality and was slain by Roman Catholics is now celebrated by the Vatican as "a giant of our faith, martyred May 23, 1498" (Inside the Vatican, April 1994, p. 55 under the heading "23 May"). What revision of history!

Visiting Germany in the eighth century, St. Boniface found that none of the clergy honored their vows of celibacy. He wrote to Pope Zachary (741-52): "Young men who spent their youth in rape and adultery were rising in the ranks of the clergy. They were spending their nights in bed with four or five women, then getting up in the morning ... to celebrate mass." Bishop Rathurio complained that if he excommunicated unchaste priests "there would be none left to administer the sacraments, except boys. If he excluded bastards, as canon law demanded, not even boys [would be left]" (De Rosa, op. cit., pp. 404-05).

Even idealists became unprincipled rogues because the priesthood was one of the surest and fastest ways to wealth and power and afforded unique opportunities for the most profligate pleasure. Today's pope, John Paul II, in his recent encyclical, Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth), soundly condemns promiscuity. One might respect such a treatise if he would admit that his predecessors in the papacy have been some of the worst offenders; that the clergy, because they can't marry, have been more prone to illicit relationships that the laity; and that promiscuity is still widespread among the Roman Catholic clergy. Otherwise Splendor of Truth has a hollow sound.


John XII (955-64), to whom we referred earlier, became pope at age 16, ran a harem in the Lateran Palace, and lived a life of evil that passes imagination, even toasting the devil in front of St. Peter's altar. Spiritual leader of the Church for neither years. John XII slept with his mother and any other woman he could get his hands on. Women were warned not to venture into St. John Lateran church. Of this man Luitprand wrote in his journal:

"Pope John is the enemy of all things. ... the palace of the Lateran, that once sheltered saints and is now a harlot's brothel, will never forget his union with his father's wench, the sister of the other concubine Stephania. ...

"Women ... fear to come and pray at the thresholds of the holy apostles, for they had heard how John a little time ago took women pilgrims by force to his bed, wives, widows, and virgins alike" (Harry J. Margoulias, Byzantine Christianity: Emperor, Church and the West, Rand McNally, 1982, pp. 103-04).

St. Peter Damian's eleventh-century record of the incredible evils caused by the pledge of celibacy made such scandalous reading that the pope with whom he shared it preserved it in the papal archives. In fact, it "proves that profligacy among the clergy of the time was universal. After six centuries of strenuous efforts to impose celibacy, the clergy were a menace to the wives and young women of the parishes to which they were sent" (De Rosa, op. cit., p. 405).

Pope Innocent IV (1243-54), forced to leave Rome by Emperor Frederick II, took refuge along with his Curia in Lyons, France. Upon the pope's return to Rome after Frederick's death, Cardinal Hugo wrote a letter thanking the people of Lyons. He reminded them that they also owed a debt to the pope and his court. His remarks provide a glimpse of the shameless depravity of the Papal court:

"During our residence in your city, we [the Roman Curia] have been of very charitable assistance to you. On our arrival, we found scarcely three or four purchasable sisters of love, whilst at our departure we leave you, so to say, one brothel that extends from the western to the eastern gate" (Ibid., p. 119).


Celibacy was hardly known in England before it was at last enforced by Innocent IV in about 1250. Most priests there were married, a practice long accepted by the Church. But Rome determined that it had to end all familial devotion for priests and nuns; their loyalty must now be given solely to Mother Church and the Pope. R.W. Thompson explains why celibacy was forced upon England:

"The celibacy of the Roman clergy has been, since its introduction, considered one of the most effective means of establishing the supremacy of the popes; and for this purpose the attempt was made to introduce it into England, after the Norman conquest" (Thompson, op. cit., p. 443).

Pope Honorius II (1124-30) sent Cardinal John of Crema to England to see that his decree against marriage for clergy was carried out. The cardinal gathered the senior clerics and chided them vigorously for their evil ways, declaring that "'it was a horrible crime to rise from the side of a harlot, and then to handle the consecrated body of Christ." The clergy whom he had lectured, however, surprised him in his room later that night in bed with one of the local prostitutes (Ibid., p. 444; see also de Rosa, op. cit., p. 412). At least he wasn't married.

In the thirteenth-century St. Bonaventure, cardinal and general of the Franciscans, had said that Rome was just like the harlot of the Apocalypse, exactly as John foresaw as Luther would see to his sorrow three centuries later. Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) did not hesitate to have both a mother and daughter as his mistresses together. It was Luther's visit to Rome which completed his growing disillusionment with his Church.

By the fourteenth century the [Catholic] Church had lost all credibility as an example of Christlike living. Cynicism was rampant. It was no secret that Pope John XXII (1316-34) has as son who was raised to cardinal. Like Luther, England's John Colet had been shocked at the brazen ungodliness of the pope and cardinals when he visited Rome. From his pulpit in London's St. Paul Cathedral, of which he was the dean, Colet thundered his disapproval

Oh, the abominable impiety of these miserable priests, of whom this age contains a great multitude, who fear not to rush from the bosom of some foul harlot into the temple of the Church, to the altars of Christ, to the mysteries of God (Frederic Seebohm, The Oxford Reformers, London, 1869, pp. 70-71,74-76,110).


For years it has been a common saying that "Rome has more prostitutes than any city in the world because it has the most celibates." Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) turned that fact into a source of considerable profit by charging Rome's numerous brothels with a Church tax. Then he gathered more wealth still by charging a tax on mistresses kept by priests. Will Durant reports:

"There were 6800 registered prostitutes in Rome in 1949, not counting clandestine practitioners, in a population of some 90,000. In Venice, the census of 1509 reported 11,654 prostitutes in a population of some 300,000. An enterprising printer published a ‘Catalogue of all the principal and most honored courtesans of Venice, their names, addresses, and fees’" (Durant, op. cit., vol. V, p. 576).

Upon becoming Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503), Rodrigo Borgia, who had committed his first murder at age 12, cried triumphantly, "I am Pope, Pontiff, Vicar of Christ!" Gibbon calls him "the Tiberius of Christian Rome." Though he scarcely pretended to be a Christian, he was, like all the popes, deeply devoted to Mary. Of him a leading Florentine scholar wrote:

"His manner of living was dissolute. He knew neither shame nor sincerity, neither faith nor religion. Moreover, he was possessed by an insatiable greed, and overwhelming ambition and a burning passion for the advancement of his many children who, in order to carry out his iniquitous decrees, did not scruple to employ the most heinous means" (Francesco Guicciardini, Storia, I, 20, as cited in E.R. Chamberlin, The Bad Popes, Barnes and Noble, 1969, p. 173).

Like his predecessor, Pope Innocent VIII (1484-92), Borgia as a fond father admitted who his children were, baptized them personally, gave them the best education, and proudly officiated at their weddings in the Vatican, which were attended by Rome's leading families. Alexander VI had ten known illegitimate children, four of them (including the notorious Cesare and Lucrezia) by Vannozza Catanei, his favorite mistress. When Vannozza faded, Borgia, than 58, took newly-married, 15-year-old Giulia Farnese. She obtained a cardinal's red hat for her brother (thereafter known as "the Petticoat Cardinal"), who later became Pope Paul III (1534-49) and convened the Council of Trent to counter the Reformation.


Papal promiscuity has been immortalized in the very structures and statuary of the Vatican, St. Peter's, and other of Rome's most famous churches and basilicas. The most magnificent Sistine Chapel, for example, was built by and named after Sixtus IV, who taxed others for keeping a mistress but paid none for his own. Here the cardinals meet to elect the next pope. Sixty-five feet above them the huge ceiling bears the incredible artwork of Michelangelo.

Admiring visitors are not aware that this, the world's greatest work of art, was commissioned by Julius II (1503-13), who bought the papacy with a fortune and didn't even pretend to be religious, much less a Christian. A notorious womanizer who sired a number of bastards, Julius was so eaten up with syphilis that he couldn't expose his foot to be kissed. The Sistine Chapel thus stands as one of Rome's many monuments to the fact that the church which owns and proudly displays it is, as John foresaw, the "Mother of Harlots."

Known as "the most important church dedicated to Mary in Western Christendom," Santa Maria Maggiore is the fruit of the combined efforts of a number of promiscuous popes. Sixtus III (432-40), another notorious womanizer, build the main structure. The "golden wood ceiling over the nave was commissioned by the Borgia Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503)" (Inside the Vatican, November 1993, pp. 55,57), who paid for it with gold from America received as gift from Spain's Ferdinand and Isabella, to whom he had given the new world. Borgia's unbelievable wickedness, including his devotion to torture, his mistresses, and his illegitimate children, have been mentioned briefly. He "launched the first censorship of printed books ... the Index, which [lasted] over four hundred years" (E.R. Chamberlin, The Bad Popes, Barnes and Noble, 1969, p. 198).

Inside St. Peter's basilica, the burial monument of Pope Paul III (1534-49) is adorned with reclining female figures. One figure, representing Justice, was naked for 300 years until Pius IX had clothes painted on her. She was modeled after Paul III's sister, Guilis, a mistress of Alexander VI. Thus is immortalized the promiscuity of "celibate" popes.


The gross immorality among Roman Catholic clergy is not confined to the past but continues on a grand scale to this day. Such wickedness was rare and a cause for excommunicating the offending party in the days of the apostles. The faithful were not even to associate with fornicators (1 Corinthians 5:8,9) who claimed to be Christians, so the world would know that such conduct was condemned by the church and all disciples of Christ. Of a sexually profligate man at Corinth, Paul wrote to the church: "Therefore put away from among your selves that wicked person" (verse 13).

Yet popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests without number have been habitual fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, and mass-murderers, ruthless and depraved villains who pursued their degenerate lifestyles immune from discipline. Far from being excommunicated, such popes remain proudly displayed on the list of past "vicars of Christ." Today a priest who engages in sexual misconduct is rarely expelled from the priesthood or excommunicated from the Church. Instead, he is reassigned elsewhere and perhaps given psychological counseling.


The [Catholic] Church's insistence upon the unnatural and unworkable rule of celibacy has led to a priesthood of hypocrites who profess one thing and live another. According to National Catholic Reporter, about "10 percent of priests report a sexual approach from a priest while they were in training. ... Spiritual directors, novice masters, seminary professors often introduce sexual contact in the context of their spiritual office" (Ibid., September 17, 1993, p. 7).

Bishops from western Canada visiting Rome in September 1993 asked the pope in a series of meetings to "grant an exception on cultural grounds and allow married priests among the Inuit and Dene peoples of northern Canada." The pope was polite but unbending. Fifteen centuries of "infallibility" can't be changed that easily (Ibid., October 1, 1993, p. 7).

St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, was the scene during August 12 and 13, 1993, of a groundbreaking conference on "Sexual Trauma and the Church " sponsored by two Benedictines, Abbot Timothy Kelly and Br. Dietrich Reinhart, President of St. John's University. Protestants were involved as well. Dominated by the search for psychological rather that spiritual solutions, participants include psychologists and psychiatrists such as Jesuit Fr. James Gill, psychiatrist and editor of Human Development.

Conferees noted that accurate numbers of sexual-abuse cases are not available because of the widespread suppression of such information by the Church. One canon lawyer, Fr. Thomas Doyle, coauthor of the 1985 Doyle-Moulton-Peterson report on abuse in the clergy, estimated that in 1990 about 3000 of the 50,000 priests in America were "currently involved sexually with minors." It is estimated that "four times as many priests involve themselves sexually with adults and twice the number of priests involve themselves with adult men as those involved with children" (Ibid., September 17, 1993, pp. 6-7). The situation is out of hand, as it has been for centuries. Of his fellow clergymen, William Hogan wrote after leaving the priesthood in the early nineteenth century:

"I am sorry to say, from my knowledge of them, since my infancy to the present moment, that there is not a more corrupt, licentious body of men in the world" (William Hogan, Esq., Popery As It Was and As It Is, Hartford, 1854, p. 37).

At Vatican II Paul VI used the dogma of papal infallibility to take out of the Council's hands critical issues such as celibacy and birth control, upon which he pronounced his own opinions. He demanded that all priests renew their vow or celibacy on Holy Thursday in 1970. Rome can't possibly reverse itself on celibacy without admitting that its infallible popes and councils have been wrong on this point, out of touch with the Scriptures and Holy Spirit for centuries, while Protestants have been right all along.

Rome's hypocrisy is monumental. She continues to lecture the rest of the world on high moral standards and to pose as the arbiter and paragon of virtue, while tens of thousands of her clergy violate the very morals they proclaim. Consider the 179 pages of Veritatis Splendor, produced by John Paul II over six years and published late in 1993. This weighty theological treatise condemns contraception, illicit sex, and homosexuality as "intrinsically evil." Conspicuous by its absence, however, is any admission that a high percentage of the Roman Catholic clergy practice all three.