List of sexually active popes

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This is a list of sexually active popes, Catholic priests who were sexually active before becoming pope, and popes who were legally married. Some candidates were sexually active before their election as pope, and it has sometimes been claimed that other popes were sexually active during their papacies. Such relationships were undertaken outside the bond of matrimony and broke the vow of chastity.

There have been 266 popes. Since 1585, no pope is known to have been sexually active before, during or after election to the Papacy.

There are various classifications for those who were sexually active at some time during their lives. Periods in parentheses refer to the years of their papacies.


For many years of the Church's history, celibacy was considered optional. Based on the customs of the times, it is assumed by many that most of the Apostles, such as Peter, were married and had families. It is clear from the New Testament (Mk 1:29–31; Mt 8:14–15; Lk 4:38–39; 1 Tim 3:2, 12; Tit 1:6) that at least Peter had been married, and that bishops, presbyters and deacons of the Early Church were often married as well. It is also clear from epigraphy, the testimony of the Church Fathers, synodal legislation, papal decretals and other sources that in the following centuries a married clergy, in greater or lesser numbers, was a normal feature of the life of the Church. Celibacy was not required for those ordained, but still was a discipline practised in the early Church, particularly by those in the monastic life.

Although various local Church councils had demanded celibacy of the clergy in a particular area,[1] it was not until the Second Lateran Council (1139) that whole of the Latin (Western) Rite of the Catholic Church decided to accept people for ordination only after they had taken a promise of celibacy.[2] The reasons for the imposition of celibacy in the Latin branch of the Church are not straightforward; there was certainly a strain of thought which regarded celibacy as being a more exalted state than marriage, but there was also the matter of married clergy who may have bequeathed Church property to a spouse or child. Regardless, although it is a long-established tradition, clerical celibacy is a matter of Church discipline, not of doctrine. If it were the latter, then Roman Catholic deacons would not be permitted to be married, nor would those clergy in the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches.

In this context, a celibate is a person who is not married. The discipline of priestly celibacy is not considered one of the infallible and immutable dogmas. Celibacy is not synonymous with sexual abstinence, although it entails sexual abstinence because of the requirement of sexual abstinence outside of marriage.

Popes who were married[edit]

Popes sexually active before receiving Holy Orders[edit]

Popes sexually active after receiving Holy Orders[edit]

Popes accused of being sexually active during pontificate[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Priestly celibacy retrieved June 9, 2008
  3. ^ Cited by Eusebius, Church History, III, 30. Full text (Latin) at Clement of Alexandria, Stromata III, vi.
  4. ^ Cited by Eusebius, Church History, III, 30. Full text at Clement of Alexandria, Stromata VII, 11.
  5. ^ "St Petronilla", Catholic Encyclopedia.
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  7. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) Pope St. Hormisdas
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  9. ^ K. Dopierała, Księga Papieży, Pallotinum, Poznań, 1996, p. 106
  10. ^ * Wikisource-logo.svg "Pope John XVII" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
  11. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia article on Clement IV". Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  12. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia article on Pope Pius II". 1911-06-01. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  13. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia article on Pope Innocent VIII". 1910-10-01. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  14. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911.
  15. ^ <The Life of Girolamo Savonarola (1959) by Roberto Ridolfi
  16. ^ George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy: The Families And Descendants Of The Popes, page 74: "Clement now made Alessandro de Medici (his illegitimate son by a Nubian slave) into the first duke of Florence" (McFarland & Company, 1998) ISBN 0-7864-2071-5
  17. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Julius II". 1910-10-01. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  18. ^ Louis Crompton, Homosexuality and Civilization, page 278 (Harvard University Press, 2006) ISBN 978-0-674-01197-7
  19. ^ Jean de Pins, Letters and Letter Fragments, page 292, footnote 5 (Libraire Droze S.A., 2007) ISBN 978-2-600-01101-3
  20. ^ Katherine McIver, Women, Art, And Architecture in Northern Italy, 1520-1580: Negotiating Power, page 26 (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2006) ISBN 0-7546-5411-7
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  22. ^ "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Ugo Boncompagni". 2007-12-03. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  23. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Sergius III". 1912-02-01. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  24. ^ a b Lindsay Brook, Popes and pornocrats: Rome in the Early Middle Ages
  25. ^ Liber Pontificalis (first ed., 500s; it has papal biographies up to Pius II, d. 1464)
  26. ^ Reverend Horace K. Mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Volumes 1-13 quote: "Was John XI the son of Pope Sergius by the abandoned Marozia? Liutprand says he was, and so does the author of the anonymous catalogue in the Liber Pontificalis in his one-line notice of John XI." (1928)
  27. ^ Anura Gurugé, The Next Pope: After Pope Benedict XVI, page 37: "John XI (#126) would also appear to have been born out of wedlock. His mother, Marozia, from the then powerful Theophylacet family, was around sixteen years old at the time. Liber Pontificalis, among others, claim that Sergius III (#120), during his tenure as pope, was the father." (WOWNH LLC, 2010). ISBN 978-0-615-35372-2
  28. ^ Fauvarque, Bertrand (2003). "De la tutelle de l'aristocratie italienne à celle des empereurs germaniques". In Y.-M. Hilaire (Ed.), Histoire de la papauté, 2000 ans de missions et de tribulations. Paris:Tallandier. ISBN 2-02-059006-9, p. 163.
  29. ^ "Lindsay Brook, "Popes and pornocrats: Rome in the Early Middle Ages"". 2008-04-13. Archived from the original on 2008-04-13. Retrieved 2012-11-28. 
  30. ^ Joseph McCabe, Crises in The history of The Papacy: A Study of Twenty Famous Popes whose Careers and whose Influence were important in the Development of The Church and in The History of The World, page 130 (New York; London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1916)
  31. ^ a b "Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope John XII". 1910-10-01. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  32. ^ Martin, Malachi (1981). Decline and Fall of the Roman Church. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-22944-3.  p. 105
  33. ^ The Bad Popes by E. R. Chamberlin
  34. ^ Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy, Poolbeg Press, Dublin 1988/2000, pages 211–215.
  35. ^ Hans Kung, The Catholic Church: A Short History (translated by John Bowden), Modern Library, New York. 2001/2003. page 79
  36. ^ The Popes' Rights & Wrongs, published by Truber & Co., 1860
  37. ^ Dr. Angelo S. Rappaport, The Love Affairs of the Vatican, 1912
  38. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia article on Benedict IX". Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  39. ^ “Post multa turpia adulteria et homicidia manibus suis perpetrata, postremo, etc.” Dümmler, Ernst Ludwig (1891). Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Libelli de lite I (Bonizonis episcopi Sutriensis: Liber ad amicum ed.). Hannover: Deutsches Institut für Erforschung des Mittelalters. p. 584. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  40. ^ The Book of Saints, by Ramsgate Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine's Abbey, A.C. Black, 1989. ISBN 978-0-7136-5300-7
  41. ^ "Cuius vita quam turpis, quam freda, quamque execranda extiterit, horresco referre." Victor III, Pope (1934). Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Libelli de lite (Dialogi de miraculis Sancti Benedicti Liber Tertius auctore Desiderio abbate Casinensis ed.). Hannover: Deutsches Institut für Erforschung des Mittelalters. p. 141. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  42. ^ Liber Gomorrhianus, ISBN 88-7694-517-2
  43. ^ Dr. Angelo S. Rappaport, The Love Affairs of the Vatican, 1912, pp. 81–82.
  44. ^ Paolo II in Enciclopedia dei Papi", Enciclopedia Treccani,
  45. ^ "Vita Pauli Secundi Pontificis Maximi", Michael Canensius, 1734 p.175
  46. ^ Leonie Frieda, The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance, 1427-1527, chapter 3 (HarperCollins, 2013) ISBN 978-0-06-156308-9
  47. ^ Studies in the psychology of sex — Havelock Ellis — Google Boeken. 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  48. ^ Nigel Cawthorne (1996). "Sex Lives of the Popes". Prion. p. 160. 
  49. ^ Stefano Infessura, Diario della città di Roma (1303-1494), Ist. St. italiano, Tip. Forzani, Roma 1890, pp. 155-156
  50. ^ Egmont Lee, Sixtus IV and Men of Letters, Rome, 1978
  51. ^ Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A history of the popes, Yale University Press, 2006
  52. ^ "''The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church'': Rodrigo Borja". Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  53. ^ C. Falconi, Leone X, Milan, 1987
  54. ^ Burkle-Young, Francis A., and Michael Leopoldo Doerrer. The Life of Cardinal Innocenzo del Monte: A Scandal in Scarlet, Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1997