List of sexually active popes

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This is a list of sexually active popes, list of 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. Since such relationships were sometimes undertaken outside of the bonds of matrimony, and because sometimes the Pope was under a vow of celibacy, the Catholic Church considers these to be grave abuses and causes of scandal.[citation needed]

There have been 265 popes. Since 1585, no pope is known to have been sexually active either before 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.

The Council of Trent held that virginity and celibacy were higher states than marriage, but more recently, popes have affirmed the gift and graces of both married and celibate states. In his Theology of the Body reflections July 7, 1983, Pope John Paul II said, "The gift received by persons who live in marriage is different from the one received by persons who live in virginity and choose continence for the sake of the kingdom of God. All the same, it is a true gift from God, one's own gift, intended for concrete persons. It is specific, that is, suited to their vocation in life. We can therefore say that the Apostle stresses also the action of grace in every person—in one who lives in marriage no less than in one that willingly chooses continence."

Popes who were married

Popes sexually active before receiving Holy Orders

Popes who were, or may have been, sexually active after receiving Holy Orders

Popes sexually active, or accused of being sexually active, during pontificate

Popes accused of having male lovers during pontificate

See also


  1. ^ New Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Priestly celibacy retrieved June 9, 2008
  3. ^ (Stromata, III, vi, ed. Dindorf, II, 276)
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  7. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) Pope St. Hormisdas
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  14. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911
  15. ^ <The Life of Girolamo Savonarola (1959) by Roberto Ridolfi
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  25. ^ a b Lindsay Brook, Popes and pornocrats: Rome in the Early Middle Ages
  26. ^ Liber Pontificalis (first ed., 500s; it has papal biographies up to Pius II, d. 1464)
  27. ^ 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.
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  30. ^ Martin, Malachi (1981). Decline and Fall of the Roman Church. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-22944-3. p. 105
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  32. ^ Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy, Poolbeg Press, Dublin 1988/2000, pages 211–215.
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  36. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia article on Benedict IX". Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  37. ^ “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. pp. 584.$FILE/AlimBonizoAdamicum.doc?openelement. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
  38. ^ The Book of Saints, by Ramsgate Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine's Abbey, A.C. Black, 1989. ISBN 978-0-7136-5300-7
  39. ^ "Cuius vita quam turpis, quam freda, quamque execranda extiterit, horresco referre." Victor III, Pope (1934). Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Libelli de lite (Dialogi de miraculis Sancti Benedicti Liber Tertius auctore Desiderio abbate Casinensis ed.). Hannover: Deutsches Institut für Erforschung des Mittelalters. pp. 141.$FILE/AlimDesiderioDialogi.doc?openelement. Retrieved 2008-01-03
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