Some more from a book I am working on:
“The papacy could no longer depend upon the superstitions and ignorance of the peasantry and the emerging middle class to maintain their hold over them or their hold over religious men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and others. As the bible and Jesus Christ had once said: “the seed had been sewn.” There was no turning back.
“And what a papacy it was. Rotten to the core, for centuries these so called religious men, exploited and mined Christ’s rock for every conceivable treasure trove that this religious order had to offer. Rich beyond belief, the Catholic Church became the world’s first International Conglomeration. The Church of Rome, the world’s first multinational corporation with its hierarchical levels of pious minions throughout the various kingdoms, lands, territories and new found lands controlled everything. Baptism…necessary to get into heaven in the first place…pay. Marriage…pay, work,,,pay, worship…pay, death…pay. And pay and pay we did. Perhaps this is how the expression “Death and Taxes” came about. The papacy owned the land and the buildings and all of the rent controls. Worshippers were expected to donate to the church for all services rendered. We could ill afford to do so. But it was a Catholic world and the Catholic way to salvation. We knew of no other.
“And what about some of these popes in this time of religious and cultural upheaval and rebirth? Alexander VI? Corrupt, licentious, perverted, murderer. His reign of terror in Rome began in 1491 ending with his death in 1503. It is said, although I cannot be sure of this, that he had 12 bastard children. We also know what he thought of his faith: “Almighty God! How long will this superstitious sect of Christians, and this upstart invention, endure?” His weapon of choice to deal with his enemies was poison, and sometimes the stake, as in burning. The rack was also a desirable tool in his papal church of horrors. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for us. We did have our sense of humour to deal with religious reprobates and degenerates such as Alexander VI. When he died “his passing was greeted with celebrations in the streets of Rome and around the known world. The papal doctor was sent gifts and was congratulated for failing to keep the pope alive.”
“Then came Julius II, “The Warrior Pope.” Another non believing, corrupt pope. Only he spent most of his time outside of Rome engaged in war with many of his enemies, primarily with France over the papal states of Italy. He had many children, chided the catholic faith and Christianity and was a purveyor of unnatural sexual acts. We finally saw the end of him in 1513. Pope Julius unknowingly summarized some of the attitude that was beginning to surface at the time with respect to Christian orthodoxy: “Christians are the unstable, unlettered, superstitious masses” and we can clearly understand why he is dismissed as an embarrassment…His only saving grace was his contribution to the Renaissance in Rome through his commissions with Michelangelo and Raphael. I can also tell you with no less certainty that Martin Luther’s pilgrimage to Rome in 1510 occurred when Julius was the pope. He was not impressed with what he saw. Cynicism ruled the day and it disgusted him.
“But the worst was still to come. Some would say he was the catalyst to the Lutheran, Protestant movement that we know and that you know as the Reformation. Pope Leo X: a corrupt, a sexual pervert, indulgent fraud, a liturgical shyster. It has been noted that this new pope accepted the pagan enjoyment of life and was “exceedingly devoted to the flesh, especially those pleasures, which cannot, with decency, be mentioned.” Pope Leo X’s parties and orgies were well known throughout the city of Rome and beyond. He managed in just a few short years to deplete the papal treasury almost to the point of papal bankruptcy. He needed money and the only sure fire way for the papacy to get the funds needed to finish the Basilica of St Peters, as well as many other Renaissance initiatives throughout the city, was through that well known but sure-fire Catholic methodology for raising money…indulgences.
“And they were good at it.
“The Catholic Church even had its own “holy jingle” in marketing these indulgences. First came the movement in the papal states in northern Italy but then a real focus emerged in the Holy Roman Empire regions of Germany. Johann Tetzel, a Dominican Friar and a marketing genius for these times came up with this little marketing gem to promote these indulgences on behalf of the Pope: “As soon as the gold in the casket rings, the rescued soul to heaven springs.” ingenious, and our peasantry loved it. The money poured in. But when Tetzel took his entourage to Germany, a different outcome emerged. Incensed with this affront to Christianity and God himself with the sale of these indulgences, Martin Luther, that insignificant and tortured monk, rose to challenge and discredit Tetzel, the Roman Catholic Church and the absolute corruption of the papacy.
“No one can buy their way into heaven or out of Purgatory” Luther proclaimed.
“Especially for dead relatives.” he added.
Perhaps he was right and we should have known better but as peasants and working class we were extremely superstitious, uneducated and naïve. We believed everything we were told. Consequently, the money poured into the Vatican coffers. But unbeknownst to Pope Leo X and the Church, and our ruling classes, these indulgences would ignite a religious firestorm that would have far reaching consequences on our entire way of life. It would go down as one of the most important events of our limited history. I know that it had a profound impact on mine.
 Diderot’s Encyclopédie, 1759
 Istoria d’Italia, 1832 ed., lib. xvi, ch. v, p. 254.
Have a great Navy day.