The recent election of Pope Francis has brought the papacy into the public eye. The initial public reaction has been mostly positive and Pope Francis has warmly embraced various cultures to display the multiculturalism of the modern Catholic Church. The history of the papacy, however, proves that this was not always the case. There have been plenty of controversial popes over the past two millennia. Pope Alexander VI, however, sticks out in particular. This man was anything but Christian-like and, I’d certainly hope, was not an instrument of the Judeo-Christian God. He used the authority of the Church to legitimize and justify state expansionism and globalism. If Hell does exist, there is at least one Pope roasting in the pit.
Alexander VI was the head of the Catholic Church from 1492 to 1503. One of his crucial roles, during that time period, was legitimizing Spain and Portugal’s global conquest and enslavement of indigenous peoples. Murray Rothbard once wrote that “It is evident that the State needs the intellectuals” and that “the intellectuals will be handsomely rewarded for the important function they perform for the State rulers, of which group they now become a part” (1). Alexander VI took up the role of the State sponsored intellectual and used the authority of God to benefit him and a few elite.
Alexander VI issued numerous papal bulls, such as Inter Caetera and Eximae Deotionis, after accepting heavy bribes from the Spanish monarchy. These two bulls were issued in May of 1493 and are responsible for the justification of the enslavement of two continents. Alexander VI gave Ferdinand and Isabella a “God”-granted monopoly to explore and conquer the newly discovered Americas. He gave the Spanish Catholic explorers the religious authority to commit forced conversion. The Pope, a man whose existence was unknown in the Americas, gave fifty million indigenous Americans to the crown of Spain. Furthermore, Alexander VI enforced this monopoly through a power that is supposedly given to the Pope from God. Specifically, he threatened to use mass excommunication and interdicts against any person or country that interfered with Spain’s conquest of the new world. Simply put, anybody who went against the Spanish monopoly of force and domination of Indigenous Americans would be barred from both the sacraments and Heaven. Similarly, all citizens of a country would face this same spiritual punishment if their governments chose to act out against the monopoly. This meant countries that contained a vocal Catholic populace would not act against Spain or Alexander VI for fear of an outraged community. People were not going to risk the afterlife for the sake of un-westernized people halfway across the world. Alexander VI literally used his position as God’s voice on earth to justify and protect Spain’s expansion into the New World. In doing so he was handsomely rewarded with Spanish gold.
Alexander VI was the typical state defending intellectual that Rothbard described. People often forget what role he played in the conquest of the Americas. Alexander VI used religious authority to give Spain the justification to enslave two continents worth of people. This alone dooms Alexander VI to THC’s list of forgotten tyrants.
- Will Shanahan, Contributor, the Humane Condition
(The author can be followed @Will_Shanahan and contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rothbard, Murray. “The Anatomy of the State.” LewRockwell. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. <http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard62.html>.