20 Reasons Why Pope John XII was the Worst Pope in History

Detail from Children’s Games by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Antwerp, 1560. Flickr

18. John once made a 10 year old boy Bishop of Todi

The artist formerly known as Octavian soon got to work on making a pig’s ear of things. He immediately waged wars against some fearsome Italian Dukes occupying former Papal lands, and was soundly defeated. If you think this was because he cared about the Papacy, think again: today’s 18 year old boys have Call of Duty to play with, whereas John had an actual army. He’d shown no interest in spiritual matters before becoming Pope, and he certainly wasn’t about to change his mind now just because he had a silly, pointy hat on his young head.

John’s avowed interests were drinking, fornicating, hunting, and gambling. In fact, his contempt for the Papacy was such that he once named a 10 year old boy Bishop of Todi. Life expectancy was shorter in the Early Middle Ages, but even amongst the peasant class a 10 year old was still a child. So why on earth did he ordain the young tyke? Simple: money! The boy in question was the son of a well-to-do family, who flung a few purses of gold John’s way, and he was happy to oblige. And John was Pope, so no one could argue.