Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Leo X (ruled 1513-21), Pope.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Although he is not usually counted one of the "few bad Popes," Leo was a thoroughly vicious and unscrupulous man, and, in view of the position of the Church on the eve of the Reformation, one of the most scandalous Popes of the series. Son of Lorenzo de Medici, and profanely destined by that prince for a clerical career (whatever his character might prove to be), he became a cleric at the age of seven and a cardinal at the age of fourteen. Abnormally fat and unhealthy, and gravely ill with fistula, in the election-chamber he bribed his way to the Papal chair through friends, and settled down to a life of vulgar display and sensuous enjoyment. His health compelled him to be temperate at table, but he had about him a crowd of unscrupulous adventurers and professional buffoons. He loved to sit at indecent comedies in the Vatican, some of which were composed by his favourite, Cardinal Bibiena, the most immoral man of the Papal Court. Catholics boast that he was at least chaste, unlike his predecessors and successors, but they are untruthful about the evidence. Guicciardini, the greatest historian of the Middle Ages and a Catholic, says that Leo was not accused of vice before his election, but "he was afterwards found to be excessively devoted to pleasures which cannot be called decent" (Storia d'Italia, lib. XVI, C. V, p. 254, in the 1832 edition), and the Pope's friend and biographer, Bishop Giovio, discusses at length (Vita Leonis X, lib. IV, pp. 96-9, in the 1551 edition) the charge that he was addicted to sodomy, and lamely concludes - he obviously believes it - that it is difficult to be sure on such secret matters, and that in any case the Pope was no worse than other Italian princes. In diplomacy he was admittedly the most dishonest prince in Europe, and he used the most corrupt means of raising money [see Indulgences] at the very time when Luther's revolt began. He did nothing for literature and little for art, as Pastor admits, yet he spent (largely on jewels, banquets, and favourites) at least 5,000,000 ducats (equal to £10,000,000 in modern money) in eight years, and left behind debts of nearly £1,000,000. The statement that he said, "We owe all this to the fable of Jesus Christ," appears in the work of an ex-priest long after his death, and we cannot check it. Encyclopaedia articles on Leo are based upon Roscoe's Life and Pontificate of Leo X (4 vols., 1805), which is very unreliable. Dr. Pastor, the chief modern Catholic historian, admits all the above facts, except the charge of sodomy, in his History of the Popes (vol. VIII). See also H. M. Vaughan, The Medici Popes (1908), and for a summary sketch McCabe's Crises (1916), which gives the complete literature.


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