The English Term 'Fornication' has its Origin in Ancient Rome

            "Under many public and some of the best houses at Rome were arches, the tops of which were only a few feet above the level of the street. These arches, dark and deserted, became a refuge for prostitutes. Their name, fornices, at last became synonymous with lupanar, ['brothel'], and we have borrowed from it our generic word, fornication."[3]

Dr. Sanger's Preface

            "Birthplace of modern art and literature, dowered with the fatal heritage of beauty, Italy, in the varied passages of her career among the nations, has been as remarkable for the vice and sensuality of her children as she has been eminent for their talents and acquirements. The heart of the historical student thrills with the respectful sympathy over the sorrows and ennobling virtues of her patriots in all ages, or his intellect is captivated with enthusiastic admiration and reverence in considering the monuments of resplendent genius given to mankind by her sons. Let the student turn the page of history, however, and his souls recoils in disgust and deepest horror from the narrative of the most abandoned corruption, the most unscrupulous ambition, the most abominable lust, the most tremendous crime, to which the history of the world scarcely offers a parallel, and which brands the perpetrators with their curse upon all succeeding generations."

Sanger Enumerates the Vices of Popes and Catholic Clergy

            "No influence played a more important part in bringing about the catastrophe of tyranny, misery, degradation, and despotism than that of the court of Rome. By the intrigues of the Roman Pontiffs, the mutual jealousies of the papal states were exacerbated and their quarrels fomented. While these results were caused by the political actions of the popes and their advisors, the worst effects were produced upon public manners and morals by their example. The abuses which had established themselves among the Roman hierarchy were the natural consequences of long and undisturbed enjoyment by the clergy of their vast immunities and privileges. The demoralization and dissoluteness which thus existed, and which spread its poison throughout the civilized world, but especially throughout Italy, are attested to by all contemporary writers.


"The enormous iniquity which distinguished such men as Pope John XXII., Sextus IV., or Alexander VI., is notorious to all. Although the character of communities is not to be inferred from the actions of exceptional prodigies, either of virtue or vice, it is evident that the system which could place monsters like these in the august positions they filled must have been rotten to the core. The worth of Leo X. or a Clement VII. consisted in the absence of the grosser vices rather than in any positive excellence, and the encouragement given by such men to objectionable practices did more to confirm a laxity of morals than did the odious and unpardonable offenses of their predecessors."

"Some of the political immorality and shamelessness of the court of Rome, and of other Italian courts, was owing to the system which had sprung up, whereby each pope provided for his family. The term nepote (nephew), [from which we get the term nepotism], was in common use as expressing the relationship which existed between the pope and the individual selected for advancement. The priests of all denominations had nephews and nieces to provide for, and the abuses covered by the term were objects of the keenest satire. [I.e., their children were born out of wedlock. Implied also are the sins of pedophilia and incest.] In fact, Innocent VIII. thus provided for eight openly avowed sons and daughters. The pseudo-avuncular obligations of Sextus IV. were also well known." [I.e., pedophilia is implied; Sextus being the fake 'uncle' of many children. As 'uncle' he was able to spend much time with small children.]

"The effect produced by this example in high places, particularly upon the clergy, and through them on the community, can be imagined. By a decree of the [Catholic] Church in the eleventh session of the [Fourth] Lateran Council (1215), it appears that the clergy were accustomed to live in a state of public concubinage, [I.e., cohabitation without benefit of marriage], and even to allow others to do so for money paid them for permission [i.e., indulgences]. Dante, in one of his daring flights, compares the papal court to Babylon and declares it a place of deprived of virtue with no shame."[4]

Sanger Cites Reformers and Others Who Exposed Sexual Sins of Catholic Church

Records Found which Enumerated the Sexual Solicitations in the Confessionals

"The Reformation compelled some attention to morals among the clergy, and for a time an earnest endeavor was made at purification of the (Catholic) Church. This was one of the chief labors of the famous Council of Trent. That council certainly did repress the abuses among the general clergy, but the law-makers were law-breakers. They could not touch the Cardinals, Archbishops, or the Pope himself, and thus little radical change  was effected among the chief dignitaries themselves. In 1849, when the Roman people opened the palace of the Inquisition, there was found in the library a department styled, 'Summary of Solicitations,' being a record of cases in which women had been solicited to acts of criminality by their confessors in the pontifical state (Italy, and the summary is not brief. To quote the words of Machiavelli, 'If the papal court were removed to Switzerland, the simplest and most religious people of Europe would, in an incredible short time, have become utterly depraved by the vicious example of the Italian priesthood.' (Discorsi i. 12.) The ecclesiastics did not confine themselves to licentiousness of conduct. The clerical writers were charged with a taste for that lowest practice of debased minds: obscenity, in which particular they exceed the lay writers." (Sanger citing Roscoe.) [5]

Sanger Discovers Syphilis of Italian/French Origin [6]

Popes Victims of its Ravages

"It was during the siege of Naples (15th century) that the venereal disease is said to have made its first appearance…….No class seems to have been exempt from it. Sextus della Rovere, nephew [?] of Sextus IV., one of the wealthiest and most debauched ecclesiastics of the age, was 'rotten from his middle to the soles of his feet.' Even the haughty and majestic Julius II., [1503-13], would not expose his fee to the obeisance of the faithful because they were discolored by syphilis. Leo X., his accomplished and munificent successor, was said to have owed his elevation to the fact that he was in such a depraved state of body as to render necessary a surgical operation in the Consistorium while the election [for pope] was proceeding, the Cardinals selecting the most sickly candidate for the papal tiara." [7]

Crimes Against Nature Absolved for Monetary Payment

"Cardinals were not ashamed to contend openly for the favors of celebrated courtesans……The excesses of this iron age were not limited to ordinary licentiousness; crimes against nature seem to have been prevalent, and are even alleged to have been a source of revenue. In a collection of papal lives which has fallen under our notice, but which is not very particular in giving its authorities, we find it stated that a memorial was presented to Sextus IV. by certain individuals of the family of the Cardinal of St. Lucia for an indulgence to commit sodomy, and that the Pope wrote at the bottom of it the usual Fiat ['Let it be done.'] The case of Beatrice Cenci is better attested. Everyone recollects the accumulated horrors of the story. The father, hating his children, his wife, all mankind, introduces prostitutes into his house, and debauches his daughter, Beatrice, by force. Through the instrumentality of a bishop she procures him to be murdered, and with her step-mother, was executed for the crime, the Pope refusing to show any mercy. The Count Cenci had been addicted to  unnatural offenses, and had thrice compounded with the papal government for his crimes by paying an enormous sum of money, and the narrator says that the acrimony of the Pope toward the wretched daughter was for having cut off a profitable source of revenue." [8]

Laws Enacted in Rome During Middle Ages Confirm Debased Society

"In Rome, in the 11th century, a brothel and a church stood side by side, and five hundred years after, under the pontificate of Paul II., prostitutes were numerous. Statutes were enacted and many precautions taken, proving the grossness of manners of that epoch. One convicted of selling a girl to infamy ['white slavery'] was heavily fined, and if he did not pay within ten days had one foot cut off. The nobility and common people alike indulged habitually in all kinds of excess. Tortures, floggings, brandings, banishment, were inflicted on some to terrify others, but with incomplete success. To carry off and detain a prostitute against her will was punished by amputation of the right hand, imprisonment, flogging or exile. The rich, however, invariably bought immunity for themselves."[9]

Brothels Taxed by the Papacy: Lucre Not Too Filthy

            "Among the most extraordinary acts of legislation on this subject was the bull of Clement II., who desired to endow the Church with the surplus gains of the brothel. Every person guilty of prostitution was forced, when disposing of her property, either at death or during life, to assign half to a convent. A tribunal was also established having jurisdiction over brothels, upon which a tax was laid, continuing in existence until the middle of the 16th century.

            "In Avignon, which, in consequence of the schism of the popes, may be considered a second Rome, a statute in the Church, in 1441, interdicted to the priests and clergy the use of certain baths, notorious as brothels. The license (to practice) prostitution was soon taken away in Avignon. The residence of the popes in that city had attracted a concourse of strangers from all parts of the globe, and brothels sprung up at the doors of the churches, and close to the papal residence and bishops' palaces. They brought so much scandal on the community that an edict was passed driving prostitution out of the city." [10]

Scott's Unbiased History of Prostitution Concurs with Sanger

            "In the Middle Ages, so important part in the life of the city did the brothels become, that it was customary for the city authorities to cause the more important brothels to place their inmates at the disposal of royalty, celebrities, or other important guests of the city, without any charge.[11] In Burchard's Diary occurs a description of an orgy in the private rooms of the Pope [Alexander VI.], where, after supper, fifty naked prostitutes danced for the amusement of the Pope's guests, among whom were the notorious Caesar and Lucrezia Borgia. At this time a considerable portion of the Pope's income consisted of a tax on brothels…..On the occasion of the visit of the Emperor Sigismund to Ulm in 1434, the royal retinue visited the common brothels. Every royal palace had its own brothel, and every royal trip had its accompanying band of prostitutes, too. Charles the Bold[12] maintained at least 4,000 prostitutes for himself and his court. Every moving army was followed by hordes of harlots. The Crusaders had thousands at their heels; each camp maintaining its own large brothel.


            "About the same time [15th century], Italy was ravaged by syphilis. Cardinals, scholars and nobles alike fell victims to the scourge. Charles the VIII. was charged with introducing the infection; Benevenuto Celini admitted having contracted it from a prostitute; Sextus della Rovere was 'rotten' with it." [13]

Even Roman Catholic Writers & Clergy Express Outrage

Petrarch Calls Avignon Babylon of the West, A. D. 1350

            "Now I am living in France, in the Babylon of the west…..Here reign the successors of the poor fishermen of Galilee; they have strangely forgotten their origin. I am astounded, as I recall their predecessors, to see these men loaded with gold and clad in purple, boasting of the spoils of princes and nations; to see luxurious palaces and heights crowned with fortifications….." [14]

The Scandalous Revelations of the Papal Reform Commission, A. D. 1537


            "The first abuse…men of the vilest stock and of evil morals, adolescents, are admitted to Holy Orders and to the priesthood, to the mark, we stress, which above all denotes Christ. From this has come numerous scandals and a contempt for the ecclesiastical order……

            "Another great abuse…wicked men, chiefly clerics, free themselves in many ways [from punishment] …in consideration of the payment of money.

            "Another abuse troubles the Christian people with regard to nuns under the care of conventual friars, where in many convents public sacrilege occurs with the greatest scandal to all…….

            "In this city [Rome] harlots walk about like matrons or ride on mules, attended in broad daylight by noble members of the cardinals' households and by clerics. In no city do we see corruption except in this model for all cities. Indeed they even dwell in fine houses."[15]

Even the Council of Trent, A. D. 1563, Admits to Unbridled Fornication/Rape Between Monks and Nuns

            "MONASTIC ORDERS………nunneries should be carefully closed and egress [i.e., access to and from] to the nuns be absolutely forbidden, under any pretence whatsoever, without episcopal license, on pain of excommunication - magistrates being enjoined under the same penalties to aid the bishops, if necessary, by employing force, and the bishops being urged to their duty by the fear of the judgment of God, and the eternal curse."

Papal Taxes Paid by Roman Catholic Lechers to Alleviate Guilt [16]

The British Library has under its care the original 16th century papal Tax Books which list certain crimes and the cost of indulgences for absolution of these crimes. Below is a partial list of crimes which may be pardoned for pay:

1.      sex in church with a female

2.      priests who keep concubines

3.      incest committed by a man with his mother, sister or female relative

4.      raping a virgin

5.      perjury and false testimony

6.      forgerers of false testimony

7.      priests who divulge others' confessions

8.      laymen who kill clergy, or other laymen

9.      priests who commit homicide

10. men who kill their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters or relatives

11. if murderer be a priest

12. men who beat their pregnant wives, and those who cause miscarriage

13. women who have abortions

14. abortions instigated by priests

15. simony

16. priests who violate women at confession

17. priests who fornicate/rape nuns in the convent

18. rape of girl or married woman

19. him who has child by his nurse

20. any unnatural lewdness

The Testimony of Samuel Chandler, A. D. 1736 [17]

A Christian Classic which Corroborates all Previous Testimony

Re: Sins Committed by Confessors Against the Penitents

            "Those who solicit women or boys to dishonorable actions in the Sacramental Confession are subject to this [Inquisition] tribunal. Pius IV. published a bull against them; and when this bull was first brought to Spain, all persons were commanded, by a public edict…that whosoever knew or had heard of any monk or clergyman who had abused the Sacrament of Confession [in perpetrating] these crimes, or had acted in this vile manner with wife or daughter, they should discover them within thirty days to the Holy Tribunal…..When the decree was published, so large a number of women went to the Palace of the Inquisition in the city of Seville alone to make their discoveries of those most wicked confessors, that twenty secretaries, with as many inquisitors, were not sufficient to take the depositions of the witnesses….


            "It is required that this solicitation be made in the act of Sacramental Confession, as [for example] if immediately after Confession, the Confessor says to the woman, 'Since you have carnally lain with so-and-so, do me the favor and lie with me.' Or if [for example] a Confessor solicits a boy immediately after Confession, carrying him into his house or chamber; or if [for example] he enjoins Penance to a woman, viz. to be whipped naked by the Confessor himself, and he himself performs the Penance and whips her with his own hand, or with a scourge; or if [for example] he persuades a woman to show her privy parts to him, which she confessed to be affected with a certain disease; such Confessors are vehemently suspected, and must abjure as such, and be enjoined fastings and prayers, and may be condemned to the Galleys, or perpetual imprisonment….

            "The Venetians ordered one of them burnt alive, by command of the Pope. He had been Father Confessor to some Nuns in the dominion of Venice, and had got twelve of them with child; amongst whom the Abbess and two others had children in one year. As he was confessing them, he agreed with them about the place, manner and time of laying with them."


[1] This section is taken from the present author's full-length book, Antichrist in Our Midst.

[2] The History of Prostitution, by William W. Sanger, M. D., [N.Y.: Eugenics Pub. Co., 1939 Reprint of 1890 edition.] Dr. Sanger was a 19th century New York physician who specialized in studying  prostitution in that city, as well as treating venereal diseases. His research and writing was not motivated by religious interests. He professed no religious affiliation. Rather his motivation stemmed from scientific and sociological interests. Sanger was wise in seeking answers to the present problem of prostitution by looking into the past.

[3] Ibid., pp. 72-73.

[4] Ibid., pp. 154-63.

[5] Op cit.

[6] The word syphilis was first coined by Fracastoro, chief physician to the Council of Trent.

[7] Op. cit.

[8] Op. cit.

[9] Op. cit.

[10] Op. cit.

[11] How similar to the Olympic Committee scandals in Utah, 1999.

[12] 14th century Roman Catholic Duke of Burgundy.

[13] The History of Prostitution From Antiquity to the Present, by George Ryley Scott, [London: 1936]; pp. 84-85; 144-45.

[14] Readings in European History, Robinson, Editor; [N.Y.: 1937]; pp. 502-503.

[15] The Catholic Reformation, John Olin, Editor and Translator; [N.Y.: 1969]; translating The Consilium De Emendanda Ecclesia, 1537.

[16] Illustrations of Popery: The Mystery of Iniquity Unveiled, Re. J. P. Callender, Translator & author; [N.Y.: 1843]; pp. 441-44.

[17] The History of Persecution in Four Parts, [London: 1736]; pp. 215 ff.