A Dialogue between Pope Leo X and Thomas Paine

A dialogue between Pope Leo X (1475 - 1521 A.D.) and Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809 A.D.) - from Transcripts of their debate.

Written by P.K.Odendaal - March 2011

Foreword for all my Dialogues
Note by the Scribe (writer) : This piece was compiled with the latest facts and interpretations of History and the Bible. It is, after all, an unfinished work as the dialogue will only be conducted after the rapture when everyone will know everything, but it is also conceivable that it has already taken place, because there is no clear scripture that says one first has to go to a place of detention before inheriting your prize - be that eternal life or eternal damnation.

In any case, chances are that this would be a very accurate transcription of that dialogue. Part of this is of course speculation.

The intent of this dialogue is to bring the false theories, false statements, frailties and errors of humans to light, whilst confirming the events of the Bible which has stayed true for 3 300 years.
The reason that I have chosen these two characters is that both are the best mankind had to offer in these fields - Leo X as the worst example of a man of God and Thomas Paine as an exemplary example of human excellence and human failure.

Although I have tried to interpret the Bible and History as accurately as  possible, I have had to use my poetic license to fill in the gaps, but I have not stretched that license unduly. If I have unduly criticised someone, due to my ignorance, I beg their pardon beforehand. I do, however, give them the benefit of the doubt as I am writing this with hindsight which is 20/20 vision, whilst they did this in uncertain times, in doubt, with partial knowledge, in the heat of the moment and some under pressure and duress.
Paine:  Hi there Giovanni, and how are you today ?

Leo X:  Not so good Tom, I suffer here in Purgatory.

Paine:  Why so? You should have done what I did - ignoring the Catholic Church and Purgatory - so I skipped that session of self redemption - and sitting pretty here in Hades.

Leo X:  But what is so wrong with self redemption. All of us pay for our transgressions, and I am only doing my part here.

Paine:  But your part was so great, that I doubt whether you will ever get out - not before the end of Eternity.

Leo X: Why say you so?  I occupied the the most Holy Office on earth for eight years (1513 - 1521 A.D. - the Reformation started in 1517 A.D. due to the conflict between Leo X and Martin Luther) and I was the Vicar of Christ, having been put in command of all the world by Jesus Christ, through his servant the Apostle Peter. Because of this you can justly say that I will be one of the Elect in Heaven.

           My only problem really is that I sold indulgences to everyone regardless of race, creed or faith, but I never bought one for myself.

  You probably know that undulgences take away their earthly (temporal) punishment after they have confessed. I also sold to dead people who of course did not confess - just for making some money on the side. Even if you confess your sins, you still have to go through punishment, and that is what I am doing here now.

Paine: I never thought Peter was a Pope - my, my ,my ... I missed that one, but being a antogonist of the Bible and every Religious Instition, it is not strange that I am not up to date with your dogma and Catechism. In fact, I am still a novice on the difference between Catechism and Schism - I suppose the latter is boss when the Cat is away. However, I heard that the Reformation was the Mother of all Schisms.

           And as for your punishment, I cannot think that you have been so stupid so as not to buy an indulgence. You know the adage : Healer heal thyself!

  My church do not require indulgences - only that I do good to my fellow men. I think you should have tried that instead - I mean being good to your fellow men, but obviously you were too busy warring with them. I have always maintained that The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.

Leo X: I will have you know that Jesus Christ handed the keys* of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter, who handed it down to me through all the Popes. So what I bind here will be bound in Heaven, and what I unbind here, will be let loose in heaven. You must have seen how I bound up Martin Luther, by excommunicating him - no way he will ever 'suffer' salvation!

(* Mat 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. v:19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.)

Paine: But your Church only started after Peter died - did he know he was the first Pope - I am sure that will embarassed him endlessly - please spare him that. I know he was not a friend of mine that I should come up for him, but I have a compassion for all mankind.

  It is said that you gave indulgences - as you acknowledge yourself - even to people who were already dead - of course at a price. I mean (sarcastically) salvation comes at a very high price, specially when one never believed in your God, as I did - and whats more - you needed a lot of money for your parties of rioting and drunkenness.

  So can you please absolve me of all my sins, so that I can also enter into Heaven - please man, I am tired of waiting here in Hades. I also want to join in the fun. Let them just stick a notice to my grave that you have absolved me, as you did with thousands of other Atheists, Unbelievers and Sinners - and even for non-suspecting Christians.

Leo X: Yes, I must say I made a lot of money, but the problem really is that I spent it much quicker than I could lay my hands on it, so that the Catholic Church was virtually bankrupt when I died. I left it to my cousin to fix that, when he became Pope after me.

Paine: But how could you and your cousin become Popes? You were not even Priests?

Leo X:If one's father is rich, one can do anything. My father was Lorenzo de Medici - one of the richest men in the world, and he bought us Cardinal's hats - that's how we became Popes.

Paine: And is it because of that favour, that you also felt compelled to sell these Cardinal's hats and other Holy Offices in the Church to secular people? It is said that you sold over 2150 offices to the value of three million Ducats. Must have been lavish parties that you could hold with that type of money.

Leo X: It could have been better, had that monk of a Martin Luther not spilled the beans on my money scams. Can you imagine - he, a monk, thinking he could take me on in a fight where I had God, Money, The Church and the World on my side.

Paine: But I thought Martin Luther had a point. He said that he read in the Bible that man is saved by Grace alone, and here you tell me man is saved by Money and Your Holiness alone. This is a somewhat different viewpoint.

Leo X: No, it is really these Gutenburg Rebels who printed the Bible, who made it difficult for me (in the 1450's), so I was not anymore in total control of who goes to Heaven and who not. Learned people could read this Bible, although I have strictly forbidden it. I have also forbidden anyone from writing any book, unless I had approved that beforehand. It was not in the interest of the Church to have every Tom, Dick and Harry have their own interpretation of the Bible. My interpretation of the Bible (of the little I knew of it) was the correct and only allowed one.

Paine :So you mean to say that no-one in the world, except you, had any rights? Not even human rights.

Leo X :Yea, thats for certain. We have been killing these heretics for hundreds of years already, who thought that they could go behind my back and talk to God or Jesus Christ. We started with the Cathars and Albigensians since the eleventh century (1209-1229 A.D.), and killed almost everyone in that twenty year war. We moved against the Huguenots (from 1700 A.D.) and we drove about 200 000 of them out of France. I am sure you also know of the Spanish Inquisition and my agent there, Thomas de Torquemada who tortured and burned at the Stake about 140 000 people in Spain - all at the request of our good friends Ferdinand and Isabella.

Paine: But how can you just kill people in the name of God? Do you mean that Jesus Christ who has power over life and death, has just given it to you?

Leo X: Yes, of course, that is why the Reformists called me Antichrist. Anti means in the place of, like in antipasta. I am here in the place of Christ as I am His Vicar, but I also have a notion that they called me Antichrist our of hatred for me and the Church as they regarded us as opposing Christ.

Paine: You should have been there during the French Revolution, when I put up such a fight for Human Rights and the Girondins. I even opposed the killing of King Louis XVl, who was the cause of the Revolution, only because of my moral objection to Capital Punishment - and here you come and do not give a hoot for the life of others ? Are you Christians not supposed to show Mercy and Grace? They must have gotten you to execute Louis XVl and his family - would have been a feast for you.

Leo X: No! I don't like executions. I left that to other subjects of mine. I was the humanist, like yourself. History says I was a good-natured and extremely free-hearted man, who avoided every difficult situation and above all wanted peace; I would not undertake a war myself unless forced into it by my advisors.

Paine: Sorry - you lost me on that one - I thought God was your adviser.

Leo X: No, I have a lot of Cardinals that advised me. God left it up to us to come to decisions, apart from the one unfortunate incident where Pope John Paul I was elected by the leading of the Holy Spirit, but that - as you might have expected - did not last long - only 33 days before we killed him.

Paine: I cannot agree with your vicious persecution of mankind, neither with your arrogant wielding of power, neither with your false representation of Jesus Christ, and that goes for the Protestants too - and so for all institutionalised religion.

Leo X: From which Church are you then?

Paine: My mind is my own church. My country is the world, and my religion is to do good. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

Leo X: But you need to belong to a Church or to believe in something or some god.

Paine: I believe in one god, therefore I am a Deist. The religion that approaches the nearest of all others to true deism, in the moral and benign part thereof, is that professed by the Quakers. Though I revere their philanthropy, I cannot help smiling at their conceit; if the taste of a Quaker had been consulted at the Creation, what a silent and drab-colored Creation it would have been! Not a flower would have blossomed its gaieties, nor a bird been permitted to sing.

Leo X: Is it true that people say that you had been called a Corsetmaker by trade, a Journalist by profession and a Propagandist by inclination ?

Paine: You might say that, but I prefer to think that I was a fighter and propogandist for Human Rights and Righteousness. I believe in the dignity of man, his right to live and to be respected, his right to pursue happiness, his right to be heard and his right to have his own opinion. I believe in free speech, in the Rights of man, in the Age of Reason and in Common Sense - I even wrote books on these subjects.

He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that, in defence of reason, rebels against tyranny has a better title to Defender of the Faith, than George the Third.

Christianity differs from the pure and simple profession of Deism! The true Deist has but one Deity, and his religion consists in contemplating the power, wisdom, and benignity of the Deity in his works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in everything moral, scientifical, and mechanical.

I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

I was once charged for libel and my defence was this : "If, to expose the fraud and imposition of monarchy ... to promote universal peace, civilization, and commerce, and to break the chains of political superstition, and raise degraded man to his proper rank; if these things be libellous ... let the name of libeller be engraved on my tomb"

Leo X: Wow !!! Now that is something. You must have had no friends then.

Paine: How did you know that? Yes, there was only six mourners at my funeral of which two were black. The Christian Churches refused to bury me, and ultimately I was buried under a tree on my farm. However, in 2002, I was rated as #34 in a list of the 100 Greatest Britons who ever lived, by the BBC.

         But as for being unpopular - I was never afraid of being so. Neither was my friend Voltaire who wrote on Civil Liberties, Freedom of Religion, criticizing intolerance and religious dogma - and he is a French Hero today.

Leo X: On hindsight - do you really believe that man should have a free will, a free say, a human right and all these other cosmetics?

Paine: Then I must quote you from the book of my friend and colleague of the Revolution, Jean Jacques Rousseau and his Social Contract, which says : Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.

That was the slogan of us Romantics during the French Revolution, but sad to say we got nowhere. As soon as things settled, Napoleon Bonaparte, although I supported his invasion of England, reinstituted Monarchy and Dictatorship - he was "the completest charlatan (swindler) that ever existed". So I left France on invitation from President Jefferson and never returned.

         Yes, I still believe that man must be free!! However, slavery and bondage has become the norm, and I mean slavery and bondage in its most wide connotation. Man must be free from slavery and bondage by any institution - even the Church - because he was created so.

         But to return to yourself - you were probably one of the most hated persons ever. You were the direct cause of the Reformation in which more than a million people were killed - and even today this persecution goes on, albeit under a new secret organization called the Jesuits.

          I quote from the Jesuit oath :

“I now, in the presence of the Almighty God, the blessed virgin Mary, the blessed Michael the Archangel, the blessed St john the Baptist...and my ghostly father, the superior general of the Society of Jesus, founded by  St Ignatius Loyola, do, by the womb of the Virgin...swear...the Church of England...Calvinists, Huguenots, and others of the name of Protestant...to be damnable....I will, when opportunity presents, make and wage relentless war secretly or openly, against all heretics, Protestants...as I am directed to; extirpate them from the face of the earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex, or condition, and that I will hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle and bury alive those infamous heretics; rip up the stomachs and wombs of the women, and crush their infant’s heads against the wall in order to annihilate their execrable race.”

Leo X: I was never party to that, it was established in my cousin's time, but is was pretty much the same during the time of the Reformation. Maybe that is the reason I will never get out of Purgatory.

Paine: Why did you not come to the aid of Savanarola when the Pope wanted him tortured, hanged and burned in Florence - you were there - only being 23 - but still you could have done something? He was tortured for three weeks, only sparing his right arm, so that he could sign a cofession.

Leo X: Yes, but the Pope said that he would send our whole city to Hell by excommunicating us, if we did not deal with Savanarola - so in the end we had to kill him.

Paine: But was he such a bad person that the Pope had to have him killed?

Leo X: Yes, he went behind the Pope's back to talk directly with God. He preached against sin (which the Pope was fond of) and this embarassed the Pope so much, that he had to make a plan.

Paine: And how do you know he spoke to God?

Leo X: Now, with hindsight, I know he did. He preached against sin and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, so much so that people came to the City Square to burn their idols, books, naked paintings and all. I can assure you Satan would never have instigated this.

In fact, the Catholic Church also now realises it, because in the last century a group within that Church wanted to declare him a Saint, but opposition by the Jesuits was too strong against it, as they regarded his 'sin' (that of talking with God and his contempt for the Pope) to be unforgivable.

But many others have also been burned at the stake innocently - take Jean D'Arc as only one example - but there are many. (Joan of Arc was declared a Saint in 1920 and is now one of the most popular saints in the Church)

Paine: So there were thousands like him (Savanarola) and you have the moral arrogance to become a successor to this Pope and this Church. It seems to me that you have no more morals than your Church. So enjoy Purgatory, but just between us, Purgatory does not exist at all and self redemption will bring you nowhere. There are many Bishops, in your Church and in the Jesuits, who practice self redemption through self inflicted severe physical punishment, but I doubt any has become saints because of that.

          Shall I pose one last question?

Leo X: Yes, go ahead.

Paine: If you were God, would you side with the Pope or with mankind?

Leo X: With His Holiness the Pope of course.

Paine: I see there is no way we will ever be able to reconcile our views, so I must move on in further search of the Truth. Bye now.

Related article : Dialogue between Moses and Aristitotle


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