Father Steve reviews Christopher Hibbert's The Borgias and Their Enemies, taking a closer look into the lives of the notorious family of Pope Alexander VI.
The scandalous pontificate of Alexander VI represents a nadir of the papacy. Many might prefer that this notorious pope and his family disappear from historical reckoning, but the memory of the Borgias continues to be remarkably persistent. Showtime
will release a dramatic interpretation of Alexander VI
and his intrigues in 2011, testimony to the enduring cultural fascination for Borgias. News of this upcoming series might stir some consternation among the Catholic faithful. Alexander VI has been used for centuries as a source for the opposition to the claims of the Church in regards to the papacy. He has become a symbol of the potential abuses of power, particularly within the Church. But he can also be an expression of the Church’s ambivalence about its own culture, a sign that the reality of the Church is not that of a fantasy kingdom where all have been freed from proclivity towards sin, but of a fallen human condition that is often times bound and determined to struggle against Christ’s redemption rather than humbly accept his grace. At times, given the raw facts of the Church’s history, the faithful must walk a razor’s edge between credulity and cynicism. The truth will set us free, but that does not mean that the truth will be all that easy to take. In this regard, Alexander VI is a privileged example.