Has a pope ever been corrected publicly by a non-cleric in the presence of cardinals because of his immoral behavior?

As we all know, popes are not immune to living sinful lives. In fact, several have lived in serious sin for many years. The Church has had many holy popes, but there have been some very bad and sinful popes also.

What I mean by a non-cleric is a Catholic faithful who is not a deacon, priest, bishop or cardinal, but may be a layperson, nun or religious brother (not ordained).

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    May 5, 2019 at 7:36

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia, Antipope John XVI was captured, mutilated, and then was publicly degraded in the presence of the Emperor and also of Pope Gregory V. The pope was rebuked by St. Nilus the Younger (an abbot, but as far as I know not a cleric) for his cruelty. Although it was the Emperor's troops that actually committed such horrendous deeds, Pope Gregory V effectively gave his consent by doing nothing to stop it.

While I'm not sure if other cardinals were present, it seems somewhat probable given that the Pope and Emperor were both there.

  • 1
    @DJClayworth I think so. According to Catholic Encyclopedia, "The emperor's troops pursued the antipope, captured him, deprived him of his nose, ears, eyes, and tongue, and brought him back to Rome. There he was brought before Otto and the pope, and publicly degraded (998). Then, after being driven ignominiously through the streets of Rome on an ass, he was transported to Germany, where he seems to have died in the monastery of Fulda (1013)." Dec 6, 2018 at 5:37
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    Antipopes aren't popes.
    – Geremia
    Sep 2, 2019 at 3:34
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    @Pascal'sWager It's irrelevant to the question, which asks if popes (not antipopes) have been publicly rebuked. Also, "pope" in your second sentence is ambiguous.
    – Geremia
    Sep 3, 2019 at 19:40
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    Being an abbot implies being a cleric, at least by jurisdiction. Even in St. Nilus’ time he was probably at least a priest, even if history is silent on the subject.
    – Ken Graham
    Sep 8, 2019 at 4:59
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    @KenGraham yes, considering the role of an abbot, it would be strange were he not a cleric, as he would presumably have a duty of reprimanding clerics within his abbey who misbehaved.
    – jaredad7
    Jan 25, 2022 at 15:50

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