The Cadaver Impeachment

As I read of the Democrats racing to impeach the president who is already cleaning out his desk, my thoughts (like yours, I presume) turned at once to Pope Formosus and the Cadaver Synod of 897.

Eleven centuries ago, the papacy was in turmoil. Pope John VII excommunicated then-Bishop Formosus, accusing him of conspiracy to insurrection. After John’s death, Formosus was re-instated, and then elected pope in 891.

He died in 896, and his successor (Stephen VII) shortly moved to impeach try him for conspiracy.  The rotting corpse of poor old Formosus was exhumed, dressed in papal vestments, propped up in a chair, and put on trial. Unsurprisingly, he was found guilty. His body was stripped, and the fingers he had used in conferring blessings were cut off (!). He was re-buried, then re-exhumed, and finally thrown into the Tiber.  They also repealed all his acts, enactments, and appointments. (Hmm.)

In hastening to impeach Mr. Trump before he leaves office in 5 days, Democrats are being somewhat premature. Surely it would be even more insulting to wait until he is dead and buried.  Then there could be a true Cadaver Impeachment.

The papacy eventually returned to sanity, with the election of a string of excellent popes. I wonder how long it will take us.

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