There has been a bit of a stir recently because shock comedian Sarah Silverman proposed that the Pope sell all of the Vatican’s possessions in order to feed the poor of the world. Anyone who is familiar with Silverman knows that this is her shtick: say outlandish, politically-incorrect things in a vulgar way in a feeble attempt to be funny.
But what Silverman and many others may not know is that once a Pope actually did agree to sell all the possessions of the Vatican! Pope Paschal II lived in the 12th century, during the time of the great lay investiture crisis, when the Pope and the Emperor battled over who had authority to appoint bishops. During this crisis, Pope Paschal II actually offered to Emperor Henry V that he would sell all of the Vatican’s possessions acquired since the time of Charlemagne if Henry agreed to renounce lay investiture. They did sign a compact to that effect, but the Romans rose in revolt and didn’t allow it to happen.
So I guess Ms. Silverman isn’t as shocking as she thinks she is.