This week in Christian history: Dietrich Bonhoeffer born, Philipp Spener dies

Julius III becomes pope – Feb. 7, 1550

Pope Julius III, who reigned as head of the Roman Catholic Church from 1550 to 1555.
Pope Julius III, who reigned as head of the Roman Catholic Church from 1550 to 1555. | Wikimedia Commons

This week marks the anniversary of when Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte was made head of the Roman Catholic Church, taking the title of Pope Julius III.

Julius III was a champion of reform in the Church, having attempted to tackle issues including the regulation of conferring of positions in the Church, monastic rules, and clerical dress.

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“He was interested in the expansion of the faith in the Indies, Far East, and the Americas, and worked toward the reunion of the Chaldean Nestorians in Mesopotamia, and the Copts of Abyssinia,” explained

“A policy of vacillation and excessive nepotism cloud his pontificate. He was extravagant with gifts to his relatives and created a scandal by bestowing a cardinal's hat on a youth of 17, who was adopted by his brother, Baldovino del Monte.”

About three-and-a-half years into his reign, Pope Julius III issued an edict declaring the Jewish Talmud blasphemous, and ordered that all copies in Italy be confiscated and burned. 

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