Religious leaders should be the epitome of goodness and morality and are supposed to live lives worthy of emulation. However, in Voltaire’s Candide, the church is infested with hypocrisy, which with religious leaders are hypocritical characters who are corrupt, greedy, and immoral. This can be seen in many cases below.Church officials, according to Voltaire, are deeply involved in promiscuity as shown in the lines: “I am the daughter of Pope Urban X, and of the Princess of Palestrina (Ch 11).
” The fact that the Pope, despite his vows of celibacy as a priest and leader of the Catholic Church, has a mistress and a daughter is very hypocritical. In another case, Voltaire speaks of Dr. Pangloss, who contracts a STD indirectly from a Franciscan through the maid, Parquette. He writes that “She received this present of a learned Franciscan who derives it from a fountainhead .
.. who had it of a page, the page had it of a Jesuit (Ch 4).” This is quite frightening since the Franciscan is a scholarly monk promised to celibacy, and yet he is involved in multiple sexual activities that lead to his contracting and transmitting a sexually transmitted disease to a woman.
Another example of religious hypocrisy in Candide is seen when a Franciscan friar steals jewels. According to Voltaire, “The old woman rightly guessed that the Franciscan with the long sleeves, was the person who had taken Miss Cunegund’s money and jewels … (Ch 13).” Curiously, the friar is caught with the jewels when he tries to sell them for money, with which the fact that he was indeed the jewel thief was agreed. This is ironic because a religious leader, despite his vow of poverty as a member of the Franciscan Order, turns out to be a jewel thief. In addition, Voltaire implies that a superior of the house by the name of Reverend Father Croust is gay, “I became still more so, and the Reverend Father Croust, superior of that house, took a great fancy to me (Ch 15).” Ironically, the church is loaded with people like this Jesuit colonel. Therefore, Voltaire uses this ironic character to point out the expatience of church hypocrisy and corruption in his time.