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a doctor, not an expert

By Jeff (articles ) | Apr 09, 2003

As clergy and laity alike turn to experts in this time of scandal, we might even more fittingly seek wisdom from St. Peter Damian (1007-72; proclaimed doctor, 1828), the doctor of the Church who (to my knowledge) discussed clerical scandal most extensively. Much as Diogenes has been distilling the musings of a contemporary expert, I'll be distilling the wisdom of St. Peter's Book of Gomorrah in the days ahead.

The Book of Gomorrah is a long letter from St. Peter to Pope St. Leo IX (1049-54). St. Peter, addressing the pope as the "head of ecclesiastical discipline," informs him about the problem of clerical homosexual activity:

A certain abominable and terribly shameful vice has grown up in our region. Unless the hand of severe punishment resists as soon as possible, there is certainly a danger that the sword of divine anger will be used savagely against it.... Vice against nature creeps in like a cancer and even touches the order of consecrated men. Sometimes it rages...in the midst of the sheepfold of Christ with such bold freedom that it would have been much healthier for many to have been oppressed by a secular army than to be freely delivered over to the iron rule of diabolical tyranny under the cover of religion, particularly when this is accompanied by scandal to others.... Unless the strength of the Apostolic See intervenes as soon as possible, there is no doubt but that this unbridled wickedness...will be unable to stop on its headong course.

Better to be oppressed by an army than by a clerical scandal -- not the typical words of an expert!

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