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The Book of Gomorrah, nn. 1-5

By Jeff (articles ) | Apr 10, 2003

Far different from contemporary experts' insights into the scandal is the teaching of the doctor of the Church, St. Peter Damian, in his treatise on clerical scandal. St. Peter begins by distinguishing the four degrees of the sin against nature, the most grave being the homosexual act. While everyone in St. Peter's day (the mid-eleventh century) believed that the commission of the ultimate act should lead to the loss of ecclesiastical status, St. Peter decries the laxity of superiors who fail to punish the lesser degrees of the sin (which I won't mention, since my mother may be reading this).

He observes that the sin against nature "is not improperly believed to be worse than all other crimes," since God has always punished it so severely. No one, then, who has committed this sin should be ordained, even if he has repented. Such men should remain humbly as laymen, perhaps as religious brothers. Some, though, who have thus sinned desire ordination. St. Peter attributes this desire to intellectual darkness, God's punishment for the sin against nature. He adds:

What, I ask, would St. Paul say if he saw such a wound festering in the very body of Holy Church? In particular, what sadness, what burning compassion would inflame that pious heart if he were to learn that this destructive plague is even spreading among the holy orders?

Let the indolent superiors of clerics and of priests hear; let them hear and let them fear being partcipants in the guilt of others.... I refer to those who close their eyes to the correction of their subordinates' sins and offer them the freedom of sinning through an ill-advised silence. Let them hear, I say, and prudently understand that they all equally deserve death.

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