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Archbishop Paglia depicted in the painting he commissioned.

February 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Last week’s failed summit on sex abuse showed to the world the spectacle of high-ranking prelates denying obvious connections between clerical abuse and homosexuality and filling their air with lofty sentiments as cheap as the paper they were written on. It is by now clear that Pope Francis has no intention whatsoever of disempowering the cronies who encircle him and eat out of his hand. Meanwhile he pours out his ire on any who dare to question his and others’ handling of the situation.

“A man is known by the company he keeps.” The list is long, and getting longer every day, of the criminal clergy whom Bergoglio has tolerated or promoted, from his time in Argentina all the way up to the present moment: cardinals (McCarrick, Murphy-O’Connor, Coccopalmerio), bishops (Zanchetta, Piñeda, Maccarone, Marx, Maradiaga), and priests (Grassi, Inzoli, Corradi). As if this were not enough, he thwarts efforts at discipline. “McCarrickism” is still alive and well. All the dots have been well connected.

We have resources in our Catholic tradition to understand at least part of what is going on in the Church today.

St. Gregory the Great, pope from 590 to 604, gave us a major work of theology titled the Moralia in Job, a commentary on the Book of Job best appreciated for its profound insight into ethics and the spiritual life. In the 31st book of the Moralia, St. Gregory speaks of “the eight daughters of lust.” These are “blindness of mind, thoughtlessness, inconstancy, rashness, self-love, hatred of God, love of this world and abhorrence or despair of a future world.”

When St. Thomas Aquinas explains the meaning of these “daughters” (Summa theologiae II-II, q. 153, a. 5), he says that lust hinders the operation of the intellect in four ways. 

First, it interferes with the grasping of a good end (this is “blindness of mind”). Lustful people do not see clearly the true good; they stumble around, chasing after shadows and illusions, taking what is evil as if it were good. Outsiders can see this loss of vision quite clearly, but those who are given to sensuality become unaware of the spiritual good. If they think of it or discuss it at all, it is in an abstract and distant manner, because there is no feeling for it anymore. The most shocking manifestation of this blindness is the support for abortion found among the unchaste, whose disordered attachment to sex has blinded them to the dignity of other persons. For such people, children are a nuisance or interruption.

Lust also hinders counsel or discernment of the proper course of action; this is why it propels its victims into foolish choices that ultimately tear them apart, as we are also seeing in the Church’s hierarchy (this is “rashness”). In a way similar to that of a wrathful person who destroys himself by carelessly rushing into the fray, a man in the grip of passion acts stupidly. He ultimately becomes his own worst enemy.

Lust hinders good judgment to such an extent that it obliterates the memory of justice (this is “thoughtlessness”). We often catch sight of this thoughtlessness in the inadequate, tone-deaf, bureaucratic responses made by hierarchs to abuse victims, or even the lack of any response at all—indications that they themselves may be under the influence of sexual vice.

Lust hinders the ability of a man to resist his concupiscence even if his reason or someone else urges him to resist (this is “inconstancy”). The copious data we now have about pedophiles and homosexuals indicates that, left to their own devices, and without earnest efforts at reform and conversion, they will be incapable of not pursuing their lecherous inclinations. As Aristotle says, this does not make them guiltless, because they were responsible for allowing the vice to grow in the first place.

Lust affects the will in four ways as well. 

Desire for the end, which ought to take the form of charity for God above all, for neighbor, and for oneself, is twisted into disordered “self-love,” which places gratification of one’s lower self (the passions and senses) above any other object of love—even the good of one’s higher self (the mind). There immediately flows from this disordered self-love a “hatred of God,” because God forbids the desired pleasure that is contrary to His law. This perfectly explains the contempt for the divine law that we see with alarming frequency on the part of Church hierarchs, who would rather modify or expunge the sixth and ninth commandments than submit to them out of love for God. The frequent abuse of the sacred liturgy, which is almost always connected with a hatred of spiritual and divine things, is also tied in with this effect of lust.

Desire for the right means to a good end is corrupted by lust in two ways. Lust plunges a man into “love of this world” because he clings to the means to worldly pleasure, such as filthy lucre, which he ought rather to resist and purge from his life. For the same reason, lust causes “despair of a future world,” because the unchaste man is, and at some level knows that he is, far from God. “Through being held back by carnal pleasures, he cares not to obtain spiritual pleasures, since they are distasteful to him,” writes St. Thomas.

Because of ingrained habits of lust on the part of large numbers of men and women in the Western world today—including, obviously and tragically, members of the clergy—we should hardly be surprised to see all eight daughters busily at work. St. Peter Damian in his own day saw the very same corruption, and fought against it with all his might, regardless of the personal cost or the threats made against him. 

We who are aware of what is going on must stop at nothing until the episcopacy and the Vatican are purified of this disease.

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Peter Kwasniewski, Thomistic theologian, liturgical scholar, and choral composer, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California (B.A. Liberal Arts) and The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy). He taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austria Program, then helped establish Wyoming Catholic College in 2006. There he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history and directed the choirs until leaving in 2018 to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing.

Today he contributes regularly to many websites and publications, including New Liturgical Movement, OnePeterFive, LifeSiteNews, Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, and Catholic Family News, and has published thirteen books, including four on traditional Catholicism: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014, also available in Czech, Polish, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Belarusian), Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017), Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018), and Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass (Angelico, 2020). His work has been translated into at least eighteen languages.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over a thousand articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church.

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, visit his personal website, www.peterkwasniewski.com.

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