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October 25, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – When my translation of St. Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah was first published, I sent a copy to Pope Francis. The book was dedicated to him as pope and to all of his successors, “that they might heed the counsel of St. Peter Damian and fulfill their solemn duty to protect and preserve the moral and doctrinal integrity of the clergy and laity.” I received a form letter thanking me for the gift.

I doubt that Francis ever saw my translation and if he did, I’m even more doubtful that he read any of it – he’s not fond of English. However, I know that he knows about St. Peter Damian’s crusade against homosexual sodomy in the clergy, because he once gave a talk for EWTN and quoted from the Book of Gomorrah.  

As is customary with Pope Francis, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio sought to use Damian’s work to promote his theme of tolerance towards those living immoral lives, claiming that Damian was  emphasizing “indulgence and kindness” towards sinners, when in fact the Book of Gomorrah’s main focus is the permanent defrocking of priests and monks who commit acts of sodomy.

“[St. Peter Damian] knew how to treat sinners, with goodness and indulgence, instead of condemning them from the start, just like Jesus who ate with publicans and sinners, and when the Pharisees accused him to his face he said, ‘The sick have need of a doctor, not the healthy.’ And they came close to him,” Bergoglio states in the video, which is part of a series of meditations on the lives of saints made by the cardinal sometime in the 2000s.

“The hardness and crude realism of their words contrasted with those of tenderness that he expressed when he found himself with a sinful person,” adds Bergoglio, and then proceeds to a paraphrased quotation of Damian’s Book of Gomorrah, in which Damian is denouncing the sin of sodomy among clerics. However, he does not mention the sin being addressed by the saint.

“He writes, ‘Poor sinful soul. I cry for you. It is not a temple that is made by human hands that had collapsed, but a soul, a noble soul, made in the image and likeness of God and rescued by the blood of Christ,’” says Bergoglio.

Although Bergoglio claims that the words he is quoting are Damian’s words to an individual sinner, they are in reality a statement made in a general way to all of those who fall into the sin of sodomy. They appear in chapter 18 of the book, which traditionally carried the heading, “A weeping lamentation over souls surrendered to the dregs of impurity.”

St. Peter Damian, a Doctor of the Catholic Church, wrote the Book of Gomorrah as a letter to Pope St. Leo IX to convince him to apply firm and strong penalties to those among the clergy and religious orders who commit homosexual sodomy and other forms sexual perversion. Pope Leo received the book with high praise, speaking of Damian’s “worthy reasoning,” and assuring Damian that he will “obtain the palm of victory from God the Father” and “rejoice in the celestial mansion with the Son of God and of the Virgin.”

Although he also expresses deep compassion for the sinner, encouraging him not to give up hope and instead to repent and do penance, Damian uses strong language to condemn sodomy and to urge the pope to remove sodomites from the priesthood, noting that “this disgrace is not unworthily believed to be the worst of all offenses.”

“It is certainly obvious that no subsequent religious life can restore a man for the reception of an ecclesiastical grade of order if he has been debased by a crime worthy of death,” Damian writes to Pope Leo. “Nor does it enable him who is not doubted to have fallen into the pit of mortal sin, to rise to attain the height of honor. Therefore it is clearer than light that it is altogether against the norm of sacred law, altogether against the standard of divine authority, to promote anyone to ecclesiastical order who has been convicted of having lain between masculine thighs in fornication, which is undoubtedly a mortal sin.”


Pope Francis’ ambivalence regarding homosexuality

It is likely no coincidence that Pope Francis has scheduled the Church’s four-day February 2019 meeting on the sex abuse crisis on the very feast day of St. Peter Damian in the Novus Ordo calendar, February 21. Francis is well aware of Damian’s crusade against sodomy in the clergy, and most acts of sexual abuse in the Church have been carried out by homosexual priests against teenage boys.

In recent months, following an investigation into homosexual sexual predation against seminarians in Chile, Pope Francis told the Italian bishops to be careful to exclude homosexuals from seminaries. “If there is even the slightest doubt, it is better not to let them enter,” the Pope reportedly said.

In a private letter to the Chilean bishops themselves, Francis referred to the investigation, which had confirmed “grave accusations against some Bishops or Superiors who had entrusted the aforementioned educational institutions to priests suspected of active homosexuality.”  

Francis’ recent statements along these lines are actually quite consonant with others he has made in the past expressing concern about homosexuals in the priesthood and the vice of homosexuality in general.

In 2009, while still a cardinal, Francis denounced the idea of homosexual “marriage” as “a destructive pretension against the plan of God” and a “machination of the Father of Lies.”

When Francis was first elected as Pope, he publicly acknowledged the problematical influence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican. “But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true…. The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there…. We need to see what we can do,” he told the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women in June of 2013.

Simultaneously, Francis sent signals to homosexuals that he would not take their misbehavior very seriously – particularly if they were within his ambit of power and loyal to him. In 2013, shortly after his consecration as pope, he appointed a priest with a record of homosexual debauchery, Msgr. Battista Ricca, to oversee the reform of the ultra-corrupt Vatican bank. Francis famously told the press that same year, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”

Such an approach clearly seemed useful to Francis, who has reportedly made himself a tyrant inside the Vatican, ruling in alliance with morally compromised clergy whose vulnerability to accusation makes them particularly loyal to him. Such cooperators make excellent yes-men for Francis, who wants unquestioning obedience and slavish loyalty in his curia.

Since then Pope Francis and the Vatican have been plagued by homosexual sex abuse scandals, and even an orgy inside the Vatican that was reportedly attended by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, a close confidant of Francis who at the time was the head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, also a close friend and collaborator of Francis, has sought to suppress complaints about homosexual behavior at his Tegucigalpa, Honduras seminary.

Now Francis’ close relationship with the homosexual predator Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has exploded in his face, and has brought into question his relationship with several other cardinals, including the gay-friendly bishops Cardinal Joseph Tobin of McCarrick’s former diocese of Newark (famous for tweeting “Nighty-night baby, I love you” and then claiming it was a message to his sister), and Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, both implicated by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò as protegés of Cardinal McCarrick.

Other close collaborators of Francis tied to the “gay mafia” in the Church include Cardinal Donald Wuerl, now the disgraced apostolic administrator of Washington D.C. accused of covering up for McCarrick as well as other clerical sex abusers, and Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s family and laity office, who lived with McCarrick for years and claims he knew nothing about his misbehavior. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, now famous for a blasphemous homosexual mural he placed on the wall of his cathedral, is in charge of a gutted and perverted Pontifical Academy for Life.

Pope Francis is now in a terrible predicament. He is surrounded by henchmen who are loyal to him precisely because they are vulnerable to accusation for their own homosexuality or their ties to the Church’s “gay mafia” and its sexually abusive behavior against adolescents and seminarians. While he depends on them to prop up his controversial papacy and defend his attacks on Catholic doctrine, their scandalous behavior is increasingly becoming more of a liability than an asset to him.  

Will Francis attempt to invoke St. Peter Damian at the upcoming summit in February? If so, in what sense will such an invocation be made? Will he claim Damian as an advocate of his policy of “welcoming” people no matter what their behavior or state of repentance, or will he recall the true Damian, who was charitable and simultaneously rigorous in his application of penal law to sodomites and sex abusers? The February meeting will represent another great test of the direction of this confused and troubled pontificate.

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Matthew Cullinan Hoffman is an essayist, journalist, and author whose articles have appeared in numerous publications worldwide, both secular and Catholic, including the Wall Street Journal, London Sunday Times, Detroit News, New York Daily News, LifeSiteNews, Catholic World Report, Crisis Magazine, and the National Catholic Register. He is the translator and author of The Book of Gomorrah and St. Peter Damian's Struggle Against Ecclesiastical Corruption (2015). He holds an M.A. in Philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, where he is certified for academic competency in five foreign languages. He currently resides in Mexico, and does specialized coverage of Latin America for LifeSite and other publications.

He can be contacted at [email protected].