Skip to comments.BOOK REVIEW: The Book of Gomorrah by St. Peter Damian (still relevant!)
Posted on 02/21/2019 7:50:20 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o
...I must begin with a crucial terminological caveat:
Typical of the spiritual, intellectual, moral, and social levelingor dumbing downof our age, we are inclined to invoke or reject buzzwords which smear out a great deal of historical and conceptual complexity and depth. Specifically, in our day the word sodomy has a very narrow meaning, while in contrast, in Damians discussion, sodomy refers to various forms of sexual perversion , including contraception, masturbation, same-sex pederasty, and adult homosexual acts (p. 18). So, while Damian argues that canonical penalties for sodomy should be even stronger for members of clergy, [and that the] strongest punishments in the Churchs historic legislation are reserved for those who abuse children and adolescents, it must be kept in mind that St. Peter is denouncing all carnal disobedience to Our Lord, whether private, public, straight, or gay.
With that in mind, there are three main reasons to buy this book.
First, St. Peters treatise on ecclesiastical reform and sexual sin is as relevant today, if not more so, as when he penned it around 1049 A.D.
Second, Hoffmans introductory and critical commentary both dispels a tenacious myth about this work and St. Peter, and aims to provide a scrupulously accurate version that conveys the majestic beauty of Damians original Latin, in contrast to prior editions which were either too loose or marred by textual errors (p. 70).
Third, in addition to providing a rich but brief biography of St. Peter, the book is a short but essential springboard to deeper research on the larger topic of the sodomitical subversion of the Church and the Gospel at different times and places.
Concerning the first point, consider:
The Liber Gomorrhianus is undoubtedly the most stirringly eloquent and impassioned denunciation of sexual perversion ever penned by a Catholic saint, and carries a soaring and unreserved endorsement by a saint-pope who virtually canonizes him while still alive. Although it was written almost a thousand years ago, the Book of Gomorrah in many ways seems addressed to our own times, associating the phenomena of clerical homosexual behavior and pederasty, and endorsing the imprisonment of clergy who are a danger to youth. It expresses an unremitting hatred for the sin of sodomy and simultaneously a deep compassion for its perpetrators, seeking their reconciliation with God and assuring them of hope for salvation. It also acknowledges the threat of an ecclesiastical establishment seeking to turn a blind eye to the problem of clerical corruption and to conceal its sins, rather than rooting out the problem. (p. 45)
Therefore, Hoffman notes, Damians work is not a criticism of those who merely suffer from homosexual urges or temptations, but rather those who act upon themas well those in authority who enable and coddle their sinful lifestyles (p. 53).
As in our time, St. Peter Damian was addressing the problems of an increasingly effeminate priesthood and a lax or indifferent view of sodomy and sexual immorality [in] the Catholic hierarchy. It was precisely such attitudes that Peter Damian was seeking to combat in the eleventh century by urging the restoration of the Churchs strong penitential canons relating to sodomy and the permanent suspension of clergymen who were habitually inclined to such behavior. (p. 47)
Just as aptly, after enumerating the grades of sodomy in chapter two, Damian proceeds in chapter three to address the problem as a crisis of authority in the Church, noting that many prelates are permitting practicing homosexuals to continue functioning as priests, despite having knowledge of their misdeeds, which he regards as an impious or excessive form of mercyfalse mercy, as we might say todaythat leads to even worse corruption (pp. 49-50).1
Significantly, Hoffman notes, positions taken by St. Peter in several important controversies would eventually become Catholic doctrine and Catholic law. For instance, his counsel to prohibit the entry into the priesthood of those with sodomitic tendencies was confirmed by the Sacred Congregation for Religious under Pope John XXIII in 1961, and reaffirmed (after much painful experience following the lack of compliance with the directive) by the Congregation of Catholic Education with the express approval of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 (p. 27).
Concerning the second merit of this new edition of St. Peters treatise, a persistent myth about the Liber Gomorrhianus is that it was ultimately deemed too extreme (or exaggerated) by the same Pope Leo IX who had initially endorsed it, and therefore it did not merit attention in his day, much less in our own. Hoffman ably dismantles this myth, noting, that, in fact, Leos system of penalties is somewhat more severe than that which Damian has recommended (p. 56). Indeed, although Damian does imply that the letter of the traditional penal canons of the Church would not permit anyone guilty of any act of sodomy to return to the clerical state, he repeatedly implies that his own approach would not be as strict (p. 63). Contrary to the prevailing academic myth that Pope Leo IX turned on or deflected Damian, we have not only the effusively positive reception on the part of Leo in his letter to Damian, but also the fact that in the same year of the publication of the Liber Gomorrhianus [ca. 1049], Leo presided over a French reform council that decreed that sodomy be punished with the most severe ecclesiastical penalties (p. 66)...
To close on a personal note, seeing as St. Peter Damian lived almost precisely one millennium ago, I propose the formation of a Sodality of St. Peter Damian, in order to offer reparations for, and raise awareness of, clerical corruption and lay apathy concerning sexual disobedience to Christ, social opposition to matrimonial purity, and fiscal corruption in the Church.
The reviewer, after giving a good review of St. Peter Damian's "Book of Gomorrah" (written one millennium ago) recommends the following, more expansive and more recent, works dealing with sodomy, homosexuality, moral laxism, and the like, in the Church:
The Homosexual Network: Private Lives & Public Policy, Fr. Enrique T. Rueda (The Devin Adair Company: Old Greenwich, CT, 1982)
Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Jeffrey Satinover, M.D. (Hamewith Books: Grand Rapids, MI, 1996)
Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything [2nd ed.], Robert R. Reilly (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2015
Happy reading at this, the beginning of the third Christian millennium.
St. Peter Damian, pray for us!
That it is still relevant is an indictment of Catholicism.
Go back 20, 30 or 30 centuries and see this pattern repeatedly. History does not repeat, but it rhymes.
Your church, whatever it is, probably doesn't go back a couple of millennia; or doesn't keep its chronicles.
I you are a member of the Body, you will be in sorrow when we the Church are hurt, and rejoice when we rejoice.
No, not his words of condemnation.
The situation that led to the words.
That nothing has changed in Catholicism over the last 1,000 years that warrants those words is a real indictment of Catholicism.
Catholicism is reaping what it sowed.
The body of Christ is clearly not Catholicism even while there may actually be some in it who are true believers.
Your demands of my behavior and attitude are not binding and I accept no judgment of my Christianity just because I don’t do what someone else thinks I should.
"We know a thing or two, because we've seen a thing or two."
Perhaps when other ecclesial communities have been around for almost two millennia, they too will know a thing or two on account of having seen a thing or two.
In any case, perhaps you'll let us know how your church was doing in the 11th century?
"Now you are Christs body, and individually parts of it. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy."
Scripturally, the Body of Christ includes all born again, born from above believers.
Getting wet doesn't save anyone.
*IF* Catholicism is the body of Christ and they are the only ones making that claim and their claiming it doesn’t make it so.
If they are the body of Christ, as they claim, then they need to start acting like it.
And so far, evidence of that is sorely lacking, as witnessed by the fact that for over 1,000 years homosexuality has been entrenched in Catholicism.
If it’s still a problem after someone has 1,000 years to deal with something, then they really don’t have a problem with it and don’t want to change, the opinions of some notwithstanding.
For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral peoplenot at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindlernot even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.
Get back to me when your organization starts obeying God and doing some purging.
In the meantime, I am not holding my breath. Their track record has not been stellar as of yet.
Tch. Re-read: I said “believers.” The main thing isn’t “getting wwet.” Surely we all know that.
Not for just 1,000 years: for over 2,000 years every kind of sin and every kind of sinner has been found in the Catholic Church. Yes, sin abounded --- and grace superabounded.
For every Judas we see a Peter; for every Arius an Athanasius; for every Manichaean, a Leo the Great. For every Innocent III there was a Francis of Assisi. For every string of mediocre and semi-apostate popes, and every Johann Tetzel, an all-star (All-Saint) team of the simple, the humble and the wise: Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Robert Bellarmine, Peter Faber. For every Ted Kennedy, a Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
You've missed a lot of the last 1,000 years.
Have we done nothing to self-reform, by the grace of God? Again and again: Ecclesia semper reformandi. The Church is always to be reformed.
And here's a quote suitable for framing,from Oscar Wilde: "The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do."
Then baptism doesnt make one a believer, now does it?
The issue isnt that sometimes sin can be found in congrgations.
For about the millionth time, its that NOTHING is being done or has been done to correct it, FOR OVER 1,000 years.
When the purging begins, get back to me.
You know priests being defrocked and those involved in whatever capacity start going to jail, and Catholicism quits owning them.
Because anyone who makes excuses for sin and says that once a priest , always a priest is not doing anything to fix the problem.
And Catholics tell Prots we take God's grace too lightly?
First off, you all are the ones with the different grades of sin and homosexuality and pedophilia is among the worst.
God does not continue to pour out His grace on unrepentant sinners, as you all keep telling us.
God deals with sin in the lives of His children and in church bodies.
He laid out very clear guidelines for church discipline and Roman Catholicism has steadfastly refused to follow them, as evidenced by 1,000 years of this kind of nonsense going on.
I don't see anywhere in Scripture where God promises to bless and protect people who habitually practice sin.
He does not have the lackadaisical, que sera, sera towards sin that most Catholics have with their, hey, we're all sinners, they're just sinners like the rest of us, nobody is perfect, attitude that most Catholics blow off the misdeeds of their clergy with.
Sinners just like the rest of us to a born again believer is someone who struggles with their sin nature and strives to overcome it, not someone who practices it and shrugs their shoulders, that hey, nobody's perfect.
Catholicism has not dealt with the homosexual problem within for 1,000 years and counting now.
There is no excuse.
And the more you guys try to double down and excuse it and pretend that something is going to fix it somehow some day, and Christ is still with us all in the midst of it, the less credibility you have by the day. All that it looks like to everyone else is that you all are burying your heads in the sand, repeating the mantra that Jesus promised to protect His church and that someday it's all going to be fixed, somehow, more like you wish it were true and are trying to convince yourselves, more than trying to convince us.
Did it EVER occur to you guys that Jesus is waiting for YOU ALL to fix it?????
After all, He already laid out the guidelines in His word. It's simply a matter of obeying what He already told us.
And if you are not willing to obey, then how is He obligated to fix it for you when your organization doesn't care enough to fix it themselves?
God will not bless sin, and God will not bless Catholicism while it continues in said state.
Tell us, then, whom of us Catholics on FR are disobeying, and who was it who fixed Sodom and Gomorrha?
Is it not a fact that we Catholic laypersons are very vocal about the rot in our Church and publicly demanding the hierarchy address it?
To say "Nothing has been done for over 1000 years" gives me an insight --- thank you --- because it shows me that you are truly, sincerely, and quite guilelessly lacking in knowledge of about 1,000 years of history.
I had a student 4 or 5 years ago who opined (on the basis of "Everybody knows...") that the Church did not reform itself, it's the Reformation that reformed the Church.
I asked him to pick *one* of the following names and write two intelligent sentences about the person:
I could go on. It will probably not surprise you to know that, not only could this student not write a coherent sentence about any one of them, he had not even heard of most of them.
You may or not want advice on where to begin (where to begin!) to grasp the history you missed -- the history God's gracious work of reform and regeneration in the Church over the last 1,000 years. But rather than write a doctoral thesis on it here and now, I will point you (and our good lurkers) to a kind of first-step resource:
Anyhow, thank you for giving me the opportunity to think of all these great saints again. This has considerably brightened my day.
Why do you keep refuting things that no Catholic in this forum has ever said?
Do a FR user search on EBB TIDE and get a load of what Catholics think about these revolting sins. Where do you imagine you see this "Que sera, sera"?
I know of no Catholic who isn't heart-sick with grief and anger over the congealed filth and cowardice in the ranks of these morally malformed clerics.
I join you in loathing sin. I join you in the hope that God will give apparently-still-unrepentant criminals like Mr. Ted MCarrick the strength to face his sins, detest them, and confess them; open a path for him and others like him to repent with rent-open hearts, and guide them to make some start to repair the catastrophic damage they have done.
This prayer is for sinners. That makes it as inclusive as it can get.
For the 10,000th time, my tagline:
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