Reports are out that Francis will convoke a meeting with all the presidents of conferences of bishops across the globe to discuss the issue of the sexual abuse of minors. The meeting is scheduled for 21-24 February 2019.
The cynic in me worries that the focus here on “minors” will obfuscate the real, core issue of most of the cases of abuse and of clerical sin: homosexuality.
However, the Church’s calendar might just remind those who meet about why they are really there.
In the Novus Ordo calendar 21 February is the Feast of St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church.
In the Traditional calendar 23 February is the Feast of St. Peter Damian.
That means that, as the meeting opens, they will begin work under the aegis of St. Peter Damian and, as they are working, those who celebrate the TLM will invoke Peter Damian.
This great Doctor of the Church made many great contributions. However, his works that is most pertinent to The Present Crisis is the Liber Gomorrhaianus, written between 1049-54. The LG is a call for reform of the clergy. LG treats the vices of clergy, especially sodomy.
The LG is available online in LATIN HERE.
Peter Damian, a zealous reformer of clergy who combated corruption such as simony called for the removal of bishops from their sees in no uncertain terms. Regarding one such, he wrote:
Now may the multiform head of the poisonous serpent be crushed, and the commerce of perverse business come to an end. […] For unless the aforesaid church is taken away from the hand of that incestuous adulterer, perjurer and robber, all the hope of the restoration of the world that has been raised among the peoples will be completely drained. Indeed, all turn their eyes to this purpose, all raise their ears to this one voice. And if that bishop, implicated in so many crimes, is restored to the height of the episcopacy, the Apostolic See will be utterly unable to do any further good.
It was a turbulent time of anti-popes. Eventually one of history’s greatest clergy reforming Popes would in 1049 emerge from the rubble, Bruno von Egisheim, Pope St. Leo IX (all the more reason for the next pontiff to be called “Leo”). It is to Leo that Peter Damian addressed the LG. The Doctor wrote about this most evil of corrupting vices, the “cancer of sodomitic impurity”, with horrible clarity. He addressed contraception, masturbation, same-sex pederasty and adult homosexual acts, noting that the Church had penalties for them. Peter Damian said that punishments should be greater for clergy and that the most severe should be applied to clerics who abused children and adolescents: public beatings, imprisonment for months in chains with fasting three days a week till sundown with confinement of monasteries under guard.
While he denounces homosexual acts in stark terms he also writes about his compassion for the sinners and prays for their repentance.
Leo IX praised St. Peter Damian lavishly for the LG.
It is a fact of our human experience that whisteblowers will eventually be attacked and smeared. So too was it with Peter Damian. Detractors denounced him to Leo. However, a later Pope eventually made Peter Damian a cardinal and entrusted him with great duties.
The Doctor strongly admonished Popes and Bishops who failed in their duties. In 1059 he denounced cover ups and wrote with a warning about divine punishment to Nicholas II about unchaste bishops: “What worse thing can one do than to spare lustful bishops when he has the power to correct them?”
That’s enough for now.
In the time that intervenes between now and the February 2019 meeting, we might keep the figure of St. Peter Damian before the eyes of those who will participate.
The Book of Gomorrah and St. Peter Damian’s Struggle Against Ecclesiastical Corruption
Lastly, St. Peter Damian with the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Velletri from 1060–1072.