ESOLEN: The prelates of sodom – #sodoclericalism

A The Catholic Thing the scholar and translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy uses this most important of works to unpack a central issue in The Present Crisis.

There are those today, such as highly tattooed gang of Team Francis, who work assiduously to distract people’s attention away from the true cause of The Present Crisis of clerical, indeed prelatial sexual victimization of mostly post-pubescent males, including even something that looks very much like sex trafficking and covering up these sins and crimes or looking the other way.   They would have us believe that “clericalism” is the root of The Present Crisis.   No.  Sure there is a clericalist dimension since this is a problem among clerics.   The real evil root is a homosexual subculture among clerics.  Hence, we should call it #sodoclericalism – let’s call it what it is.

In his piece, Esolen describes something of Dante’s layout of Hell.  Remember that La Divina Commedia is not primarily intended to describe Hell, Pugatory or Heaven.  This works is a vehicle for Dante’s presentation of a new political theory and a new poetic theory, both concerning the relationship of the sacred and the profane.   That said, Esolen gives a brief description of how certain kinds of sinners wind up where they do – it is rigorously logical, by the way.

Then he gets to sodomy.

Let’s turn now to Esolen, with my emphases:


The violent are divided into three groups, according to the victim of the violence: worst are the violent against God Himself.  These suffer the punishment of a rain of fire-flakes that spark the burning sands beneath them.  They must take that fire lying down (blasphemers), sitting at the brink of the gulf of the fraudulent (the usurers), or racing about continually (the sodomites).


If Nature is the daughter of God, Dante reasons, then those who violate Nature in their sexual deeds, meant for the bringing of new life into the world, show their contempt of the Creator Himself.  If human industry is the daughter of Nature, then those who do nothing for their wealth but rub coins together to make them breed are blasphemers too, as are the sodomites.

It is not pleasant to ask where in this scheme the wicked prelates of our time belong.  Perhaps the question is too narrow.  In our age of easy travel, after all, people can get around.  Bishop Black might touch down in Sodom, in scorn of God, but only after he has supinely accepted the heresies that make Sodom conceivable to him; and then he takes the Eucharist in hands that smell of that foul city in an act of blasphemy.

But he cannot rest there.  His fundamental “creative” sin must remain always in act; there is in fact no end to it, nor can there be.  So he weaves about himself a web of sinners of like mind, and this is preeminently the sin of simony, which in this instance is to replace the bride of Christ with a male in drag, and set him about to pander and procure.

It would be cleaner just to sell the mitre and crozier for good old ill-gotten money.  But all of this is to commit treason against Christ, who gave His life for the Church, to have her as his bride, pure and without spot.

It appears that if we pull at one string of the rats’ nest we will catch the rest too.  I am not saying that all of the bad bishops have been formal heretics, or that they have all been sodomites or men who condoned that sin in others, or that they have all made a habit of putting priests and other bishops in their hip pockets, or that they have all built their lives upon betraying Christ and His Church at every pass.

There is no need to make that claim.  Nor do I say that we should always expect to find, among the prelates of Sodom, plenty of the other two ways that Dante identifies of being violent against God – in our time, the blasphemy of gross liturgical abuses, and the laundering of millions of dollars pressed from the hearts of the faithful.

Not always, not always. ?  I do not make any universal claim.  One sinner is not the same as another.  The great general claim will do.

Nor do I say that the people in the pews have been paragons of orthodoxy, charity, truth, and fidelity.  We have not.  But now we know why some of our superiors have treated the most faithful of the laity with irritated indifference at best, and thinly veiled hatred at worst.

It is hard to take divorce seriously, I suppose, or cohabitation, or the smutty stuff peddled to children in many a Catholic school, when you have your hands down a seminarian’s pants, or when you seat your homosexual lover in the front pew, or when you cannot bring yourself to call God “He,” because the pronoun is too personal for comfort.

Perhaps the scandal will have this immediate effect:  The next time you find a prelate who treats the Mass with blithe innovation, or who pushes a rainbow of sexual wickedness in the schools, or who seems allergic to the masculine character of Christ Himself, or who hedges himself with yes-priests and yes-nuns who promote these things, you will wonder perhaps where he is and what he does on a Friday evening.

That may not be fair.  But what in this scandal has been fair?

Blistering to be sure.

Note what in the past he wrote about James Martin, LGBTSJ. HERE  What he wrote about killing vocations by feminizing everything.  HERE

Esolen translated Dante’s Divine Comedy into English and did a great job of it.

If you have never read the Divine Comedy, you should.  You could start with Esolen (Part 1, Inferno US HERE – UK HERE) or perhaps with Dorothy Sayer’s fine version (Part 1, Inferno, US HERE – UK HERE).  There are many renderings to choose from.  I would very much like to teach on Dante someday.  Maybe it’ll happen.

When you make the excellent choice to read the Divine Comedy, here are a couple tips.  First and foremost, make the decision that you will read the whole thing.  Don’t read just the Inferno.  The really great stuff comes in Purgatorio and Paradiso.  Also, read through a canto to get the line of thought and story and then go back over it looking at the notes in your edition.

Dante was, perhaps, the last guy who knew everything (with the possible exception of Erasmus).  Each Canto is dense with references.  You will need notes to help with the history, philosophy, cosmology, poetic theory, politics, theology, etc.  Really.  You will need help.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Sin That Cries To Heaven and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. teomatteo says:

    I don’t remember much about the Comedia (gosh i think it was in its first printing when this old guy read it) but i do remember that the ‘foyer’ to hell is filled with those of us who just didnt do much in this world. They weren’t like… really bad but they never had any zeal for Christ… that impressed me… if i remember it right… maybe i need to read it again… and get help.

  2. Man-o-words says:

    Ah, at the risk of the sin bbn of pride, I feel so smart right now. I remember your original post about the translation of Dantes inferno and ordered it. More surprisingly for a man of my limited appreciation for literature, I actually read them all (I think. Somehow I cant be sure I read Paradise). Jeez, what a catechism THAT was. Should be required reading for all Cathokics, even gross neandrathals like me. Just took me awhile to stop making the stupid lines rhyme and to pretend it wasn’t poetry, and then get used to only understanding every fourth line. Even with all that it was STILL a heck of an education nbn on the faith.

  3. AndyMo says:

    “you will wonder perhaps where he is and what he does on a Friday evening.”

    Back before he went off the deep end, Mark Shea used to use a misattributed-but-definitely-in-the-spirit-of Chesterton quote:

    “When the modern critical intellectual says he can no longer accept the doctrine of the Trinity and the Real Presence in the Eucharist, it usually means, ‘I’m sleeping with my neighbor’s wife.'”

    There’s a lot of truth there. People trying to change the Church’s moral teaching are usually doing so because they’re already violating them.

  4. Kent Wendler says:

    At your past suggestion I did order Prof. Esolen’s translations and have read them – except for the parallel medieval Italian text, of course. (I could still marvel at the obvious rhyming there, though.) In doing the reading I used two bookmarks (the paper kind) – one to mark the canto I was reading and the other to mark the corresponding place in the explanatory endnotes. I did find it necessary to carefully reference both the endnotes and the page footnotes as I proceeded through.

    Another thing I found helpful (being the visual sort of person I am), especially in The Inferno and less so in Purgatory was to reference the Net for suitable diagrams for those two regions as Dante described them

  5. MrsMacD says:

    “If Nature is the daughter of God, Dante reasons, then those who violate Nature in their sexual deeds, meant for the bringing of new life into the world, show their contempt of the Creator Himself.” I wonder if this is the basis for the hyper obsession with saving nature. Some people feel in their hearts that they are violating nature and it comes out in a weird way.

  6. Susanna says:

    I would like to read all of the Divine Comedy, but need a Kindle version as i need to increase the size of the fonts. Also have a very limited budget. I found the following version on Amazon for ninety nine cents.
    The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso (three Classic Unabridged Translations in one eBook: Cary’s + Longfellow’s + Norton’s Translation + Original Illustrations by Gustave Doré) Kindle Edition

    Fr. Z, do you know if this kindle edition with different translators would be a reasonable choice? Or do any of the readers here know about this edition? Thank you.

    [I think that a real book is the better choice in this case.]

  7. maternalView says:

    ““When the modern critical intellectual says he can no longer accept the doctrine of the Trinity and the Real Presence in the Eucharist, it usually means, ‘I’m sleeping with my neighbor’s wife.’”

    There’s a lot of truth there. People trying to change the Church’s moral teaching are usually doing so because they’re already violating them.”

    I have encountered this very thing throughout the years. It usually goes like this. They inform me that they used to be Catholic but at some point decided they didn’t need to go to church–they were spiritual, they didn’t think the Pope should tell people what to do, etc etc. Then some days or weeks go by and in another conversation it is revealed to me that they lived with their spouse before marriage or they were divorced and remarried. In every case it involved sexual immorality. No one ever said I left the church because I didn’t want to abide by its teachings on sexual matters. They always told me it was something else first. They never realized with their later admission (usually casual and done with no embarrassment) that they revealed the real reason they left the faith.

    I’ve been reading Amchurch Comes Out by Paul Likoudis. It’s clear in that book that the scandal-causing priests and bishops were almost always hostile to traditional Catholic teachings and practices. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I saw this hostility. Our family thought these priests were just on the wrong track. We didn’t quite get why they were so fervent in subverting the Church’s teachings in sexual matters. They seemed to have a vested interest in that subversion but why? Now we know why.

Comments are closed.