30 April (NO) – St Pius V – A saint against clerical depravity

Allow me today, the Novus Ordo Feast of St Pius V, to repost something edifying and useful.   NB: Pius V’s feast is observed in the traditional Roman calendar on 5 May.


At The Josias, which a friend and patron of this blog told my about recently there is this post.   It is perhaps a coincidence that today is the anniversary of the promulgation of this document, even as the Roman titular church of Card. Cocopalmerio caved in.  You might remember that he did kabuki fan dances with ostrich plumes to justify communion for adulterers.

Confronted with clerical depravity in Rome, Pius V did not say, “Who am I to judge?”

On August 30, 1568, Pope St. Pius V issued the bull Horrendum Illud scelus. We present it now on its four hundred and fiftieth anniversary.

–The Editors

Horrendum illud scelus, quo pollutae foedataeque Civitates a tremendo Dei iudicio conflagrarunt, acerbissimum Nobis dolorem inurit, graviterque animum nostrum commovet, ut ad illud, quantum potest, comprimendum, studia nostra conferamus.   That horrible crime, by which corrupt and obscene cities were destroyed by fire through divine condemnation, [hence, “sodomy”] causes us most bitter sorrow and shocks our mind, impelling us to repress such a crime with the greatest possible zeal.
§ 1. Sane Lateranensi Concilio dignoscitur constitutum, ut quicumque Clerici, illa incontinentia, quae contra naturam est, propter quam ira Dei venit in filios diffidentiae, deprehensi fuerint laborare, a Clero deiiciantur,
vel ad agendam in Monasteriis poenitentiam detrudantur.
  § 1. Quite opportunely the Fifth Lateran Council [1512-1517] issued this decree: “Let any member of the clergy caught in that vice against nature, given that the wrath of God falls over the sons of perfidy, be removed from the clerical order or forced to do penance in a monastery” (chap. 4, X, V, 31).
§ 2. Verum ne tanti flagitii contagium, impunitatis spe, quae maxima peccandi illecebra est, fidentius invalescat, Clericos huius nefarii criminis reos, gravius ulciscendos deliberavimus, ut qui animae interitum non hor­rescunt, hos certe deterreat civilium legum vindex gladius saecularis.   § 2. So that the contagion of such a grave offense may not advance with greater audacity by taking advantage of impunity, which is the greatest incitement to sin, and so as to more severely punish the clerics who are guilty of this nefarious crime and who are not frightened by the death of their souls, we determine that they should be handed over to the severity of the secular authority, which enforces civil law.
§ 3. ltaque quod Nos iam in ipso Pontificatus nostri principio hac de re decrevimus, plenius nunc, fortiusque persequi intendentes, omnes,  et quoscumque Presbyteros, et alios Clericos saeculares, et regulares, cuius­cumque gradus, et dignitatis, tam dirum nefas exercentes, omni privilegio clericali, omnique officio, dignitate, et beneficio Ecclesiastico praesentis cano­nis auctoritate privamus. Ita quod per ludicem Ecclesiasticum degradati, potestati statim saeculari tradantur, qui de eis illud idem capiat supplicium, quod in laicos hoc in exitio devolutos, legitimis reperitur sanctionibus con stitutum.   § 3. Therefore, wishing to pursue with greater rigor than we have exerted since the beginning of our pontificate, we establish that any priest or member of the clergy, either secular or regular, who commits such an execrable crime, by force of the present law be deprived of every clerical privilege, of every post, dignity and ecclesiastical benefit, and having been degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, let him be immediately delivered to the secular authority to be put to death, as mandated by law as the fitting punishment for laymen who have sunk into this abyss.    [Use your imagination and review the Rite of Degradation of a Priest or Bishop. After which the walking tragedy is handed over.]
Nulli ergo, etc.   Nothing to the contrary withstanding, etc.
[Bull. Rom., tom. 4, III, p. 33]    

S. Pius V, const. Horrendum, 30 aug. 1568.

A brief note on the continuing relevance of Horrendum illud:

It is occasionally suggested by critics of integralism that the existence of bad or corrupt clergy proves that integralism, with its high concept of the authority of the church, is unworkable. This argument taken to its logical conclusion would of course rule out any authority in the here-below. For integralists, however, the existence of lamentable and execrable corruption in the Church, far from calling her authority into question, rather demonstrates the need for it.

Pope St. Pius V responded to the vicious immorality then widespread among the clergy repeatedly and with force, most prominently, perhaps, here in this bull. His response offers us even today an exemplar of church-state relations and of the medicinal power of the law.

What do you supposed the civil penalties were like?

I note that the Bull says “removed” OR “forced to do penance.

Right now I am in the UP of MI.  I was told that a prison has closed up here.   Perhaps the Church could take it over and put all the guys there who need time to think.   They would be required to say Masses of reparation and, as a canonist suggested, to earn their keep they would transcribed nullity process interviews.  I can think of a few other things.



I wonder what he’d say about certain roving Jesuits today.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Linking Back, Priests and Priesthood, Saints: Stories & Symbols, Sin That Cries To Heaven and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Clinton R. says:

    May Pope St. Pius V pray for us and especially for his successor. It is worth noting on the Novus Ordo calendar, his is an Optional Memorial. I imagine the NO folks don’t want to focus on Pius V and the Mass of all time.

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    Thank you for highlighting this Fr. Z. This particular diabolical behavior has taken our culture by storm. It has gone mainstream, and the pro-sodomy men in our church helped that to be accomplished by not only not informing Catholics properly of the disordered nature of this act and actual Catholic teaching, but by encouraging it, which is a horrible scandal. When Catholics are worn down by the culture and tempted to make peace with it they should remember children and young people, who are being drawn into evil by the glorification of men like Freddie Mercury of Queen, who died of AIDS following a life of indulgence in such behaviors. He has been beatified by the culture with a recent film, which was very popular with young people. I had the unfortunate experience at Easter of being told by a young relative whom I helped make his first holy communion not long ago, that “Freddie Mercury is a god”. Our children are being totally corrupted by this culture and these men, who tout this behavior as a benign one and even a positive good.

  3. JustaSinner says:

    Feathers and kabuki fancing? Can I see that on YT? I’d pay a dollar to see that!

  4. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    “Horrendum Illud scelus” doesnt mean “The horrors of clericalism” right??? :-P

  5. tho says:

    Our Bishops should order this Papal Bull to be read at Mass in every parish, and to be printed in every parish bulletin. Our Holy Father should conquer his fear of the word rigor and apply it to promulgating this Papal Bull.
    If I sound harsh, there is charity in making it known, that the church has had enough of this kind of sinfulness.

  6. arcillajohn says:

    I went to our Cathedral mass for his feast day. One of the prayers of the faithful was about how we should continue ‘the important work of reform of the liturgy as Pope st Pius V did’.

  7. Jerome Charles says:

    He is speaking about the sin of homosexual acts, correct? Not being a homosexual, which, if lived with chastity, is not a sin. What about heterosexual priests who are sexually active? What kind of accountability are they held to? Surely they existed in Pius V’s time, as well. Should they also be “put to death?” — in charity and mercy?

  8. LeeGilbert says:

    Were Pius V alive in our time, would he not urge that anyone who “transgenders” a child should pay for it with his life? What a mercy that would be for so many children.

    As for us, cannot we raise the decibel level on this issue? Talk about a crime that calls out to heaven for justice.

  9. veritas vincit says:

    Jerome Charles: Yes, St Pius V was speaking about the act of sodomy. The word “homosexual” and the idea that some persons could “be” homosexual, was a 19th century invention, and highly misleading, if not flat wrong.

    I have no idea how priests who violated chastity with women were punished in St Pius V’s time. But the Church and secular society, until very recently, viewed same-sex acts as, not just as sins against chastity, but as sins against nature as well. Hence, such acts could be punished with the greater severity of the death penalty.

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    “It is occasionally suggested by critics of integralism that the existence of bad or corrupt clergy proves that integralism, with its high concept of the authority of the church, is unworkable. This argument taken to its logical conclusion would of course rule out any authority in the here-below. For integralists, however, the existence of lamentable and execrable corruption in the Church, far from calling her authority into question, rather demonstrates the need for it.”

    That is a fine example of a lack of situational awareness.

  11. Gregg the Obscure says:

    St. Pius V should be named a Doctor of the Church.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    Here is an interesting article by Joseph Pearce about Pius V and the Battle of Lepanto, with a touch of GK Chesterton’s poem.


  13. Sonshine135 says:

    But Father! Father! Where is your mercy? Vatican II did away with all of this harshness and legality. You hate Vatican II!

    I love St. Pius V and with having both his and Catherine’s feast days right next to each other, I am in Dominican Heaven. Oh to have a deeply Thomistic Dominican Pope again!

  14. OntologicallySpeaking says:

    veritas vincit,
    From what I read in your response, I surmise that you would condone the death penalty for someone who has same sex attraction and acts on it yet you don’t apply it to heterosexual people who are not continent in their sexual proclivities. Interesting. From someone who struggles daily with same sex attraction and is not always successful, I find your response distasteful and utterly Unchristian. If it’s not enough to carry this cross (same sex attraction), we have the likes of you who constantly relegate us to status of second class members of the Church. Thanks!

  15. The Egyptian says:

    why can we not have such clarity today, all we get is mush, V2 this, spirit of V2 that, the faithful crave concrete solid opinions to hold on to and believe instead of vapor. Who am I to judge, INDEED

  16. Jerome Charles says:

    veritas vincit: “I have no idea how priests who violated chastity with women were punished in St Pius V’s time.”

    How are they held accountable today?

  17. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The violation of chastity via sodomy with women was the same.

    As for the Canon law about normal fornication and adultery by priests, you can look up the old code.

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    “Integralism” is a fringe political belief maintained, often stridently, by a small group of Catholics. Integralist ideology maintains that the state should be subordinate to the Church.

    Ostensibly, this subordination is for the common good of society and souls. In practice, Integralism is divided into sub-groups, ranging from divine-right monarchists to an acrimonious sub-group promoting a hybrid of Vanguardism and Catholic practice.

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    A brief, closer look at two Integralist sub-groups: monarchists and Vanguardists. These two sub-groups are often at daggers drawn. Their internecine strife roughly resembles that between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in the early 1900s, and between the SA and SS in the early 1930s. The divisive issue was which variant of utopianism would reign supreme.

    Perhaps, these Integralists could expand their reading, and realize they are doing a poor job of re-inventing the wheel. Perhaps they could step away frequently from the social media and obscure journal Thunderdome, meet people with differing views, and take in some fresh air and exercise. Blessed be the day when Vanguardists and monarchists realize there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in Integralist philosophy.

Comments are closed.