30 April (N.O.) – St Pius V – A Pope who dealt with clerical depravity

Today in the Novus Ordo calendar is the Feast of St. Pius V, a great Pope, at the time of the important Battle of Lepanto.

Some years ago I made a podcast about Pius V and his bull Quo primum.  HERE

Here’s another great thing about Pius V, whose body is in St Mary Major’s Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Confronted with clerical depravity in Rome, Pius V did not say, “Who am I to judge?” On 30 August 1568 Pius V issued the bull Horrendum illud scelus.

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]    

NB: The Bull says “removed” OR “forced to do penance”.

And one wonders what the “civil” penalties were.

Having just read Fr. Longenecker’s latest comment about the new “woke” heresy of antinomianism, Pius’ strong action against this rot in the clergy should be taken to heart by bishops today.   

Pope Saint Pius gives us an example of the medicinal power of law.

St. Pius V, pray for us. Pray for our bishops. Pray for religious superiors.



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

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Clare says:

    With that attitude, I can see why he wasn’t popular with everyone. This is the not the Church of Nice! In fact there’s a great story, which you’ve just reminded me of. He loved to kiss the feet of a crucifix. When one of his enemies poisoned them, he bent down to do so, but the crucifix’s feet bent out of the way!

  2. JustaSinner says:

    So the Church WAAAAY back then had a sodomy problem? Was there a time of innocence?

  3. monstrance says:

    There is nothing new under the sun.

    Once heard a priest claim that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were punished for their lack of hospitality.

  4. JonPatrick says:

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

    Made me think of a passage in Patrick O’Brian’s novel the “Reverse of the Medal” that I came across the other day wherein the discussion of the Jesuit order and another great Pope who dealt with them.

    In this conversation the nominally Anglican Capt. Jack Aubrey is asking his Catholic surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin about an order which they had encountered.

    Aubrey: “By the way Stephen, those Fathers were not Jesuits, I suppose? I did not like to ask straight out”.
    “Of course not Jack. They were suppressed long ago. Clement XIV put them down in the seventies, and a very good day’s work he did. Sure. they have been trying to creep back on one legalistic pretext or another and I dare say they will soon make a sad nuisance of themselves again, turning out atheists from their schools by the score; but these gentlemen had nothing to do with them, near or far.”

    I guess Dr. Maturin was prescient about what would transpire 200 years later.

  5. L. says:

    In my diocese, unless a Priest has been “outed” very publicly for engaging in that horrible crime, even if he’s a well-known practitioner, he’ll retire with honors.

  6. catholictrad says:

    Saint Peter Damien, pray for us!

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