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Friday, May 5, 2023

Pope Saint Pius V condemned the vice of Homosexuality both among the clergy and the laity


Pope condemns ‘horrendous crime’ of sodomy, hands guilty clerics to secular authorities

The year was 1568, but the situation in the Catholic Church was uncomfortably similar to our own.

LifeSiteNews – The year was 1568, but the situation in the Catholic Church was uncomfortably similar to our own. After many decades of corruption and moral decadence, the Church faced the scandal of a clergy who were widely reputed to be involved in the “horrendous crime” of sodomy. When the saintly Pope Pius V was elected in in 1566, he decided to act.  

Since the middle of the 15th century, the papacy had been mired in almost continuous scandal as wealthy and powerful Italian families vied for control of the Holy See and the lucrative benefices it controlled. The mentality and behavior of the pontiffs was ostentatiously worldly, and they became infamous throughout Europe for their nepotistic exploitation of ecclesiastical and governmental offices. Their spending on expensive art and frivolous entertainments brought the papacy close to bankruptcy. Some were even credibly accused of bribing the cardinals to secure their election, and of selling cardinal appointments.

This atmosphere of moral mediocrity and laxity was accompanied by an increasing problem with sexual immorality among the clergy, and particularly the practice of sodomy.

The problem even seemed to have reached the papacy during the wretched pontificate of Julius III, who in 1550 appointed a teenage boy of uncertain parentage as his “cardinal nephew,” giving him powers roughly equivalent to today’s Cardinal Secretary of State, one of the highest positions in the Vatican.

The young Cardinal Innocenzo Ciocchi Del Monte, who had no formal education and was completely unfit for his post, was strongly rumored to share the pope’s bed, and his strange appointment and relationship with the pontiff were openly derided in Rome. Following the death of his papal patron in 1555, Innocenzo was accused of both rape and murder, and suffered multiple banishments to monasteries. He died in isolation and obscurity, having never achieved social acceptance from the other cardinals.

Pope Pius V immediately sought to address the crisis upon his accession to the papal throne. In 1566, the year of his election, he issued a reform bull, Cum primum, which sought to suppress clerical vice, including sodomy. In paragraph 11, the bull stated, “If anyone perpetrates the nefarious crime against nature, because of which the wrath of God came up on the children of unbelief, they are to be turned over to the secular court, and if they are a cleric, they are to be stripped of all [clerical] order and to be subjected to a similar penalty.” However, this provision appears not to have had the effect desired by the pontiff.

Two years later, Pope Pius V issued a new decree directed solely against the practice of sodomy among the clergy. It was titled Horrendum illud scelus – “That horrendous crime,” for which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God.

“That horrendous crime, for which polluted and filthy cities were burned by the frightful judgment of God, pains Us most bitterly, and gravely stirs our soul, so that, insofar as it is possible, we might strive to crush it,” wrote Pius.

Pius noted that the Third Lateran Council (1179) had decreed that those clerics guilty of sodomy, the crime for which “the wrath of God came upon the children of unbelief,” were to be confined in monasteries or be removed from the clerical order altogether. However, the pope expressed his concern that such a penalty was too mild, particularly for those who “do not fear the death of the soul.”

He therefore decreed that “any and all priests and other secular and regular Clergy of whatever grade and dignity who practice such a dire sin we deprive of every clerical privilege, and of every Ecclesiastical office, dignity, and benefit, by the authority of the present canon,” and added that  they should then be “handed over to the secular power, which may exact from them that same punishment that is received by laity who have fallen into this ruin, which is found to be constituted in legitimate ordinances.”

At that time, the “legitimate ordinances” of many jurisdictions in Europe decreed death, castration, or forfeiture of one’s property for the crime of sodomy.

(We read in Romans 1:32 that God punishes with eternal death both those who commit the sin of homosexuality, as well as those who condone it and incite others to commit this grave mortal sin. We read in Scripture in the Book of Jude 1:7 that God punished by destroying these five cities with fire, leaving them as a warning to future generations of eternal Punishment, which will also be received by all those who persist in practicing the sin of homosexuality or any sexual perversion.)

Pius V’s decree was the latest of a long line of canons and decrees issued by the Catholic Church to penalize sexual immorality, both among the clergy and the laity. Since the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church had provided various penalties for those clerics and religious who committed homosexual acts and other crimes of sexual perversion. Early canon law required those guilty of such acts to do long penances while under an interdict from receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion. Some canons specified that penance be performed in a monastery, while others mentioned degradation from the clerical state.

In 1049, in response to a letter from St. Peter Damian alerting him to an epidemic of sodomy among priests and monks, Pope St. Leo IX responded with a letter condemning the behavior and determining that the worst perpetrators must be removed from the clerical state, while others must do penances in accordance with the traditional canons.

In the thirteenth century an ecumenical council took up the issue. The Third Lateran Council (1179) decreed: “Let all who are found guilty of that unnatural vice for which the wrath of God came down upon the sons of disobedience and destroyed the five cities with fire, if they are clerics be expelled from the clergy or confined in monasteries to do penance; if they are laymen they are to incur excommunication and be completely separated from the society of the faithful.”


Pope Saint Pius V decreed in perpetuity his apostolic constitution against clergy, both regular and secular, guilty of the heinous crime of sodomy, making it clear that it can never be revoked.

Saint Pius V we ask you for the conversion of all young people who have fallen into the abominable vice of homosexuality, so that they repent, change their lives and be saved.

Saint Pius V we beg you to protect our homes and keep us free from all mortal sin.

                                                C o a Pius V.svg

Utinam dirigantur viae meae ad custodiendas iustificationes tuas

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