From the Pastor: The Book of Gomorrah
I have so many books on my “to be read” list that I try very hard to avoid adding more to the stack. Most of the “new” books I get and read are directly related to my work. For instance, during Lent I had to (I didn’t “want” to, but I “had” to since I didn’t know what I was doing!) get a few books on the celebration of Holy Week in the Traditional Rite. Because they were necessary for me, they not only got purchased but they also got read long before all of the other books making a mess of my room/office. As much as I keep telling myself not to purchase any other “unnecessary” books, I recently found one so compelling that I had to get it. It was written by St. Peter Damian (1007-1072) to Pope St. Leo IX, in which he described a problem among the clergy which needed the Pope’s immediate, stern and loving attention. Perhaps you can get an idea of the problem just by reading the title and subtitle of the new translation of this work by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: The Book of Gomorrah and St. Peter Damian’s Struggle Against Ecclesiastical Corruption.
It is a short book (shorter than the current Pope’s recent Exhortation, anyway) and, though it was not of “immediate, practical” value, I ordered it and dove right in almost as soon as Lent was over. What a read! I wish, Oh, how I wish, that this book had been a mandatory part of my (and every young man’s) required reading before I was ever considered for acceptance into the seminary. From the time it was written to this very day, it should have been at least a part of the curriculum during the formation of each priest. It would have saved countless souls. It would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. It would have saved emotional and physical and spiritual pain beyond measure.
This book, had it been read, believed, taught and followed would have prevented, well, I might as well say it, it would have prevented a huge number of our recent and current priests and bishops from ever having entered the seminary, let alone being ordained. Beyond that, if they had somehow slipped through the cracks and gotten ordained anyway, being caught engaging in depraved carnal “pleasures” they would have been treated much differently (with actual--not supposedly “merciful” but feigned--love and compassion) by having their faculties removed and spending years, decades or even their entire lives undergoing severe penance. There is no doubt that those who fell under the spell of these perverse sins actively pursued their carnal pleasures to the point that they also actively recruited young men into the clerical state solely--or at least primarily--because of their desire to have other similarly sinister men engage in these sins as well. Misery loves company. Again,there is no doubt that many a youth was introduced to this diabolical activity by the very priests and bishops to whom they looked to teach them how to be good, holy men, either as husbands and fathers or as priests. They were given stones by their Fathers when they asked for bread, and serpents when they asked for fish (Mt. 7:9-10). And after being brainwashed into thinking such abominable acts were pleasing to both God and man, they, in turn, practiced their craft on other trusting, unsuspecting, naive boys and young men. Court cases and investigations, not my “rigid” opinion, bear this out.
What kind of book is this? Here are some chapter titles within. “On the different types of sodomites.” “That excessive mercy leads superiors to not prohibit the fallen from holy orders.” “Whether it is legitimate for such people to act as priests if the Church has need of it.” “That those who seek ordination after having been involved in this vice are of a reprobate sense.” “On rectors of the Church who are soiled with their spiritual children.” “The proper condemnation of sodomitic indecency.” “That the service of an unworthy priest is the ruin of the people.” Okay, that list contains only about half of the chapter headings but it gives the picture without being too graphic, if you know what I mean.
St. Peter Damian is a Doctor of the Church. That gives his teachings a special weight. One thousand years ago he saw and did his best to correct the same immoralities among the clergy which afflict us today. Then, as now, virtually nobody in power wanted to do anything about it, for many were soiled (and doing the soling) by this filth themselves. Why do I write about it? To give you courage that we survived this before and we will do so again. Pray for a Saintly Pope who will once again listen to St. Peter Damian’s exhortation and follow through. Give the book as a gift to a seminarian or priest who may need to be strengthened against such evil and evildoers. And pray some more.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka