Liber Gomorrhianus

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The Liber Gomorrhianus (Book of Gomorrah) is a book published by Saint Peter Damian around 1051 AD.[1] It is treatise on the vices of the clergy, and the need for reform.

Against simony and clerical concubinage[edit]

Damian was a determined foe of simony, which some medieval ecclesiastical writers denounced as the most abominable of crimes.[2] He strongly condemned the purchase of office by clergymen, but, however, he defended the validity of the sacraments they administered. In June, 1055, during the pontificate of Victor II, Damian attended a synod held at Florence, where simony and clerical incontinence were once more condemned.

Against various sexual practices[edit]

In the second century, Tertullian, wrote: “All other frenzies of lusts which exceed the laws of nature and are impious toward both bodies and the sexes we banish… from all shelter of the Church,...”[3] Early-medieval penitentials, contained a wide array of different penances for such trespasses. Although various forms of same-sex behaviour were discussed in contemporary handbooks of penance, such as those by Burchard of Worms and Regino of Prüm, according to Paul Halsall, this is the only theological tract which exclusively addresses this theme.[1]

In this, Petrus Damiani made an attack on homosexual practices, mutual masturbation, copulation between the thighs, anal copulation and solitary masturbation,[1] as subversive disruptions against the moral order occasioned by the madness associated with an excess of lust. He was especially indignant about priests having sexual relationships with adolescent boys. He singles out superiors who, due to excessive and misplaced piety, have been lax in their duty to uphold church discipline. He opposes the ordination of those who are given to homosexuality and wants those already ordained dismissed from Holy Orders. Those who misuse the sacraments to defile boys are treated with particular contempt. Significant attention is given to the hurts of the victims.[citation needed]

Controversy[edit]

It caused a great stir and aroused not a little enmity against its author. Even the pope, Pope Leo IX, who had at first praised the work, was persuaded that it was exaggerated. He praised Damian's motivation in advocating chastity and condemning vice, and told him that Damian's own exemplary life did more to teach appropriate conduct than any words. He softened the suggestions for decisive action against offending clerics made by the author and excluded from the ranks of clergy only those who had offended repeatedly and over a long period of time.[4] The Pope's reaction drew from Damian a vigorous letter of protest.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Paul Halsall: Peter Damian: Liber Gomorrhianus Medieval Sourcebook. April 2006.
  2. ^ Weber, Nicholas. "Simony." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 31 Jan. 2015
  3. ^ Tertullian, De pudicitia, IV
  4. ^ Thomas P. Doyle: "Roman Catholic Clericalism, Religious Duress, and Clergy Sexual Abuse," in Pastoral Psychology, Vol. 51, No 3, January 2003.

Sources[edit]

  • Pierre J. Payer (ed.): Book of Gomorrah: An eleventh century treatise against clerical homosexual practise, Waterloo, Ont., 1982. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. (Includes the response of the Pope.)
  • Owen J. Blum, O.F.M.: Peter Damian, Letters 31-60, part of the Fathers of the Church - Medieval Continuation series issued by the Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C., 1990.