St. Peter Damian Slays the German Synodal Way
St. Peter Damian Slays the German Synodal Way
St. Peter Damian Takes Up The Gauntlet Thrown Down by the German Bishops on the Vice of Sodomy
A Defense of Catholic Sexual Morality and a Condemnation of the German Synodal Way
By Randy Engel
In February of 2019, thirteen years after my book The Rite of Sodomy – Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church was published, this writer founded the League of St. Peter Damian, an international Catholic ministry, to honor this great 11th century Cardinal and Doctor of the Church best known for his lengthy exposition on the unnatural vice of sodomy, the Book of Gomorrah, written in 1049.
Saint Peter Damian of Ravenna, “Hammer of the Sodomites,” addressed his now famous Letter 31 to another future saint, Pope Leo IX, a German aristocrat, who had only been in office a few months and who was to become one of the most illustrious popes of the Middle Ages.
According to Owen J. Blum, O.F.M., Saint Peter Damian’s chief translator and biographer in modern times, the hermit-monk’s spiritual life was first and foremost a life of prayer, penance, and reparation. Peter Damian also promoted and practiced a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
The two hallmarks of the holy monk’s teachings on the spiritual life were his great hatred of sin and his fundamental and overriding interest in the spiritual advancement of the Catholic priesthood. Peter Damian thought of the priesthood as an order of the greatest dignity. Indeed, it was the exalted nobility of this office that caused him to speak in such dire terms to priests who forgot their position and tarnished their souls with incontinence.
Peter Damian showed remarkable insight into the importance of model episcopal leadership, stating that the example of a virtuous life filters down from the princes of the Church to all levels of the clergy and laity. The holy monk was equally insistent on the deposition of unworthy incumbents to the priesthood, the duty of which fell to the local bishop.
Much of the success of his program of clerical moral reform was due to the fact that Peter Damian was able to closely link his own efforts with that of the Papacy. Indeed, his wise counsel and diplomatic skills were employed by a long succession of popes.
Peter Damian died in the odor of sanctity on February 22, 1072, in his sixty-sixth year at Faenza, while returning to Rome from a papal mission to Ravenna. Although he was never formally canonized, he was revered as a saint immediately after his death and his cultus has existed at Faenza, at Fonte-Avellana, at Monte Cassino, and at Cluny to the present day.
Over the centuries, his body has been moved six times, each time to a more splendid setting. In 1898, Peter Damian found his final resting place in a beautiful side chapel dedicated to the saint in the Cathedral of Faenza, seat of the Bishop of Faenza-Modiglina.
A Special “Interview” With St. Peter Damian
Fortunately for todays’ Catholics, although more than a thousand years have passed since Peter Damian completed the Book of Gomorrah (Letter 31), it continues to be as pertinent and timeless as the year it was written.
Part II of this series on sodomy and the German Synodal Way draws upon the knowledge and wisdom of this street-smart and fearless Benedictine monk as made manifest in his response to the arguments once employed against him by his own clerical adversaries, the same being put forth by a majority of German cardinals and bishops intent on promoting sodomy under the ruse of “Synodality.”
It is not without a great sense of irony that, as this series goes to press, Fr. Joachim Wernersbach, a Benedictine priest at the Abbey of Tholey in Germany, has been publicly condemned by his superior, Abbot Mauritius Choriol, for giving a sermon critical of sodomy and the Synodal Way.
In Part II of this series, I will conduct a modified interview with Saint Peter Damian, inviting his response to my questions and comments, all of which are taken from the Book of Gomorrah. [Some of His Eminence’s responses will be in abbreviated form, with emphasis occasionally added.]
Engel: Your Eminence, welcome to the twenty-first century. Would you begin our interview by telling our readers what motivated you to write the Book of Gomorrah and to present it to the blessed Pope Leo IX?
Cardinal Peter Damian: Since we know from the mouth of Truth itself that the Apostolic See is the mother of all churches, it is proper that if any doubt should arise in matters pertaining to the welfare of souls, one should have recourse to her as to the teacher and, as one might say, to the source of heavenly wisdom, so that from this unique principle of ecclesiastical discipline a light may go forth by which the entire body of the Church is bathed in the utter brilliance that Truth imparts, once the darkness of uncertainty has been dispelled.
In our region a certain abominable and most shameful vice has developed, and unless it be prevented as soon as possible by the severest punishment, it is certain that the sword of divine fury will be unsheathed, leading in its unchecked violence to the destruction of many. One is nauseated with shame and embarrassment to speak of things so disgracefully foul, or even to mention them within earshot of Your Holiness. But if a physician is appalled by the contagion of the plague, who is likely to wield the cautery? If he grows squeamish when he is about to apply the cure, who will restore health to stricken hearts?
Engel: My Lord Cardinal, you wrote the Book of Gomorrah in 1049. Some of your critics say you were exaggerating the matter. How would you respond?
Peter Damian: The befouling cancer of sodomy is, in fact, spreading so through the clergy or rather, like a savage beast, is raging with such shameless abandon through the flock of Christ, that for many of them it would be more salutary to be burdened with service to the world than, under the pretext of religion, to be enslaved so easily under the iron rule of satanic tyranny.
It would be better for them to perish alone as laymen than, after having changed their attire but not their disposition, to drag others with them to destruction, as Truth itself testifies when it says, “But if anyone is a cause of stumbling to one of these little ones, it would be better for him to be drowned in the depths of the seas with a great millstone round his neck.” Unless immediate effort be exerted by the Apostolic See, there is little doubt that, even if one wished to curb this unbridled evil, he could not check the momentum of its progress.
Engel: Pardon me, but before we go any further, would you define the term sodomy as used in your treatise.
Peter Damian: … there appears to be four varieties of this criminal vice. There are some who pollute themselves; there are others who befoul one another by mutually handling their genitals. Others still who fornicate between the thighs; and others who do so from the rear. Of these, as we proceed through the various degrees, the two latter are to be judged more serious than the others.
The ingenious artifice of the devil contrived these states of corruption, so that the higher the unhappy soul rises in the scale of vice, the deeper it is likely to be buried in hell.
Engel: Obviously then, you are opposed to the ordination of sodomites?
Peter Damian: … it seems to me to be utterly preposterous for those who are habituated to this filth of this festering disease to dare to present themselves for orders, or to remain in them if they have been ordained. It is clearly contrary to reason and opposed to the canonical decrees of the Fathers. I state this, not to render a definitive opinion … but only to make my position clear. It is not without cause that this shameful deed is considered to be the worst of crimes, seeing that Almighty God is always read to have detested it, even when he had not yet curbed other vices, he already kept condemning this one with the precepts of the Law, under pain of the strictest penalty… In the Law it also says, “If a man lies with a man in the same way as with a woman, both have done a hateful thing; they must die, their blood shall be on their own heads.”
He, moreover, who has committed this crime for which the Old Testament prescribes the death penalty, should not be promoted to ecclesiastical orders.
It is perfectly clear that when a capital crime has degraded a man, no subsequent holy life will reform him to the point where he might receive orders and ecclesiastical status. No one may aspire to reach the heights of preferment who has surely fallen into the depths of mortal sin. Hence, it is as plain as day that anyone proven guilty of fornicating with a man between his thighs, which, without a doubt is a mortal sin, will be promoted to ecclesiastical orders in total opposition to the norms of Holy Scripture and in complete disregard of the regulations ordained by God.
Engel: How do you answer those who claim that sometimes “necessity demands” either the ordination or retention of sodomites or else there will be no one present to celebrate divine services in the Church?
Peter Damian: I am going to reply to this in a summary way: Was it not a pressing matter, and one fraught with necessity, at the time when the Apostolic See was without a shepherd? Shall we wipe out a vigorous judgment to benefit an individual, but retain it unchanged even to the deprivation of an entire people? If we do not sacrifice a principle to benefit a vast multitude, shall we violate it to promote one man’s advantage?
Engel: What did St. Paul have to say about the poor souls, both men and women, who fall into this dreadful vice?
Peter Damian: Who can turn a deaf ear, or, more to the point, who does not tremble through and through at the words Paul, like a mighty trumpet, blasts at such as these? “God abandoned them to their hearts’ desire and to the practices with which they dishonor their own bodies.”
And almost immediately following he said, “that is why God has abandoned them to degrading passions. For their women have turned from natural intercourse to unnatural practices, and their menfolk likewise have given up natural intercourse with women to be consumed with passion for each other, men doing shameless things with men and getting an appropriate reward for their perversion. And since they refused to see that it was rational to acknowledge God, God has abandoned them to their depraved ideas to do that which was reprehensible.”
Why is it that they are so eager to reach the top in ecclesiastical rank after such a grievous fall? What should we think, and what conclusion should we draw but that God has abandoned them to their depravity?
Engel: Is there a resemblance between the men of Sodom who were blinded by the angels dwelling in Lot’s house, after which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by sulfurous fire from heaven, and sodomites who seek ordination, or if already ordained to the priesthood or religious life, seek higher orders?
Peter Damian: [Yes] … sodomites attempt violently to break in on angels when impure men attempt to approach God through holy orders. Surely, they are struck with blindness, because by the just decree of God they fall into interior darkness. …Those who lose Christ because of their addiction to sin, never find the gate that leads to the heavenly dwelling of the saints.
Engel: Thus far, we have been discussing sodomites who are seeking ordination or those who have already been ordained. How would you address bishops who permit or even encourage these men to seek, or continue in, the priestly or religious life?
Peter Damian: Unquestionably, one who is not awakened by this awful thunder of apostolic invective must be thought more likely to be dead than asleep. And since the Apostle makes such an effort to intensify the severe punishment of this sentence, and that, not for the faithful among the Jews, but for the gentiles and for those ignorant of God, what, I ask, would he have said had he beheld this deadly wound reeking in the very body of the Holy Church? And especially, what grief, what fire of compassion would kindle his devout heart upon learning that this destructive plague was raging even among those in sacred orders?
Listen, you do-nothing superiors of clerics and priests. Listen, and even though you feel sure of yourselves, tremble at the thought that you are partners in the guilt of others; those, I mean, who wink at the sins of their subjects that need correction, and who by ill-considered silence allow them license to sin. Listen, I say, and be shrewd enough to understand that all of you alike are deserving of death, that is, not only those who do such things, but also they who approve those who practice them.
Engel: What about the case where a bishop or religious superior is guilty of sodomizing his own spiritual sons?
Peter Damian: What an unheard of crime! What a vile deed, deserving a flood of bitter tears. If they who approve of these evildoers deserve to die, what condign punishment can be imagined for those who commit these absolutely damnable acts with their spiritual sons? Who can expect the flock to prosper when its shepherd has sunk so deep into the bowels of the devil? What man will continue to be under his authority, knowing that he is so hostilely estranged from God? Who will make a mistress of a cleric, or a woman of a man? Who, by his lust, will consign a son whom he has spiritually begotten for God to slavery under the iron law of satanic tyranny? … What a sorry state of affairs that one’s ruin depends upon another, so that when one dies, the other must necessarily follow.
Engel: My next question concerns the sacrament of confession. Are you acquainted with the common practice of sodomite clerics who confess their sins and seek absolution from the same person with whom they have sinned?
Peter Damian: [Yes] So that we are not unaware of the devil’s clever devices, let me put before you some of the tools that he and his council have designed in his ancient laboratory of evil.
I would be remiss if I allowed the fact to be hidden, that some of those who are shot through with the poison of this crime, when their conscience begins to trouble them, confess to one another lest their guilt come to the attention of others.
Despite the fact that, as actual culprits, they are ashamed to look others in the eye, they themselves become judges and each happily grants to the other the blanket forgiveness that he aspires for himself. It follows, then, that they have become penitents involved in great crimes, and still their lips are not pale from fasting nor are their bodies wasted by self-denial. Moreover, since they do not hesitate to gorge themselves, their passions are basely aroused to their usual lust. Thus it happens that he who has yet to weep for the sins he has committed, is guilty of still more lamentable crimes.
The Law commands, however, when one has contracted leprosy, he should show himself to the priests. But when an unclean man confesses to another, defiled by evil that they have committed in common, it is a case of a leper showing himself to a leper and not to the priests. Now, since confession is by definition a revelation, what does he reveal, I ask, who tells his hearer something already known. Or, in what sense can this be called a confession, where nothing is revealed by the penitent but what the hearer already knows?
By what right or what law can one bind or loose the other when he is constrained by the bonds of evil deeds common to them both. He who is himself tied in chains, labors in vain to release another from his shackles. He who would guide a blind man on his way must himself have sight, or he will be the cause of his client’s fall, as the voice of Truth declares when it says, “If one blind man leads another, both will fall into the pit.”
By these texts from the Gospels it becomes perfectly clear that he who is oppressed by the same guilty darkness tries in vain to invite another to return to the light of repentance. While he has no fear of extending himself to outstrip the other in erring, he ends up accompanying his follower into the yawning pit of ruin.
Engel: Your Eminence, having read the Book of Gomorrah more than several hundred times over the last 35 years, I cannot but be impressed by the constancy and degree of your condemnation of the sin of sodomy, or, as I have expressed it in the title of this interview, “the devil’s congress.”
Would you please expand your thoughts on the diabolical origins of sodomy?
Peter Damian: Certainly, it is quite proper for those who, contrary to natural law and right reason, hand over their flesh to demons by such foul practices should share a common nook to pray with the diabolically possessed. Moreover, since human nature itself rebels at these evil deeds, and since the problem of not being of different sex is repugnant, it becomes perfectly clear that they would never undertake such queer and repulsive deeds unless evil spirits had completely possessed them like “vessels of wrath made for destruction.”
But once they begin their possession, they pour out the hellish infection of their malice into those they have seized, so that now they passionately desire, not what the natural emotions of the flesh might demand, but only that which the devil’s urging suggests. For when a man assaults another man to practice sodomy, this is not a natural urging of the flesh but only an incitement of diabolical origin.
The holy Fathers, therefore, were careful to ordain that sodomites should pray in the company of demoniacs, since there was never any doubt that they had become prey to the same satanic spirit. But how can a mediator, exercising the priestly office, stand between God and the people if he is excluded from associating with the congregation of the people and is never allowed to pray except with those possessed by the devil?
Engel: One of the myths circulating in Catholic circles these days is that the crime of pederasty in which monks and clerical sodomites prey on boys and young men is a recent development in the Church. Your treatise in which you quote Saint Basil [330-379] on the punishment meted out for this criminal act belies this myth. Do you mind recalling that quote for our readers?
Peter Damian: The great Basil says: “Any cleric or monk who seduces young men or boys, or is apprehended in kissing or in any shameful situation shall be publicly flogged and shall lose his clerical tonsure. Thus shorn, he shall be disgraced by spitting into his face, bound in iron chains, wasted by six months of close confinement, and for three days each week put on barley bread given him toward evening. Following this period, he shall spend a further six months living in a small, segregated courtyard in the custody of a spiritual elder, kept busy with manual labor and prayer, subjected to vigils and prayers, forced to walk at all times in the company of two spiritual brothers, never again allowed to associate with young men for purposes of improper conversation or advice.”
Engel: Am I correct in stating that you go one step further and favor the position of Pope Siricius (334-399) who held that sodomites, including those who have done penance and been reconciled with the Church, should be forbidden entry into the novitiate, and those who have been ordained be removed from office?
Peter Damian: [Shaking his head, yes.] Among my recommendations to His Holiness is that whoever is sullied with the ugly filth of homosexual vice is unworthy of service in ecclesiastical offices. They, moreover, who were once vessels of vice, as we said, are unfit to celebrate the divine mysteries.
Engel: Your Eminence, in the Book of Gomorrah you state that the vice of sodomy surpasses the enormity of all others, so much so that it is impossible to compare with any other vice. How would you describe the spiritual devastation that befalls the sodomite and those he draws into his net?
Peter Damian: Without fail it brings death to the body and destruction to the soul. It pollutes the flesh, extinguishes the light of the mind, expels the Holy Spirit from the temple of the human heart, and gives entrance to the devil, the stimulator of lust. … It opens up hell and closes the gates of paradise, changes a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem into an heir of Babylon, and turns a heavenly star into chaff for eternal fire; it cuts off a member of the Church and hurls him into the depths of the devouring flames of hell. …
It is this vice that violates temperance, slays modesty, strangles chastity, and slaughters virginity with a knife dipped in the filthiest poison. It defiles all things, sullies all things, pollutes all things; and as for itself, it allows nothing to be pure, nothing to be spotless, nothing to be clean. …
This vice excludes a man from the assembled choir of the Church and forces him to pray with those possessed and obsessed by the devil; it separates the soul from God to associate it with demons. …
Once this poisonous serpent has sunk its fangs into this unfortunate man, he is deprived of all moral sense, his memory fails, and the mind’s vision is darkened. Unmindful of God, he also forgets his own identity. This disease erodes the foundations of faith, saps the vitality of hope, dissolves the bond of love. It makes way with justice, demolishes fortitude, removes temperance, and blunts the edge of prudence.
Shall I say more? … Surely, once this savage beast has seized a man in his cruel jaws, it restrains him with its chains from performing any good deed, and then lets him rush unchecked in wild descent into the worst depravity. Then once one has fallen into the depths of utter degradation, he becomes an outcast from his heavenly home, is severed from the Body of Christ, is rebuked by the authority of the whole Church, is condemned by the judgment of all the holy fathers, is despised among men on earth, and is rejected from the company of the citizens of heaven.
He cannot be happy while he lives, nor hope for heaven when he dies, for now he must bear the derision of men and afterwards the torments of eternal damnation.
Engel: I was very moved in the section of your great work in which you state that “we should be sorry for the soul that does not lament.” Can you quote or paraphrase your feelings concerning the unrepentant sodomite?
Peter Damian: Miserable soul, I weep for you with unrelenting grief because I do not see you weeping. For this reason I lie prostrate on the ground for you because I see you wickedly standing erect after your grievous fall and even striving for the highest rank that the ecclesiastical order may offer.
If, on the other hand, you had restrained yourself with humility, I should have rejoiced with the Lord with all my heart, assured of your reform. If compunction, which is the property of heartfelt contrition, had shaken your soul to its foundation, I would have rightly cheered and danced for joy.
But as it is, you are truly to be wept over because you do not weep; and thus you need the grief of others because you do not grieve over your perilous calamity. And since you appear to be undisturbed by any personal sad feelings of regret, you need all the more the bitter tears and compassion of your brothers. Why do you merely neglect to gauge the measure of your damnation?
Engel: Your Eminence, there are many somewhat unusual but important insights that you reveal in the Book of Gomorrah. One that especially attracted my attention was your statement that the services of an unworthy priest will spell ruin for the people. This topic is rarely addressed by members of the hierarchy, or the laity, including those whose parish priest is an active homosexual. What would you say to such an unworthy priest?
Peter Damian: For God’s sake, why do you damnable sodomites pursue the heights of ecclesiastical dignity with such fiery ambition? To what purpose are you so eager to ensnare the people of God in the meshes of your own perdition? Is it not enough that you yourself are plunging headlong into the depths of sin? Must you also expose others to the danger of your fall?
Suppose someone comes to ask us to intercede for him with a powerful man who is angry with him, and suppose we do not know this powerful man. We would immediately respond: We are unable to come to intercede because we are not familiar with him. So, if someone is bashful about interceding with a man of whom he presumes little, in what frame of mind does a person who does not know whether he is a friend of God’s grace through the merits of his life occupy the place of intercession with God for the people?
Everyone, in fact, should discreetly judge himself and not dare to accept the office of the priesthood if the accursed vice still has power over him. Nor should he who is a victim of his own depravity aspire to become an intercessor for the sins of others.
Forbear, I beg you, and dread to inflame the inextinguishable fury of God against you, lest by your very prayers you more sharply provoke Him whom your wicked life so obviously offends. If you are willing to accept your own destruction, beware of being responsible for the damnation of others.
Remember this: The more circumspect you are about your present lapses into sin, the more readily will you rise in the future when God in His mercy extends His hand, inviting you to penance. But if Almighty God Himself refuses to accept the sacrifice from your hands, whom do you think you are in presuming to thrust them upon Him against his will? “The sacrifice of the unclean is abhorrent to the Lord.”
Engel: Dear Cardinal Peter Damian, please accept my apology for this interruption, but you have hit upon a vital issue that is in need of clarification as we currently have certain German and Flemish bishops and cardinals who are ordaining known sodomites and extolling the virtues of homosexual priests. It’s as if they believe that their vocation alone is enough to save them. Are these men totally oblivious to the fact that, as you have written, “no oblation, soiled by impurity, is acceptable to God”?
Peter Damian: Here are the words of Isaiah, renowned among the prophets, or rather the Holy Spirit speaking by the mouth of Isaiah: “Hear,” he says, “the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the command of our God, you people of Gomorrah. What are your endless sacrifices to me, says the Lord? I am sick of the holocausts of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts, and the blood of bulls and sheep and of goats revolts me. When you come to present yourselves before me, who asked you to trample over my courts? Bring me your worthless offerings no more, the smoke of them fills me with disgust. New Moons, sabbaths, and other festivities I cannot endure; your assemblies are wicked. New Moons. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts I hate with all my soul. They lie heavy on me, and I am tired of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will turn my eyes away from you; when you multiply your prayers, I shall not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.”
You will notice, consequently, that even though the sentence of God’s condemnation bears commonly on the evil inherent in all vice, it is principally leveled, however, at the leaders of Sodom and Gomorrah. If, perhaps, the rash opinion of those who would contest this view is not prepared to believe human evidence pointing to the moral quality of this vice, it should at least agree with the testimony of God.
Engel: Many traditional Catholics, including myself, often speak about the abuses of offering communion in the hand, but there seems to be little interest or objection to the Blessed Sacrament being held in the hands of a sodomite priest. Would you care to comment?
Peter Damian: As Peter says: “When angels sinned, God did not spare them; He sent them down to the underworld and consigned them to the pits of hell, to be held for punishment until the day of Judgment … And He reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes and destroyed them completely, as a warning to those who would act wickedly in the future.”
Engel: My Dear Saint Peter Damian, it is obvious that you consider the salvation of souls the primary task of priests and monks. Instead of encouraging sodomites in their sin, what should the German and Flemish bishops, indeed all members of the Catholic hierarchy from the pope down, be advising clerics, whatever their station, who are caught in the homosexual vice?
Peter Damian: Let these miserable souls learn to inhibit this detestable vice, manfully conquer the wantonness of enticing lust, repress the lascivious urging of the flesh, and fear in their bones the terrible judgment of divine anger. Let them always recall the threatening words of the Apostle when he says, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Remember the Philistines, indeed, had the power to shave Samson’s locks but not to uproot them, which means that the evil spirits too, even though for a time, they may deprive you of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, they will never succeed in denying you the remedy of God’s forgiveness.
Begin an unremitting struggle against the flesh, always standing armed against the dangerous disease of passion. … Think again of the peril of this exchange, that for momentary pleasure experienced at the moment of ejaculation, a punishment will follow that will not end for thousands of years. Ponder how sad it is that because one member is not satisfied to the full, the whole body together with the soul is afterwards tortured forever in a dreadful holocaust.
It is also well worth the effort that you constantly keep in mind the promised rewards of chastity and that, stimulated by their sweetness, you may with unencumbered faith overcome any obstacle thrown in your path by the wiles of the crafty plotter.
Engel: As we draw near to the end of our interview, would you address the charges that were leveled against you by your fellow episcopal critics who accused you of being “an informer and a delator” of your brother’s crime. I’m sure similar criticisms are being conjured up in the minds of those Church leaders today who are calling for the ordination of homosexuals and the blessing of sodomite relationships under the banner of “Synodality.”
Peter Damian: I have no fear, moreover, of the hatred of evil men nor of the tongues of detractors. I would surely prefer to be thrown innocent into the well like Joseph who informed his father of his brothers’ foul crime, than to suffer the penalty of God’s fury, like Eli, who saw the wickedness of his sons and remained silent.
Who am I, when I see this pestilential practice flourishing in the priesthood to become the murderer of another’s soul by daring to repress my criticism in expectation of the reckoning of God’s judgment? I should become responsible for another’s crime in which I was in no way involved.
How, indeed, am I to love my neighbor as myself if I negligently allow the wound, of which I am sure he will brutally die, to fester in his heart; if, moreover, I am aware of these wounds of the spirit and fail to cure them by the surgery of my words?
I might also add, that if blasphemy is a terrible thing, I am not aware that sodomy is any better. The former indeed causes a man to err; the latter brings him to perdition. The one separates the soul from God; the other joins it to the devil. The former expels one from heaven; the latter buries him in hell. The one blinds the eye of the soul; the other hurls one into the abyss of ruin.
And if we are careful to investigate which of these crimes is the weightier in the scales of divine scrutiny, a search of Sacred Scripture will provide a satisfactory answer. There, indeed, we find that the children of Israel who blasphemed God and worshiped idols were taken into captivity; but we notice that sodomites were devoured in the sulfurous flames of a fire from heaven.
So let no man condemn me as I argue against this deadly vice, for I seek not to dishonor, but to promote the advantage of my brother’s well-being. Take care not to appear partial to the delinquent while you persecute him who sets him straight. If I may be pardoned in using Moses’ words, “Whoever is for the Lord, let him stand with me.”
Engel: Thank you so much Saint Peter Damian for this instructive interview which I hope will receive world-wide attention especially among the German and Flemish bishops. Do you have any parting words for our readers, including the many who are learning of you and the Book of Gomorrah for the first time?
Peter Damian: Permit me to end our interview with the last sentence of the Book of Gomorrah presented to His Holiness Pope Leo IX in the year of Our Lord, 1049:
Most reverend Father, may Almighty God be pleased during your pontificate to utterly destroy this monstrous vice, that a prostrate Church may everywhere rise to vigorous stature.
P.S. A reminder to our readers that the League of St. Peter Damian is making available the complete [electronic] text of the Book of Gomorrah as translated by Father Owen J. Blum, O.F.M., as well as Pope St. Leo IX’s Decree on Sodomy written in response to Peter Damian’s Letter 31, free of charge. The text is completely footnoted so that the quotes taken from the Book of Gomorrah can be seen in their original context. Send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 For additional information on the League of St. Peter Damian see Home | League of Saint Peter Damian (stpeterdamian.com).
 The Letters of Peter Damian Letters 31-60, translated by Owen J. Blum, O.F.M., The Fathers of the Church, Mediaeval Continuation, Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 3-53. In connection with Part II of this series, the League of St. Peter Damian is making available the complete [electronic] text of the Book of Gomorrah as translated by Father Owen J. Blum, O.F.M., as well as Pope St. Leo IX’s accompanying Decree on Sodomy (1049), free of charge to our readers. The text is completely footnoted. Send your request to: email@example.com.
 Rom 1.24.
 Rom 1.26-28.