Commenting on Pope Francis’s statements during his recent trip to Mozambique, the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, headlined: “Pope Francis: ‘Gluttony and lust are not grave sins. Clericalism, fixated on sex, is a true perversion in the Church.’”1
Supporting the Sexual Revolution
Reading this headline, a Catholic could be tempted to conclude that this is another of the media’s frequent exaggerations and that no pope would ever utter such theological nonsense, but especially today when the idolatry of sexual gratification dominates the world.
This idolatry of sexual pleasure is present in all aspects of life today in fashions, customs, amusement, advertising, and even in the school teaching of children. It confuses the sexes, levels ages, steps on the most sacred bonds and, with incest, even kinship. Everything is allowed. “It is forbidden to forbid!”2
By suggesting that the capital sin of lust is not serious, the sovereign pontiff added more wood to the fire of the Sexual Revolution. He helped burn the last remnants of order in a decadent society, destroying especially the family, the most fundamental social institution.
“The Least Serious Sin”
Here is Pope Francis’s complete phrase to the Jesuits of Mozambique on September 5, 2019, as translated into English by the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica:
One dimension of clericalism is the exclusive moral fixation on the sixth commandment…because the most serious sins are those that are more angelical: pride, arrogance, dominion…. And the least serious are those that are less angelical, such as greed and lust. We focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip and lies. The Church today needs a profound conversion in this area.3
One should emphasize that, in recent decades, contrary to a “moral fixation” on the sin of impurity, it is the least addressed in Sunday sermons. Ditto for the scandalous tolerance for immoral fashions even in sacred premises.
The Gravity of the Sin of Impurity
There is no doubt that mortal sins have different levels of gravity. Hatred of God is the gravest because, although all serious sin expresses an indirect aversion to God, the sin of hatred’s aversion is direct.4 However, the least mortal sin is grave and breaks the friendship with God, destroying supernatural life. If a person in the state of mortal sin does not repent and is not forgiven, he will go to Hell.5
In his Theologia Moralis, Saint Alphonsus of Liguori, Doctor of the Church and Prince of Catholic moralists states that the sins against purity are those by which “most souls fall into Hell, and I have no doubt saying that all reprobates are condemned by them, or at least not without them.”6
Elsewhere, and as if answering Pope Francis in advance, the same Saint says:
The dishonest says that this sin is not bad: … Tell me, you who speak like this, can you deny that this sin is a mortal sin? If you deny it you are heretical, as St. Paul says, Nolite errare: neque fornicarii, neque adulteri, neque molles etc. regnum Dei possidebunt (1. Cor. 6, 9,10) [Make no mistake: the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, the self-indulgent, sodomites, etc. none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.]. And if it is mortal sin and not of little weight, being more serious than theft, murmuring, breaking the fast and other mortal sins, how can you say it is not so bad? Do you perhaps see a mortal sin as being a small evil? A small evil to despise the grace of God, to turn his back on him and lose his friendship for a brief bestial pleasure?7
Pope Francis did not explain that the sins of lust are mortal.8 All he said was that they are “the least serious” and that the Church “needs a profound conversion in this area” (in other words, She must stop the “fixation on the sixth commandment”). Thus, the pope insinuated that the sin against chastity is unimportant, inducing the faithful to error and sin, and favoring the Sexual Revolution.
Moreover, he made this statement to priests, seminarians, and religious at a time when clergy sexual abuse scandals and cover-up by bishops and cardinals are undermining the laity’s trust in the priesthood. Does this statement not minimize the seriousness of these offenses, muffling the righteous indignation of the faithful?
Sarcasm Toward Good Priests
At this point in his conversation, as he likes to do, Pope Francis employed Voltairean sarcasm, criticizing young priests who love their vocation and seek to show this by wearing the priestly cassock and preaching against moral deviations. For the pope, this is proof of “stiffness” and mental imbalance: “Clericalism has a direct consequence in rigidity. Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn on their heads? Behind all the rigid clericalism there are serious problems.”
The Pope went on to give an example: “I had to intervene recently in three dioceses with problems that expressed themselves in these forms of rigidity that concealed moral problems and imbalances.”
He thus implied that the “clericalism” of young priests resulted from psychological and moral problems. What a brutal judgment, and it comes from a pope who talks up mercy and is so flattering of people in a public state of mortal sin (e.g. same-sex “couples”).
A Pastoral Policy That Leads to Sin
From a pastoral standpoint, Pope Francis’s new theories on the Church’s morals are devastating. For although the sins of the spirit are more serious than those of the flesh, these are more overwhelming and frequent than the former. Given the disordered concupiscence provoked by Original Sin, the flesh is weaker than the spirit in resisting evil temptation. Our Lord warned, “Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak” (Matt. 26:41).
Moreover, the sin of the flesh, especially when it becomes an addiction, paves the way for sins of the spirit. An addict seeks to rationalize and come up with a justification for his addiction.
Pope Francis’s explanations to the Jesuits of Mozambique allow us to understand better why, in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, he permitted Holy Communion for people in the public state of adultery.
“Peter the Hypocrite”
We also painfully register the pope’s disrespect during this Mozambique talk for Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, whom he succeeded in the papacy.
Asked how he felt as pope, he gave the example of Saint Peter, who, in his opinion, after becoming pope continued to be just as he was before receiving the grace of the papacy: “stubborn, impetuous.” Adding insult to injury, Pope Francis mentioned the delicate episode narrated by Saint Paul (Gal. 2:11–14) in which Saint Peter, to facilitate the perseverance of converted Jews, took a dubious attitude towards discontinuing ritual precepts of the ancient Mosaic Law. Pope Francis called Saint Peter a hypocrite, purely and simply: “There he is, Peter the hypocrite, the man of compromise! Reading about Peter’s hypocrisy comforts me so much and warns me.”
According to Saints Augustine and Thomas, Saint Peter was wrong in this matter, and Saint Paul’s rebuke was righteous. But the Angelic Doctor also emphasized that the Apostles were confirmed in grace at Pentecost, and confirmation in grace prevents mortal sins (which break the friendship with God). However, it does not prevent venial sins that result from human weakness.9 Saint Peter’s dissimulation was a venial fault—a fleeting imprudence resulting from human weakness. He accepted Saint Paul’s correction in all humility, showing a high state of perfection.
The current meaning of the word hypocrite is that of a false person, “a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion.”10 Calling Saint Peter a hypocrite is absurd. It also shows lack of piety and devotion to the saints, above all to the first pope whom Our Lord called the rock upon which He would build His Church (see Matt. 16:18).
May the glorious Saint Peter come to our aid in this great trial.
- Francesco Antonio Grana, “Gola e lussuria non sono peccati gravi. Il clericalismo, fissato con il sesso, è una vera perversione nella Chiesa,” Il Fatto Quotidiano, Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2019/09/26/papa-francesco-gola-e-lussuria-non-sono-peccati-gravi-il-clericalismo-fissato-con-il-sesso-e-una-vera-perversione-nella-chiesa/5479069/.
- This is one of the subversive slogans launched during the 1968 Sorbonne student riots, as a battle cry for the Sexual Revolution.
- “‘The Sovereignty of the People of God’: The Pontiff Meets the Jesuits of Mozambique and Madagascar,” La Civiltà Cattolica, Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.laciviltacattolica.com/the-sovereignty-of-the-people-of-god-the-pontiff-meets-the-jesuits-of-mozambique-and-madagascar/.
- See Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 34, a. 2; Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “Ambiguity, Heresy, and Hatred of God,” TFP.org, May 31, 2019, https://tfp.org/ambiguity-heresy-and-hatred-of-god/.
- See S.T., I-II, q. 87, a. 3.
- Theologia Moralis, I, Lib. III, Tract. IV, Chap. II.
- Saint Alphonsus of Liguori, Sermone XLV – Per la Dominica XVI dopo Pentecoste, Dell’impudicizia. http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ITASA0000/__P32C.HTM, accessed Sept. 29, 2019.
- See S.T., II-II, q. 153, a. 4.
- Saint Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, https://dhspriory.org/thomas/SSGalatians.htm#23; S.T., II-II, a. 6.
- Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypocrite, s.v. “Hypocrite.”