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Perfect reading material ahead of sex abuse summit…

Moral Advice from “Pope” Francis:
“The Least Serious Sins are the Sins of the Flesh”

On Sep. 6, 2017, the French sociologist Dominique Wolton, himself an agnostic, released an interview book with “Pope” Francis entitled Pape François: Politique et Société (“Pope Francis: Politics and Society”). It is in this book that Francis revealed for the first time that he used to get treated by a Jewish psychoanalyst in Argentina. We reported on the matter here.

The book has since been translated into English and is now available as A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society. It was released last August. In it the Jesuit pseudo-pontiff makes outrageous statements such as, “The true communists are Christians” (p. 159) and “no war is just” (p. 34). He also rejects forbidding unrepentant adulterers from receiving Holy Communion: “That type of prohibition is what you find in the clash between Jesus and the Pharisees” (p. 60), when of course it was the Pharisees who stood for divorce and remarriage, whereas our Blessed Lord condemned it (see Mt 19:3-12). All this we already reported on back in 2017.

But there is another outrageous claim Francis makes in the book that we have not yet addressed much on this site: The Argentinian apostate asserts that sins of the flesh — that is, sins of lust or impurity — are “the least serious” of all sins.

Francis makes this ridiculous and most dangerous affirmation in Chapter 5. Here is the relevant excerpt showing the full context of his remarks:

DOMINIQUE WOLTON: The paradox is that the Catholic Church condemns capitalism, money, inequalities, but those criticisms go rather unheard. On the other hand, on morals, it knows how to make its critiques and condemnations heard …

POPE FRANCIS: The least serious sins are the sins of the flesh.

DOMINIQUE WOLTON: All right, but that needs to be said more forcefully, because the message isn’t getting across.

POPE FRANCIS: The sins of the flesh are not necessarily (always) the gravest. Because the flesh is weak. The most dangerous sins are those of the mind. I have talked about angelism: pride and vanity are sins of angelism. I understood your question. The Church is the Church. Priests have been tempted — not all of them, but many of them — to focus on the sins of sexuality. That’s what I’ve already talked to you about: what I call “below-the-waist” morality. The more serious sins are elsewhere.

DOMINIQUE WOLTON: What you say is not being heard.

POPE FRANCIS: No, but there are good priests … I know a cardinal here who is a good example. He admitted to me, talking about these subjects, that when people come to see him to talk to him about these below-the-belt sins, he says, straight away, “I’ve got it; let’s talk about something else.” He stops them, as if to say, “I’ve understood, but let’s see if you have something more important.” “I don’t know.” “But do you pray? Do you seek the Lord? Do you read the Gospel?”

He makes them understand that there are more important failings. Yes, it is a sin, but … he lets them know, “I’ve understood,” then moves on to something else.

Conversely, some priests, when they receive confession of a sin of this kind, ask, “How did you do it, and when did you do it, and for how long?…” And they have a “film” playing in their head. But those priests need a psychiatrist.

DOMINIQUE WOLTON: That’s true, there are much more serious “sins” than the sins of the flesh, but what you say is not in the cultural tradition …

(Francis with Dominique Wolton, A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society [New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2018], pp. 173-174; bold print and ellipses given; underlining added.)

This is so outrageous and filled with error and half-truths that, in order to refute it, it’s a good idea to first provide a succinct recap of just what Bergoglio is actually affirming, namely:

  1. Sins of impurity are the least serious of all sins.
  2. Sins of impurity are not necessarily the gravest.
  3. Pride and vanity are more serious sins than sins of impurity.
  4. Not reading the Gospel is a more serious sin than impurity.
  5. Confessors ought not to inquire as to circumstances in which a sin of impurity was committed, and those who do need a psychiatrist.

We offer the following succint points in response, some of which we will then elaborate on:

  1. False. Impurity does not admit of light matter, wherefore every such sin, if committed with full knowledge and consent, is mortal.
  2. True, but so what? It does not follow from that that they are therefore the lightest of all sins or that they are not grave or very dangerous.
  3. False. Ordinarily, pride and vanity are only venial sins, although they can be mortal under certain circumstances.
  4. False. Although reading the Gospels is very much to be encouraged, not doing so is not in itself a sin. There is no divine law that states: Thou shalt read the Gospel.
  5. False. Although needless details must be avoided, the penitent must confess all the circumstances necessary to make known the species of the sin and the number of times he has committed it. If he does not do so, the confessor has the right to ask for this information. Such questions also help the confessor to assess the general spiritual state of the penitent’s soul.

Before we look at the subject matter in greater depth, it must be pointed out that in this controversy no one can defend Francis, as is so often done, on the grounds that he was merely speaking off-the-cuff and therefore may be excused for not having the most theologically precise terminology at the ready. This is not true. We are talking about a book publication that gets proofread, vetted, and edited as necessary before final release in order to ensure all the words printed say exactly what the person interviewed wants to communicate. In other words: There is no “slip of the tongue” in Wolton’s interview book. All of the words attributed to Francis are definitely and intendedly his.

So, is it true to say that the “least serious sins are the sins of the flesh”? That the “more serious sins are elsewhere”? Although it is clear that there are sins graver than those of a sexual nature, it does not follow that therefore sins of lust are among the least serious or the least dangerous.

Sacred Scripture is clear that sins of impurity, if not genuinely repented of, make the sinner worthy of eternal punishment. St. Paul wrote to the Hebrews: “[Let] Marriage [be] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. For fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:4). St. Jude wrote in his epistle: “As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7). And St. Paul warned the Corinthians: “Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10). Examples could be multiplied exponentially, but this is not necessary.

What the Church’s Doctor of Moral Theology, St. Alphonsus Liguori, wrote about the vice of impurity sounds as if he were addressing Bergoglio directly:

My brother, do not say, as many do, that sins against chastity are light sins, and that God bears with them.

I. What! Do you say that is a light sin? But it is a mortal sin: and if it is a mortal sin, one act of it, though it be only the consent to a wicked thought, is sufficient to send you to hell. No fornicator … hath inheritance in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and of God [Eph 5:5]. Is it a light sin? Even the pagans held impurity to be the worst of vices on account of the miserable effects that it produces. Seneca says: “Immodesty is the greatest evil of the world;” and Cicero writes: “There is no plague so fatal as bodily pleasure;” and (to come to the saints) St. Isidore says: “Run through all sins, you will find none equal to this crime.”

(St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Preaching [New York, NY: Benziger Brothers, 1890], p. 470)

If this sounds diametrically opposed to what “Pope” Francis says, there’s a reason for that: Francis preaches a false gospel (cf. Gal 1:8-9), one that is diametrically opposed to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, albeit with a deceptive veneer (cf. 2 Cor 11:13-15; 2 Thess 2:-10).

Another Catholic of note who never got the memo about impurity being a light sin was Pope Pius XI. In 1930, his Sacred Congregation of the Council decreed: “Girls and women who wear immodest dress shall be denied Holy Communion, and shall not be admitted as sponsors at Baptism and Confirmation, and, if needs be, shall be stopped from entering any church” (Instruction Concerning the Immodest Dress of Women, Jan. 12, 1930, n. 9). Why such harsh treatment of the immodestly dressed? Because immodesty is an incentive to impurity.

The fact is that impurity does not admit of light matter. This means that for every impure thought or deed that is willful and deliberate, there is mortal sin. This is not the case for sins of pride and vanity, for example, which can easily admit of matter that is not grave. In fact, most sins of pride and vanity are venial sins, yet Francis pointed to them as being more serious and dangerous than lust. Is this reasonable? Is this spiritually helpful?

Let’s put Francis’ claims to the test using a popular pre-Vatican II moral theology book. The following excerpt explains the nature and gravity of the sin of pride:

2557. Pride.—Pride is an inordinate desire of one’s own personal excellence.

(a) It is a desire, for the object of pride is that which is pleasing and yet not easy of attainment.

(b) The desire is concerned with excellence, that is, with a high degree of some perfection (such as virtue, knowledge, beauty, fame, honor) or with superiority to others in perfection.

(c) The excellence sought is personal; that is, the object of pride is self as exalted on high or raised above others. Ambition seeks greatness in honors and dignities, presumption greatness in accomplishment, and vanity greatness in reputation and glory; pride, from which these other vices spring, seeks the greatness of the ego or of those things with which the ego is identified, such as one’s own children, one’s own family, or one’s own race.

(d) The desire is inordinate, either as to the matter, when one desires an excellence or superiority of which one is unworthy (e.g., equality with Our Lord), or as to the manner, when one expressly desires to have excellence or superiority without due subjection (e.g., to possess one’s virtue without dependence on God or from one’s own unaided merits). In the former case pride is opposed to greatness of soul, in the latter case to humility. The contempt which is proper to pride is a disdain for subjection, and the contempt which belongs to disobedience is a disgust for a precept; but pride naturally leads to contempt for law and for God and the neighbor (see 2367).

2558. The Acts of Pride.—(a) In his intellect, the proud man has an exaggerated opinion of his own worth, and this causes his inordinate desire of praise and exaltation. But pride may also be the cause of conceited ideas, for those who are too much in admiration of themselves often come to think that they are really as great as they wish to be.

(b) The will of the proud man worships his own greatness, and longs for its recognition and glorification by others.

(c) In his external words and works, the proud man betrays himself by boasting, self-glorification, self-justification, by his haughty appearance and gestures and luxurious style, by arrogance, insolence, perfidy, disregard of the rights and feelings of others, etc.

2559. The Sinfulness of Pride.—(a) Complete pride, which turns away from God because it considers subjection detrimental to one’s own excellence, is a mortal sin from its nature, since it is a manifest rebellion against the Supreme Being (Ecclus., x. 14). Such was the pride of Lucifer, but it is rare in human beings. Complete pride may be venial from the imperfection of the act, when it is only a semideliberate wish.

(b) Incomplete pride, which turns inordinately to the love of created excellence but without disaffection to superiors, is in itself a venial sin, for there is no serious disorder in the excess of an otherwise indifferent passion. But circumstances may make this pride mortal (e.g., when it is productive of serious harm to others).

(Rev. John A. McHugh & Rev. Charles J. Callan, Moral Theology, vol. 2 [New York, NY: Joseph F. Wagner, 1958], nn. 2557-2559; underlining added; available online here.)

With regard to the gravity of the sin of impurity, the same authors tell us:

(a) Impurity is a mortal sin, because it is a disorder that affects a good of the highest importance (viz, the propagation of the race), and brings in its train public and private, moral and physical, evils of the most serious kind. Man has no more right to degrade his body by lust than he has to kill it by suicide, for God is the absolute Lord over the body and He severely forbids impurity of every kind. Those who do the works of the flesh, whether according to nature (e.g., fornicators and adulterers) or against nature (e.g., sodomites) or by unconsummated sin (e.g., the unclean, the impure), shall not obtain the kingdom of God (Gal., v. 19; I Cor., vi. 9 sqq.), nor have any inheritance with Christ (Eph., v. 5).

(b) Impurity is not the worst of sins, because sins against God (e.g., hatred of God, sacrilege) are more heinous than sins against created goods, and sins of malice are more inexcusable than sins of passion or frailty. But carnal sins are peculiarly disgraceful on account of their animality (see 2464 b, 224), and in a Christian they are a kind of profanation, since his body has been given to Christ in Baptism and the other Sacraments (I Cor., vi. 11-19).

(c) Impurity is one of the seven capital vices [as is pride –N.O.W.]. The capital sins have a preeminence in evil, as the cardinal virtues have a superiority in good. The preeminence in evil is due, first, to some special attractiveness of a vice that makes it an end for the commission of other sins, which are used as means to it or are incurred for its sake; or, secondly, to a power and influence that is so strong as to hurry those under its sway into various kinds of sin. Now, impurity is a moral disease that ravages every part of the soul, its deadly effects appearing in the reason, the will and external speech; for the more one subjects oneself to the dominion of passion, the less fitted does one become for the higher and nobler things of life; and the more ignoble the inner life, the more vulgar, cheap and degrading will be the conversation.

Hence, the Fathers trace back to impurity the following sins of imprudence in the mind: wrong apprehension, about the end or purpose of life, and precipitancy in deliberation, thoughtlessness in decision, inconstancy in direction, in reference to the means to the end (see 1693 sqq.). They also trace to impurity the following sins in the will: as to the end, voluptuarism (which subordinates all to fleshly pleasure) and hatred of God (which abhors the Supreme Lawgiver who forbids and punishes lust); as to the means, love of the present and horror of the future life (since the carnal man revels in bodily pleasures and dreads the thought of death and judgment). Finally, they trace the following sins of the tongue to the vice of impurity: the subject of the lewd man’s talk is filthy, for out of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matt., xii. 34), the expression itself is foolish, since passion clouds his mind, the origin of his talk is emptiness of mind which shows itself in frivolous words, and his purpose is unsuitable amusement, which leads to farcical or vulgar jokes.

(McHugh & Callan, Moral Theology, vol. 2, n. 2494; underlining added.)

For Bergoglio, pride and the related vice of vanity are more serious and more dangerous sins than lust. As always, he turns things on their head. Christ’s condemnation of the Pharisees applies very much to this false shepherd: “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Mt 23:24; cf. Is 5:20).

Of course, it must also be emphasized that, as shown above, impurity is by no means the gravest of all sins. Certainly sins like idolatry, sacrilege, and hatred of God are greater. Impurity can be forgiven like any other sin that the sinner is truly contrite for, but then that’s not the issue under discussion: “These things you ought to have done, and not to leave those undone” (Mt 23:23). Francis didn’t simply say that sins of lust are not the greatest sins — which would be true enough — but that they are “the least serious sins” of all. Such a statement is false and extremely dangerous. It is also scandalous in the proper sense of the term because it provides an incentive for people to commit more sin.

How many individuals who hear this kind of talk will comfortably remain in — or return to — their sexual addictions and tell themselves: “It’s OK, it’s not that bad. I’m weak. This is a sin of weakness. It’s among the least serious of all sins. God will understand”? And yet, what did Pope St. Peter say?

For if, flying from the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they be again entangled in them and overcome: their latter state is become unto them worse than the former. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than after they have known it, to turn back from that holy commandment which was delivered to them. For, that of the true proverb has happened to them: The dog is returned to his vomit: and, The sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.

(2 Pet 2:20-22)

Bergoglio will have a lot to answer for when he gets called to judgment.

Of course, the apostate Jesuit in Vatican City is not the first high-ranking Novus Ordo prelate to advance the idea that sins of impurity are not that serious. In his function as the Novus Ordo patriarch of Venice, then then-“Cardinal” Albino Luciani (later “Pope” John Paul I) told people more or less the same thing. Testimony to this effect was given by Fr. Mario Senigaglia, Luciani’s secretary in Venice, who told author David Yallop: “He [Luciani] was a very understanding man. Very many times I would hear him say to couples, ‘We have made of sex the only sin, when in fact it is linked to human weakness and frailty and is therefore perhaps the least of sins'” (David A. Yallop, In God’s Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I [New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2007], p. 44).

The reasoning that Bergoglio and Luciani provide is false and misleading. They claim that sins of the flesh are not as dangerous or as serious as other sins because they are sins of weakness. However, the truth is that it is precisely because the flesh is weak that sins against purity — which, again, do not admit of light matter — are so dangerous and must be guarded against very carefully. It usually does not take malice to commit a sexual sin — mere weakness suffices. This makes impurity to be one of the most dangerous sins of all — not the gravest, but the most dangerous. It is easier to go to hell because of impurity than because of, say, calumny, which is the spreading of lies about another in order to destroy his good name. It takes malice to commit calumny, whereas it only takes weakness to be impure. One is more likely to commit lustful sins, therefore. Hence it is not surprising that Our Lady of Fatima revealed to Jacinta Marto: “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”

Thus it is clear that sins of impurity are an acute danger to the presence of sanctifying grace in the soul, even if they are only committed in thought (cf. Mt 5:28). But in addition to extinguishing the life of grace in the soul and thus making a child of God into a “child of wrath” once more (cf. Eph 2:3), impurity also often has grave natural consequences. For example, it has the potential to create addictions, increase selfishness, and dull the mind: “Fornication, and wine, and drunkenness take away the understanding” (Osee 4:11). And of course it can quickly destroy relationships, marriages, and families.

Bergoglio’s (im)moral theology is a toxic recipe for endless sin. Our world is drunk with sexual sin; the last thing it needs to hear is that such sins are really not that big of a deal. Remember that last year Francis told a sodomite that “God made you like that”. If one combines that blasphemous contention with the belief that sexual sins are among the least serious, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what the consequences are going to be. The fact that Francis will on rare occasion denounce sexual sins as morally wrong, especially when asked about them directly, is quite irrelevant and just demonstrates hypocrisy on his part. If he endorses premises that inevitably lead to a certain conclusion, he is also responsible for endorsing the conclusion. Any disapproval of the conclusion is but a theological fig leaf that enables him to do even more damage long-term.

Speaking of consequences and conclusions, there is also the sordid subject of the sexual abuse of minors and children that is not unrelated to Bergoglio’s “sins of the flesh are the least serious” thesis.

When in August of 2002, the Novus Ordo priest Ruben Pardo of the Argentinian diocese of Quilmes allegedly abused the 15-year-old altar server Gabriel Ferrini, his “bishop”, Luis Stöckler, reportedly told the boy’s mother to “be merciful with persons who chose celibacy as a vocation because they have moments of weakness” (italics added). Pardo was reassigned to the Flores district in the neighboring Buenos Aires archdiocese, where he was protected by — can you guess?! — none other than “Cardinal” Jorge Bergoglio, the man the world now calls “Pope Francis.”

In a video released in 2017, Fr. Eligio Piccoli confesses from a hospital bed near Verona, Italy, to the sexual abuse of deaf-mute children. As is evident, he does so without any shame or remorse. For him, it was little more than tomfoolery and not really a matter of sin, much less serious sin. It is sickening and very difficult to watch this. CAUTION! This video contains explicit verbal descriptions of sexual abuse:

Clearly, Bergoglio is not the only one who thinks of sexual sins as the lightest and least serious of all because of “weakness.” One may surmise that the victims would have preferred that their tormentors had committed acts of “pride and vanity” instead of rape and sodomy. Alas, they chose to go with the “less serious” evil.

By the way: Later this month, from Feb. 21-24, “Pope” Francis will be hosting a special Vatican summit with the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences to tackle the problem of sexual abuse, which has become an epidemic because too many of his underlings have had too many “moments of weakness”.

Immoral theology has consequences.

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