Bibliography of the Ordinary Magisterium
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Council of Elvira, canon 71: 305-306 AD: "Those
who sexually abuse boys may not commune even when death approaches."
Council of Ancyra, canon 17: 314 AD "Defilers
of themselves with beasts, being also leprous, who have infected others,
the holy Synod commands to pray among the cheimazomenoi. "
This synod was attended by nineteen Spanish bishops and twenty-six presbyters.
Deacons and laymen were also present.
Its cannons exhibit a vigorously rigorous and intransigent outlook - not
far (if at all) removed from Novationism.
This was first council to address sexuality in a major way.
It is possible that only the first twenty-one canons are genuine.
The canon is not about homosexuality, however, but only about clergy who
or "abuse" boys.
It is salutary to compare canon 67: "A woman who
is baptized or is a catechumen must not associate with hairdressers or
men with long hair. If she does this, she is to be denied communion."
Basil of Nyssa, First Canonical Epistle to Amphilochus
of Iconium, (Epist. 117, canon 62), 375 AD.
This provided the basic canon law of middle ages on sodomy.
According to [Bailey (1955)] the canon refers only to bestiality.
Gregory of Nyssa, Canonical Letter to Letoius of
Mytilene (Epist. canonica 4), 390 AD.
The Emperor Justinian, Novella 77, 538 AD.
This is the canon most often cited by the Orthodox.
It was a private letter, but was later approved by councils.
Justinian, Novella 141, 544 AD.
2nd Council of Tours, canon 14, 567 AD.
This and the following "Novella", criminalized homosexual sex in secular
At this stage the imperial secular law of the Christian Roman Empire was
also operative within the Church.
The revival of Roman law studies in the 12th century meant that these laws
had important effects on developing canon law as well as secular law.
16th Council of Toledo, canon 3, 693 AD.
Monks must not sleep two to a bed.
Council of London, canons 28 & 29, 1102 AD.
The Toledan councils were partly Church councils and partly councils of
the Visigothic state.
There is now a gap in Church actions lasting FOUR
The canons of Ancyra were republished by several Carolingian kings, and
there was much discussion in the new penitentials that were developed.
These were not official documents. At this stage confession by lay people
was rare, and there were no secular prosecution for sodomy. Things
did begin to heat up in the 12th century though, along with attacks on
heretics, Jews and other social outsiders.
Council of Naplouse [Nablus/Shechem], canons 8-11,
This council seems to have been directed at the memory of William Rufus,
well known for his homosexuality.
It decreed that the general public be informed that homosexual intercourse
in the future be confessed as a sin.
St. Anslem, Archbishop of Canterbury went along with the decrees.
However he refused to have them read out in church saying:
"this sin has hitherto been so public that hardly
anyone is embarrassed by it,
and many have therefore fallen into it because
they were unaware of its seriousness.".
Ivo of Chartres, Decretum
An important council that took place in the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem.
Applied penalties for sodomy to laymen.
Gratian, Decretum c.1140 AD
[J.P. Migne, ed., Patrologia Latina, 161 cols. 47-1022]
See cols. 681-82 for denunciations of sodomy and lesbianism.
III, canon 11, 1179 AD:
Five refs. drawn from the fathers, C.32, q.7, c,11-14.
The Decretals were the major law book of the middle ages.
It is interesting that Gratian drew from patristic opinion rather than
any canon law tradition.
Innocent III, Letter 1203 AD
"Clergy in holy orders, who maintain their wives
incontinently in their homes should either expel them, and live continently,
or be deprived of ecclesiastical office and benefice.
Whoever is caught involved in that incontinence
which is against nature, and because of which
wrath of God came upon the sons of disobedience" [Eph.
5:6], and five cities were consumed by fire
14:24-35], if they are clerics, they should
be deposed from clerical office and placed in a monastery to do penance;
they are laymen, they are to be excommunicated and completely isolated
from contact with believers.
If any cleric, without clear and necessary cause,
should especially frequent nunneries, he should be restrained by the bishop,
and if he does not cease, he should be deposed from his ecclesiastical
This is the only canon of an Oecumenical council which could be construed
as condemning homosexuality.
It is clearly a disciplinary decree, not dogmatic. Moreover, the
which is against nature" could be bestiality.
The standard gloss by Bernard of Palma, 1263 AD
links it with novellas of Justinian.
IV, canon 14, 1215 AD.
in [J.P. Migne ed., Patrologia Latina, 215:189].
On sodomy in Macon.
Various local synods in this period issued canons which referred to sodomy
This strengthens the Lateran III decree by calling on secular help.
It only mentions clerical celibacy, however.
Again disciplinary, not dogmatic.
This was the council that imposed special signs on Jews.
also constitutions of
Paris 1212 AD,
Rouen 1214 AD,
Angers 1216/19 AD,
Beziers 1246 AD;
also monastic statutes
Fulk Bassest for London 1245/59 AD,
Alexander Stavensby for Coventry, 1224/37 AD,
Peter Quinel for Exeter 1287 AD;
Gregory IX, Bull "Vox in Rama", 1233 AD.
Dominican statutes, 1238 AD,
Carthusian statutes, 1261 AD and
Cistercian statutes, 1279 AD.
Gregory IX, Bull "Liber Extra" 1234 AD.
Condemned the activities of the heretic Conrad of Marburg, which included
CDF "Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning
Sexual Ethics" (Humana Persona ) 1975 AD.
This repeats the Lateran III canon.
At this time was a gap in Church actions lasting
SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS.
It was not mentioned at any of the later medieval Oecumenical Councils,
nor at Trent, nor at Vatican I.
Popes began writing "encyclicals" in the early 18th century.
The first to mention sodomy was John Paul II in 1993!
CDF "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church
on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons"
The first Vatican document to comprehend the notion of "sexual orientation".
Taught that homosexual acts are wrong.
Suggested that the homosexual condition is morally neutral.
CDF "Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic
Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual
Persons" 1991 AD.
Described the homosexual condition an "objective disorder".
Ordered Catholic bishops to eject lesbian and gay Catholic groups from
Accepted that homosexuality is a constitutive part of the personality.
Recognized gay people as a social group.
Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Splendor
Called on Catholic bishops to oppose civil rights initiatives for lesbians
Said that gays cannot be compared with racial minorities and women.
Approved of discrimination in teaching, coaching and military employment.
Derrick S. Bailey, "Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition"
The first mention by a modern pope of homosexuality in an official document.
Homosexuality was included in a list of "intrinsically evil acts".
(London: Longmans, Green, 1955; repr. Hamden, Ct.: Archon/Shoestring
This contains many of the Conciliar canons in translation.
Michael Goodich, "The Unmentionable Vice"
(Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-Clio, 1979)
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