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The Liber Gomorrhianus (Book of Gomorrah) is a book published by Peter Damian in 1049 AD. It is scathing treatise on the vices of the clergy, and is dedicated to the Pope.

Attack on various sexual practices

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.

Public controversy stirred

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 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.[2] The Pope's coldness drew from Damian a vigorous letter of protest.

History of same-sex relations

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, this is the only theological tract which exclusively addresses this theme.[1]

Against clerical concubinage

Damian was also a determined foe of simony, but his fiercest wrath was directed against the married clergy. 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.

Modern editions

  • 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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Paul Halsall: Peter Damian: Liber Gomorrhianus Medieval Sourcebook. April 2006.
  2. Thomas P. Doyle: "Roman Catholic Clericalism, Religious Duress, and Clergy Sexual Abuse," in Pastoral Psychology, Vol. 51, No 3, Januari 2003.


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