Lust is not the worst of the seven deadly sins, according to Pope Francis. There are worse indiscretions than sex outside of marriage, the leader of the Catholic Church told reporters on the papal plane while en route from Greece to Italy on Monday, Reuters reported.
“Sins of the flesh are not the most serious,” the 84-year-old religious leader said regarding sex outside of marriage. Top transgressions instead include pride and hatred, according to Reuters.
Francis’ rankings of the worst wrongdoings followed the resignation of a Paris archbishop, who quit over a relationship with a woman earlier this month. However, the 70-year-old French cleric, Michel Aupetit, denied being intimate with the anonymous female, behavior that would break his promise of celibacy, according to Reuters.
“It was a failing against the sixth commandment (You shall not commit adultery) but not a total one, one of small caresses, massage given to his secretary — that is what the accusation is,” Francis clarified about Aupetit’s actions. “There is a sin there but not the worst kind.”
The pope said he accepted Aupetit’s resignation not because he had sinned but because the rumors were too damaging.
“He was condemned but by whom? By public opinion, by gossip … He could no longer govern,” Francis told reporters. “I accepted the resignation of Aupetit not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy.”
Aupetit also issued an apology for any damage he had done.
“I ask forgiveness from those I might have hurt,” he said in a Thursday statement. “I have been deeply troubled by the attacks on me … I pray for those who, maybe, have wished bad things onto me, as Christ has taught us.”
This case is a classic example of the Vatican’s hypocrisy and dismissiveness in dealing with allegations against their senior clergy. Aupetit taking the high moral ground by saying he will pray for those who ‘wished bad things on me’, and making himself into a sort of martyr, is the template which most Christian clergy follow when caught for their crimes.
The “to sin is human, to forgive is divine” maxim is quickly rolled out in such cases, and we are told that clergy are only answerable to canon law (law made by the Church) and hence law enforcement involvement is not necessary.
The sexual abuse crisis which currently engulfs the Church was buried for decades as senior Church functionaries would just transfer the pedophile priests to another parish (locality) whenever allegations surfaced, only for the abuse to restart at the new place. If things got too hot on the legal front, some abusers were just pulled out of the country and given a cushy sinecure within the Vatican.
One such example was Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, accused of actively participating in the cover-up of child molestation by predatory priests in the Boston Archdiocese of USA, who moved from Boston to Rome and was given a ceremonial role by Pope John Paul II in what some saw as an attempt to shield him from potential criminal prosecution.
Nearly 1,700 priests and other Roman Catholic Church clergy members who were credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, a 2019 investigation found. Most were never charged or just left the church to lead private lives.