St. Pius V, Antonio Ghisleri (1504-1572) (Michael his name in religion) entered the Dominicans very young, right after having ruled several Dominican convents and churches, according with his request he was appointed inquisitor of Como (a little town in the Northern Italy), then he was called to the Roman Inquisition and became Commissioner-General of the Inquisition, in 1558 he was appointed Grand Inquisitor.
At the time that Ghisleri was Commissioner-General of the Inquisition two Dominicans, Valerio Malverni and Alfonso Urbino, inquisitors of Calabria, took care of the Waldensian communities settled in Calabria, in a mountainous region of the Kingdom of Naples . The interests of the Inquisition and those of the Kingdom of Naples, also the economic ones, where mingled with the repression of heresy pursued with the use of violence.
The Holy Office (i.e. the Roman Inquisition) issued on February 9, 1561 some ordinances intended to regulate the lives of the Waldenses of Calabria, usually called “ultramontani”. Were prohibited meetings of more than six people, the use of their language, the Occitan, the marriage between two of them for the next 25 years, “ultramontane” where only allowed to marry ‘Italians’. The children were to be instructed in the Catholic doctrine, everyone had to hear Mass every morning, to confess and to take communion every holiday. Men were forced to wear the “sambenito” also called yellow “abitello” (a sort of yellow blouse with a red cross of St. Andrew on both the front and back just like the one that was imposed by the Inquisitors to the heretics who had expressed remorse after conviction or in front of the fire. Women were forced to wear a “penaglio” a sort of hat saddle-shaped, considered a sign of penance, that was to be worn also at night and tore the hair of women making them bald. The doors of the houses on the Waldenses (at that time, in that place consisted of a single room) were modified by inserting a peephole, which could only be opened from the outside to allow anyone to check what was happening inside. Ghisleri (St. Pius V) was in correspondence with Melverni and approved his work, it is known that, when he became Pope, he was going to appoint him bishop of any diocese of the Kingdom of Naples, which was not the case for the opposition of Cardinal Santori.
When Malverni and Urbino proposed the Waldensians a choice between apostasy and death, Waldensians went into hiding, and around Guardia Fuscalda, San Sisto dei Valdesi, Montalto, San Vincenzo, Argentina, Vaccarizzo e Piano dei Rossi, was organized a colossal hunting to capture the Waldensians. 2200 men, women and children were slaughtered in a gruesome manner, other 1600 were captured. All this was the work of the Inquisition in defense of the faith, but there are also other considerable things.
Paul IV Carafa (also an Inquisitor as Pope St. Pius V) two months after ascending to the papacy in 1555, with the Bull “Cum Nimis Absurdum” established ghettos for Jews with a number of restrictions and harassments that gave the first impulse the escape of the Jews from the Papal States, it is basically a law clearly discriminatory and anti-Semitic. His successor, Pius IV, tried to mitigate and limit the weight of anti-Semitic policies of Paul IV but St. Pius V Ghisleri in 1566 with the Bull Romanus Pontifex restored the anti-Jewish legislation of Pope Paul IV Carafa, St. Pius V had a high opinion of Pope Paul IV because both came from the ranks of the Inquisition.
The Bull of St. Pius V “Hebraeorum gens” of February 26, 1569 decreed the expulsion of the Jews from the Papal States with the only exception of residents in the ghettos of Rome and Ancona, but beyond the mandatory content the Bull is a true manifesto of anti-Semitism. The Pope criticizes the “perfidious Jews” accusing them of having fallen out of favor of God because of their sins, that’s why they were condemned to continue wandering without a homeland.
Eventually Christian piety, pitying their sad fate, tolerated the presence of the Jews but they, however, with their wickedness and their perfidy have pushed the situation to such an extent that the Pope felt compelled, for the salvation of Christians, to curb the violence of such a disease.
The Pope accuses the Jews of being usurers and to exploit the poor Christians, of being thieves and fences, of being pimps and magicians dedicated to evil satanic tricks that lead to believe them to be able to see the future or to find treasures. The Pope then raises his voice against this scourge that causes enormous damage every day to the Christians, and decrees that all Jews must to go out of the Papal State within three months, after that term, if a Jew will be found still on the papal territory, his property will be confiscated and he will be reduced in a state of perpetual servitude. This is basically a form of racism mixed with religious intolerance.
After having considered this background we are going to analyze the position of St. Pius V against homosexuals. Following are two Constitutions that define the question. The documents use the “pluralis maiestatis” that is the Pope, referring to himself never says “I” but always “We” because of his majesty role.
St. Pius V, Constitution “Cum primum” of 1 April 1566.
Rules regarding the observance of divine worship in the churches, and the observance of holidays, and also against simony, blasphemers, sodomites and concubines.
Pius bishop servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting memory
As soon as we received the apostolic office entrusted to us by divine disposition, soon we focused all our attention and all our meditation on the salvation of the Lord’s flock entrusted to our faithfulness and settled, with the help of God, to lead the faithful of Christ so that, abstaining from vices and sins, they will follow the path that leads to eternal life.
[The reason for this decision]
1. After facing the sharpness of our mind to remove all the things that might in any way offend the Divine Majesty, first we decided to amend without delay what may displease God to the maximum degree and could cause his anger, so as the Scriptures teach us giving also very serious examples: certainly the divine worship neglected, the scourge of simony, the crime of blasphemy and abominable vice of lust against nature, it’s just because of such things that peoples and nations are often affected for just revenge of God by calamities of war, famine and pestilence. Even if against those who have confessed so terrible crimes, have been issued by our predecessors many measures, however, since it is a small thing to issue laws if there are not those who make them effective in due course:
[Reaffirmation of the old sanctions against disobedience to this decree]
2. So that does not happen that someone dares to hope impunity by virtue of tolerance, we, knowing that most people are used to keep away from the will to sin much more due to the severity of the penalties that the fear of God, confirm all of the individual judgments the claims and the penalties that have been imposed on those who had committed these crimes and in fact, with our apostolic authority, we renew and in no way diminish their rigor, and warn those who have not been afraid to commit these crimes that they will not only be subject to the penalties as are prescribed by the sacred canons, but also will be subject to those civil laws set according to what the discretion of our decision will establish in relation to the quality of the people.
[Order to perform these provisions]
3. We order that Bishops and Governors in office of the cities and places of our ecclesiastical state, Bishops under pain of removal from ecclesiastical offices and Governors under pain of immediate and automatic excommunication, care to capture those who didn’t worship to God in churches with established rite or had been found guilty of heinous crimes, to condemn them to the established pains. Then the judges themselves must keep in mind that if after this our decree they will be negligent in punishing crimes of this magnitude, first of all they will be punished by the judgment of God and then they will also face our indignation.
11. If someone has committed a heinous crime against nature, because of which the wrath of God came upon the sons of perdition, he will be delivered to the secular court to be punished, and if he is a cleric, he will be deprived of holy orders and will be subject to same penalty.
13. And to enable judges to obtain very easily notice about aforementioned crimes of simony, blasphemy and rape nefarious, we want that they can proceed in every case if they are competent in jurisdiction or by reason of the type of crime or of the people, not only for prosecution and inquisition but also as a result of a simple secret complaint , in order to create among those men space for the prevention.
14. However, we warn each and every of you, so that keeping before your eyes only the fear of God and not driven by other bad affections of the soul, you will accuse only the guilty man and never the innocent one. Therefore, if it is discovered that someone accused another so libelous, we will and command that he must be subject to the rule of retaliation.
St. Pius V, Constitution “Horrendum illud scelus” of August 30, 1568.
Against any clergy, both secular and regular, guilty of the heinous crime.
Pius bishop servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting memory
The horrible crime that soiled and contaminated the cities to the point that they were scorched by the terrible judgment of God with fierce pain assails us and severely disrupts our heart so that we concentrate all our efforts to suppress it as much as possible.
[Statements of the Lateran Council]
1. It is certainly well known the decree of the Lateran Council, according to which all clerics who were surprised involved in incontinence which is against nature and for which the wrath of God came upon the sons of perdition, must be expelled from the clergy or be forced into monasteries to do penance.
[The cause of this new decision]
2. But, in order to stop the contagion of such a disaster avoiding it to strengthen becoming more and more brazen in the hope of impunity which is the strongest incentive to sin, we have determined that clerics guilty of this heinous crime should be punished so heavy that they who are not scared by the death of the soul will remain terrified by the avenging sword of secular civil laws.
[Imposition of the death penalty]
3. So we want now pursue more comprehensively and strongly what at the very beginning of our pontificate we decreed upon these things, that’s why with the authority of this canon, we deprive of any clerical privilege and any office, dignity or ecclesiastical benefit each and every priest or other secular cleric of any degree of dignity who put into practice such a heinous wickedness, so that degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, he will be immediately delivered to the secular justice, to undergo the same punishment that is established for the laymen by the legitimate legal rules.
St. Pius V, with the criteria of a modern international criminal court, could be accused of serious human rights violations and also of crimes against mankind, but he is still often cited as a moral teacher and a typical restorer of ecclesiastical costumes of the Counter-Reformation. His condemnation of homosexuality is considered an example of the doctrine of the Church, and I think that, unfortunately, it is the case. I want to emphasize that this is St. Pius V, a man raised to the honors of the altars and presented as an example to the churchgoers.