Friday, October 02, 2009

Vatican Wants To Stop Calling It "Pedophilia"

The Vatican issued a statement this week clarifying that their priests are not (mostly) pedophiles. The term pedophilia is inaccurate, the Church says, they would prefer to call what they do ephebophilia.

I know, I'd never heard of it either. According to Wikipedia, "Ephebophilia is a word indicating sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescents." Adolescence is usually considered to refer to the time between about 13 and about 19 years of age, so "mid-to-late adolescents" would be, I'd guess, fifteen to nineteen years old. Wikipedia goes on: "The term ephebophilia is used only to describe the preference for mid to late adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of some level of sexual attraction."

Here's The Guardian on the Vatican's statement:
The Vatican has lashed out at criticism over its handling of its paedophilia crisis by saying the Catholic church was "busy cleaning its own house" and that the problems with clerical sex abuse in other churches were as big, if not bigger.

In a defiant and provocative statement, issued following a meeting of the UN human rights council in Geneva, the Holy See said the majority of Catholic clergy who committed such acts were not paedophiles but homosexuals attracted to sex with adolescent males.

The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that "available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.

He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.

He added that sexual abuse was far more likely to be committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or neighbours, and male children were quite often guilty of sexual molestation of other children.

The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would "be more correct" to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.

"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17." Sex abuse rife in other religions, says Vatican

(I'm going to ignore the Vatican's desire to call these criminals "homosexuals." The issue is not the sex of their victims, that whole thing is just a distraction.)

I'd like to separate two concepts here -- age of consent and exploitation. The first concept has to do with a society's judgment about the age when a person is ready to decide to have sex. Obviously there are people who believe that forty year olds should not have sex unless they're married, and equally obviously by the end of high school about half of teens have had intercourse. Most people are physically mature by the age of fifteen or sixteen, though it is our society's consensus that they are not psychologically mature. For an adult to find a seventeen-year-old attractive is not perverse or necessarily dangerous, but for a trusted adult to initiate sexual interaction with an adolescent is exploitative. We may differ among ourselves about the appropriateness of two seventeen-year-olds having sex, but I don't think there is any dispute that someone like a Catholic priest has no business touching or even speaking seductively to any person who comes to them for confession and guidance, no matter what their age is.

Priests who claim to be celibate having sex with parishioners is wrong, regardless of the age or gender of the parishioner. It's wrong with teenagers, it's wrong with adults. It's exploitation.

Young people have their lives ahead of them, they should discover love and sexuality at a natural pace, they should not have adult expectations forced on them in their innocence. And I know people won't like me saying this, but there are degrees of this -- start with the nineteen-year-old boy with the seventeen-year-old girlfriend. It is possible that an underage person is mentally mature, nothing magical happens on your eighteenth birthday, and the issue of consensual sex with minors really isn't black and white. There is real controversy these days about laws that criminalize young people -- the issue of "sexting" has brought it to the fore -- and we will have to do something about it soon as a society. But in the case of a priest the question is, in fact, black and white. He is sworn to celibacy, and one reason for that is that it removes a motive for bias in his ability to provide counsel to his flock. You can't give good marital advice to someone, for instance, when you're thinking there's a chance you'll get into their pants later.

Maybe most priests don't molest teenage boys, in fact that's probably true. But the church has a problem, and it won't change anything to try to rename it using a word nobody knows.


Anonymous anon-deluxe said...

for TTFers who are big fans of Ann Coulter, here's a chance to get a head start on your holiday shopping:

"(Oct. 1) -- This isn't your average teenage pin-up calendar -- not when the women photographed carry titles like congresswoman and columnist.

On Friday, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute plans to release its fifth annual Great American Conservative Woman calendar. Demand is already so high for the 2010 run that the institute expects it to sell out, and may order a second printing, according to de facto calendar spokeswoman Alyssa Cordova, the lecture director for the institute.

The calendar is available free to college students or in exchange for a $25 donation on the organization's Web site.:"

October 02, 2009 10:52 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, I would definitely get this calendar for my office, but only if Sarah Palin was on it.

Why isn't she?


October 02, 2009 10:55 AM  
Anonymous anon-deluxe said...

apparently, she turned turned down the offer but I hear they are trying to convince her to do it next

I think there's no question she's way hotter than Clare Booth Luce

btw, good post today

October 02, 2009 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Pope Benedict, as he calls himself, was a collaborator in the cover-up of priest abuse of young parishioners, insisting that the church hierarchy stay silent on child abuse committed by their employees, and hide them from civil authorities. He is only compounding his complicity in publishing this report.

October 02, 2009 4:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

“Sex abuse rife in other religions, says Vatican”

So two wrongs make a right?


October 06, 2009 3:51 AM  

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