Catholic Cardinal Gets Something Right About Sex Shocker!

Cardinal Napier, who was among the 115 cardinals in the conclave at the Vatican that elected Pope Francis earlier this week, called paedophilia a \”psychological disorder\” on told BBC Radio 5 live.

He said: \”What do you do with disorders? You have got to try and put them right. If I as a normal being choose to break the law knowing that I am breaking the law, then I think I need to be punished.

\”From my experience paedophilia is actually an illness, it is not a criminal condition, it is an illness.\”

For of course he is correct. Paedophilia is a miswiring of the \”normal\” sexual urges. And being so miswired is not more to be a criminal that to be covetous of the property of others is to be a criminal.

It\’s what you do about it that might turn it into a crime: stealing is a crime, as is shagging 6 year olds. But to desire to do either isn\’t. It\’s the action, not the state, that is the crime.

11 comments on “Catholic Cardinal Gets Something Right About Sex Shocker!

  1. He is correct. Won’t stop him from being pilloried by the kind of people who like to describe the left footers as some sort of international paedophile conspiracy though. It doesn’t seem to matter very much what the Catholic Church actually does or says, they’ll always be the bad guys as far as many of their critics are concerned. Short of curling up and dying I doubt they could ever satisfy their most vituperative opponents. If they appointed Jesus Christ himself as Pope the Guardian et al would still immediately run attack stories.

    Just as doesn’t matter to some how many people the NHS kills, it’s always the Envy Of The World, and if does have any flaws, Thatcher is to blame somehow.

  2. I think what he’s trying to say is not so much about desire vs action, as whether the people taking the action are able to control themselves.

    Or to put it another way, does the risk of criminal sanction stop people committing the crime. Armed robbery is rare because people know that they’ll get 10 years if they get caught. If we got rid of that crime (and just made it the same as theft), armed robbery would rocket.

    What I’ve read about pedophiles is that many of them simply can’t stop themselves. They know it’s wrong, know they will go to jail and so forth. Some of them modify their behaviour to avoid children.

    Where the cardinal gets it wrong is that whether someone has a rational motivation for committing a crime or not, it is still a crime. The question is how you then deal with the crime that was committed. Do you put someone in a prison, or do you put them in a mental institution.

  3. I am not sure he is correct. He has abandoned the language of the Church for the psychobabble pap of the secular world. Paedophilia is a sin. And a crime. It may be an illness or it may not. That remains to be seen, but first and foremost it is a sin and a crime against the Laws of Nature, man and God.

    It is a miswiring? That is hard to say too. I don’t know of much evidence. Perhaps it is better to say that we all exist on a spectrum. Some of us like older women, some of us like younger ones. Perhaps some sort of psychological shock pushes people down the wrong end. Who knows? The parallel with homosexuality is obvious – and that followed the route from a sin to a sickness to an identity to a bullying lobby group. I am not sure it is a good idea to start paedophilia down that route.

    As for what makes paedophilia a crime, it is worth noting that it is a crime. But it can be a victimless crime. If you draw some Simpson’s with large genitals engaging in what appears to be a sex act, you can be charged in some jurisdictions. If you write in your diary what you are fantasising about, you can be jailed. If you buy a Victorian era novel, you can be charged. That is about as close to punishing the desire as we can get.

  4. The Cardinal is only making a distinction between victims of child abuse becoming paedophiles versus paedophiles who haven’t previously been victims of abuse.

    The Cardinal isn’t commenting on paedophilia in general and saying it isn’t a crime, as is clear by his view about criminal responsibility – he says those who have been abused as children don’t bear responsibility if they become offenders as adults, while those who were not abused (“somebody who chooses to do something like that”) are responsible for their crimes.

  5. “But to desire to do either isn-t. It-s the action, not the state, that is the crime.”

    Admittedly, the desire on it’s own isn’t a crime, as that would be punishing “Thought Crime” and we’re not quite at that stage of the Orwellian thought police just yet.

    Surely you need the desire (or rather intent) as well as the act for it to become a crime (i.e. necessary “mens rea”)

    Not trying to defend the kiddie fiddlers, just thinking about it from a purely legal perspective.

    I would be against having a kiddie fiddler get off by using the mental illness aspect of paedophilia as a defence, but it might reduce the re-offending rate if they were to serve out their sentences in a specialist paedophiles mental unit rather than putting them in the nonce wing of Wormwood Scrubs.

  6. The [problem is that paedophilai is a blanket term.

    Certainly shagging 6 year olds is gross by any common standard.

    However shagging 12 years olds has been common throughout most of history and most cultures, so long as you were prepared to marry her. These same cultures treated homosexuality as, if they were lucky, an illness to be cured by whipping or worse.

    So is homosexuality an illness to be treated? is sexual attraction to under 16 year olds? Should one or the other be cured? Or is the real crimethought to be cured not fitting in with society’s current shibboleths?

  7. Did you read the whole (short) piece? The Cardinal didn’t just say that having paedophile desires is not a crime, as of course it isn’t. He said that priests who were abused as children and go on to commit child abuse themselves should not be held criminally responsible.

    I disagree with that.

  8. The law makes the distinction you state, between imagining an act and committing it. But the “boss” of Christianity specifically rejected that distinction:

    “You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28

  9. Paul is right, and the reporting here is shoddy. The problem is not that the cardinal said paedophilia wasn’t a crime, which is trivially true, it’s that he said that sexually abusing children shouldn’t be a crime if the bloke doing it is crazy enough.

    Stigler is falling victim to a common fallacy. It is true that paedophiles who are convicted sexual abusers of children (this is not a tautology in either direction, for various fairly obvious reasons) are hard to reform.

    However, the subset of paedophiles who are also convicted sexual abusers of children is, definitionally, the subset who can’t control their behaviour. So it’s not particularly surprising that studies confirm that they can’t control their behaviour.

    Those paedophiles who have so far managed to control their behaviour, and hence haven’t abused children, are presumably more likely to be able to control their behaviour.

    However, there aren’t any studies into this and nor are there likely to be, because it would require a statistically significant sample of law-abiding people to voluntarily declare to the government that they were paedophiles.

  10. @SMfS
    “Paedophilia is a sin.”
    Are you sure about that? I wasn’t aware the Catholic Church, in particular, had an opinion about it. Let alone regarded it as a sin. It’s responded to widespread lay revulsion over ‘paedophile priests”. But that’s a different matter.
    There’s the sin of lust, of course. But that’s not age specific. There’s the instruction in the bible to “Go forth & multiply” which could be construed as any individual mature enough to procreate commits a sin by not doing so. Arbitrary ages of consent don’t really sit well with morals.

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