Thursday 6 February 2014


Of course, this absurd UN report is, entirely openly, about abortion and about the definition of marriage. It is not really, or at any rate directly, about child sexual abuse at all. Nor does it even make much of a pretence to be.

On that subject, the Catholic Church unquestionably occupies the moral high ground, and not only, although certainly, because there has never been a UN peacekeeping mission without sexual violence and child sexual abuse, especially prostitution, on the part of the participants.

The Catholic Church makes it a specific canonical offence for clerics or Religious to engage in sexual acts with persons under the age of 18, even if the age of consent in the territory in question is lower. Hundreds of priests who engaged in such acts were laicised by Pope Benedict XVI.

In Italy, the age is consent is 14. But in the Vatican City State, the age of consent is 18, a full four years higher. And the four years between 14 and 18 are four very full years indeed.

The Church’s mishandling of these matters in former decades does at least contrast favourably with, say, Britain in the 1970s. Sexual acts between adults of either sex and adolescents of either sex were then illegal but very common, both of which they still are.

But unlike today, they were wholly respectable, with a universal expectation that the laws against them would very soon be repealed, with a huge volume of academic literature actively encouraging them, and with the mass celebration of them in both high and popular culture, something of which there is still quite a lot.

No stigma attached to their practitioners at any economic, social, cultural or political level. Quite the reverse, in fact.

At least, by moving the guilty priests around, the Church acknowledged that there was a problem. That was a very great deal more than many Social Services Departments, secular state schools, or non-Catholic commercial schools ever managed.

Even now, no jurisdiction has any right to comment, either on the Catholic Church, or, more narrowly, on the Vatican City State, if that jurisdiction itself has an age of consent lower than 18.

For example, the United Kingdom.

Behind all of this is the fact Blessed John Paul the Great and the then Cardinal Ratzinger unreservedly condemned the war in Iraq. Iran has had an arrangement in place for several years whereby the Vatican would mediate in any dispute with the United States should, as is now mercifully most unlikely, that matter ever really come to a head.

Benedict XVI and John Paul II were great admirers, as there is every evidence that Pope Francis also is, of Pius XII, under whom the Holy See had quite warm relations with the State of Israel, which was not at that time imposing military law on the Catholics of the West Bank, nor occupying that part of the viable Palestinian State created on both sides of the Jordan at the end of the British Mandate, nor bombarding the Catholics of Lebanon.

Well, we cannot have any of that, can we?

So the Pope’s moral authority must be destroyed by absolutely any means whatever. Lest, having been right on Iraq, he prevent a war against Iran, and possibly even bring about the reunification of Palestine on both sides of the Jordan while securing the sovereignty and integrity of Lebanon.

All that, and he does not agree that the world has too many proles and darkies in it. Nor that femaleness itself is a medicable condition requiring powerful chemical or surgical intervention. Nor that the preborn child is simultaneously insentient and a part of the mother’s body. He might even dare to ask whether it is the whole of a woman's body that is insentient, or only the parts most directly connected with reproduction?

From The Times of London to The New York Times, we cannot be having any of that.

Still, now that the precedent has been set, is anyone else going to be “confronted” by and at the United Nations? 

Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt ran the National Council for Civil Liberties when it was passing resolutions in support of the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation, and when it was publishing calls to legalise and destigmatise sex between adults and children.

Hewitt went on to have overall responsibility for every social worker in England, while Harman’s pro-pederast past was explored in detail by Martin Beckford in the 9th March 2009 edition of the Daily Telegraph, but that newspaper was too spineless or too compromised to put it on the front page where it belonged, so the story was allowed to die, at least for the time being. 

Peter Tatchell, who was on The Moral Maze only a few hours ago, would lower the age of consent to 14 and thus legalise almost every act of which any Catholic priest has ever been so much as accused, wrote in The Guardian (26th June 1997) that:

The positive nature of some child-adult relations is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of 9 to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy. While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful. 

The Guardian printed that. In 2010, David Cameron offered Tatchell a peerage. A seat in the House of Lords. In 1983, Michael Foot had refused to endorse Peter Tatchell as a candidate for the House of Commons. But in 2010, David Cameron offered Peter Tatchell a seat in the House of Lords.

For many years, the recommended reading for postgraduate students of Criminology at the University of Cambridge included the 1980 book Paedophilia: The Radical Case, by Tom O’Carroll, chairman of the Paedophile Information Exchange, whose 1981 conviction for conspiracy to corrupt public morals through the contacts section of that organisation’s magazine was attacked a year later in the journal of the National Council for Civil Liberties by O’Carroll’s barrister, Peter Thornton, who is now a Queen’s Counsel and a senior circuit judge. 

Stephen Fry’s books, The Liar and The Hippopotamus, glorify sex between men and teenage boys, exactly the acts that have brought scandal on the Catholic Church. Germaine Greer’s The Boy is a celebration of the sexual fetishisation of the adolescent male both by men and by women.

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins describes having been sexually abused as a child as “an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience”. Philip Pullman’s famous trilogy concludes with sexual intercourse between two children aged about 12, and he has repeatedly denounced the absence of sexual content in the Narnia novels. 

Geoffrey Robertson QC made his name defending the Schoolkids’ Edition of Oz, while his wife, Katthy Lette, made hers writing explicit depictions of teenage sex. There are those who perennially rush to defend and to laud Roman Polanski. There is Internet pornography, which is the principal, and highly commercial, sexual abuse of teenage boys in the world today. 

The war in Afghanistan is a war in defence of the endemic abuse of boys, an abuse to which, whatever else may be said of “the Taliban”, they were very actively opposed and not without success in seeking to eradicate, whereas the regime that we have installed in their place actively colludes in it as surely as in the heroin trade.

And then there are the numerous Social Services Departments that ran homes where at the same time as the Church was hushing up sex between men and teenage boys on the part of a small number of priests – and thus, however imperfectly, indicating disapproval of it – such behaviour was absolutely endemic, with major figures in that world publishing academic studies, used for many years in the training of social workers, which presented it as positively beneficial to both parties and therefore actively to be encouraged. Clearly, that became the same view of girls. We now see the consequences.

Among many, many, many others.

Not least, the sadly deceased Margaret Thatcher, who spent every New Year’s Eve of her Premiership with Jimmy Savile, and who arranged knighthoods for him, for Peter Morrison (her closest political aide), for Laurens van der Post, and for Cyril Smith, but who fought Victoria Gillick through the courts, thereby establishing a de facto age of consent of 13 or younger without ever bothering to trouble Parliament to approve it.

The average age of first intercourse fell horrifically during the 1980s, although it went back up under the last Labour Government. It is now down again, under a Government drawn overwhelmingly from the social milieu that has always become sexually active earlier than any other.

What’s that you say? They do not purport to be moral authorities? Really? Oh, yes, they do. As we see at the UN. 

Woody Allen has not been convicted of anything. However, the sexual abuse of children in Hollywood has been its very open secret throughout its existence. Corey Feldman’s recent autobiography detailed acts of exactly the kind that, during the same period, were later to bring such shame on the Catholic Church.

But there was none of the Church’s cack-handed, yet well-meaning, attempt to deal with what was recognised as a problem. Rather, there was no recognition that a problem existed. There never has been. The endemic behaviour has been, and remains, acknowledged. The harm that it causes has been, and remains, either denied outright, or never even thought about.

Yes, the Church could have done a lot better in dealing with grown men who participated in the sexual experimentation of adolescent boys at a time when such participation, although illegal, was socially and culturally respectable. However, She never subscribed to that respectability. She accepted that a problem existed, however imperfectly She might have dealt with it.

There are those who would still deny that such things were problematic, even now. The most powerful cultural force in the world, for a start.

Those who blame the Church for the failure to enforce the law at the time, which other aspects of ordinary law enforcement do they believe ought to be handed over to Her? Or do they see priests as subject to Her in these matters, rather than to the State?

Still, sooner that, if the choice had to be made, than leaving such things to Hollywood. Or to any of the others listed above, many of whom, alas, have indeed been responsible for these matters.

That was where they were illegal at all. This report criticises the widespread continuance of corporal punishment, and one is not without sympathy.

But that is only occurring, as it once did here, where and when it is both acceptable within the local culture and permissible under the law of the land. The Church can, should and sometimes does influence the former, and thus the latter. But it is not Her place, as such, to determine the law of the land directly. Is it?

An extremely rare example of acceptance by the State of its guilt has unsurprisingly passed by the authors of this Report. Here we go again about the Magdalene Laundries.

It would obviously have been better for those girls in trouble to have slept on the streets, wouldn’t it? They would have had better lives as the beggars or prostitutes that they would otherwise have been, wouldn’t they?

They would have been so much better-treated over here in those days, wouldn’t they? The work of a washerwoman is beneath human dignity, isn’t it?

Leaving school at 14 and going into work was otherwise unheard of among people who are now in their seventies and eighties, wasn’t it?  No one else of that generation ever experienced violence at work, did they?

And insofar as there was wrong done, then the Irish State, and not the Catholic Church, has clearly accepted the blame for it. Since it is the Irish State, and not the Catholic Church, that  is paying out to the victims of it.

For all the good that it would do, someone needs to tell that to the UN.


  1. You correctly point out the mass hypocrisy of politicians, people and institutions over this matter. However, you are too harsh on Thatcher, who like most people was unaware of Smith's & Saville's crimes. Also, your implied assertion that wealthier people become sexually active younger is both logically questionable and empirically unproven.

  2. Thatcher was Prime Minister: MI5 and Special Branch will have told her everything about Savile and Smith.

    She will in any case have known all about van der Post and Morrison, and everyone who was anyone did.

    It is not about money. It is about class.

    As a class, upper-class people become sexually active earlier, quite often far earlier, than anyone else.

  3. What a great piece of literature and insight . I will be taking more time to look at your thoughts on here . Thank you
    John D

  4. You are very kind.

    Keep coming back.

  5. so much covered . what clarity and immense food for thought...needs to be photocopied 70,000,000 times and put into every home in the a few years they wont be able to read it anyway at the rate we are going backwards..god save us..

  6. Because other institutions are more wrong, the way the church acted isn't so bad afterall??

    The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works. St Augustine

  7. I don't know where you got that from. The first part, I mean. Wikipedia entries on Saint Augustine in languages that I cannot read are major sources of traffic to this site.

  8. You fail to ask whether there is substantive truth in the claims of clerical pederasty. Ask anyone who was in a state children's g
    Home and they will tell you of systematic abuse. The whole furore about the church is an example of British anti papal ism. In the Cold War it was reds under the bed. I'm not RC myself but who knows!