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Wednesday, September 05, 2012


 The 1983 Code of Canon Law says a 14-year old girl, a 16-year old boy, is old enough to marry. 

Marriage has three purposes: 

1) creation of children
2) union of the spouses
3) remedy for concupiscence.

So, the Church clearly considers a 14-year old or 16-year old of an age appropriate for engaging in sex.
We aren't supposed to do things which we don't know anything about, so a 14-year old is supposed to know about sex. 

“Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him,” Fr. Groeschel, now 79, said in the interview. “A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.” 
He added that he was “inclined to think” that priests who were first-time abusers should not be jailed because “their intention was not committing a crime.”
God forbid a Catholic priest notice the contents of canon law and publicly draw the logical conclusion:  individuals old enough to marry are also, therefore, old enough to seduce priests. 

The Catholic Faith is definitely not politically correct. 

And for those of you who like to say that the culture sexualizes youngsters, etc., can you explain all the saints and honored Christians of years past who got married at 12, 13, 14 or 15 and were having children before age 16? You know, people like  St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Eleanor of Castile or the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Were they sexualized by the culture?

Or were they sexualized by the hormones of their own healthy bodies?

Now to be clear, I'm not saying today's culture is healthy.
I'm just pointing out that we may be infantilizing our children as much as the culture is sexualizing them.

And tossing Fr. Groeschel out when he hasn't said anything wrong isn't necessarily a good move towards solving that problem.


This blogger has a different take. The point I want to highlight, though, is a throw-away line in the middle of that post:
"The problem of 'pop-star priests' who have a huge cult-like following in the US amongst conservatives keeps coming back to bite I think.  In this particular case, fortunately, the virtue of obedience seems to be intact, and the swift apologies and pulling of the article has short-circuited the debate to some degree. "
All of the Catholic pop-stars have the same problem. The Catholic Faith doesn't exist in order to act as a venue for stardom. 

But, as I've noted elsewhere, it has become the habit of Catholic pop-stars, both ordained and lay, to start non-profit corporations that hawk their wares instead of starting religious orders. This cannot be good for the Church.

If Father Groeschel were honestly that upset about having his name attached to his books, he could have written under a pseudonym and refused all publicity. Clearly this isn't what he chose to do. So he can cry me a river about the terrible burden of publicity, yada, but I really don't think I believe him on that point.

The scandal isn't in what he says about seducers of priests.
The scandal is in what he says about his not liking the limelight.

Typical EWTN. They fired the reporter who did the interview.
Of course, the editors who passed the interview on, the higher-ups who published it... yeah, they're safe as houses. Just shoot the messenger. 


Kate Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate Edwards said...


The issue about Groeschel's comments was not whether or not teenagers can be sexualised and thus attempt to seduce priests, but the lack of recognition that this fact is absolutely irrelevant to whether or not child abuse took place.

In most States and countries (Islamic ones aside), sex at these ages would be statutory rape regardless of the view of either party as to what was occurring. Moreover, in most cases we are not talking about heterosexual sex, but same sex.

I'm not disputing that priests, teachers and anyone else who works with children can indeed be the subject of sexual advances. But it is the responsibility of the other party - the adult - to say no and take appropriate steps to address the problem.

It surely reasonable to expect that priests (and adults in positions of power generally) are alert to the possiblity of these kinds of problems occurring and prepared to deal with them.

This is particularly important where there is a power imbalance between the parties.

Even more problematic was Fr Groeschel's contention that this occured in 'many cases'. In reality in the abuse was typically an abuse of power as well as of sexuality and to suggest otherwise is an insult to all those who were victimised. It surely reflects the rationalisations of predators.

For these reasons, I really can't see the relevance of the age canon law permits marriage here - we are not talking about marriage but committing a sin.

But I do agree with you about the virtues of priests and religoius publishing anonymously rather than following the fame trail...

Steve Kellmeyer said...


Sure in some venues some of the activity would be considered statutory rape today.

The question is, is that in accord with Catholic teaching, if the Church sets the age of consent at 12?

As you know, Catholics don't have a problem with disobeying an unjust law in other contexts. But is the law governing statutory rape in all cases just?

That's a debate no one seems interested in having, despite the example of the saints and centuries of Church practice. Indeed, no one is interested in talking about this despite the fact that the United States has some of the highest age of consent laws in the world.

Kate Edwards said...

But the Church doesn't set the age of consent to sodomy or sex out of wedlock at any age, let alone 12.

Instead the Church recognises that some people are capable of sin at very early ages indeed - and in most others psychological capacity to understand what is involved and give genuine consent comes much later.

In Australia at least consent involves the following concepts:

■understanding what is being proposed without confusion (not being tricked or fooled);
■knowing the standard for the behaviour in the family, the peer group and the culture (both parties have similar knowledge);
■having an awareness of possible consequences, such as punishment, pain, pregnancy or disease (both parties similarly aware);
■having respect for agreement or disagreement without repercussion; and
■having the competence to consent (being intellectually able and unaffected by intoxication).

These will mostly be lakcing in someone under 18.

Moreover, read the files for abuse cases that have gone to court and very few indeed invole any claim of consent.

One currently in the media here involves a Catholic school run by a religious order that employed three paedophiles - one while still on probation for a previous child abuse conviction.

In the particular case in question, a boy was being subjected to violence by his stepfather. A teacher under guise of 'helping' him invited him away for a weekend and sodomised him against his will. He complained to the religious brother who was his teacher and the principal and was punished for doing so.

In another case current here a school principal has actually been charged with physicla assault for physically disciplinging students who claimed to have been abused.

These are not uncommon stories.

And they are why the kind of nutty claims you are making are an insult to victims and give the Churdch a bad name.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

All the Catholic pop stars that have fallen from grace (or are about to) have two things in common. One, as you have noticed, they set up non-profit publishing corperations to hawk their wares, instead of founding religious orders. Yes, if they started religious orders, they would have to submit to some kind of discipline that would emphasize self-sacrifice. Many of these pop stars, as you have noticed on past posts, seem to be in it for the money. Second, many of these pop's start to become one man magisteriums that teach personal opinions or incrediably twisted interpetations of church dogma or doctrine. Then, they gather a following that hangs on to their every word like it was gospel. They and their followers tend to become intolerant of anyone who doesn't toe their line. Mark Shea is the worst of them, IMHO. He, and his toadies are now lashing ot at a priest called Fr. Peter West, who had the 'gall' to suggest that Shea should not be trusted as a source of information on the faith. Shea went volcanic over that, and is now trying to destroy this humble priest. I hope Mark gets a royal spanking that will put him in his place instead.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


I don't think you understand Fr. Groeschel's remarks.

1) He did not say EVERY case was defensible in that way. He did not say MOST cases were defensible in that way. He said many were.

2) If the law denies that someone can consent, then you can't raise a consent claim in the courtroom, even if the law happens to be wrong on that point.

3) You cannot seem to distinguish between the civil law and sin. Breaking civil law has no necessary correlation with sin.

4) Doing evil is not always the same as doing sin. I can commit evil without committing a sin if I do the evil without knowing it will be evil or without fully consenting to the evil (incapacitated or under duress).

You yourself say that even by the civil law standards of Australia, only "most" will lack. You don't say "all." Thus, SOME will NOT lack - and you therefore agree with the possibility that Groeschel raised.

Thank you for agreeing with him.
I rest my case.

Nilk said...

"But the Church doesn't set the age of consent to sodomy or sex out of wedlock at any age, let alone 12.

Instead the Church recognises that some people are capable of sin at very early ages indeed - and in most others psychological capacity to understand what is involved and give genuine consent comes much later."

This is the point, Kate. Steve is talking about sin. The reason the Church doesn't have an age of consent for sodomy or sex out of wedlock is because they are SINS. Doesn't matter how old you are, or what the current ruling regime (especially in the Socialist Paradise of Australiastan) declare.

The Church has never rescinded her laws on these particular sins.

Regardless of what some catholics believe or practice.

Kate Edwards said...


I'm not continuing this debate on my blog, but let me just make a few final points here in relation to issues you have raised.

1. You've claimed that Fr Groeschel didn't say most or even many cases. In fact he claimed that teenagers were the aggressors in 'many cases'.

2. This claim is not supported by the court cases, which make it clear that in the overwhelming majority of cases the child concerned did not give any form of consent, and even where they did it was at best dubious consent (implicit or explict threats; the inherent power imbalance between a child and a priest; the differing levels of knowledge of what was involved, and the less developed brain of a teenager in both physiological and psychological terms).

3. There is a big difference between consent to a marriage that was typically arranged by and required the permission of parents and was a public event, and engaging in sinful and immoral activity in secret. As Nilk points out (and I have previously) the age of marriage is irrelevant to sin. What determines how serious it is are the usual factors: intent, knowledge etc. And on t hese factors priests are much more likely to know exactly what is going on than the child, not matter how sexually precocious they might be. A priest, after all, typically spends several years in seminary being prepared for a life of celibacy.

4. In reality the evidence submitted in court cases is that most cases victims were threatened with dire consequences (even death) if they said anything, and not believed, even being subjected to severe punishments when they did.

5. If the priests concerned were insane, why aren't they loked up in psychiatric institutions so that they can do no further harm? Instead in most cases they've gone on to commit further crimes thanks to the advice of psychologists (including Fr Groeschel, see the cases mentioned on bishop accountability and linked to in my post' Fr Groeschel has a track record') that they did not really present a danger to children (consider for example the advice given to Bishop Finn in the Fr Rattigan case which nearly landed the bishop in jail and did earn him a conviction).

Inca said...


Of course you're not continuing the debate on your blog - you aren't making much sense.

1) Stipulated - I pointed that out above and on your blog.

2) Kate, if the civil law doesn't recognize consent is possible, then it can't be entered as a defense. Thus, it is no surprise to see that consent is not entered as a civil defense. you make a stupid reply even though you aren't stupid, so I can't figure out why you keep making it.

3) The point isn't that the boy and the priest are not married, the point is that the boy is old enough to consent to sex from the Catholic point of view if he is 16, the girl if she is 14.

Furthermore, a seminary is not "preparation for a life of celibacy." It is preparation to undertake sacramental and administrative duties of a priest. These are quite different things.

4) If you mean "in all cases", then you are quite wrong. If you mean "in some cases" or even "in most cases", then you may be correct, but this doesn't controvert Groeschel's point about "many cases" not involving such threats.

5) This remark is so stupid that I may have to retract my remark about you not being stupid. You display ZERO knowledge about how psychiatry or psychology works.