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loupus's avatar

Would allowing Catholic priests to marry reduce pedophelia?

Asked by loupus (146points) July 29th, 2007 from iPhone

Does pedophelia have anything to do with sexual frustration due to celibacy?

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8 Answers

gooch's avatar

no if someone is a child molester they are a child molester having a wife doesn't change things. Many child molesters are married.

hossman's avatar

It is probably helpful to try to distinguish between pedophiliac attraction to children before the onset of puberty, children before the completion of puberty, and to minors who have completed puberty but not reached the legal age of consent for that jurisdiction. Pedophiles attracted to children before puberty are certainly not going to find any relief from sexual activities with mature adults (at least that's what every study I've seen has concluded). Pedophiles attracted to children during puberty also are not likely to find relief from sexual activities with mature adults. The nature of what pedophiles are attracted to is simply physically different. "Child molestation" is not a clinical term but is rather broadly applied to anyone engaging in prohibited acts with a person under the age of consent in that jurisdiction. This may include, for example, two 15-year olds, physically but not socially or legally mature, who engage in fully consensual acts. Your specific question is targeted at adults. Adults engaging in acts with physically mature persons who are under the age of consent, while they may not clinically qualify as pedophiles, are still breaking the law, usually with a person who is not emotionally, socially, or psychologically able to engage in these activities from an equal and fully consensual basis, and are frequently victims because they are more readily manipulated than an adult. If they have not previously acted on their impulse toward a physically developed minor, then perhaps ceasing to be celibate would give them an outlet to make it easier to resist temptation, but if they have already been sufficiently selfish to act on these impulses, I would suggest it may not be credible to think terminating celibacy would prevent them from asking selfishly again.
The instances of adults acting illegally with physically developed minors, especially in the group you suggested, Catholic priests (and I would extend it to any clergy or members of any group that public knowledge of this conduct would destroy their careers or family lives) probably has more to do with control, secrecy and opportunity rather than true psychological deviancy. That is not to diminish the illegality, selfishness and injustice of these acts, even when the minor "consents."

susanc's avatar

A very late comment: actually in most states two fifteen-year-olds would not be found guilty of “communicating with minors;; it’s the imbalance of power in an unequal set of
ages that constitutes a crime in the elder, therefore more powerful, partner. For example, an eighteen-year-old, thus a legal adult, is not allowed to have sex with a fifteen-year-old (in my state), because s/he is a minor. But two same-age kids are not seen as a couple within which one is taking advantage of the other’s inexperience (though this may be the case) and thus neither is punishable. Is this not your reading of the laws, hossman?

hossman's avatar

That’s why I said “MAY include. . . two 15 year olds.” Typical legalese waffling, I know, but it depends on your state. Although I haven’t researched the issue recently, I do know that a decade ago, a few states did include intercourse between two minors of similar age in their “statutory rape” statute. At that time, a few states only prohibited males from such conduct, in what I believe to be not only unconstitutional, but also unrealistic provisions. The concept of prohibiting intercourse between similarly aged minors is it is not what you describe as taking advantage of another’s inexperience which the legislature is seeking to prohibit, but rather any sexual conduct with any minor, regardless of the age of the other partner. Although this may seem unfair, labeling it unfair includes the assumption, which many would oppose, that it is OK for minors to have sex with someone of similar “experience.” If you look at it as a purely legal concept, and put aside moral prohibitions, if a minor is legally incapable of consenting to sexual conduct, the age of the partner is irrelevant.

I do recall being in paternity court about a year ago and a 22 year old woman had brought a paternity action seeking child support. The defendant, representing himself, argued he could not be required to pay child support, as he could not work because he was required to attend high school. The judge asked him his age, he was 15. The judge asked the woman if she had filed a rape charge with the police, she said she had not, that the act was consensual. The judge told her that was not possible, as the father of the child could not legally agree to have sex, and had the bailiff take her into custody, and she was charged with statutory rape.

susanc's avatar

I bow to hossman’s giant brain. This is a great answer.

NVOldGuy's avatar

Take a look at the profile of child molesters.

deaddolly's avatar

I doubt allowing priests to marry would slove anything. It may, in fact, be easier for them to hide. What a disgusting thought.

jvgr's avatar

Old question, but new to me, so:

Yes, I think the incidence of pedophilia would decrease simply because the wider population of potential priests will likely dilute the concentration.

I don’t think there is a link between pedophilia and sexual frustration/celibacy because pedophiles have a very specific sexual preference: children. Many examples of priests having relationships with adult females.

The celibacy thing is not of biblical origin. Priests were married at one time, but when the corporate church realized that they were losing property (priests willing their land, which often included the church they built, to offspring) celibacy became the rule.

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