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Sex Crimes Not Mere "Disorders"

A South African cardinal, Archbishop Wilfrid Fox Napier, has apologized, albeit weakly, for suggesting that pedophilia should be treated mainly as a psychological disorder, not a criminal condition.

Sorry, but pedophilia is a crime--a version of rape--and should be reported to civil authorities as such. Had the Church not been bamboozled by supposedly enlightened psychology experts of the 1960s and'70s, and held firm instead to its own wise understanding of sin, the disgrace that has befallen the Church would have been avoided.

There are many kinds of "disorders" in this fallen world, and, of course, those who suffer from them deserve compassion and help. But true repentance and an appropriate penance come first. Some temptations are relatively undangerous (e.g., gluttony), but others are particularly reprehensible if acted upon--notably, the desire to sexually abuse anyone, especially minors. The disorders that constitute crimes in society should be reported as such. After that, if the accusations are true, can come therapy. But the safety of victims and potential victims comes first. The psychological adjustments of the offending priest are properly a secondary concern.

Please don't pretend that pedophiles are ignorant of the sins--the crimes--they have committed or that their own abuse as youth somehow excuses them. Will we take the same attitude when today's abused children go on to abuse some youth in the future? A good Christian--say, just for example, a priest!--has to take responsibility. Pope Benedict XVI understood this. It is appalling that anyone in Church authority is still even slightly confused on this point.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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