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    Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
    Proverbs 22:6


    As far as we can tell pederasty has always been common in the Church, although its prevalence has only recently been exposed publicly. Since early times regulations have been necessary to control the sexual abuse of children. For example rules required monks to have separate beds, except the younger ones. These younger ones, mere boys, were "dispersed among the seniors" according to the Benedictine rule. No doubt the original intention was good, but one shivvers to think of the amount of abuse it facilitated.

    Cannon Law mentioned sexual intercourse with children, but only in passing. There is no penalty, for having sex with children, and the only significance is that children under seven are treated in the same way as anyone over seven for the purposes of the law. To take an example, in one legal case the question was whether a man might marry a girl if he had previously had sexual intercourse with her seven year old sister. The Pope ruled as follows:

    Carnal intercourse with a girl of seven is a diriment impediment to a marriage later contracted with her blood relatives.
    (Decretals of Pope Gregory IX , Book Four, Title XIII Relations with a Spouse's or Betrothed's Blood Relatives, C7). [the word diriment means "totally invalidating"]

    So in this case the man's marriage to a woman was invalidated because he had had sex with her seven year old sister, just as it would have been if he had had sex with her adult sister.

    Many religious orders have a long history of widespread accusations against them - the Jesuits for example were a target for Voltaire (who was himself educated by Jesuits so presumably knew what he was talking about).

    The prevalence of pederast priests in the Catholic Church is now widely accepted and dealt with elsewhere on this website (see Celibacy).

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