Life is full of surprises.
Given all the trouble that has been attached to child abuse and the catholic church it seems beyond belief (excuse the pun) that the age of consent in the Vatican is 12.
You would think that at the very least there would be a move a foot to change this. I can’t think of a worse public relations fact.
The age that children and young people are allowed to do different things varies so much in the UK alone, but around the world there are huge anomalies.
I live in the UK where you are allowed to join the army at 17 and theoretically shoot people but you are not allowed to vote. You are allowed to get married at 16 but you are not allowed to have a drink of beer in a pub. You are allowed to have the responsibility of a full relationship with your partner at 16 but not allowed to drive a car. You can drive a car and kill people at 17 but you cannot buy cigarettes and kill yourself until you are 18 . . .
And don’t get me on to the age of consent worldwide because the arrangements in different continents are so different that there is no universal idea of when children and young people reach a sophisticated age to make these decisions for themselves.
Why do we all treat children so differently and why does the Vatican not get its act together?by
Whilst the Catholic Church has certainly harboured child sex offenders, covered things up and has much to do to restore confidence, it is a push to suggest that the Church has age of consent laws that encourage sexual relations with children.
It’s true that the Church has a confused mix of divine law, Vatican law, papal decrees, Italian law and Canon law, but it’s worth remembering that the Church sees all sexual relations outside marriage as illicit. Canon law, which is employed across the globe, states that a male cannot enter into a valid marriage until he has completed his sixteenth year, i.e. 17, and a female until she has completed her fourteenth year, i.e. 15, so then it becomes more about Vatican State law being outdated rather than Church laws encouraging the exploitation of children. The Vatican took the age of 12 from Italian law in 1929 and appears not to have got around to making it 14 when the Italians changed their law.
Certainly the Church needs to get its act together protecting children rather than its clergy, but unless we can find a case of a twelve year old bride visiting or being married at the Vatican in recent times, that particular age of consent becomes academic That said, I agree it’s a PR disaster because how many look beyond that headline?