Question: Who Said: "Not All Sex Involving Children Is Unwanted and Abusive'? Answer: the Pope's Biggest British Critic

By Peter Hitchens
Daily Mail
September 13, 2010

Here comes the Pope, though he would have much more fun if he stayed in Rome for root canal dentistry.

His mysterious visit, to the country in Europe where he is most likely to be insulted, is the target of every liberal elitist in Britain.

A whole assembly of crackpot sexual revolutionaries and wild ultra-Leftists will be ranged against him.

Running the gauntlet: The Pope's visit to Britain is bound to be met with disdain by 'crackpot sexual revolutionaries'

Such people normally do not have much popular support. Against the previous Pope, their campaign would have been insignificant squeaking, barely heard above the applause.

But thanks to the abuse of children by some priests, and the Roman Church’s feeble efforts to punish them, all that has changed. It is now respectable again to be anti-Catholic.

Well, that’s reasonable. Paedophilia is disgusting, and particularly so among men supposedly dedicated to goodness.

But the Vatican doesn’t actually tell its priests to abuse children. The vast majority of them do not so do. And it has tried to stamp out the problem and to offer genuine apologies to the victims.

I (as a non-Roman Catholic) have examined some of the main charges levelled against Benedict XVI by his attackers, and found that several of them are simply untrue, whereas others have been crudely distorted.

I have also examined the record of one of the main critics of the Papal visit. This is Peter Tatchell, prominent in the ‘Protest the Pope’ campaign.

Set for a battle: The Roman Church's feeble efforts to punish priests who have abused children have left many with criticisms of the Pope

I admire Mr Tatchell’s physical and moral courage, notably when he was badly beaten by Robert Mugabe’s bodyguards for attempting a citizen’s arrest of that monster. The effects of that beating still trouble him.

But this does not cancel out what I believe is the hypocrisy of his attempt – and that of the Left in general – to wage war on the Pope by employing the charge of condoning or failing to act against paedophilia (it is No??5 in the charge-sheet set out by ‘Protest the Pope’).

For on June 26, 1997, Mr Tatchell wrote a start­ling letter to the Guardian newspaper.

In it, he defended an academic book about ‘Boy-Love’ against what he saw as calls for it to be censored. When I contacted him on Friday, he emphasised that he is ‘against sex between adults and children’ and that his main purpose in writing the letter had been to defend free speech.

He told me: ‘I was opposing calls for censorship generated by this book. I was not in any way condoning paedophilia.’

Personally, I think he went a bit further than that. He wrote that the book’s arguments were not shocking, but ‘courageous’.

He said the book documented ‘examples of societies where consenting inter-generational sex is considered normal’.

He gave an example of a New Guinea tribe where ‘all young boys have sex with older warriors as part of their initiation into manhood’ and allegedly grow up to be ‘happy, well-adjusted husbands and fathers’.

And he concluded: ‘The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy.

‘While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.’

Well, it’s a free country. And I’m rather grateful that Mr Tatchell, unlike most of his allies, is honest enough to discuss openly where the sexual revolution may really be headed.

What he said in 1997 remains deeply shocking to almost all of us. But shock fades into numb acceptance, as it has over and over again. Much of what is normal now would have been deeply shocking to British people 50 years ago. We got used to it. How will we know where to stop? Or will we just carry on for ever?

As the condom-wavers and value-free sex-educators advance into our primary schools, and the pornography seeps like slurry from millions of teenage bedroom computers, it seems clear to me that shock, by itself, is no defence against this endless, sordid dismantling of moral barriers till there is nothing left at all.

Yet when one of the few men on the planet who argues, with force, consistency and reason, for an absolute standard of goodness comes to this country, he is reviled by fashionable opinion.

Unbroken: Victims of the Blitz in 1941 - dropping bombs on women and children in their homes is a wicked form of warfare


Can we be straight about the Blitz, now that it is 70 years since it began?

Most of us have two absolutely clear reactions to it. The first is that dropping bombs on women and children in their homes is a wicked form of warfare.

The second is that – despite all the horrors of being bombed – the British people were not demoralised or blasted into defeatism, but worked all the harder for victory because it was the only way to get back at the enemy who dropped death on them from the sky.

Yet as soon as anyone suggests that we were wrong to bomb German women and children in their homes – as I firmly believe we were – they are shouted down by cries of ‘They asked for it!’.

Actually, they didn’t ask for it at all. The children, as always, had no say in the matter. And the people who bravely voted against Hitler to the last lived in the poor urban areas which we deliberately bombed.

And when anyone argues – as I do – that the bombing of German civilians was also an ineffective way of fighting the war, doing surprisingly little damage to the Nazi war effort, they are shouted down by apologists who seem to think that Germans responded to bombing differently from British people.

It’s not true, and those who have studied the facts agree.

Yet I am absolutely in favour of a memorial, large and majestic, in a place where as many people as possible will see it, to the young men who nightly climbed into their bombers and flew over Germany.

They believed they were helping to destroy a great tyranny. They trusted their leaders.

That is why they set off, hearts in mouths, in the full knowledge that they probably wouldn’t come back, and that they were likely to die in a specially horrible fashion.

Not since the Somme in 1916 had so much steadfast valour and youth been squandered by old men who ought to have known better.

On the Bomber Command war memorial, alongside the shattering number of names and the chokingly sad ages at which they died, should be the words ‘Lions, led by Donkeys’.


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