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Pope is right on views of paedophilia in 1970s

Added on December 24, 2010

Independent.ie

David Quinn:

EVERY year at this time the Pope addresses the Vatican diplomatic corps and wherever possible the media like to misinterpret what he says.

Two years ago he is supposed to have compared the destruction of the rainforests with homosexuality, but he didn't even mention homosexuality in that speech.

This year he is supposed to have blamed the sex abuse scandals on the 1970s and to have suggested that we didn't really know child sex abuse was an absolute evil back then.

The reporting this time was a little closer to the truth, but not by much because it gave the false impression that what he had to say was utterly ridiculous and unworthy of consideration.

In fact, in the 1970s there was a movement to legalise sex between children and adults and it was supported by some of the leading lights of the time who believed sexual relationships of this sort weren't evil at all, let alone an absolute evil.

This had been conveniently forgotten until the German magazine, 'Der Spiegel' (itself on the left) reminded us of the fact in an article a few months ago entitled 'The sexual revolution and children: how the left took things too far.'

The article describes the kinderladen movement in Germany set up by leftists in the 1970s as a rival to the kindergarten movement. Its intention was to radicalise very young children, and to 'sexually liberate' them.

'Der Spiegel' describes what this involved: "The educators' notes indicate that they placed a very strong emphasis on sex education. Almost every day, the students played games that involved taking off their clothes, reading porno magazines and pantomiming intercourse."

In addition, the children were encouraged to fondle each other and to fondle adults.

Today, we recognise this as child abuse. But clearly the parents who sent their children to these schools did not consider it as such and neither did the teachers.

How did they justify this? As 'Der Spiegel' makes clear, they believed they were 'liberating' children from 'repressive' and 'bourgeois' notions about child sexuality.

This is what the Pope meant when he told the diplomatic corps: "In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children."

Nor was the kinderladen movement the work of fringe cranks. The far left in Germany, as elsewhere in the 1970s, was fantastically influential.

For example, one of the kinderladen teachers was Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a great hero of the 1968 student rebellion.

'Der Spiegel' recounts how Cohn-Bendit appeared on French TV in 1982 and had the following to say: "At nine in the morning, I join my eight little toddlers between the ages of 16 months and two years. I wash their butts, I tickle them, they tickle me and we cuddle ... you know, a child's sexuality is a fantastic thing ... when a little five-year-old girl starts undressing, it's great, because it's a game. It's an incredibly erotic game."

Today Cohn-Bendit laughs this off and says he was being merely provocative. But if that is so, it was some sick joke. In any case, he is now co-president of the Greens in the European Parliament.

And speaking of the Greens, 'Der Spiegel' also reminds us that, as late as 1985, the Greens' state organisation in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia argued that "nonviolent sexuality' between children and adults should generally be allowed, without any age restrictions".

Are we to dismiss the Greens as fringe lunatics as well?

What about Jean-Paul Sartre? Is this doyen of leftist philosophers also to be dismissed as unrepresentative of intellectual currents in the 1970s?

In 1977, he and 69 other French leading lights wrote a letter to newspaper 'Le Monde' in which they demanded the release of three men accused of having sex with minors.

It doesn't stop there. In the 1970s a pro-paedophile organisation called the Paedophile Information Exchange was a member of the British Council for Civil Liberties.

The North American Man-Boy Love Association was a member of one of the biggest gay rights movements in the world -- the International Lesbian and Gay Association -- right up until 1993.

This attitude -- ranging from ambivalence towards child/adult sex to outright support -- still continues. Think of those who defended the film director Roman Polanski, among them other famous directors, actors as well as French government ministers.

Earlier this year they demanded Polanski's release from a Swiss prison even though he admitted to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1978.

Our general policy towards Pope Benedict is basically, shoot first, ask questions later. In fact, whenever you see him attacked over something he has said there are two rules to apply. First, find out if he actually said what he is supposed to have said.

Second, if he did say it, find out if he was right before he's lynched.

On this occasion, he was right. The evidence is before you, and there is a lot more besides. There was a push in the 1970s, and later, to both normalise and legalise sex between children and adults. Why have we forgotten this?

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