Virtuous Peds?

Jennifer Mazzara

Jennifer Mazzara

Jennifer Mazzara has been a Catholic for 26 years, and a blogger for 6. She is a mother of two beautiful little men and shares her daytime with them playing with trains or just watching the world go by outside our door. Her big man is in the United States Marine Corps, and her family's life in the the military couldn't be more blessed. She blogs at Midnight Radio.

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26 thoughts on “Virtuous Peds?”

  1. I am confused. Are the men you quoted above trying to live celibately? That was what I gathered from the top of the article. Yet, at the end you say that no one is embracing chastity? Did I misunderstand, or are the men you profiled living celibately? It was somewhat unclear.

    Very thought-provoking article.

    1. It is actually an extremely nasty piece and as is often the way with people when they are very angry is that they get confused.

  2. Perinatal Loss Nurse

    I was curious of what this article was even about because in Healthcare, the word “Peds” most certainly does not mean “pedophile” it is short for “Pediatrician” or “Pediatric patient”. It would be clearer if the title were “Virtuous Pedophile?”

    I was sad that your tone was so negative…while you were right to be mortified to some degree at how awful this whole topic is, the silver lining in the cloud that there ARE people who are seriously tempted to do wrong but who choose virtue and chastity is a big deal. I dont know that any of them would feel accepted or encouraged by this commentary.

  3. No contortions here.

    There’s a fundamental difference between love between same sexes and pedophilia. The former involves two consenting adults. The latter is abuse of a child who cannot make a rational decision whether or not to engage in behavior that is beyond their understanding.

    Please don’t paint them with the same judgmental brush.

  4. @ Sarah B., Personally I thought it was fairly clear that while these guys are living celibately, there comes a point where shame (though that words isn’t used) in society should be enough to discourage the collecting of these individuals into groups, but that sense of shame is (obviously) disappearing. In spite of the vitriol, the fact is that pedophilia is becoming more acceptable on the fringes of society, and in a way that parallels the initial and now growing acceptance of homosexuality.

    When the justification for legally enshrining homosexual unions as a right is equal rights for individuals who have legitimate affection (love) for each other, then what’s to say pedophilia itself won’t be normalized by making the same argument about a pedophile and his 8 year old boy or girl friend? After all, anything we say against it will be based in a subjective opinion, a subjective morality, right?

    So what I think she’s saying is that while it is nice that they are living chastely, it is frightening that even entertaining the idea of groups for pedophiles is scary because this is a condition that should be hidden, and not brought out into public in anyway. You need to seek help, but not through finding a sense of normal by communicating with your fellow pedophiles. That’s what this sort of association brings, a sense of normalization, which will result in a desire to be recognized as normal, while using the same rhetoric homosexuals have.

    So, when you combine the sense of normal with pedophilia with the misconceived notion that we can’t be chaste, and the rationale of the homosexual movement, then the logical conclusion, and probably social result, is an everwidening acceptance of pedophilia.

    If you think this won’t be the case, you can look at foreign cultures (Pashtun in Afghanistan) or ancient cultures (the Pashtun again, who have an ancient culture, or the Greeks), where sex was for pleasure and satisfaction of affection. Pedophilia in those cultures is/was a norm of daily life. I think Jennifer’s point is very clear.

  5. Hi, I’m Ethan, one of the “Virtuous Pedophiles” founders. Hope you don’t mind my dropping in.

    I hear and understand your fears. But let’s focus on what new elements Virtuous Pedophiles brings to the table. For decades there have been “boy love” and “girl love” groups and websites where pedophiles celebrate their attractions and often argue for lowering the age of consent. Anyone can join. They have been with us and will continue to be with us.

    What “Virtuous Pedophiles” brings that is new is a place where pedophiles can talk with others who are all committed to not acting on our desires and with no interest in making adult-child sex legal.

    You would prefer silence, and in that case the ugly topic wouldn’t come to your attention. But pedophiles can’t just make the subject go away. They don’t actually vanish when you don’t think about them. In silence, pedophiles are frightened to seek help. Time and again we hear of young pedophiles who hear that they will inevitably abuse children. Horrified at the prospect, they contemplate suicide. Some of the ones who don’t may feel they might as well go ahead and abuse kids, since they’re bound to eventually and everyone hates them anyway.

    Pedophilia is similar to homosexuality in some ways but different in others. We use phrases like “outed” because that particular concept applies perfectly. For decades some pedophiles have argued that they are parallel — and despite your fears of a slippery slope, they have made absolutely no headway. We at “Virtuous Pedophiles” are stressing the difference: abusing kids is wrong and should never happen.

    “One criticism of ‘ordinary’ adult porn is that men come to prefer it to sex with real partners. That would be a fantastic result when it comes to child porn!”

    I think you misunderstand the cause for the exclamation point. The exciting prospect is that child sexual abuse could be reduced. I do hope that is a goal you share with us? But Catholicism opposes distributing condoms to fight AIDS, so I suppose it would be a consistent view that masturbation to avoid child sexual abuse is immoral.

    Although I’m not myself a Christian, I believe that Jesus taught love of fellow human beings, even sinners. It may be hard to practice that with pedophiles, but I should hope it would be easier with pedophiles who are committed to not abusing children.

    Check us out at virped.org and read the FAQs to learn more about our positions.

    1. Ethan,

      I admire your courage in writing that response. If you are willing to show love to other people including your fellow minor attracted persons, I’ll call you a Christian.

  6. I don’t see what the fuss is about. We don’t get to choose our temptations.

    It’s just that some temptations, apparently, are more equal (or less odious) than others.

    Do not draw from this that I’m approving of pedophilia.

    But be honest–there are some people who feel they are somehow more virtuous than those who might be tempted to this or that (especially THAT!).

  7. @Ethan,
    your efforts for yourself and others who want to fight this problem with Chastity are commendable. Here is what I fear will happen though.

    First, there will arise the “pedophile activists” who, like Gay activists, will fight to “normalize” sex with children. They will be aided by the “useful idiots” out there just as the gay rights movement has been. The therapy that you and others find helpful will be made illegal and intollerance of pedophiles will be condemed. Some in the gay movement already have tried to eliminate age consent laws.

    Ethan, your comment about using child porn as a substitute for real abuse of childeren is just woefully misguided. From the beginning it assumes that child porn would be produced, abusing kids to do so. Not good. Secondly almost 100% of pedophile offenders use child porn, so it does not work in the manner you suggest. Please rethink your position on that.

    We don’t recommend condoms for AIDS because it does not work. With a 10% failure rate at best a person would be exposed once out of every 10 encounters. How many exposures does it take to get HIV? Do the math. And thats in a perfect world where the condom is used as instructed.

    Again, I support your efforts to live chastely, please read “Theology of the Body” and adapt that teaching to your situation.

  8. Ethan,

    Catholic teaching has a way to understand how a person with such inclinations can still be virtuous. Using his intellect and will, by grace, he can chose to do good and not act on the disordered desires. Catholics get this, it’s what we’ve been saying to people with homosexual and adulterous desires all along. You can conquer the inclination to sin.

    The people who reject this teaching and say that the desires are not disordered, but natural, and should be accepted are the people who have no idea what to do with the concept of “virtuous pedophiles.” They want tolerance and they don’t think anyone should be expected to be chaste – yet they are disgusted by pedophilia. They’ve got no way to sort this out, but it’s the result of what they’ve been promoting.

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  10. Jason Miller, Ph.D., M.P.A.

    Ethan,

    The Catholic Church is 100% right on with its teaching regarding masturbation, particularly for individuals like yourself who are boldly struggling with these temptations. I am speaking both as a Deacon and a Clinical Psychologist here. One of the greatest difficulties in treating individuals with paraphilias is fantasy and subsequent masturbation. Fantasy and masturbation are key in the development and maintenance of a paraphilia. Most people don’t have access to the object/person of their temptation all the time, especially early on in the development of a disorder. What the person does is masturbate and fantisize, sometimes 2 to 3 times a day. The association between pleasure and that object of desire becomes virtually unbreakable over the course of years. That is exactly why it feels so difficult and agonizing to quit. Remember, rats will choose neurologically stimulated orgasms over food – they almost starve themselves to death, pressing a lever over and over again to get that stimulation, while ignoring the lever that provides food. That is how addicting those impulses are. Getting someone to break that cycle is difficult if not virtually impossible. This is EXACTLY why homosexuality is so difficult to work with and that it FEELS like someone is “born that way.” When someone has masturbated and fantisized 2 to 3 times a day for several years – it FEELS like biology. And technically, it is, but not genetic biology. It is our brains being chemically and structurally (by neural connections) changed by a firmly conditioned behavior.
    If you notice, a lot of our spiritual disciplines in the Church are designed to cut off these impulses from dominating us – fasting, prayer, ritual, rosaries, etc. They put our minds and our hearts somewhere else. While your therapy is absolutely essential, you are not going to find all the answers there. It is necessary, but not sufficient. There are reasons why individuals of faith have better outcomes in mental health, physical health, substance abuse, and martial life. I suggest looking more deeply at the Church. God bless you in your struggle and search for Truth.

  11. @Dan. Thanks for appreciating my chastity.

    I think you have the timeline and history wrong regarding age of consent. Attitudes were much more liberal in the 1970s (certainly regarding young teens). Pedophiles in favor of lowering ages of consent have been making the case for decades. And what’s happened? Society has become more and more intolerant of pedophilia. The analogy with homosexuality just hasn’t held up in this case. You are right that there is a liberal tendency to be more and more tolerant of ‘deviant’ groups, but there is an even stronger liberal ferocity in defending victims. That latter force will be a solid rock against which normalizing adult-child sex will make no headway (thank goodness). There is a possible niche between those two forces for Virtuous Pedophiles.

    Regarding child porn, I was referring to *virtual* child porn, made with adults, photoshop, or drawings. I am opposed to child porn made with real children. It’s not true that 100% of child abusers use child porn. And it’s not clear what’s cause and what’s effect. As a shocking thought experiment, suppose all the child abusers had ten mediocre images of child porn. Maybe all the pedophiles who didn’t abuse children had a hundred really high-quality ones?Science has made it clear that large numbers of men who are caught for use of child porn never offend against a child. I’m still not defending child porn made with real children.

    If the Catholic position is that condoms would be OK if they worked 100% of the time, that would be news to me. All the scientists think that their widespread use would help a great deal.

    I’ll try to take a look at the book you recommend.

  12. It is quite disturbing to read about the conflating of ideas and reasoning of pedophilia and homosexuality. The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association do not consider homosexuality a disorder. In the DSMR there is no mention of homosexuality as a disorder…the Catholic position is to the contrary (although the Catholic Church once condemned Galileo and his belief that the earth was round.) There has always been an certain small incidence of homosexual activity among all primates. Science has discovered some genetic basis for homosexual inclination; also, we know we can’t cure or pray away the gay. Jesus spoke not of gays probably because it wasn’t an issue for him.
    Now, pedophilia is a different story. It has been a taboo since primordial time as was incest. Every above organization considers it a disorder. Society maintains and will maintain that pedophilia activity is criminal that child porn is criminal, that adult-child sex below the age of consent is criminal. Paul in Ephesians railed against “call boys”. Even Jesus talked about the fact if anyone harmed a child it would be better that a mill stone be tied around their neck and be drowned. Strong words! It is known that pedophiles can’t be cured, so chastity isn’t much of an option…keep hands and eyes to self or end up in jail.
    Now we know from all the thousands of reports that the clergy abuse of the past 50 years was about homosexuality not pedophilia. Pedophilia is a 98% man-oriented affliction and a child abuser can either be hetero or homosexual…not defined to either group. Priest abusers were usually ephebophiles.
    Only a tiny lunatic fringe advocates man-boy love and the good Father Paul Shanley of Boston and CA was one of the biggest advocates of NAMBLA and always preached children were the seducers. Our friends Mederios and Law covered for the pervert who is thankfully in jail. Pedophila will never be not a taboo and an act not worthy of the millstone.
    As for this chastity thing, pedophiles better be chaste or castrated or medicated. Homosexuals can marry in my state (MA) so there is no need for chastity, never was. And I’m a happily married persons with kids. I have worked for 30 years with kids, most are straight, some are gay…the Catholic spiel has driven numbers to suicide because they were taught something was wrong them. I have also know pedophile and ephebophile priests…they deserved the millstone. Please do not conflate the issues between the two; it’s unjust and unfair and I do not condone pedophile clubs for any reason…they do not need to know each other socially and share stories of their fantasies.

  13. Jason Miller, Ph.D., M.P.A.

    Phil,

    Pedophilia actually has not always been taboo. It certainly is among most cultures throughout time, but there are examples where it has not been: the Greeks, Japanese, etc. The NAMBLA folks use these cultures to support their position. A more obvious position is that some cultures are just ill – I don’t think for a moment that these same folks would advocate stoning just because a culture accepts it. It is of course a symptom of relativism gone wild.

    I really think you need to re-examine your position on “pedophile clubs.” I don’t honestly think that is what they are proposing here. They, like so many people with unhealthy attachments and addictions, sound like they are trying to create a support group of sorts so they can STOP being pedophiles – something like AA, xxxchurch (for porn addiction), etc. but the problem is they can’t be public like AA or people (quite understandably) would flip. They are in a no win situation because they want to be open about needing help, but people would freak. Yet if they DON’T openly pursue help, well then it obviously gets worse. And speaking professionally, there are few people that have a license who would be even willing to take these guys on – the risks and liability would be outrageous. So what are we to do for these folks to truly help them AND ultimately prevent new victims. That needs some serious discussion. How do we simultaneously help AND protect. That is what these guys are trying to do. I am sure the early Christian communities faced this as well – certainly among the Greeks as they converted.

  14. Stacy,

    I have no trouble personally avoiding bad things and doing good for the world. We have in common our desire for pedophiles to remain celibate.

    In examining a great many discussions since Virtuous Pedophiles went online at the end of June, I sense a variety of reactions among the majority who place little value on celibacy in general. There are quite a number who say, “Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that. I’m going to be more accepting — you guys have a difficult burden.” The last sentence is their nod to the idea that celibacy is hard, but they do manage to digest the idea of virtuous pedophiles within their worldview.

    There’s a debate even among celibate pedophiles about to what extent it is a disorder. My co-founder Nick likes the analogy of diabetes. It is a disorder, but not one a person chose and not a cause of shame. For each individual we encourage whatever beliefs and self-concept are most conducive to not abusing children. If that is secure, we’d favor whatever lets him live a fulfilling life. For some that involves total abstinence from all fantasies, and for others it includes embracing them — as fantasies.

  15. @Jason,

    Thanks for appreciating what we’re trying to do together — support in celibacy, not fantasies. Also, a few seek support in not killing themselves — that’s where many of us are. It’s not because they think they’re in danger of abusing a child, it’s just that they are lonely and sad, with a big secret, and fundamentally the entire world hates them.

    “And speaking professionally, there are few people that have a license who would be even willing to take these guys on – the risks and liability would be outrageous”

    That’s a particularly strong statement of our depressing situation. You should know that there *are* a lot of people with licenses who are willing to take us on, after clearly explaining the reporting requirements. Not enough, but lots. I’d urge a little more courage on the part of your fellow professionals.

    Pedophiles are complicated people, with strengths and weaknesses and difficulties that have nothing to do with pedophilia, and sometimes we just want help with those other problems. Even looking for such help, having to self-censor on a central subject isn’t fun.

    As for masturbation and fantasies, your description makes sense. Masturbating to fantasies can make them more intense. Your treatment model is an accepted one. One recommendation we make is for people to find other aspects of life to get engaged with — service to others or just hobbies. Testosterone-inhibiting drugs (so-called “chemical castration”) can also be effective. But I think the common professional view is that the underlying attraction to children can be decreased but not eliminated.

    However, I would note that you and your profession see only one small segment of the population of pedophiles — people who have experienced enough distress (or antisocial behavior) that they come to your attention. It is natural to generalize from that to all pedophiles, but invalid. Some who do not seek your attention have achieved a stable balance of fantasy and masturbation and are reasonably content.

    There is evidence that when the internet comes to a community, sexual violence against adults goes down, and one natural explanation is the availability of porn. There is also evidence from Denmark, the Czech Republic and Japan that when child porn became available, child sexual abuse did not go up and arguably in some cases declined. One thinks that masturbation was a mediating factor there. What effect it had on the souls or inner lives of these hidden men is unclear, but the net effect on child victims was not an increase in harm.

    Thanks for your work in helping people overcome serious sexual difficulties.

  16. Let me emphasize again regarding my last comment that I am not defending child porn made with real children. One can hope that “virtual” porn or legal pictures could have similar effects. (I tried to use the comment editor, but all I saw was a blank text box after it said my comment was loaded.)

  17. This is a very direct article which I think points to a lot of truth regarding the issue of pedophilia and homosexuality. I’ve heard the argument that homosexuality is genetic and should be left as is. Some might end up saying the same thing about pedophilia as well. I’m old enough to remember homosexuality being a taboo. When I first had it explained to me, my response was, “that’s disgusting!” As I grew, I realized that there were many perverse ideas of sex out in the world. Homosexuality, pedophilia, beastiality, necrophilia, etc. Right now, beastiality is illegal in most places. How long before that’s challenged? I’m not surprised to hear what the author of this article wrote. I work with many military folks who’ve been to Iraq and/or Afghanistan and many of them have told me repeated stories of older men using young boys or animals for sexual pleasure. Apparently this is legal and not considered homosexuality in those countries since homosexuality is defined as being between two men and not involving boys. So pedophilia is quite common in some cultures today. Yes, scripture condemns the harming of children, but it also condemns the active homosexual lifestyle as well.

  18. As a single heterosexual person called to live a single life, I think it’s important that more of us single and celibate people in this world make it known that we exist. You will NOT explode if you don’t have sex. In fact, if you use your repressed sexual energy to focus on other areas of your life, you may find that you can get a lot more done than people with fulfilling sex lives. I realize that you might not like the trade off, but I find an immense amount of joy in living the single life I’m called to live.

  19. When the person realises that it is evil in them making them desire children then they must seek help to have the demon driving their desire they must heve it removed so they can then turn to community support to clean their spirit out they must seek Christ in this spiritual battle that is being wages to get and destroy their soul if they don’t their soul will be destroy if they commit the most evil sin of all and that is violate a child then how can you expect Christ to forgive them remember he said the kingdom of God is like these little children anything you do to them you do to me, I warn you if you violate a child your soul won’t even make it to heaven. I pray you don’t hurt a child and that you can remove the demon from within and be strenghtened for Christ. St Paul

    http://thecomimgprinceofpeace.blogspot.com.au/

  20. I will say (or rather, write) this only once!
    I am not a paedophile (correct English spelling!) neither do I condone any kind of sexual activity between an adult and a child.
    I am though a Catholic who has been through the mill of life, having committed many and grievous sins and having spent a great deal of my time on my knees trying to overcome my many weaknesses.
    All else below must be read with this in mind.
    Why don’t we all STOP our ‘shock-horror’, and frankly so holier-than-thou and self-righteous condemnation of those who are at least recognising their actual sin and their propensity to sin and are trying to do something about it!
    When asked why he spent so much time with sinners and tax-collectors (same thing, I always thought!) Jesus said, “It is the sick who are in need of a doctor. I came to call the sinner to repentance not the already righteous.” Surely it follows therefore that it is the sickest of the sick who are not only in need of an ordinary general practitioner but the very best specialist that money can buy! We should all be rushing about madly welcoming them on their journey into the kingdom!
    You so-called experts out there all bemoaning the fact that- well – you would do more for ‘these people’ but the responsibility and possible consequences being horrendous, choose not to do so! You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves – especially since you maintain that you are Christian!
    Jesus calls us to be martyrs – if we actually have any faith in what he came to teach us, that is. “When I return, will I find ONE who has any faith?”, he sadly reflects.
    But, thank goodness Paul said it first – in your weakness find your strength. It seems to me this is precisely what these poor, sad men are trying to do. I congratulate them and I encourage them with the words of Jesus – “Come unto me all who labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”
    Listen to a great Doctor of the Church . . . . .

    “A first path of repentance is the condemnation of your own sins: be the first to admit your sins and you will be justified. For this reason, too, the prophet wrote: I said: I will accuse myself of my sins to the Lord and you forgave the weakness of my heart. Therefore, you too should condemn your own sins; that will be enough reason for the Lord to forgive you, for a man who condemns his own sins is slower to commit them again. Rouse your conscience to accuse you within your own house, lest it become your accuser before the judgment seat of the Lord.”
    St. John Chrysostom

    Just think of this – if there were no sick people in the world nobody would seek to find appropriate cures for anything. These very brave men, (in my opinion), are doing just what Chrysostom says. It could be that they will change the world!! Perhaps a fine example of ‘the last (or ‘least’) being first!’ It seems they are the only ones who have the guts to try and do something about it, at any rate! Locking a huge problem away in prison does not make it go away – it simply aggravates it.
    Remember the thief on the cross? This is what the hugely spiritual and incredibly humble man, Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his beautiful book, ‘ The Life of Christ’ about the last – or least – being the first!

    “One would have thought that a saint would have been the first soul to be purchased across the counter of Calvary by the red coins of Redemption – but in the Divine plan, it was a thief who was to escort the King of kings into paradise.”

    Heady stuff, eh? Something to remember the next time we are tempted to go behind the bushes with our next door neighbour’s wife or when we steal the next pencil and paper from the office, or – have evil and judgmental (even condemnatory) thoughts about those whom we perceive to be rather less righteous than ourselves . . . . . . . . .
    In the Love of Jesus Our Lord
    John

  21. Is there a dichotomy here or what? A sex act with a child is criminal and immoral. Does this commenter know that, for now at least, the code which governs the behavior of military personnel forbids not only sodomy, but adultery as well? They are both crimes. Who decides that it stops at pedophilia?

    Sexual sin is serious, and should be condemned in all its forms, but pedophilia IS on a whole other level. The victims of pedophilia are not capable of consenting to participate, the way adult fornicators are. So a different standard for pedophiles is understandable, and fierce protection of children is commendable.

    1. I agree with a differentiation between the two cases that you suggest, but your use of “pedophilia” is problematic. The victims of *child sexual abuse* are not capable of consenting. The only possible victim of pedophilia per se (an attraction but one implying no interactions with children) is the person who has the fantasies. My guess is that you confused the two, as people often do.

      For some people, the thoughts of sodomy, adultery, and homosexuality are arousing. For pedophiles, the thought of sexual activity with children is arousing. If you think that such thoughts themselves are a whole other level, that is a case you would need to make. If you make the case based on the harm that would result from acting on the thought, then presumably fantasies about murdering someone you feel angry at would also be at the same whole other level.

  22. I was very moved by John’s remarks above. Important contributions in many places on this thread, but John’s strike me as by far the most incisive in presenting the Christian attitude to this group of pedophiles attempting to grow in virtue.

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