Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Yes, it’s ‘child pornography,’ but the victims were teenagers

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 25, 2018

What word would you use to describe boys between the ages of 14 and 17? Ordinarily I’d call them teenagers. Wouldn’t you?

When the Vatican announced the conviction of Msgr. Carlo Capella, the term used was “children.” The former Vatican diplomat was found guilty of “possession and distribution of child pornography.” A CNA account provided a few details:

The images were divided into two primary categories, one for images from Japanese comics, and the other for images of children aged 14-17.

(Let’s agree that the exploitation of young people is more serious than the use, however perverse, of Japanese comics.)

Now it’s true that a 16-year-old is a child, in the sense that he is not a legal adult. But when you hear that someone is engaged in “child pornography,” do you think of teenage victims?

The sex-abuse scandal has been portrayed, inaccurately, as a question of pedophilia. In fact most of the victims have been teenagers: male teenagers, to be more specific.

Actually I don’t know that the images on Msgr. Capella’s computer were of male teenagers. The Vatican has not been forthcoming with details. But if all the details were made public, I’m guessing that Catholics in the Washington area—already shaken by revelations about their former archbishop’s predilection for young men—would be asking some more pointed questions about how many influential clerics have the same problem.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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