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Non licet nobis bestialitatem conferre

June 6, 2013

Somewhere, in a combox I think it was, someone wrote that, as the torches of Western civilization flicker out one by one, the depravity-wolves venture closer and closer to town. I saw that observation confirmed today when I read, not simply about a (perhaps mentally disturbed) man having sex with a dog and his being filmed by kids in the act, but, upon following links on the news story site, about several such cases having been reported in the last few years. Many of the lewd-acts-on-animals offenders were linked to violent sex crimes against women and children as well. Who would have thought?

Unlike the Pio-Benedictine Code (1917 CIC 2359 § 2), the Johanno-Pauline Code does not expressly criminalize bestiality (see 1983 CIC 1395 § 2) and instead would treat such acts as “crimes against the Sixth Commandant of the Decalogue” in an ecclesiastical context. But for now, Deo gratias, not only does it seem not to be a Church-related issue, but secular criminal legislation still seems to be in force against the act. Not all the torches have burned out. Quite.

Bestiality is treated by the great English Jesuit moralist Henry Davis (1866-1952) in the second volume of his magisterial Moral and Pastoral Theology under “Crimes against nature”. Davis ranks sex with animals as the most perverse of the various perversions man has invented for himself. The edition of MPT that I was reading came out in 1938, that is, when Western morality was still largely, at least officially, intact. A sign of the consequent sensitivity with which Catholic authors treated such appalling topics, those likely to occasion prurient interest by folks who had no business studying such things, was shown, I think, by Davis’ writing those 20 or so pages, of the over 1,600 pages of moral analysis he penned, in Latin, not English.

And no, I’ve no plans to translate those passages.


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