Is the Vatican City age of consent really 12? If so, do 12 year olds frequently have sex?

This age of consent for the Vatican City is plastered all over the Internet. I’d be interested in seeing an authoritative cite for the information (e.g., from the actual law books). If it’s true, the rate at which 12 year olds in Vatican City have sex is also of interest, as is the average age of their partners.

Are they supposed to have sex though?

Maybe you have to be 12 to be an altar boy? (Sorry).

I seriously suspect there are not many 12yo’s resident in Vatican City, conssidering the majority of the population is under a vow of celibacy. The number probably hearkens back to the middle ages when girls could marry at age 12. (Think Loretta Lynn marrying at 13 in some part of the USA…)

According to the Wikipedia entry on the Vatican, there are only 43 residents of the Vatican who are neither clergy nor members of the Swiss Guard. One wonders whether there are even any children or teenagers present, for it to be an issue.

I’m sorry, too… that you beat me to it. :wink:

Code of Canon Law
Can. 1083 §1. A man before he has completed his sixteenth year of age and a woman before she has completed her fourteenth year of age cannot enter into a valid marriage.

§2. The conference of bishops is free to establish a higher age for the licit celebration of marriage.

I’m certain that the quote is either false or at best an ancient law about age of marriage.
The concept of age of consent is contrary ro Catholc teaching if it mean lawfully having sex outside marriage.

Interesting, but I don’t think this is a law in the legal sense.

IIRC it’s 13 in Japan and around that age in many other far eastern countries. There are many more people there.

Why wouldn’t the law governing the Catholic church apply to the sovreignity which exists exclusively to be the seat of said church?

I think you have the question backwards :slight_smile: All Catholics follow Canon Law, not just those in Vatican City. Breaking it isn’t going to get you a citation, thrown in jail, or in front of a judge. Of course, I’m not a Catholic so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I see your point, it isn’t civil or penal law.
My idea is that if Canon Law sets marriage ages and you shouldn’t have sex outside marriage it seemed illogical to have an age of consent lower than that.

From what I’ve been reading is that Italian law applies to the Vatican in some aspects and by that way the Vatican is said to have 12 as age if consent.

It certainly could in some places at some periods in history. Secular and ecclesiastical courts operated in parallel in many places, with various means of determining which court had jurisdiction. (See for example the benefit of the clergy.) Ecclesiastical courts still exist in the Catholic church, complete with canon lawyers versed in canon law. So yes, breaking canon law could very well get you hauled in front of a judge, provided you voluntarily recognize his jurisdiction over you. However, I believe that the Vatican City leaves enforcement of secular criminal law to the Roman police.

I can’t find a reliable source of Vatican City State law anywhere online - not in English, anyway.

My hunches:

[ul][li]Vatican City probably does not have such a law.[/li][li]The genesis of this factoid is somethign like ths: Laws relating to the Papal States were deemed in 1929 to apply to Vatican City, to the extent that laws written for a large area of countryside including coastline apply to a small urban enclave.[/li][li]There was (probably) a medieval statute governing the minimum age for marriage in the Papal States – and, given arranged marriages among the nobility, it was probably low, 12 being not unreasonable. (Remember that these were marriage alliances between noble families, not the modern concept of marriages founded in mutual commitment between loving couples.)[/li][li]Someone found the old Papal States law and the “Papal States law applies to Vatican City” law and came up with this supposed fact.[/ul][/li]
Remember that there is an element of truth in “In Indianapolis it is illegal to tether an alligator to a parking meter” and like silliness – The relevant law would say “horse or other animal” and, well, an alligator is another animal. So the law prohibits the tethering of alligators along with horses, donkeys, oxen, and other livestock.

Yeah, it does sound like one of those “weird facts.” One I got told was that wealthy people of country X in ancient times would commit suicide by eating 5 pounds of salt.

Age of Consent by Country

Other countries with an age of consent of 12 include Yemen, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, the Phillipines, and many states in Mexico. 13-14 is pretty common in every continent. The U.S. has some of the highest age of consent laws in the world, with many states establishing it at 17 or 18.

No, you’re not.

(not a competent attorney anywhere)

I would think that if this were really true in the sense that a 30 year old man and a 12 year old girl in Rome could go on a date into the Vatican and have sex in a bathroom and the man would face no criminal penaties whatsoever for the act, we would be hearing “protect the children!” cries from morality groups, which to my knowledge is not happening. Perhaps there is in fact such a law but there is another law with a higher age (kinda like in the United States where you can have Federal, State/Territory, County, Town, etc. laws that could speak on the same aspects - for example you might be in a town that has a statute in the town code that sets the per se DUI BAC limit at .1%, but the state at large sets it at 0.08%, so the town law doesn’t actually change the reality of what acts constitute crimes in that town, since the town is a part of the state and thus the lower limit applies.)

To my knowledge, sometimes laws are structured the way they are due to political history - for example, I was browsing the Code of Virginia a while back and discovered a section that provides that married women are permitted to own property in their own name. The reason that that statue exists is that the United States inherited the English Common Law then in effect at independence, and, at that time, married women did not have a full legal existence outside of her husband.

Well in Italy the age of consent is 14 and most people going into and through the Vatican are actually Italians.

I don’t know the truth of this for certain (this would be an interesting question to explore in its own right), but my understanding is that the USA has anti-sex-tourism laws and agreements with foreign countries that allow U.S. citizens engaged in sex tourism to be prosecuted under U.S. law for having sex with minors (for instance, if a 35-year-old travels to,say, Thailand to sample the underage prostitutes).