Red Hot Catholic Love - At Twelve Years' Old

The Dish was recently taken aback by a document emailed to us showing that the age of sexual consent in Vatican City was - wait for it - twelve years old. We didn't believe it. So we tried to nail down the precise facts. Here's the email we eventually got from the Italian embassy (the Vatican embassy wasn't, er, much help) regarding age of consent laws:

Vatican State has its own criminal system based on the former Italian criminal code (called “Zanardelli Code”, issued in 1889). Art 331 (1) of this code provides that the age of consent is set at 12 years old, but according to Art. 331 (2) when there is a relationship of dependence (like teacher/student/ etc.) the age of consent is 15 years.

This law applies to criminal suspects arrested in Vatican City. Whereas, if a sexual offence occurs in Vatican State but the suspect is arrested in Italy, he/she is tried under Italian criminal law, based on Italian Criminal code called “Rocco Code”, issued in 1930. According to article 609 quarter of this code, the age of consent is set at 14 years old or 16 years old if there is a relation of dependence. There is an exception to this rule: having sexual intercourse with a partner aged 13 doesn’t constitutes a sexual offence only if the age difference between the two individuals is not more than 3 years.

Should you need more information, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Best Regards,

Sara Porro
Matteo Orlando
Consular and Justice Affairs Office
Embassy of Italy

Here is a chart of ages of consent from around the world. The only other countries with an age as low as 12 are Angola, Mexico, Philippines, and Zimbabwe. The lowest age in the US is 14 (Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa). Here is a chart from a different source, with some discrepancies.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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