Impure Acts

ISBN: 9788858153444
publisher: Laterza
year: 2024
pages: 88


In the legal culture of the church, and thus in the Code of Canon Law, rape and sexual abuse are considered transgressions of the sixth commandment. The history of this commandment shows that it is the only one of the biblical Decalogue to have changed its denomination: the “thou shalt not commit adultery” of the origins became “thou shalt not commit impure acts” in the 16th century. Although these are still norms related to sexual behavior, the difference is important. Adultery is an act that breaks community and family balances, disrupting social relations, while impure acts only affect the sinner, who becomes impure. The new naming of the commandment thus reintroduces material impurity, denied by Jesus.
The focus then shifts from the relationships, damaged by the transgression, to the impurity of the offender alone — this is why the church has such a hard time dealing with the victims.
To address the roots of abuse, and more generally the norms governing sexual behavior in the Christian tradition, we must therefore return to a reflection on the sixth commandment.

English sample available.