The current raging debate in Australia about pedophilia in the Catholic Church has seen some of the most uninformed comments made. I have heard at least two comments in the mass media quoting Jesus saying that pedophiles should have a millstone tied round their and neck and be sunk to the depth of the sea. While pedophilia is a hideous sin that Jesus would condemn in no uncertain terms, the “millstone round the neck” reference is actually a misquote.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke each has a passage on “millstone round the neck”, and each of these refers to obstacles to one becoming a believers, not pedophilia. In Mark 9:38-42, “little ones” refers not to children but believers who are not explicit disciples of Jesus. In this passage, Jesus used the “millstone round the neck” analogy to discourage his disciples from hindering these non-disciple-believers from performing miracle in His name. In Luke 17:1-2, “little ones” refers to the human race in general. In this passage, the “millstone round the neck” analogy is used by Jesus to urge us not to present stumbling block to others becoming believers. Only in Matthew 18:1-6 does “little ones” refers to children. In this passage, Jesus used the “millstone round the neck” analogy to urge his disciples not to hinder anyone approaching the faith with child-like innocence and purity – and by the way, interpreted widely, this does not confine just to children.
So, just because you read it in the media does not mean that it is objective, or even true at all. Pedophilia is a social ill we must all try our utmost to eradicate. Putting forward ill-informed comments provide only hype, not solutions.