The Catholic Archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Fox Napier, told reporters that people who were themselves abused as children and then abused others needed to be properly treated.
As BBC writes, in an interview with the Stephen Nolan programme, Cardinal Napier referred to paedophilia as “a psychological condition, a disorder”.
“What do you do with disorders? You’ve got to try and put them right. If I – as a normal being – choose to break the law, knowing that I’m breaking the law, then I think I need to be punished.”
The cardinal went further and revealed that he knew at least two priests, who became paedophiles after themselves being abused in the childhood.
His comments triggered immediate criticism. Barbara Dorries, who as a child was abused by a priest, works for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which is based in Chicago.
She told reporters: “If it is a disease that’s fine, but it’s also a crime and crimes are punished, criminals are held accountable for what they did and what they do.”
“The bishops and the cardinals have gone to great lengths to cover these crimes to enable the predators to move on, to not be arrested, to keep the secrets within the church.”
Michael Walsh, an author of a biography of late Pope John Paul II, claimed that Cardinal Napier’s remarks were similar to the position once taken by the Catholic Church in the UK and the US.
“They did actually at one time believe it was a condition that could be dealt with. Many bishops were simply moving priests and trying to disguise the fact that they’d been committing these crimes,” Mr Walsh explained.
Marie Collins, who is a victim of abuse, added: “I think it is appalling that we have a cardinal, a man at this level in the church that can still hold these views. He is totally ignoring the child.”
It’s not the first controversial statement made by the cardinal, who had previously claimed that people should abstain from sex rather than use contraceptives, to stop spreading HIV.
He took the official Roman Catholic Stance and announced that government programmes to distribute condoms would never stop the sread of the dangerous virus.
The cardinal is a prolific social networks user, and has kept his followers informed about the conclave and his meetings with the newly ordained pope.
He wrote: “Last 2 days quite unreal. Mass with Pope Francis in Santa Martha Chapel, Breakfast, Lunch & Supper with him sitting at a different table!”
“What’s it like in Conclave? Apart from NO radio or TV, NO newspapers or phone calls, Emails or SMS’s, NO Twitter or Facebook, all is normal.”
“We chat, discuss, get to know each other. Meals are special times. We relax, share stories about our home Churches, dream about the future!” he concluded.