Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of the Roman Catholic Church claims pedophiles should not be punished and should not be treated like criminals.
While speaking to the BBC, Napier, a South African cardinal who helped elect Pope Francis, claimed pedophilia is a psychological illness and not “a criminal condition,” arguing that “pedophilia is actually an illness. It is not a criminal condition, it is an illness.”
Napier noted that he knew at least two priests who became pedophiles after being abused as children. Napier said:
"Now don't tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don't think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged."
Napier seems to draw the unwarranted conclusion that the rape of children can be excused or minimozed if the adult rapist was once an abused child.
Barbara Dorries, from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests told the BBC:
“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.”
Technically, Napier is correct in asserting that pedophilia itself is an illness, and not a cime. However, Napier goes one step further and draws the unwarranted conclusion that pedophiles who were abused as children do not deserve to be punished as adults for acting out on their pedophilia impulses because they themselves were damaged as children.
Napier is wrong. Once the adult pedophile acts on the impulse to rape or molest a child they are committing a most heinous crime, a crime they are responsible for, regardless of their childhood experience. Adult predators who rape children are criminals, and should be punished as such, regardless of past childhood trauma or current ecclesiastical status.