A South African cardinal said in an interview that pedophilia is not a crime, but a condition or "disorder." CSMonitor reports March 18 that Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban, blamed abuse that pedophiles have suffered. He later issued an apology once he realized how unpopular his words were.
Napier initially said he believed that pedophiles are afflicted with a "mental illness."
"From my experience, pedophilia is actually an illness. It's not a criminal condition, it's an illness," Napier told the BBC in an interview.
The cardinal compared pedophilia to other types of criminals.
"Now don't tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that," he shared. "I don't think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged."
Once the cardinal realized the backlash he received from his distorted views, he changed his tune and issued an apology.
"I apologize sincerely and unreservedly to all who were offended by the botched interview, and especially to those who have been abused and need every help and support that the Church can give," Napier said.
A number of those who commit sexual abuse are well aware their actions are wrong and they are criminally responsible. That's why there are laws that protect people from this type of crime. The Catholic Church didn't need any help from one of its higher members to say something so controversial at a time their image is badly damaged from priests sexually abusing young people.