A South African cardinal says pedophilia is not a crime, according to a new report by Reuters on March 16. Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier says that pedophilia is a “disorder” that needs to be treated, it is not a “criminal condition.”
Cardinal Napier was one of 115 cardinals that elected Pope Francis last week, and of course many know there have long been issues regarding pedophilia and sexual misconduct within the Catholic Church. That may be why the cardinal's “pedophilia is not a crime” stance is raising so many eyebrows.
Napier says that he was aware of at least two priests who were abused as children and later became pedophiles. In his opinion, he says that those people are damaged and can't be held responsible like others who “choose” to “do something like that.”
The cardinal's thoughts, originally shared with the BBC, immediately triggered intense criticism. He said that a “normal being” who chooses to break the law should be punished, but that pedophilia is a “psychological condition, a disorder” that should be treated, not punished.
Napier's comments brought forth a great deal of criticism, especially from those who experienced abuse during their childhood at the hands of a priest. They worry that the cardinal's “pedophilia is not a crime” stance simply furthers what many have felt was an in-depth, wide-spread cover-up within the Catholic Church.