South African cardinal apologizes for remarks on pedophilia



Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier. AFP FILE PHOTO

JOHANNESBURG—A South African cardinal apologized to sex abuse victims on Monday for describing pedophilia as an illness and not a crime in an interview.

“I apologize to victims of child abuse offended by my misstatement of what was and still is my concern about all abused, including abused abuser,” Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Archbishop of Durban, said on Twitter after his interview Saturday to the BBC.

“I believe that every dictionary consulted confirms pedophilia is a medical condition. What is a crime is the sexual abuse of children,” he said.

“Therefore pedophilia must be treated. What must be punished is the crime of sexual abuse of children,” he said.

“It’s the supreme irony. Because I raised the issue of the abused abuser, I stand accused of insensitivity to the sufferings of the abused,” Napier said.

His comments come as Pope Francis, the first pope to hail from Latin America, takes the helm of a Catholic Church rocked by thousands of cases of child abuse by pedophile priests.

Napier, who was among the 115 cardinals who elected Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, told the BBC: “From my experience pedophilia is actually an illness — it is not a criminal condition.”

The 72-year-old added: “What do you do with disorders? You have got to try and put them right.”

He spoke of two priests he knew who were abused as children and went on to become pedophiles.

“Don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that,” he told the BBC.

“I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished when he was himself damaged.”

Napier stoked controversy when he refused to expel South African priests accused of child abuse after the scandal broke out in 2002.

In a statement, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference said “pedophilia is de facto a criminal offense,” adding “perpetrators must take responsibility for their actions.”

It also said “unfortunately, there have also been failures on the part of the Church.”

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  • ryan andres

    It’s a crime to aid and abet criminals.

    Last I checked, pedophilia was still a crime…these boy lovers should be arrested.

  • EC

    Then it is the responsibility of the Catholic Church to screen out would-be priest who has this “disease”. What are they doing about that?

  • Uragorn

    And I thought Cardinals are chosen because of their intelligence. Looks like I’m gravely mistaken. How can you have any respect for these bishops and cardinals when they are trying to justify criminal acts? This reasoning is almost at the same level as that of one Philippine bishop who infamously said: “Everybody cheats anyway”!

    Why can he not just apologize sincerely, period, and stop giving lame excuses for his faux pas? I don’t know what dictionaries he consulted but he’s definitely lying when he said that all dictionaries define pedophilia as a medical condition. I’ve consulted my reliable Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary and it says there that pedophilia is “sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object”. No mention of any medical condition whatsoever.

    So this Cardinal is not only a criminal apologist, he’s also a big liar. Maybe even a pedophile himself!

  • repapips

    treat them outside the church. not while preaching.


    Priests should live in rural areas where people are just around..Priests who live quietly in a private room whom no one could just enter is vulnerable to abuse and dirty minds…i have a teacher way back living in our scholl,cause his house is far away hes single and around 40up at that time,at the same time we have a student living at the school also with the same case,they live in one of students went up cause they are trying to find something they didnt know that it was the room of two,they were surprised of what they saw,our teacher is singing holding the microphone of the student with misic backgrounbd thats why they diddnt noticed the students watching them,and the news spread out…by the way our school is just beside the church and many belives that room is occupied before by the priests…


    MEDICAL CONDITION or ILLNESS or CRIME matters not. What matters is it exists in the ranks of the supposedly agents/representatives of a god. What kind of god do these people believe in? What kind of respect do they show to the master they represent. They say the incidents are few and far between. Fine, few and far between. BUT, for the love of Mary, ONE is TOO MANY for this kind of a heinous offense in a religious setting. It is outrageous enough in a civilian backdrop…..but in a religious or church environment…..that is exceedingly immoral, unconscionable, and unpardonable.

    Though iconoclastic it may seem, EUNUCHISM is a solution to this problem.

    • idiotsanakmelayu223

      ANOTHER FUC888KING Idiot Cardinal ,,,no different with CBCP

  • Tim Lennon

    Child sex abuse is is horrific crime that causes a lifetime of crippling injury. It is a crime. It must be reported to the police immediately. The cardinals and bishops must report to the police. The church hierarchy must end their church policy of determining themselves if they should report to the police.
    The cardinal mentions two priest child abusers who were abused. Did he report them to the police? Are they still in ministry and have access to children? How many other child sex abusers does the cardinal know about? Are the children safe with this cardinal in charge?

    Protecting children is the responsibility of the whole community. If you know of child abuse or have a reasonable suspicion of abuse, report it to the police.

  • idiotsanakmelayu223

    ANOTHER FUC888KING Idiot Cardinal ,,,no different with CBCP …. Team Tatay naman

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