(March 16, 2013) South African cardinal who helped elect Pope Francis said on Saturday that paedophilia is a psychological illness, not "a criminal condition".
Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Archbishop of Durban, told BBC radio that people who become paedophiles after being abused as children should be treated by doctors.
His comments come as Francis, the first pontiff to hail from Latin America, takes the helm of a Catholic Church rocked by thousands of cases of child abuse by paedophile priests.
Napier, who was among the 115 cardinals who elected Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, told the BBC: "From my experience paedophilia 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 paedophiles.
"Don't tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that," he said.