SA rights group shocked at cardinal's comments

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier publicly described paedophilia as a psychological illness.

Children enjoying the swings on a playground. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Rights groups, locally and internationally, said on Saturday that controversial comments from South Africa's Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier were an indication that the Catholic Church is still not able to deal with peadophiles correctly.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Friday, Napier described paedophilia as a psychological illness and not a criminal condition.

He then said that paedophiles who were abused as children do not deserve to be punished because they themselves were damaged.

Woman and Men Against Child Abuse's Luke Lamprecht said, "So you're aware that you're attracted to children but you choose to still abuse them.

"You have knowledge that what you're doing is wrong which seems to be what he is denying."

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said clerics responsible for child abuse have to be held accountable for their crimes.

In recent years, the Catholic Church has been tainted by child sex scandals and has been accused of failing to do anything about them.