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Bishops’ body condemns all sexual abuse

Responding to Cardinal Napier’s comments on paedophilia, the SACBC has condemned sexual abuse.

Catholic Archbishop of Durban Wilfrid Napier. Picture: SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) has condemned sexual abuse on all levels, responding to controversial comments by Catholic Archbishop of Durban Wilfrid Napier on paedophilia.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 on Friday, Napier described paedophilia as a psychological illness and not a criminal condition.

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

While the conference said it had not yet heard or read a transcript of the interview, and therefore could not react, it released a statement, saying it believes paedophilia is a crime and said perpetrators must face the legal system.

"Paedophilia is de facto a criminal offence and we will comply with the legal requirements when such cases come to our attention. Perpetrators must take responsibility for their actions."

The SACBC said a "veil of silence" had surrounded child abuse.

"For centuries there has been a veil of silence in the world surrounding child abuse and it is only in recent years that the matter is receiving the attention it deserves. Unfortunately there have also been failures on the part of the Church."

It did, however, add that knowledge and understanding of what causes an abuser to harm children is necessary to find solutions.

"Without such knowledge we will never be able to deal adequately with the matter and we will not be able to give adequate protection to our children."

Meanwhile, social networks erupted with outrage when Napier's comments emerged, with some even calling for the bishop's resignation.

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