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Johannesburg - Catholic Archbishop of Durban Wilfrid Fox Napier has apologised on Twitter to those offended by his statement about paedophilia being an illness and not a crime.
He tweeted on Monday: “I apologise to Victims of Child Abuse offended by misstatement of what was & still is my concern about all abused including abused abuser.”
He tweeted on Saturday that journalist Stephen Nolan had an agenda.
“Clear Stephen Nolan had another agenda when asking to talk about papal election.”
During the interview, which was about the election of the new Pope Francis, Napier accused the journalist of wanting to put words in his mouth.
“Oh my goodness. Sorry this conversation has gone long enough. You are putting words in my mouth that I have not spoken.”
This was when the focus shifted to sexual abuse cases in the Church.
Napier told Nolan that paedophilia was a mental illness, and that those who committed it were not criminals if they themselves had suffered from sexual abuse - as opposed to those who willingly chose to abuse children.
He said they should receive treatment, not criminal punishment.
“Psychopaths who committed crimes are put under treatment. That’s my experience of it that people don’t just get put into jail punitively, but there are efforts to rehabilitate them and provide them with the kind of medical, mental, psychological care that will help to rehabilitate them.”
Nolan asked Napier if he had handled cases of paedophilia in the church.
“I know that the priest who had been abused himself and when he found that this was something that was wrong in his character he asked to be laicised.”
He accused Nolan of trying to make him appear as though he was downplaying the issue.
“No, no, what you are actually trying to say - you’re trying to say that I am minimising the seriousness of the cases...”
“...that I am saying that somebody who has offended - who has committed an offence against a child is not criminally liable. I am not saying anything of the kind. I am saying that I am not qualified to say whether they are or not.” - Sapa