Cardinal Says Pedophilia Not A Crime: Durban Archbishop Says Pedophilia Not A Crime: Durban Archbishop Wilfrid Fox Napier Apologizes For Saying Pedophiles Should Not Be Punished For ‘Disorder’

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International Business Times

March 18 2013 9:26 AM

South Africa’s Archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Fox Napier, apologized on Monday for offending victims of child abuse after he described pedophilia as a “mental illness” and not a crime during a recent BBC interview.

“I apologize sincerely and unreservedly to all who were offended by the botched interview, and especially to those who have been abused and need every help and support that the Church can give,” Napier said in a statement released on Monday. “Child sexual abuse is a heinous crime among other things because of the damage it does to the child. In that concern I include the abused who has become an abuser.”

Napier, who was one of the 115 Catholic Cardinals to help elect Pope Francis, acknowledged that the “wheels came off” during the interview, but contended that his remarks had been taken out of context. He added that he was “afforded no time to explain that the priority of pastoral concern must always be for the victim.

In the live interview with BBC Radio 5 on Saturday, Napier described pedophilia as a “disorder” requiring treatment and said that pedophiles should not be looked upon as criminals.

“From my experience, pedophilia is actually an illness. It’s not a criminal condition, it’s an illness,” Napier said.

He cited two Catholic priests he knew of who were sexually abused as children and went on to become pedophiles themselves.

“Now don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that,” Napier said. “I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.”

“What do you do with disorders? You’ve got to try and put them right,” he added. “If I — as a normal being — choose to break the law, knowing that I’m breaking the law, then I think I need to be punished.”

Napier’s remarks provoked a wave of anger among victim’s rights groups and those critical of the Catholic Church’s response to its ongoing child sex abuse scandals.

“The wheels came off indeed!” Dakar-based Reuters correspondent Bate Felix wrote in a tweet.

South African political commentator Justica Malala also threw his opinion into the mix, calling the Archbishop the “loser of the week” on his television show, according to Reuters.

“Like all good politicians Cardinal Napier was quoted out of context,” Twitter user @ZakesMda wrote.


South Africa cardinal says pedophilia not a crime

JOHANNESBURG | Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:54am EDT

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa leaves the Vatican after the general congregation meeting April 12, 2005. Reuters Photographer

Credit: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG | Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:54am EDT

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A South African cardinal who helped elect Pope Francis this week has told the BBC pedophilia is an illness and not a crime.

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban, told BBC Radio 5 on Saturday that pedophilia was a “disorder” that needed to be treated.

“From my experience, pedophilia is actually an illness. It’s not a criminal condition, it’s an illness,” he said.

Napier said he knew of at least two priests who became pedophiles after they were abused as children.

“Now don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.”

The Catholic Church has had its image deeply tarnished by a widespread child sex abuse scandal.

Napier was one of the 115 cardinals in the Vatican conclave that elected Pope Francis on Wednesday, the BBC reported.

The first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years, Francis has signaled a sharp change of style from his predecessor, Benedict, for the 1.2-billion-member Church, which is beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.

He said on Saturday the church should be poor and remember that its mission is to serve the poor.

(Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Jason Webb)

21 Responses to Cardinal Says Pedophilia Not A Crime: Durban Archbishop Says Pedophilia Not A Crime: Durban Archbishop Wilfrid Fox Napier Apologizes For Saying Pedophiles Should Not Be Punished For ‘Disorder’

  1. Wow, I never would have guessed that this cardinal is not only a priest, but a medical doctor.
    What in the name of god gives him the right, and the balls, to call paedophilia “an illness”, but not a criminal act?

  2. I am not in the least comforted by the fact that this ill-informed creature actually was empowered to vote in a new pope! Think about it please! Mike.

  3. PJ says:

    Wow…I’m even happier that this moron wasn’t named pope!

  4. MS says:


  5. PJ says:

    As I said in another post, the romance period is still on…wait for time to go by to decide for ourselves.

  6. PJ and MS;
    At a more jovial time, I could have possibly ignored what this twisted moron (sorry, I guess he’s a prince of the church) has said, but this isn’t a jovial time!
    I am way beyond being appalled and sickened over the knowledge that this creature could have been the pope! MS, you may have a valid point. My father used to frequently use the old saying “birds of a feather flock together”, and in most cases he was right. We humans tend to gravitate to others of our own ilk, and I worry that this may very well be the case in the priesthood. I really hope not, but my eyes are wide open now, and it really doesn’t look good.
    This twisted twit known as Cardinal Napier should not be a part of the church. He and his ilk are the downfall of Christianity. Is it any small wonder that we are all suffering a sense of loss in our old faith? How difficult it will be to rekindle that faith with the likes of Napier guiding us! Mike.

  7. Leona says:

    If that’s what a prince is, I’m proud to be a pauper.
    Mike, thanks for your supportive posts. It is moving to see that Catholics who were not victims themselves are beginning to add their voices to the cause. It seems a long time in coming, for so long, I felt I was alone in my desire for the truth to be brought into the limelight. Thanks to social media, I feel we are beginning to see a shift. I hope this movement will continue.

  8. Leona;
    I am very much a victim, from the years 1973 and 1974. I actually lived with this priest for 1 1/2 years in the rectory.
    I was a catholic for most of my adult life, until around 2004 when the burden of shame and guilt mixed with anger took over. My abuser is now deceased, but the battle continues.
    You are not alone in your feelings I can assure you! Everyone on this site of Sylvia’s is looking for the truth and hoping to see some integrity and sincerity from the church that we belonged to for so long. As is with you, I’m not sure if we’ll see that in our lifetime, but we can only hope.
    I miss my church, but I can’t ever return to it in the face of things like we are seeing. When the likes of Napier goes on world-wide media and makes such a fool of himself and the church, what are we to turn to?
    In the meantime, we have to content ourselves in the knowledge that God does exist. I believe he does exist because I see him in you, myself, and all others on Sylvia’s site. Mike.

    • Brenda Brunelle says:

      Mike, we very much see the light of Christ in you and through your postings we also feel a glimmer of hope that one day our cries will all be heard.

      Comments by individuals such as Napier can only validate our feelings and support all of our outrage especially to the afflicted.

      Such public comments like his must be opening the eyes and ears of so many that elected to be blind and deaf to this problem.

      Mike, I feel your pain and support your frustration.
      hugs to you, brother

  9. Leona says:

    Sorry mike, I think was confusing you with Mike Mc. So true what you say God’s presence to me is more in the interactions I have with those that fight for justice and truth, than anyone I’ve met in the church,

  10. M says:

    If a cleptomaniac steals and is caught, is he not punished for stealing / If a psychotic person murders someone, do they not go to prison ? If an antisocial person rapes someone, don’t they get punished for the crime ? My point is, even if people who have disorders/illnesses do bad things, they also pay for the criminal aspect of what they did. Why should a pedophile be any different ?

  11. A paedophile IS NO DIFFERENT! Good point M! There is a penalty to pay in our society for breaking the law, and we all are aware of the penalties.
    Unfortunately, the men of the cloth who run our catholic churches don’t see it that way.
    If I am a divorced catholic, and remarried (ie – living in sin) I am refused the sacraments by the priest. This same priest may very well be living in far more serious sin, but still consecrates the bread and wine with hands that may very well have been in the crotch of a young man or woman 30 minutes before mass began.
    This is apparently okay with the church, but it’s not okay for me to “live in sin”
    Herein lies the problem with integrity and credibility in the church. I say practise what you preach, and this sad state of affairs has a chance to recover. Mike.

  12. Sorry all, I best take a break. I’m sure you all are sick of my ranting about this cardinal, but this is my only real outlet.
    This “Prince of the Church” is nothing more to me than an old piece of rusty machinery, grinding and roaring away like it always has, with no grease or oil to smooth it out and accomplishing nothing more than making loud noises. Mike.

  13. Mike Mc says:

    But Mike, the priest who committed those “sins” asked for forgiveness. They repeated again, but asked for forgiveness again. Then repeated, then asked….

    The Bishops, as long as they knew the priest was trying to rehabilitate himself, simply put their trust in God and forgiveness, and moved the priest to another Parish. Surely after the 4 th time, he would not re-offend…they thought. But if he did, he might be put in another parish and told not to have a contact with the youth there. Unless, of course, a confessional wall and grate separated the priest from boy or girl.

    So the church saw this priest as a “priests forever”…above the law of mankind…a spiritual being, capable of sin, but surely forgiven 99 times at least!!!

    Now seriously, folks, do the above paragraphs REALLY MAKE ANY SENSE????


    There may be a forgiving God but the Bishops who pushed these priests around were not above the Law. The priests who abused were guilty of more than “sin”. The criminal acts are what they are….CRIMINAL……and the Church, priests,Bishops Cardinals must be held accountable.

    Mike says above that we must all be sick and tired of his ranting…..

    I think we need more rants from more Catholics to waken up other Catholics…so that they will know the truth of sexual abuse with the RC Church. This is an issue that still rears its ugly head and I believe it’s time for the Church to come totally clean on the coverups and money spent defending the clergy instead of helping the victims.

  14. Leona says:

    In the US, Survivor’s groups have been able to organize their collective energy to lobby prosecutors to go after the enablers of crimes. Through their determination, we now have the first conviction against someone who knowingly transferred abusive priests.

    I recognize that our justice system in Canada is structured much differently, but we need to gather our collective anger, betrayal and quest for justice into one solid voice across Canada that will begin to make changes to a legal system that also seems to support the church’s actions.

    You needn’t ever apologize for your ranting Mike Fitzgerald. We need more voices like yours. We need to drown it the voices that glorify the Pope, the cardinals and all the church hierarchy. It’s Italian drama and theatre at it’s very best, but we know when you draw the curtain back it’s an horrific tragedy.

    As Canadian’s we have a tendency towards passivity, trusting that someone else will take a stand. Sylvia’s brought us to this virtual gathering place. How do we step forward into the real world to make an impact in the places that will support change?

  15. John says:

    Wow, I’m so sick and tired of all these catholic preist and popes dressed in bed sheets trying to pretend there gods . Open your eyes readers , there a bunch of two faced hypocrites , now struggling to gain back what they lost, which is power. The Vatican. Is horrified. About being exposed and the fact that people truely are getting educated about how people are seeing the truth, that anything catholic is a safe haven to queers and pedophiles. I’ve seen and heard alot within the Catholic Churches , and truly beleive ,it’s the devils playground .

  16. John says:

    Look at bishop lahey. And preist George smith pffff. Lahey just covered up for him and kept transferring him from community to community. And a few years later , hear was bishop lahey up on charges for child pornography . And then the can of worms opened up on smith and his dirty dishonest doings. Like come on people . It’s a manipulative cult . And my honest opion is, there should be a fireing squad for anybody or preist bishop , cardinal etc …that causes harm to childeren or being a pedophile.

  17. Jerry Boyle says:

    I have to comment on the excuse offered by Napier that he knew two priests that were abused as children and then, because of that, went on to become pedophiles. That is the idiotic argument that Marshall’s lawyer used in his first trial.

    Most of the writers on this blog were like myself, victims of these crimes. The last thing any of us would do would be to sexually abuse children. It is a lousy excuse and is a p… poor argument for the criminals they protect. There will be no change in the Catholic church in the near future. They will have to bottom out financially before they “SEE THE LIGHT”.


  18. I’m afraid Jerry is right in saying that until the church bottoms out financially, we will see nothing new. The mindset of officials in the church becomes very clear when we hear the likes of Cardinal Napier minimizing the actions of paedophile catholic priests. Bear in mind, this Cardinal could very well have become the Pope, so it leads me to wonder if the entire college of cardinals think the same way.
    I suspect a lot of us here on Sylvia’s site would like to return to the church we spent so many years in (I miss it) but how can we victims do that under these circumstances?
    I want to return to my faith knowing that the hierarchy in the church has it’s head on straight, and is bent on spiritual guidance, love, compassion, etc..
    At present that is NOT the case. The church is bent on covering up the criminal actions of their corporation at almost all costs, with little or no recourse to it’s flock and it’s victims.
    It breaks my heart to say this but I agree with Jerry. Dry up the money, and then watch heads roll. Mike.

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