SA cardinal: Paedophiles not criminals

2013-03-16 08:41

Rome - South Africa’s Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier has sparked a new controversy for the Catholic church after describing paedophilia as a psychological "illness, not a criminal condition".

Napier told the BBC that people who were themselves abused as children and then abused others needed to be examined by doctors.

In recent years, the Catholic church has been dogged by scandals over clerical sex abuse and the institution has come under fire for what many view as its inaction over the matter.

In an interview on BBC Radio 5 live, Cardinal Napier said paedophilia as "a psychological condition, a disorder".

"What do you do with disorders? You've got to try and put them right.

"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."

The Durban cleric said he knew at least two priests, who became paedophiles after themselves being 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."

But Barbara Dorries who works for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and was herself abused by one, told the BBC: "If it is a disease that's fine, but it's also a crime and crimes are punished, criminals are held accountable for what they did and what they do.

"The bishops and the cardinals have gone to great lengths to cover these crimes to enable the predators to move on, to not be arrested, to keep the secrets within the church."

Another victim of abuse told BBC: "I think it is appalling that we have a cardinal, a man at this level in the church that can still hold these views. He is totally ignoring the child."

  • Ushir Sahdao - 2013-03-16 08:50

    Wilfred Fox Napier belongs in Fort Napier Mental institute.

      skiapas - 2013-03-16 12:16

      ....oh, the joys....of the altar boys !!

      Mathata Fela - 2013-03-16 13:31

      ...and this clearly shows why he was not fit to become the pope....sleg moer.

      phillip.cwazibe - 2013-03-16 14:27

      Must be mentally absent and must be removed from society that respects children and humanity.Qualifies to be a permanent resident of Fort Napier.

      MagdaKus - 2013-03-16 14:47

      Cardinal Napier is a good guy- but I think he should be more circumspect in what he says. Maybe it is a psychological conditions- but these perpetrators should be kept where they cannot do anyone any harm. I mean one could argue psychopaths are mentally challenged too.

      bibi.vanzyl - 2013-03-16 16:49

      And what does Lulu say about this, I wonder?

      squeegee.pilot - 2013-03-16 17:54

      Completely out of touch... Skeletons?

      derek.francois.3 - 2013-03-16 19:58

      Please just allow these sicko's to marry will be safer for the alter boys..........

      Anton - 2013-03-17 01:30

      This could only come from a South African - just be pleased that he was not elected pope!!

      LiveYourOwnLife - 2013-03-17 09:35

      Paedophiles are definitely criminals, there is no other way to classify their actions which destroy young lives.

      Domkonto Wesieswe - 2013-03-17 12:59

      Pirhaps thus man shuld bee put to the kwestion, is jous also a petrofile cardinul hey ? ors is theys petrofiles just your siek frends ?? Speek nows ors forefer hold your piece ! My unkel always sayd, Thee onlie gud preest is a maried preest !

      Jack - 2013-03-17 14:32

      A perfectly rational perspective. Just like people who are severely depressed are much more likely to commit suicide, sometimes taking their families with them. However, knowing this, why has the Church not 'screened' potential priests and offered them therapy BEFORE they committed the crime? That is the puzzle.

      gideon.walt - 2013-03-18 08:42

      That agrument can stand equally valid from his point of view for gay people, but noooo you can be a paedophile but not gay. Double standards is the order of today. Morons!!!

      John Reed - 2013-03-18 17:41

      hey please look up pedophilia in a dictionary. it will say a mental condition. Cardinal Napier is saying that a person being a pedophile is not a crime but a person who abuses is a criminal. the pedophilia isnt the crime, the abuse is. so in no way is he trying to justify pedophilia or in any way protecting them, he is simply saying that they also need to be treated. how is mentioning the fact that they also need to be treated medically in any way forgetting or ignoring the child. he is not. he is simply stating a fact about what has and is happening

  • renier.lubbe.7 - 2013-03-16 08:50

    Illness my a#$. It was made a crime to protect children and it should stay a crime.

      sharon.erwin.96 - 2013-03-16 09:30

      Our generation has made an art out of excusing bad behaviour. Is he a thief? No! He is a kleptomaniac Is he a drunk? No! He is an alcoholic Is he a peeping Tom? No! He is a voyeur Is he a heartless killer? No! He is a psychopath Does he hurt little children? No! He is a paedophile According to behavioural scientists the people that suffer from these "conditions" are mentally ill and not in control of their actions. I believe that everyone has free will and can make a concious decision to fight the urge or give in to it.

      Mlungisi Botha - 2013-03-16 10:29

      Anyone hurting children sexually is sick in the head - I agree with him. Such people should be sent to the shrink - agree too. But it must be the shrink in prison. If you say paedophilia is not a crime, then why not include rape, murder, kleptomania etc. Should we let these people off because they were abused when they were young? that its common knowledge, how many of these criminals will we have standing in front of a judge pleading to be let off coz they were raped or abused when they were kids. I wonder how many cardinals share that view. And you know what? I'm a committed Catholic and this comes from my leader in SA

      Charci Moll - 2013-03-16 13:07

      It is a misconception that because someone is sexually abused that they will automatically go on to offend, as if under the influence of some illness. Yes, most perpetrators were sexually abused as children and they go on to abuse *MANY* victims. A then *SMALL* percentage of those will offend. I have met many survivors, and they are the kindest people you could meet. You will find that they can't possibly comprehend and are deeply angered by someone who would re-inflict that much pain on on a child. This intense anger is the reason why offenders are not allowed into normal survivor recovery programs. For those that offend, there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for their behaviour and they have to be dealt with by the authorities. Protect our children!

      renier.lubbe.7 - 2013-03-16 17:20

      Thumbs down??? Must be from Paedophiles!!!

      John Loveland - 2013-03-17 08:15

      I wonder when the cardinal became a specialist in psychological "illnesses"? Probably the same place he specialised in marriage, family affairs and safe sex.

      Anton - 2013-03-17 11:22

      Do they do what they do to children in the name of God then?

  • CommonSense - 2013-03-16 08:51

    Ok, so he was not nominated as pope, now he has to spew this BS for the whole world to yet again realise SA is a true 3rd world country and nothing is ever gonna change that. Sorry Cardinal but a paedophile needs a noose, nothing more and nothing less...

      Mlungisi Botha - 2013-03-16 11:11

      A noose around the neck is too quick. Give me a call and I'll tell you where you can get guaranteed effectiveness. My number is 555...SERIOUS!!!

      Maureen Churchill - 2013-03-17 08:11

      At one time I was proud to be a Catholic, now I feel shame.

  • Tshepo Maredi - 2013-03-16 08:52

    Well he's obviously suffering from a mental condition himself judging by his views.

      Erich Goosen - 2013-03-16 14:29

      Somebody at News24 is removing comments without valid reason. All I said was that I do not agree entirely with Cardinal Napier who is labelling paedophiles as merely a psycholgical condition or disorder. It is not all that simple and one will have to treat such cases also as a crminal act.

  • Dumblabrat - 2013-03-16 08:53

    So I suppose people whose parents are murderers are also at risk of being infected by the "genetic murder-disease" ?.. What a load of old cobblers.

      squeegee.pilot - 2013-03-16 17:57

      Bad argument... a comparable one would be that if you were murdered as a child you would become a murderer - which of course is impossible. However, I understand where you are going....

  • Lionel De Frontignac - 2013-03-16 08:53

    These people who promote false beliefs should be relegated to the rubbish dump of history

      Enzo Casares - 2013-05-01 18:44

      Isnt it ironic that you said that? because Cardinal Napier is half correct. Pedophilia is not a crime. Being attracted to children is not a crime. Pedophilia is the attraction to children. Thus pedophilia is not a crime. Is that logic too complex for you?

      Enzo Casares - 2013-05-01 18:46

      I said "half" correct because pedophilia is not an illness, thats what Napier got wrong. Pedophilia is a normal sexual orientation, not an illness, or a crime. Saying that pedophilia is an illness is like saying homosexuality is an illness. It is not.

  • Bukhosibemvelo Sibeko-Serakwana - 2013-03-16 08:54

    Ag man, this is bull**t! I was molested as a child but I did not turn out to be a paedophile. This is crime, let us not try to candy coat this in favour of our church's image. The Catholic church is led by a bunch of ignorant imbeciles.

  • Leon Schwenk - 2013-03-16 08:55

    the roman catholic church hides a lot if things. they should reveal everything including treasures they have stolen.

      Croix Mactee - 2013-03-16 10:25

      I do not believe even the truth (the whole truth) shall set them free!

      andreviljoenjoubert - 2013-03-16 10:44

      Sell The Vatican, Feed The World

  • mike.lowry.73594 - 2013-03-16 08:56

    Cardinal Napier - I have always respected you and your views - until today!!!!! I cannot believe you can say that. So its OK for a mental patient to kill someone? No wondeer the Catholic Church has such problems. How many peadiophiles were abused as children? And how many were not! Now the next thing I will hear is that its oK to abuse a new born baby! Disgusting to say the least.

  • Tony Byleveld - 2013-03-16 08:57

    Oh lovely! more great publicity from a great "ambassador"!

  • Adrian van der Merwe - 2013-03-16 08:58

    Well then all crime including murder is a phsycological matter!

      Bryan Culross - 2013-03-16 09:41

      in some cases it is

      Sophie Eralich - 2013-03-16 12:42

      @ Culross - the fact that it's a psychological matter doesn't mean the criminal bahvior gets a fee pass and goes unpunished.

      Bryan Culross - 2013-03-16 14:23

      The trouble is Sophie ppl don't seem to be able to read what is written but rather seem to put their own words and spin on it. Of course, ppl do not get a free pass for crimes that have a psychological twist to them but rather when passing sentence the courts take any extenuating circumstances into account. The more I read comments on News 24 the more I realise that we live in a mob / lynch society, which is very sad.

      Sophie Eralich - 2013-03-16 17:41

      @ Culross - Please see my below responses to William Netterman.

  • Tilly van Oudtshoorn - 2013-03-16 08:58

    Wrong is wrong and one can never justify it. Is this because of what they are doing to innocent boys to now justify their actions? I can blame my past as a child but as an adult I make the choices whether to live with it or move on. No excuses! You have the choice!

      Rhona Koogje - 2013-03-16 09:14

      Tilla, i agree with yr comment, i reiterate as a adult you make your own choices! No excuses!

  • josie.russell.10 - 2013-03-16 08:58

    My God where do you come from. You hurt a child intentionally then you deserve a death sentence. Sick sick sick

  • Ilse Botes - 2013-03-16 08:59

    Its a CRIME. Jesus love children He said that anyone hurting them is better being tied up in chains and drowned!HE is teaching False prophecy !!!plse

  • salvador - 2013-03-16 09:01

    Well if they are too sick to say no to their perverted desires, they are a danger to society and should be incarcerated.

  • Dee Scholtz - 2013-03-16 09:01

    Perhaps the paedophiles can also claim sick leave so they have more time to perpertrate their disease.... what a sadness that a man in his position could adopt this stance. Historically, then, the Catholic Church has 'spread the word of God, been deeply involved in education and upheld moral behaviour'. Oh dear.

      Ronel Holtzhausen - 2013-03-16 14:33

      then I guess the catholic church is more to the effects of a center for previously abused choir boys oi vey, man the more I see and hear of religion the more I get worried for mankind

  • bhekisd - 2013-03-16 09:02

    Well, that illness you talk about, Cardinal, leads to crime!

  • San Stols - 2013-03-16 09:02

    Then all criminal acts must be a "illness". Wow! Where is the world going...?

      my opinion - 2013-03-16 09:30

      San, the world is going to hell! because for every bad deed there are excuses being made, it's time we stand up and say, it is what it is and therefore the punishment will fit the crime. Murderers,rapists and paedophiles should be put to death! They have nothing to offer, but heartache to society anyway.

  • charmaine.rowlands - 2013-03-16 09:07

    just when i thought i'd heard everything... it is a crime to abuse a child, therefore paedophilia is a crime!! What part of this don't you understand? "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." [sic]

  • JanGrimbeek - 2013-03-16 09:08

    Covering for his boss and peers, SA the only country where no investigation is done about the RCC's silence about this evil happening here as well.

  • Jacques - 2013-03-16 09:08


  • chris.potgieter.73 - 2013-03-16 09:10

    Now if this is so pray tell us what has the church put in place to screen future clerics and what have they done about helping the existing afflicted. Is it not amazing that all the corrupter's always band together where ever they form 'governments'? Is it any wonder that the churches are empty today.

  • james.strawson.9 - 2013-03-16 09:12

    Here we go again, religious bigots justifying their immoral ways!

  • wonga.m.tola - 2013-03-16 09:13

    Ok. So peadophiles shall continue with their acts and all the will get is a treatment to the psych ward? Hmm interesting. S.A is really losing it.

  • anakin.skyvader.9 - 2013-03-16 09:14

    1. Organized Crimes Implemented Globally by Religion: [ Presented by: THE PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN FOUNDATION in collaboration with VATICANCRIMES.US ( ] 2. How the Vatican Deceived the World for 2000 Years: 3. Documentary reveals torture in Catholic Industrial Schools in Ireland : 4. Clergy Files Produced by Archdiocese of Los Angeles: [abuse of children] 5. Documentary Hand of God: 10,000 Children Sexually Abused by Catholic Priests 6. Catholic Church profitted from pregnant unwed mothers by labelling them mentally ill 7. British children deported to Australia 8. ‘Magdalene Laundries’ was a giant laundry business run by Nuns (Sisters of Mercy) :

      Abe Dnigo - 2013-03-18 08:20

      I went to a catholic school; believe me it was nothing short of traumatic! I just don't thin that people who have give their lives to celibacy should be allowed to take care of children. Firstly they don't really know because they've had to suppress their God-given desires and secondly; they are bitter! It's one thing to commit to celibacy when you are 18; young and naive and quite another to live with the reality on a daily basis!

  • Carole Small - 2013-03-16 09:16

    If I were Catholic and had little children, they would have stepped for the last time into the church. This man has just told his family of priests that it is ok to mess with little kids, because they are sick. Well I wouldn't let my kids near these poor sick priests. This is an incurable disease. BEWARE. Perhaps this man has already been contaminated.

  • David Neave - 2013-03-16 09:16

    What an absolute idiot! After all the unwanted publicity and then this clown adds his idiotic comment. Lock him up please!

  • Harley Quin - 2013-03-16 09:18

    Off with their little heads!!

  • marysia.vieira - 2013-03-16 09:18

    While paedophile might be a psychological disorder as a result of being sexually molested or abused as a child, it does not give that person the right to violate another persons body. There is something called self control and get help not continue the abuse with other innocent children. Over the years priests have abused their power of authority as leading their 'flock to God' and the Bishops and Cardinals have covered up the problem by relocating the priests to another diocese instead of referring them for psychological help and assistance. The Bishops and Cardinals have ignored this problem becoming ostriches (by putting their heads in the ground and ignoring the problem hoping it will go away) May God have mercy on these relious leaders of abuse and may God guide Pope Francis to do the necessary to restore faith in the Catholic Church. May the victims of abuse find forgiveness for the perpetrators of their abuse and move on with their lives stopping the cycle of abuse.

      Norma Farmer - 2013-03-16 12:25

      Yes but you don't advocate punishment for them, it is atrocious how the Catholic Church cover up their crimes and they continue as Priests. In most churches the minister, pastor would not be allowed to preach or continue in this capacity. A Christian leader is supposed to be a man of moral fibre, what is wrong with the world not being able to see this?

  • my opinion - 2013-03-16 09:19

    Take a freaking cold shower you scum of the earth! Anything that is against the law is a criminal offence so they should be locked up like a criminal. Why do they become priests if they know they abuse children, which God do they serve then? If your parent is an alcoholic or beats you, does this mean you should behave the same? no, it should be a lesson what NOT to do!

      Sandy Adams - 2013-03-16 09:44

      He should resign. and to think he was eligible to be pope!

  • my opinion - 2013-03-16 09:21

    Who is the person that gave Gees the thumbsdown? That person is probably one of these scum!

  • Janet Pitcher - 2013-03-16 09:21

    Now you know why I do not go to church anymore.Its not the church it the people that preach in it.

      mike.lowry.73594 - 2013-03-16 11:22

      Concurr with you - i was involved for more years than i wish to recall and can honestly say there were two priests I could respect (out of ten or more). One becamea Bishop and the other left the Church saying he could not believe what they got up to.

  • theuns.strydom - 2013-03-16 09:24

    Paedo'sShould be exterminated with extreme prejudice Sick or Criminal doesnt come into it

  • Blane Blandon - 2013-03-16 09:25

    It might be an ilness , then treat them as criminally insane and throw them into mental hospitals " to be detained at the state presidents pleasure"

  • MJS1234 - 2013-03-16 09:26

    What a load of utter crap spewing from this so called man of god! Shame on you, there is no justification for the abuse of children. Men like this are the reason I have no time for organised religion!

  • Wild Moon Luna - 2013-03-16 09:27

    Serial killers also have a so called psychological condition. Not criminal?

  • René McEvoy - 2013-03-16 09:29

    Biggest Paedophile network is run by the Catholic church! Now they want to clean the slate by calling it a disease!! Well your church is a huge disease and needs to be eliminated!

  • Elizabeth Stanley - 2013-03-16 09:29

    I dont get it, Christians blast the world at large on there lack of morals. they claim the moral high ground and there leaders justify child abuse. How can you sit there and accept this ?????????????

  • Garth Baldwin - 2013-03-16 09:30

    then by the same token gangsters should not be accountable neither because they are simply the product of violence in their communities. thieves are also unaccountable as they simply steal to provide for themselves (even if they steal millions) serial killers also need to be excused as there is a genetic link to anti social personality disorder. drunk drivers can do what they like because alcoholism is a disease too. ... seems to me the catholic church has just granted all criminals a get out of jail free card..

  • Nizole Middle-Finger Khala - 2013-03-16 09:31

    False Priests

  • my opinion - 2013-03-16 09:32

    Those who condone a deed are likely to stand behind it as well, maybe he should be investigated as well.

  • Paulus - 2013-03-16 09:32

    So he personally knows two priests who have committed these illegal acts? Did he report them? Are they behind bars? If not, he should be charged with complicity in covering up a crime.

  • Robin - 2013-03-16 09:34

    Is this clown for real?

  • francois.delange - 2013-03-16 09:35

    So I guess raper can be categorised also not as criminals but as pshycological illness. Both is totally wrong. It seems that he is condoning the fact that some priests of his church is not criminals but just sick. The Catholic Church has been sweeping this under the rugg for many years now.

  • Henry Vanderfartenburp - 2013-03-16 09:36

    Unlike ancient religious scriptures, there are no subjective personal interpretations of our laws. While paedophilia is sick and twisted, its also clearly ILLEGAL. In case you need that explained: If you do it, you're committing a crime. Still with me? Okay, now here's the tricky bit, so try to keep up: If you commit a crime, then you are a criminal. Did you get that?

  • Michael Hawthorne - 2013-03-16 09:37

    Oh but dagga users are?

  • Danie Gerber - 2013-03-16 09:37

    This dumb ass cardinal is probably a paedophile himself. I wonder where he gets these idiotic ideas. Luckily I am not a cathlic.

      Anele Dyosi - 2013-03-16 09:44

      Evil devious DEVILS

  • Wild Moon Luna - 2013-03-16 09:40

    You don't need religion to have a moral compass. You do need an intellect to speak sensibly...

  • fargone - 2013-03-16 09:41

    And to think he was one of the contenders (supposedly) for the position of Pope, no surprise here.... Had not realized that the Cardinal had studied Psychology! Irrespective of the Psychological deviance of Paedophiles, as soon as they act upon their urges they are committing a criminal act. What this boils down to is criminal behaviour, which taken to it's logical conclusion means they are criminals and should be prosecuted. Saying they are only ill is grossly irresponsible as it tends to negate their responsibility for their actions.

  • Sun Bradley - 2013-03-16 09:41

    And this, my friends, is why people disgust me more often than not.