The African cardinal widely tipped to be the next pope has blamed the Catholic Church’s pedophilia on gay priests.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, from Ghana, said the sex abuses would never happen in Africa because the culture is against homosexuality.
Speaking to CNN, the 64-year-old said: ‘African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against the tendency.
‘Because in several communities, in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind, are not countenanced in our society.’
‘So that cultural taboo, that tradition has been there,’ Turkson said. ‘It has served to keep it out.’
In response, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement slamming the cardinal’s views.
‘There is no empirical data which concludes that sexual orientation is connected to child sexual abuse,’ he said.
Turkson, who is also president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is one of the top favorites to take over from Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his shock resignation on 11 February.
In the past, he has also said many of the laws imposed on gay people in Africa are an ‘exaggeration’.
‘When you’re talking about what’s called “an alternative lifestyle”, are those human rights?’ he said.
‘There’s a subtle distinction between morality and human rights, and that’s what needs to be clarified.’
In over 30 African countries, homosexuality is illegal and punishments range from public whippings to jail time and capital punishment.
Pope Benedict XVI will leave his post on 28 February, where there will be a vacant seat. As there will be no need for a time of traditional mourning, the Vatican will decide on the next pope by the end of March.