A South African cardinal who helped elect Pope Francis has described paedophilia as a psychological illness and not ‘a criminal condition’.

The Catholic Archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Fox Napier, told BBC Radio 5 live that people who were abused as children and became paedophiles were not criminally responsible for their actions in the same way as somebody ‘who chooses to do something like that’.

Cardinal Napier, who was among the 115 cardinals in the conclave at the Vatican that elected Pope Francis earlier this week, called paedophilia a ‘psychological disorder.

And just three days into the new role, the pope and the Catholic Church are now faced with fresh child abuse controversy after the cardinal’s remarks.

He said: ‘What do you do with disorders? You have got to try and put them right.

‘From my experience paedophilia is actually an illness, it is not a criminal condition, it is an illness.’

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