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South African cardinal who said paedophilia is 'not a criminal condition' apologises for offence

Cardinal Napier was among the conclave which elected the new Pope Francis

The South African cardinal who said paedophilia is "not a criminal condition" has apologised for any offence caused and attempted to clarify his position.

On Saturday Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban, caused controversy with the comments, adding that people who were abused during childhood and became paedophiles were not criminally responsible for their actions in the same way as somebody "who chooses to do something like that".

The church is still dealing with historic international evidence of sexual abuse by priests and allegations of a cover-up.

Cardinal Napier was among the 115 cardinals in the Vatican conclave that elected Pope Francis earlier this week. He called paedophilia a "psychological disorder."

And today, in a series if tweets, he hit back at coverage of his comments, writing: "It's the supreme irony. Because I raised the issue of the abused abuser, I stand accused of insensitivity to the sufferings of the abused.

"My concern: How can society deal justly, fairly & equitably with the abused, who has suffered incalculable damage, then goes on to abuse?

"Do the Church & society not have to consider the damage he suffered when deciding what to do? Or does the abused abuser lose all his rights?

"My response: Such abuser should receive treatment to make good the damage done to him? In prison or out of it, that's for experts to decide.

"I believe as every dictionary consulted confirms Paedophilia is a medical condition. What is a crime is the sexual abuse of children.

"Therefore Paedophilia must be treated. What must be punished is the Crime of Sexual Abuse of Children.

"I apologise to Victims of Child Abuse offended by misstatement of what was & still is my concern about all abused including abused abuser."