Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

The second in command at the Vatican has stated that homosexuality among priests is to blame for the Church’s child abuse scandals, and not celibacy.

“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia…,” said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

“That is the problem,” he added.

Bertone, who is the Vatican’s secretary of state and known by some as “the deputy Pope”, made the statement at a press conference in Chile. He failed to detail his sources or who the “many psychologists and psychiatrists” were.

The comments have been slammed by gay rights activists, who have accused the Catholic Church of refusing to take responsibility for the growing number of cases of child molestation by priests around the world.

Bertone said that the Pope, who has himself been accused of covering up child abuse claims in Germany when he was a Bishop there, would be taking more action on the issue.

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