Cardinal Peter Turkson

Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson has told CNN that the sexual abuse of children by priests is less common in Africa because of the continent’s anti-gay ‘culture’.

The 64-year-old Turkson is widely considered to be one of the front runners to become Pope after the resignation of Benedict XVI, which comes into effect at the end of the month.

Speaking to CNN’s Christaine Amanpour on Tuesday, Turkson said that the sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church is unlikely to be as extensive in Africa. 

“African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency,” he said, going on to suggest that the abuse of minors is related to homosexuality.

“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 society,” he explained.

“So that cultural, if you want, taboo, that tradition has been there. It has served to keep it out,” said Turkson.

CNN pointed out in its report that, according to the American Psychological Association, “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are”.

Turkson has previously made his prejudiced views clear. Last year he justified anti-gay laws in Africa on the basis of traditional values and culture.

Reacting to efforts by the UN to push countries to recognise LGBT rights, he told the National Catholic Register: “Just as there’s a sense of a call for rights, there’s also a call to respect culture, of all kinds of people.”

He added: “We [the Church] push for the rights of prisoners, the rights of others; and the last thing we want to do is infringe upon the rights of anyone. But when you’re talking about what’s called ‘an alternative lifestyle,’ are those human rights?”

Turkson’s views on the sexual abuse of children by clergy are not new in the Catholic Church. 

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State – and another favourite to succeed Benedict XVI – previously laid the blame for the sex abuse scandal squarely at the feet of homosexuals.

“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,” he said during a visit to Chile in 2010.

“That is the problem,” Bertone added.

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