Sexual abuse is unlikely to ravage the Church in Africa because its culture condemns homosexuality, a senior cardinal and contender for the papacy has said.
Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson linked homosexuality and clerical sex abuse in an interview on American television network CNN. Asked if he was concerned that sex abuse could spread to Africa, Cardinal Turkson said that it was unlikely to spread at the same rate as in Europe because traditional African culture does not countenance homosexuality.
Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: "African traditional systems kind of protect its population against these tendencies, because in several communities and several cultures in Africa homosexuality is not countenanced in society, so the taboo, the tradition has been there to keep it out."
Meanwhile another senior cardinal has joined a growing number of Catholics questioning whether Cardinal Roger Mahony should miss the conclave that will elect the new pope.
Cardinal Velasio De Paolis said that Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles who at 76 is eligible to vote in the conclave, who has been criticised for his handling of the abuse crisis, has the right to take part but should make a decision based on his conscience. De Paolis said: "He could be advised not to take part only through a private intervention by someone with great authority."
Visitors to the website of Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana said in an online poll that the retired LA archbishop should miss the election. One visitor said: "It seems inconceivable to me that he doesn't feel the moral duty to abstain from the conclave."
A group of American Catholics, Catholics United, has launched a petition titled "Cardinal Mahony: stay home". The group said the Cardinal's presence at the conclave could cause a scandal in the Church.
Image: Cardinal Peter Turkson, Photo: CNS