An archbishop has defended the child sex scandal that has engulfed the Roman Catholic Church by claiming it reflects the behaviour of society at large.
Brazilian archbishop Dadeus Grings also said adolescents are 'spontaneously homosexual' and in need of guidance.
He said: 'Society today is paedophile, that is the problem. So people easily fall into it. And the fact it is denounced is a good sign.'
Grings made his comments to a journalist from the O Globo newspaper at a bishop's conference in Rio De Janeiro.
They come just three weeks after Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's second in-command, said the Church's international sex scandal is linked to homosexuality and not celibacy among priests.
Several cases of priests allegedly abusing children have surfaced in Brazil in recent months.
Father Geraldo Martins, a spokesman for the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, said the archbishop would not be made available to elaborate on his comments, made on Tuesday.
Father Martins said he could not confirm the accuracy of the newspaper report, because the Most Reverend Grings did not make the comments during a press conference, but on the sidelines of the gathering.
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The Most Reverend Grings is the archbishop of the Porto Alegre diocese, one of the largest in Brazil, which has more Catholics than any other nation. He also serves as the chancellor of the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul.
He denounced the abuse within the church, but said internal punishment of priests guilty of abuse was sufficient and that police should not be involved.
'For the church to go and accuse its own sons would be a little strange,' he said.
The archbishop also said it was important to help children avoid homosexuality.
'We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual. Boys play with boys, girls play with girls.
'If there is no proper guidance, this sticks. The question is - how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?'
Grings claimed society's acceptance of homosexuality could pave the way for an acceptance of paedophilia.
He said: 'When sexuality is trivialised, it's clear that this is going to affect all cases. Homosexuality is such a case.
'Before, the homosexual wasn't spoken of. He was discriminated against.
'When we begin to say they have rights, rights to demonstrate publicly, pretty soon, we'll find the rights of paedophiles.'
The archbishop has made controversial comments in the past.
In 2003, he argued that only one - and not six - million Jews died in the Holocaust, although a few years later he recanted this opinion.
Last year, he outraged Jewish groups in Brazil by telling a magazine that 'more Catholics than Jews died in the Holocaust, but this isn't known because the Jews control the world's media.'
Following that comment, the Most Reverend Grings said he was trying to speak up on behalf of the millions of non-Jewish victims of the Nazis.
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