The Catholic Church in northern Italy's Trento region has sanctioned a priest who said pedophilia in the church was caused by children seeking the affection of priests.

The Trento archdioceses said in a statement it had removed the Rev. Gino Flaim from all pastoral work and forbidden him from preaching after an interview was aired on the La7 private network Tuesday evening.

In the comments, Flaim said he had worked in schools and understood children. "Unfortunately, there are children who seek out affection because they don't get any at home. And it can be that maybe they find some priests. And I understand this," he said.

On the other hand, he said he couldn't understand the "sickness" of homosexuality.

The archdiocese said it "fully disassociated itself" from Flaim's words.