RIO DE JANEIRO – RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian archbishop said adolescents are "spontaneously homosexual" and in need of guidance, while society at large is pedophile, according to a Wednesday report.
Archbishop Dadeus Grings — a conservative priest who has made controversial statements in the past — told the O Globo newspaper at a Brazilian bishops conference that society's woes are being reflected in the sex abuse scandal enveloping the Roman Catholic Church.
"Society today is pedophile, that is the problem. So, people easily fall into it. And the fact it is denounced is a good sign," Grings told O Globo.
The comments come as the church is under fire for a sex abuse scandal touching all corners of the globe — and three weeks after Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the No. 2 official at the Vatican, said at a news conference in Chile that the sex scandals were linked to homosexuality and not celibacy among priests.
There have been several cases of priests allegedly abusing children that have surfaced in Brazil in recent months.
Father Geraldo Martins, a spokesman for the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, said Grings would not be made available to elaborate on his comments made Tuesday to O Globo.
Martins said he could not confirm the accuracy of the newspaper report, because he said Grings did not make the comments during a press conference, but on the sidelines of the gathering.
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.
Grings denounced the abuse within the church, but he 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," he said. "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 also said the acceptance of homosexuality in society could pave the way for the acceptance of pedophilia.
"When sexuality is trivialized, 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 pedophiles," he said.
The archbishop has made controversial comments in the past.
In 2003, he argued that only 1 million Jews died in the Holocaust, though a few years later he recanted. Experts say 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.
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."
Grings told The Associated Press at that time he was trying to advocate for the millions of non-Jewish victims of the Nazis.