MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A prominent Roman Catholic bishop in Mexico blamed eroticism on television and Internet pornography for child abuse by priests, in the latest incendiary comments on sex scandals in the church.
“With so much invasion of eroticism, sometimes it’s not easy to stay celibate or to respect children,” Bishop Felipe Arizmendi said during an annual meeting of Mexican bishops near Mexico City on Thursday.
“If on television and on the Internet and in so many media outlets there is pornography, it is very difficult to stay pure and chaste,” said Arizmendi, an influential bishop from the colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas in southern Mexico.
“Obviously when there is generalized sexual freedom it’s more likely there could be cases of pedophilia,” he added.
The bishop was in charge of the formation of priests for two decades in Mexico but said that loose morals in society had made it difficult to keep seminarians committed to the faith.
The timing of his comments comes as Pope Benedict turned 83 on Friday and the Catholic hierarchy has been rattled by revelations of sexual abuse scandals in parishes around the world.
It also follows several controversial comments made by Catholic clergy, including on Monday when the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said priest pedophilia was linked to homosexuality not celibacy.
“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia, but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia,” he told a news conference in Santiago, Chile.
Mexico is home to the world’s second-largest Roman Catholic population after Brazil and the country has been rocked by its own share of allegations against Catholic leaders.
Last year, the pope ordered an inquiry into the powerful Legionaries of Christ order whose Mexican founder, Marcial Maciel, was discovered to be a sexual molester of young boys. Maciel, who died in 2008, also was known to have fathered at least one child.
The Vatican was hit by another embarrassing revelation this week when a website posted a letter by a senior cardinal heartily congratulating a French bishop in 2001 for not denouncing a self-confessed abusive priest to the police.
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