An Italian priest has been removed from his post after he said he was not surprised that paedophilia existed in the Church.
The 75-year-old priest, Don Gino Flaim, made his comments to an Italian current affairs programme, The Way The Wind Is Blowing, on the private La 7 network on Tuesday which were broadcast live.
Don Gino said: "I can understand paedophilia. Homosexuality, I don’t know, I think it’s a sickness. I have worked a lot with schools and I know children.
"Unfortunately, there are children who seek out affection because they do not receive it at home. And maybe if they come across some priest, well maybe he will yield (to temptation).
"I understand this ... It doesn’t surprise me that these type of cases exist because the Church is a community of sinners."
The priest, who works in the diocese of Trento in Northern Italy, has been removed from his position and banned from preaching after a series of protests from local politicians.
The diocese has since distanced itself from his comments with the Archbishop of Trent, Luigi Bressan, suspending him from his 'pastoral collaborator' role.
The Archbishop said: "The Church in Trent fully disassociates itself from the statements made by one of our elderly diocesan priests to the TV channel, La 7.
"Interviewed by the TV reporter in an entirely casual context, he expressed sentiments which in no way represent either the position of the archdiocese of Trento or the feelings of the entirely ecclesiastical community."