The cardinal who many sources have named as favourite to become the next Pope, has said in an interview that he thinks African culture “protects against” homosexuality.

Last week Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was to step down from his papal duties at the end of February, the first Pope to do so since 1415.

Ghanian Cardinal Peter Turkson, said in an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN, that Africa was not as badly affected by the child molestation scandal within the Catholic church because of traditions and culture which rejected homosexuality and “protected” against those “tendencies”.

“African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency,” the cardinal said. He went on to suggest that the rejection of homosexuality played a part in protecting children from molesters.

The introduction of the interview included a note from CNN which said that the American Psychological Association had declared that gay people were no no more likely to molest children than straight people.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI, who had been accused by many of not taking a strong enough stand against child abuse in the Catholic Church, admitted in a speech that certain members “violated rights” of children.

In a speech to members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pope stated: “While the church’s mission was to protect minors, unfortunately, in different instances, certain of its members went against this commitment and violated rights.”

A study by the US Catholic Church declared that the abuse was not linked to homosexuality.

It is also claimed that Cardinal Turkson has defended Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.