Archbishop of Johannesburg Buti Tlhagale said the church in Africa is inflicted with the same scourge as the churches in Ireland, Germany and America. He said the misbehavior of priests in Africa simply has not been exposed to the same glare of the media.
Tlhagale, the president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, made his comments in his Easter holiday message published this week.
Africa is one of the fastest growing regions for the Catholic church, which is losing members in the Western world. Many congregants are leaving in protest over growing sex abuse scandals by the Catholic clergy.
Some media reports have accused Pope Benedict of failing to stop priests accused of pedophilia while he was the archbishop in his native Germany and a cardinal in the Vatican.
Tlhagale said the image of the Catholic church is virtually in ruins because of the bad behavior of its priests, whom he called "wolves wearing sheepskin."