(Archbishop Jozef Michalik, Chairman of the Polish Bishop Conference speaks during the opening of the Plenary session of Polish Bishops Conference next to his deputy Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki (L) at their headquarters in Warsaw March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel )

Poland’s most senior Catholic cleric said children with divorced parents were sometimes more vulnerable to sexual abuse by priests, remarks that prompted a storm of outrage though the church later said it was a slip of the tongue.

The comments from Archbishop Jozef Michalik entrenched the view among some younger Poles that the church is out of touch with modern society and failing to properly confront allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

In comments shown on Tuesday by broadcaster TVN24, Michalik said child sexual abuse by priests was unacceptable, but the debate about it needed to be broadened out beyond the immediate physical or psychological wounds inflicted on the victims.

“And one has to say … how many wounds are inflicted when parents divorce? We often hear that this inappropriate attitude (paedophilia), or abuse, manifests itself when a child is seeking love,” said the clergyman, who is head of the Roman Catholic episcopate in Poland.