(Amsterdam's downtown 'Keizersgracht' canal in a file photo/Jasper Juinen)

A Roman Catholic order of priests sacked its leader in the Netherlands and disciplined another priest Monday after the two publicly defended pedophile sex, an issue haunting the worldwide Church in recent years.

The scandal erupted over the weekend when RTL radio reported the priest, named only as Rev. Van B, had been a board member of a lobbying group advocating sex between adults and children. He told RTL that few children suffered from such relationships. Asked about the case, Rev. Herman Spronck, leader of the Dutch Salesians, said he agreed pedophile sex could be accepted.

“Herman Spronck is no longer the delegate from the Salesian delegation in the Netherlands,” his superior Rev. Jos Claes, leader of the Salesians in Belgium and the Netherlands, told RTL. “We fully distance ourselves from the words we find in your interview with Herman Spronck.” Rev. Van B “can longer perform any pastoral duties as of today,” he added.

The Dutch Salesians used to run boarding schools where many of the 2,000 complaints of clerical sexual abuse of boys emerged when the scandal broke there last year. It has admitted to paying hush money to some victims.