"There is a kind of opinion that is an easy way of ridding [society] of the issue of paedophilia by putting it on the Church," Andre Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris, told AFP in an interview.
"We shouldn't be duped. It's easy because that prevents asking the question within society itself," said Vingt-Trois, 70, one of the 115 cardinals set to elect the next pope in a conclave starting on Tuesday.
"Paedophilia is not solely a Church problem. Eighty percent of victims of paedophilia are in families, and we don't talk about that," he said, rejecting what he called a "fascination" over the issue in connection with the Church.
He also said he felt that the scourge which has dogged the Church for years should be dealt with locally.
Asked about the qualities he sought in the future pope, Vingt-Trois said the successor to Benedict XVI should be open to diverse cultures.
"He should be a polyglot. He should be a man of dialogue who knows how to listen and work with different people," Vingt-Trois said.
"He should be deeply rooted in faith, a man of piety who is very open theologically and able to understand, or at least welcome, other cultural expressions than his own," the cardinal said, adding that there are a half dozen "plausible" candidates.
"There are not two camps, progressive and conservative," he said. "We have a permanent conviction for reform in the Church."
Vingt-Trois dismissed as "cinema" suggestions that Benedict's resignation was a betrayal of a sacred duty.
"Benedict XVI said he doesn't have the strength to carry out his ministry as he sees its demands," the archbishop said.
"It's completely understandable … to retire in this way to allow someone to be pope in better conditions … He said he would continue his ministry in prayer and silence."