Honduras' cardinal Oscar Andres Rordiguez Maradiaga (Reuters)

One of the leading candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI is an anti-Semite, according to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

In a letter to the Miami Herald, the academic slammed Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga of Honduras for comparing "Jewish-controlled media" with Hitler and claiming that Jews influenced the Western media to exploit the controversy about sexual abuse in the Church.

"He has blamed the Jews for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners," wrote Dershowitz. "He has argued that the Jews got even with the Catholic Church for its anti-Israel position by arranging for the media - which they, of course, control, he said - to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal.

"He then compared the Jewish-controlled media with Hitler, because they are 'protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the church'," he continued.

Maradiaga's statements date back to 2002, during the height of the proest sex abuse scandal.

In another interview, Maradiaga apologised for the remarks, claiming he did not mean to spread anti-Semitic propaganda.

READ: Vatican Silences Tweeting Cardinals to Maintain Papal Election Secrecy

Pope Benedict XVI Half Blind and Emaciated because of Papacy Pressure

Vatican Bank Chooses Warship Builder Ernst von Freyberg as President

Pope Benedict XVI Resignation: Was Shock Announcement Result of Health or Power Struggle?