A Catholic priest has defended comments on his blog in which he offered sympathy to Jon Venables, who murdered James Bulger in Merseyside, saying he felt "immensely sorry" for him.

Father Ray Blake said it must be "horrendous" for the 27-year-old killer to wake up each morning as a hate figure, in a piece titled "Feeling Sorry for Jon Venables".

The posting by Fr Blake, of St Mary Magdalen Church in Upper North Street, Brighton, begins by saying he is making the comments "just to excite the wrath of our local paper". He goes on: "I feel immensely sorry for Venables, as well as Jamie Bulger and his poor mother.

"We are what we are. It must be horrendous for Venables to wake up every morning and see facing him in the mirror a hated child killer, carrying all the baggage of a corrupted childhood which lead up to murder, and the baggage which followed his conviction."

He added: "We are what we are, what our parents, our childhood, our experiences have made us, they are inescapable.

"We can run away from them into drink, drugs or hedonism of one sought (sic) or another," he continued. "We can pretend to ourselves we are something other than we are, that we are better than other sinners, that our sins are not that important."

In the comment section, he later added: "I think Venables is "innocent" in so far as he is and was incapable of choosing that which is right.

"He is the victim of his upbringing, the product of abuse. Prison is not the right place for him but neither is ordinary society. What do we do with people like him?"

One parishioner reacted by commenting on the site that Venables "should never be let out of prison".

They added: "Keep Venables in until he rots. If he 'comes to Jesus' then God alone knows if he's really repentant or not. That's between him and God - God's call."

Told that his comments offering sorrow to Venables may place him in the minority, Fr Blake responded: "I think Catholic priests tend to be in the business of compassion, compassion is about feeling with.

"Being able to place oneself in the position of people - that's at the heart of our faith, that's what Christ was about. He didn't come to condemn."

Father Blake, as his comments about inciting The Argus's wrath suggest, is no stranger to controversy.

Last week, he caused uproar after saying none of the main political parties would get his vote as they were too influenced by the "hedonistic gay lobby".