Mr Mursell said he did not intend to shock people
People who fail to tackle climate change are acting like an Austrian man who locked his daughter in a cellar for 24 years, an Anglican bishop has said.
The Bishop of Stafford, Gordon Mursell, wrote in a parish letter that not confronting global warming meant people were "as guilty as" Josef Fritzl.
It meant future generations would be left in a futureless world, he said.
Mr Mursell added he was not accusing people of being child abusers but shocking analogies were needed.
In a letter featured in parish magazines in the Diocese of Lichfield, the bishop wrote: "Josef Fritzl represents merely the most extreme form of a very common philosophy of life: I will do what makes me happy, and if that causes others to suffer, hard luck.
"In fact you could argue that, by our refusal to face the truth about climate change, we are as guilty as he is - we are in effect locking our children and grandchildren into a world with no future and throwing away the key."
He said people were "right to be disgusted at these crimes" but that "mere disgust is too convenient".
"There are lessons for all of us to learn," he added.
But on Monday, Mr Mursell told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he did not wish to shock people unnecessarily and was not "trying to imply that people who ignore climate change are child abusers".
"I am simply trying to use an analogy to get people to wake up to the consequences of what we are failing to do, because if we don't there won't be a future for our children either."
He said it was hard to imagine a more "monstrous crime" than Fritzl's and that was why he chose to use it as an analogy.
He added: "Could you not argue that if there is no future for our children and grandchildren, we will have been guilty of committing the most appalling crimes as well?"