According to Catholic Church documents obtained yesterday, near the end of his reign Pope Benedict defrocked almost 400 priests over two years for sexually molesting children.
The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Prior to that, it had only publicly revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received and the number of trials it had authorized. While it’s not clear why the numbers spiked in 2011, it could be because 2010 saw a new explosion in the number of cases reported in the media in Europe and beyond. [snip]
The document was prepared from data the Vatican had been collecting and was compiled to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva. By 2011, with the new streamlined laws in place, the number of defrocked priests rose dramatically: 260 priests were removed in one year only, while 404 new cases of child abuse were reported. In addition to those defrocked, another 419 priests had lesser penalties imposed on them for abuse-related crimes. In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, the number of defrockings dropped to 124, with another 418 new cases reported.
The above-linked Associated Press report notes: “The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from raping again.” (Graphic source)