Vatican City: A document today shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children.
The statistics in the document for 2011-12 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.
The document was prepared from data the Vatican had been collecting to help the Holy See defend itself before a UN committee this week in Geneva.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican`s UN ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of oftentimes pointed criticism and questioning from the UN human rights committee.
The statistics were compiled from the Vatican`s own annual reports about the activities of its various offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases. Although public, the annual reports are not readily available or sold outside Rome and are usually found in Vatican offices or Catholic university libraries.
A review of the reference books shows a remarkable evolution in the Holy See`s in-house procedures to discipline pedophiles since 2001, when the Vatican ordered bishops to send cases of all credibly accused priests to Rome for review.
Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took action after determining that bishops around the world weren`t following church law to put accused clerics on trial in church tribunals. Bishops routinely moved problem priests from parish to parish rather than subject them to canonical trials, or turn them into police.