January 17th, 2014
04:29 PM ET

Vatican: Nearly 400 priests defrocked in two years

(CNN) The Vatican acknowledged on Friday that close to 400 priests left the priesthood in 2011 and 2012 because of accusations that they had sexually abused children.

That acknowledgment followed a report by the Associated Press that nearly 400 priests had been defrocked during those two years. The Vatican initially disputed that report.

Bishop Charles Scicluna, formerly the Vatican's top prosecutor of sexually abusive clergy, said 384 priests left the priesthood – either voluntarily or not - in 2011 and 2012, the last two years of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy.

In 2011, 125 priests were dismissed from ministry by the Vatican because of accusations they had sexually abused children, Scicluna told CNN on Friday, citing the "Activity of the Holy See," a kind of Vatican yearbook. The same year, 135  priests were "dispensed," meaning they voluntarily resigned, Scicluna said.

In 2012, 57 priests were removed from the priesthood and 67 resigned, Scicluna said. Scicluna, who is now an auxiliary bishop in Malta, was the Vatican's top prosecutor of sexually abusive clergy for a decade.

Scicluna said he did not know why the number of defrocked priests spiked in 2011. "2011 was exceptionally high for dismissals," he said. "We don't really know why."

The AP reported on Friday that nearly 400 priests had been defrocked in 2011 and 2012, citing a document the Vatican prepared to defend its record on sexual abuse before a United Nations committee this week in Geneva.

The Vatican had rebutted that report, a denial previously reported by CNN. However, later on Friday, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told CNN the AP report was correct.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Vatican

soundoff (332 Responses)
  1. Lana

    January 30, 2014 at 11:41 am |
  2. aldewacs2

    Maybe they should be more careful before they "frock" them so they don't have to "defrock".
    Of course, to keep the numbers up, they must accept every Thomas, Richard and Gerhardius into the trenches.

    And BTW defrocking does not satisfy's society's and the victims' need to see these abusers get their just rewards in this, the REAL world. If a snake bites, it gets defanged. Something similar should be bestowed on these rapists.

    January 26, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
  3. Pamela

    Anyone else picture 400 fat naked old perv priests after reading the headline? Icky picture, icky religion.

    January 25, 2014 at 11:53 pm |
  4. six1forecords

    Reblogged this on six1forecords and commented:
    Priests taking advantage man…smh

    January 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
  5. Austin


    January 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
    • Austin

      why is the post button invisible?

      January 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
      • I wonder

        I'm having the same problem. Clicking in the general area where the button should be works, but...?

        (yes, tried restarting the computer and 3 different browsers...)

        January 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
      • Austin

        Why is our name Topher?

        January 25, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
    • Austin

      why is the post button invisible? its gone but i can still click it? whats up with that?

      January 21, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        After you comments, click the name box. An X will appear then hit the Enter key. Also, might work by clicking outside the comment area and then hitting the Enter key.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:20 am |
        • Reality # 2

          Oops, make "After your comments........".

          January 22, 2014 at 12:22 am |
      • Austin

        Why is our name Topher?

        January 25, 2014 at 11:55 pm |
  6. Douglas

    Thanks for sweeping the house of God clean of fornicating, evil priests who r-@-p-e children.

    Pope Francis we appreciate your dedication to setting an example for Christian families
    and defending life.

    Viva il Papa Francisco!

    January 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
    • Ah

      Wouldn't prosecution be better? No word from you about that. Just yet another tiresome pretend plea for celibacy from the repressed. Yay.

      January 21, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
    • doobzz

      Sweeping clean? This article is about how the RCC LIED when the reports came out about these priests and only confirmed it when they were caught in their LIES.

      Your standards are too low, Douglas.

      January 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
      • aldewacs2

        Lying for imaginary Jeebus is OK, even encouraged.
        Extra imaginary brownie points in imaginary heaven.

        January 26, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
      • brandt

        Douglas belong's to radical hate groups. Jerks like him appear time to time.

        January 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
    • Rascal262

      He swept them out of the church and in to everyone's neighborhood, and kept them anonymous so that you wouldn't find out one may be living on your street. Still thankful?

      January 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
      • Dandintac

        They probably don't identify them and refer them to prosecutors because to do so would open them up to a whole buttload of lawsuits. I'm sure their lawyers have warned them. The interests of the church come before the interests of the victims or the interest of justice.

        January 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
  7. Defrocked

    If it was more than 400 priests deflowered in 2 years I'd worry that my ex started drinking again.

    January 20, 2014 at 8:15 pm |
    • Catalogical

      Your ex must be something.

      January 20, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
  8. Brant

    Good for the Pope! Glad to hear he's cleaning house. Maybe other faith's, organizations and our public school's will follow since abuse rates are higher.

    January 19, 2014 at 8:32 pm |
    • Sigh

      If be more impressed if he turned them over for prosecution.
      You are right about secular pedophiles; they need to be prosecuted as well.

      January 19, 2014 at 9:03 pm |
      • Marilyn LaCourt

        Kicking them out of the priesthood, the club, doesn't do it for me. They should have been turned into the police! Also those who protected them should have been turned in to the justice system for criminal activity. Just excluding them from the "club" is not nearly enough.

        January 20, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
      • brandt

        many have been prosecuted

        January 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Rates are higher? Please cite reliable references to support your claim.

      January 20, 2014 at 12:00 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      According to the Jon Jay report, an exhaustive study of more than 50 years worth of abuse allegations against Catholic clergy in the United States, approximately 4% of priests had allegations of impropriety made against them.
      Though there are no solid numbers addressing the percentage of the general population that are pedophilic, the estimated rate is between 1 and 5%.
      At the end of the day, the largest problem with priestly molestation is not a disproportionate rate of occurance as compared to other segments of society, but rather that there has been a global conspiracy of silence, suppression and denial on the part of the RCC.
      The Vatican's primary concern in such cases has traditionally been the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its as.sets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, have been subordinated to these priorities.

      Teacher's unions, Boy Scout troops, YMCA workers etc. don't have anything equivalent to the Catholic church's "Crimen Sollicitationis" that outlines how they are to handle allegations of s/exual impropriety. Said docu/ment, penned by former Pope Benedict when he was plain old Cardinal Ratzinger, states that anybody involved in this type of investigation, including the accuser and potential witnesses, are sworn to secrecy regarding any and all details, upon penalty of excommunication.
      An art teacher can't really frighten a victim and their family with eternal damnation should they file a police report.

      January 20, 2014 at 9:19 am |
      • Reality # 2

        To be fair:

        "A jury in Oregon ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay $18.5 million to a former Scout who suffered se-xual abuse as a child at the hands of his troop leader — the largest such award levied against the organization, reports The Oregonian.
        Attorneys for 38-year-old Kerry Lewis said the verdict exposed the organization’s “dark history with pedophiles and its unwillingness to come to terms with the problem.” They waved “perversion files“ around the courtroom – secret files kept by the Scouts docu- menting claims of se-xual abuse by troop leaders and volunteers over a 70 year-period."

        From: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1855948_1861760_1862212,00.html#ixzz0jg0lEyZj

        “Facing calls to curb child se-x abuse within its churches, in June the Southern Baptist Convention — the largest U.S. religious body after the Catholic Church — urged local hiring committees to conduct federal background checks but rejected a proposal to create a central database of staff and clergy who have been either convicted of or indicted on charges of molesting minors. The SBC decided against such a database in part because its principle of local autonomy means it cannot compel individual churches to report any information. And while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record-keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse.


        "Yet another prominent Orthodox rabbi has been charged with se-xual abuse. This time it is Rabbi Mordechai Elon, one of the foremost rabbinic leaders of the Israeli Orthodox movement and former rosh yeshiva at the flagship Yeshivat HaRav, where last year a Palestinian mounted an assault which left several students dead. The result was that students of the yeshiva and other far right Jews went on a rampage and tried to burn down the home of the family of the perpetrator of the attack. Elon’s brother is Benny, a former MK for a far-right pro-settler party.

        At one time the rabbi was so renowned he’d hoped to be named chief rabbi. Alas, that hope is all but dashed as he was charged several years ago with abusing boys at his yeshiva:

        Takana, a rabbinic forum established in 2003 to clamp down on se-xual misconduct by Orthodox educators, went public February 15 with allegations that Mordechai “Moti” Elon had taken advantage of his influence over male students and performed “acts at odds with sacred and moral values.”

        The panel later said that two people, whose complaints alleged acts from about 25 years ago, had been under 18 at the time. More recent alleged acts involved students of Elon who were 18 or older. Since its initial disclosure, the panel reports having received one more complaint of an alleged underage encounter…

        What is unusual about this case is that a splinter group of the Orthodox community is taking the position that the entire prosecution is an attempt to destroy rabbinic authority and the Orthodox movement. It calls for refusal to cooperate with state authorities (or to deal with the charge through a beyt din)."

        January 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
    • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

      'Rates are higher'. Says who?

      Also, schools generally don't have a culture of hiding cases of child molestation. The church has tried to hide pretty much every case of molestation committed by a priest, which is almost as bad as the molestation itself.

      January 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The "abuse rates are higher" claim is meaningless sincle school teachers have far more contact with children than priests, many of whom rarely spend any time at all with kids. It's an apples an oranges discussion.

      January 20, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
  9. Dandintac

    If there have been 400 priests defrocked in two years, then there should have been 400 referrrals to secular authorities for prosecution. Is this is in fact what has happened?

    If every case that is bad enough that the priest is defrocked, it should be bad enough that it should be considered for prosecution. When the Vatican is truly serious about this issue, they will automatically do this with every case.

    January 19, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
  10. Douglas

    I like pepperoni pizza sprinkled with Bayer aspirin,

    January 19, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
  11. nomore

    Report on the TOTAL number of priests defrocked, and more importantly the TOTAL number of priests sent to jail.

    sprinkling the article with numbers seems like an attempt to make the problem seem smaller than it is.

    January 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    footage of a real priest meeting at the vatican:


    January 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
    • nomore

      fly on the wall reporting at it's best hehe

      January 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.