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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 Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Vatican

soundoff (328 Responses)
  1. Lana

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ&w=640&h=390]

    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

    hello

    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.

        http://www.eutimes.net/category/criticism/pedophilia/

        "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:

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/104226/rampant-misconduct

    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 |
  13. Douglas

    There is power and salvation through adherence to the principles of celibacy
    for priests as Jesus commanded in Matthew 19. When he said "some will remain
    celibate for the kingdom of heaven" he was speaking of priests who dedicate
    their lives to serve God and his flock on earth.

    When the vow of celibacy is breached, trust falls into the abyss of fornication where
    sinners wail for mercy and forgiveness.

    Those who can pass through the fire and remain celibate are bound for glory!

    January 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
    • Myrtle

      Please, Douglas, for the sake of all humanity remain celibate. If you know anyone who shares your ideas, please do everything in your power to ensure that they remain celibate as well. Thank you.

      January 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
      • Douglas

        Myrtle my dear,

        Read the Bible...Matthew Chapter 19.

        Jesus provides instructions on marriage, divorce and celibacy.

        For Christians, if you are one, you need to live by the Bible.

        If not, follow your own rules.

        The Bible defines rules for living...in this blog, the discussion is about priests who have violated the vow of
        celibacy, r-@-ped children and what the Vatican is going to do about it.

        Get it now?

        January 19, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
        • Myrtle

          Oh so you're not a priest, Douglas? Oh, you sure talked as if you were one. I think I'll stick with talking to a real priest, Douglas. And please, I still think it's best if you remain completely celibate – you know, no fooling around and no children...

          January 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Also, we know that god doesn't change, and the old testament rules like the ten commandments are still in play. Thus, god is okay with us killing children who make a grilled cheese sandwich on Sunday afternoons, and he is ok with us buying and selling and beating slaves and even selling our own daughters as slaves.

          You gotta give it to that god of yours, he sure knows how to fvck something up.

          January 19, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
        • Douglas

          Cpt. Obvious,

          You are dissembling.

          The arrival of Jesus changed the "old rules" you like to falsely project
          as the rules for modern Christian life.

          What the heck are you smoking in that pipe of yours?

          January 19, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • igaftr

          Douglas
          "read the bible"...no...try reading some medical journals, both psychology and biology...yyou will find that true celebacy is actually harmful for many reason. Everything from depression to increased risk of prostate cancer...just some of gods gifts for those who go against nature, and attempt pure celebacy.

          In your case Douglas, I'm all for it.

          January 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I'm sorry, but you seem to be ignorant of god's word. It states that god's will and plan is unchanging and that he is "the same, yesterday, today, and forever." Perhaps the "sacrifice" has changed, but all the old testament rules are still in play, that's why Christians are so outspoken about the ten commandments.

          You need to get with the program and start killing people that work on the Sabbath and beating slaves and selling off your children into slavery. Why are you so comfortable disobeying your god? Do you just pick and choose what scriptures to follow? Are you so lukewarm that god is going to spew you out of his mouth?

          January 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • Bea

          Douglas: "The arrival of Jesus changed the "old rules" you like to falsely project
          as the rules for modern Christian life."

          Lol. Oh Douglas, don't cha know? That's just one of a myriad of things Christians disagree upon. If they could get their story straight, it might be somewhat more believable. But of course they would still have to do a much better job to verify the suppositions of that chatty Cathy – what was his name – oh yeah – Paul.

          January 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • igaftr

          douglas
          dissembling?

          There are a couple of places that Jesus refers to the OT saying that the word of god is unchanging, and that every word, every letter is still valid.
          Jesus did not take anything from the bible, he added to it.

          So when your children ( hopefully not yours) get unruly, stone them at the city gates, as you love them, and when the police bring your daughter home, with her ra.p.ist, let him give you 50 sheckles of silver and then marry her (to remove the stain SHE now has because she is impure), and then love her ra.p.ist, like god commands.
          Or put that silly book down and try thinking for yourself.

          January 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
        • Douglas

          igaftr,

          Don't fear celibacy.

          You are obviously not a Christian so the rules don't apply to you.

          If Jesus said priests are obliged to remain celibate then I think he knows what he is talking about.

          Your appeal to medical journals is consistent with human desire to reject the law of God
          to satisfy cravings and urgings that are unhealthy and harmful.

          The result is the maladies you describe and priests who r-@-pe kids.

          Like most of the atheists here, you want to bash Christianity and the Bible to justify the sinful practices
          you are accustomed to.

          Nobody is stopping you...certainly not me.

          January 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Larry

          Actually, Jesus says those old rules are still in force, that heaven and earth shall pass away first, unti all things have been accomplished. And since all things have not been accomplished – there's that whole Revelation thing to do – it's times to kill mouthy teenagers.

          Christians love to go for the "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" line, but if your read what follows, the entire context, he actually means "make fuller/stricter" when he says "fulfill." The passage makes no sense at all if "fulfill" means "to end."

          Christians want to say the old rules don't apply because deep down they too know they are madness, but Jesus did speak on the issue, and it was not that they are done.

          January 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
        • Bea

          See what I mean. That's just one of a myriad of things Christians disagree upon. If they could get their story straight, it might be somewhat more believable. But of course they would still have to do a much better job to verify the suppositions of that chatty Cathy – what was his name – oh yeah – Paul.

          January 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • igaftr

          douglas

          I have to bash christianity because it is an insane belief system.

          "justify the sinful practices
          you are accustomed to."

          What practices are those douglas, I'm pretty sure you do not know me, so you do not know what practices I practice.
          Nice false judgement though... christianity seems to have given you the ability to jump to unjustifiable conclusions, not just on the contents of the bible, but now MY life?

          Thank you for showing the insanity behind the thinking.

          January 19, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
        • Douglas

          Larry,

          Wrong again!

          Why didn't Jesus throw the first stone at the woman caught in the act of adultery?

          Because the execution of the law changed with his arrival.

          Why did Jesus heal on the Sabbath?

          Because the execution of the law changed with his arrival.

          You guys need to read the whole Bible and not cherry pick.

          What are you smoking in your pipes?

          January 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • Bea

          See what I mean. That's just one of a myriad of things Christians disagree upon. If they could get their story straight, it might be somewhat more believable. But of course they would still have to do a much better job to verify the suppositions of that chatty Cathy – what was his name – oh yeah – Paul.

          January 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • Larry

          The "Cast the first stone" story was added hundreds of years later. It is not in any early copy of the Bible, and there are many. It first appeared in the Vulgate, hundreds of years later.

          Thou art the cherry-picker, denying what Jesus actually said in favor of a more appealing option.

          January 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • no gods, no excorcisms, pass the Tabasco please

          Larry: "story was added hundreds of years later."

          LOL – everything was added at some point or another – you know to make a political statement on behalf of someone...

          January 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • Joke

          It is readily apparent what kind of pipe you're smoking, Douglas.

          January 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • sam stone

          he did not do any of those things, doogie

          it is all mythology

          now, come out of the closet, for gosh sakes and stop being such a self loathing queen

          January 20, 2014 at 6:59 am |
    • Myrtle

      Just to be clear, Douglas, being celibate includes not having any offspring in any way, shape or form. Thank you again, Douglas.

      January 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Douglas: This is the same comment you post on any article dealing with priests, or anything to do with sexuality. The fact that you keep making this absurd claim over and over again doesn't make it any more true. You can't compare celibacy to this article, it simply is not in the same category.

      January 19, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
    • Sigh

      Another bozo who equates celibacy with pedophilia.
      Stuff it, Monk.

      January 19, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
  14. God's Journal

    The other day, I created a bunch of junk. After I created Eve, I could have steered her in the right direction, but it was more fun to see how much trouble she could get into, so I sent her some mixed signals.

    Now much time has passed since I created these pathetic creatures. I suppose I could have prevented some of the unwarranted suffering for them, but, I find it boring when I do – it's more fun to see how these little critters carry on if I just take frequent long vacations- all the while letting some of my other interesting creations like disease and natural disaster run loose.

    Today I notice that I've just become a harsh spirit to them, so to spice things up, I'll get a little story started to give them some hope and that I'm really a pretty nice guy. If they only knew what an immoral jerk I am–tee hee. Some of them actually think I'm going to send them somewhere else when their frail bodies once again become dust. Too funny!

    January 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
    • Attack of the 50ft Atheist Cookie Monster

      And the atheist belief is more logical? Right...

      January 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Yes, it is more logical. Atheists state what they believe: that they do not know the hows or whys. It's a lot more sensible than saying that some big invisible sky wizard chanted magic spellz for six days. God is invisible, undetectable, and irrelevant, as far as anyone can determine.

        January 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • Attack of the 50ft Atheist Cookie Monster

          "Sky wizard"? Are you like 6 or something? I don't understand why atheists use that. That's immature, illogical, and extremely childish. I won't ever believe atheists are more educated on the bible than Christians. You have an immature mind. Grow up.

          January 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Bea

          Lol. The one who believes in talking snakes thinks someone else has an immature mind. LOL.

          January 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • Attack of the 50ft Atheist Cookie Monster

          Never stated what I believe lol

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

          Fair enough. So you agree that with things like talking snakes, it's reasonable to disregard the Biblical account of creation. If that's true, then you're a lot less deluded than some of the other folk who post here!

          January 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
      • igaftr

        Atheism isn't a belief...it is not belief.
        What an atheist believes has nothing to do with atheism, and is as individual as each person, so cannot be lumped together.

        That is why atheism is not a religion, though what any given atheist might believe may qualify.

        Or is there a religion for those who do not believe in Santa?

        January 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Joke

      Why did God make Eve?

      Because he looked at Adam and said "I can do better than that."

      January 19, 2014 at 3:10 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.