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 Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Vatican

soundoff (328 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 |
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