AP Reports 400 Priests Defrocked in 2011-12

The Associated Press is reporting tonight that a document it has obtained indicates that Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for sexually molesting children.

According to the report 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."

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The existence of the document came up during the testimony of Vatican officials before a U.N. committee on child welfare this week in Geneva. The AP reports that 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. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of oftentimes pointed criticism and questioning from the U.N. human rights committee.'

Read the rest of the report here.

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Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
A good beginning….but bishops who deliberately covered-up the sexual abuse of children by priests and also moved these priests to other parishes where they raped and sexually abused children again and again were not defrocked or brought to justice. Some bishops merely were moved to more comfortable Vatican positions or other roles within the Church. Many continue to remain diocesan bishops.
Jim McCrea
4 years 9 months ago
And this is an area where Francis' actions will need to validate his words when it comes to his concern about sexual abuse of childrens. If the enablers are not held accountable, then all the words in the world will mean nothing. 1 Cor 13:1 jumps off the page as a reminder to the pope.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
This report should put to rest any idea that Benedict XVI was soft on the child abuse crisis. Early signs are good that Pope Francis is following his aggressive lead.
Anne Chapman
4 years 9 months ago
It's time to take off the rose-colored glasses. This is a half measure at best. He didn't hold any bishops accountable for facilitating the sexual abuse of the young. Nor, apparently, did he notify the proper civil authorities about the alleged crimes of these 400+ priests. Defrocking them and turning them loose on society without notifying the police is irresponsible at best, criminal perhaps at worst. The powerful in the church are still dancing around the real issues - holding the hierarchy accountable and an inner sickness that pervades their decisions - protect the hierarchy, the institution and Rome itself. The failure of Rome to waive diplomatic immunity and return the Nuncio charged with procuring boys for sex in the Dominican Republic is another huge black eye for the church. In Washington, the countries who have diplomats involved in serious crimes usually waive immunity and let the civil justice authorities bring the suspected criminal to trial.
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
I would also add that JP II nor Benedict XVI never defrocked or brought Marcial Maciel to justice for his horrific acts of sexual abuse or his adulterous relationships spanning decades. For years, JP II essentially prevented any responsible juridical action by the Curia against Maciel despite the overwhelming amount of evidence accumulated about him. At that time Cardinal Ratziner knew all about Maciel. When he became Pope Benedict XVI and decided to act, Maciel was in poor health. He died in 2008. No one wants to address this issue.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
Michael - I have enough faith in the saintly Pope JPII to believe he did not know or believe how bad Maciel was. But, again, this story points to Pope Benedict XVI being on the side of the angels in dealing with Maciel. In any case, as the Lord warned, we should not judge others hearts in matters of sinful culpability. We discussed this on a recent blog: Judge not, that ye be not judged... (Mt 7:1-3)
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Tim, You can have faith in Pope JP II but the facts and reasoned conclusions speak for themselves. Frankly, I do not understand your symbolism that Benedict XVI was on the side of angels in dealing with Maciel. From a purely civil perspective his horrific sexual molestations of children and young adults demand justice. These were criminal acts. From a Church perspective his immoral actions including fathering children and his adulterous relations, not to mention the sexual abuse of minors, demanded Curia justice when the evidence was known and overwhelming. At the very least Maciel should have been brought before the appropriate authorities without delay. He never faced justice and according to the accounts, JP II did not want such a scandal or deal with the consequences of justice for Maciel. I judge not the state of anyone's soul nor do I profess to know Divine justice. Like most faithful Catholics, I expect proportionate and appropriate justice for those who commit criminal and horrific immoral actions while in this world.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
Michael. Facts do not speak for themselves. People interpret them and judge them, justly or unjustly. People decide what facts they will believe and what they will ignore. Why do you assume you are more outraged than Pope Benedict XVI about the crimes of Maciel? And he did something real about it. But this kind of crime is not just up to the Church. They no longer have the power to imprison and convict (outside the Vatican). Don't you think the Mexican government, certainly no friend of the Church, should have acted against Maciel? Were they too asleep when this was going on? Yet, no one blames the police or the government. They focus all their "shoulda, coulda" outrage for the Bishops. It seems many on this site have a very negative view of the Bishops, as if they spend their whole lives in personal gain, or worse. This is such a judgmental and negative view of their character. The Bishops are trying to lead nobler lives than you assume. That is my judgment.
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Tim, JP II did very little about Maciel, and when Benedict XVI finally decided to act it was far too late. He knew the evidence about Maciel as precept of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The hierarchy believed that the reputation of the Church was more important than the safety and justice for children sexually molested. Bishops covered up these crimes and moved priests around to other parishes where they continued to sexually abuse children. When this scandal broke wide-opened, the bishops who covered up these crimes were not brought to justice by the Church. The report mentions that 400 priests were defrocked, but not one bishop. Those are the facts. No one is chastising "all" bishops. However, the those in power in the RCC did nothing and continue to do nothing about bringing particular bishops to justice. That is my judgment.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
Michael - notice how much you lack any desire for forgiveness? This animus for fellow Christians is so uncharacteristic of the true love of Christ. You condemn the whole "hierarchy" in your third sentence, and seem certain the motive of the bishops in the 4th sentence was to cover up a crime or even to promote abuse of children. Let's examine for a moment a case of some specific bishop who did indeed do something wrong but not criminal (if it is criminal, it is the government responsibility to prosecute, unless we want to go back to the Papal States). Perhaps, he wasn't convinced of the priests' guilt, or was too quick to forgive the suspected priest, or used very bad judgment, or believed too much in the doctors when they said the priest had been healed at their institute, etc. Does such a hypothetical bishop deserve forgiveness in your mind? Defrocking would only be right if a bishop knowingly and willfully wanted people to be hurt, as a pedophile does. You know that I consider abortion to be one of the worst forms of child abuse (at the extreme end), and there are plenty of enablers of abortion around, still unrepentant and working their evil. Yet, I would want God to forgive them the minute they repented and were truly sorry - to give them a second chance, or "seven times seven" chances. Bernard Nathanson is an example of an actual abortionist who killed over 60,000 babies. Yet, I rejoiced in his repentance and conversion. Why is this desire so lacking on the dissident side of the Church? Why do they never attack the public school administration or the police for weakly enforcing the child-protection laws? Their sole target is some man who took a lifelong vow of celibacy and devoted his life to God's work, however often he failed in his duties. So many people who accuse bishops one or two or three steps removed from an actual abuse case, seem to have no desire for their forgiveness, just their punishment. That is not my idea of Christianity. "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Tim, You misrepresent and misinterpret what I said. Every faithful Catholic believes in forgiveness. I am no exception. The issue we were discussing was accountability, responsibility and appropriate and proportionate justice for bishops who willfully and deliberately covered-up the sexual abuse of children by clergy. I disagree with the manner that the Church has managed the sexual abuse of children by clergy and the fact that no bishop has been brought to justice for the cover-up and the fact that many bishops moved known priest pedophiles to other parishes where they continued molesting children. The latest news about the Archdiocese of Chicago is one example. I think we should end this discussion Tim. It is obvious to me that you have a very different view of the facts and sense of justice.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
Michael - you frequently complain about being misinterpreted. But, you give no concern that you may be misinterpreting the Bishops, or falsely accusing them. I too would like to have seen a much better handling of those in positions of leadership in the Church (and other institutions like Penn State, etc). But most dissidents are not talking about how to make sure children are safer. They are always about condemning bishops and wanting their heads. There is another agenda going on - way beyond children's safety. I just suggest that you act more as a Christian to your fellow Catholics.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
These defrocked priests were already known by the police, and their guilt was well-established (AP says "slam-dunk") so that charge is a canard. The AP report a doubling of the statute of limitations, a tripling of defrocking of established cases, and a zero policy (one charge and you're out, no matter how long ago or how weak the charge - the priest has to prove his innocence) in many dioceses around the world. The AP describes this as a "remarkable evolution" since 2001 and gives the credit to Cardinal Ratzinger before and after he was pope. As to diplomatic immunity of the Nuncio in the Dominican Republic, it cannot be to protect him, but to support due process. And we know that there are clear injustices on other clergy with a presumptive "guilty-until-proven-innocent" zero policy, as is playing out in Philadelphia. Of the 26 priests accused by the Grand Jury in Feb-2011, and immediately removed from ministry by the diocese, only 4 have confirmed charges of actual child sexual abuse after over 2 years. Others have been deemed unsuitable for ministry (for non-child abuse reasons) and a dozen have been exonerated. How will those exonerated priests get their respect back? Does SNAP even care? We have just been discussing the danger of judging the hearts of others on another post (re Post-Clerical Catholics). I wonder why those so sensitive about being judged for their unfaithfulness in their private lives are so quick to judge others harshly when it comes to another charge of unfaithfulness? One of the scariest parables in the Gospels is the parable of the unmerciful servant (Mt 18:21-35).
John Barbieri
4 years 9 months ago
Until the Vatican deals with the enabling hierarchs both in dioceses and in itself, the church's words are empty.
Molly Roach
4 years 9 months ago
400 molesters of children, unidentified at the local level and set free. This is not good news.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
Molly. It is sad that you think so little of the Bishops that the 400 defrocked priest were somehow let loose and not followed up by the police. I think there is nothing the Vatican could do to satisfy such paranoia.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
Michael mentions the news of a release of old files from the Archdiocese of Chicago, as if this is evidence nothing has changed (he calls it the "latest news"). But, all the cases were before 1996, when Cardinal Bernardin was Chicago’s Bishop. All the more egregious stories were public before, and were used in the legal cases, imprisonments and financial settlements. Few will read beyond the headlines. However, in the NYT report, there is something to be learned about charitable acts. Surprisingly, the NYT reporters write negatively on a decision by Cardinal George that I can only see as a sign of good Christian charity. An incarcerated abusive (and repented ) priest requested to see his deceased mother’s body before she was buried. The Cardinal made the request to the Governor who permitted it. How could this be wrong? They also report that Cardinal Bernardin “opted” not to defrock this same priest, even after he was convicted. Wasn't this an act of kindness (he was already in prison, probably to die there) or was it an evil act? Now Cardinal Bernardin was considered by many to be an ardent and early reformer of regulations to prevent child abuse and bring pedophile priests to justice. He was particularly liked by liberal Catholics for his Catholic Common Ground Initiative and his “seamless garment” argument on life issues (some conservatives thought his argument would be used by pro-choice Catholics to ignore the rights of the unborn). Some will recall that this Bishop, while battling pancreatic cancer, was falsely accused of molestation by a gay ex-seminarian who later recanted and repented of his false accusation. But, even this good Cardinal is reported by the NYT to have given at least one pedophile a new limited parish assignment after the priest had been criminally charged with sexually abusing a 15-year old. Now, I am sure the Cardinal regretted this act of poor judgment later (very bad judgment similar to what went on in Boston). Must we assume with the several commentators below that his motives were all base, that all he cared about was to avoid scandal or to cover-up a crime and endanger children? Must we assume that he should have faced criminal charges or been removed, fired or even “defrocked” or something else? Is it not presumptuous to judge Cardinal Bernardin and the whole "hierarchy" of bad faith, to condemn him and all his peers as a group? Or, even more cynically, do we keep our forgiveness for those with our own politics or beliefs?

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