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400 Priests Defrocked in Two Years

Via the BBC:  Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in two years.

When I first saw this headline, I thought that it was positive evidence of the Vatican acting in regards the pedophilia scandal in the Church.  However, upon reading the story it shows a mixed outcome:

Close to 400 priests were defrocked in only two years by the former Pope Benedict XVI over claims of child abuse, the Vatican has confirmed.

The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase compared with previous years, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press (AP).

The file was part of Vatican data collected for a UN hearing on Thursday.

[...]

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi initially said the AP report had been based on a mistaken reading of data.

But he later retracted his statement, confirming to the BBC that the story was correct.

The latest statistics reveal the number of priests defrocked in 2011 and 2012 was more than double the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided figures.

The Vatican also sent another 400 cases to either be tried by a Church tribunal or to be dealt with administratively, AP reports.

On the one hand, that the previous Pope acted to defrock a large number of priests involved in the scandal is positive.  On the other, the fact that it was not done more openly (and that the Vatican clearly would prefer that the information not be made public) underscores the degree to which the church hierarchy would prefer to be as quiet as possible about this story.

Although to give credit where credit is due:

In a homily on Thursday, Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, called abuse scandals "the shame of the Church".

He announced in December that a Vatican committee would be set up to fight sexual abuse of children in the Church.

Still, the Vatican still appears unwilling to fully confront the scope of the abuses that took place.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    The latest statistics reveal the number of priests defrocked in 2011 and 2012 was more than double the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided figures.

    On the one hand, that the previous Pope acted to defrock a large number of priests involved in the scandal is positive.

    I’m glad to hear that this is happening. It is unfortunate that the Church did not act on this more than 30 years ago when accounts of molestation were beginning to appear.

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  2. carolineredbrook says:

    Too little, too late! Crimes against children are so heinous that accused pedophiles like Sylvain Kustyan, Jerry Sandusky, these priests and their enablers, etc. must be apprehended before they have years to continue to destroy young lives. Sandusky is now safely behind bars. But unfortunately, Kustyan, who has been formally charged with two counts each of 1st Degree Sodomy and Sexual Abuse of a ten-year-old little boy, fled to avoid imminent arrest. Kustyan, formerly of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Hermin/ Mazingarbe, France, as an English teacher, has led numerous groups of schoolchildren on trips to the US, the UK and Ireland.. Pedophiles condemn their victims to a lifetime of emotional and psychological trauma and often permanent physical ailments as well. Since the average pedophile has 300 different victims in their lifetime and since the recidivism rate among pedophiles is virtually 100% and since there is no effective treatment and no known cure they must be stopped ASAP!

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  3. tommy651 says:

    to carolineredbrook

    too little to late? here were the statistics for sexual abuse at the time the scandal broke. among the professions sexual abuse was lowest among the clergy. among the clergy it was lowest among catholic priests. the catholic church in the united states was the institution with the lowest incidence of sexual abuse in the united states, it was higher in the media, not to mention the public educational system or the hollywood left two institutions where it is rampant. the media targeted the catholic church because it is an enemy of the left, while insitutions like teachers, the hollywood left and the media itself get a pass because are supporters of the left.

    the catholic church is the only institution in the united states to address this problem. it is pretty much non-existent in the present day church. in the latest statistics that i could find for 2010 there were 62,500 cases of sexual abuse in the united states, 8 involved catholic priests. so maybe you should not be as quicjk to believe what the media tells you.

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  4. @tommy651: Yes, but of all professions, one of the ones that should be held to the highest account in these matters would be the clergy. Further, Church leadership has not been as proactive nor as transparent as they should have been.

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  5. While I certainly hope it’s the case, I don’t see why both you and the BBC are assuming the increase in the number of defrockings represents a crackdown on child abuse and not the various other things Benedict cracked down on such as homosexuals or theological dissidents?

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  6. @Stormy Dragon: A fair point and a reasonable question.

    The fact that the Vatican wanted to deny the defrockings would be an indication that it was reasons they did not want to discuss would be an indication that it was linked to the abuse issue.

    I am not sure what else would have caused, at that time, such a dramatic increase.

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  7. Pinky says:

    Come on! In the last two years under Benedict, more and more priests were defrocked, but “credit where credit is due” to Francis? This Benedict=evil Francis=good meme has reached the point where Francis’s reiteration of condemnation and promising of a committee is worth more than actually going after the people responsible? And how does presenting the data to the UN count as keeping it quiet?

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  8. @Pinky: First, you are ascribing things to the post that I did not say.

    I would note, for example, that I said “On the one hand, that the previous Pope acted to defrock a large number of priests involved in the scandal is positive.”

    Also, the credit where credit is due is linked to contemporaneous events, specifically the response to the data and then the current Pope’s statements.

    Also, did you notice this part:

    Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi initially said the AP report had been based on a mistaken reading of data.

    But he later retracted his statement, confirming to the BBC that the story was correct.

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  9. One more thing: the Church was pretty quiet about the defrockings in 2011 and 2012–otherwise it would be old news, not news.

    My point is, and I do not think that it is especially controversial, the Church has been pretty low-key in the way it has dealt with the abuse problem.

    If you want to turn into Benedict/Francis, be my guest, but if you look at how I wrote the post, I was speaking about the Church as an organization.

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  10. Grewgills says:

    @tommy651:

    among the professions sexual abuse was lowest among the clergy. among the clergy it was lowest among catholic priests. the catholic church in the united states was the institution with the lowest incidence of sexual abuse in the united states

    Could you provide links to reliable sources that back up that statement?

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