In response to being pressured by a United Nations inquiry, the Vatican has released data -- for the first time -- on the number of priests it punished for child sexual abuse cases in the last decade, the Slate website reports today (May 7, 2014).
The Vatican revealed yesterday that over the past decade, it has defrocked 848 priests who raped or molested children and sanctioned another 2,572 with lesser penalties, thus providing the first ever breakdown of how it handled the more than 3,400 cases of abuse reported to the Holy See since 2004.
There are around 410,000 Catholic priests worldwide, which means about 0.83 percent -- or 1 in 120 -- priests were officially punished by the Vatican over the past 10 years. This covers only punishments handed down by the Vatican -- as opposed to local diocesan tribunals -- which means that the total number of sexually abusive priests is probably much higher.
The Catholic Church says that penalties short of defrocking are given to elderly or infirm priests who would otherwise be left destitute, and that they are kept away from contact with children.