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Pope Benedict XVI defrocked 400 priests in two years over child abuse claims

Former Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in only two years 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 AP.

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

It was the first time the Holy See was publicly confronted over the abuse of children by clergy.

Church officials at the hearing in Geneva faced a barrage of hard questions covering why they were withholding data and what they were doing to prevent future abuse.

Victims’ advocates complained there was still too little transparency.

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


But he later retracted his statement.

Former Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in only two years over claims of child abuse

Former Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in only two years over claims of child abuse

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.

Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected in 2005, took the helm as the scandal of child abuse by priests was breaking.

The flood of allegations, lawsuits and official reports into clerical abuse reached a peak in 2009 and 2010, which observers say may explain the spike shown in the document.

The Holy See is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding instrument which commits it to protecting and nurturing the most vulnerable in society.

It ratified the convention in 1990 but after an implementation report in 1994 it did not submit any progress reports until 2012, following revelations of child abuse in Europe and beyond.

Last month, the Vatican refused a request from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child for data on abuse, on the grounds that it only released such information if requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings.

In a homily on Thursday, Pope Francis called abuse scandals “the shame of the Church”.

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

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