Documents uncovered this week by the Associated Press are shedding light on just how many priests were defrocked by Pope Benedict XVI over the past two years for sexually molesting children. And the number is horrifyingly high. Back in 2008 and 2009 -- when the Vatican first offered specifics on this -- 171 priests were removed, but in 2011 and 2012, the stats show a scary spike to 400 priests defrocked.
While it isn't exactly clear why the numbers went up so much over the last two years, it's possible that more cases were being reported as the unnerving phenomenon became more widely covered in the news media. In other words, a lot more priests were probably guilty of these unthinkable acts before 2011, but they've only recently been reported and punished. Crazy.
Doesn't sound like there should be any question about how legit these stats are. The AP explains that the numbers were compiled from the Vatican's own annual reports about the activities of its various offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases. The reason: To help the Holy See defend itself in front of a U.N. committee this week in Geneva.
Sure, the U.N. committee -- and the world -- undoubtedly will appreciate hearing that fewer priests are getting away with sickening child abuse. Thank goodness for that! But at the same time, it almost feels like it's too little, too late. The numbers themselves are appalling and, what's more, only serve to leave us wondering how many more cases have NOT been reported?
For as much scathing press as there's been surrounding this sickening behavior, it doesn't sound like enough is being done to squelch it completely. I guess for now we can only hope that more transparency from the church and the institution being pushed to defend themselves on a world stage will help turn the tide.
What's your reaction to this new report?
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