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Pope Francis: 2% Of Catholic Clergy Are Pedophiles

(Catholic Church of England and Wales)

(Catholic Church of England and Wales)

By his own estimation, Pope Francis believe there are more than 9,000 pedophile priests and other clergy, including cardinals and bishops, in the Catholic church.

During an interview with Italy’s La Repubblica, the Pope called the global clergy child rape and molestation epidemic a “leprosy” afflicting the Church. The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics said his advisers told him “the level of pedophilia in the Church is at 2 percent.”

“That two percent includes priests and even bishops and cardinals,” the Pontiff told editor Eugenio Scalfari.

The latest available Vatican statistics show 213 cardinals, 5,104 bishops, 412,236 priests and 39,564 deacons in the Catholic church in 2012. Based on the 2 percent figure cited by the Pope, there would be more than 9,000 pedophile clergy operating within the Church worldwide.

During the interview, Pope Francis vowed to tackle the pedophile priest problem and “confront it with the severity it demands.”

Although La Repubblica dedicated three pages to Scalfari’s interview with the Pope, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said that it was not a normal interview because the editor does not use a digital recorder and the Pope never verified the the article’s accuracy. However, Lombardi did say the piece accurately conveys the “sense and the spirit” of the interview. He did not refute the “2 percent” statement, but accused Scalfari of trying to “manipulate naïve readers.”

Scalfari, 90, is one of Italy’s most respected journalists. La Repubblica is Italy’s most popular non-sporting newspaper, with an estimated 3.2 million daily readers.

Earlier this month, the Pope met with clergy sex abuse victims and called their abusers members of a “sacrilegious cult.”

“Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you, and I humbly ask forgiveness,” the Pope said during a mass for the victims at his Vatican residence.

The Catholic Church has paid out nearly $3 billion to victims of sexually abusive clergy in the United States alone. Numerous US archdioceses have declared bankruptcy due to financial strain from settling clergy sex abuse claims.

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