Pope Francis puts number of priestly pedophiles at 2 percent: report

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Two percent or so of Roman Catholic clerics are pedophiles, said Pope Francis during an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The pope characterized the prevalence of sex abuse against children as a “leprosy in our home” that has painted “priests and even bishops and cardinals” as criminals, a CBS News translation of the article stated. “And others, even more numbers, know about it but keep quiet. They punish without saying the reason why. I find this state of things untenable, and it is my intention to confront it with the severity it requires.”

The pope’s reported comments struck an immediate nerve with the Vatican, which sent out a quick message to clarify that the reporter, Eugenio Scalfari, did not record his interview and wrote his quotes in the article from memory, the Los Angeles Times reported. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi did not say Mr. Scalfari’s quotes of the pope’s 2 percent claim were wrong — but did suggest that his memory was perhaps faulty.

“A lapse of memory or an explicit acknowledgement the naif reader is being manipulated?” he said, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Still, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, SNAP, said the “real percentage of predator priests” is actually much higher than 2 percent — and added that those found guilty of sexual abuse, or covering up the abuse, should be defrocked.

“I’m convinced that no threat of penalty will deter a child molester,” said David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, to the Los Angeles Times. “[But] defrocking a bishop or cardinal who hides abuse would have an enormous deterrent effect.”

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