According to a document obtained by the Associated Press, in his last two years as pope, Benedict XVI defrocked roughly 400 priests in connection to sex abuse allegations.
Much of the criticism leveled at the Catholic Church is that their “in house” means of responding to abuse didn’t go nearly far enough to punish child predators within its ranks. The guilty priests were often able to go on victimizing children even after abuse allegations were made due to simply being transferred. They were not tried and there was no effort to turn the priests over to law enforcement.
The Vatican defended its policies by saying that there was nothing in their actions that prevented victims or their families from going to the police.
The infamous cover ups associated with the sex abuse allegations has dealt a terrible blow to the global image of the Church in recent years.
In 2008, the Holy See was named as the defendant in a landmark lawsuit where it was revealed that over the years, 68 priests had been defrocked in total over accusations of child molestation and rape. By 2012, the number rose to 414.
Good poping right there by the pope. RT @AP: Document obtained by AP shows pope defrocked nearly 400 priests in 2 years for molesting kids.
— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) January 17, 2014
Pope defrocked 400 priests for molesting kids in just 2 yrs, says AP. How about all the men who let them stay in power/shuffled them around?
— Lauren Wolfe (@Wolfe321) January 17, 2014
Even worse, these cases represent the direct actions of Benedict XVI in the recent years prior to having stepped down; these were the cases that were so bad, they went to Rome. Despite the hundreds of cases reported across the United States and Europe, there are likely thousands and thousands of cases that date back many years that never saw any real exposure for the priests guilty of acts of child sex abuse.
The church is facing heavy scrutiny from the United Nations and individual governments regarding whether or not the religious body knowingly shielded child predators from justice.
The Church has presented reports to show that an effort has been made to be more forthcoming with the public about its actions. However, given the amount of trust the Church has lost due to its handling of sex abuse allegations in the past, it will take a long time for the public and various governments to be convinced the efforts are sincere.
Image via Wikimedia Commons