Pope says 1 in 50 priests are paedophiles, Vatican questions report's accuracy

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About 2 per cent of Roman Catholic clerics are sexual abusers, Italian newspaper La Republicca , on Sunday (July 13) quoted Pope Francis as saying, adding that the pontiff considered the crime “a leprosy in our house”.

The Vatican however, issued a statement saying some parts of a long article in the left-leaning paper were not accurate, including one that quoted the pope as saying that there were cardinals among the abusers.

The article was a reconstruction of an hour-long conversation between the pope and the newspaper’s founder, Eugenio Scalfari, 90, and one of Italy's best known journalist.

“Many of my collaborators who fight with me (against paedophilia) reassure me with reliable statistics that say that the level of paedophilia in the Church is at about two per cent,” Francis was quoted as saying.

According to Church statistics for 2012, the latest available, there are about 414,000 Roman Catholic priests in the world.

Accuracy questioned

The Vatican issued a statement noting Scalfari’s tradition of having long conversations with public figures without taking notes or taping them, and then reconstructing them from memory.

While acknowledging that the conversation had taken place, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement saying that not all the phrases could be attributed “with certainty” to the pope. 

Lombardi said that, in particular, a quote attributed to the pope saying cardinals were among the sex abusers was not accurate and accused the paper of trying to “manipulate naive readers”.

Last week, the Argentine pope held his first meeting with victims of sexual abuse by priests.

He told them the Church should “weep and make reparation” for crimes and that he said. 

He vowed zero tolerance for abusers and said bishops would be held accountable if they covered up crimes by priests in their diocese.

Source: Reuters