VATICAN CITY: The Vatican revealed Saturday that nearly 400 priests were defrocked during the pontificate of now pope emeritus Benedict XVI, following an explosion in claims of child sex abuse by clergymen.
“In 2012 there were around 100, while in 2011 there were around 300,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said these disciplinary measures were not enough.
“The Pope must start defrocking clerics who cover up sex crimes, not just clerics who commit them. Until that happens, little will change,” SNAP said in a statement.
Starting in Ireland and the United States more than a decade ago, revelations of sex crimes by clergy and subsequent cover-ups by their bishops began emerging around the world and rocked the Roman Catholic Church.
Benedict XVI, who resigned last year and was replaced by Pope Francis, vowed zero tolerance for offending priests and the Vatican has reported receiving thousands of reports of abuse from local dioceses.
The Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which investigates abuses under Canon Law, does not usually make its work public.
A Vatican delegation earlier this week was pushed for the first time to provide answers to the United Nations over its commitment to stamp out abuse by priests in front of the UN’s child rights committee in Geneva.
Pope Francis on Thursday said Catholics should feel “shame” for the scandals, but victims’ groups say there is still a lack of transparency and not enough has been done by the Vatican to report abuses to the police.
“Catholic officials should help make sure child molesting clerics are criminally prosecuted,” SNAP said.
There are around 400,000 Catholic priests in the world.
It is not certain if there were Filipino priests among the 400 who were dismissed.
But retired Lingayen-Dagupan Bishop Oscar Cruz told The Manila Times at least two Filipino priests had been found guilty by the Church of pedophilia in the 1990s.
Cruz was a former judicial vicar of the National Tribunal of Appeals of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. The tribunal hears cases filed against members of the clergy.
“Pedophilia is more prevalent in Europe and North America. I can only recall one or two cases here,” Cruz said.
The 80-year-old Cruz urged the rectors and administrators of seminaries to carefully screen applicants for the priesthood.
AFP and Robertzon Ramirez