Pope Estimates 1 in 50 Clergy are Paedophiles; AU Doubles the Number

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By Athena Yenko | July 15, 2014 2:36 PM EST

Pope Francis estimates that 1 in 50 members of the clergy are paedophiles. However, a chief church person in Australia said that paedophile priests in Australia double that estimate.

REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis waves as he leads his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican July 13, 2014. Pope Francis on Sunday called for a stop in the flare-up of hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, urging leaders to listen to the call of the people who want peace.

In an interview with Italy's most famous atheist, Eugenio Scalfari, Pope Francis allegedly gave an estimate of 1 in 50 members of the clergy being paedophiles.

The pope reportedly said that "we have a leprosy in our house," referring to cases of sexual abuse inside church.

"The 2 percent of pedophiles are priests, and even bishops and cardinals. And others, even more numerous, 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 allegedly said according to the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" as translated in English by CNBC.

The estimate given by the Pope would constitute 8,000 of the 400,000 catholic clergy across the world.

However, the Vatican doubts the interview that transpired as Scalfari is famous for not taking down notes or recording his interview. With this, the Vatican claims that the estimate was "the result of his memory as an expert journalist but not of a precise transcript of a recording nor of a revision from the part of the interested, to whom the words are attributed to."

Meanwhile, a major Catholic Church body implied that the Pope's estimate was a conservative one.

He said that in Australia alone, 4 per cent of priests were paedophiles. This estimate was derived from compiled statistics on abusers for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

"It's 4 per cent of men who have been a priest in the Catholic Church at some point in Australia have been sex abusers," Francis Sullivan from Australia's Truth, Justice and Healing Council told ABC.

Sullivan said that the Pope's estimate is an indication of "a no-nonsense, a zero-tolerance attitude" as the pope "is probably ruffling feathers within the Vatican."

During the interview, the Pope also expressed belief that marriage among clergy will solve paedophilia in the church.

However, Sullivan thinks otherwise.

"The issue about child sex abuse is an issue that needs to be dealt with specifically. The pathology that drives it, the sickness around it needs to be dealt with specifically," Sullivan said.

Former Catholic priest and religious commentator Paul Collins echoed the same belief.

"I'm very strongly in support of married clergy, but I don't think that that necessarily solves the paedophilia issue. In any given population there's going to be a small number of people who are sexually attracted to children," Collins said.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Tony Gentile / )
Pope Francis waves as he leads his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican July 13, 2014. Pope Francis on Sunday called for a stop in the flare-up of hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, urging leaders to listen to the call of the people who want peace.
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