Pope Francis has brought an even bigger light over the issue of sex abuse in the Catholic Church. The Italian La Repubblica newspaper originally reported that the Pope said one in every 50 Catholic priests is a pedophile. He also reportedly said the abuse of children was like “leprosy” infecting the church, the BBC reported.
However, the Catholic News Agency is saying that news from the Vatican says this information is misleading. In the Repubblica interview by Eugenio Scalfari, published Sunday, quotes referring to these sex abuse scandals are paralleled to “leprosy in the church," according to a translation by CBS News. “Pedophilia, Mafia: the Church, the people of God, priests, community, will be entrusted, among other things, of these very important issues,” Pope Francis reportedly said.
Scalfari wrote that the Pope discussed "leprosy of pedophilia in the Church” and said that Pope Francis added that “Jesus loved everybody, even the sinners he wanted to redeem delivering forgiveness and mercy,” but that even Christ “used [a] stick to ... chase the devil that seized that soul.” Scalfari added the Pope said he would address the issue “with the severity required.”
Scalfari neither records his conversations nor are they transcribed, according to News VA, which is an official Vatican News Network. Scalfari says this is the way he operates best. "I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that, I write his answers with my own words,” he explained to the Catholic News Agency.
The Vatican News Network also says that Federico Lombardi from the Holy See Press Office believes that some of the information might be incorrect, except in the last paragraph where the two percent figure is recorded. “A lapse of memory or an explicit acknowledgment the naif reader is being manipulated?” Lombardi said. The people at the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, agreed that this number is incorrect. The “real percentage of predator priests” is much higher than two percent, SNAP said, calling on the pope to defrock clerics who participate in cover-ups, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I’m convinced that no threat of penalty will deter a child molester,” David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, told the Los Angeles Times. However, he said, “defrocking a bishop or cardinal who hides abuse would have an enormous deterrent effect.”
“I would challenge fans of this pope to name a single step he’s taken that has had a practical impact on the crisis,” Clohessy said. “He’s made significant, dramatic, quick effective steps to transform church governance and finances. He obviously has both massive power and the willingness to use it, but not on this crisis.”
There are about 414,000 Roman Catholic priests worldwide, the BBC reported. If two percent are pedophiles, that would be more than 8,000.